Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The British Arrive - Sudan Re-Basing Part 2

"Steady lads!" The 28mm British forces ready to fight the Mahdists in the Sudan...or in my kitchen...

This is part two of the long, long, long-delayed completion of the re-basing of my 28mm Mahdist Revolt collection. Here are the British infantry forces and commanders on their new bases.

For the British infantry I wanted to go with a very narrow frontage for the figures.  They were generally in squares for actions in the Sudanese theatre, and were greatly outnumbered in the battles. Your firing line is going to be compact, the men close together, firing volley after volley, hoping the enemy will break...I hoped the figures would represent that, so the frontage is narrow - 15mm per foot model.   With 24 models per infantry unit that works out to a frontage of 180mm in line, which is very reasonable for battles on 6' x 4' tables.

I'm pleased with how it turned out - narrow enough to give the solid look to the battle line, but still large enough to take up a decent amount of space on the table, and not too large in contrast of the Mahdist warbands.

Screw gun and crew hold the flank near the stout members of the KRRC.
My original effort had centered around painting the units involved with General Graham's forces who were based at the port of Suakin on the Red Sea coast.  These units engaged Mahdist forces in the battles of El Teb and Tamai in the spring of 1884.  My first British infantry were a group of Yorks & Lancs (who could probably represent one of several units present, as several battalions had similar-looking uniforms and kit issued to them), then a group of Cameron Highlanders (at least, I think they were Camerons...I tried my best with the tartan.  Maybe they are Gordons? But they are not the Black Watch) and associated support.  This would include the notorious Gatling and Gardner guns, and a screw gun.

General Graham and assorted supporting officers to represent the overall command and brigade commanders in "Black Powder"

In 2013 I worked to expand the British side of my collection.  I painted up a group to represent the King's Royal Rifle Corps, who had black leather belts and pouches.  I also added some cavalry - figures representing the 10th Hussars. There is a mix of figures with sabres and with improvised lances in that unit. The British cavalry found themselves turning to these lances in order to deal with terrain that, while nominally "flat" and "open", could often be very broken and difficult for cavalry troopers trained to operate under European battle conditions.  The Madhist warriors would make things tricky, lying low and lying down and making it hard for the mounted troopers to hit them. Lances were a solution...

One of the iconic pieces of this setting - a Gardner gun - deadly for Mahdists until it jams! Some naval ratings are present to the left and behind the gun.

Gatling gun in position at the corner of a brigade square.

In 2013 I also wanted to work toward some games set on the Gordon Relief Expedition, particularly the engagements at Abu Klea and Abu Kru involving the British Camel Corps. To this end I painted a group of figures to represent one of the Camel Regiments present in that column. These are some of my favourite figures from the setting, as they sport things like neck curtains, goggles, ammunition bandoleers and sword bayonets that offer a unique look.

The Yorks & Lancs (and potentially a number of other units) on their new bases.
Highlanders prepare to deliver a volley!

As "Black Powder" is a pretty easy-going set of rules, I didn't need to re-base the gun teams right now.  I might do that at some point, but as a blog visitor Murdock pointed out in the comment section of the previous post, the round base kind of lines up with the map symbol for artillery - I like that! At any rate, everything is measured easily from the barrel so these pieces will be fine, and they stay as originally painted back in 2007!

The 10th Hussars, sporting an assortment of weapons.

Another view of the Hussars...turns out I had painted 13 models, which is kind of...odd...anyway, one extra lad at the back.

This force is not totally coherent...the Camel Corps figures would not have seen action around Suakin for example, while the Highlanders and Hussars would not have been present with the Desert Column.  I don't think the Rifles were there either...but I'm not sure - the elements of the Desert Column are always a little confusing as the Regiments in question were pulled from volunteers from various units, including cavalry regiments and the Guards regiments.

But anyway, coherence aside, it will do for "Black Powder" games! Hopefully these lads will see action in the sands of the Sudan on the gaming table sometime this fall. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

From The Dust Of The Sudan...New Life For An Old Project

Re-based and ready for mayhem in the Sudan - my 28mm Mahdist collection has - FINALLY - been re-based for "Black Powder"

Over the past couple of years, friends in the gaming group would, during in a break in the gaming action at the Fawcett Conscript gaming table, periodically ask me "Hey, what ever happened to your Sudan collection?"

