Friday, 16 August 2013

Muskets & Tomahawks for the New Zealand Wars

Ok, I admit it. I am a rules snob. There, said it. That was difficult for me to admit but it is true, I am.

(Also, I have blatantly taken some pics of some very cool figures from the Dressing the Lines blog site of good ol' Roly...mainly because not enough of my collection is ready yet! Thanks Roly :) )

This has caused me no small degree of trouble over the years, so many rule sets read or even bought, only to find I hated them and often for reasons I could not pin down. Plenty of times I would take part in somebody else's game and came to hate those rules too...which was cheaper I suppose. Rapid Fire, Kaiser Bosch, Shako (and Shako 2)...the list goes on. It is annoying, it wastes so much time if nothing else. It has made my fondness of Maori Wars gaming nigh on impossible to get to the table...until now....I hope.

I liked the simplicity of the mechanics of Muskets & Tomahawks as soon as I came across it, the game allowed far more complexity but the essence was for straight forward combat. The game is card driven but each card gives the indicated units a number of options, allowing them two 'activations' to perhaps shoot and reload. It is intended for games set during the French Indian wars of the eighteenth century, even the later AWI, periods with native forces, light scout/ranger units and European infantry in linear formations. The terrain is forest, plain and scrub, remote get the idea. The nineteenth century series of conflicts in the then recently settled New Zealand are an excellent match, a great alternative period and theatre; the weaponry used is good match too...just add the odd shotgun to consider. I will need to draw up weapon stats for shot guns with lower ranges but higher impact. The rules have a rule for weapons that can only be fired once in a game turn (the use of all cards in the deck equals one game turn), this rule could be ideal for shot guns but I would also give them a little something extra when used in melee if still loaded.

Pic taken from Roly's site using Roly's great looking game I am sure you will agree.

The rules have a series of troop type stats and it is a reasonably straight forward job to transpose those onto the troop types fighting in New Zealand. Few lessons had been learnt from the eighteenth century and the troop issues continued in the wars against the Maori; there are a couple of minor exceptions for the stats....isn't there always? The British army was supported by parties from the Royal Navy for example, there are certainly no stats for those so I need to look through the stats for an approximation. They are not regular line troops like the infantry, yet nor are they militia. There is a stat for provincial troops, rangers and so on and to some degree the naval troops could arguably use those; yet they are not fleet footed rangers with a knowledge of the terrain and Indian fighting....isn't this fun? There is a stat for 'Torries', provincial troops from the AWI period that acted as simple line infantry. In these rules they do not get to act like line infantry with special 'firing line' bonuses but are more fluid; considered as auxiliaries they may be given orders by regular army officers as well as their is the answer then.

Roly's Very cool looking Provincial troops, note some use of British equipment here and there.

What passed for a New Zealand government in the 1840's did raise some troops of their own, a provincial force that were far more like the rangers of previous times and theatres. They were said to be more effective than the British Imperial troops when fighting the Maori in their own back yard, it seems the rule book Ranger stats will work well for these. of course, the Maori will be well catered for by the rule book's stats for the American Indians.

Roly's Maori break from the fern filled tree line.

So, forces. The rule book suggests a point system for games based around 200, 400 and 600 points, the top figure providing a longer game and needing a 6 x 4 table rather than a 4 x 4 for the other games. My intention is to have three units of ten infantry figures for the British regulars, forming a small company, along with a few officer figures. There will be a couple of six or eight figure ranger units with their own officer and, a must given the nature of the early Maori wars, some local militia and civilians. This force so far is very specific to a scenario but will be easy to tweek as needed. It will come out at under something 600 hundred points but there will be more than enough to play a few games through to allow me to work out what else I can do.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Maori War Brits and Army Painter

The first figures have been completed! Ok, it is only seven so far but these were test pieces to see if my choice of colours and dip technique would work. I have to say that I am pleased with the results and I am now confident enough to blaze away with the rest of the project.

What follows is a sort of step by step version of the painting process, just three steps you will be pleased to read! The basic paint job, the dip and then the varnished model. Lets start with the British infantry figures. These were easy to paint, the detailing being so crisp and clean, there are even incised lines between the cuff and the sleeve of the jackets (and other areas) to make the job so much easier. The detail is also deep enough that you can clearly see what is what on the figure and be able to get at it with the brush; this makes a huge difference.

So, first the basic paint job. This needs to be as neat as possible but depth coverage on certain areas is not such an issue, the knapsack for example; it is supposed to be rough material anyway. Iffy coverage will actually help the dip give a flat area texture...honest. Not so good on belts though, coverage here must be good. Skin areas can also benefit from slightly less than perfect depth coverage, helps add a little character later.

Don't look great do they? Neat and tidy, yes but dull. I have also added some highlights to some area at this pre dip stage,the trousers and jacket, ammunition pouch etc. Not too much but enough to see. I do not paint faces on figures and definitely do not do eyes...makes the figure look creepy at best. Let the casting and dip do the work.

So now I paint on the Army Painter dip, the Strong Tone in this case. Generous amounts starting with the hat and working my way down the figure. Let the dip build and well up, we need the figure to be well covered, but make sure these areas are cleared before you finish. Just use the tip of the brush to lift the excess out. Practice and personal preference will allow you to get the amounts right.

