Saturday, 31 January 2015

All hail to the Crud

The Crud...

Are you one of those gamers who likes the elites in life, the sort who has 15 Tigers as your late WW2 German army and justifies it by saying it is allowed by the army lists?

Or are you one of those gamers who habitually chooses the Irregular D morale class, unarmoured, deformed and deranged sorts armed with a sharpened lollipop stick? In short, the Crud of my title...

I have met both types.

I think I fall more towards the second category, the "Crud" as I have chosen to deride them. I have several examples of the other category though - Swiss pikemen, Janissaries, knights of various persuasions, 2nd SS Panzer Division, Warriors of Chaos, to name but a few - but they tend to be part of something bigger and wider. For every good soldier in my miniature armies, I reckon I probably have ten Crud.

My evidence for my claim???
  1. Spartacists - I could have stuck with just World War 1 French and German late war troops, but I had to paint up various Volksturm, Spanish Civil War militia and others to represent the anti-Freikorps elements of immediate post-Great War Germany.
  2. Napoleonics - if I had been interested in the Peninsular War, it would have been Spanish, but instead, I went for those perennial under-achievers, the Austrians, specifically 1809.
  3. Swiss pikemen - yes, I have those, but only to fight against my Burgundians and no one could ever call Charles the Bold's army elite. (It certainly isn't when I use it...)
  4. Fantasy - why have Elves when you can have goblins? Enough said.
  5. Renaissance Eastern Europe - I could have had the ever tough Poles, the dour and equally tough Swedes...I went for Turks, "poor tactical discipline", "poor quality firearms", etc. to boot.
You get the picture.

Like many a wargamer, I suspect, I like life's losers. I much prefer trying to understand why they lost rather than why the other lot won.

So, to the point of all this. I fancy a theme for the next few months, and that theme is "The Little Guy", "The (Soon-to-be) Extinct", "The Crud".

It is time to get the camera out and showcase some of the rubbish I have lovingly created over many years and share with anyone who is interested, whilst I continue to paint whatever takes my fancy, photograph and post on that too.

And, by the way, if you do not believe even now that I do like said "Crud", answer me this single question:

Q: Who else, other than a "Crud-lover", would build and paint a Viking force for SAGA games and start with the levies rather than the Warlord or Hearthguard?

A: No one, I believe. Yet that is exactly what I did and the photos will follow shortly!

All hail to the Crud!


Sunday, 18 January 2015

More Maltese Marinelife

Several years ago at the Derby Show, having spent what I wanted and just checking around to see that I had not missed anything, I happened across a small stall with a few ship models set out on a largely bare tabletop. I have no recollection whatsoever who this trader was and do not recall seeing them since...A few minutes later, I had left the show to drive home, the proud owner of a resin "ship", with masts and cannon, the intention being to add this model to my then newly-painted pirates. This could not have been that long after the release of "Legends of the High Seas", my buccaneering rules set of choice at that time.

Fast forward those several years to me concerning myself with extras for the Wyrley Retinue's forthcoming "Mayhem in the Med., c.1565" game and I unearthed the ship model once more. Nephew Nick had promised to paint his Ainsty Man-'o'-War for the game, but I knew this to be a HUGE model and it was unclear whether Nick would indeed manage this, so I decided I finally had to get my little offering ready and able. A couple of days before the show, I set to with brush in hand and hereby present the sum total of a day or so's graft, the lovely "Maria".

"Why Maria?" I hear you all cry.

Well, as I said at the top of this piece, the ship was bought to provide transport for my pirates and I wanted a name that could be universal in terms of its origin and, therefore, that of its crew. "Santissima Trinidad"? Too Spanish. "Temeraire"? Too French (and famous). "Bismarck"? Too...

You get the picture.

So, "Maria" it became, able to be Spanish, French, Italian, English (if a tad exotic, but plain, old "Mary" would be too much of a giveaway).

I give you "Maria".


She is quite a plain creature at the moment, but I may well add some rigging from netting material and perhaps an Ainsty ship's wheel. I could not find her cannons when I took these shots, but rest assured there are six of them. Sails are again from calico tied up with "rope" from Gale Force 9.

I have no idea what colour such ships would have been in reality, but yellow seems to have featured quite a lot in sailing ships at different times, so I went with that.

One thing I have noted on ships of this era especially is decoration around the poop deck. This is my attempt to tart her up a little...

Ample room in her ten or so inches of hull length for some derring-do and buckling of swashes!

And I finally found her cannons!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Row, row, row your boat...

Another special built for the "Malta" game is lean, green and, with luck, mean.

How could anyone have pretensions to stage a game on an island in the Med in the 16th Century without having at least one galley in evidence?

So a galley had to be there somewhere.

The hull was carved from Styrofoam, the deck is 3mm MDF, most of the superstructure card, the oars are cocktail sticks, the sea white filler with the blue blended in whilst the filler was still wet, the base is more MDF. The single, centreline cannon is just a length of plastic tube.

