Sunday, 19 February 2017

Franco-Prussian War Battle

Today, on a hot and steamy Auckland day, five of us played a Franco-Prussian War gsme. There were three French players and two Prussian engaged on a beautifully set up table.

The scenario was a relatively simple one around a triangle of three small villages near a railway line. Both sides have a need to secure these villages and which ever side held the greater number of village at the end of the game would be ruled the winner.

Of the forces engaged, on the French had three brigades of eight battalions, two field batteries and a single regiment of dragoons. The Prussians counted two brigades of seven battalions, one brigade of nine battalions, three field batteries and a regiment of uhlans.

The initial deployments, French above and Prussian below

In this narrative I shall refer to the left and right from a Prussian perspective - since I played Prussians.

Two villages were nearer to the French than the Prussians and they chose to move against the left hand village with one brigade, while the other brigades would take the village on the right, with the possibility of pushing further on to take the village on the Prussian side of the track. They moved the two field batteries to a high hill between the the two villages.

The French artillery

The French move to take the right hand village

We Prussians chose to move the nine battalion brigade to occupy the village on our side of the tracks. One of the other brigades would move to engage the French in the village on the left, while the third brigade would fill the space between the two wings where it could support either flank. The guns took the only high ground available from where they could support all forces.

The French easily occupied their villages on their side of the tracks. The Prussians threw the uhlans forward and drew the fire of the dismounted French dragoons, before making a desperate attack agains the French batteries on the hill. The end of the uhlan attack was messy for the cavalry, but for a few turns it drew the attention of the French guns from the infantry.

The first serious action developed on the left where the French had occupied some of the buildings of the town and had taken up positions behind and inside the railway cars there. An initial Prussian attack was repulsed, but a second one drove the dismounted dragoons from the railway cars and allowed a Prussian battalion to push beyond where they overpowered a battalion of Turcos in the café on the edge of the town, driving the Turcos back and taking possession of the café, which the would hold for the rest of the game.

The Prussians assault the railway line

On the right the action developed around the Prussian village when one of the French Brigades pushed forward. The Prussians immediately committed their reserve brigade against this force. Initially the French had some success here, but soon outstripped the supports. When the Prussian reserves got into action the French began to crumble and the brigade from the village in the right had to be committed. The Prussian advance was relentless on the right and when we broke for lunch, all seemed lost for the French.

The Prussians occupy the right hand village

The French attack develops

But eventually contained

After lunch the situation changed dramatically. The Prussian reserves now found themselves exposed and the French rebounded. In two or three turns the Prussian reserves were driven off and largely dispersed, but the fighting had taken its toll on the French on the right. One brigade was destroyed and the second fell back across the railway to defend the village on the right on their side if the tracks

In the left hand village the action swayed too and fro. Despite the fact that the dice Gods did not favour them, the French continued to contest the village. 

In the end it became a matter of attrition and as the Prussians closed in on the village on the right, it was decided that it was only a matter of time before they would carry the two villages on the French side of the tracks. The game ended with a Prussian victory, but at a huge cost - eleven battalions had been forced from the fight.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Lake Victoria Gunboat - Part One

As a part of the East African Project, that will see a significant scenario played out later this year, I need a gunboat to support Brutish operations on Lake Victoria. 

I had a bit of a search around on the web for pictures of these boats, of which there were a few, and most seem to be converted lake steamers rather than purpose built vessels. Unable to find sufficiently detailed images of these boats, I took my inspiration from an article in Wargames Illustrated (Feb 2017 issue) about the relief of Kut in Bessarabia that had some wonderful shots of a gunboat built for that game. My boat would not be as grand as theirs and would not be as heavily armed, but it would still lend some waterbourne strength to the British effort. 

My first task was to determine the size of the model. I didn't want to go beyond 300 mm in length because that is what I could place diagonally on an A4 piece of paper. I drew up the basic shape on the computer with a final size of 290mm lehgth and 85mm beam, and printed out several copies.

I then tacked a cut out copy of the printout to some 12mm foamboard and cut out the basic shape for the hull.

The superstructure was cut from 2mm cardboard and glued together.

The image below is the superstructure with the upper deck is positioned on top. On this upper deck will be a wheelhouse. 

The picture below shows the superstructure positioned on the hull.

With all the basic shapes made I started work on some of the detailing. On the main hull I created the wooden deck. This was done quite simply by scoring a series of straight lines, 2mm apart, into the surface of the foamboard with the back of the scalpel blade. The base was then painted black and a number of shades of brown dry-brushed across the detail. The whole surface was then washed with a coat of GW Nulion Oil.

