Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marian Romans for Basic Impetus

Here are the first couple of units of Marian Romans that I'm painting up as opponents for my Parthians. Figures are from Caesar, with Italeri shields. The figures are ok, but the dodgy lorica hamata (mail) has the wrong texture and looks like fur (lorica hirsuta?)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Napoleonic Saxons

Here are some more Napoleonics from a couple of years back. First up, the magnificent Zvezda Saxon Cuirassiers.

...and some simple painting conversions of Saxon Infantry from the HaT French light infantry set. This is the 1st Koenig Regiment.

A sharp knife and hot water conversion to make another advancing pose and standard bearer.

A great overview of the army of Saxony in 1810-13 is available here

Friday, January 14, 2011

Basic Impetus Rematch

Just come home from a rematch with Paul the Galloglaigh, following my drubbing in our first game of Basic Impetus as explained here:

We used the same armies for our second game - Nevsky Russians for me and Teutonic Knights for Paul. I lost again, but it was much closer, and the game could definitely have gone either way. My two units of mongols on the left flank literally ran rings around the heavy German knights, destroying a unit of Livonian light horse and even routing the unit of German crusader knights. However, my Druzhina on the left lived up to their reputation of combining the worst features of eastern and western armies. They don't charge hard enough, and they can't skirmish. Although I did a reasonable job of avoiding combat with the bloody unstoppable unit of Teutonic knights, I lost all three units of Druzhina and the game to Livonian light horse and Turcopoles.

Nick was asking for a comparison of DBA and Basic Impetus (BI). I made some observations after the first battle, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think BI is a better game. It is damn good fun. Here's why I like it more than DBA, if you will excuse my midnight rambling:

1. The bigger bases allow for more creative and realistic-looking units.

2. Both games are obviously highly abstract. However, some of the abstraction in DBA has always irked me, particularly related to the use of psiloi and light horse. In DBA, such units don't fight at a distance, but their base contact with an enemy unit represents them skirmishing at short range with missile weapons. If a unit of Light Horse, for example, recoils or flees from an enemy, this represents the skirmishers being pushed away by a controlled charge or whatever by the defending unit.

This all makes sense, but in Basic Impetus all this happens naturally when you use skirmishers. For example, when I sent my mongols against Paul's crusader knights, they were able to gradually start wearing the much tougher unit down. Paul naturally tried to charge my mongols, but I was able to use their ability to move sideways and obliquely to avoid contact. Because Paul had allowed the unit to become isolated, my mongols effectively enveloped the knights, shooting them down from the flank and rear. This seemed much less abstract, and certainly more enjoyable than DBA, where I would have just moved the light horse into base contact with the knights and allowed the dice rolls to represent what we actually played out in BI.

3. The rules for BI are accessible, simple and mostly clearly written. There are a few confusing things - eg the quick reference sheet makes it clear that units can move backwards, but this isn't clear from the paragraph on movement in the rules. However, the Impetus forum supports the game extremely well, with the game creators responding rapidly to rules questions. I have always found DBA to be somewhat arcane.

4. The rules for contacting the enemy in BI are much simpler than in DBA, avoiding the need to make units match up exactly.

5. The gradual attrition units suffer, and the way that a whole series of melees can be fought in a turn as a victorious unit pursues a defeated foe provides a more exciting game than the contact - rebound - contact - rebound - contact - rout nature of DBA.

6. There is greater 'period flavour' in DBA, trying to give armies specific characteristics. For example, the special ability of Roman legionaries to discharge pila differentiates them from other heavy infantry.

I'm trying to think of anything I prefer about DBA. Certainly there are more army lists available for DBA at the moment. I think it is also likely that it would be harder to use DBA in competitions that try to evenly match up armies from 2500BC-AD1500. Medieval knights in BI are a heck of a lot tougher than Sarmatian cataphracts, for example, although both are treated the same in DBA (from memory).

I'd love to hear if anyone has had a different experience of the two games, and would like to champion DBA.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parthians for Basic Impetus

I have painted up a Parthian force for Basic Impetus in a rush, all ready for the competition I'm running at the school this year. I've based the figures using the base sizes for 15mm, which seems to be what most players do with their 1/72 armies. The figures are mainly HaT Parthians, with a few conversions using HaT Roman Cataphracts and Orion Parthians.

I also used this army to experiment with the Army Painter quickshade dip, beloved of many painters of 28mm figures.

Instead of using a black undercoat, I undercoated these figures white, did simple block painting with no attempt to shade, then painted on the dip (I used Strong Tone). When they were dry, I went over them with Vallejo matt varnish, then did a few lighter highlights on clothing and armour.

My verdict on Army Painter?

Yes, it is overpriced repackaged furniture polish, but good luck to them. I wish I had thought of it first.