This as yet unnamed craft is 15 inches long and the same high, the mast detachable so she can be packed away as flat as possible. Believe it or not, 15 inches is a little short for such a craft against 28mm figures! The furled sail is a triangle of calico, the same material I use for a lot of my flags.

She is not a scale model, just a representation of such craft, but I hope she looks the part. I was going to add rowers from Perry plastic Mahdists and other suitable figures, but decided not to on the grounds of time. I might just be able to squeeze some in at some point. I could also go to town on banners, lanterns, rigging, etc.

On her inaugural voyage at the Wargamer Show, she sat proudly outside the harbour boom whilst the Turks and North Africans tried to take the boom towers, lower the boom and let her into the harbour. With this task eventually accomplished, she rowed her way into port, taking pot shots at one of the sailing ships in the harbour, which she subsequently rammed, delivering her crew of North African marines onto the harbour side, but too late to affect the fight at the nearby wall. I would love the time to make a sister ship...


A gull's eye view. She looks like she has ventured into the North Sea rather than the Med...

The cannon. True to form, I could not hit a barn door with this at the Wargamer show...

Close up of some of the hand painted decoration. I just went with a few Arab/ Moorish-type images.

The stern, with the large canopy so prominent on the real ships made from a rectangle of calico draped over a frame made from matchsticks. It is surprisingly strong.

Just to show the symmetry of the two sides.

And another gull's eye view. She will hold twenty or so 28mm figures on her deck, so she has a punch in more ways than one.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Son of Frances

As I posted some time ago, I had planned to do a few more specialist pieces for the Wyrley Retinue "Malta" game, which began with the ladder bearers.

Well, ladders are all well and good for getting over a wall, but what could be better than a whole contraption to do the same, but bigger, with more men, better protection and less arduous climbing whilst someone is trying to drop a large rock on your head?

Cue, the "Son of Frances".

I built a cardboard core and then spent more than a few days' modelling time cladding it with coffee stirrers from sundry establishments...

The wheels are made from the green tokens Asda supermarkets give away when you have paid for your shopping. You are supposed to drop them in a box to say what local organisation you want the store to support (local football team, dieting club, etc), but I saw them and just thought "Wheels!"

The working drawbridge is a simple bamboo skewer into plastic tube affair and works very well with its "Gale Force 9" rope supports. A wash with some dirty brownish paint and voila.

I decided against cladding it in skins or whatever for Malta. Although the defenders had all manner of incendiary options, I felt the traditional flaming arrows were a thing of the past and dousing the wood in water as they drew near the walls would serve the same purpose. In the real siege, the towers were built perhaps more out of desperation to take the twin towns of Birgu and Senglea after numerous difficulties the Turks had faced up to that point. They were blown apart as they approached the walls by cannon cunningly concealed behind the lower stones at the base of the wall to be attacked. That was the end of that. So, my example is a quick-build, desperate gamble sort of affair too. I can always add to it later if I wish.

I can also buy him a Tardis to fly him between times, genres and worlds and use him to assault Crusader/ Saracen castles, French castles, Swiss-held castles, Scottish and Welsh castles, Minas all depends on which toys I want to play with next!


P.S. What else could I call a smaller tower after revealing Frances herself to the world all those posts ago?

He's a big lad at seven inches tall...
He is also big enough to hold a fair number of figures both on the top archery deck and in the "hold".

And ever eager for a feed, just like any baby. his mouth is often open...

Ladders from the same source as those carried by my ladder bearers, namely an old pirate ship toy rigging cut to size.

The "ingenious" drawbridge mechanism - insert one length of bamboo barbecue skewer into a couple of sections of suitable diameter plastic tube, add some "rope" from 0.8mm cable courtesy of "Gale Force 9" and away you go.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Carpe Diem

Today was all mapped out when I got up this morning at around 0830.

Teenage daughter was off to the county hockey trials. Youngest daughter was off to the Snowdome in Tamworth for a belated Christmas outing with her football team pals. I was taxi driver supreme...

Then, youngest daughter was offered a lift so that took care of that. The car had been playing up yesterday, so I was glad of the offer for two reasons.

To cap it all, hockey was called off due to the frost, so there I was with nowhere to go at 0930 this morning, so what to do?

Go to the Penkridge Wargames Tabletop Sale of course!!!

With Penkridge only five miles or so from home, it was a quick jaunt over to the Memorial Hall (typical village hall little bigger than a large shed...). On entry (which was FREE!!!), I was greeted with a plethora of tables and punters, all crammed into the space, with a cursory first glance showing books, painted and unpainted miniatures, board games and various bits and pieces dotted around the hall. Not having been to this event before, or to any other like it, I had been uncertain as to what I should expect, but I loved the whole thing!!!

I usually dislike being buffeted, barged, bumped and biffed, but it seemed somehow appropriate in the confines of the hall. I managed to avoid the Kryomek stuff I saw (could always use some more of the penal troops they did...), dallied too long at one stall over a vgc copy of WRG's "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" for £10 (BARGAIN!!!!!) and lost it to another guy, and decided against a couple of massive, scratchbuilt Squiggoths for 40K for just £20 each (and I do not even play Orks!).

