Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Donnybrook Diaries - the advance of the shot!

Hello again! Well after last week's post about my terrain, I've been working away on my New Model Army musketeers for my Donnybrook English Civil War project. I had one figure completed a few months ago, as a test figure, but had to get the rest finished. These chaps are worth 1 point, and are classed as Elite infantry. They will be fielded as Major Hawkins' company, and here they are with their activation card. Elite infantry in Donnybrook can be bought in groups of four figures, but they can be combined with other elite infantry, to make a unit up to 12 figures strong. So these chaps will be combined with another point's worth of elite musketeers, to make a unit eight figures strong, which will be less tactically flexible on the table, but will at least stick around longer. They are all Perry Miniatures, based on 25mm Warbases circular bases.

I decided to paint these chaps with a variety of headgear - the black 'beaver' felt hat so beloved of ECW gamers was not as ubiquitous as the Victorians would have us believe, and a broad range of headwear was available to people of the 17th Century - the Perry twins have recognised this, so along with beaver hats, there are also Montero hats - the peaked cloth hat, often worn by members of the Oxford Army, but also sported by generals including Prince Rupert and Fairfax amongst others; knitted peakless Monmouth hats,
and 'Pound' hats - knitted headwear with a brim.
My musketeers and pikemen have a range of these.
Here we see the pikemen drawn up in normal order,
with a sleeve of shot next to it. The following photos show them in action, advancing over a bridge somewhere in Scotland. The next lot of musketeers are on the painting blocks, and are underway, so see you again soon! Apologies for the random layout again, I'm still struggling with Blogger, so if anyone can point me towards any decent tutorials, or offer any tips - is it better to add text before or after pictures, that kind of thing!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....making ground!

Hello again - It's been a while, but I've gone to ground because......I've been making ground! Well, terrain to be specific. About three months of the last year has been taken up by making terrain boards; an afternoon here, a couple of hours there, it all adds up. But now, after twenty or so years of being interested in this hobby, I'm now the proud owner of two large terrain boards, that give me a war gaming table measuring 4 feet by 4 feet.

The boards are made out of MDF board, with timber battens along the edges, then this was filled in with polystyrene sheet. Inspiration came from many sources, but was especially drawn from Gary Chalk's excellent series of articles in Wargames Illustrated, way back in the dim and distant past. Lots of sand and PVA glue, filler, a polystyrene hot wire cutter, varnish, emulsion paint mixed up at my local DIY store to match commercially bought model paint, towelling (inspired by Dave Andrews' beautiful terrain boards), static grass, reeds and bushes from various modelling shops.....the list goes on, in terms of what I have used. But the end results have been worth it. The bridge is from Hovels, and is a permanent
 Ideas for the layout of the roads and the river, have come specifically from Clarence Harrison's excellent Quindia Studios website. Clarence has a guide on there about making his own terrain boards, and I wanted to make mine flexible, and adaptable, just like his. Although the bridge is fixed, I can use this particular board from the Mediaeval period, right up to the present day, which suits me just fine. I will eventually do another river board, which will feature a wooden bridge, which I will use for all my pre-Mediaeval games, but that is a way into the future. I like the idea of having a fixed bridge, as for me, the look of war gaming terrain is almost as important as the flexibility, and this just looks 'right'. There is also a ford located further down stream, which I'm sure will be used in some of my games.

 The colours of the board have been mixed to match GW's Steel Legion Drab as a base coat, then the 'Sand' no. 10 triad, from Wargames Foundry. This has a mid-tone to it, allowing terrain ranging from Europe, north and south, all the way to the United States, to be portrayed. Eventually over the next few years, I'll be building up collections for the American War of Independence, ACW, Peninsular War, as well as continuing with my Donnybrook ECW project, amongst others. So here I've got a random selection of buildings - Spanish and European - on display, and my first completed bases for my League of Augsburg period French force. That will be making a bigger appearance next year, but this year's aim is to complete my Donnybrook forces. I'll leave you with a few more snaps of the boards, as now it's time to crack on with some actual figure painting! These boards have taken up a LOT of time over the last few months, but I'm just a tad happy with them. It's definitely been worth it. Next year will see a 'hill' board being made (I'll play with the hot wire cutter again!), but for now, it's on to the important business of figure painting. See you far sooner than last time!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....part......you get the picture!

