Thursday, December 31, 2009

So that was 2009...

So here we are, it's New Years Eve, and the only question I have is where the hell did 2009 go???!

It only seemed like yesterday that it was January 1st... the years get quicker and quicker.... I read a theory somewhere that they get faster as you get older as basically you have a greater and greater sense of your own mortality, and as a result you try to squeeze more and more into the same time - they may have a point - I seem to remember spending a lot of my teen years lying in bed and watching the TV, these days I can't lie in bed for more than 5 minutes after I've woken up before I've thought of something I need to do! Personally however, I blame the speeding up of life on mobile phones & Sunday opening.... don't ask... my friends have had to put up with my theory (after a few pints admittedly) far too many times!

It's not even as if I like New Years Eve - I'm convinced the world is divided into people who like Christmas Day, and people who like New Year - I'm definitely the former, and in previous years have been known to disappear off to bed at 9 on New Years Eve! Unfortunately the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer is in the latter camp...

So was 2009 any good??? Yes of course it was... in some ways...

Painting totals were well down (feel free to click on the graphics/tables for a bigger view!):

Only 122 points all year which, to be honest, is quite diabolical when compared with 2008's 473...! I'm not sure why the numbers dropped off, but for sure my painting mojo didn't burn brightly in 2009...

Thinking on it I think it may have been because I had a feeling that I'd hit critical mass on the Marlburian project, and I took the foot off the pedal... hence only 3 units got added this year. Time to reset that mind-set in 2010!

The same happened with the Sudan & AWI projects - I have enough to play most games I want to - the only burning requirements I have are for some Sudan (one?) riverboats, and should anyone ever bring out a decent 15mm Sikh figure suitable for the Sudan then that would definitely find its way to my paint table.. on the AWI front I recently got given some figures that originated from the incorrigible Lofty C's paintbrush - I'm going to use them as Queens Rangers, they just need a little touching up to repair some paint damage.

I can see 2010 being better on the painting front, however, as the ACW project is far from critical mass, two units in less than a month and another is about 30% completed even as we speak..

I always remember the wise words of one of the grognards on the Old School Wargaming group - keep a wargaming project, or period, alive by always making sure you keep painting new units for it, or adding to it!

To be honest though that was the only downside of the year...

We had 81 posts this year - which quite surprised me.. I hadn't thought I'd done much posting so there's the lie to that! Which brings my sum total to 296 posts since I started way back in February or March 2007..

The heart of any blog though is the readers - I don't ever expect anyone to come by this little corner of the web, they're a definite bonus though, and to say I'm slightly chuffed by the following would be an understatement of quite gargantuan proportions:

Not surprisingly the "active" projects are the busiest.... I really must get down to some WWII project updates soon!

...and what visitors... some amazing deeds of kindness this year which were really touching (& I mean that honestly - as an Englishmen we don't do non-cynical well! ) So in no order I'd like to (once again) thank ...

Prinz Geoffrey over at the Cavendaria Blog [click here] for Captain Lucien Verbeek, who will henceforth always be present on my Sudan battlefields... hopefully in not quite so many scrapes as he got into this year...

I'd also like to thank Sir William the Aged [click here] for a totally unprompted parcel of War of the Spanish Succession 15mm goodies that arrived in the post after I'd mentioned that I'd like to try a particular range of figures.... all the way from the US, airmail, and wouldn't accept postage....

...both our true gentlemen of the old school.

Everyone on the Old School Wargaming group [click here] for always informative chat, good manners, and the occasional chuckle...

..and not forgetting DG for some cracking games - both physical and virtual - good chat, and visits to wargame shows in 2009 !! Here's to more in 2010..

Last but by no means least, in what is turning out be some kind of hideous Hollywood thank-you-fest, let us not forget two other major events in 2009 - first, the arrival of "Papillon" which was the culmination of almost a lifetimes ambition, and which has caused me to learn many new things and to take me outside of my comfort zone a few times (which is always a good thing!)