I had gone to the show looking for SAGA (especially dice) and GW Lord of the Rings stuff, but came away with....

.....some COMMISSION FIGURINES "6mm" Napoleonic semi-flats! I know Walter Anstiss through frequenting Stafford Games and was aware of this range via Neil Shuck's column in "Miniature Wargames (with Battlegames)" magazine, as they were mentioned in issue 380 for December 2014. Walter had some painted samples on show and they looked brilliant! I bought two packs of Austrian line in shako, a pack of Grenadiers and one of Dragoons/ Cuirassiers, though they would also cover Chevaulegers with a simple painting of their tunics in green. There are 96 figures in the infantry packs, 36 in the cavalry pack and they ARE JUST £2 per pack!

6mm is not to everyone's taste but I love Horse & Musket games in this scale. I have not painted any since I did a commission for a Spanish Succession Dutch army many years ago, but I do own a large (-ish) French army for the same period, so have some experience of painting sixes. Look out for the Austrians on the blog sometime soon. I might even decide what rules I want to use them for, but Black Powder or Polemos seem likely.

Walter also sold me some more order tokens for my "By Fire & sword" Turks - you can never have enough order tokens for the "quantity over quality" 17th Century Turkish army!

I also encountered a small company called "WARGAMES TOURNAMENTS" (I think - I have lost his business card...) He was selling bags of 2mm or 3mm thick bases in various sizes. Each bag was £2, but I had three for £5. Well, actually, I had six for £10, but you get the picture. 50 25mm round bases in MDF in a bag for £2. 15 50mm square bases in a bag for £2. Etc. What really impressed me, however, was the sci-fi walkway set up he had. This was £50 but the thing was three storeys high, fitted together well, took paint well and covered about 2 feet by 3 feet. To top it all, it fitted in a box about the size of a box of biscuits and how many of us do not have a couple of those lying around with Christmas such a recent memory? Necromunda, Judge Dredd, Aliens, 7TV, generic sci-fi - the number of possibilities got my juices going, but I had already spent so did not have enough money left. He assures me he will be at Derby and may try and make WMMS in March, but I can always order a set if the postage is not too excessive for what is effectively a lump of wood...

If you can make the depths of South Staffordshire in early January, make the journey to the next Penkridge Wargames Tabletop Sale. (Especially if you want cheap GW stuff - there was hoards of the stuff of all persuasions, painted and unpainted).


The cavalry (obviously). You can see the grooves which delineate different parts of the figures which should be a great aid to painting. You can also see hwo a simple paintjob can give either Cuirassiers, Dragoons or Chevaulegers for the Austrians. (That last bit might be clearer for those of us who know anything about the Austrians in Napoleonic times...)

Front (top) and back (lower) of the Austrian line infantry in shako. When I did my 15mm 1809 campaign Austrians aeons ago, I went for Hiller's 6th Corps from Aspern-Essling, so these will become IR14 Klebek or IR59 Jordis if I go that route again. These two regiments, of two battalions each, formed the first brigade of Hiller's corps if memory serves me correctly.

The order tokens. With "Charge", "Disordered", "Move" etc in the pack, there must surely be more uses for these than just "By Fire & Sword".

The numerical tokens could be used for casualty markers, quality markers, etc.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone! (Especially anyone taking the time to read this!!!)

It is once more that time of year when I take stock and "plan" out my next twelve months of wargames activity - in a very basic way, you understand.

One thing I will NOT be doing this year is painting furiously for the Wyrley Retinue's 2016 show game. It is not that we will not be putting on a game, or that someone else is taking on that role, but simply that I want to do lots of things in my wargaming, not sweat over just one project. For the past two years, I have pored lovingly over, firstly, my English and Scots and then, for this year's game, over Turks and Christians for "Malta". Besides which, I have an idea in mind for 2016's game for which I reckon I have most of what I need.


Paint lots of little projects as the mood takes me.

I have started with Vikings for SAGA and have today finished my first point of troops - 12 levies. I did spend a week or so before Christmas building plastic figures, enough to give me two 4pt forces and I have ideas in mind for a small campaign, so that is off the mark.

I am also considering other, similar small projects for which I have some stuff already - "The Crescent & The Cross", "Muskets & Tomahawks", "Judge Dredd".

I can see myself adding to existing stuff too, so 15mm WW2 Russians to face my SS at Kursk or later, some Turkish cavalry to expand my force for "Malta" to something more readily useable, some Border Horse to allow my Christian troops for the same project to become Reivers, more 1690 stuff, more 30 Years' War, finally complete my Mordor Orcs...

Spend less...

Play more games.

I played just 23 games in 2014, 8 of which were at two separate tournaments, and 3 of which were at separate shows as part of the Wyrley Retinue, so not a great strike rate. I umpired another 4.

Post more.

Just 19 in the twelve months of 2014 may signify many things, but it does not signify my passion for my hobby, so I want to up the ante on that in 2015. I hope they will all be relevant and worth reading, so let me know via your comments if you want more of something on the blog.

So, have a great year everyone and do stay tuned!