This is usually the panicky stage....oh my, what have I done! etc etc etc. Even now, I hesitate before applying dip! It still goes against the grain after years of straight forward painting. That said, despite the glare, you can see the effect the dip has had. Some detail is now visible and the figure has a good degree of shading. The faces have really changed and now look a lot better and the detail is very clear without the scary haunted doll look. But, the figures now need the all important anti-shine varnish..painted on for preference...I do not trust spray varnishes. But the effect of the varnish is quite amazing....

The shading is now more subtle and the highlights added before the dip are clear enough to add their effects. All of the detailing is now clearly visible and the benefit of quality figures shows. Empress Miniatures are so easy to paint and the detail allows my dip method to really have an amazing effect for very little work. Damn I love Empress Miniatures....I am ordering more this week!!!!

OK, the Brits have come out well, but what about some of the civilian figures I have; those pesky settlers that will need rescuing?? So far I have just done the ladies, a Mother and two daughters I suppose....that is how I am using them anyway. These needed less work at the basic painting stage given their huge dresses but again the dip allows you to work with such tricky areas.

Once again, basic paint job but with some highlighting.

So, what do you think? I am very happy with the results and I am looking forward to the rest of the project. The Empress figures look great and suit my chosen painting method. There is a lot of detail on the infantry figures so they do take some time to base paint that neatly but this is more than compensated for by the effect the dip has.

I apologise if some of the pics are not great, I just can't get the lighting right some how. Next post I will look at converting Muskets & Tomahawks for the New Zealand wars and my army lists.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Club Open Day

We at the MHWC are to hold our second annual Open Day on Saturday 7th September.

Iwade Village Hall, Ferry Road, Iwade, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME9 8RG

Come one, come all!!

Free entry, free parking, refreshments, the chance to meet the club...even a discount on new memberships taken out at the event!!!

Last years event - Seven Years War using Black Powder

As I am sure you are aware we are only a small club, no more than a dozen members on our books, and so running such an event is a little tricky. We run Broadside of course but a big show is actually a lot easier to run than a small open day; believe it or not. With a big show the members you have available are hovering around with various tasks and duties, one member can cover a lot of ground. With an open day, where the club will run a few demo/participation games (and one or two other stands) the membership numbers are stretched with each given a fairly specific task.

WRG 6th edition, a fun trip down memory lane at last years open day

This year we have three MHWC club games, an ancients bash using 'WRG 6th edition' (ah, memories), a WW2 clash using 'Rapid Fire' and a WW1 skirmish using 'To the Last Man'. Our good friends at the Maidstone Wargames Society will also be running a game and we have some extra features for good measure; a kiddies make and take table and even a small Bring and Buy area. This year we also have a trader, Dispatches Books.

Maidstone Wargames Society joined us and ran a great WW1 naval game set in Africa...a lot of fun!

I would like to run a SAGA game too but numbers will not allow us to run it, We can and probably will lay out a game as a display, allowing people to try it out if nothing else, but it would be nice if it could be played too......I don't suppose there are any readers out there that would fancy coming along and running that for us????? You would be very welcome. Let me know.

So please pass this on to as many gamers and non gamers as you can, we would really appreciate your help....and do not forget to come along yourselves too!!!!!

Operation Squad WW2.....always a good game for a strong discussion!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Maori progress

After an enforced delay due to heat and icky tum my New Zealand Wars project is under way!!

The first batch of figures I received from Empress took just half an hour to clean up and glue to wooden bases; that was for twenty four figures and included the time needed to score hatch marks on the figure bases to ensure better adhesion!! I was very please with that. There was very small areas of flash on closer inspection but so little and so light it was easily missed and came off with very little effort. How many other figures could you clean up and base in such a short period of time? I have now ordered a second batch which should be here this week, enough to give me three units of ten infantry and some extra militia figures, some forty figures in all with what I already have.

All twenty four figures of the first batch are now undercoated and the twenty infantry figures have the coat colour on. The detailing is crisp and deep enough to make life that much easier, it is also good enough to allow me to use the Army painter dip on them confident that judicious use will bring great results. Figures with poor detailing are difficult to use dip with, there just isn't anything to work with and the figure just looks dirty. Good detailing is lifted and highlighted with the dip, faces work really well and with little effort a well detailed figure can look great...faces can be soooo tricky!

I have also begun to consider the issue of terrain more closely. New Zealand has unique flora (and fauna of course) and this is going to be a bit of a bugger to recreate. Charles Darwin wrote that on a visit to the newly settled north island in 1838 he saw some English oak, but these were definitely grown by the settlers as a long term resource; not native and not beyond the settlements area of cultivation. A New Zealand company make some self build plants but aimed at the model railway market at OO/OH scale. I know plants can be a variety of sizes but when you are using 28mm figures you do need something larger, otherwise the games look like battles in local allotments! The owner of the company, Graeme, has had parcels made up and weighed so he could tell me what postage to England would be. Six packs (between eighteen and thirty or so models depending upon species) would cost $NZ15.00, about £8.00, so not too nasty. I have asked whether, as he makes them, the models parts could not be up scaled to better suit wargamer needs. I am awaiting his reply.