Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Barry's little Scanian War project part 4 SNO' FAIR

Swedish field gun and crew... not a common sight!
OK so perhaps I have taken this too far but I really enjoyed making snow for the 'Lund' period bases in the Scanian War project. For those non British-Scots (I think that's what we are now or is is Scoto- Brits?) the title of this post is a little play on Glaswegian.. SNO' FAIR is a version of it's no' fair or  it isnae fair meaning of course... it is not fair! Yes I know, tortuous but you should try living with us!

mixing this with baking soda.....hmmmmm
Actually I found playing around with glue and baking soda a lot of fun. A little messy, slightly against the rules (I was using the Boss's cooking supplies) and ultimately very productive.

this white powder is for nothing more sinister than baking and modelling snow!
I cannot claim the idea for my own but I can I think lay claim to adding something to the process. I was originally inspired by Soren Christiansen's ' touch of frost' on his Swedish Life Guard cavalry for Lund.
I had made snow bases before but wanted to try something new so googled 'making snow terrain' or similar. I came across a tutorial which was only partly illustrated which mentioned PVA and baking soda. It as not specific about process, proportions or other key details but it was enough for a chap like me to start 'dicking about' as my wife so eloquently describes some of my terrain making activities.

Bohuslan Dragoons with the 'ice' effect below the snow

Armed only with a tin of baking soda, a pot of PVA and a spoon it felt a little like some kind of drug cooking! Firstly I found that the proportions were producing a sort of concrete. This was too gloopy and difficult to manage. I then over-glued it to the extent that it just looked like PVA. This went on sort of greyish and I found that on solidifying, if you drybrushed it the effect was like fresh snow over hard packed ice. Quite a pleasing effect.

gruesome and gratuitous but very effective on the tabletop
My next attempts were based around dolopping on this gloopy stuff( a little runnier) and then sprinkling on from the flat edge of a square toed spoon, layers of dry baking powder which went on is 'drifts' and became wet by the already gloopy mixture applied to the bases. The effect when dry pleased me mightily!

I was tempted to use the effect on every base for every unit but have been dissuaded as it restricts the use of the models to winter terrain only and that.... SNO' FAIR!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Poland and Ireland -Wargaming with the LoA at Derby

One of our number is missing! Andy! where are you?
Our most recent gaming event took place at Derby between 10-12 October. We had a big turnout of gamers for this one and had planned something a bit special over the two days. With guests from as far afield as Cuba, Austria and Bathgate it had to be something out of the ordinary!

A piece of Co Galway before the arrival of 50,000 troops
I chose two scenarios which I thought would provide highly contrasting gaming challenges. The first was The Battle of Aughrim, Jul 12 1691. Played out in full, battalion for battalion, squadron for squadron on a magnificent 14 x 6 table this game was going to be a real challenge for the players whichever army the were assigned to command.

The command of Julius von Tettau
Adrian had done an incredible job building the boards and setting the game up was itself a real pleasure. Although some terrain features were a little exaggerated the overall effect was extremely representative of the famous battlefield.

The second game was as much of a change as could be achieved. The Battle of Fraustadt (February 2,3 or 13 dependant on which calendar you fancy) 1706 saw the combined Saxon-Russian army battle it out with General Rehnskold's blue killing machine.

Snowy spectacular in Poland... Woodland Scenics to the rescue!
For this table which was 14 x 6 (with a flank extension) the terrain was relatively simple but a huge amount of sparkle was added with the appearance of some Woodland Scenics snow scatter.

The whole idea was for two teams to battle it out on each of the two table all day Saturday with a table swap and team change around for the Sunday.

Stand firm! Goltz's Dragoons await the blue wave
On the Saturday evening two of our guests who have become regulars at the events were kind enough to put together a very well thought out wargaming quiz and organize our players into teams to battle it out over glasses of lemonade cunningly disguised as hard liquor. For this trial of strength prizes were awarded to the worthy victors.

10 battalions of Swedish infantry ready to roll forward to death or glory!
Derby Conference Centre does not provide haute cuisine but it does a mean line in the food Mother used to make including fried breakfasts, curries, lasagnes, Sunday roasts, apple crumble with custard and cheesecake! Having consumed tonnes of the right stuff over the two days the suspensions of divers motor vehicles took the strain on Sunday afternoon to convey the tired but extremely contented warriors home.

