Saturday, 22 July 2017

Zulu! - 28mm Rorke's Drift - Trying the Terrain with the Figures

To help keep that motivation going I decided to set up the terrain for the battle and try my newly finished figures for size.

I only have the basic set, so the actual perimeter is somewhat curtailed. I'm thinking I may need to treat myself to another pack of Mealie Bag barricades and a Mealie Bag Redoubt, but the £30 price tag is holding me back!

The Osprey Campaign book about Rorke's Drift contains an article at the back of the book on how to approach wargaming the battle

This contains some really good ideas to consider. One of which is the concept of fighting the battle with far fewer figures than you might think you'd need.

This is based on the premise that the Zulus carried out a series of probing attacks at different points around the defence perimeter, throughout the 12 hours of fighting.

This invites the possibility of splitting the perimeter into zones and selecting them randomly for attack, through the game. This way you can keep recycling your Zulu forces.

The author also suggests just representing the area of the defences on the table to avoid the battlefield appearing devoid of Zulu Impis!

Now comes the interesting bit....what rules?

I have the Black Powder supplement, Zulu, which covers the battle with a modification to the main rules.

I picked up Osprey's The Men Who Would Be Kings, at a recent Firestorm Games Bring-&-Buy for £5. These I see were used by the Beasts of War for their refight.

And, as previously mentioned, I have a copy of Death in the Dark Continent, too.

I think the answer is to try each out and find which combat mechanisms I like the most and then use those with the Campaign book ideas to create a game.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Zulu! - 28mm Battle of Rorke's Drift, British Forces

As well as the historical hero figures that came with the Warlord set, I also bought myself the Holywood versions. These are great little caricatures of the stars of the 1964 film.

The Warlord plastic Brits need some assembly and I have to say I found them a little fiddly. Getting left & right arms to line up whilst still located correctly at the shoulder was quite a challenge.

The sprues each contain parts for 4 figures - two standing 7 two kneeling - so there's not much variety to be had between figures. There are parts for two to be aiming & firing their rifles, one at the ready and another loading. There's also an arm with sergeants stripes as an alternative to the loading arm.

There's a wiggly bayonet - which I believe would have only been issued to sergeants and a variety of heads. Most wear the colonial sun helmet, but there's also a forage cap and a wide brimmed, "Boer" style hat.

I chose to mainly use the sun helmet, with just a couple of forage caps thrown in. I was unsure of the wide brimmed hat to be honest, so left them  well alone.

Due to the lack of variety I purchased a single sprue from the new Perry Colonial Infantry set, from good old Ebay.

This gave me another 5 standing figures either firing, loading or high port. There were some nice optional heads with this set , including a bare headed figure that I modelled with the raised hand waving his helmet.  I mixed in some of these heads with my Warlord figures for variety, including a bareheaded figure with bandaging.

The first four Warlord figures and the two sets of Empress Metals have been completed so far and really look the part. I've tried to resist trying to paint in too much detail, but there's so much there to be picked out, it's hard not to.

I've still got twenty or so more to do so better get a move on.....

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Zulu! - 28mm Battle of Rorke's Drift

I occasionally put books I would like to buy, on my Amazon Wish list and then sit back and wait for a really cheap 2nd hand copy to come on the market. I've told you before I'm extremely "careful" with money....or as my family describe it...Tight.

A couple of weeks ago, the Osprey Campaign book of Rorke's Drift - "Pinned like rats in a hole" by Ian Knight, turned up for the princely sum of 50p + £2.80 P&P. I thought a bargain, so I had it.

Now a 4 day manic business trip around Western Europe gave me the opportunity to read it through and this, together with a re-watch of the seminal film Zulu! has re-fired my enthusiasm to get on and finish my Warlord Games Rorke's Drift set that I got for Xmas about 4 years ago!

First job was to assemble the remaining figures - 40 plastic married Zulus and 20 Plastic British Infantry. There were also 4 Empress Miniature historical British character figures (Chard, Bromhead, Bourne & Hook) plus a Martini Henry armed Zulu in a redcoat and a Zulu Chief on horseback.

All the infantry figures were based on Renedra 25mm plastic bases, textured with Vallejo grey pumice.

I came up with a plan to fastback the Zulus through the painting process.

1. Spray all with Army Painter Leather Brown primer
2. Once dry they were hand painted all over with Vallejo Black wash diluted 50/50 with water. (Figures below on the right)
3. Then when fully dry the details were picked out in various shades of brown.

