Friday, 23 September 2016

'The Men Who Would Be Kings' colonial rules released

Yesterday was the official release date for the new colonial skirmish game from Osprey, 'The Men Who Would Be Kings' (TMWWBK). There have already been reviews (and even game reports) posted online.

As a means of saying thank you the author Dan Mersey very kindly arranges complimentary copies to be sent to people who have provided feedback, playtesting, photos of painted figures, army lists etc. I know this because I previoulsy received a free copy of Lion Rampant.

Therefore when an Osprey-wargame-book-shaped package turned up on Wednesday I immediately realised it must be a copy of TMWWBK. For some reason I had convinced myself that I wouldn't receive a copy. I reasoned that Osprey might not be keen to hand out so many free copies to all the playtester and contributers, plus the fact that there had been a copy of the book at my local gaming store for at least a week. I had therefore assumed the rules had been already been officially released. I think publishers and games manufacturers (such as Mantic) are now suppling 'bricks and mortar' retailers earlier in a effort to help and support them in the face of competition from online companies such as Amazon.

I was lucky to have a few army lists included in the rules (I actually get two mentions, one in the acknowledgments and one in the main text, which came as a nice surprise). It is surprisingly difficult conjuring up an exact 24 point field force that reflects the units you are trying to portray. If there is any interest I may post a number of alternative lists I initially came up with, either on this blog or on the Dux Rampant forum. As the author, Dan Mersey, often repeats the lists are not 'official' as such, neither are they ones that you are obliged to use. If you don't like the ones provided then simply create your own version that suits your needs or indeed your figure collection.

Another pleasant surprise came when I read through the various scenarios in the book (Scenario C?). This was because this particular scenario wasn't actually included in the playtesting draft copy I had. The scenario is based on the actions of a certain Sergeant Booth that took place during the Zulu wars. I knew of this chap because he happens to be bured in my home town of Brierley Hill in the West Midlands. Details of his story and grave can be found in a previous post [here]. His heroic actions are a perfect basis for a game of TMWWBK.

As you'd expect from an Osprey publication the book is full of illustrations from artists such as Peter Dennis, Angus McBride and Richard Scollins, all three who happen to be some of my personal favourite illustrators. I was slightly taken aback to realise that Scollins had died way back in 1992. I say this because it is probably a little known fact that Scollins was involved in the initial open air Shakespeare productions that are held annually at Stafford castle. Scollins designed the historically accurate costumes (not the leather fantasy versions that seem so popular in modern adaptions) and also used to appear as a minor character in the cast. My brother was fortunate to purchase a number of his original artworks showing his costume designs.

I digress. If you want a copy of the rules you can get it from [Osprey Publishing] direct in various formats.

If you're lucky to have a decent local gaming store (such as mine) Asgard Games Uk you should also be able to buy a copy from them.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

On this day - The Battle of Bladensburg, August 24th 1814

On this day the Battle of Bladensburg, August 24th 1814 took place. An interesting account of the battle can be found  [here]. The following photos, taken by my brother, are from the museum at Shrewsbury castle.
Standard of the 1st Harford Light Dragoons, US Army
taken by the 85th Regiment at Bladensburg

Army 'Small' Gold Medal

Awarded to Colonel (later Sir) William Thorton, 85th, for his gallantry in the battles of the Nive, 9-13 November 1813. Only 896 of these medals were ever awarded, 34 for the Nive.

Col. Thorton was captured by the Americans at Bladenburg in 1814 but was released in time to command the 85th at New Orleans, where he was severely wounded. He died in 1840.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Modified Dragoons, (Warlord) - Part 6 of 6

This final model as I wanted an alternative to the drummer available in other sets. The figure is as usual the plastic firelock figure from Warlord. The trumpet is taken from the Warlord cavalry set, all the detail was removed leaving just the instrument itself.


The musket was taken from another spare Warlord set with the other hand cut away. The cuff and the strap for the musket were made from added using greenstuff.

This is the final figure for my dragoon group. I wanted an alternative to the drummer available in other sets. The figure is as usual the plastic firelock figure from Warlord. The trumpet is taken from the Warlord cavalry set, all the detail was removed leaving just the instrument itself. Due to my heavy handed efforts I managed to break off the mouthpiece. I decided it wasn't worth the time to repair it so left it as it appears here. 

This is the final figure for my dragoon group. Now, eagle-eyed smarty pants readers may have spotted an apparent oddity with my figures from this mini-series Players of Lion Rampant will know that the units consist of either six or twelve figures and Pikeman's Lament follows the same numbering system. However if you add up the number of figures in this group there are actually seven figures in total. Now this is either because it's easier to transport infantry figures rather than a large bulky cavalry group to play at the local store or I wasn't playing attention and made too many. I'll let you decide is more likely. 