What did happen?

Well, in this hobby, re-basing your figures is one of the worst things you will ever do, right...?


So, first to backup. About ten years ago I started a collection of figures to game the Mahdist Revolt in the Sudan in 28mm. The figures, by the Perry Twins, are a total joy to paint and I was very excited to dive into (what was then for me) a new period.  Of course, a critical decision you make when you start a new project is the basing.  At that time, I made a fateful decision - I based all of the models individually, thinking I would do skirmish games (even very large ones) where each figure represented one warrior/soldier.  Back at the time I couldn't figure out or find any decent rules to represent the massed encounters that occurred during the Mahdist Revolt on the gaming table, so I based all the models on surplus round GW bases.

Mahdist army command base, combining two figures which had been previously been based separately.  It occurs to me that it would probably make a fine command stand for a game of "Hail Caesar" or even be a fun warlord stand for a "Saracen" warband in "SAGA"
We ran a number of fun games using, of all things, the "Lord of The Rings" skirmish rules.  This was before we started maintaining this blog, but I think the games were generally well-received by the group.  One game has even managed to achieve a rare level of infamy among veteran Fawcett Avenue gamers, an infamous circumstance in which the faith and devotion inspired by a Mahdist religious leader allowed a lone Beja warrior to overcome a whole group of Yorks & Lancs...

Mahdist warriors assembled in a "warband" formation - note the bendy spear holding the standard...won't be long till that finally gives out but I hope to get a couple more games in before that happens

Sometime in 2009-ish (smarter people will correct me if I have the wrong date) Warlord Games released "Black Powder", an excellent rule set covering battles from the 18th and 19th centuries.  This included the Mahdist Revolt, and in fact the beautiful rulebook included a set-piece game featuring the Battle of El-Teb. Since it was the Perry Brothers and company, the figures and game of course looked amazing - and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of using these 28mm figures to represent a larger mass-type battle...I was torn.  My figures were already based individually, but "Black Powder" looked so fun...what to do?

In 2013, Dallas hosted a game where we managed to try it out.  We used sabot trays as a bodge for the British, while the Mahdist figures just moved around in hordes. It was fun - see it here on the blog.

Mahdist cavalry...can probably bust this down into two different units for a game

That game really stuck with me.  And while at the time I thought I would just use sabot trays so I would not have to re-base my figures, that notion didn't get very far. I dislike the look of the trays - it's just not my preference.  In particular the British Troops should be very close together - after all you are shoulder to shoulder in the face of a vast enemy, so you are going to bunch up! And while the individual horde of Mahdist models looked the part, it was time-consuming to move 30 figures one-at-a-time and realize you have only moved one unit...

The "horde" effect of these large warbands is fun - the warband in front is armed with captured rifles; generally I will add future rifle units as individually-based skirmishers but I thought one big rifle unit would be fun for the Sudanese players, just as something of a counterpoint to the massive (and deadly) musketry of the British forces
So while I had painted another batch of figures for the Sudan period in the Spring of 2013 (part of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge that year) I resolved I would re-base the models. I measured out the basing plan I would used and placed a big order. Grimly, I took to the hobby knife out and got started digging the approximately 200+ 28mm figures out of their bases...


And so four years passed.  Re-basing is a tough slog, and of course I was always diving into, and painting other periods and settings, especially 30k.  Painting is always more fun, and this took priority in my hobby time.  Re-basing was just...the worst...and this big notion of mine languished...I finished one Mahdist unit right away, but NOTHING happened with the rest of the collection...and once you have started, you kind of should not stop...but I did...

Oh man, one of my all-time favourite models, the captured Egyptian Krupp gun with Egyptian "volunteer" crew being "encouraged" by their Mahdist overseer...the artillery pieces in my collection didn't actually require re-basing, as "Black Powder" is pretty flexible and you can measure everything from the gun barrel. The round base didn't matter in this case, which is nice, although I may put the weapons on a square base one day...

As I re-based, I noticed several downsides to this new "Black Powder" plan.  First of all, a lot of the paint jobs on the figures, which are pretty old and have moved to two different new houses with me, and have also traveled to Regina a couple of times, are showing damage here and there, as spears begin to bend and paint rubs off. Re-basing increased the rate of damage, requiring a lot of touch up paint as I went along.