There are no problems using it on bendy plastic figures. I tested it on a HaT Andalusian spearman, bending his spear every which way with no ill effects.

I don't recommend dipping the figures. Use a brush, and treat the stuff as a wash to add depth and shadow, rather than something you have to gunk all over the place. Do some highlighting at the end of the process - it makes a huge difference. Part of me feels like I'm cheating, but it certainly saves time, and at the moment that is something I don't have a lot of. I like the effect, particularly over flesh, whites, yellows and reds, and it is great on horses. It doesn't look so good over blue.

I'll certainly be using it to put armies on the table.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Hobby Stuff-Ups

In the spirit of new year humility, I have been reminiscing about some of the great moments of disaster, incompetence and failure that have punctuated the many years I have been enjoying this hobby. Like all good doctors, I have of course buried my worst mistakes, but I remember fondly the rocket launcher from an Airfix Bf 109 that was dropped into a jar of solvent, and the happy hours spent searching for an irreplaceable piece of an Esci Marder that I dropped and never rediscovered. More recently, I savour the memory of basing hundreds of Napoleonic figures for a set of rules that nobody plays, as well as moments of casual stupidity like buying the Italeri Napoleonic Prussians despite the fact they were obviously rubbish.

Here are five stuff-ups that have survived to irk me still.

1. Matt Base is not the same as Matt Varnish

This was probably the first base of figures I ever painted for wargaming, back when I was about 16. I remember researching the shield designs on the Bayeux Tapestry, and meticulously painting the 15mm Essex figures. When they were finished, I gazed at them with pride, if not hubris, and tried to varnish them with Matt Base. They of course turned chalky white, and I had to frantically dunk them in turps to clear off the mess. I had to repaint a number of them - the figure in the middle here was saved, but still bears the scars. When you think about it, the whole incident mirrors the Greek tragic cycle.

2. Look at the decal instructions carefully

Lovely kit - the Roden model of Carl Degelow's Pfalz, with its very classy black and silver finish and personal markings of the hind leaping forward....oh bugger.

3. Gaze into the Eyes of a Horse

Horses don't have eyes like us. With very rare exceptions, they don't have white surrounds and a dark irises. They are all very dark browny-black, despite the evidence of several hundred of my cavalry.

4. Getting the Blues

So I sent away for some quite expensive but worth every penny Art Miniaturen Prussian Uhlans. I carefully researched the uniform colours. I spent a lot of time painting them, albeit stuffing up the horses' eyes. But somehow, I painted them the glaringly wrong shade of blue. I knew that uhlans wore dark blue/black tunics, but still painted them in a light blue, then failed utterly to notice the error until someone politely pointed it out on Benno's Figures.

5. Green is not Grey

I couldn't find the offending model, but it still exists somewhere. The last model aircraft I tried to super-detail, back in the 90's, was an Italeri FW 190 A8. I spent ages on the cockpit, modelling the seat restraints, controls etc etc. I was surprised to read in the instructions that the correct colour for the cockpit interior was a rather lurid green. 'Oh well', I thought 'seems odd, but if that's what's accurate..' Of course, I somehow read 'green' for 'grey'. The resulting cockpit would make any pilot feel ill before they even fired up the engine. The model languishes in a box.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Napoleonic Prussians

Here are some more images of my Napoleonic Prussians. Hope you enjoy! As always, click on the image for a larger version.

Silesian Landwehr cavalry from Art Miniaturen. Brilliant figures with loads of character.

Art Miniaturen Silesian Landwehr

'Don't mind if I do.'

Brandenburg Cuirassiers. Head swap of HaT Russian cuirassiers with dragoons.

6th Reserve Infantry Regiment

Volunteer Jaegers, converted from various HaT figures.

6th Uhlans (Luetzow Freikorps)

General Yorck with his staff

Brandenburg Uhlans from Art Miniaturen. Again, great figures which I stuffed up by painting them the wrong shade of blue. Line Uhlans should have very dark blue/black uniforms.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Napoleonic Prussians

I haven't painted any Napoleonics for a couple of years, so have never got around to putting any photos up on the blog. However, looking at Monsieur le Rosbif's blog inspired me to get some figures out and photograph them. So, over the next few days, I present the Napoleonic Prussians from 1813-15. Figures are from Revell, HaT, Waterloo 1815 and Art Miniaturen.

The army represents about three brigades, with some reserve cavalry. Each base of infantry is a company, four bases to a battalion, and usually three battalions to a regiment. Up the back you can see some dragoons that I painted in a vile bright blue so they look like Smurfs. We shall not speak of them again.

Some line infantry to start off with. This is the Frogs' eye view of the the 2nd and 6th Regiments, with their Light (Fusilier) battalions skirmishing out front.

And this these are the 9th (Colberg) Regiment and Luetzow Freikorps, with the Guard Jaeger battalion in the lead.

Thanks for looking!