Our blog will of course bring you details of both the games in the near future but for now I think this trailer will whet the appetites of our dedicated followers.

More from the Derby Demolition Derby soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Barry's little Scanian War project Part 3 LEAD INTO ASSETS

The benchmark - flat painted - gunked - varnished
As mentioned previously I had decided on a very pragmatic approach to creating the forces for both sides in the Scanian War project.

hand painted undercoat using Vallejo Model Colour White
My plan was to use a standard painting method consisting of a white undercoat, flat painting of well chosen bold and contrasting uniform colours followed by brushed on Army Painter gunk. The final step was to be matt varnishing to tone down the shiny toy look which I dislike so much.

Mountains of these to get through in batches of 10

My one concession which I introduced after painting about 20 cavalry was to run a flesh wash over the flat Dwarf Skintone I used for faces and hands. It adds a little depth and lifts the figures up a notch.

This kind of painting is not enjoyable for me as I like to think of myself as reasonable with the brush and capable of achieving interesting and competent levels of technique. On the credit side of the ledger industrial scale painting offers its own rewards the chief of those being - large numbers of consistent looking miniatures finished in very short periods of time.

Providing the contrast to flat painted bold colours
By basing the models with as much care as you would take over a figure which took 2.5 hours to paint, a 25 minute paint job closes the gap very significantly on those miniature works of art. Bearing in mind that the sole purpose of adopting this method was to game with the output and that the models always look best at distances of between 18 and 24 inches, I confess to having no sinking feeling whatsoever as I watch the lead mountain reduce and the serried ranks swell before my eyes.

One of the finest tools in my armoury
I was pleased enough with the results to extend the scope into speed painting GNW cavalry for an imminent LoA weekend event requiring copious numbers of Swedish Rytter. As can be seen here, careful choices further minimize the completion time. A Swedish trooper dressed in an all blue uniform with blue breeches and with no hat lace further shrinks painting time per model. One of these can be done in less than 2 minutes with about 10 minutes for the horse (again notice no trim on the saddle cloth). I think the bold choice of colours set off by careful basing produces a more than acceptable result when compared with my normal style of painting.

Not pure art but this is just over 1 hour of work.
The approach to infantry was identical. Bold choices in terms of the flat colours rebalances the dulling effect of the gunk. You will never see an eye ball searing scarlet but bright and garish colours drop down enough to maintain some impact. For a couple of years I played around with the above technique but after the gunking I rebuilt the colours back up by overpainting. An example below details that effect. Why? you might say! I think my reasoning contains some logic but perhaps was even more time consuming than working up from a black undercoat. As I think back, I was partly fed up painting 'up' from black, I like the softer shading created by flat coats, followed by gunk followed by 2-3 layers of highlight over the gloss. Some of my nicest units have been done that way.

Expend love on your bases - it compensates for an average paint job
Since starting the project a month ago I have painted 56 cavalry, 41 infantry and 18 gunners in between my full time job, travel and running Wordtwister, the blog and Warfare. I can therefore attest to the efficiency of the methodology. 

As for the results, those are for others to judge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Barry's little Scanian War project part 2 - WHAT TO WEAR?

Soren Christiansen's magnificent Swedish Lifeguard
Barry Hilton - Inspired as I was by Soren Christiansen and Michael Leck's use of Warfare Miniatures in the construction of their forces for the Battle of Lund I decided to use similar codes.

There is much conjecture over dress and equipment of the period 1670 - 1700 across all European armies. Typically the debate rages around;

GNW Swede in a karpus hat
Head gear
When did troops start to fashion their hats into the three cornered shape known for posterity as a Tricorne? Evidence seems to exist that this style was known as early as the 1680s although it was not universally adopted. It is also clear that well into the 18th century soldiers and civilians continued to wear their hat brims wide or turned up on one or two sides. When did black hats begin to predominate and was that fashion convention universally adopted? The adornment of a tape or lace trim on the hat must have begun sometime but when? How robust was this and how easily did it fray and tarnish?

Danish infantryman in black hat
In Scandinavia both the Danes and Swedes wore warm peasant style caps known by various names but commonly called a karpus in Swedish. Who wore these is the question. Officers? the other ranks? Were they mixed amongst units or ranks or were there dress conventions? All fascinating stuff!

