Friday, April 14, 2017

Normans/Crusaders for Saga

Here's the latest installment of my Saga factions: the Normans, who also can double as Crusaders. These guys were fun and easy to paint, they being almost entirely covered in chain mail. 

First though, are a  few shots of basing. I had wanted to do a whole entry on this but this'll have to do. My primary basing material comes from the construction project next door as two new houses were built. I have used lots of materials in the past but it occurred to me one day that real dirt may be the best material of all, and it's free. I grabbed a bucketful and started sifting it with colanders. I ended up with three grades which I labeled '0', '00' and '000'. What you see on these bases is the 000. 

The figure on the left has his base coat of 000. I use white glue with a special brush I cut and apply liberally and let dry. Then after using a soft brush to remove the excess dirt and dust, I dry brush the bases with Vallejo's Stone Grey. The figure on the right has been dry brushed. I never worry about getting a little of the paint on feet/shoes/boots. After all, if you had dirt/mud on your boots, it would be the same color as the ground you're standing on.

Static grass has been added to complete the basing. I will use the grass to hide spots on the base I don't like; either from paint splotches or uneven coverage of material. The whole process is time consuming but I like the end result. I've seen many types of basing and generally like them all. This is just my way to do it.

The Bastard and his brood.

Close up of the mounted knights. Shields once again by Little Big Man Studios. Love 'em. The banner is as yet unpainted clearly. I haven't decided to use a Norman standard from the Bayeux Tapestry or the cross of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Foot warriors. Prolly lost their mounts on the way to the Holy Land or in their first skirmish with the Turks and they charged headlong into retreating bow fire.

Foot slogging archers.

Foot warriors #2.

The deadly crossbow. You'll get no quarrel from me about them.

Foot warriors #3.

Close up shots of knights.

I like this guy for some reason.

The basing style is the same, only bigger, for cavalry.

If you look closely, you can see the two guys in the back right of this unit are guys who's hands didn't match up properly. As I said, I was able to paint them as if they are wearing gloves and you can't tell that it's a seam.

I'm looking forward to seeing these guys in action. Opponents that I can field include Anglo-Danes, Welsh, Vikings and Saracens.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Saga: Late Romans

Finally got my Romans done for Saga. It was tough to make a decent army without the AEtius and Arthur book to know for sure what was in the list. However, I was able to freeze frame a video review on You Tube and get a snap shot of (almost all of) the correct page in the book to work off of. As far as I know A&A is still not available in the U.S. so I ordered my book direct from England. It turns out I may have to paint a few more guys to tweak my list, making more Levies for example, but for now this is what I got!

This army and book is right in my wheelhouse, maybe my favorite period of history. A big fan of Arthur and his exploits since I was a child, I was very happy to see Saga move into this era. I love the information available on Late Imperial/Patrician Romans, specifically the Notitia Dignitatum, so this has been a fun project from start to finish.

So, without further ado, let me present to yinz my Romans for Saga.

The whole kit and kaboodle. A Warlord, mounted and on foot, two points of infantry HearthGuard, three points of  infantry Warriors and 1 point of Levy. Also, 8 cavalry which can be either a point of Warriors or two of Hearthguard, depending how I want to construct my list.

The Warlord. Love how the camera focused on the building behind him.

I love that shield pattern and got two copies, so, one for each.

The cavalry. I just bought them and for the life of me can't remember the maker. Metal figs, came without weapons, so once again I added plastics from left over Gripping Beast sprues. Worked. These can be fielded as 2 units of HearthGuard or one of Warriors. All shields from Little Big Man Studios; I cannot say enough good things about them. The only issue was trying to decide which ones to use.

I like the Valentinian shield. Also note the lack of stirrups. Nice when they get it right.

The legionnaires, or HearthGuard for our game purposes. Probably new citizens recruited from German tribes, who cares once you put on the uniform?

The game designers are calling this a 'manuballista'. It's been fun watching the gaming 'scholars' scream over top of each other about what it should be called. I haven't seen that many declensions since Gerald Ford was president. Who gives a shit? It's the first artillery piece in the game system and shoots 2 x Long range. I can't wait to use it. It counts as a Levy. I'm going to call mine peanut butter and jellicus just to piss people off.

