A smaller World War I

Or, where is Kirk Douglas when you really need him?

En avant. Nice little chaps advancing over some really bad basing

En avant. Nice little chaps advancing over some really bad basing

As we have seen before, the local mob are currently in pursuit of a scale for building late WWI armies. We have had 15-18mm, and now it is time to look at 10mm. I have tried 6mm in the past, and found them too small to be satisfactory for me, so 10mm is a little as I care to go. I must say I approached the whole thing with a great deal of reluctance, almost bordering on trepidation.

First up was Magister Militum, from whom I got a bunch of poilu.

They really are nice figures. And the size allows them to be placed on the bases interestingly

They really are nice figures. And the size allows them to be placed on the bases interestingly

The first pleasant surprise was the price. the chaps are really a lot more inexpensive then even 15mm, and a pleasure to deal with in a financial sense compared to the 25/28mm I am accustomed to stockpiling unpainted.

Second pleasant surprise: they are very clean with decent detail on them. The only file and knife work I had to do was on the bottom of their bases, which is excellent, because I hate cleaning lead. The figures were well moulded, with good detail and of the whole batch only one with an outstretched arm had a moulding defect. Really very nice.

They primed well, and were a treat to block paint, wash, and highlight. The whole process was quick and enjoyable. the figures are portrayed in marching order (with a backpack) rather than combat order (with a blanket roll) but this does not matter to me, and gives a few more details to give character to the figures. Really I could not be happier with them.

And when I went to base them, my trepidation came home to roost. The standard methods I am accustomed to use on 15mm and 25mm were just not suitable.

The machine guns. Unfortunate there was only 5, so I made up the numbers with a chauchat

The machine guns. Unfortunately there was only 5, so I made up the numbers with a chauchat

I needed to build up the base because the plinths the individual figures are on are in proportion, quite large,  but I had a terribly hard time coming up with something that had a little texture to it, that did not look like the poor guys were advancing over an old lava flow or a cobblestoned street. Therefore the bases on this lot, as can be seen, are pretty darn bad.   I think I can resolve the issue for the next lot, but clearly it will require mucking around.

To summarise : easier to paint than expected, nice figures, and I need to work on my scenery.

WWI opposition

As we saw previously, our local group is looking at playing some WWI games, being as it is the 100 year anniversary and all. I volunteered to look into and paint up various manufacturer’s figures as test pieces, and to see if they would go with our current forces. Some of the previous stuff can be seen here and here. And here is some more test pieces

Big and little trench mortars. At least I did not have to put these ones together, so, therefore, they look ok

Big and little trench mortars. At least I did not have to put these ones together, so, therefore, they look ok

Blue Moon this time, late war british.

Large (in all senses) trench mortars. I excerted myself and put some brigade patches on these guys

Large (in all senses) trench mortars. I exerted myself and put some brigade patches on these guys

Four large trench mortars and two small. Once more the large ones are too big to fit on the designated 1″ x 1″ bases, and have been paced on those for artillery pieces. Pretty sure this will be unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I do like these figures, even though they are large. I find I am able to paint them well, and that they “come up” nicely without a terrible amount of effort in cleaning and painting. The issue with them would be merely one of size, I suppose. One would be more or less stuck using their product; having said that their range is pretty deep and I am unsure that it is a terrible constraint.

And the little ones. no idea why the color tone in this photo turned different to the others. I shall have to look at the settings not he device.

And the little ones. no idea why the color tone in this photo turned different to the others. I shall have to look at the settings on the device.

I know some of the other guys in the the group are leaning toward the smaller scale figures; those are next up for experimental painting. I have primed some, and am feeling like I will be popping out for my portable electron microscope shortly. Oh well, we can but see.

Mr. Kipling makes….

Not that Mr. Kipling, the Kim one

The whole shooting match, ready to defeat the imperialist invader.

The whole shooting match, ready to defeat the imperialist invader.

A long time ago (both in internet terms, which is measured in months, and in real terms, which is measured in years) there was a very good Colonial wargaming website called Major-General Reddering or some such (after a brief search I found this image of it, it is well worth the perusal). This place was, frankly, just a bunch of fun, and I always thought that at some stage I would pursue some colonial stuff. Now my sons are old enough to be badgered into it, it would seem to be be time to go forward with the project.

A close up of the leader of a band. I must admit I had not realized he had such splendid whiskers.