I then set about working on the superstructure. This needed a surface applied to look like steel plates. At first I though of using plasticard, but in the end settled on a lightweight card I had in hand. I cut this into sheets that could be layed so that they overlapped and would give the appearance of rivetted sheets. To represent the rivetts I pushed the tip of a mechanical pencil into the edge of the card, although the effect if this won't be evident until the model is painted.

I then painted the deck between the two parts of the superstructure. I needed to do this now because once the assembly proper starts I won't be able to get at it. For this I simply applied the same colours as fhe main deck and to represent the deck planking I drew some pencil lines and to fix the pencil marks I applied a coat of matte varnish.

Below the two main components in what will be their final position.

The next step is to start on the fiddly bits: the doors, hatches, steps, storage boxes, etc. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Piggot's General Store

Until sometime yesterday afternoon this post would have been titled "Smith's General Store" because that was the name I had put on the shop sign I created on my PC. But "Smith's..." just looked too tame for a general store in the middle of East Africa. So the search for a new name for the store began. It didn't take long to find the name...the name on a business card pinned to the back of the desk for a chap called Piggot just seemed perfect.

I wanted the store to be small, but feature a number of different textures. The basic shape was to be a stuccoed brick with a squared front and a corrugated iron gabled roof behind. To provide some of that texture, one side would feature an extension made of timber and corrugated iron.

Now I have made many model buildings over the years and whenever I start one I can pretty much always form an image of the completed item in my head. But it is not until I start painting of the model that it really comes to life.

I always start by painting the whole model matt black. I know that some people don't like the hashness of a black undercoat and prefer a dark brown base, but I like the depth of colour I can achieve with a black undercoat.

The first colour I apply is white, applied with a very rough dry-brush, as the render on the main structure.

This is followed by two more dry-brushed coats, finished with a fourth coat with a stippled brush.

Next was the timber work. It would have been easy to do this as bleached timber, but I wanted something a bit richer, so I started with a coat of GW Beastial Brown, then added a bit of yellow and finally dry-brushed a little white as a highlight.

Then I went back and blackened those parts where the white had been over brushed and then painted the window and door frames and the doors a mid blue, with a lighter blue highlight. 

The corrugated iron was painted a gun metal colour, and it is here that the depth provided by the black undercoat show up best.

The "Piggot's" sign had been printed on a laser printer earlier and was now glued on and weathered slightly with a a light brown and a bit of white.

Finally the building is weathered with some brown wash on the roof to simulate rust, some black wash as water stains and a light dust colour applied across much of the rest of the surface. And it is finished.

Also finished this week are two African native huts. These are the first of twelve I need to complete.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

East African Hotel Finished

Last night I finished painting the East African Hotel. Only the sign (still to be designed) has to be fitted to the front apex.

I am pleased at the rough and ready nature of the structure of what is intended to be a rough and tumble sort of settlement in future games.

On the construction table is a general store and a storage shed.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Russian Opolochenie

After my post of last Tuesday, I have completed the first of three units of Perry Miniatures Russian Opolochenie. Once again I have done these on winter  bases.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Pottering About

It has been a busy week on the hobby front, but not a lot to show in terms of finished items in part because I have been pottering about with various projects and in part because on the holiday weekend just past, we nipped across to Melbourne for a couple of days.

That said, I have managed to complete two of the four battalions of Russian Napoleonic jagers required to finish the infantry component for that army.

Also on the painting table are the first of the Russian Napoleonic militia. I have completed the  command groups for all three units, plus a couple of packs of pikemen. These are great sets from the Perrys. The flags were taken from an image on the Warlord Games forum and edited in Photoshop.

On the terrain front there are three projects under way. 

First is the East African Hotel, which is really taking shape now and just requires the roof crest and the verandah to be completed. The verandah will need to be a separate piece fitted after the front of the main structure is painted.

Second is a next batch of native huts - I need to make ten of these to go with the four I made some time ago. The three phases of construction are shown below, left to right; the polystyrene form, the first layer of epoxy putty applied, a finished item.

Third is a bunch (the best way to described them) of bush terrain pieces for East Africa. My friend Keith at the Bydand blog found this stuff at the Two Dollar Shop. I am not really sure what this stuff is, perhaps it is some fish tank foliage, but whatever it is it works for my purpose.

The "stuff"

The foam core board base rough cut...

...with red earth railway ballast applied...

...and finished

Three completed pieces - the one on the left has a small pool, but the water has not set clear yet.