Chinchillas over Normandy
This weekend, I have been assembling an mdf house that I bought from Charlie Foxtrot Models last week. The kit fitted together very neatly. I especially like the engraved roof, complete with broken and slipped roof tiles.
Kevin from Charlie Foxtrot advised me to render the outside walls with Chinchilla Bathing sand, which is made of very finely ground cork. Alesia at my local pet shop was a bit disappointed that we weren't getting a new pet, but didn't bat an eyelid when I told her it was for plastering a model house.
In my first attempt to cover the walls, I watered down the pva glue too much and it left bald patches on the wall. I also varied between dipping the walls in the sand and sprinkling it on from above. My conclusion, based on this first attempt, is that the smoothest finish is achieved by applying undiluted glue to the surface, then rolling this gently in a bowl of the sand.
I need to spray the walls white tomorrow, before coming back with colour from a Duluth tester pot. This model doesn't come with shutters, but I will try to make some to reinforce the French feel of the building.
I am really enjoying this project and suspect I'll be picking up a lot more houses in the coming months. For one thing, what else would I do with all that Chinchilla sand?
Last night I had my arse handed to me on a plate. In the first game of Sword & Spear for a year, my Epeirot army was comprehensively pounded by Keith's Republican Romans. I did everything wrong, deploying my phalanx right on the front of the deployment zone, putting cavalry in a guaranteed traffic jam on the left and leaving my light troops, who seriously outnumbered the enemy's, milling about uselessly in the rear. Keith managed to absorb the threat of my elephants with a velite unit that lasted long enough for his Centre to close the gap with mine. When my phalanx 'crashed' home, three of the four units were disrupted by Roman thrown weapons, losing fresh status and hence the crucial extra two impetus dice. It was not a glorious evening. To add insult to injury, my dice rolled so consistently poorly that Keith, who was rolling sixes with the self same cubes, offered to get a fresh set of dice to break the jinx. Sometimes it's better to stay in camp. Actually, it isn't: the game was still exciting, I learned masses of lessons for the next time (just you wait!) and we polished off a jar of very good Somerset cider by the end of the evening that softened the blow. And in case of misunderstanding, I was losing big time before the dice turned against me, so I have nobody to blame but myself. And Keith played a nigh-on flawless game. This was the first outing for my new Romans so I'm pleased for them. No, I really am...
The day had started well, with a trip to Valhalla in Farnborough with Keith, Ian and Will. There were fewer stall holders and games than previously but my favourite traders were there: Warlord, Colonel Bill's, Newline and Charlie Foxtrot. This last team, Colin and Kevin, came up from Devon with a great range of mdf buildings and counters. I picked up some Bolt Action Brits to take me over 500 points; a German MMG and a Charlie Foxtrot farmhouse kit. I also picked up a 60mm Sword and Spear measuring stick and counters from Charlie Foxtrot. Fat lot of good it did me! But the stick is a great player aid, with ranges and movement distances marked on it.
On balance, it was a great Father's Day. To top it all, my older son gave me a DIY bacon kit. Just add pig.
I have had some interesting exchanges recently with Michel, a prolific wargamer and driving force behind Opération Zéro, the site for Francophone wargamers in Belgium. http://operationzero.rforum.biz/forum. He is a great supporter of the Renaissance rules Tercios, which he and colleagues play in 10mm. Michel recently started collecting Poles and Cossacks and we have been discussing how to track down useful background in English or French about the period and theatre. Of course the rules By Fire and Sword provide a lot of really useful background, but there is not much else published about the period in the sort of detail a wargamer wants.
Having been obsessed with the Chudnov (Cudnów) campaign of 1660 for a few years now, I have put together a conversion chart to turn the Orbats for this campaign into units for Tercios. Of course the original data is open to challenge as sources disagree on the numbers involved, but I used the set on which the majority seem to concur. I hope the tables are self explanatory. There is more about the campaign on this website as well as a scenario each for Tercios and for Maurice. I plan to offer scenarios for every engagement of the campaign eventually. These include a meeting engagement, a set piece battle, a fighting retreat and an assault on an entrenched camp.
I have nearly finished my first 22 British infantry for Bolt Action. I have assembled two sections of ten men, each with a Bren team and a sten gun-armed Corporal. The first section is varnished ready for basing and the second just needs highlighting on faces and hands. In addition I have made a two man PIAT team. There are three figures left to assemble. I will leave these until after my next purchase, to see what would be the best fit with whatever I pick up. I imagine a good candidate would be runners to join the HQ.
I am not that scientific in the early stages of building an army list. What comes next will depend on what second hand figures are on sale at Colonel Bill's stall at Valhalla next Sunday, or on what figures I most like the look of at the Warlord stand. I am, however, pretty sure I want a 6pdr anti tank gun and a universal carrier to tow it.
Regarding points, so far I have the following.
1st Regular infantry section, 10 men, 1 Bren gun, 1 sten. 123 points
2nd Regular infantry section, 10 men, 1 Bren gun, 1 sten. 123 points
Regular PIAT team. 40 points
I will need an officer, let's say a First Lieutenant for 75 points
With 2 Regular runners at 20 points
That makes 381 points so far.
A QF 6pdr would cost 75 points,
Universal Carrier 70 points
Subtotal at that stage: 526 points.
If I can pick up one more section for 100 points that would be good, as two sections feel like too few but I don't especially want a full box of another 25 plastics yet., how about a Vickers MMG for support, with its own carrier? That would be another 120. I'm starting to wonder if the Carrier platoon boxed set would be a cost-effective buy, since it gives 3 carriers and 15 infantry for £50....
Bolt Action British plastics
The Bolt Action project is under way. Matt has started on a US force; Ian has ordered some Fallschirmjagers and I have assembled two British sections and a PIAT team. I began painting these last night. I used Coate d'Armes British khaki, which is a good colour but however hard I stir it, it seems to stay a bit shiny. Once the base colours are blocked out, I'll wash the figures with GW Agrax. The plan is to finish these figures before Valhalla on 19 June, when I'll pick up British command, an Anti Tank gun and a vehicle or two. I am tempted to but some universal carriers, a favourite ever since I made the Airfix model in 1/72. In larger game systems the universal carrier is a bit vulnerable all round. Perhaps at Bolt Action scale it will have a practical application.
We just got back from a long weekend in North Norfolk with the first key ingredient for the next multi-player game: a keg of Adnams beer. Having made this vital investment I need to start work on the game we will play. The current choice is between an ACW game using Paul Koch's On To Richmond, a refight of Ramillies in 6mm using my own rules and a 17th century battle using Tercios. We fought Ramillies a couple of times several years ago and the figures would need an overhaul, but it is a fascinating battle and I think it is top of the list for now.