Friday, May 11, 2018

Another 28mm Prussian Infantry Unit

Another batch of 28mm Prussians from Wargames Foundry!
Here is a third unit of Prussians for my slowly-accumulating 28mm Franco-Prussian war project.  As with the previous two units, these figures are 28mm castings from Wargames Foundry, spiced up with a flag from GMB.  There are a total of 24 castings in the unit, with 20 deployed together on the main bases, and four individual figures to be used on the table to indicate the unit has put skirmishers forward.
Flag in the command group from GMB
The classic Prussian pose from this period - the great coat wrapped around the body, advancing into the teeth of French Chassepot fire!

Great sculpts by the Perry Twins - an old range now, but still fantastic, and the most complete one out there in 28mm
I really enjoy painting these lovely castings from Foundry - sculpted by the Perry Twins.  But every hobby has its frustrations, and for me the single biggest frustration is applying the black base coat.  This is most efficiently done by spraying it on.  While Vallejo has a very good primer product that you can paint on, I tend to only do that out of desperation when it comes to metal figures, as the primer has a tough time really sticking, and often creates little air bubbles.  A spray can, for all of the negatives, is just SO much faster and more efficient.

Hooped by the spray cans...F****************K!
But spray cans, in addition to stinking and making a mess, have their own challenges, in that every so often, they suddenly go to sh!t and start ruining figures!  This was the case with several figures in this unit, where the black base coat became scabbed and flaky.

Not a texture you can paint with...
On a few of the figures, some careful painting was enough to work around this.  But on several of them it got so bad the primer coat had to be scraped off, and then I had to use less-than-adequate paint-on-primer instead.

...and so it was scraping time...SUPER fun...NOT!
This is SO infuriating.  It usually happens in the change of season, so no doubt there is some aspect of humidity etc to it, but there really wasn't much change in the conditions, so I don't buy that so much.  Some cans are faulty, and there is no way to predict is it frustrating!!! It's bad enough when it is too cold to spray (common in Winnipeg) and then too hot to spray (common in Winnipeg, or at least it used to be), but when a dud can nails you, that's even worse!!

At least you can't tell in the group photo!
Overall I find the "scabbed" figures don't stand out very much - the beauty of using figures in groups! A new spray can is in action, and the normal painting routine has resumed. I am continuing to slowly tackle my large pile of Franco-Prussian lead in the hopes of staging a "Black Powder" game set in the period.  Slow and steady wins the race...but good thing this isn't a race...

I have also noticed that the excellent "Eagles of Empire" now have Turcos on watch for those to appear this spring!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Adeptus Custodes for 30k

The Talons of The Emperor! Adeptus Custodes for 30k battles
It's a yeah, for once, some more 30k stuff - first 30k figures in nearly eight months...  

This a group of five Adeptus Custodes - elite warriors who serve as the bodyguards of The Emperor in His Very Own Self!  And if you are going to work day-to-day around The Emperor, you better Look Like You Are Up For The Job! That means Big Armour, Guns Built Into Everything, and Lots of Capital Letters.  Because when you work for The Emperor, The Rules of Grammar Don't Apply...

Two Custodes models sporting "Guardian Spears" - big power weapons, with bolt guns built-in!
While I have been enjoying my plunge into the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, it has been quite a few months since I have painted any 30k figures of any size.  I knew I had these particular figures sitting primed and ready to go since the summer of 2017 - they have been looming over all of the primed Franco-Prussian infantry figures at my painting pile/desk for months.  I recently reached a little pause in my Franco-Prussian project, so I thought these guys would be good for taking a bit of a break to paint some 30k stuff again before resuming my 1870 efforts.

Details on the armour are off the charts...really quite ornate, pretty amazing for plastic figures
In the 30k story, the Custodes almost never leave the Emperor's side. But when the Emperor sent the Space Wolves to bring the Thousand Sons to heel as punishment for violating his ban on use of psychic powers, he decided to boost them with some support from a group of elite Imperial troops, including members of the Adeptus Custodes. Their presence in the punitive expedition was the ultimate symbol of the Emperor's wrath...when the Custodes showed up, Magnus and the gang in the 15th Legion surely realized they were being set up for one heck of a beating...

