Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Kings Lifeguard ... slow progress.

I'm not sure where the last couple of weeks went, but I have been busy on the domestic front with our house going up for sale, and the game remains set up just as it was. I have however made a bit of progress on painting what will be my ninth regiment of foot, The Kings Lifeguard of Foot. The 12 pikemen are finished as are the three command figures. I am still toying with the idea of having two flags on the rear of this regiments base but not sure yet. The pike are a mix of two codes, ECW4 (Pikeman plumed hat, pike up), with head swaps to helmets on some of them and all with the buff coat fronts painted as tassets, and ECW22 'Pikeman at ease in helmet'. These two codes work well together to produce a nicely varied armoured pike block. The drummer is code ECW 32 'Drummer marching', I drilled out his right hand and added a couple of drumsticks, as he looked a bit odd without them!

It's worth noting here that the original range as issued ran from ECW1 through to ECW 22, that was the full extent of the infantry range back in the late seventies when I was buying them originally. Codes ECW 23 to 34 were later additions and look to be by a different designer as the figures are slightly larger and chunkier with noticeably different facial features, not the fine features of the earlier figures. These latter codes are marked  with the year '1980' on the bases so can be easily identified, the drummer figure shown below is one such.The vast majority of my collection is from the earlier figure codes of the original range as designed by Peter Gilder.

Now working through the 24 musketeers in batched of six at a time, this will be another 39 figure unit when finished. One slight issue I have had from the start is that some of the musket rests arrived broken or with some missing below the hand. However, it has been a very quick and easy repair job to make good the rests, simply by cutting away the cast rest and replacing it with steel rod superglued into position. I'd say about 10% of the musketeers required this fix, but no problem and worth the little effort.







Broken musket rests require to be cut away with snips.

And replaced with a length of rod, quick and effective.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lights, Camera, Action!

Time seems to have flown by since my last post here. I have managed to finish painting the 20 musketeers which complete Regiment of Foot number eight, another blue coat regiment, and also the 12 pikes for my planned 'King's Lifeguard'. In addition I have painted a couple of baggage wagons that will be useful for a planned scenario these are both Front Rank models but with Hinchliffe pre Napoleonic heavy draught horse code EH7  to bring the scale down slightly as the Front Rank models are 28mm scale, I think they look OK though.

It is now time to get a small game on the table, and I have decided how I want to approach this. I'm not great at writing up battle reports and tend to get bogged down in the detail and lose interest. What I plan for this blog is a more general narrative style, move by move and with decent quality images, something I have struggled with previously. However, I now have the loan of my youngest daughters Cannon E05 camera and soft boxes to improve the lighting.

Below you can see the wargame room set up for the opening battle, note the table size is 5' x 5' as it's about the most practical size I can fit up there, but it's a permanent hobby room and can be left set up out of harms way. I'll describe the set up and scenario in my next post, the old Osprey 'Naseby' book I used to carry  the newly completed Blue regiment and wagons upstairs and forgot to remove it for the pics, but somehow it's fitting as it was a big influence on this retro project.

The battle is going to be a smallish game with just 6 units per side and loosely based upon the game described in the Airfix ECW book. It will feature a Royalist advance column escorting gold coin, powder and match across the table to the relative safety of Effingham Hall. At a time determined by dice throws Roundhead forces will attempt to intercept the column and capture the wagons. This will be a test run through of the WRG rules that I have not played for about 30 years! I should add this is also inspired by my re watching of the entire series of 'By The Sword Divided' and I must say I enjoyed it even more than I remembered it before. You can find all episodes on YouTube from episode 1 'Gather Ye Rosebuds' through to the final episode of series 2 'Restoration'.

A few pics of the general set up.

Royalist entry point, near corner, you can see Effingham Hall in the distance. Roundheads will enter from the corner hill (by the radiator) and attempt to capture the wagons.

 
Latest regiment of foot, 12 pike, 20 muskets and 3 command.

Wagons by Front Rank, horses by Hinchliffe.

Retro Airfix buildings.

Effingham Hall, will the Royalists be able to get the coin and powder safely there?

The White Horse Inn.

