Saturday 31 December 2016

A return to the AWI campaign

It seems to have been quite a while since I played a game from my solo American War of Independence (AWI) campaign. My last post was back at the end of November. The campaign does not have a set number of battles, but has the possibility of 24 battles dependent upon the weather and ability forces coming into contact (both decided by dice rolls). The winner will be the side with the most victories.

Campaign map tracking the battles. Red crossed swords a British victory and Blue an American victory
A quick recap:
  • British land at New York to make it their base of operation.
  • May 12th - Battle of Flattop Hill - British victory
  • May 24th - Battle of Smith;s Creek - American victory
  • June 16th - Battle of Barwon Hill - British victory
  • West Point is secured by the British
  • July 29th - Battle of Blake's Farm - American victory
  • August 12th - Battle at Lightman's Wood - British victory
  • August 16th - Battle of Reynold's Farm - British victory
  • New Brunswick and surround area in British hands. They now start their move towards Philadelphia.
  • September 28th - Battle of Rosston - American victory
A closer look at the theatre of operations
During the campaign I have been refining my AWI house rules (which are based on One Hour Wargame rules). Over the Christmas period I have been able to gather up my notes and write them up. They can be found on the pages tab at the top.

I now have my board setup ready for the next game and plan to get a game in this weekend.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Medievals and Dark Ages

Having returned home from visiting the kids, I have finally been able to finish painting a small Norman style church I constructed pre-Christmas to add to my medieval buildings. As with most of my terrain and buildings it is simply made with balsa wood and with most details painted on.

A small church either being defended or about to be looted
I will be able to use this type of building in a number of periods
I now need to complete a small bridge for my Hundred Years War games, as I cannot always rely upon fords for crossings.

My next project involves building some Saxon and Norman armies. A few months back I purchased one of the Battle or Britain series by artist Peter Dennis, which provides the source illustrations for printing paper soldiers and some rules. Many years ago I picked up Osprey's Campaign Series  "Hastings 1066 - The fall of Saxon England" and while I have no desire to invest in and paint up the forces, the opportunity to use paper soldiers seemed very intriguing.

The Battle of Britain - Wargame 1066 Saxons-Vikings-Normans
I have been to the local printing shop and had all the required source pages copied on the recommended weight paper. I am now trying to make up a few stands as a test to see how they look and handle. From a look point of view they copied well and I do like the style of the illustrations. Cutting out the blocks of figures is tricky, but not too time consuming. Once cut out they are quite flimsy which will present a future storage problem and questions on their longevity with handling and packing up. As I have a few spare sheets I am going to investigate some different options for constructing them to be more robust.

Trialling construction approaches

The figures themselves are 30mm and are designed for a stand of 40mm width and 30mm depth. My initial thoughts are to use two sets of figures per stand to create an 80mm by 30mm stand. I do like stands of 3 to 4 inches so they are easy to handle, but having small stands may be better for how they look laid out on the table. Anyway, I suspect there will be quite a bit of trial and error with this project.

Friday 23 December 2016

A lack of time to focus on wargaming

A few days ago I took a break from both my Hundred Year War (HYW) and American War of Independence (AWI) tabletop gaming. It has actually been quite a while since I played a game from the AWI campaign. This is mainly due to switching most of my efforts to completing my HYW models and terrain before Christmas. I will be returning to the AWI campaign after all the festivities are over and life settles back to normality again.

I am looking forward to some more of this after Christmas
That being said I did get a couple of quick SciFi games last weekend. I have been tinkering with the rules (again) trying to get a quicker game which will last for only 30-45 minutes. The rules are geared towards units and ideally I would like to have all the figures based on larger bases rather than based individually. So for the moment I just clump the figures closely together, terrain permitting, and I may try and create some bases to slot the figures into should my rules ever become settled. It will also speed up the movement part of the game, which is something I am really liking about the other periods I play which all have biggish bases.

A quick encounter SciFi game using my W40K

During the Christmas holiday any free time I get will be used to update my AWI rules. There are a multitude of notes and changes I have made during the course of the campaign so far. So here is an excuse for another AWI photo taken from a game about a month ago.