  • Inside shield and loin cloth - German Camo Beige
  • Wood (spears etc) - Beauty Brown
  • Hair - Black
  • Head ring and leather strapping - Orange Brown
  • Shield Outer face - White with Terracota splodges
  • Feathers - White
Then when all were dry, these areas were given a coat of Vallejo Sepia wash
The bases only needed dry brushing with Vallejo Buff before the figures could be coated with spray Satin then Matt varnish.
Finally a couple of patches of static grass finished them off.
I've been toying with what rule set to use and having picked up the original Death in the Dark Continent for £2 at the Lincombe Barn table sale, I thought I might give them a go. They require figures to be mounted in threes on 60mm frontage bases. I bought some sabot vases from Products For Wargamers (absolute bargain at 10p per hole) which are 80mm frontage. However as everyone will be on the same bases I don't think this will be an issue. These sabot bases were finished in the same way as the figure bases so they all match up.
I'm chuffed with the results, and the speed of finish. This is a good job because I think I'll need at least one more box of Zulus for the game.

On with the British Infantry......

Sunday, 11 June 2017

GF9 Tanks

Finally got around to playing my first games of Tanks.
I attempted to take on my opponent's 100pt. force of three Tiger I's with my Pershing, Comet & two 75mm armed Shermans.
Needless to say, I didn't get too far!
As I'm sure you are aware, Tanks isn't exactly a historical recreation of AFV warfare, perhaps more an X-Wing with WW2 Armour. All that said it is entertaining and allows you to play couple of games in a two hour window.
The rematch with Panthers & Mark IVs taking on Pershing and 76mm Armed Shermans went the same way.

Good fun was had by all......

15mm SAS European Jeeps

Another little sideline for me, 3 armed (and Armoured) Jeeps as use by the SAS in Europe 1944-45.
These are from Battlefront are are nice little models.
The basis of each model is a once piece resin casting of the jeep body. It incorporates the two rear mounted, self-sealing fuel tanks, extra fuel cans on the rear and a rear gun mount.
Then for each vehicle there are two crew figures wearing para smocks and berets. Together with a selection of weaponry to add - including single & twin Vickers K guns and .50 cal HMGs. The latter incorporate an armoured screen and there are armoured screens for the drivers too.
Assembly is straight forward enough and they are quick models to paint up. Not sure how I will use them in games as yet, but I'm sure they will come in for something.

More 15mm Pike & Shotte Units Finished

I'm finally settled into my new Wargame/Painting room. My kids (rather unkindly) call it my Loser Shed. I like to think they are just envious!

Production is ramping up! I've completed another 3 units of Pike & Shot figures for my 15mm ECW armies.

The sabot bases are from Products For Wargamers and represent excellent value for money. As well as making it easier to move regiments around the table, they prevent the figures sliding around in their Really Useful Storage Box.
The musketeers are all from the Gallia range stocked by Warrior Miniatures. The Pikemen are a mixture of old figures I had knocking around and I'm unsure who manufactured them. All are mounted on 40 x 20mm mdf bases to suit other rule sets (i.e. FOGr or DBR) to maximise flexibility.

I've still got plenty left to paint, so I hope I can keep this momentum up. In my lead mountain I have more Musketeers & Pikemen, Scottish Warband figures, Scottish Lancers, Dragoons and Cavalry as well as a couple more Battalia command groups and another General base to construct.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Pike & Shotte Rules – Warlord Games

Finally got around to trying out P&S in anger last night, using my 15mm ECW figures. I know it’s been out for ever, but I get distracted….OK?

Having loosely read them through, Two issues seemed odd to me.
1.       The splitting of infantry into separate musket and pike units
2.       The use of the “Hedgehog formation”.

Firstly, every ECW rules I’d ever encountered had combined infantry units (Pike & Shot together) and secondly, I’ve not read anywhere of the use of the “Hedgehog Formation” during the ECW and wondered how historically important it was?

So to this end we adopted combined units as per those advised on the Wargames Design blog.

I see that the new “To Kill a King” P&S supplement has finally introduced this option too.

The idea of the game was to become familiar with the rules mechanisms rather than test the skills and tactics of the players! So we just went for a straight forward encounter game, with both armies facing one another. All units assumed to be “Normal” in size and 2 Battalia per army with artillery support.

Early on my renowned dice rolling got me into a pickle with units failing to get off the starting blocks whilst others raced ahead breaking the line.

The main action took place in the centre where my semi-armoured Cuirassier pushed back my opponent’s infantry unit despite taking a casualty from the closing fire.

I decided not to follow up this with  a further charge and paid for it with an enemy counter-charge from their supporting cavalry, during their next move.

The demise of my Cuirassier started with them firstly having received a single casualty by fire from the pushed back infantry unit. As this was on a score of six, the Cuirassier became Disordered.

Then receiving a charge (even with delivering Closing Fire first) my unit failed to win the HTH and as they were Disordered, were destroyed. Harsh but probably fair……I should have followed things up.

This leads me to one issue that confused us all evening. The score of a natural six leading to Disorder. If that hit is later cancelled out by a Morale Save, does the Disorder still stand???

Anyone know?

All-in-all an enjoyable evening’s gaming. I think P&S’s mechanisms will be easily learnt as we play more and I think an exercise separating out those rules relevant only to the ECW would help there.

I think we will return……