...and second, the arrival of reading glasses in Steve the Wargamer's life () one can only hope that the lack of these is the cause of my painting butchery over the last year!

That's it - see you in 2010 - Happy New Year (he said through gritted teeth)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2nd Virginia Infantry..

A return to the American Civil war project for this post, here we have the first of my Confederate regiments, the 2nd Virginia Infantry - "The Innocent Second".

As per the previous post on the 14th Indiana, this regiment was also present at the Battle of Kernstown (albeit on the other side!), where they served in Garnett's Brigade under Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett (that's him to the right & below).

The brigade was originally formed in 1861, by Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (that's him, top left click on any of the pictures for a bigger view by the way) who was a colonel of Virginia militia and had been ordered by the governor of Virginia to take command of roughly 2000 volunteers stationed at Harpers Ferry. Jackson formed them into a brigade of five regiments - the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments and the four-gun Rockbridge Artillery Battery. All of these units were from the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. The 2nd were commissioned between May 11 –13, 1861.

At the Battle of First Manassas the brigade and Jackson earned the nickname "Stonewall" because of their rock steady performance.

There Stands Jackson Like a Stone Wall July 21, 1861 (this brilliant picture is by a chap called Mort Kunstler - I shall be looking for more!)

After the battle Jackson was promoted, and handed over command of the brigade to Garnett, but for the rest of the war, they were always known as the "Stonewall Brigade", and the brigade remained in Jackson's command until his untimely death..

At Kernstown the regiment was commanded by Colonel James Walkinson Allen:

By the way, the 2nd Virginia were (allegedly) nicknamed "The Innocent Second" because they were well known for not pillaging when on campaign!

So, figures are Newline designs in 20mm, four bases representing about 320 men in Regimental Fire and Fury (other rule sets are available)... Originally I wasn't too sure about the shade of grey I've picked... it might be a little darker, but having seen the Kunstler picture above I think they'll do nicely. There is no doubt these are lovely figures though - even my painting butchery didn't manage to spoil the charm!


This is my last post before Christmas so I'd just like to take the time to wish everyone who pops in here a Happy Christmas... hope Santa delivers what is requested, and that you all have a peaceful, restful, and enjoyable time... until next time, 'a bientot'!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot...

This regiment of foot dates from 1689, and was one of the fourteen regiments commissioned by King William following the deposition of James in the bloodless revolution.

William was proclaimed King on 13 February 1689 and almost immediately set out to increase the size of the army in order to protect England against France (James had fled to the protection of Louis so it was fairly inevitable that trouble would follow from that direction).

On 8 March 1689 a commission was issued to Sir Edward Dering of Surrenden,to form 'a regiment of Foot ... for our service'. Sir Edward was a rich and influential baronet (that's him above and to the left). He appointed his younger brother Daniel to be colonel (Daniel had been in the army as a captain of grenadiers for the previous five years, so he had experience).

"The first muster was held on 8 March, the regiment's establishment being thirteen companies each of three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers, and sixty privates, a total of 884 non-commissioned officers and men, with one major, nine captains, nine lieutenants, two ensigns, a chaplain, and a surgeon". At Blenheim the order of battle I have lists them as 524 men, just under two thirds of their original strength.

The regiment was then commanded in very quick succession by:
  • 1691.06.01 Col. Samuel Venner (an interesting man I must try and find a little more about at some time - I believe he led the Duke of Monmouth's cavalry and was shot and wounded by a sniper in Bridport during the glorious revolution, which would have made him a "rebel" - apparently he lived until 1712 so not sure why he gave up command, but I'm even more unsure how he got the command in the first place given his background!)
  • 1695.03.13 Col. Louis James (le Vasseur), Marquis de Puisar
  • 1701.03.01 Lt-Gen. William Seymour - before being passed to the man himself!
  • 1702.02.12 Gen. John (Churchill), 1st Duke of Marlborough, KG - two and a half years later, and a mere 12 days after the battle they got their next colonel..
  • 1704.08.25 Lt-Gen. William Tatton
At the Schellenberg the regiment was in the second line, on the left flank of the main body under Lt General Ingoldsby, in the Wither's Brigade (with three other English battalions).