A close up of the leader of a band. I must admit I had not realized he had such splendid whiskers.

Also of note on the site was a general statement, and I am paraphrasing here, that this was just a group of people having a little bit of goofy fun with toy soldiers, and no endorsement of colonisation, politics, or any form of racism was intended, or indeed, present.

Colonial wargaming, with it’s echoes of Kipling and 1930s Hollywood movies, warrants this warning more than most periods of gaming, I think, but it might behoove all us internet wargaming types to pop up similar warnings every so often, if only to protect the innocent outsiders who might stumble across our sites, lest they take up an unintended message from our rather strange hobby. So consider yourselves warned, innocent outsiders.

I decided to use The Sword and the Flame, one because it is a fairly general set, and I am familiar with it, and have enjoyed playing it. It also has a nice simple “Old Schooly” feeling to it with individually based figures and so forth which I am finding myself more interested in recently.

My intent is to act as an Umpire/Game Master running whatever form the local opposition to colonialism takes, and my sons will run the imperialist running dogs (I am gettin’ into the spirit here..). This is partially to ensure domestic harmony (they will actually have to co-operate to win) and partially because the non-imperialist player in these games tends to spend a lot of time dying, even when they are successful, and I think it better for me to take that role. If either of them suddenly profess an interest to run a hill tribe or whatever, I am sure we can work it out.

So, in order to put on a game I have been doing some painting. I am fairly sure what form the scenario will take, but I need to do some organistion of existing resources before I can get where I want to be.

Another one of the "Fearless Leader". Maybe that is the best title. Taken with a different camera for comparison purposes. The fancy flag is a transfer from Little Big Man

Another one of the “Fearless Leader”. Maybe that is the best title. Taken with a different camera for comparison purposes. The fancy flag is a transfer from Little Big Man

However, I did dig out some embarrassingly old Old Glory 25mm Pathans and paint them up in the standard TSatF organisation of 3 groups of 20 chaps, with a tribal chief.

Here we have the tribal chief, complete with fancy flag and immediate followers. What shall we call him? The Mendicant Mullah? I always had a fondness for "The Akund of Swat" but that one is taken. Leave suggestions in the comments.

Here we have the tribal chief, complete with fancy flag and immediate followers. What shall we call him? The Mendicant Mullah? I always had a fondness for “The Akund of Swat” but that one is taken. Leave suggestions in the comments.

In my ignorance of what I needed, about 1/3 of them have “modern” rifles, 1/3 flintlock or jezzails or whatever, and 1/3 some form of pointy object. I am sure this is going to leave them very underarmed as opposed to their opposition, but but I fear the first outing for these lads is going to be of the nature of a guy with a red shirt in the original Star Trek, or an Orc in most modern fantasy books; they are going to perish swiftly to show the players how the game works. If the players are interested in more, we can organise the resistance to be tougher in subsequent scenarios.

An overview of one of the sub tribes. A shield transfer can be seen on the chap in the middle

An overview of one of the sub tribes. A shield transfer can be seen on the chap in the middle

I found the figures quite a lot of fun to paint; they were done with the customary (for me) acrylic with wash and highlight. A good variety of poses, especially as they seem to have varied the heads as well.

I based them with model railroad ballast and bunches of silfor flowers and grass tufts on top; as it was necessary to designate the leader for each band, I put him on a round stand. The colours of the tribesmen are probably a bit bright for “realism” but I was not all that bothered about realism for this project, as it would be fairly grim if realistic, so this particular bunch of native patriots are wandering around in particularly bright clothes.

The Tribal chief (the mullah of wherever, I suppose) I decided to put on a larger round base with a standard bearer, completely for decoration. The Flag (and a number of the shields) were Little Big man Transfers for Perry brothers Islamics. Yep, I know the writing is completely inappropriate for wherever these lads come from (have not figured that out yet) but once more it looks good, and I am not that bothered.

Showing the markings on the "back" (a little bit of a movable feast, there) of the bases showing which of the 3 sub tribal groups the chaps are in.

Showing the markings on the “back” (a little bit of a movable feast, there) of the bases showing which of the 3 sub tribal groups the chaps are in.

As you can see in one of the photos, I marked the (rather arbitrary) back of the bases with a marking showing what group the tribesman is in.

