Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015

So I'd like to wish all of you and your families a Happy New Year and a peaceful 2015.
Instead of the usual postcard, here are a few shots of a cold and snowbound Prague from my own camera today from Letna Park (just behind our apartment).

Nothing of course that couldn't be remedied with some hot wine in the park :-)

More on the sorry state of my 2014 later, and more modest/non-committal  plans for 2015. Now back to family, food and champagne.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas / Vesele Vanoce a PF 2015

I'd just like to wish all those who stumble across the blog an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas, and good luck in 2015. The blog has been a bit silent in recent months (well most of the year actually). I took up a new senior role at the start of 2014, which has reduced time for painting, gaming, battlefield walks and blogging to virtually nil. I'll try to throw up some posts over the festive holiday on a few battlefields I managed to visit, images of new shiny toys and games, first efforts in the new Analogue painting challenge, and other musings.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Prague Wargames Club big summer game - La Rothiere 1814

So far 2014 has been a cracking year for wargaming at the club here in Prague. Several large Napoleonic battles as well as getting started in new periods/scales/rules (namely 28mm WW1 and WW2 using various rules from the nice gentlemen at Lard Island, shall we say spreading the lard out east). Of course apologies for my lack of posts over the last few months, due mostly to a very demanding period in the work sphere. This may lead to more intermittent posting.

We normally try two big games a year, one to get us through the post Christmas lull, and one before we all head off to the summer homes in July and August. Given it's a year of centenaries and bicentenaries, we chose the Battle of La Rothiere from 1814.


We played this in 15mm, using the excellent General de Brigade Deluxe rules. Considering the size of the game, the rules were very slick. We played almost the full battle out on a 12 x 12 foot L-shaped set up which caught  the main attack from 3 sides of the Allied Armies on the French. I think that the layout really captured the essence of the battle which was a desperate fight for the French. You can see this in the picture and scenario map above, and compare to the historical map below.

The battle went too and fro, from when we started at 9am, right up to lunchtime. Mostly dominated by the allies trying to turn the left and right flanks (the French were in an extended "U" shape with the wings turned back as you can see in the map above). The Prussians struggled to get over the bridge on the right flank, the ensuing bottleneck meant their numbers never came to bear, and were effectively stopped by the French artillery; and there they remained all day, taking pot shots across the river.
On the left flank it was a bloodier affair, with neither sides infantry brigades gaining the upper hand as the French held on, whilst in the corner apex of the left flank a massed cavalry battle swirled around for a few hours.
After lunch the allied commander decided to try and punch through the French centre with remaining cavalry, and the main body of the Russian divisions. Unfortunately, the two allied cavalry divisions which had been attacking the apex on the French left had one unit too many rout, and then the first and a few turns later the second brigade failed their morale tests, and both broke, and fled.
On the far left of the French line, the attacking Austrian and Bavarian brigades were held and then broken on the flanks. French cavalry exploiting the exposed wings and forcing a retreat (you can see the cavalry attack going in above).

Then in the middle the Russian attack was stalled by artillery and infantry, and then hit in the flank by the French cavalry reserve, breaking a few 2nd class units in the centre, leaving the whole Russian right flank exposed. Hard pressed at the front, with a large gap emerging in their centre and with the French cavalry now pouring in and rolling up their flank, their was little hope for the Allied attack. A few more rounds confirmed the inevitable, and an unhistorical French victory was declared.
This was really a fabulous day's wargaming, and a very well thought-through scenario by the main organizer Petr. Considering that we had 12 players and well over 2000 figures on the table, we concluded the battle by late afternoon, this was no small feat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Painting Challenge - The Final Push

So now we nearly are down to the last week of the Painting Challenge, and the final push to get myself over the 1000 Points mark. Arrayed on the table are enough in-progress figures to get me over the finish line. I won't say more about them until the photos are submitted to Curt.

I also have a tray of half-finished figures from my Orinoco range, though I doubt they will be done in time. I'll take more time with them for a photo shoot later in the month. Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - Bonus Round: 'Favourite Character'

I thought I would post up my next entry for the "Favourite Character" bonus in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, as Curt already has the images up on his blog. The Challenge is now entering the final leg, as entrants furiously try to reach their targets before 20th March Deadline.
The small vignette I put together represents  General Humbert during his expedition to Ireland in 1798, surrounded by his "Grognards" on the way to the "Races of Castlebar" (so-called due to the very fast retreat of the local British Garrison). He landed in County Mayo with about 1500 men, including many Irish troops and officers serving in the French Army, and then proceeded to tie down almost the whole British garrison in Ireland for 17 days, as he outmanoeuvred and out fought superior local militias and fencibles with a small group of hardened veterans from the Army of Italy.
After several engagements he was eventually intercepted by Cornwallis (of Yorktown fame) and his army of 15,000 infantry. This developed into the Battle of Ballinamuck, where Humbert's force was defeated, and his force surrendered. Many of the French prisoners were paroled back to France, while Humbert was held prisoner for several years before being sent back to France during a prisoner exchange. The fate of the Irish emigre troops who were captured was far grimmer, with most being hanged out of hand.
Later in life, after emigrating to America, Humbert fought again in the Battle of New Orleans in 1812 against the British. He ended his days as a school teacher in America. Anyway, an excellent character who fought a hard campaign against overwhelming odds.
The General Humbert figure is from Trent Miniatures, the marching infantry are from Front Rank. I hope you like them.