Following hot on the heels of yesterday's post, here's some more pictures of my pikemen, and also some scenery I've been working on. First up, The pike, photographed using a flash - not quite so good as it should have been, and a bit 'glarey'! Somehow, I've got to work out how to take pictures in a slightly better manner, though I've found that using my camera phone is just as good - if not better - than our family digital camera! The red palette for the NMA coats is a mix of colours, all done with Foundry Paints, but in the following order: Scarlet 38A as a base coat, Bright red 15A as a main coat, and highlights of Scarlet 38B. It's quite subtle, and probably the contrast between all three shades could be slightly increased, but I like it, and it looks slightly better 'in real life'.

Next up is a piece of scenery - a well!. I picked this up years ago, from (I think) Monolith design, and it's been sat around for ages just waiting to be used. A quick undercoat of black, dry brushed in shades of grey, and green for the 'algae', and based up.....job done. Inside, there's a coat of gloss varnish over dark green/brownish paint to represent water. Small details, and all that.......
 Finally, there's a Celtic Cross, picked up from Ainsty at the Partizan Show this summer - the 'Partizan in the Park'! This was an amazing show, and one which will stay in the memory for a while, not least because I got to take part in a fantastic participation WW1 game - 'Operation Gericht' - ran by Sidney Roundwood, alongside an old re-enactment chum and his kids. Here's the link to Sidney's excellent blog, and his Partizan game: http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/operation-gericht-at-partizan-2014.html

 I've got a cross in my game, as straight away, it sets the scene for somewhere in Scotland, and it's one of those 'multi-use, multi-period' bits of scenery.....expect to see it fought over by Saxons and Picts, or Mediaeval Scots and English, at some stage in the future!

 Last up are a few more pics of my NMA pike, alongside their 'activation card' for Donnybrook. These chaps are classed as Elite troops, so use a d10 for all their particular actions. They have a short sword, and a pike - which gives advantages in hand-to-hand combat. These pictures were taken in natural light, so appear slightly different. Apologies for the layout of my page - still can't get my head round Blogger's page design system. See you soon!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Donnybrook Diaries...Part 6

Phew! It's hard to believe it's been over 5 months since the last post....real life has taken priority, but that's not to say that my Donnybrook ECW project has been ticking over slowly, with bits done here and there. Over the next few days, I'll add more posts detailing what I've been up to, but safe to say it's been fun so far. The biggest factor has been that with this project, I am essentially starting from scratch, in terms of scenery and terrain. Although I've been painting figures, and collecting many more for almost 20 years, I've never really had my own table, or scenery. So making these things - terrain boards, scenery, bits and bobs that add atmosphere to the game and so forth - have also been on the 'to do' list, so it's not just been about painting a group of figures, then being able to game! More of those things soon as well!

Anyway, the last few posts detailed me painting up my NMA pikemen, Well, these chaps have been finished off, and these are the first on the 'to post' itinerary! They are Perry Miniatures, and are mounted on 25mm bases from Warbases. These figures are a joy to paint, and form a unit worth 1 point in a basic game of Donnybrook. Infantry forces in the game consist of either Conscript or raw troops(12 figures), trained troops (8 figures), or elite troops (4 figures). I reasoned that in my scenario set in Scotland in 1650, these New Model Army chaps would be elite.
I've painted these chaps up with yellow facings, and ties (the cords used to do the doublets up, in place of buttons), so that they can be used for other regiments. The beauty of the English Civil War period, is that you can use figures for more that one regiment, or even army. The yellow facings will allow these guys to be used as NMA troops from 1645ish onwards, and Lord Robartes' Parliamentarian regiment from 1642-1644ish, as well as other regiments.
Painting these guys was a fairly quick process, using a black undercoat and a mixed palette of Wargames Foundry paints. I used the 'Slate Grey' palette, for the breeches on 3 out of the 4 figures, and the baldricks for the swords are painted in the 'Buff Leather' palette, on 3 out of 4 figures, with the last chap having a 'Rawhide' baldrick. The same process was done with the hose, painting 3 out of the 4 figures with an identical colour. This system makes it much quicker to paint up groups of figures, but still gives an illusion of difference between the individual figures. It's one I'm going to try and use from now on.
Anyway, time to be off, but I'll see you soon, with more work from the past few months.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 5

Although I have some English New Model Army troops on the painting blocks at the moment, I've had these Scots Covenanters painted up for a while for another project, only unbased. Well. they were rescued from where they were languishing in a dark box, and prised off their old bases, remounted on 25mm round bases (from Warbases), and given a new lease of life for Donnybrook!  
The colour schemes for the Scots' uniforms are based on the suggestions from another blog, the excellent Project Auldearn  1645 Blog, http://auldearn1645.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/painting-covenanters.html, which has loads of information about the different armies that fought in Montrose's campaigns between 1644 and 1646. It was a real find a few years ago, and has been really inspirational. I love the colour schemes and Wargames Foundry paint palettes that have been suggested, and have borrowed them shamelessly! Thanks definitely go to the creators of Project Auldearn blog - It's brilliant!
 So here you can see two of my Scots force, newly based, and waiting for the rest of their company - 6 other 'blue bonnets', to make up an 8 figure, 'drilled' unit, which will use D8 dice to work out their combat resolutions.
I've also added the 'reload' marker that I made the other day, so you can see it in 'action'. Until next time!!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 4

