Thursday, 31 May 2018

RHA Limber for Afghanistan

Back when I was collecting World War One figures, I acquired this nice Royal Horse Artillery limber. I believe it is from Wargames Foundry:

As it happens, I never used this limber in a game. Artillery in my WWI games never needed to be moved.  However, as I've been getting in more Afghanistan and NWF games, I've been inspired to create a scenario around 'Saving the Guns at Maiwand'.  Below is a detail from the painting "Maiwand: Saving the Guns" by Richard Caton Woodville.

When I assembled limbers more recently for my Napoleonic Russian army, I put them on very large bases like this:

It's big, takes up a lot of space, and involves a lot of mucking about trying to build traces and what not, which is enough of a hassle for a standing limber team, but altogether far too tricky to build for a dynamic team in full gallop as with the WWI limber.  So I've decided to stick with the three bases with pairs of horses.  This will let the model have some flexibility on the table, as I'll be able to have it go around corners (within reason).  Traces will be inferred.

So with the repaint and head swaps for the crew, this is how it turned out.  Once I get some Afghan horsemen painted up, I might be ready for a saving the guns scenario with TMWWBK!

Horses are virtually unchanged from previously.  Humans have had headswaps and been repainted to khaki.  If you look carefully, you'll see the headswaps aren't perfect, some of the heads are squished at the back and the line of connection is a bit rough.  Limber has been repainted from green to grey and bases have been redone from grass to sand.

You can see how long the whole bit gets with the gun attached.  I should have set down a ruler!  It's about 21 cm (8.5") including the gun so it will take up a fair chunk of the table in a game.  This is where the separate bases will make a difference.

Here is an attempt at the perspective of the Woodville painting.

 I just need to change the background :) 

And here's a comparison with the artillery crew I painted years ago when I was in Kandahar.  Uniforms are a bit different, the 1880 RHA didn't have the bandoliers, for example.

And finally front and rear views of the team.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Grenadiers for Peter the Great's army

As you may have seen from my previous posts, I now have painted enough figures to make three units of dragoons and two of infantry (aka 'shot') for my Pikeman's Lament Russian company.  In order to bring the total to 24 points (which is standard strength for a one-off game), I wanted to add one more unit, so I decided that a 'Forlorn Hope' was needed.  In TPL, a Forlorn Hope is a small group of elite soldiers.  So I decided to get some grenadiers!

I ordered Swedish grenadiers from Ebor, as I wanted the tall cloth mitre cap that is shown in the Osprey MAA 260 Peter the Great's Infantry.  As it turns out, the Swedish figure is not quite right for a Russian grenadier - the thing I really noticed was the fall down collar, where Russian uniforms didn't have collars at all (at least not until 1720).  As it turns out, Ebor has Russian grenadiers in their unit pack, but it didn't occur to me that I could ask for them separately.  I also got 12 grenadiers, when I only need 6 for a Forlorn Hope.  

Anyway, these arrived in the mail on Thursday, and I had a mad painting spree over the weekend!  The uniform is supposed to be that of Prince Repnin's Grenadiers. I decided that due to their elite status, red coats would be a nice distinction from the green coats of the dragoons and the shot.

They are on a mix of single and double bases.  I can field one or two Forlorn Hopes, or combine them all as a single unit of Veteran Shot.  Either way, they certainly look like they mean business!

Warlord Games WSS Plastic Artillery review

I picked up a box of the Warlord Games 'Marlborough's Wars' plastic artillery, in case I need to add some artillery support to my Pikeman's Lament Russian company.  As I previously reviewed Warlord's WSS infantry, I might as well show you what you will get in the artillery box.

As with the infantry, the set is a repackaging of the now defunct Wargames Factory War of the Spanish Succession artillery box.  I don't know what came in the WGF set, I am just looking at what you get with the Warlord Games offering.  And in my opinion, it's a reasonable chunk of stuff.  

The box comes with three identical frames, each containing enough bits to make one cannon (choice of 8-pdr or 12-pdr barrel), 4 crewmen and one mounted officer.  There's also some nice extra bits, including a couple of barrels, a bucket and several small stacks of cannonballs.

The artillery crew can be assembled holding either a sponge, a rammer, a scoop/ladle or a linstock.  One poor bloke is stuck holding a cannonball, no alternative arms for him!  There are 4 heads for the artillerymen, so not much variety unless you've saved your bits from the infantry or cavalry box (I didn't save my bits, dammit).  I really wanted the crew to be wearing tricorne hats, so I took some of the heads from my spare dragoons.

There are a few choices for the officer.  He can be with or without hat (he wears his wig either way), and there are three arm choices:  pointing, waving hat or waving sword.  I suppose he could have a linstock or a rammer...  I went with pointing.  

The cannon goes together quite nicely.  There are some small parts, like the handles and trunnion plates, so it's handy to have a pair of tweezers when doing the fine bits work.  

All in all, you get quite a bit from a single frame, and there are three of them in this box.  Everything in this photo (except the bases) came from just one frame.

The box also has two frames of bases, in a variety of sizes.  I love getting extra bases, and this box has lots of them.  If you wanted some 40 mm by 40 mm bases for your infantry, they're in this box!