At Battle of Blenheim they'd been re-organised, and were a part of the column attacking Blenheim village, under the command of Lieutenant General John, 1st Baron Cutts of Gowran (the "Salamander"). They were in Rowe's Brigade, with four other regiments of foot, Howe's, Ingoldsby's, Rowe's & The Earl of Bath's Regiment of Foot.

The regiment went on to win battle honours at all four of the great battles of the war; Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet. Rather interestingly, after many years and some amalgamations, this was the regiment that went on to defend Rorke's Drift - the 24th Regiment of Foot - and as you can see they kept the same facing colour!

Figures are 15mm Minifgs, with the exception of the ruffian waving his sword about and masquerading as their officer; he's a Peter Pig figure from their Pirates range. Just had to paint him!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The search for the perfect set of ACW rules #3... "Mr. Lincoln's War"

He's back...!

Apologies for the elongated absence... I blame it entirely on my regular Christmas time trip to Bath with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer.. add to that a visit from my Dad who was down to baby sit the little heirs while we were in Bath, and as is always the way, lots of other things cropping up and all of a sudden my loft time disappeared rapidly - and with it any time for posting...

On the plus side however, things have still been progressing on the wargaming front... I've completed a regiment of Allied foot for my War of the Spanish Succession project (Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot), these will be the subject of a separate post.. DG and I also agreed that it really was time to bring the second ACW game to a close, so in this post I'll describe how we got on with "Mr Lincoln's War"..

So how did we get on?? Read on, McDuff..

First off, the price is £9 for a hard copy..

Format: A4 sized, comprising 29 pages, of which 23 are rules, the rest being special tournament rules, and a scenario (Mill Springs 19/1/1862).. glossy paper, typed, black and white drawings, some black and white photo's (uniforms mostly)..

The Rules

Brigade/regimental level

The rules are designed (optimally) for 15mm figures (also 10-12mm) though they can cater for 25's with some scale and measurement changes (described in the rules).

In 15mm, bases size is 1" square (artillery slightly bigger).

Figures 4 to a base for regular infantry - representing a company of 80 men - multiply the bases to make a regiment (according to historical numbers) so anything between 2 and 10 bases makes an infantry regiment. Two to six regiments then makes the brigade - with brigadier.

Cavalry are 2 figures to a base and represent 40 men.

Artillery bases represent 2 guns and 40 crew, or one section of guns - two or three bases then make a battery.

Skirmishers/dismounted cavalry are represented by leaving gaps between the bases...

These rules focus on the unit orders these then govern what the unit can do - for example, you can't advance if you have "hold" orders, you must move half if you have "move" orders, etc.

In addition the orders relate to how well your men fire - if you want best fire rate then put them on "hold" orders behind a wall or fence...

Eminently sensible and I thought the orders worked quite well - there are a lot of order types (seven) so it works best if you spend time to understand how and what these allow your unit to do.

Once a unit starts moving however, any number of actions can then start initiating morale checks - these can happen at any point in the move cycle (which is an interlinked Igo-Ugo where each side does something and then the other side reacts) - an interesting feature of this is that units take multiple morale checks rather than each event adding a negative modifier to a single morale check... I liked that as well! For example, if a unit comes under artillery fire, and takes enough casualties to remove a base, it would take two morale tests - one for the first time being under artillery fire, and the second for losing the base... very nifty!

...and the downside??? Well, that is that like the Too Fat Lardies rules, these are very very difficult rules to actually play - they're easy to read, but the transition to table top is difficult. Once again the issue is with poor proof reading, bad editing, and issues with grammar...


As we moved through the move sequence DG & I often found that we had to refer to multiple parts of the book to be able to complete each step in the sequence...

Another example - close combat - when we got to this stage of the move sequence I flipped to the close combat section in the rules, but it soon became clear that much of the first part of this section (the morale tests etc) had already been completed as part of previous move phases but this was not made clear...