Coats & waistcoats
Coat style, length and cut all present challenges. Pocket size shape and orientation too. Vertical? Horizontal? Scalloped? Saw toothed? Straight edged? What about buttons on cuffs or not? Vents in the coat back buttoned or not?

Sleeve length creates yet more problems. When did the turned up cuff move from just below the elbow to round the wrist? Waistcoats are often thought to be the cut down remnants of previous year's worn out coats.Was this always the case or did people have specific garments tailored? What about the colour... was it that of the new coat's lining or not? The Swedes of Karl XII turned back the skirts of their coats but when did this fashion begin and was it always followed? Did other armies do it as early as the Swedes?

WLOA80-87 codes as Danish infantry Weyer's Regiment 
The adoption of blue as a standard uniform colour by the Swedes often seems to be coincidental with the Great Northern War 1700-1721 yet a painting by Cederholm of the army at prayer at Fraustadt 1706 shows the cavalrymen in turned back buff coats. Similarly perplexing are illustrations such as Vucksic & Grabasic's Swedish cavalryman during the Lund period (1676) with turned back and piped buff coat.

The Danish Footguards - Grand Alliance period
With the introduction of flintlock musket technology the big question is when did people change from matchlock? What were the mixes of matchlock to flintlock? When did armies abandon the Thirty Years War style '12 apostle' bandoliers and adopt bullet bags on the right hip or little cartridge boxes on the front of the waistbelt? Who got bayonets and from what year?

Aalborgske Regiment - bullet bag equipment
Similar conjecture exists around various aspects of cavalry dress and equipment. When did the riding boots become universally black? Who wore armour? When did the Swedes move away from the buff coat? What colour were pistol holsters and when did the cloth covers appear. Was this a universal trend or not? Did dragoons carry pistols? What shape were saddle cloth ends rounded or square? When did coloured saddle cloths with trim in a contrasting colour begin to appear?

Swede 1678 Vuksic & Grbasic - True or false?
If you are confused, don't worry! This is the standard mental condition for fans of the period and is not restricted to the Scanian War but extends well into the 18th century. It provides us with enormous scope for interpretation and ideal fodder for some lively debate.

Join me for the next part of the series where I will be turning mountains of unpainted lead into mountains of painted lead.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meeples & Miniatures

Neil Shuck and Mike Hobbs over at Meeples & Miniatures have featured Donnybrook on episode 133 of their podcast. The Donnybrook bit starts about 40 minutes in, but the entire episode (as well as the 132 before it) are entertaining and well worth a listen!

Thanks for the review, guys!

Friday, October 10, 2014

With the Basques in Bayonne, Part 1

Guest Blogger and regular at League of Augsburg weekender events Peter Allport shares some fascinating military history with us in a two part series detailing some of his summer travels...

Peter Allport - Bayonne is a beautiful small city in south west France where the wide River Adour flows into the Bay of Biscay and the smaller but historically-resonant river Nive bisects the town. In a typical Basque seaman’s house on the quay where goods used to be stored on the ground floor is now the museum of Basque History. As luck would have it, this summer the museum has a special exhibition with the theme ‘in the shadow of the Emperor’. This features the events of 1814 culminating in the French Sortie from Bayonne to attack the residual portion of  Wellington’s surrounding and victorious army under General Hope…

The building itself is historically interesting and explores the Basque culture which is strong and largely rural but colourful and distinctive – stretching as it does across the Pyrenees  in France and northern Spain.  We may think of the Basques as a Spanish people but in fact ‘Proud to be Basque’ resonates everywhere in this region – all the street and directional signs are written in French and Basque.

On the 4th floor is the temporary exhibition. Bayonne was a well-fortified town because of its strategic position on the route to Spain. The paintings illustrate the fortifications built prior to the 30 Years War and earlier and then reinforced by Vauban in the late 17th century – more of that in a subsequent post –

Below is a Bastion with two guerites at the confluence of the Adour and Nive in the centre of the town. The museum is housed in one of the buildings on the quay in the background towards the bridge.

In one of the rooms there  is a fabulous 6-10mm scale model of the city. It fills the room and stretches down either side in two massive glass cabinets. Above is the gateway (no longer there) and confluence point of the two rivers.