The first unit of Warriors. I love these guys. They are Gripping Beast Plastics. Shields again by LBM Studios.

Warrior unit #2. All pissed off because they wanted to be #1.

Warrior unit #3, the Auxilia Palantina. I may buy a couple more sprues of these. I've found them on eBay but the shipping is exorbitant; the guy wants over $20 for something that prolly costs him a buck. 

Next up is the opponent for these guys, Arthur himself and the Britons. (Romano-British, Sub-Roman British, take your pick...) I'll prolly get a box of 'Dark Age Warriors' from Gripping Beast and use the leftover oval shields from the Roman box. LBM has 'Arthurian' shields transfers that combine some Roman designs with Saxon and Celtic knotwork. They're nice.

I can't wait go give these guys a go. I don't care if they're a 'good' faction to play; I already love them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Norman Project, Part 2: Painting cavalry

Quick photo journal of the painting of a group of Norman knights/Crusaders. The work you see in these pics took about 3.5 hours from start to finish and about 45 minutes to an hour of that was waiting for the washes to dry. I've simplified and organized my painting a great degree over the last two decades.

Primered. Primer covers a lot of my modelling mistakes. I like to paint assembly line fashion, so rarely do one model at a time. When doing cavalry, I'll usually do all the horses in the group the same color/style to make it easier. If I do several different groups the same and then mix them... viola; no one knows they were all painted the same. For this group, though, I'll do the horses different.

The base coat. Sloppy and splashed on, when I wash them, many sins will be forgiven. I chose several colors for the horses as you can see. The two in the center are the same base color but will be washed different shades, and even though it's not real apparent in the pictures, they will look different in person.

Another shot of the base coat. Note I don't do any of the details such as the stirrups or swords pommels n@t. I am exceedingly lazy (hence the use of washes in the first place.) I used to apply at least three colors on every surface and that was 99% 15mm's! I even painted the Virgin and Child on a 15mm King Arthur shield. That was then, this is now though. Now it's base coat, wash, highlight with base coat colors. Done.

Just in case you thought I was lying or exaggerating. In Malory, Arthur had a depiction of Madonna and Child on the inside of his shield so that every time he blocked an enemy's attack he was strengthened by seeing the Virgin Mother and baby Jesus. Well, this is as close as I was going to get to that. At one time I considered it a challenge to make every mini into a work of art. Now, while I still enjoy the painting aspect of the hobby, I am happy with decent looking guys for my forces.

The wash applied. I prefer Army Painter inks that you can see in the back ground.

The light brown horse on the right got a Red wash to try to get that chestnut color, while the two in the center got Dark and Soft washes, right to left. The left bay got Soft as well. All the riders were washed in Soft as that is my usual go-to wash.

Highlighted with base colors and details filled in. You can see the two on the right do indeed show different shades of brown and I'm happy with the chestnut. That was the first time I tried that undercoat and will use it often now. Typically, they really do look better in person, honest.

Note their shields are not done. For starters, the transfers are still on order from England, but also, I am going to do an entry dedicated to just their shields, along with their accompanying infantry. And yes, I hand painted all my 15mm Norman shields.

I'm also going to do a separate blog report on their bases. That'll be up next. It's a time consuming process, but you'll see and judge for yourself if you think it's worth it. I do, usually. Sometimes, I just glue and flock. As always, I'm ever ready for hints, tips or suggestions to make my guys look better or save me a lot of effort.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Norman Project. Part 1: Putting the damn army together.

So, this is something a little different. I thought it might be fun for some to watch a project from start to finish, especially those that aren't really into gaming that may look at this. In this case, my Normans/Crusaders for Saga. The two are different 'factions' but are going to be very similar obviously. I bought enough dudes to adequately represent both lists as they are pretty identical.

I have been using a lot of plastics lately and after some initial doubts, (after all, mini's are supposed to be metal!), I am pretty much hooked on plastics now. Typically I like Gripping Beast or Perry Miniatures for plastics for this game but other companies, like Warlord Games, make great plastics for Bolt Action, Pike and Shotte, Gates of Antares and other fine games. Plus, plastics are generally cheaper. A box of GB plastic infantry will run less than $40 and have about 40 - 44 dudes. About 8 metal mini's will run about $16 at least, so, do the math.