American forces line up for battle

Saturday 17 December 2016

Medieval Scratch Built Buildings

One of the final items I wanted to add to my Hundred Years War (HYW) collection was a couple of buildings to represent a town. They had to have a limited footprint as I use a 6 inch gridded tabletop when wargaming and my HYW unit base size is 4 x 3 inches. With this constraint in mind the buildings would be built on a base size of 2 x 5 inches.

When making scratch built items I generally use balsa wood which is 1.5mm thick. Almost like a think card, but I find it easier to cut, light weight and easy to stick. The following pictures show the construction of the buildings.

I went with a simple design to fit the 2x5 inch base

Added the roof 
With the second story another sheet of balsa was added to help  differentiate levels (it helps with painting later)

A second building was to have a thatched roof of PVA glue and fine flock

These are buildings for wargaming and I find less detail equals less damage later when stored. Or shoved into a box. So most of the detail will be painted on. Where there are rough areas I use fine flock to create a textured surface which can get washed or highlighted with dry brushing during the painting process. The painting does not need to be too refined, just good enough to look ok at a distance.

A completed building on the table and in a square with troops
The following pictures show some of the painting process. The roof was painted a mid-brown then a wash of a lighter yellow-brown was applied. Finally a few flicks of watered down dark brown we applied using a fine brush, mainly on the edges and ridge, to indicate a thatched roof.

Having painted the roof the walls were painted with a wash. When dry the detail is roughly added
To get break up surfaces, such as walls, I paint one flat colour then dab on a second watered down colour. This reduces the flatness of the colour and suggests a texture on a flat surface. If I am not happy with the result, a dry brush of a lighter colour will often be sufficient.

A second colour is added to the beams to break up the colour and reduce the flat colour
With windows I paint them a dark grey or brown to keep them in line with the building colour tone. As with most of the painting I water them down a fraction when painting. This also helps when you get something wrong, a quick wipe and the mistake is gone. Once dry I used a fine brush with a black to indicate a window frame.

Finally shadows or accentuation of details with watered down black
Finally, before applying an acrylic sealer, I use a fine brush to add flicks of lines to indicate shadows and brick work as in the picture above.

The buildings with troops and a recently completed Keep

The cost of the houses was about $1.50 for the sheet of balsa wood. In terms of time, one building can be constructed in an evening including drying time. Painting takes just over an hour allowing for drying time.

I get a lot of satisfaction from scratch building terrain. I remember reading all those early wargaming books where there was always a chapter detailing how to make your own terrain. Introduction to Battlegaming by Terry Wise was the most memorable for me.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Medieval Accessories

Now that have played a couple of enjoyable Lion Rampant games and added a Keep. I thought I should get creating a few more mundane accessories such as stakes and pavises to add a bit more interest and variety when playing a game.

A game in progress using the recently completed accessories
As with all my terrain they must be easy and cheap to make. The stakes were matchsticks cut in half and stuck into a fast drying filler spread onto a base. Once dry they were painted and flocked. While matchsticks being square may not be totally ideal as stakes (which would generally be roundish) it is not noticeable except upon closer inspection.

Some archer units behind stakes
A closer look - all figures are Minifigs HYW range
The pavises were cut from 1.5mm balsa wood sheet and a triangle of balsa wood added at the back. Then undercoated in dark grey and brushed quickly on the back with a light brown. Once dry the fronts were painted to tie in with the crossbow unit colours.

Pavises with a recently completed tent in the background
Nothing complicated at the back - just a triangle of balsa painted dark grey and highlighted with light brown.

I still plan to add some buildings and a bridge in the coming week, or weeks.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Medieval Keep

I am planning to expand the terrain available for my Hundred Years War collection. The additions are: a Keep, some houses and a few stakes for archers.

The following pictures show the building of a Keep. It is small enough to fit into a 6 inch square, which I use with my gridded wargaming tabletop, and large enough for one of my large bases to fit into the top.

Using an old spare piece of timber cut in to 5 inch lengths to for a square
Nail the pieces together and add a ramp from some of the off cuts. Use wood fillers to cover nail holes and spread around a bit to create an uneven surface
Create and add a top from some MDF board.
Add strips of MDF board to the top of the keep. Use wood filler to cover nail holes and create uneven surface just like the walls.
Lightly sand, saw some slits on the battlements and seal with acrylic varnish.
I widened the slits with a standby knife then painted with mid-grey
Brush on a lighter grey and paint on details.
Flock the Keep and a unit can be placed on top
My next job is to complete the stakes which can be seen in the above picture.