I do have another ECW project on the go at the moment but I'm making (very) slow progress with it. I currently have more than enough figures (for myself and an opponent) to play a standard 24 point game of The Pikeman's Lament so I'm under no particular pressure to get these done.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Modified Dragoons, (Warlord) - Part 5 of 6

Although dragoons are normally only depicted with muskets they could also be armed with pikes (see the link in the original post). To represent this figure is portrayed as a pikeman using the ubiquitous plastic firelock figure from Warlord.

The arms were taken from a Perry plastics set (WoTR I think). Gaps in the shoulders were filled in with greenstuff. Using the same material the sleeve cuffs were also added. 
Looking at the figure in the state show above I kept on thinking that something didn't quite seem right. As the figure represents a pikeman I realised I had to extend the shaft. To do this I used a spare polearm.
Little tip: whenever you have to join two rods/bars of plastic together cut the shaft at a diagonal angle (45 degrees if you can, using the lines on your cutting board as a guide). this increases the surface area and helps form a stronger bond than the usual perpendicular cut.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Modified Dragoons, (Warlord) - Part 4 of 6

This set was inspired by accounts and paintings [seen here] of the Battle of Waterloo where Scottish infantry latched onto cavalry to help them speed into action.
Rider - Left hand made from greenstuff as the previous hand was too low.
The musket was taken from a spare Warlord figure. The powder box and strap were added using greenstuff. Sharp eyed viewers may notice that I had forgotten to remove the sword hilt from the mounted figure, this was done later, as can be seen in the painted version.

Runner - The right arm was taken from a Perry miniature WoTR set with the left arm and the staff of the pole arm removed.


The powder horn, strap and both straps for the muskets were made from strips of greenstuff.

I'm not entirely happy with this specific set (and I'm not fishing for compliments here). I've since had an idea how to make a similar composition of a running figure more realistic but that will have to wait unit I can find a suitable base (yes I do need to get out more). Once this is done I may then retire this particular pair.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Modified Dragoons, (Warlord) - Part 3 of 6

This group was inspired after reading part of Osprey's book Pike and Shot Tactics 1590-1660.

"it was common to support ... with Shots – provided either by dragoons or by infantry temporarily mounted or riding double behind cavalrymen."
This seemingly simple comment provided me with the most difficult challenge while trying to make this look halfway realistic or natural. I thought I may be able to model two men on one horse. This was easier said than done and involved a lot of cutting and carving of the horse's back and rump (as well as a fair dose of industrial language which I find always helps).

With the first/forward most rider I removed the tassets from the thighs to facilitate moving the body of the figure forward towards the horse's head. I cut away some areas from his back so the two figures would fit closer together. The musket was taken from a spare regular figure. The powder box and strap were added using greenstuff.
The second/rear rider's right arm taken from the cavalry set which was originally holding a flagpole. After reading the article about dragoons, rather than using a short carbine model, I used a part taken, as usual, from a Warlord's Firelock figure. Just to make things awkward for myself I also removed his sash. I'm not entirely sure this was worth the time and effort to achieve the unique look of this set but as it's a one off for this project I'm unlikely to ever repeat the process. Well that's what I told myself as I was cursing the general lack of any form of co-operation from the figures.
The sash, baldric, sword handle and the straps for both muskets were made from strips of greenstuff. Yes, you've read that correctly, I added details to the figure after cutting the original one away (will I never learn? no..probably not).

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Modified Dragoons, (Warlord) - Part 2 of 6

During the long preparation (it turned out to be a rather long thinking process) of these models I considered various options of how to make these figures represent dragoons. Fortunately I eventually recalled the autobiography of Phillipp von Boeselager, a German officer who served on the Russian front during WWII and was involved in the closest attempt to assassinate Hitler, the book is titled Valkyrie: The Plot To Kill Hitler (you'll have to bear with me on this one). He was one of the very few who survived the executions that followed the failed coup d'etat. Although the modern perception of the German army during WWII is often that of large armoured columns attacking across all fronts, vast numbers of horses were still used for transport and haulage.

In his book von Boeselager describes combat experiences which, for to me at least, closely resembled those of dragoons during the ECW. During reconnaissance or defence actions soldiers, under von Boeselager command, would dismount leaving one man holding the reins of anywhere between four and ten horses. This single man would then ride away a short distance to a safer area. This soldier could quickly return to the others troops if and when needed. With this in mind I thought I would try to replicate this using these models
This group depicts one rider holding the reins of three other horses. There are four horses in total simply because that's how many would neatly fit onto the base (from Warbases). The single rider is a bog standard figure straight out the box. I cut away the moulded plastic reins and remade the connecting new ones using lengths of greenstuff. Again using greenstuff I built up the saddles on the riderless horses. This are perhaps the easiest modification of the entire set. Don't worry, the other modification caused me a lot more grief - all for your viewing entertainment.