This army was different though. I really didn't care for too many of the plastics that were available (that I could find) and went with metal for the infantry. I was going to go all metal until my local hobby store directed me to Conquest Games for the cavalry. I've a few nits to pick regarding them but overall, very good stuff. For the infantry, I also did a lot of research and decided on Crusader minis. I liked the poses in general, though they didn't come with weapons. This is a universal pain in the ass but more on that later.

All in all I have 15 mounted troops which includes a proxy for a Warlord. (Sixteen actually. The box contained a dead horse and rider. Not useful in game terms but very cool nonetheless. It will get the same treatment as the 'live' ones.) Foot troops include 24 Warriors with spear and shield, 8 bowmen and 8 xbowmen. (These are different in game terms; xbows having greater ability to punch through armor.) As most troops are purchased in groups of 8 and most games are  played with 4-6 points, I have a minimum of 8 points and a few more, depending how I use my purchase points. In short, I'm good with what I got. (Except 4 more bowmen I need.)

Here's a typical cavalry sprue:

You can see there is a variety of weapons and heads to choose from, which is good. The one piece body, while being somewhat confining as per what poses you can make, were also easy to remove and glue in place. The plastics were easy to remove and assemble for the most part. My concerns were: a) 4 dudes per sprue vs. 3 kite shields per sprue. I know some of these guys had round shields but I would have liked the option to field all of them with kite shields. Not the end of the world. b) The weapons definitely needed to go with certain bodies, so there is a bit of similarity to the figures. I needed to be creative and cut and glue some things to make them different but still couldn't make them all unique. My first few tries yielded some wonky poses. Oh well, someone has to die first!

One sprue completed. They're alright, good enough for me. A decent paint job forgives a lot of sins. I'm no modeler as can clearly be seen. At something like $32 for 15 (16) guys, I'll take it. (Gripping Beast are typically $38.50 for 12.)

Here's a few of the leg troopers. (Most likely those who lost their horses on the way to Outremer or had them killed out from under them in their first skirmish.) Either way, they are PBI now. As mentioned, these guys came with no weapons. The rules state they are armed with spears fortunately, as I have those in abundance due to all the other plastics I've bought lately. I cut the spears off the arms on the sprues for a few guys: see the guy on the right front. I used an x-acto knife to trim the plastic hand off the spear and glued it in his hand. That's a pain in the ass though, and hard to do without slicing the spear (or my finger) in two, especially 23 more times! What I did with most of them was to clip the metal hand off the mini and glue the spear with hand attached. It was easier and the poses worked. Super glue is awesome with plastics and metal. If they don't quite align, I can paint them like they are wearing gloves. Easy peasey.

One box of cavarly reading for priming, sir! (Another box is on order.)

24 foot warriors with spear and shield. The shields were separate and needed glued on as well but not a problem. The shield strap didn't quite match up on a few but there was no too much to be done about it. First person who says something gets kicked in the nuts. Don't tell the police I didn't warn you.

One unit of bows and another of xbows. All in all, it cost about $.40 to mount all the infantry. ;-)

Next comes priming and their base coat of colors. It's currently too cold to prime but should warm up in the next few days. In the meantime, I am completing the basing on my Late Romans. They will get their turn to shine soon, so keep a look out. 

Part 2 pretty soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bolt Action: Maximum Attrition

Met with Chris and Nat for some Bolt Action yesterday. The play Gates of Antares and were intrigued by the system so much they bought starter armies for BA, US Marines and IJA. (Chris being a Marine himself.) I brought up Germans and Americans while they assemble and paint their forces, to give them a preview of this fine game. We played Maximum Attrition, using 1st Edition rules. Essentially, who ever kills the most units in 6, or possibly 7, turns is declared the winner. The German forces had 1062 points and the Americans 1066. BA aficionados may note that the US list is illegal as it contains a SPG as well as an AFV. Tough shit; I just bought the M21 mortar carrier and I was going to use it.

