May 29, 2011

Answering the Call

Recruits continue to swell the ranks to see off the forces of King George. These models are not arranged in any specific way at the moment, merely stacked up in a neat line for the group photo. My plan is to base like poses together - i.e all marching, advancing, firing/loading, etc. My order from Litko (100 50x50mm bases) was posted yesterday so the next photos will be based properly.

The more I read on the period, the more my plans evolve. Right now I am planning on five units of four stands each - 3 units of South Carolina Militia (The models above are representative of the typical appearance of these units), 1 unit of North Carolina/Georgia Militia (a 50/50 mix of earth-toned hunting shirts and models above), and 1 unit of Virginia Militia (mostly in green-dyed hunting shirts). Again, depending on the scenario, these may be mixed in any combination of 2-6 stands, but in general it helps me to have a plan for the collection...

May 26, 2011

AWI Bookshelf

Like most wargamers, I collect books. Between military histories, uniform books, historical fiction, and wargame rules sets, I have several hundred volumes from the Dark Ages to WW2. My family often buys me military books as gifts and one of my wife's cousins is the best - she is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy and her gifts always come from the American conflicts. On of my first steps on entering a new period is collecting a pile of books. When I made the decision to launch my AWI project I was actually surprised at how many books I already owned...

British Grenadier - David Brown - Nice rule set, but the real value is in the period information, both in the rule book and the three scenario books. There is a wealth of information for the newcomer, including organizing your forces, suggestions on uniforms, There is also a fairly active forum dedicated to these rules. The second edition is due out soon, though sadly it looks to join the terrible trend of the times: wargame porn with beautiful full color printing, lavish illustrations, photos of well painted models, and a massive four page quick reference sheet...

Of course, I am kidding - I ordered mine yesterday...

The American War of Independence - Greg Novak - This is a guide to the armies of the war and comes in a two volume set - one covering the North, the other the South - that provide orbats for almost every known action bigger than a bar-brawl. There is an insane amount of detail that goes through the armies from year to year. I can't recommend these highly enough!

Soldiers of the American Revolution - Art by Don Troiani and Text by James L. Kochan - This book features one of the best military artists around. There are more than 50 of Troiani's paintings in this book, including some great single figure studies that will be inspiring for model painters. In addition there are photos of period artifacts such as clothing, weapons, and equipment.

Standards and Colors of the American Revolution - Edward W. Richardson - This is the most complete source for flags of the American Revolution that I have seen. The The book covers both Colonial flags by state and national banners, plus those of the British, German, and French with photos, drawings, and color plates. It is currently out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Soldiers of the Revolutionary War - Stuart Reid and Marko Zlatich - This is a reprint of five volumes of the Osprey titles: Men-at-Arms 273: ‘General Washington’s Army (1) 1775-75’, Men-at-Arms 285: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (1)’, Men-at-Arms 289: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (2)’, Men-at-Arms 290: ‘General Washington’s Army (2) 1778-83’ and Men-at-arms 292: ‘King George’s Army 1740-93 (3)’. This book examines in complete detail the uniforms and equipment used by the rival armies of George Washington and King George in the American Revolutionary War. Despite sometimes having inaccurate information, Osprey is always one of my first stops when getting into a new period.

Patriot Battles - Michael Stephenson - The result is a well-documented, entertaining and mildly revisionist military history in two parts. In the first, Stephenson examines "The Nuts and Bolts of War," answering basic questions about who fought, how and why. To analyze prosaic details like supply and transport, weapons and medical care, the author uses an array of statistics and technical data—muzzle velocities, shot weights, equipment lists, etc.—but wisely leavens them with anecdotes. In part two, Stephenson turns to an analysis of the major battles of the war, from the opening skirmishes at Lexington and Concord to the climactic showdown at Yorktown.

A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution - Theodore Savas and J. David Dameron - This is billed as the first comprehensive account of every engagement of the Revolution, a war that began with a brief skirmish at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, and concluded on the battlefield at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781. Every entry begins with introductory details including the date of the battle, its location, commanders, opposing forces, terrain, weather, and time of day. The body of each entry offers both a Colonial and British perspective of the military situation, a detailed and unbiased account of what actually transpired, a discussion of numbers and losses, and suggestions for further reading.