Hinchliffe musketeers, a few wearing helmets but who cares!







Monday, 11 September 2017

Test conversion for the King's Foot.

As mentioned in my last post I have been planning to build the King's Lifeguard of Foot and want to do something a bit  special with them. My attempts at tracking down any Garrison pike have hit a wall, Rob Young who owns the moulds has no plans to give the casting machine a spin any time soon, which is a bit of a shame, but it was at least worth the enquiry. So, I looked once again at the Hinchliffe range and thought I might try something using 'ECW4 Pikeman in soft hat, pike up' as a basis. I liked this figure 35 years ago, but the flamboyant plumed soft hat on a pikeman was not going to pass muster these days! It struck me that the extravagant buff coat might possibly work as tassets at the front, and with a head swap to a helmet could produce the type of fully equipped pikeman one might have expected to find serving in such a prestigious regiment.

ECW4 is holding his pike upright at order, his body is inclined slightly to the right with turned head. I wanted a forward facing pikeman, hand on hip with helmeted head. I note that still after all these years the sword belt (baldrick?) that goes across the front of his armour disappears at the shoulder and thus would need to be added from green stuff on the back. The result is as you see below, head taken from ECW6 Musketeer at present in helmet, buff coat fronts painted to represent tassets and belt added at rear. I think he presents the kind of impressive fully armoured pikeman that I wanted for my Kings Guard. It will mean sacrificing 15 musketeers to obtain the heads, but at Hinchliffe prices that won't break the bank and they will be unique! I'm pleased how well the tassets work with just a paint job to fool the eye?











Sunday, 10 September 2017

Pondering the WRG rules and other ranges.

I have about finished my typed playsheets for the WRG rules, having packed as much of the basics in as I could whilst still keeping it down to the minimum. Once I stripped out all of the non relevant stuff things became a lot clearer. Shooting for example comes down to muskets with three range bands, 0 - 10" 10 - 20" and 20 to 30", pistols carried by the horse (range 5"), and artillery pieces. The pistols may be fired in a single melee at +1 modifier per pistol, or individually, but my simplification requires pistols to be fired in a single action to avoid book keeping and be more historically accurate. All of my Horse carry 2 pistols, I mean what is the point of 1! Artillery fire is largely ineffective, but if you target a pike block you can get penetration through the ranks.

Melee comes down to pikes or 'improvised weapons' - the musketeers reversing their pieces and using them as clubs! Pikes count supporting ranks while only the first rank of musketeers can fight. Melee generally continues until one side withdraws or breaks, the loser of each round being pushed back 3" per turn, better quality troops can absorb more push backs than poor (D's and E's) who are easily broken. Once broken a unit (or sub unit) is required to rally before returning to the fray, all pretty straightforward. This brings us to one big difference to most sets of ECW rules I have played over the years, the fact that a pike and shot unit comprises a parent unit (pikes) and two sub units (musket wings) each of whom shoots and fights individually. Generally you will try to keep sub units within 1 move distance of the parent body or suffer morale penalty. Thus it's possible for a sub unit to be forced back, or to take a reaction test due to casualties etc while the parent body remains unaffected or vice versa. I found I thought in terms of individual units, and this worked really well in the smallish/ large unit games we used to play where you might want to deploy both wings of muskets to support the attack of the pike block who would attempt to close to force a Push of pike. You can of course have your musket sub units fall back to the protection of the pikes in a typical Stand of pikes formation, overall I think it models Civil War action very well.

Disorder plays a major part, it's a bit of a long list of factors that means a unit (or sub unit) becomes disordered, but most are pretty much self evident and quickly committed to memory, I have listed these on my playsheet. Units disordered suffer negative modifiers to shooting, melee and reaction tests.

Just a very quick note on the Reaction Tests that form the backbone of the morale rules. The tests are quick and easy to take once you get used to them. Essentially, the aristocratic Royalist Horse, well mounted and full of confidence in their 'Swedish' style training received under Rupert and Maurice, will be classed as 'A' and are difficult to control once in sight of the enemy, they are also difficult to rally, but are very good in melee. 'Uncontrolled Advance' is usually the result for such Horse when an opportunity to charge presents itself. 'B' class are in some ways better in that they have more discipline and control, Cromwell's 'Ironsides' (the Eastern Association Horse), would be typical B class Horse, they can stand to receive a charge, firing their pistols before drawing swords in melee, and if broken are easier to rally than A class Horse. Class 'C' would cover pretty much the average cavalryman in the Civil War, sufficient training to follow orders, while 'D' and 'E' are very brittle and easily broken.

