Saturday 30 April 2016

First Impressions of Sharp Practice 2

Sharp Practice 2 arrived this week and I have just finished reading it. I have yet to play the game but I am very excited about the new rules.

I had the old Sharp Practice but I always found the rules were a bit disorganised and a little bit rough round the edges. Added to this was the fact that my regular gaming opponent, Pulp Citizen, strongly dislikes games which don’t have at least some sort of point based system to give a ‘fair’ game. I did like the quirky character generation rules that imbued your leaders with personalities and back stories, as this really helped to get the Bernard Cornwall/ CS Foster feel for the game. But in the end we never really played the old Sharp Practice, preferring to play smaller skirmishes with Songs of Drums and Shakos.

Sharp Practice 2 is very different animal to its predecessor. First impressions are that it is a slick produced, and good quality rule book:  modern and full colour all the way through, as you would expect. There are lots of nice colour photographs of figures too, although no illustrations. The next thing which struck me after a casual flick through the rules was how superficially similar it looked to Chain of Command (obviously by the same writer/production team). This similarity continued to strike me as I started reading the rules. Players familiar with Chain of Command will be already familiar with many of the concepts in Sharp Practice 2- Deployment Points, Random Movement, shock points etc. At first I wondered if Richard Clarke had just adapted the winning formula from Chain of Command to the Napoleonic period but the more I read the more I realised that this wasn’t CoC, but rather something new. It borrows form CoC, then mashes them up with the old Sharp Practice, and what comes out is a well written, well produced rules that it very fit for purpose, and yet retains much of the character and narrative driven of the original Sharp Practice rules.

The rules are written in a manner that suggest it is not to be taken too seriously (I wonder how well this will go down with some of the notoriously serious-minded Napoleonic gamers). For example close quarters battle is called ‘Fisticuffs’ and there are rules for some of your men deserting in search of loot of being lured away by attractive milkmaids. The character generation rules from the original rules have, thankfully, been retained, and even expanded on. I was glad to see they kept the rules for caddish officers seducing ladies, as these were something of a unique selling point in a wargame rules.

While the original Sharp Practice focused on the Napoleonic Wars, Sharp Practice 2 expands the period to cover from 1700-1865. There are army lists for the French and Indian Wars, the American War of Independence, The Peninsular War, The American Civil War and The Indian Mutiny included in the core rules, and Richard Clarke is promising to make many more army lists available on the Two Fat Lardies website. I am particularly please with this as I have forces for the French and the British for the Peninsular War, and I am building up forces for the French and Indian Wars. I have also always wanted to wargame Clive of India’s campaigns, and there is a good chance there rules would fit the bill nicely. The army lists have a point based system, and a lot of flexibility in how you build your forces, as well as the chance to take support options not normally used in wargames, such as supply wagons and engineers

My overall impression is that this is a great game that brings the original Sharp Practice rules up to date without compromising its charm and narrative driven plotlines. This could be my new go-to rules for 18th and 19th  century wargaming. 

Friday 29 April 2016

Frostgrave: Bargin Terrain

Last week I walked past an Oxfam charity shop and, entirely on a whim, through I would pop in and look at the ornaments for something I could use in Frostgrave. I was looking for a little statue, perhaps a dragon or a knight, but what I found were a pair of resin candlestick holders. They were SO ugly it beggars belief that anyone would have bought them in the first place. I think the staff at the charity shop must have thought I was half mad because as soon as I saw them I knew I had to have them. They were painted red and gold, and had multicoloured plastic jewels glued to them- tacky beyond belief. 
Once I got home I had a rummage through my bits box and found a couple of  suitable figures to adorn the candlesticks- in this case two old GW wizards I had had in my lead pile for more years than I care to remember. These wizards are lovely sculpts but alas both of them had their staffs broken so had no eBay value and so, after some soul-searching, I glued then to the candlesticks and sprayed them black. 
These pictures show the end results: a quick and easy paint job; some white fine surface plaster for snow and some plastic icicles from a model railway shop and the tacky tat was transformed into two Frostgrave monuments! 
And the cost for this transformation...£1.98.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Frostgrave: A Rat Familar

One of the things I love about painting figure for Frostgrave is that you can reuse just  about any fantasy figure for you war-band., I bought this figure off a seller at the West Midlands Military Show but unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember who made it, which is a shame because it is a cool figure. I am not sure what it will be in Frost Grave (if it features at all) but it cheered me up to paint it so I don't care. It stands (sits? ) about a cm tall, pulse the head dress. 