Another example - breakthrough - cavalry who win the melee and have enough movement left can charge again (called breakthrough) but the use of the word "may" left us both perplexed as to whether we had to, or not..

..the Quick reference sheet tables didn't always agree with the rules in the book...

...and so forth.

DG and I played an introductory scenario based on the Kersntown scenario in the Too Fat Lardies rules to try the rules out, and I have to be honest and say that these too were quite a frustrating experience..

All in all - and again purely my opinion - these are not the rules for me. What I was itching to do was take them, rip them apart, and put them back together again in a way that made sense - and I still may do that if the next set don't improve my playing experience!!! Steve the Wargamer gives these a 6 to 7 out of 10 (c/w 5 or less for the Too Fat Lardies rules, and even less for "Rebel Yell").

.... onwards and upwards, though, the next one is "Guns at Gettysburg"..


...and the pictures?? DG found this site and it's well worth sharing - you can find lots more, here:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

14th Indiana..

You may remember that some time ago [click here] I painted up a sample selection of Newline Designs ACW infantry [click here] that I bought at the Colours show back in September.

I'd held off basing these as the search for the perfect set of ACW regimental level rules continued (DG & I are currently into move 3 of our latest game - this time using "Mr Lincoln's War") but over the course of the rules we've used to date it becomes clear that the basing guidelines are fairly similar for all these sets, and given I'm painting both sides I decided to chose one now...

Accordingly I have settled on 30mm square (same size base as I use for my War of the Spanish Succession troops) but because the figures are bigger, four infantry to a base. Cavalry will be two figures to a base. Artillery I'll decide when I get there!

Here we go then - this is them, based, and also with the addition of the regimental standard..

I've decided, as with all my projects, that I need a clear idea of what I'm painting - just so that I have an idea of when I've reached a target. In this case, for my start point I'm going to use the orders of battle for the Battle of Kernstown which fought on March 23, 1862.

This battle was the opening battle of "Stonewall" Jackson's campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. For me it has the advantage of being set early in the war (uniforms and regiments were more varied and colourful), and being a relatively small engagement... there will be other regiments dragged in as well purely because I want some zouaves, but the battle also has the advantage of being all arms and nicely balanced..

No doubt as I go along I'll get a clearer idea of what regiments wore what and when, but for this selection of mini's they are going to be known hence forward as the 14th Indiana Regiment of Foot..

Now, because they were a sample, they are not all wearing the same uniform, but what reading I have done would seem to indicate that uniformity was not strictly de-rigeur (and seems to have been positively frowned on in the Confederate ranks!) so I'm hoping I can get away with it for this regiment.. hence some of them are in frock coat, some shell jacket, and some sack jacket.. having said that, I am quite pleased with them!

At Kersntown their regimental commander was a man called (Lieutenant Colonel) William Harrow (that's him at the top on the left) who, I think it fair to say, was a fairly controversial character - he resigned shortly after the battle and wasn't reinstated until several months later. There were also (unproven?) rumours of drunkenness...

The brigade was commanded by a man called Nathan Kimball (that's him above and on the right) who had fought in the Mexican-American War, and volunteered the year before when war broke out. He had previously commanded the 1,143-man 14th Indiana Infantry, with Harrow as his Major.

At Kernstown, Kimball actually assumed command of the entire Union force on the second day of the battle, as the C-in-C had been wounded. Kimball had a "good" battle and at one point successfully counter attacked and pushed back Jackson - he was promoted to brigadier general on April 16, 1862.

By the end of the war 14th were one of the Unions crack regiments - at Kersntown however, they would have been fairly untried, this was only their first or second major engagement. Later on their brigade (still commanded by Kimball) would become known as the "Gibraltar Brigade" (because of their steadfastness), they and the rest of the brigade played a key role at Gettysburg in the attacks on Cemetary Hill.

I'll add more detail as and when I get it over on my ACW project page