Hello all. Just over a week ago, I started on my 'Donnybrook Diaries', and I wanted to let people know about the progress since the last post. Well, not so much painting, but lots of 'admin' type of stuff going on!
Here's a couple of bases that a friend cut out for me on a bench saw, then I sanded them down. They are for some Hudson & Allen Highland buildings, that I picked up at the Vapnartak Wargaming show, a few years ago. The models are available from the US, via Vatican Enterprises. http://www.wargamescenics.com/products.html
Here you can see them glued on to the bases with the hot glue gun, and looking mighty fine as well! I can't wait to paint these up, and they'll fit in with the Highland/Scottish theatre for my games very nicely. Last Saturday saw the family popping over to the 'Hammerhead' show, at the Newark Showground. It was the first time the event was held there, moving from its traditional location of Kelham Hall, and having visited both venues, I have to say I quite liked the new location. Apart from the fact that it was a little crowded, the whole atmosphere of the show was very pleasant, and I picked up one or two bits and bobs.......Dave Thomas saw some of my money, and I bought the last of my Scots forces - some mounted dragoons, and some more musketeers and pikemen - and this now means that both of my Donnybrook factions are complete, ready to be painted. Good times indeed! I also bought some barrels from Ainsty Castings, for scenery purposes, some more round bases from Warbases, and a whole bucket load of dice from Coritani....... realising that I was desperately short of D12's, D10's and D8's.....kinda essential for Donnybrook!! I got a little bit anal over these, and purchased enough of each dice, both in red AND blue, different coloursfor each side. Think the other half was very bemused by this.......
Here are the buildings all based up, ready for some paint.

 I've also slapped on some more paint onto the New Model Army pikemen, as you can see, so hopefully they'll be on their way soon.
Finally, I had a go at making a trial 'Reload' marker, following on from the success of the activation cards. A 4 cm diameter circular base from Warbases, with 'Reload' printed onto the same background as the cards, then covered over with Sellotape and stuck onto the base. This was then covered in the usual sand and PVA glue mix, painted up and flocked with static grass. The finishing touch was some off-white soft toy stuffing to act as smoke. I quite like this, so I'll make some more for each 'firing' unit in my Donnybrook factions ( including characters), and also some 'Shaken' markers as well, maybe with casualty figures, or abandoned equipment on them. Again, maybe a touch too much, but I like 'em! I can also use these for other rules sets. Right, I'm off..... until my next post. By the way...... it involved unpainted figures and dodgy half finished crude terrain, but I've had my first games of Donnybrook!!!....... don't tell anyone else, and I might just share my thoughts next time.....let's just say I had fun!!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 3

Off we go again! The thing that really grabbed me about Donnybrook, apart from the small forces needed and the fun 'feel' about it, was the idea that it was a card driven game. I've recently got hold of 'Muskets and Tomahawks', and 'The Rules with no name', both card driven, and having been a Igo - Ugo rules man for many a year, this seemed a refreshing change.

Although card driven games - where units on the table are activated by a corresponding unit card picked from a shuffled card deck - have been around for ages, it's seemingly only recently that they have come back into favour. Many people don't like them; a unit can hang around for ages on the table top, their card not picked, and thus units are left inactive. Sometimes players don't get a go for a while, if a consecutive run of the opposition side's card are picked, by chance, one after another.

However, I like this random element of not knowing if your side will be activated or not. This is much more realistic in smaller, skirmish-based games, where units and characters act in a haphazard, chaotic manner, and it's harder, more challenging and, arguably, greater fun(!) to play these style of rules. What these type of rules have, is a strong narrative feel about them - your musketeers can't fire? A sudden squall of rain has passed over the battlefield, and extinguished their match. (I know this is an absolute bummer, from bitter experience as a re-enactor, and entirely realistic!) Your pikemen lurch forward in an unwanted manner that will get them shot at straight away? They've been out of action for so long, and they are desperate to get into a scrap. A constant run of cards for one side? Then they are merely more on their game than the opposition that day! A real story-telling element to each wargame can come through.