Spear-armed warband - going forward I will try and work a few guys with captured Remington rifles into each unit, but for now these groups are fairly uniform in their armament

Finally, while I absolutely love the mass effect, at the end of the day a collection of what felt, to me, like SO many models when I started out on the re-basing only works out to a few Mahdist units for the table.  As you can see in the photo, the whole effort turns a sprawling force into three formed units of warband infantry and one cavalry unit (there is also a group of camels which is not in the photo - I'm leaving them on their big round bases as mounted skirmishers for now).  It's a bit depressing, especially when you see how the real Sudan gamers like Dave D do their super-amazing Sudan collection (check it out at this link - prepare for your mind to be BLOWN).  It was super hard to be motivated to re-base what suddenly seemed to be an inadequate collection...

And so these figures, once one of the proudest parts of my painted miniature collection, sat in a closet...and years went by! When the guys would ask about it, I would mumble something about re-basing and move along...I would occasionally make a commitment, sometimes out loud to others (always unwise when it comes to the hobby) to get them finished "in a couple weeks".  But NOTHING happened for years...


Two weeks ago I came across these models in the storage and got really mad at myself.    It's been over four-and-a-half years since I had played or run a Sudan game, and it's been even longer since I painted any of the wonderful figures from this Perry range.  I finally snapped my own crayons, buckled down, dug out the Liquitex and f****ing got to work.

Another view of the re-based commanders...the mounted Imam has great notoriety among veterans of our gaming group
So the Mahdists have - finally - been re-based!!! After four and a half years!!! I am planning to line up another couple of units in the painting queue to enhance the force. It will never match Dave D's collection, but it will allow for "Black Powder" fun, which is all that matters!

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the newly re-based British forces...and hopefully the Fawcett guys will be up for another Sudan "Black Powder" game this really has been too long!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Saracen Flag Bearer for SAGA

"Saracen" war banner bearer for my SAGA warband

This is a bit of an extra for my Saracen warband in "SAGA: Crescent and the Cross".  This is a flag bearer, which I believe can be swapped in among the hearthguard to help lower fatigue levels of the warriors in the game.  My Crusader warband has a battleflag bearer, so I thought it would be good to do one up as well for the Saracen warriors.

Beautiful, fluid feeling of movement to these incredible Perry sculpts
As with the other figures, this is a 28mm sculpt from the Perry twins' First Crusade range. I will again rave about just how gorgeous these sculpts are.  They are just lovely and a lot of fun to paint. I even enjoyed hand-painting the shield this time - perhaps a sign that I am getting into a bit of a groove when it comes to painting historical warriors.

The flag itself is a banner from Maverick Models.  I believe, strictly speaking, it is actually a Mahdist banner from the uprising in Sudan, 800 years or so after the First Crusade, which is a fairly significant historical whiff on my part, but I needed an arabic-looking, basic banner and this seemed to work, so I'm going with it for now...I can always cut it off and replace it later.

As with the other "Saracen" figurs, I tried to work some bold and brighter colours into the mix
In addition to some bonuses for his fellow Saracen warriors in SAGA, this figure will also be able to join a command group in a game such as "Hail Caesar", which I still harbour dreams/notions/delusions of playing in 28mm some day.  With nine arab heavy cavalry models already painted for the SAGA warband, it would not be a stretch to add a musician and a few more warriors to make a heavy cavalry unit for "Hail Caesar" (or a couple of more "points" for SAGA, for that matter).

So the two rival warbands are ready for SAGA action. Considering I ordered the figures back in January that isn't a totally terrible turnaround time.  Hope to put them into action on the Fawcett gaming table this fall!

In terms of what's next for painting (because I must always be painting something, or I'll lose my mind), I will be turning next to another historical subject, one that has been absent from my painting table for quite a while...stay tuned!

Friday, October 6, 2017

From Strength, Cometh Will - Heresy-Era Iron Warriors - Part 2

After the pounding the boys took on Paramar V a few weeks back, there is only one rational response... ESCALATION! And what says "escalation" more loudly or clearly than ten Cataphractii Terminators with giant f***-off missile racks strapped to them. Enter the Tyrant Siege Terminators.

