Sunday 28 April 2013

Novgorodians 1

Here is the first unit of my Novgorod force for the Baltic Crusades project – a unit of mounted Novgorodian druzhina led by their Prince. (Or maybe it's the druzhina of a lesser Prince sworn to Novgorod, I haven't decided yet.)

The druzhinas were the medieval Rus/Russian Princes' retinue. They were in some aspects similar to the western knights, and in some very different: e.g. they were influenced by the Mongols and other steppe warriors, and were sometimes equipped with bows when mounted (although they probably didn't use the traditional "hit and run" tactics usually associated with mounted bow units). They were also free to leave the service of the Prince and seek new employment.

Sometimes I just seem to struggle with certain miniatures, redoing and repainting all of or parts of them again and again. I have no idea why, but these mounted druhzina were definitely some of these. I think I've redone most steps on most of them – basing, posing, painting – until I was happy with them. Consequently they have taken a long time to finish. Of course, being cavalry it's like painting two models in one which also adds to the time.

Originally I was going to do them using my prefered "big army" painting method of base coat, wash and using the base coat as a highlight. However, I thought the models looked too dark (ages) and so I added another highlight to make them look a bit brighter. After this, they came out all right I think. I would have liked some more kite shields, to again make them look less dark ages, but I ran out of suitable transfers.

Despite my thorough testing of techniques for doing snow bases, thanks to Dalauppror's good advice I ended up using the much simpler method of applying a good splash of wood/carpenter's glue in patches on the bases and then just dunking them in the snow flock. Great result with a minimum of work – what more could you want?

Anyway, here are some more pictures:

The miniatures are all from Gripping Beast's Early Russ range, but with some models mounted on barded horsed from their Medieval Russians range to show their status as "senior druzhina". The shield transfers and flag are from Little Big Men Studios.

As we're using this project as an opportunity to playtest the upcoming Lion Rampant rules by Dan Mersey, due to be published by Osprey next year, unit sizes are from these rules: Mounted units are composed of 6 models, and most foot units are 12 models strong.

I'm working on the second unit of druzhina for my initial force, and it should be finished some time next week.

Finally I would like to welcome a new follower: David Brits. Thanks for joining, I hope you'll like the blog

Thanks all for reading!

Friday 19 April 2013

Snow Bases

Right now I'm working on the first unit for my Novgorod force for the Baltic Crusades project. Yes, they've been a long time coming for sure. As Dalauppror has already done both his armies with winter bases, of course I'm going to do the same.

There are a lot of tutorials out there for snow bases, as a quick search will show you, but most are variations of a few different recipies. Having never done a snow themed army, I wanted to test a couple of techniques and find the one that suited me best in terms of minimal work (I'm lazy ...) and best look (... but also want my army to look good).

So, armed with some glue and Army Painter's snow flock I set to work. I decided to try out 5 different techniques, and in the picture below you can see the results (click for a bigger view).

The "recipies" for the bases were:
A: Snow flock sprinkled over Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement.
B: Carpenter's glue and snow flock, mixed 1-1.
C: Carpenter's glue, snow flock and water, mixed 1-1-0,5.
D: Carptenter's glue, snow flock, water and light grey paint (Foundry Arctic Grey A). When dry drybrushed with white.
E: Carpenter's glue and snow flock, mixed 1-1. When still wet, snow flock was sprinkled on top.

Here you can see some close ups of the bases (click for even bigger close ups).

The verdicts?

A: This is great for that light, freshly fallen snow look. However, as the flock is not secured it will fall/rub off easily. A drop or two of Scenic Cement will take care of that though.
B: Looks good with a slightly "icy" look. It was a bit hard to apply the mix, as it would rather stay stuck to the cocktail stick I used than stick to the base.
C: Looks a lot like B, but maybe a bit less "icy". The addition of water made it easier to apply than B.
D: This one didn't come out the way I thought – it doesn't look like snow! Also, it's the most time consuming method of the ones I tried. Not a winner.
E: This is perhaps my favourite. It combines the best bits from A and B – it looks convincingly like a thick carpet of freshly fallen snow. Nice.

My idea for the look of the army, was that the novgorodians are on a campaign in the middle of the winter, and so the bases should have lots of snow and not much (if any) vegetation. Thus I will probably use the E variant, but will add some water to make the mix a little easier to apply and also secure the top snow with a drop of Scenic Cement.

Hopefully the first novgorodian unit will be finished soon, and I can post some pictures of it here.

Finally, a warm welcome to my new followers Christopher(aka Axebreaker) and Sean. I hope you'll like the blog!

Have a great weekend everybody, especially those of you going to Salute! I'm not at all jealous of you, oh no ...

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Loki's 2nd Blog Birthday

Fellow blogger Loki is celebrating his 2nd blog birthday over at Loki's Great Hall by hosting a giveaway. The prizes are very generous indeed.