Donnybrook works on a pack of cards - one card for each unit, and character/hero; and two other cards - the 'Reload' card which allows units to reload their firearms (they usually only fire once per move), and a 'Turn over' card, which allows those cards which have already been played to be collected back into the pack and re-shuffled. The next turn begins after this.

Arguably, it might be possible for a unit to fire after its card has been activated. Then it won't be able to fire again until the reload card comes up. Imagine a situation that sees other units activated, then the 'Turn over' card is activated before the 'Reload' card appears again, and the move begins again, with this unit still unloaded. Its unit card is turned over, and it still can't fire! People might not like this, but again to me, this acts as part of the story of the battle - the unit has run out of powder and is waiting for supplies, or it has an incompetent officer, who has momentarily forgotten to issue the order to ' cast about and reload your pieces!'.

With this in mind, I've created my own cards, each card showing the Unit, type of soldier, quality, and weaponry etc. There's also the 'Turn over' card, and 'Reload' card. I hope you like them! Next time, it'll be more painting, and some scenery!

Donnybrook Diaries.....Part 2

Back again! With a plan for Donnybrook 1640s style, and two factions - a New Model Army force and a Scots Covenanter force.

The rules for the Basic game suggest that each force should be 4 points strong. Each point can be spent on either 9 mounted or 12 foot 'Recruits', 6 mounted or 8 foot 'Drilled' troops, or 3 mounted or 4 foot 'Elites'. As long as they are of the same 'quality' these troops can then be re-organised into different units eg. Two points worth of 6 mounted 'Drilled' troops for each point - 12 figures -  can be organised into two units of 6 troops, one of 3 and one of 9, three units of 4 troops etc. Alongside these 4 points, each faction gets a free Hero, representing you as a character on the table.
Above is the start of my New Model Army force - 4 pikemen and the faction leader, an officer 'Hero'.

My factions will be made up of the following units:
New Model Army:                                          Scots Covenanter Force:
Hero (free)                                                       Hero (free)
4 Elite Musketeers                                           8 Drilled Musketeers
4 Elite Musketeers                                           8 Drilled Musketeers
4 Elite Pikemen                                                8 Drilled Pikemen
3 Elite Cavalrymen                                          3 Elite Dragoons
Each force is worth 4 points, and should give me nice balanced factions to start my Donnybrook experience. At a later date, I'll add some characters - one allowed per point spent, so each force can have up to four characters. I might also expand the forces to six points, giving a 'standard' game.
So how's progress? Well on Saturday afternoon, I primed my first group of New Model Army pikemen
Saturday evening and Sunday evening saw the faces painted, and the start of the New Model Army famous 'redcoats', of the 1650s.
This week will see me cracking on with the rest of the pikemen......and other things Donnybrook related. See you soon!

Donnybrook Diaries......Part 1!

Hello again! Two months almost exactly to the day since the last entry in this blog..... and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Why the absence? Well, Pell Mell Towers has been on the move, and all my paints, figures, rules and everything hobby-related has been in storage. Now it's (mostly) unpacked, we're slowly getting settled in our new abode, and I'm ready to roll again!
Ready to roll indeed, with the release of a much-anticipated rule set, published by The League of Augsburg, and written by Clarence Harrison and Barry Hilton.......it's time for 'DONNYBROOK'! My own League of Augsburg army plans have been put on hold for a short time, whilst I get to grips with the rules, and so far things seem very exciting. http://leagueofaugsburg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/donnybrook.html
There's been a lot of publicity in the wargames press over recent months about Donnybrook, and favourable reviews as well. When I heard about it a few months ago, I was intrigued. Barry had already hinted at the shape of things to come, when I joined the League of Augsburg 'Fighting Talk' Forum, by suggesting that maybe I'd like to build a skirmish force, rather than jumping in the deep end and collecting masses of figures for a period I was new to.  I'd already come across Clarence's work in the form of Quindia Sudios http://quindiastudios.blogspot.co.uk/, and his excellent PDF rules for the English Civil War, 'Victory Without Quarter'. They have become my favourite rule set for the period, so I knew that anything written by Clarence and Barry would be good, and with Donnybrook, we'd be in for a bit of a fun ride.
So what's the plan? Donnybrook is a set of skirmish rules for the period 1660-1760, but Clarence had implied in various articles that the rules could be used for any period from High Mediaeval to the Crimean War! With my interest in the English Civil War, and the mix of weaponry being similar for the two periods - muskets, swords and pikes etc -  I guessed that the rules could be used for slightly earlier than suggested, pushing them back to the 1640s. I'm going to build up two forces for the rules, and chronicle my adventures! Welcome to the Donnybrook Diaries!