Tuesday 31 October 2017

French in Egypt Books

On the doorstep today, before the hundreds of children swarmed through the street for Halloween, was another parcel. This one contained Charles S. Grant's "Napoleon's Campaign in Egypt".

This is a two volume, hard back work. Volume 1 features the French Army.  Running to 111 pages it  contains a brief history of the campaign from the start of the campaign in 1798 until Bonaparte left Egypt in August 1799, with 51 colour illustrations, many by Bob Marrion, plus maps, black and white drawings, OOBs and uniform details.

Volume 2 covers the British Army and Allies. Slightly longer at 119 pages it follows the action from Bonaparte's departure to the end of the campaign in December 1800. Fifty-three colour and numerous black and white illustrations fill the pages, along with OOBs and maps. If I have any complaints it is that I would have like to seen a bit more detail on the Ottoman armies.

It is a superb book for wargamers by a very well known wargamer writing on a subject for which he clearly has a passion. It is fantastic painting guide and helps to feed my interest in the campaign.

Sunday 29 October 2017

War of 1812 Project

The War of 1812 has been a goal for some time...Napoleonics in America, it is just such an intriguing mix. The goal was to do the equivalent of a division a side but when my fellow gamer Keith launched into the project too I decided that I did not need to go so large and, since he has a large British collection, I could focus on the US forces.

I decided that my American contingent for this collection is going to be Winfield Scott's Brigade from the Niagara Campaign. I have always had an appreciation for Scott after reading his biography a few years ago. He was one of those larger than life characters that 19th Century America turned out and he remained in the limelight for forty years until he fell out of favour in the early stages of the Civil War.

The brigade formed a part of Jacob Brown's Left Division on the Canadian Frontier in 1813 and comprised of four infantry regiments - 9th, 11th, 22nd and 25th - supported by Towson's battery. The brigade was differentiated from other US regular units by wearing a simple grey tunic instead of the usual blue due to a shortage of blue cloth at the time when the brigade was kitted out. The brigade established a sound combat record in the actions along the Niagara and made name for Scott.

My version of the brigade is being built from the Brigade Games range designed by Paul Hicks. These are beautifully designed figures with rich detail...if anything a little too much detail for my impatient painting style. The figures have inspired me to expand this little force at some stage, maybe finish Brown's division which would only mean another eight or so units.

The first unit finished for the War of 1812 project is Towson's battery.

I also based up the two commanders that I had painted about three months ago.

And then yesterday the first of two parcels from the Perrys with the first of the French in Egypt. I simply  couldn't resist assembling the mounted dromedary unit...not that they will see any paint until after the Scott's Brigade is finished.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Egyptian Ruins - Part 2 ... and more.

It has been a busy day today and a frustrating one to boot. Thankfully when I got home I found this on the doorstep.

A parcel from Brigade Games containing my order for War of 1812 Americans.

The Egyptian ruins are nearing completion. After the glue dried on the "stone blocks" in the cork pillars I needed to apply a texture on the  rest of the cork surface. I wanted a coarse texture so I used an artist's texture paste to which I added some fine sand then applied the mix with a pallet knife. When the texture paste was almost completely dry I rolled the pillar on a hard surface to flatten out any ridge lines left by the pallet knife.

The textured full length pillars

Above and below, the broken pillars awaiting paint

Then everything was given a black undercoat. All the pieces were then drybrushed with Games Workshop Tallarn Sand. Two or three coats of increasingly lighter tones were then applied.

The painted base

The model dry assembled.

The next step will be to fix the pillars to the base, add some rubble and then add some stone slabs across the tops of the tall pillars.

Monday 23 October 2017

Egyptian Ruins - Part 1

With my first order of my French in Egypt figures on the way, I have been looking at terrain pieces for use in future games. The plan is to make two middle eastern village houses, some ruins and some groups of palm trees. 

Since the weather on this Labour Day long weekend has been miserably cold and wet, ruining my plans to clean up the garden after a couple of months of neglect, I have started on the first item, the ruins.

The concept I have is based around this image I took at Karnak in 2009. 

I like the way that there is a mix of finished and unfinished surfaces on the pillars and walls.

I chose to make the base from foam board. I cut one face off the board and then drew the stone floor with a ball point pen. 

I used the same technique to create a raised floor in the centre of the piece and the walls at the front of the model.

I then painted all surfaces with PVA glue to harden up the foamboard surface.

Next was to made some pillars. For these I chose to use wine corks, of which I had a ready supply...a supply built up over a long time...honestly!

I found eight corks about the same size and shape and glued them into pairs as the basic pillar shape.

I also took one cork and cut it in three parts, then tore chunks off them. This will be a collapsed pillar. Four other corks will be used as partial pillar.  