Friday, February 28, 2014

British AWI Casualties for the Analogue Challenge

So here are a few pictures of my recent entry into the bonus round of the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge. These are all from the Perry Miniatures plastic box set of British Infantry for the American War of Independence.

 These were figures which I wasn't sure how to use, until I saw a number of different blogs where people had used figures as casualty counters (usually with an insert for some dice). This always seemed a bit fiddly to me, so rather just paint the tally onto the base and turn the base according to the total. All figures are 4 to a base, so it's a very easy way to keep track, and when to remove bases. I do hope you like them.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My Analogue Hobbies Challenge heroes Theme entry

 So the two-week theme came around again in the Analogue Hobbies Challenge. I was really glad to get this one in as it was touch-an-go whether I would succeed due to a very busy month at work.  The two figures in question are from Gripping Beast's 28mm Romano-British/Arthurian range. They are painted up to represent Artorius himself, plus hero/sidekick Lancelot (he of the mask).

I did enjoy painting them, and even had a go at painting the shield design on the masked figure. The shield pattern is from LBM with a bit of paint to blend it into the shield.  I have to say that I much prefer the cast on shields. I really find that the separate shield you have to glue on for the other Gripping beast figures are poor on detail and do not paint up that well. As with all glue on weapons and shields on wargames figures, they seem to pop off with a certain regularity.

I had intended to do more figures for this round, but as said, time was in short supply. I hope to put up the additional figures over the next week.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Maximilian Schell or "Captain Stransky" from "Cross of Iron" passes away

I've always liked "Cross of Iron" for it's brutal portrayal of life on the Eastern Front during World War Two, and think it was one of Sam Peckinpah's best films. It's quite a bloody affair of a film, though that's par for the course with most of Peckinpah's films. I always though the character that really stood out in the film was that of Captain Stransky, a hammed up stereotypical take on the Prussian elite officer class in the Wehrmacht. In this role though, the Academy award winning actor Maximilian Schell shone brilliantly opposite (a fairly wooden) James Coburn, and in my mind made the film. So it was sad news today to hear that he had died.

The passing of this great actor will probably resonate with all the participants of the current Analogue Hobbies challenge (with its Peckinpah theme). As a young child of political refugees from Hitler's annexation of Austria, I believe he took particular pleasure in depicting fanatical Nazis in all their evil banality (excuse me if I borrow a few terms from Hannah Arendt), and indeed it was his portrayal of the defence lawyer for the Nazi war criminals in "Judgement at Nuremberg" that won him the Oscar. I will finish with a clip of his award winning performance:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Analogue Hobbies Challenge Entry - Mexican Revolution, and Chaco War

I've been a tad busy the last few weeks with a new job/project, so posting have been amiss. I've now fired in entries to two of the bi-weekly themes in the Analogue Painting challenge.
The first was a pair of figures inspired by the Wild Bunch film (a Peckinpah classic).

Both figures came from the excellent Mexican Revolution range brought out by Gringo 40's. I must say they were a real pleasure to paint and are full of character. I do hope Jed fills out the range more as it would be a great period to wargame (certainly as exciting as any Russian Civil War or Back of Beyond wargame).

Anyway the chap above is supposed to be the evil Mexican General Mapache from the film. Though judging from pictures he's probably based on Pancho Villa when he was briefly in Mexican Army uniform. I'll have to order another one from Gringo 40's as this lad is now winging his way to Canada as my entry fee to the Painting challenge.

The second chap is another "Federales" officer ("boo" I hear you shout). Another lovely sculpt, and he bears a striking resemblance to another character from the Wild Bunch film.

As this is two posts in one, my second entry were a pair of Chaco War inspired tankettes.

These two lovelies are Carden-Lloyds from Warlord Games. While not exactly the same as the versions deployed during the Chaco War, they come close enough for wargaming purposes (actual Bolivian Carden-Lloyd below with shorter cabin, sloping armour and sheet metal plate protection for the HMG).

As only a handful were ever used in the war, and nearly all were destroyed early on they'll do just fine. I lopped off the heads of a few of my Bolivian Chaco War figures to make the crew.

During the Battle of Nanawa (1933), these had been sent as part of a frontal; assault by the Bolivians, along with some light Vickers tanks and flamethrower teams against deeply entrenched Paraguayans. 

The battle was a bloodbath for the Bolivians who could not penetrate the deep defense, mines and barbed-wire erected by the Paraguayans (under the instructions of two Russian White Army officers who had extensive experience of the trench warfare on the Eastern Front). Hench why the battle is often referred to as the South American "Verdun."