A Devil of a Whipping - Lawrence E. Babits - The battle of Cowpens was a crucial turning point in the Revolutionary War in the South and stands as perhaps the finest American tactical demonstration of the entire war. On 17 January 1781, Daniel Morgan's force of Continental troops and militia routed British regulars and Loyalists under the command of Banastre Tarleton. The victory at Cowpens helped put the British army on the road to the Yorktown surrender and, ultimately, cleared the way for American independence. This was a gift from my wife's cousin five or six years ago and is the book that sparked my interest in collecting models for the period...

Battles of the American Revolution - Curt Johnson - There are better books about these battles on the market today, but this book is full of color photos of fantastic Hinchliffe Models from the collection of Peter Gilder. There are also sections on weapons, unit organization, and tactics of the period. This book is out of print,but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Skirmish Battles - David O'Brien -This 40 page booklet contains seven great scenarios. Each are presented with historical backgrounds, notes on wargaming the scenario, troop grades and orders of battle, victory conditions, command decisions, and charming hand drawn maps. Also, while it's called 'skirmish battles', this refers to history rather than the tabletop - theses are not western style gunslinger games. While there are one or two scenarios that might be possible at 1:1, a scale of 1:5 or 1:10 will be more practical in 28mm. For instance, the Blackstock Plantation scenario pits 660 British (led by Tarleton!) against 1000 American Militia... Anyway, this would be a nice addition to a collection if you don't have it (and maybe the one book on this list you may not have seen before)...

Whew! There are more in my collection and I have a few more in the mail, but these are the best I have. Of course, the internet is another great resource and I'll have a post with links to my favorite AWI websites soon...

May 23, 2011

The Cause of Liberty

My bouts of Attention Deficit Disorder continue as I have decided to start a new project that I have been thinking about for several years. With all of the periods I collect and paint, I have virtually nothing for any of the wars in America. I always envy the stories of those who have walked the battlefields of the Napoleonic wars, but here in Virginia I am a day trip (or closer - Yorktown is 45min from my house) away from dozens of battlefields. Last year I started a 40mm ACW project that seems to have stalled. I may return to it at some point, if only to provide some photographs for one of the next Hilton/Harrison rulebooks . Since my normal wargame table accommodates a 4x6' battlefield, I don't think a 40mm project is practical if I actually want to push the little buggers around the table.

While I enjoy reading about the American Civil War, I am more drawn to the earlier period of the American War of Independence. Veteran, well drilled troops with an impossibly long supply line, German mercenaries, scrappy militia, and George Freakin' Washington! For the painter and modeler there are a wide variety of uniforms (and lack thereof) and a large degree of uncertainty about the details of these uniforms and flags that appeals to me. Units varied by theater and even from battle to battle.

I ordered several hundred dollars of Perry AWI Southern Militia with a few continentals for variety, with the intent of building extensive forces for gaming the southern theater of the American War of Independence. I grew up in North Carolina, went to college in Georgia, and am now a proud Virginian so my initial collection will be militia from these states. My initial goal is 20 stands of 4-6 militia models that I can combine into battalions of various size. The stands of 4 models will have extra scenic detail to fill in the extra space like fences, casualties, tree stumps, etc.

May 20, 2011

Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery - Part III

12th Level Evil High Priest with +2 Armor & Shield, Poison Mace
1 Hero, +1 A & Sh, + 3 Sword
1 Hero, +1 A & Sh, +1 Bow
1 Magician
2 Mummies
3 Ogres
3 Ghouls
4 Trolls
20 Orcs
1 Insectoid Pet of the EHP (equal to Giant Scorpion)

Your able lieutenants Grustiven the Warlock and the Lama Goocz have failed to return from an exploration of an area of unusual nature — just west of your castle a thick fog sprang up and has been obscuring vision since then. Dispel Magic failed to affect the area, and your henchmen were ordered to investigate, for it is possible that some Lawful enemy is at work, using the mist to screen gathering troops. Unfortunately, your strongest fighters and 200 orcs are elsewhere warring with a Neutral Lord who insulted you, so you will have to make do with the forces on hand. An orc detailed to patrol the edge of the fog area has just reported that unusual sounds have been issuing from the area — he described them as: “low growls, the clanking of chains, and a deep humming,” but who can trust a stupid orc?