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Frostgrave: The Frost Wrath

Here is another wandering monster for Frost Grave- This one is a Frost Wrath (produced by Northstar).
I painted it by by adding increasing amount of ice blue paint (instead the bone colour I usually use to highlight) to the grey as I highlighted it, carefully blending the layers together- this simple trick gave the figure a nice cold feel without being too obvious. 

Sunday 24 April 2016

Peninsular War: Guerilla Leader

This figure was bought on Ebay from the same seller who sold the all female gun crew. It is very much in the Richard Sharpe style rather than any attempt at being historically accurate! It's a nice model, although the weapons are not particularity well sculpted- especially the pistol, which is very chunky and soft on details. I could have swapped the pistol, but in the end I decided I could live with it as it is. Never the less it is a good model that was fun to paint- you can see I have taken extra care with the shading on the cleavage. 

Friday 22 April 2016

Peninsular War: Farewell and Adieu to the Ladies of Spain

Here is the latest addition to my ever growing pile of Peninsular War figures- this is a Spanish 12 pdr crewed by civilian women. I bought it on Ebay. 
Initially it seems a bit of a odd idea: why would women be crewing a cannon after all? However a bit of research I found that there was certainly incidents in the Peninsular war when women did assist the men crewing artillery. I am not sure how often it happened, or if a gun was ever entirely crewed by women as this model depicts, but I liked the figures so I painted it anyway. I have based the figures separate from the gun, with the idea that I might get a male gun crew too, and then I will be able to swap them about. I might even get another one of these cannons as the ladies will be very easy to convert into ordinary civilians- the girl with the bucket will not need changing at all, and the lady with the mop could be converted to carry a pitchfork or broom. The other two might require a little bit more work, but it would be worth it as these are nice models and female civilian figures are not in plentiful supply. 

As a side note Agustina de Aragon was a heroine of the Peninsular war when she crewed a cannon after its gunners were killed (or ran off). She later led some guerillas, then somehow joined Wellington's army as an artillery officer and fought during the Battle of Vitoria. 

Agustina de Aragon- Someone please sculpt this in 28mm!

Saturday 16 April 2016

Freebooters Fate: Brotherhood vs Pirates

Pulp Citizen and I got together for a bit of fantasy skirmish using Freebooters Fate. I played my Pirate crew, and Leon played his Brotherhood assassins. We pooled our resources with the board- Mostly it is Pulp Citizens stuff, but with my trees, a few houses and lots of trade goods I have just finished painting up. All the buildings are from 4Ground, and the trade goods are from Ainsty Castings.

Apparently our two gangs clashed over the particulars of the ownership of a goat...and something to do with a be honest the historic reasons behind the feud between the Brotherhood and the Pirates is a bit sketchy. Not that they usually need much of an excuse for a fight. 

The Pirate Crew- Jolly Good lads

The Brotherhood- Dastardly cut-throats and murderers!

Two brave Pirate Deckhands spoiling for a fight

The sulking Master Assassin -boo hiss!

Harlequin worming her way through the seedy backstreet

Before coming to a sticky end at the hands of Krud
 The scrap went well for the Pirates, as they were able to exploit they shooting abilities from cover and finish the Assassins before they could close, while Krud- certainly the man of the match for the Pirates- brained two of the Brotherhood's specialists before being taken out by (fittingly enough) a poisoned dart in the back from the master assassin.

Master Assassin wonders where the rest of his gang went

Captain Rosso says 'extra rations of rum for everyone who survived.'