These lads are constructed from the plastic Cataphractii Terminators included in the excellent Betrayal at Calth box. You get five models in the box, so this ten-man squad is two boxes' worth.

I ruminated long and hard about the bits to use for the missile racks, finally settling on Anvil Industry's Missile Racks. At three of your English pounds and 50 pence each they are not cheap, but neither are Tyrants from Forge World... plus it seems I got a five-pound discount for ordering ten - not bad.

The Cataphractii are mean and moody for sure, and pretty easy to paint in my standard scheme.

Heavy flamer just for fun... good view of the shoulder pad stripes as well. I have to admit I was kind of lost with these at first, until I determined that I could draw them out using the rivets on the pad for reference. I was able to get a pretty uniform width for them as a result.

Rear view. I was pretty lazy with the pteruges, just painted them straight Doombull Brown with a wash. I suppose they look OK.

Here's the Terminator squad!

The other addition seen in the Paramar V game was this Deredeo dreadnought.

Giant f***-off missile rack here too - are you sensing a pattern?

Model assembly was straightforward, except that the cannons were horribly warped and wouldn't fully respond to the hot water treatment. Solution: fabricate some small braces out of plasticard to hold them straight. U-shaped cuts in the top and bottom of the piece secure them to the barrels. I should really finish them around the tops with some greenstuff I guess.

How'd you like to see this coming at you?

Great looking model. Stand tall Mr. Deredeo...

Next up I think I should do some more tactical marines. I also have some vehicles to paint as well, certainly enough stuff to keep me going for awhile... Winter is coming...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More Arab Heavy Cavalry - First Saracen Warband Completed!

Arab heavy cavalry in 28mm, sculpts from Perry Miniatures (and they are AMAZING!)
After returning from the lake this summer, and following a good long streak of general focus on 30k and science fiction painting, I resolved to try and finish a basic, four-point Saracen Warband for "SAGA: Crescent and the Cross".  The warlord had already been painted, but he was all alone, so throughout September I concentrated on the fighting elements for the warband.  I am excited to share that, with the completion of these four figures, I have completed the basic warband!

Ready to repel the Frankish invaders!

These four figures are, once again, from the Perry Brothers incredible 28mm First Crusade collection.  They are beautiful sculpts.  These four mounted warriors represent one "point" of hearthguards in the SAGA game.  These warriors are armed with bows in addition to their lances, so will provide some flexibility for the Saracen player on the table.

Colourful AND heavily armed and armoured...a challenge to paint, but lots of fun when they are finished!

I have been griping about painting shields throughout this process, but in this case I was a little smarter with the shields I selected.  I made sure I had some flat ones for this group, and that meant I could use the amazing transfers from LBMS on a couple of them. Yay!

These fellows carry bows as well, a little more flexible in terms of fighting options on the table, I think
So with these fellows completed, that's a four-point warband, ready for action on the gaming table. I'm pretty happy with how all of the different colours look on these different warriors.  The Perry sculpts are just amazing, with incredible detail and an impression of motion that I find so suitable for the period. It's also been fun to overcome a bit of a mental block in terms of tackling a new period for historical gaming that I hope to dive further into going forward.

The completed four-point Saracen warband, ready for a basic SAGA game

The Saracen warlord in the middle, surely thrilled to have some warriors to command in his struggle against the Crusaders....
Even better, they will be able to tangle with the Crusader warband I finished earlier this year. Hopefully we will be able to share some SAGA gaming on the tables of the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts later this fall!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Saracen Heavy Cavalry for SAGA

Saracen heavy cavalry for SAGA

More progress on my 28mm Saracen Warband for "SAGA: Crescent and the Cross".  This is to be a basic four-point warband, and I have manged to finish the first two "points", eight spearmen and eight mounted archers.  That left two "points" worth of figures to go, and these would be the "hearthguards", which in the Saracen warband are represented by heavy cavalry.  These are 28mm metal castings from the Perry brothers' incredible First Crusade range.

Taken as a youth from Russia or perhaps somewhere around the Crimea? Who knows?

As the hearthguards are made of tougher stuff than the warriors, a "point" of them gets you correspondingly fewer models, with four models per "point".  Mounted on fine horses, sporting heavy armour and an assortment of lances and other nasty weapons, these heavy cavalry will fight to the last in defence of their Emir and his lands.