More Guns of August, and scale creep

Some later war germans, and some spares turned to engineer stands. Who knew they were green?

Some later war germans, and some spares turned to engineer stands. Who knew they were green?

As we consider how to address the late war WWI stuff  in scale we decided to do some experimental pieces. In support of this I put together a couple of later war german mortars in 15mm. Some of the group lean toward 10mm; personally, I have enough problem seeing 15mm lead, right now I feel those other chaps are too small. I have purchased some 10m lead though, so it is possible my opinion may change. In the interim, I ordered a couple of mortars from Blue Moon; while expensive, they came with enough chaps to make up two engineer stands also.

Very nice figures, but large, and the mortar on the left reminds me of Big Bertha

Very nice figures, but large, and the mortar on the left reminds me of Big Bertha

In my ignorance I thought the later war Germans were in grey (it must be from looking at black and white photos); some small amount of research put them in green grey, so that is how I have painted them here. They have certainly come up well; they are really nice figures, good variety in the bags, and a treat to paint.

Fake Engineer stands. If old "Commando" comics are anything to go by, they are all pointing and yelling "Achtung"

Fake Engineer stands. If old “Commando” comics are anything to go by, they are all pointing and yelling “Achtung”

But they are HUGE. Their 76mm minenwefer (yes, I know I left the wheels on, I like the wheels) is taller than a french 75mm. In fact their mortars will not fit on the prescribed 1″ x 1″ base, it needed to go on a 1.5″ x 1″. This might well be a problem for scale footprint on the boards, but might not be such an issue as mortar stands are fairly limited in quantity.

However, it is clear to me from these pictures,

Nice little figures all in a row. Blue Moon, Irregular, and Peter Pig from the left

Nice little figures all in a row. Blue Moon, Irregular, and Peter Pig from the left

Frontal view of figures; Hmmm.. some of these chaps were fed better than others as children

Frontal view of figures; Hmmm.. some of these chaps were fed better than others as children

that the figures are not mixable. In the pictures with the 2 french stands and the german we have Peter Pig (the old sculpts; I am not sure they have re-done their Early war French yet, but I know they have redone their Germans, and the re-done ones are a little bigger) then we have an Irregular miniatures mortar (as discussed here) and finally the Blue Moon German one.

As I said, the Blue Moon figures are great. The mortars are good as well. But they are really not mixable with the Peter Pig ones, they loom over them like Frankenstien’s monster over a torch-lit villager. The Irregular miniatures ones would probably not be noticeably out of place with either of the other manufacturer’s product.

If we were adding these to our existing armies, this would all be an issue. However, these are being looked at for the late war project, so mix ability is not that huge of an issue (see what I did there?).

Decisions, decisions.

More Artillery

Les 75s et mortars. Usual low standard of painting, I am afraid

Les 75s et mortars. Usual low standard of painting, I am afraid

So I continue on the World War I anniversary kick, The WWI Spearhead rules we use give mortars to 1915 armies to a certain extent, so the the first move has been to fill out our current 1914 armies with these tools, making the current figures a little more flexible. Of course, everyone changed cuostume in 1915/16 so clearly we are going to need a different solution for that, but we have not got that far yet; there has been some discussion of looking at 10mm, so much so I acquired some, and will post some results when I get some painted.

The mortar stands. Once more I found assembling the things too fiddly for me.

The mortar stands. Once more I found assembling the things too fiddly for me.

In any case, to continue. Early war french mortars are not commonly available, but Irregular Miniatures came through once more, providing me with 6 mortars and crew, and 4 75mm guns.
Without thinking about it that much (something my friends will say is fairly common for me) I painted the mortars as infantry; quick reference to some photos gave a rough approximation of artillerists uniform for the 75mm battery. Once more the figures painted nicely, but I did struggle with putting together the guns; as you can see the one on the end looks like it has suffered a severe thump as a result of my lack of model making skills. I am happy enough with the final result, I will admit.

Les Soixante-cinqs. I really messed up the one on the right, it would just not stay stuck

Les Soixante-cinqs. I really messed up the one on the right, it would just not stay stuck

If I had thought of it, some reference to see what uniform the mortar crews wore would have been appropriate, but I am certainly not going to go back and change things at this late stage in the game. So if mortar crews were seconded from the artillery in the fFrench army 100 years ago, I apologise, but they have been issued with “Les Pantalons Rouge”

The Irish SAGA continues

Lest it be thought that I do not actually PLAY any games, I thought I should include something of a battle report. Not a terribly good one, I will add, but something to prove I do actually play a game every so often. Apologies for the quality of the photos, apparently focusing was hard that night.