Pop on over and join the fun!

5 000 hits

On Thursday last week, this blog passed the milestone of 5 000 hits. Despite a nagging feeling most of these are Russian spambots, it made me a little happy that my small corner of the Internet has managed to scrape together these numbers. I know 5 000 hits are nothing compared to the "big boys" out there, but still.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "thank you" to all the visitors and followers, especially those of you who take the time to comment, for your support.

I thought about doing something special for this occasion but I think I'll save that for the 10 000 mark ... Stay tuned, as they say.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Muskets&Tomahawks Second Game – AAR

We had our second game of Muskets&Tomahawks on Monday. Once again it was my French against Dalauppror's Mohawks and we used the same forces as last time. The Indians got the Raid mission while the French had another go at Scouting.

This time we added in side plots to maybe even out the game a bit, as our last game was fairly one-sided. Dalauppror rolled "I'll prove my worth" – his Sachem had to charge an enemy unit of at least 3 models, and survive the melee. I got "Usurpation", which meant none of my units could move within 4 inches of my Officer. Tricky stuff indeed.

The board seen from the French side.

Just like last time we both started with all of our units on blinds, which led to some tentative first activations. The Mohawks moved with the majority of their units on their left flank, towards the buildings, and a small detachment was sent to stop the coming French advance on their right flank.

Meanwhile the French more or less mirrored the Mohawks by splitting their forces between both flanks.

The Mohawks set up a couple of units in the deep wood to try to halt the French coming their way, while two units moved out of the woods towards the settlement. The French didn't want to risk anything by revealing themselves before they had a good opportunity to shoot and so stayed in the woods. This meant the Indians arrived unopposed at the settlement and could set fire to the first building.

The Mohawks set fire to the first building ...
... while the Canadian militia opens fire on them.

With the Indians now in the open, the Canadian militia swept round the settlement and traded shots with the Mohawks who had set fire to the building. However, the shooting proved ineffective for both sides.

The compagnie franches de la marine advancing cautiously,
spying some Mohawks (or is it?) up ahead.

Meanwhile the compagnie franches de la marine advanced cautiously on the left flank – they had seen something in the woods up ahead that made them wary to get too close. Finally they decided to move up only to find it had been a bird or an animal (eg it was a dummy blind). Instead they fired off a few shots at the Mohawks near the second building, across the field, but as usual the French shooting was ineffective.

The compagnie franches de la marine true to form – no hits this time either.

The Mohawks now set fire to the second building, which spurred the compagnie franches de la marine to speed up their advance against the fourth and final sector to scout. However, they were keen to stay in cover and so choose the longer way, going around the deep woods.

Back on the other flank the French officer together with the Huron Indians (fashionably late to the party) moved back and forth, scouting the third sector while trying to get a good shot at the Mohawk forces camped in the woods. Some uncoordinated movement while retreating saw the Indians getting too close to the officer, which unfortunately meant the French side plot was spoilt. After some more, largely ineffective shooting by the French, the Mohawks saw their chance and charged their enemies, cutting down most of them.

I now had made a series of mistakes which would cost me the game. Up until now I had had the victory, not within grasp, but certainly within sight. My mistake was not being aggressive enough with my compagnie franches de la marine, while being too aggressive with my other forces. Had I advanced faster up the left flank (although I couldn't know the blind was a dummy, I had superiority in numbers and morale and probably could have stood up well in a fight) and then taken the shorter route in the open it was very likely I would have reached the final quarter of the board to scout. Meanwhile, the Indians and the Officer should have stayed in the safety of the woods and then begun to retreat, together with the militia, to the edge of the board were they could exit when the compagnie franches de la marine had done their scouting work.

It probably wouldn't have been that easy, of course the Mohawks would put up a hard fight and chase my retreating forces, but maybe I could have pulled it off!

Look out boys, the Indians are coming!

Well, it was too late now and instead the Mohawks could hunt the retreating French unopposed – cutting down both the French officer and the last Huron, before closing in on the militia – and also move up to block the advance of the Compagnie Franches de la marine. We had to end the game earlier as the time was up, but it was clear the Mohawks were the winners and the French once again had failed.

The goal in sight!
But those pesky Mohawks will soon thwart the French plans.

This game was much more uncertain than the first, and as such much more fun. Still, there certainly are some things to mull over ... After the game we discussed my force composition. We both felt the Mohawks, who had 2 more units than the French, were a more flexible force. It's possible I could take better advantage of the large 10 man squad of the compagnie franches de la marine, but I'm now looking at alternative forces which would give me more but smaller units. I haven't cracked that one yet though ...

We will take a break from Muskets&Tomahawks for a while now – our next scheduled game will be another playtest of Lion Rampant. Dan has done some significant revisions of the rules, and I'm looking forward to see how they change the game.

Finally, a warm welcome to the new followers Dave B and Rodger. I hope you'll like my blog!