That warhammer doesn't look so big, but I bet it hurts...

As with the mounted archers, I have found that there seemed to be no specific, formal uniform for these warriors, and some could be equipped in very colourful garb beneath the chain mail and lamellar armour, so I tried to put a nice variety of colours on these warriors.  I also tried to paint a hint of a pattern here or there on some of the clothing to show its fine work, but that manner of painting is mostly beyond my skills so the efforts on that score were limited.

Hand-painted shields are so fun...NOT.  Oh well, they kind of blend together from two-feet away, which works for me.

As before, the shields make me mental, but I've got some decent momentum rolling along on this project so I'm able to tune out the frustrations and just power through.  And I was able to get an LBMS transfer on one of the warriors, which is a nice touch!

A different angle showing some of the horse furniture and different clothing and equipment

Some of the warriors may have been slaves, "Ghulams", so I painted one warrior with blonde hair, representing a warrior who may have been taken from somewhere in Europe as a youth and found his way down the retinue of an Emir, having grown into a loyal warrior in service of his Lord.

Ready for the charge!

With these painted, I have only one "point" of hearthguards to go before the basic warband is complete.  I hope to share those final figures shortly!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Star Wars Battle (System Sci-Fi Terrain) Report

So, last Thursday I hosted an evening of our old favourite brain-free skirmish game, Star Wars Miniatures. I love SWM because the system is simple, we love the setting, I have tons of figures for it, and I have a handy scenario book that I grabbed up when I saw a second-hand copy (it's now long out of print).
The other reason to roll out this game was that a Kickstarter I'd backed in 2016 finally arrived - this was the Battle Systems Sci-Fi II project.

I put together a bunch of the card scatter terrain and some of the walls, and set up a scenario from the Ultimate Missions: Rebel Storm book - Escape from Hoth.

In this mission, the Rebels have two squads of soldiers and Leia, Han, Chewie and 3PO. They must escape the Echo Base command centre and get to the Millennium Falcon before they are "defeated" by the Imperials - two large squads of snowtroopers led by General Veers. The Imperials get 2-4 snowtroopers as reinforcements every turn, as well.

Here's one Rebel squad in position. Leia can be seen in the command centre at top. We used the game mat supplied in the Kickstarter for Echo Base, it seemed to work well. The mat is a high-quality piece made out of a thin mouse-mat type material.

Here come the snowtroopers! The Echo Base walls are all card, held together with plastic connectors. The walls all go together fine but do take time to assemble. The buttresses just hang off the walls and are a nice touch.

One room in the floorplan is a medical centre. The chairs, consoles and beds are all card from the Kickstarter as well.

In the scenario, Leia starts off placed in the central command room, with Han and Chewie in the medbay. Leia may not leave the command room until Han is placed next to her - she's too worried about the troop evacuation to be concerned with her own safety. In the pics above and below she's just been convinced by Han to beat it and is headed for the ship.

Rebel soldiers desperately hold back the Imperials as Han blasts a snowtrooper.

Han was reduced to only 10 hit points by the time he decided to flee. Fortunately Chewie could absorb some damage from the approaching snowtroopers. The rules have an interesting mechanic where most models may only shoot at a model in cover if there isn't a closer target in the open. The Rebel players used this to advantage by moving Han and Chewie together - being screened by another model counts as "cover" so they had to shoot at Chewie instead of Han.

Blood bath in Echo Base as the Imperials flood in. Where's Lord Vader when you need him?!?

Leia and 3PO make it aboard the Falcon...

...with Han and Chewie right behind.

It was quite a fun game, with the result coming down to the wire. Han and Leia were quite seriously wounded with both being only one hit away from "defeat" - however the Rebels pulled it off and the heroes escaped to continue the Rebellion another day.

No word on what happened to the Rebel soldiers who were left defending Echo Base!

Some final thoughts on the Battle Systems terrain - I really like it. There's a ton of scatter terrain to put together but there are lots of videos on how to do this - thankfully (it's not exactly intuitive in some cases). The stuff seems well designed and fits together well, mostly. As far as the walls, they're awesome and it's not up to me to try and design some games that utilize the "third dimension" of multi-storey structures that this set encourages. Looking forward to more games with the tiles, I could really see having some great games of 30K or Necromunda with them.