This brings me to what is to some a bone of contention with these rules, the fact that there is no 'Trotter' or 'Galloper' classification, I'm quite happy to go with the fact that the morale class of the Horse represents the difference in the training and tactics of the Horse Regiments as explained above, and that the Reaction Test results will usually bear this out in realistic fashion. I don't recall the terms 'Trotters' or 'Gallopers' ever being used in contemporary descriptions, 'Dutch' and 'Swedish' style yes, but the vast majority of Civil war horse, certainly at the time my armies represent 1642 + would have had basic military training, possibly in the older 'Dutch' style and this can be represented in the typical 'C' class unit on the table.

Horse under these rules can be fielded as EHC (3/4 armour), HC (back and breast +pot helmets) and MC (buff coat and helmet or steel 'secret' beneath a soft hat). Now I am the first to accept that these classifications are somewhat arbitrary, the majority of units being a mix of at least the two latter with the odd wealthy individual in 3/4 armour thrown in. However my view is that some units would have been far better equipped than others, according to the wealth of the person who raised the troops, and the many servants or retainers who followed their masters into battle would have been lucky enough to obtain a poor quality buff coat, very different from the fine thick leather examples in the Popham collection with scalloped sleeves and a heavy 'proofed' breastplate worn over it. So I'm happy to go with this, and I classify my Horse accordingly, the more armoured the majority of the figures, the better.
Prince Ruperts Regiment of Horse, 'A' class 'HC' - sword and a pair of pistols, figures represented with a mix of equipment.
My Regiments of Foot are all classified from B down to D, with the vast majority being C class.

Essex Miniatures ECW range.
Now for a change of subject, I have been looking at various ranges for a few different personality figures that may be compatible with my Hinchliffes. I remembered having some of the old Essex 25mm ECW's years ago, in particular the Charles I and Cromwell figures were magnificent (see images below) it may well be that they are too large, too chunky to match my collection, but I have ordered a few to see how they match up. Fingers crossed, but they are now advertised as '28mm', however I'm sure some of the castings are the very ones I had previously, we shall see when they arrive.

I'm hoping that these will work for me on Hinchliffe horses? Image borrowed from the Essex Miniatures website.

Image from Essex Miniatures website, I have these two figures on order.

Garrison ECW's
I'm about to start work on my biggest foot unit to date, The Kings Lifeguard of Foot. These will comprise 15 pikes (in three ranks of 5) 4 command figures including 2 standard bearers, and 24 musketeers. I'm going to take my time with this one and plan numerous conversions. I have been looking to see if any of the Garrison pikemen are still about, and learned that the moulds were sold to Rob Young, who does still  cast a few to order now and then. They match my Hinchliffes perfectly - I have several among my pike blocks -and would love to able to create the Kings Pike from them. If anybody might be able to assist me in this matter I would be extremely grateful.

Garrison pikeman 2nd from right, I'd love to be able to find more!

Another Garrison variant (left), this time in helmet. You can see how well they match my Hinchliffes.

An example of Garrison mounted figures (centre), just lovely!

If you would like a copy of my WRG play sheets please contact me:  lgramson@yahoo.com

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Another week, another video!

This morning I finally got to lay everything so far out on the kitchen table in anticipation of a sunny day and enough good light to make another short video of the ECW's. By the time I had set up the cloud cover had increased, but a few short breaks in the cloud allowed me to at least have a go, and the result is as you see below. Please excuse my rather monotone commentary, it was spontaneous- you can hear the seagulls in the background - and I made a couple or errors, but it's what it is!


I also took a few pics of the completed Manor House and grounds, another Dapol plastic kit with Hovels resin walls and fountain. A touch underscale but OK to my eyes, I did raise the building on a 6mm plinth and possibly should have used taller wall sections but overall it fits well with the theme of the project.