About my only gripe about this box is that I wanted tricorne hats, and of course I found them in other sets.  I could grumble about the lack of variety with the figure poses, but that's only because I've been spoiled by other products.  The box certainly provides what it promises, and there's more variety in poses and equipment than I'd get with metals.  

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Russian Dragoons for Pikeman's Lament

Here are 18 Russian dragoons ready to use for Pikeman's Lament.  Figures are by Ebor.  If I can convince my opponent, I'll use the WSS/GNW dragoon profile from my last post.

The dragoons will be in units of 6.  I can mix and match of course, but I have the idea that one unit will be fully mounted, one dismounted (except for the horse holder) and one mixed mounted and foot.  Alternatively, I could field the foot unit as 'Commanded Shot', depending on how the PL company comes together.

Mixed mounted and foot:

Foot plus horse holder:

All mounted:

These are the two horse holders that I completed.  

Mixed foot and mounted stands

These figures were a bit less fun than usual, for a combination of reasons.  The figures are nice enough, sculpting is ok, but there is only one pose for the mounted trooper.  As a result, the troops look a bit unnatural when you see that each is holding his musket on his right thigh exactly the same way.  Another problem is that the metal is a bit brittle:  three of the troopers' muskets snapped off at the hand, so are waiting in my lead pile to be converted (I'll see if I can clip off what's left of the muskets and give them swords instead).  Yet another problem came from when I primed them. Something went wrong with the primer, and several of the figures ended up covered in a bumpy, textured surface, as if they were layered in coarse sand.  I tried to soak off the primer using Simply Green, but the primer wasn't going anywhere.  I painted over the mess as best I could, but they aren't the prettiest.

I have enough bits in the pile for another six dragoons (five mounted, one foot), which I will eventually get done.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Thoughts on cavalry for Pikeman's Lament

My current painting project is Russian dragoons for Peter the Great's army, for which I plan to use Pikeman's Lament (aka TPL).  I've been reviewing the rules and while overall they seem great (as with the related titles in the Lion Rampant family of games), I'm concerned about the profiles for the cavalry units, especially dragoons.

Dragoons in the 17th Century (e.g., English Civil War) are generally described as being pretty much like mounted infantry:  they would ride on ahead to where they expected to fight, then dismounted and fought like musket-armed infantry.  From the descriptions I've found, ECW dragoons were not as good horsemen as proper 'horse' (cavalry), and seldom fought mounted, but were good for tasks such moving ahead and securing a key terrain feature and holding it until the main body of the army could arrive.

By the early 18th Century, including conflicts like the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia, dragoons seem to have taken on more of a battle cavalry role, although they were still not as potent as 'proper' cavalry, so dragoons would be expected to fare poorly if they ran up against actual horse.

The profile given for dragoons in TPL, however, seems to miss my understanding of dragoons for either period.  They move at 12", which makes them better horsemen than any other cavalry on the battlefield, but they also have quite poor ratings for attack and defence.  Combined with the 'evade' and 'skirmish' rules, I think this profile would be great for irregular light cavalry such as Cossacks.  I would change the range of the missile weapons to 6" to reflect the pistols and other light firearms used from the saddle (as for the Trotters).  This would match Lion Rampant Mounted Yeomen with Javelins, so to match they should have -1 points cost, and there are your skirmish cavalry!  

The profile is wrong for dragoons, though.  

For mid-17th Century dragoons (i.e., ECW), I'd use similar rules as found in The Men Who Would be Kings for Mounted Infantry.  Use the profile for Shot, but movement 8", cannot form close order, and range 12".  Almost like Commanded Shot, I suppose!  As I'm not gaming this time period, I'm not giving it any further comment.

For early 18th Century (GNW and WSS), dragoons should be able to fight like battle cavalry, but not as well as Gallopers.  TPL Gallopers are a lot like LR Mounted Sergeants (if they are aggressive, they're a bit more like Men at Arms!), so perhaps rate the dragoons similarly to crossbow armed Sergeants.  Let them move 10", take away counter charge, reduce Attack Value to 5+, add Shoot 7+/shoot value 5+/range 12".  And leave all that skirmishing and evading to the Cossacks.  The profile would be:

Early 18th Century Dragoon Points 4
Attack 5+      Attack Value 5+
Move  5+      Defence Value 5+
Shoot 7+      Shoot Value 5+/12"
Morale 4+     Maximum Movement 10"
Stamina 3     Special Rules:  First Salvo
Models per unit: 6

Upgrades (or downgrades!):
Raw @ -1 point per unit.  Stamina becomes 2
Veteran @ 2 points.  Shoot value 4+.

Cossacks (and other skirmish or irregular cavalry) generally don't want to get into melee unless they have a clear advantage (such as when their opponent is wavering).  For them, the TPL Dragoon profile is mostly good, but modify it slightly to show their preference for using pistols and similar short range weapons from the saddle:

Irregular (skirmish) cavalry (Cossacks)  Points 3
Attack 7+    Attack value 5+
Move 5+     Defence value 6
Shoot 6+    Shoot value 5+/6"
Morale 5+   Maximum movement 12"
Stamina 3   Special Rules:  Skirmish, Evade
Models per unit: 6

Veteran @ 2 points/unit.  Skirmish at 6+ and no penalty for shooting.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!