Wednesday 30 August 2017

Lard on the Volga - Birthday Bash 2017

It seems strange how something always seems to crop up on the evening my local wargames club meets. School plays, my daughter’s swimming training, my son's football games, a phone call with work – whatever the excuse, it’s going happen on a Tuesday evening when my local club meets.

For a long time we’ve talked about meeting on a weekend, and putting on a club game. 

I turned 50 a little earlier this summer, and this seemed like a good excuse to hire the club venue and stage a large game of “Chain of Command” last Saturday. My chums Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner have already posted a ton of photos from the game on their fine Lard Island News blog. So what follows is my recollection of our visit to Korbinskaya on the Don River.

For anyone thinking about staging a “birthday game”, I can honestly simply say – do it! It’s a great way to arrive at “that” milestone, as well as spending the time with a great selection of friends who just also happen to be wargamers.

Setting the Scene

One of the fun things about any wargame is setting the scene. Rich sent a few emails to me in the week before the game, detailing the setting on the river Don at the small town of Korbinskaya and it’s nearby Collective Pig Farm No. 452. A force organisation table later and I was in business, sewing minefields, working out defensive positions and finding old photos on the internet of what a collective farm would look like. A little goes a very long way when it comes to inspiration!

The table

We ended up with a large wargame. Indeed, 22 feet of wargame, from the Don to Collective Pig Farm No. 452. As you’ll see from the photographs, Rich and Al’s terrain was a joy to behold.

The fine Russian buildings from Warbases, Sarissa and Charlie Foxtrot looked splendid. My favourite was a wonderful Russian Church, complete with boarded up windows and Bolshevik and Soviet posters demonizing the Russian Orthodox Church.


Never let a wargamer go hungry or thirsty. It’s an old saying (I’m sure), but nevertheless it’s an accurate one. I had arranged for lunch to be shipped in from our local bakery including a selection of decadent, bourgeoisie confectionary. Inevitably this was enjoyed by the Soviet players just as much as by the evil Nazi players.

I was honoured by my Lard chums increasing our collective daily sugar intake by creating two cakes, which were unveiled at the end of the day’s gaming. Despite initial misgivings, the indoor (Health and Safety Approved) sparkler worked far better than the Soviet pioneers’ satchel charges on the tabletop.

The game

As all games seem to do, it raced by. The Germans thrashed forward to the small, Tasrist-era bridge over the Lenmakluski stream, while I attempted to corral a slightly-recalcitrant defence using fiendish Commissar methods. The Soviet sailors from the Black Sea fleet arrived in the nick of time, just as most of the crews from the T-34s were bailing out under steady German fire.

As you can see from the photos, the troops provided by Rich, Al and Ade were of a wonderful standard. Thanks chaps!

The After-game entertainment

The best part of wargaming is the friends you share the hobby with. As might have already been mentioned by Rich, one can only hope that the band enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Painting Guide for 2mm Thirty Years War Figure Blocks

With some time to spare last night, I created a handout providing some information about how I go about basing and painting the Irregular Miniatures 2mm figure blocks we’ve been using for our Thirty Years War Lutzen project. Nothing very fancy, but a description of the order I’ve gone about things, some photos of work-in-progress and completed units, and a chart of the Vallejo paints I’ve been using.

Hopefully it’ll be of help to someone out there. You can find the painting guide on the web-version of this Blog, in the right hand sidebar called “Playtesting Scenarios…and Painting Guides”.  It should be right at the top.

If you think there’s anything I’ve missed, if anything’s not clear, please let me know in the comments or by email.

Two blog posts in two days. Just like buses, as they say….


Wednesday 9 August 2017

A brief update ... Laarden and other projects

It's been a while…! To be honest, in my own defence, I didn't realise it's been quite as long as it has been since I last updated this Blog.  Sorry, everyone!

So what's been happening in Roundwood's World? I've not been idle. The "Laarden 1688" project is still very much ongoing, with painting and terrain making. So far this summer, I've been finishing the Spanish contingent to Laarden's polygot forces. By way of showing something, here's some of the flags I've been painting up, and one of the Spanish "commanders", in this case the Prince of Oviedo (a diminutive 25mm Spanish princeling, converted from a Copplestone hobbit).

And the 2mm Thirty Years War project is also very much "on foot". The L├╝tzen armies are finished, and the aim before Christmas 2017 is to finish the Spanish forces for Nordlingen 1634 in their smaller, linear later Tercios.  I've been using my dodgy German to mine some useful information from some of the (very good) non-English books on Nordlingen. Hopefully a playtest for the battle isn't too far away.

I've also had a recent diversion to the Eighty Years War in 2mm, for reasons that might (hopefully) become a little more obvious during the course of the Autumn. As with the Thirty Years War project in 2mm, what has been interesting me is the possibilities of trying to recreate both the host of smaller battles and the campaigning environment in which the battles took place. 

In some ways, the Eighty Years War in the Netherlands looks to offer unpromising opportunities for the grand sweeping campaigns beloved of wargamers. There are few dramatic marches, the battles are tighter, and cavalry are less prominent. Of the Netherlands, the English soldier Roger Williams wrote in the 1570s, “those grounds did not serve for great troops of horsement to fight in”.

More trenchant still was the Englishman, William Davison, writing to Lord Burghley in March 1578:

Expungne one towne after another, the least of a number wherof cannot cost him less than half a yeres siege with an infinite charge, loss of men and hazard of his fortune and reputation bycause (as men of war are wont to say) one good towne well defended sufficeth to ruyn a mightie army”.

Sieges, field fortifications, river crossing and chess-board like march and counter-march seem to have been the predominant feature of Netherlands campaigning. But rather than abandoning the Flemish and Dutch landscape of the 1570s, 1580s and 1590s, I've been wondering if this might make quite a good location for a very tight, enclosed campaign.  So I made a start on some maps, which may or may not lead anywhere...

Standing on the shoulder of giants such as the wonderful Perfect Captain, I've made a few tentative steps towards thinking about campaigning in the periods of the Dutch Offensive, and Spanish Counter-Offensive in the Eighty Years War, being the 1590-1609 period. 

Being not that far removed from the Thirty Years War, I think there's some possible cross-overs of troop formations.  I'm hoping to create a Dutch army for the campaign, some of Irregular Miniatures' 2mm figures being perfect to represent Maurits of Nassau's and Willem Lodewijk's forces at battles such as Nieuport in 1600.  Hopefully as the summer passes, I can post some of the images from the tabletop of the Dutch and Spanish forces. As a taster, here's this week's Spanish early Tercios, on their way to being slowly painted.

So, plenty of stuff happening. Apologies again for the Blog silence, which is really as a result of a hectic family life and the usual work related excuses. No promises about when the next post will be, but hopefully not in five months! Catch you next time, and thanks for being patient …
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