Sunday 10 April 2016

VBCW: Herefordshire Game- Battle of the River Wye

Yesterday I joined by VBCW cronies in Herefordshire for yet another big game. We used Mort's 'Went the day Well?' rules. The game followed on directly from the previous Herefordshire games. The anti-royal coalition of Socialists and Anglican League faired badly in the last game and were on the back foot, desperately trying to hold back the BUF/Royalist forces who have been crushing all resistance under their jackboots. 

We played on three battlefields- each representing a holding action on behalf of the Socailist/Anglicans. My Canal Workers force, supported by some Anglican Land forces (a hodge-podge of local policemen, post office employees and yokels) went toe to toe with three whole platoons of dastardly BUF blackguards, supported by their own armoured boats, cavalry, two tanks and an armoured truck!

The BUF navy and my socialists were equally surprised to be facing off against each other as neither had anticipated that the would have to fight other boats- Both sides had developed a doctrine that involved firing at the river banks, and so had their guns arranged in broadsides, and so had only limited fire-power to bring to bear on each other until they drew along side each other. This was quite a design fault.   

The Wirral Socialist Canals Workers Battalion platoon ready for action!

The BUF Boats- The machine-gun laden The Goliath and the landing craft- neither particularity suited for a boat to boat action!
 In addition to the two BUF armoured boats the BUF moved two full platoons of troops, supported by a tank and cavalry, down one bank, while Royalist right-wing militias, including the Cheltenham Ladies Collage, moved up the opposite bank, suppored by a BUF armored truck, another BUF tank and the BUF boats.  My militia remained in their boats for most of the battle- refusing the flank for the bulk of the BUF force and protecting the AL platoon from being outflanked. By coving the BUF side of the river bank, and bridge, with my machine guns I deterred the BUF from crossing the bridge to out flank the AL platoon.  It was a sound plan- all the Anglicans had to do was defeat the right wing militias- no problem. 

Right wing militias support the BUF boats by moving up the river bank to clear out the remnants of the Anglican League's rear guard. 
 I opened up with a volley from my Dragon boat- six war heads streaked out towards one of the BUF tanks- to everyone's amazement four of the rockets struck the tank- reducing it to molten slag in seconds! First blood to me! This severely hampered the BUF attack on my boats because apart from their HMG's they had little that could effect out boats. 

The BUF tanks scrapped almost as soon as the game started!

BUF cavalry advancing up one flank- until forced back into cover by my machine guns

The Goliath- A BUF armoured boat- Sporting three Vickers K guns, a light mortar and no less than seven lewis guns!- A floating hell for the enemy!

Anglican League tank faces off against a BUF tank

The BUF and AL tanks clashed on the road- and the BUF managed to destroy the AL tanks- a blow or my AL allies. With the armour neutralise the right wing militias advanced as rapidly as they could towards the AL positions and what followed was a brutal and bloody close quarters battle- The Goliath's machine and the BUF tank supported the militias attacks on the Anglicans. 

Anglican League police take cover in the bushes- ready to repel the ladies of the Cheltenham Collage- Unfortunately their tightly packed position was hit by an artillery shell and they suffered heavy casualties.
 The BUF landing graft- a marvel of modern engineering, dropped it's gang-planks and the BUF section deploy to support the right wing militias attacking the Anglican position!

Ready to deploy...



BUF tank supporting attack on the Anglican League position
 The Jenny Marx drew level with The Goliath, and both sides raked each other with ineffective machine gun fire, before The Jenny Marx sailed past. It was something of an anti-climax, but then again neither boats were designed to battle another armoured boat, as their primary role was to suppress infantry on the banks, so the lack of casualties was hardly surprising. 