In the meantime I am continuing to play a game or two using Lion Rampant in a gridded tabletop.

Game in progress

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hundred Years War with Lion Rampant on a grid

Having finished off the last couple of Minifigs HYW commander models - it was time to try them out with the Lion Rampant rules. As I generally game on a tabletop with 6 inch grid there were a few modifications to the rules mainly to do with movement. This meant there were only two movement ranges - foot at one square and mounted at two squares. When units attack they must able to move into the square of the unit they are attacking.

Game in progress
I chose not to use the leadership rules while I was getting used to the other rule mechanisms. I quickly played one game and was pretty much comfortable with most of the rules by the end of it. These rules have had many positive rules and I can understand why. After playing through them I enjoyed the game mechanisms and rolling a handful of dice for combat.

A couple of stands to represent camps
There are a few additions I need to now complete the HYW. These include a couple of camps, some medieval buildings, some stakes, and possibly a castle.

The first additions have been completed. A couple of tents used to represent a camp. They were made with modelling clay and a cut up toilet roll tube. A toothpick was stick in the middle to finish them off and to mount a flag. Nothing flash but they do the job providing you don't look too close.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Hundred Years War units finished

I have finally finished painting the last of my medieval units which are all from the Hundred Years War 25mm Minifigs range. All units are on 3" by 2" bases, infantry with 10-12 figures and mounted 4 figures. I have chosen to paint the figures fairly simply and without a specific army in mind to provide a level of flexibility when choosing forces.

All the units together
Using the definitions from Lion Rampant there are in total:

4 Mounted Men at Arms
8 Mounted Sergeants
7 Foot Men at Arms
4 Foot Sergeants
3 Crossbows
4 Longbows

Mounted Men at Arms and Sergeants
Foot Men at Arms and Bowmen

Crossbow men and Foot Sergeants

Additionally, I have two commanders mounted singly which I can attach to a unit when playing Lion Rampant. I will be using dice to track the casualties, and each stand has sufficient space at the back to place two dice which will move with the stand for convienience.

Just in case I am tempted to try out a game of DBA using a gridded tabletop. I am making a couple of tents and use up the last of my leftover models to represent a camp. In terms of rules I expect to play mostly with Lion Rampant and One Hour Wargames medieval rules.

Next project

And that should be the last of my painting for this year. My next project is Saxons, Vikings and Normans using printed 2D figures from the Battle of Britain series by Peter Dennis. I have visited a nearby Officeworks store here in Melbourne and had printed the pictures ready for cutting out an assembly.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

AWI Campaign - Battle of Rosston -September 28th, 1776

The next battle in the AWI campaign saw British forces continue to push on to Philadelphia from their newly acquired base of New Brunswick. On September, 28th as they marched they were confronted by a slightly larger America force near the town of Rosston.

British Force
2 light infantry units
2 artillery units
3 line infantry units
3 Hessian line infantry units
1 loyalist militia unit

American Force
2 frontiersmen (skirmish) units
2 artillery units
2 militia units
2 continental line infantry units

Turns 1 and 2
American forces pushed quickly forward into the fields. This was important for the militia who could then take advantage of the field for cover, increasing the number of hits they can absorb before being eliminated. The occupation of the farm buildings and nearby hill boosted the commander resolve from it's starting point of 4 to 6.
The British forces also moved forward to engage the Americans. British commander resolve was boosted from 4 to 5 for the occupation of Rosston Town.

Opening Moves
Turns 3 and 4
With both sides becoming heavily engaged in and around the fields in the centre. British light infantry moved up on their left flank to harass American forces located on the hill.

A view from the American herald hill
Turns 5 and 6
In the fight for the fields American forces were holding their own with the support of their artillery. While British artillery were focusing their fire on their American counterparts.

Turns 7 and 8
Casualties were staring to mount and both commanders were busy trying to rally units. In each turn both commanders had units eliminated and their resolve score dipped. British resolve was 3 and American resolve 4.