And here is the same river bastion and guerite today.

Above is the model of the Citadel, built by Vauban on the northern bank of the Adour on a hill overlooking the town. Today it is still occupied by the French military and is not open to the general public. French Special Forces have their HQ there! The flag at half-mast today…

The model illustrates how the town looked in the 18th century. Trees line the esplanades and the houses cram together behind the massive walls and ramparts.

The image of Napoleon is everywhere despite a weak connection with city.  Bayonne was however very loyal to him but by the time of the infamous sortie in April 1814 he had already abdicated, was saying goodbye to the Old Guard at Fontainbleau and heading for Elba.

The exhibition contains diaries and journals including these fabulous illustrations of the uniforms of the British and French  troops in the last days of the Peninsular War. The fact that these were drawn at the time gives them an immediacy and impact… That’s how it looked then… two hundred years ago in clock-time, but only yesterday in another sense…

In addition to a fascinating range of paintings, drawings, cannon balls, cutlery, officer’s boxes in one of the rooms is a centrepiece diorama in 1/72nd scale with hundreds of individually-based figures illustrating the action around the church of St Etienne on the north bank of the Adour. The French, led by Thouvenot broke out into the half-hearted siege works of the surrounding British and captured General Hope and killed General Hay. Each side lost over 100 killed and several hundred wounded. It was a last hurrah of a defeated opponent…

Some of the detritus of battle, recovered from the banks of the River Nive and the encircling forests. The exhibition provided inspiration and enjoyment for a couple of hours. Bayonne would make a perfect town to create an imaginary siege- fabulous wargame potential.

Later in the week, the well-preserved fortifications overseen and developed  by Vauban were on the walking schedule…and that will be the subject of another post.

Holywell Hill

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Barry's little Scanian War project Part 1 - HOW IT STARTED

Swedish Life Guards at the charge 1676
Barry Hilton - My interest in the Scanian War 1675-79 probably began when I was 11 but I didn't know it! My Father bought me Military Uniforms of the World by Preben Kannik for my birthday and I still have the book.

Kannik - after 42 years it all makes sense!
Plates which meant nothing to me but that I must have looked at hundreds of times over the intervening 40 years illustrated uniforms from something unknown called the Scanian War. I liked the uniforms but thought them a little odd compared to what I was really interested in which was anything after 1800. Since then, my interest in the 17th century has grown and it is now where I spend a lot of my wargaming time (well not literally IN the 17th century but reading about it!).

A 30 minute figure. Not my best work but it does the job.
Further little pieces of bait have been laid over the years, namely articles in Miniatures Wargames and elsewhere about the Battle of Lund. More recently my interaction with a group of Stockholm based wargamers (active on this blog!) has brought The Scanian War firmly into the crosshairs. Daluappror Michael and Soren the Dane have conjured Scanian War scenarios for Donnybrook and for their gaming of Lund using Warfare Miniatures. Inspired, and having witnessed their gaming first hand I embarked upon building two forces to represent Danes and Swedes.

I had already decided that the project was a diversion and so I could not afford to paint every mini to a very high standard. I wanted to do a relatively small number of largish units and opted for the 'gunk' method of shading. That meant painting well chosen flat colours over a white undercoat and using the Army Painter creosote method to provide the depth.

Amazing what you can do with baking soda.
This approach has allowed me to finish fairly large quantities of troops in a relatively short time and with the careful application of a good matt varnish the results as you can see are not displeasing.

In concert with the new forces I have as Blog followers will now know, been developing a new set of Horse & Musket rules. The combination of new armies - new rules is a useful vehicle to transport this series of posts along. Together with some modelling tips on winter bases I will show how units of both Foot and Horse can be constructed for use with the new rules.

As yet incomplete unit of Danish infantry
This first post is the doorway to probably a quite long series which may take a few unexpected twists on the way.

Several new ingredients will appear in the mix including some lovely Scanian Wars flags designed by Peter Smith. I hope to also include some of the work of Michael Leck and Soren Christiansen as we go. Both have created some wonderful units for the Scanian War era and Michael has written some interesting material on the Snaphanar (His Majesties Freeshooters of Denmark).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Beneath the Lily Banners QRS, 2nd edition

We have had some calls for digital copies of the quick reference sheets for the second edition of Beneath the Lily Banners...

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