 The crew of The Jenny Marx were very impressed with the BUF landing vessel- which they had spotted (almost) abandoned by the side of the river. The Petty Officer ordered the pilot of The Jenny Marx to draw along side while the men preprepared to board it. Just then disaster struck (well a mortar shell struck- to be strictly accurate) sinking the Jenny Rose with the loss of nine sailors! the survivors tried to scramble aboard the BUF landing vessel but were machine-gunned in the water by the caddish crew of The Goliath

Abandon ship! The Jenny Rose is sunk!
The loss of The Jenny Marx was a blow, but the dismal performance of my Anglican League allies against the right wing militias meant that the game was effectively over. The BUF had all but cleared the road- and while the river was clearly still mine there was little I could do but withdraw. The sailors from The Jenny Marx mad no choice but to surrender to the BUF as they were surrounded. 
The Right Wing militias, who had done the bulk of the work fighting the Anglicans, were severely battered and would have to withdraw, but the BUF could now cross the River Wye at the bridge and press their attack against the retreating Anglicans- while all I could do was to take the odd post shot at them from the river. 

Friday 8 April 2016

VBCW: Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion boats finished!

 Here are my finished boats for the Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion for the VBCW game tomorrow. I have added crews and Vickers GO MG's to the transports. The Vickers is on an Anti-Aircraft mount and can e used by the boats passengers. The crew are form 1st Corps and Pulp Figures. 

The Transports

The Transports count as having Improvised Armour. They can move at the same pace as infantry. The passengers can fire out through the firing ports (2 per port) and use the Vickers GO MG (counts as an LMG). Because it is only possible to board and disembark via the bow or stern it takes a full turn for a squad to do so. One squad can board or disembark from either door. The hull and roof are not armoured. All indirect fire weapons or submerged obstacles effect the boats as if they were unarmoured. 

 The Dragon

The dragon is a Mobile Rocket Propelled Artillery Platform made from a modified canal barge. It is fitted with an experimental six barrelled Rocket Launcher that is capable of launching a single high explosive rocket propelled warhead or a volley of it's entire payload. The back-blast can set fire to the deck if it is not kept well swabbed, but the recoil in minimal, so the boat will not sink when it is fired (an improvement over the Heavy Mortar Artillery Platform model). The gun crew are reluctant to train with the rocket launcher as the are afraid that it might explode. As a result they count as Inexperienced when firing the rockets. 
The Dragon is also fitted with twin Vickers GO machine guns on an AA Mount. This is operated by the gun crew so it can not fire on the same turn as the Rocket Launcher. The gun crew count as Regular with this weapon and it is counted as a single LMG when shooting. 
The deck is protected by a four an a half foot high wall of plate steel, and the cabin has been further reinforced with plate and sand bags. This counts as Improvised Armour from the sides. Indirect Fire weapons hitting the deck will count it as Unrmoured
The dragon moves at the same pace as infantry. 

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides is a canal monitor made from an armoured canal barge. The whole boat has been covered with 40-80mm of armour- as much as a heavy tank. It is fitted with a turret off a Matilda II tank, and armed with a 2pdr cannon and an Besa LMG. The 2pdr is only capable of firing AP shells, and not HE. The turret can only fire to the sides- it can to fire directly ahead as the bow turret is too high, and it is incapable of firing behind as the cabbing restricts the arc of fire. 

The monitor has a small turret at the bow, armed with a .50 Vickers MG. This front turret is primarily used for observation- usually the crewman in this turret will have the top open and be scanning the banks and water for signs of ambush or submerged obstacles. He has a direct telephone line to the main turret and to the pilot and will be responsible for directing the pilot at the rear of the boat (who can not see as his cabin is enclosed in armour). This turret is so cramped that the crewman can only enter from the roof hatch and has very limited space to maneuver- as a result the Vicker MG will count as an LMG. 

The monitor can move at the same rate as infantry, and its crew are classed as Regulars (being made up of Royal Navy volunteers.

Here are all the boats together. The platoon also has two assault boats bought in Germany by a dodgy Irish arms dealer and shipped to Liverpool via Dublin. They are used by the platoons reconnaissance elements to range ahead of the convoy to keep an eye out for potential ambushes or submerged obstacles.