To get that rough, broken finish that appears in the first photo on this page, I cut small pieces of thin cork sheeting and glued them to the column. 

When all of the pillars have had this applied, I will apply a finish to provide that partly finished look.

Friday 20 October 2017

Project Management - Progress (2)

Oh dear...there is a variance in the plan already.

Part two of the plan is in progress. The War of 1812 figures have been ordered and are on their way. This part of the project plan is on target and should have a completion date of late-November, slightly ahead of schedule.

But the plan for the Heavy Brigade for the Crimean War British Army has slipped to the right. Why?

There are two reasons. First, experience tells me that the delivery time for the Crimean War figures is between four and six weeks (I am guessing that is because this is a fringe period and to control inventory costs they are cast to order - although the annoying thing for me is that I have to pay upfront but then wait for what seems an eternity for them to arrive - patience us not one of my virtues) and if I wait that long the pile will be exhausted for too long. Second, because I looked at the French in Egypt on the Perry site again an simply couldn't resist. So 54 foot figures, 24 mounted plus two guns, eight gunners a 4 horse limber and a camel limber are on their way. Another order to finish this collection is planned for November.

Also on their way (I hope) are 40 palm trees for use in Egypt that I bought off eBay for a whole $NZ 10.41. If this supplier works out well, this could be a source of my trees in the future. There will, of course, be a need for some middle eastern buildings and some ancient ruins for this campaign as well.

In the next few weeks I have a trip to Europe that will enable me to visit a shop that sells plastic figures. This will enable me to boost the lead/plastic pile a little and then I can look at the Heavy Brigade, when timing is not so critical.

The Revised Plan.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Tarawera Week - Day Five (the last Day)

Apparently there was a brilliant sunrise on Sunday morning, not that I saw it, but by 8:00 it was raining. However the rain did not last long by the time we had finished breakfast it had cleared (although another rain shower came through a little after 9:00). 

I ran the final game of the week and had kept it a surprise until the night before. I had long been attracted to the Perry Miniatures Retreat from Moscow range and had concieved a game based on the Pony Wars rules that came out in the 1980s.

So after I got back from last year's Tarawera event I began planning. Readers will no doubt remember the collection of the Perry range and winter buildings that I built up earlier this year. These were all bought or made for this game.

So the details of the game...



The Retreat from Moscow game is a multi-player game where players command various French units during the Retreat from Moscow in 1812.


The French units are retreating along a road that weaves its way along the length of the table, passing woods, farms and villages until it crosses a river at one end of the table. The objective of each player is to get his unit across the river without losing more than half of his strength. 


As the French units march along the road they are liable to encounter Russian troops. There are a five trigger points along the road and as they pass in line of one of these the French will draw an event card that will declare whether any Russian troops arrive on the table and then, if they do arrive, a die is rolled and the Russian unit will arrive at one of four possible arrival points. If a Russian unit cannot arrive at the designated point, because access is blocked by a French unit, it will displace 500mm towards the river.


Russian troop movements are programmed and depend on the strength and proximity of the enemy, but generally speaking units that are in good order will always try to engage the French.


The terrain is snow covered but good going for troops on the road. Off road it is difficult going for infantry and cavalry, but normal for sleds.

The Forces


In this game the forces are:


The French

  • Five units of French infantry (4 stands each
  • One unit of French cavalry (4 stands)
  • One unit of French sled mounted cavalry (4 stands)


At the beginning of the game the French are deployed on the road with the cavalry in the front, with the sleds to one side and then the infantry.


A card is presented to each player that defines their command and the object of the game.

The Russians

  • One unit of Russian dragoons (4 stands)
  • Three units of Russian Cossacks (3 stands each)
  • One unit of Militia cavalry (3 stands)
  • One unit of raw Line infantry (3 stands)
  • Two units of Jagers (3 stands each)
  • Three units of militia (3 stands each)
  • Two units of armed peasants (3 stands each)
  • One field artillery battery (2 stands)
  • One militia 3lb gun (1stand)

No Russian troops are deployed initially, but on Turn 2 the line infantry will appear on the opposite bank of the river near the bridge, and may not cross the river unless the Emperor rule is envoked (see below).


As the French troops pass a trigger point a card is drawn and the entry point decided by a matrix within the rules.


A number of blank cards are included in the deck.

The Rules

The Pony Wars rules were to complex for what I wanted so I adapted my Napoleonic rules. In this game the French troops would be the equivalent of the US Cavalry in the original set and are pretty much free to do as they like, while the Russians are programmed like the Indians in the original and harass them all the way.


A full copy of the rules is located here.

The Table

The table was set up at 4 meters long and 2 meters wide. The map, with its trigger points, is as below - T = Trigger Point, A = Russian Arrival Point.