British units failed to dislodge American units from the fields

Turns 9 and 10
The tide of the battle was starting to turn in the American favour. They had seen off the British light infantry and the first line of British units attacking the fields. Their frontiersman were ready on the flank to advance towards Rosston.

American forces well positioned

Turns 11 and 12
Both sides had pretty much fought themselves to a standstill in the centre and with some more units eliminated. While American frontiersmen advanced on Rosston and were engaged by the defending forces. Command resolve was reduced to 1 for both sides.

Add caption

Turns 13
The final turn saw the loss of a loyalist militia unit defending the town and with that British resolve was zero. So a marginal victory went to the Americans.

Sunday 27 November 2016

AWI Campaign - August 16th, 1776, continued...

With the new shooting and elimination rules in place (jotted down on a note pad) and with a few final tweaks based on comments received from my last post, it was time to test the rules out.

British line up for battle
A very quick recap of the rules with their modifications.

When shooting units roll a number of dice (D6) depending the unit type and hitting on 4+ regardless of whether the target unit is in cover.

Artillery and Light Infantry and Frontiersmen roll 1D6
Line Infantry, Grenadiers and Militia roll 2D6
Cavalry roll 3D6 when charging

Once a unit has exceeded the limit of hits allowed they are eliminated. However, a unit's staying power is increased by 2 when they are in cover.

Militia - 4 hits in open and 6 hits in cover (Militia get cover when in fenced fields and buildings)
Artillery - 4 hits and 6 hits in cover (fortifications only)
Frontiersmen - 4 hits in the open and 6 hits in any cover
Cavalry - 5 hits
Light Infantry - 5 hits in open and 7 hits in any cover
Line Infantry - 6 hits in open and 8 in cover (buildings only)
Grenadiers - 7 hits in open and 9 hits in cover (buildings only)

Having decided hills would not increase a units staying power. Any unit shooting down from a hill is allowed to re-roll one failed to hit dice. This deliberately helps artillery and skirmish type units more so than line infantry.

So on to the game - the battle of Reynold's Farm...

Turns 1 and 2
The American commander started the game with a resolve of 6 having gained 2 resolve points with holding the farm and one on the hills. American forces decided to hold the farm and nearby fields placing their militia units in fields to benefit with an increase staying power (6). Their other forces made a flanking move on the British left flank.

The British for their part quickly raced to hold the two hills to their centre and left flank. Gaining 2 commander resolve points (resolve = 6).

Note - hills and building squares when occupied increase a commanders resolve being key terrain features.

American forces deployed and in the background they start their flank move
Turns 3 and 4
The British force was surprised by the speed of the American flanking move and came under some ineffective fire from their artillery. The hill on their left flank was shaping up to be the crucible of the coming battle.

American forces can be seen moving up on the British left flank
Turns 5 and 6
British and American forces had deployed a good portion of their forces around the hill and were exchanging volleys of fire. While the British artillery were finally deployed.

Volleys being exchanged between sides
Turns 7 and 8
Units on both sides were suffering hits, but neither side had yet lost any units. While American artillery was focused on the hill, British artillery was firing upon their counterparts with a good level of accuracy delivering a number of hits.

The view of the battle from Reynold's farm
Turns 9 and 10
Both sides started to suffer unit casualties. The British losing a line infantry unit and the light infantry on their left flank. This quickly drew the cavalry reserve into the battle to shore up the left flank. The American forces lost an artillery unit and line infantry.

The commander resolve of both sides was reduced to 4 a piece. Note - commander resolve is reduced by one whenever one or more units are lost during a turn.

British cavalry move in to shore up their left flank
Turns 11 and 12
While American forces continued to be lost in the attack upon the hill, the British grenadiers were lost in its defence. Meanwhile on the left flank the remaining British forces had started to advance upon the farm buildings.

The American attack starts to wane as casualties take their toll
Turns 13 and 14
With the attack losing momentum and British advancing upon Reynold's farm, addition loses saw American command resolve reduced to 1. British resolve was only fractionally better sitting at 2, but their remaining units in better condition the tide of battle was now definitely in their favour.

The American attack finally crumbles
Turns 15
The American commander concedes and the remaining units retire.

The rule changes appear to work ok and need some more games to be tested, but they will remain for the present and will need to be written up. My next task in the coming weeks.