Sunday, 3 July 2011

Victorian Steam Wars

I am rapidly building up the forces for this game of fictional battles between late 19th centry European nations, and now how enough infantry, cavalry and artillery to make a start on organsing and painting them.

The two resin steam tanks from Ironclad Miniatures have arrived, although I have not yet made them up.

I certainly have enough steam lorries now. I picked up loads on eBay for less than a pound each, which is pretty good value for money. I like using these cheap Ledo and Corgi trucks for my wargames. Admittedly I am not fussy when it comes to getting all the details correct - hence the fictional nature of all my miniatures games - so it matters not to me whether a truck is of the right make and model for a particular foe.

Even when I did historical stuff, I wasn't bothered with "getting it right".For example, here's a Corgi model of what looks like a 1940's lorry. I sprayed it black, then went to work with the acrylic paints, and ended up with a fairly reasonable-looking late war German truck. After all, who's to say the Germans did not use loads of ersatz, comandeered civilian trucks when the need arose?

I intend to do the same with the steam trucks I have bought, although single colour paint schemes will be more appropriate for this era.

This initial batch will mostly be for towing artillery and supplies. I might also invest in a few more and then scratch-build some armour around them, to create some armoured cars/trucks. There are lots of possibilities open to me...

Sunday, 19 June 2011


Well, had a wonderful day at Phalanx yesterday. It's the St Helens Spartans show, and I've been for the last two years running. It's a good size gig, and very friendly, so I have enjoyed both trips.

This time I brought along a few bits to the well-organised Bring & Buy, and waved goodbye to my 40mm Fictional Lace Wars project, which went to a grateful guy from Yorkshire called Steve. I also cleared away some painted resin buildings and a few books, so ended up with money in my purse.

Naturally I took advantage of the wares on display, and added a few Italeri tanks to my fictional WWII-era forces; a box of Italian M13/40s and a box of Semoventes.

I also invested in a few reduced-price boxes of Strelets and Emhar figures for my "Steam Wars", which are going to be set in a fictional late Victorian-era Europe, with the usual two main antagonists, Moldovia and Vulgaria. I then picked up a couple of Ironclad Miniatures Steam Tanks which caught my eye, so they should be arriving next week. These will go with the cheap Lledo steam trucks I'm getting from eBay.

With the armies clad in colourful and rather OTT pre-WW1 uniforms, I think the project will look very pretty and I can mix in loads of different figures and uniform styles. For example, so far the cavalry forces of both sides include Boer War Australian Lancers, WW1 German Hussars and Cuirassiers, and Russo-Turkish War Russian Hussars and Dragoons. I might even find a place for a unit of Bengal Lancers in there. British Guardsmen in redcoats bearskins are, of course, de rigueur for Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Imperial Interventionist Force.

I think I am going to have a LOT of fun with this project, and it looks as if it will be even cheaper than the fictional WWII-era one, as long as I don't invest in too many of Ironclad Miniatures' lovely and very tempting little steam tanks.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Campaigning Across the Board

Back on the topic of boardgames, I have managed to find one that I can tie into my interest in fictional wargames. I spent a few months searching on eBay until I found one that I thought would suit.

The game, which I had previously owned (but never played) many years ago and had long sold on, was Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg. It's a fictional wargame between two nations. Great Blue and Big Red. It's fought over a large mapboard and is based on WWII and modern era conflicts. I thought it would be ideal for generating campaign clashes between the Vulgarian and Moldovian forces, as well as possibly allowing for the inclusion of neutrals and allies.

So next month I shall start work on some campaign rules to make it work. Basically the core of the game's rules are fine, and it should be possible to just leave out the combat results for those clashes one wishes to play on the table top. The only real work will be to convert the counters' unit strengths into OOB's for the table top forces.

Another recent acquisition, this time purchased on a whim, was Iron and Fire. It's a cross between a boardgame and a tabletop game, which includes unit counters and card terrain to get one started, somewhat akin to the old Avalon Hill Napoleon's Battles system. The game dates from the mid-'eighties and covers the ACW, specifically the Shenandoah battles of 1862. It was going cheap on eBay and as I have an abiding interest in the ACW, and had some recall of seeing the game advertised way back then, I thought I'd get it.

The game itself is strange. It uses dice-less combat resolution, based on a comparison between opposing units' command, skirmish "superiority", and moral at the time of combat. It's a very odd and not at all intuitive rule system, which I suspect is the reason the games (there were two of them) sank without trace quite quickly. Nevertheless, with my devotion to all things ACW, it was worth a fiver. It should not be too hard to think up some decent rules for it.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

There And Back Again, Again.

Well, it's been a while since I last posted, and a lot of things have happened over the last year, amongst them a divorce, a move from darkest Wales, a new life and a new job.

Sadly, with all of that there has obviously been little time for my hobby, and so things went onto the back burner for a fair bit. However, now I have some free time and a little money to spare I am starting to get back on track, and also making plans for some new periods, mostly fictional, of course.

The WWII-era armies of Moldovia and Vulgaria are proceeding apace, with lots of new and esoteric vehicles added to both sides. I've made up a few dozen kits but as yet have not had the time to start painting again. I've also invested in some of the Valiant Miniatures 20mm figure sets, and look forward to making them up.

The ACW stuff is on hold, as I need to restart painting a couple of regiments for the pesky Rebels.

The home-cast Lace Wars armies are being reassessed, as I really don't have the space or inclination to build those further, so the whole kit and kaboodle might well end up on eBay or at a local wargames club Bring & Buy next month.

The new project I am looking at is a fictional turn of the century encounter between those two inveterate combatants, Moldovia and Vulgaria. The plethora of 20mm plastic figures from the 1870 to 1914 period has led me to dream of a couple of "steam-punk" armies, with colourful uniforms, cavalry, early breach-loaders, Gatling guns, and a mix of horse-drawn and vintage motor transport, along with some of the wackier WWI tanks. I've already invested in some packs of figures from the HaT and Zvezda early-WW1 ranges, and the Strelets Russo-Turkish War sets. Not yet got the armies organised, but the ideas are forming and it looks like fun.

On the board-game side of things, I picked up a copy of GMT's Commands & Colours: Napoleonics a couple of months ago, and have been solo-playing it for a while. It's a great system that builds on their wonderful Ancients rules, and really gives the flavour and fun of the Napoleonic period. I must try and get my old friend John Preece interested. I think it will suit his style of play and sense of fun.