"Sentinel blade" - still has a gun built into to it too! Two of them, in fact...
Since the Custodes were part of the fighting on Prospero, GW included these models came as part of "The Burning of Prospero" box game released in 2016.  They are plastic multi-part figures, with options to arm them either with "Sentinel Blades" (big Sword) or "Guardian Spears" (big pole arms).  You can also create an officer, a Shield Captain (I think) and a standard bearer.  The Custodes join the Space Wolves and the Sisters of Silence as the "Loyalist" faction in the board game.

Custodes officer - "Shield Captain", I think...anyway, I gave him a white crest on his helmet - my notion of a rank differentiation

Gotta rock the nice cloak if you are an officer, right?
These figures are really something else. The armour is incredibly ornate, with all sorts of Imperium-themed iconography.  They are quite large figures, a little bigger even than the current Terminator models, and certainly look the part of warriors who would work directly with The Emperor.  In the stories they dispatch Legion Space Marines - the toughest warriors humanity is said to muster - with relative ease.  The Custodes are a cut above even the legendary Space Marines!  As the Emperor's guards, they have access to flashy armour and advanced technology and weapons from "old night".  These figures really look the part.

It is interesting to look back to the era of "Rogue Trader" and compare the original images we see of the Custodes in the pages of that venerable rule book to these current plastic models.  The new plastics certainly match the scale creep, I suppose!

Original Custodes on the left and right of the photo, as seen in the original "Rogue Trader" rule book.  The new plastic figures certainly look a bit...bulkier...
The weapons on these current figures in particular are whacky in a charming and bizarre 30k way.  Who would turn a halberd into a power weapon, and then integrate a bolt gun into it? Why, the Emperor, of course! Even the big swords have firearms built into them.  It's all very silly, but very fun.  I love the "Guardian Spear" in particular - just looks bonkers. 

I started painting the models from the Prospero Box last summer.  There are 47 figures in the box, and once I got started on them in June of last year I managed to power through 42 of them - finishing the Wolves, the Thousand Sons, and the Silent Sisters. These five Custodes models last in the line.  I had just finished the Sister of Silence last July, when Jamie M chimed in with this quip in the comments:

Damn you Jamie! Those clever Brits...
Of course Jaimie was having some fun, but it rang a little true...I just couldn't bring myself to dive into painting the Custodes at the time.  I figured I would "take a break", paint other stuff, and come back to them, but just didn't for whatever reason.  The "break" went on and on, extending to months... Jaimie's snarky comment was always in the back of my head. When I decided it was time to get back to a bit of 30k, I knew which figures I would tackle first!

The standard-bearer is totally over-the-top, a great figure

All sorts of fun details on the figure...very shiny! 

The sign of the Aquila...the battle standard of the Emperor's own bodyguards...
The painting was pretty simple - 90% of model comes down to the armour, and as you can see, my paint scheme is not very original, generally resembling all of the other ones out there.  But hey - to me, it makes sense that these guys would be covered in gold from head-to-toe - after all, they work with The Emperor!  I used GW "Retributor Armour" as the base, followed with a wash of "Reikland Flesh Shade", a further targeted pin-wash of "Agrax Earth Shade", and a final specialized target wash of "Nuln Oil".  It was then dry-brushed with "Auric Armour Gold" and then - very lightly - with "Stormhost Silver".  Hopefully I can remember that in the event I try to paint more of these in the future...

The Propsero board game itself is excellent.  The rules are simple and fun.  The Thousand Sons have powerful psychic abilities, which the Loyalist player can counter with careful use of the Silent Sisters (and a little luck).  As is often the case, the combat system contains within it an approach that is more fun, flexible and innovative than GW ever seems willing to try on its mainline rules.  The game uses D6, D8 and D10s in a fashion that I believe evokes classic systems like "Stargrunt", and works very well.  The board sections are high quality and very well done, making a game easy and fun to set up on a kitchen table.