The German list consisted of fewer, larger units and the US with more and smaller units. The idea was the US would use their mobility and and ability to move and fire to whittle away the Germans while the Germans would maneuver to bring their superior firepower to bear in as close proximity as possible. Crazily enough, it sort of worked out that way. Nat's Americans had the early edge and looked to be unstoppable, but then the Germans got close and blew away the Ami's. The game ended in a draw, 3 units destroyed on each side. Funny, there was not a single Close Combat assault in the entire game. Didn't make any difference as the telegrams home would still be the same.

I also improvised and included a medic on each side. Instead of giving him an order die though, I allowed them to be attached to one unit and function essentially the same: assisting any unit within 6" and not counting as a part of their base unit for shooting or being shot at. It worked; a few wounds were saved.

The Battlefield. The Germans entered on the right, the Americans on the left. Each side held off a few units in Reserve. Then, incredibly, I think something like the first 9 dice pulled were ALL German, so Nat had the advantage of seeing what units were coming in where and who was left in Reserve.

A view from behind the American lines.

US forces enter strong on their right; the M21 taking up a firing position in the plaza.

The Germans come in strong in the center. The Fallschirmjager unit in the center and a Heer unit flanking their HQ. The Sturm squad in the HT took immediate fire from the mortar.

Needing a 6 on a d6 to hit, Nat promptly zeroed in the the HT, pinning it. Unfortunately, in the two turns it took the crew to get the nerve to move forward, Nat continued to hit (near miss) but couldn't damage or destroy it. But their days were being counted in minutes as it would turn out...

The Gerry left finds shelter in a ruined farmhouse.

The US HQ advances to catch up with the forward elements of the attack.

Bad news for the FJ! The US air support observer has drawn a bead on their unit and is radioing for air support!

The US left advances down the road. Further on, you can see the Sturm squad has successfully disembarked from the HT. 81mm mortar shells are definitely NOT your friend while sitting as a passenger.

Americans advance through the rubble of a ruined church.

Finally passing a Leadership test, the HT advances to become a mobile MG nest.

Too bad the M4 has a LOS to him though.

US squads advance into the burning remains of a coffee shop that served those really good French pastries. (Notice the French themselves are all somewhere else.)

Here it comes! The US air support comes in the form of a fighter/bomber that takes out 9 dudes in the FJ unit! It passes it's MC and remains on the field, but not for much longer. Their huge firepower was never used.

MkIVJ's are cool. Supporting the Sturm squad, it had only to fear what came from the skies as it would more than likely shrug off anything the M4 could throw it's way.

Hmmmm, see those observers in the steeple?

Less than before. See the dead piling up off the table in the background? The forces were now engaged in small arms range.

The MkIV wasn't playing.

US airborne support, following the HQ into firing position.

The US left. Two full squads, one airborne, plus the HQ square of against one German Heer unit and their own HQ.

The German flanking maneuver finally arrives 36 inches up the table edge. They catch a US unit in the open and do bad things to them. They also take out one of the American MMG's.

War is hell. The M4 took out the German HT before itself being knocked out by the MkIV. One Strum trooper remains. Chris' other Heer unit was also down to one man but both managed to survive, securing a come from behind draw.

The game had a 50/50 chance of continuing to a Turn 7 but the dice said 'no'. Here's a look at what was left. 

Part of the German's ability to climb back in this one was the well placed artillery barrage that, while not killing anyone, put shit tons of Pins on all units within 10" of where it came in. Included was the US air support observer team, which never passed a Leadership test after that and were not able to call in the second US air strike. Had that come in, I like the US chances. A lot. But if my mother had wheels, she'd be a wagon. Would, coulda, shoulda... in any case, it didn't materialize.

I also didn't include too much AT weapons just to keep the game simple and also to avoid having to enter the table with a gun. If I was building a competitive list, it would include some Panzerfausts and bazooka's, Gammon Bombs and the like. The M4 wasn't likely to kill the MkIV but the airplanes surely could; they just never got the chance.

Overall, I think it was a good introduction to the game. Both Chris and Nat seemed to enjoy it and are planning on making Pacific terrain, which is a good sign.

The End.