French units that are not in rout can recover status by the following means:

  • 1 status point per turn by moving at half rate
  • 2 status points by remaining stationary for one turn
  • 3 status points by eliminating one stand

Russian units cannot recover status.

Special Rule – the Emperor


Players are told that a special cache of supplies is located somewhere on the table that can restore up to eight status points on damaged units. Once the cache is found these points can be claimed by any unit as they pass within 50mm of the cache.


But the cache is a ruse. Instead in the centre of a village is a special trigger point that represents the Emperor and an escort of Imperial Guard troops. This force will be remain hidden from view until a French unit moves within 300 mm of the marker. At that point the Emperor and his escort are placed on the table.


The appearance of the Emperor has a number of special effects:

  • The game objective changes to getting the Emperor across the river regardless of cost
  • Any units within 600mm of him at the time of his discovery that are in rout or temporarily shaken or disrupted will immediately rally.
  • All units within 600mm of him at the point of discovery will immediately recover three status points.
  • All non-routing Russian units (including the raw line infantry unit) immediately move towards the Emperor and continue to try to attack him for the rest of the game

Once a French unit moves within 100mm of the Emperor, he and his escort will set off along the road to the bridge.

How the Game Ran

The table was set up with a white cloth. The road was marked with a brown Woodlands Scenic railway ballast. The trees were ones I had made years earlier for a game based in the Battle of Pea Ridge.

I changed the map a little, removing the mill from near the bridge and moving the church nearer the river.

Above and below, The French in their starting positions. The cavalry leads the way with Marbot's sleds on the right.

The first Russians arrive - a unit of mounted militia 


On the opposite side of the table some cossacks arrive and Marbot's sleds move to intercept. 

The Emperor has been discovered and sets off down the road.

The infantry column enters the village

The Emperor is well protected

The Russians are coming in from all directions.  A unit of militia has even had the audacity to charge the Emperor's escort - and nearly beat them!

Near the church the action heated up.

A Russian battery emerged from the wood and opened fire on the Emperor's sleigh, causing some damage, before one of the infantry units drove the battery off.

The Russians are everywhere...

The fighting rages all around the Emperor

But he is well protected and makes it safely across the bridge!

And so our fantastic week of gaming was over. We packed away the table, put everything back in the garage that we had moved to make space. We packed the cars, had a light lunch, cleaned up and closed up the house. 

Just before 1:00 we hit the road and had a easy drive home...that is until we hit the motorway into Auckland that is and we crawled along taking twenty minutes to travel two kilometres until we passed a small fender bender...welcome back to Auckland. 

The planning for next year has begun.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Tarawera Week - Day Four

Saturday dawned brilliantly sunny, although a little cool. After our usual hearty breakfast we stared our fourth game for this year that was set during the Spanish Civil War using one of our members' fabulous collection from various manufacturers (but chiefly Empress). 

I fought with the Nationalists with a command made up of two groups of Carlist Requetés and two of Falangists. I also had an armoured car. Supporting us were elements from the African army, a significant Italian force and elements of the Condor Legion. A Soviet backed force from the CNT, the Popular Front and the International Brigade opposed us. Because I was heavily involved in the early stages of the game I didn't pay much attention to what was happening elsewhere on the table, so this will be only a brief written description and I will depend largely images.

The Nationalist advance

 The Italians advance

My Carlists and Falangists advance 

The action centred on a small fictional village outside of Madrid that was occupied by the Popular Front and the CNT. 

The aircraft attack 

The Italian tanks sneak along the railway line

I don't remember which unit these were, but they look good!

The Italian artillery in action

My game started with an early encounter with the International Brigade in which I came of the worse. When two Soviet T26 tanks came forward my force was put to flight and the defence on that flank fell to the Italians, who also recoiled in the face of the Soviet armour before the the Russian tanks were destroyed.

Those damned Soviet tanks!

Assaulting the railway station

My Carlist Requetés come under artillery fire

The Falangists are attacked by the International Brigade...

...and the Carlists Requetés join the fight (the picture is taken just before the Soviet tanks dispersed my command)

International Brigade command

The Condors had a poor showing and their 88 gunners must had had too much Schnapps because they failed to score a hit all day!

The 88mm that missed every time!

Those damned Russian tanks again...

...and an armoured car

The Condor's 105mm finally finds a target 

And the Italian airforce flies over...

The contest in the village continued all day, although by the end of the day half of it was ablaze. In the end neither side held the advantage and a a draw was called.

Above and below, the fighting raged on in the village

Meanwhile the day outside was gorgeous 

Champagne closed out the afternoon, which I enjoyed on the deck with our host while others sat inside and watched a DVD. For dinner we devoured a fillet of beef, fresh beans with pine nuts and mashed potatoes, followed by a magnificent sticky date pudding, washed down by a few bottles of red.

It was pretty much a prefect day really!