We previously saw my SAGA Irish army (albeit a completely not dark ages one). In the interest of reminding ourselves how to play the game, I trotted it over to a friends house to have a game or two.

Irish hearth guard sneak around a wood

Irish hearth guard sneak around a wood

He came up with a Saxon horde; 3 or 4 units with 12 guys in them, a seeming sea of bad guys. I  looked at this with some trepidation; I could not see how to defeat them. All the interesting terrain (a wood and some rocky ground) fell in the middle of the board, and only a gentle hill on my left.

Oh gosh, we're stuffed, they are gonna slaughter us

Oh gosh, we’re stuffed, they are gonna slaughter us

I concentrated the fire of my guys on his unit behind the woods, even loosening the dogs on him (much too early in the game, they got clobbered) and working my hearth guard and the mounted Curaidh around the right side of the woods. Two other units made an attept to slow the sea of saxons coming over the gentle hill on my left. In this, they failed dismally, and it looked like they would have the floor wiped with them before my erosion of the right flank would show any profit.

Due to spectacularly bad die rolling on my opponents part, though, his attack did not come off, and the fall of the numer of units he had with more than 10 guys in them to a  small number stymied his activities on his battle

How the heck that happen, we won

How the heck that happen, we won

board.

My lot made it around the right hand side, polishing off his leftmost unit and starting to lean in lean in on his others. It came to an Irish win on points.

We had a quick go at another game, ( I wanted to try out the welsh) but rapidly found that they require terrain that does not grant cover to be effective at all, and we had left the woods and rocky ground down, so they were helpless against my opponents scots.

Only thoughts :- I have not played that many SAGA games, but it does seem to me that most of the armies I have played against specialize in producing single  attacks with large numbers of dice. The Irish do not. They nibble away at their opposition, and there is a large group of activations on their battle board that lower their opponents dice, rather than raising their own capabilities. This means they shoot away at their opponents with javelins (a real problem for the Saxons, as they want units of over 10 guys, and the small incremental losses will mess them up) and that they are frustrating to fight as when you put together a “big attack” with your hearthgurd, you suddenly find that you do not have any dice. Also the single hearth guard figures that are self activating seem to cause irritation to ones opponents out of proportion to their usefulness. Not sure my reputation can withstand playing an army where the object is to annoy the other player… oh wait…..

Scratching the Itch

One of my favorite memories of growing up was sitting with my father and brother on Sundays, after Sunday lunch, watching the seminal BBC TV show about WWI, the Great War. Now I see it was a co-production with ABC so it must have been on that channel we watched it; to my young eyes, that was the channel with all the BBC stuff on it, all of which seems to have a darker, or gloomier appearance than the American or ITV or Australian shows on the other channels.

Early war german Artillery

Early war german Artillery

In any case, it served to spark an interest in WWI that I have preserved ever since. Land, sea and air gaming of WWI I have done; the most problematic has always been the land gaming. Forever a poor relation of WWII gaming, and the nature of the conflict has always seemed to make the standard WWII company/battalion sized game an unworkable solution. You either need to be playing skirmish, or with divisions.

Great War Spearhead has provided us with an interesting solution to the issue, as we see it, and in honour of the 100 year anniversary of the war we have been dusting off some of our old lead. We have a decent collection of 15mm early war stuff, which I volunteered to fill the holes in on; there is still discussion on the scale to be adopted when we proceed to later war, with a vociferous element demanding the newness of 10mm while I grumble that I cannot see 15mm. Never mind.

77mm Battery. and the close up makes me unimpressed with my paint job

77mm Battery. and the close up makes me unimpressed with my paint job

Here we have some mortars and a 77mm battery for the Germans, things we both found to be needed for early war. Figures are Irregular Miniatures, honestly because they are the only ones I could find with early war mortars. I have always liked Irregular though, because they have always seemed to me to paint up very well.

German Mortars

German Mortars

Though the mortars can with stands, I am not sure wwi ones had them, and I found the stands very difficult to attach, so I made an executive decision and left them off. I am still pretty happy with how they came out, at least from a distance.