Considering the state your forces are currently in, it is up to you what the best course to follow is. You can attempt to ambush the enemy before they reach your stronghold, or you can hole up in your castle and prepare to withstand a siege, but if the attackers are strong and not molested until they reach the castle walls, your forces might not be able to prevent an escalade, and you cannot lose your castle!

Crummy photo, but I didn't have time to set up proper lights. Some of the monsters are missing from this shot, but all of the models are finished, including the extra German crew for the vehicles. I'm going to run this solo once or twice using a simple set of rules I modified from the old 1970's D&D rules. I want to make the balance of forces is somewhere near even before springing it on my regular group. At some point in the future I will post an AAR of the game with maps and much better photography...

May 13, 2011

Paints I Can't Do Without

I have been painting everything from fantasy to WW2 models in the last few weeks. Most of my painting is done in my lunch hour and I have a traveling paint kit that I carry to work. I have noticed that regardless of the subject, there are a handful of paints I always have in the kit (all are Foundry):

1. Flesh 5 A-C: Unless I'm painting orcs, this triad is always in my kit. Sometimes I use Terracotta 37A as a base to create extra shading before Flesh A.

2. Boneyard 9 A-C: This is a favorite alternative to white for tunics and breeches. I use this for lots of different leather items, drum heads, blond hair, etc. It's also great for bones, fangs, and claws on fantasy models!

3. Rawhide 11 A-C: I use this triad for boots, belts, hats, etc. There are lots of good earth tones in the Foundry line, but this seems to always be in my kit.

4. Spearshaft 13 A-C: I use this for boots and other leather, hats, hair, muskets, and, yes, spearshafts. I also frequently use it for horses.

5. Winestain 15 C: This jar of paint will last me forever - I use it to paint the bottom lip of all of models. This little touch of color adds a lot of life to the face.

6. Slate Grey 32 A-C: This one of my staple colors for neutrals, used for trousers, hats, pouches, etc. If I want a rough and tumble look for a model on campaign, I use A and B to add a five o'clock shadow to the jaw. I also use Slate Grey C as a base for white...

7. Arctic Grey 33 B: Like black, I rarely use more than one highlight for white areas. Maybe if I were painting a unit in parade dress or Imperial Storm Troopers I'd add a layer of pure white, but I don't normally carry it.

8. Charcoal Black 34 A and B: Unless a model is predominately black, I only use one highlight layer when I paint black.

9. Terracotta 37 A-C: Seems like I use a little bit of red on everything I paint! I tend to use muted tones in general... terracotta rather than red, ochre rather than yellow, etc.

10. Boltgun Metal: I have a full set of Games Workshop paints on hand, but this one is the only one that is a permanent part of my kit.

These are the foundation of everything I paint. Other colors may be dictated by a specific uniform or simply a whim, but I try to maintain a limited palette so I keep this to two or three extra colors when possible.

May 6, 2011

And They're Off!

The docs for the second edition of Beneath the Lily Banners are off to the printer. As soon as we get a look at the proofs, pre-orders will be available on the League of Augsburg site and the books should be ready soon after. Now Barry and I can put our feet for a week or so before starting work on something new. Irons in the fire...

1. A set of rules for the ACW based on a simplified version on Republic to Empire, modified further to better reflect the period. This is pretty far along the development stage so may be up next.
2. A set of rules for ECW/TYW based on my mini-set, Victory Without Quarter. I have to write this and work will hopefully start soon and in parallel with the other projects.
3. A scenario book (or three) and period guide for Beneath the Lily Banners. We have talked about getting involvement from other authors so if you want to try your hand at writing scenarios for the period, drop one of us a note...