'Effingham Hall' ancestral home of Lord Effingham, commander of Royalist forces in these parts.


Nice Hovels fountain, if a little too pink!



A contingent of the Effingham Horse pass in column.


Hinchliffe code ECWC1....... still brilliant decades on!



Saturday, 26 August 2017

More pike & tweaking the WRG rules.

This is the completed pike block for my 8th Regiment of Foot, another blue coated unit. Slightly lighter shade of blue for this one, a Prussian blue base with Azure painted wet into wet and blended. I like the combination of codes ECW 1 'armoured pikeman, pike forward', and ECW2 'armoured pikeman, pike up' as you can bend the second rank down slightly to give the impression of pikes in the act of going from 'Port Your Pike' to 'Charge Your Pike'. I generally do this once all are glued down in formation, the soft metal making the twisting and bending of arms an easy process. The standard three command figures will stand at the rear of the block as usual. Musketeers to follow.







As I'm planning a game soon I'm in the process of typing up the WRG playsheet so I can actually see it! I'm taking the opportunity to remove all non ECW relevant info on the sheets, which was my main motivation in doing this, as the rules cover a wider period such beasts as elephants and camels, chain mail wearing cavalry, fanatics and mercenaries clutter the charts along with bowmen etc and once stripped down to ECW basics the charts and factors are far easier to follow. The Reaction Test for example now appears much simpler to play, it all fits on a page and the list of factors is much quicker to go through. I'll type up as much as I can in this easy to follow format. The Eagle eyed among you might notice that I have converted all 'paces' into inches and slightly reduced some distances from 150 paces (15") to 12" as we used to play it.




I took delivery of a few more TSS tiles this week, Space Saver 2' x 2' squares, plus a few more 2' x 1' tiles and more hill combinations. The Space savers are very tough material and just 20mm thick. My intention is to lay out a basic 6' x 5' table in the dining room some time next week for the opening battle. To this send I have ordered some bits from Hovels, mainly wall sections for my planned Manor House, which will utilise another Dapol 'Country Inn' a Flames of war cobbled square, surrounded by the Hovels wall sections, straights, damaged straights and corner sections together with the rather splendid little period fountain model and water trough, also from Hovels. Again I'm avoiding flocks etc in keeping with the project theme. I plan to finish this before the planned battle.




The fine 'Ornate Fountain' from Hovels that will sit in front of the Manor House, and an example of the wall sections that will surround it all.

Images borrowed from the Hovels website.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Dragoons both foot and mounted.

Here are the completed two regiments of Dragoons, 12 mounted figures per unit and 10 dismounted. I don't intend to make dismounted horse holder stands, but when a regiment of Dragoons dismounts the command base of officer and standard bearer will remain to mark the position of the horses. These are all Hinchliffe castings of course except the Red Regiment officer who is a fine old Garrison figure on a Garrison horse. The Red Regiment mounted unit was bought ready painted from Ian Hinds, and I painted the other Blue mounted unit and both foot units. The Red Dragoon flag came with the unit and I tried to do something similar with the Blue flag, having cut it down from a Foot flag, round edged it and hand painted the fringe as best I could. Overall I'm very happy with these 44 figures and they make a nice addition to my collection. I should add that in line with the theme of this project I have tried to keep the painting clean and bright with a Satin varnish finish.

Figure codes used are: ECWC 11 Dragoon Mounted, ECWC 15 Medium cavalry firing pistol (3 in the red unit only, they mix well with the Dragoons), ECW 15 Dragoon firing and officers are ECW 9 & ECW 10. Horses are a selection of LH codes. Standard bearers are simple conversions of ECWC 11.







The single Garrison figure (centre left), these are new to me but must have been a great range as the few I have are little Gems.




I have enough Hinchliffe castings for two more large Regiments of Foot, but I'll take my time with those as I want to get a game played, I have been waiting on more TSS terrain tiles (from the Space Saver range) including a fair few more hill tiles to add to those I have, they have now been dispatched and will hopefully be here early next week. I also plan to paint a few baggage wagons..