Ready to stand by the side of The Emperor!!
I hope we can try the Prospero board game for kicks - certainly these models were not assembled to match a particular type of unit, but rather have some variety in the Prospero board game. But as we are fortunate to be able to play on our own tables with terrain etc. I do hope to try some "Burning of Prospero"-themed 30k games as well.  I think these Custodes figures will also come in handy for "Siege of Terra" games, perhaps joining some of Mike F's incredible Imperial Fists, making a last stand near that awesome collapsed wall he made...  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Commandant Berbegier - Franco-Prussian War Command Vignette

"Mort de Commandant Berbegier" in 28mm from Eagles of Empire
This is a nice little 28mm Franco-Prussian War command vignette - Commandant Berbegier, seen here in action leading the first battalion of the 70th Infantry Regiment during the battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat in the summer of 1870.  He is sitting atop a horse which has already fallen in battle, and continuing to sound the charge to his men. This miniature is from the amazing folks at "Eagles of Empire".

The sculpt is top shelf - "Eagles of Empire"is just great, can't say enough about them
This excellent sculpt is based on a painting by Edouard Detaille, "Mort de Commandant Berbegier".  When I saw this at the "Eagles of Empire" online store I knew I wanted to have one! I felt it would make a very cool command vignette, whether in a skirmish-style game or as a brigade-command model in a game of "Black Powder".

The poor horse!
I wish I was more cultured and could share more about art, but I don't know much about Detaille the painter or the generally amazing amount of incredible artwork that the Franco-Prussian war seems to have inspired.  The painting itself certainly paints a grim setting for the French infantry, capturing a hopeless determination in the face of defeat and destruction...
Liberal use of tufts from Tajima - no wonder I run out of them so fast...
Commandant Berbegier apparently was Chef of the First Battalion, 70th Regiment, and the scene in the painting is set at the Battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat.  I did a little research, and it seems the 70th was deployed toward the northern end of the French line in that pivotal battle, between St. Privat and Ammanvilliers - in which case they likely saw action against the enveloping attack by the Prussian Guard regiments late in the day.

The combination of excellent Chassepot rifles, strong defensive terrains and pretty uninspired generalship by the Prussians (matched only by the even limper senior leadership of the French high command) led to very, very high losses for the Prussians during the battle.  But at the northern end of the battle line the Prussians were ultimately able to turn the French right by capturing the village of St. Privat.  The Prussians managed to prepare the ground for their assault with a bombardment by something like 200 guns...the 70th would probably have been heavily exposed to this bombardment, and driven back by the subsequent Prussian assault.

For the Emperor!!!
It seems to me in the painting that Commandant Berbegier is trying to rally the remnants of his battalion to continue the fight as the Prussians seek to the roll up the French line.  Again - I don't know if my imagination matches the actual situation that the painting is portraying or not, but it will do for now! Hopefully smarter people can point you in the right direction for more accurate information. There sure is a lot of beautiful artwork out there!  But I love this vignette - it is really something, and the folks at Eagles of Empire have done a great job sculpting the figures.  I can't wait to get this out on the table for a game sometime!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mitrailleuse! 28mm Reffye Mitrailleuse from Foundry

Mitrailleuse and crew in 28mm - gun and crew from Wargames Foundry
Mitrailleuse! Yay! Mitrailleuse! This is a 28mm Reffye Mitrailleuse and crew, all figures from Wargames Foundry and their outstanding "Franco-Prussian War of 1870" range.

Today the French word "mitrailleuse" roughly equates to "machinegun" in English - there are a lot of modern weapons you can apply the term to. Back in 1870, however, it applied to this specific weapon, thought to be a real ace in the hole for the Army of Napoleon III. Most of the information I have found speaks of how the French treated the weapon as some sort of state secret, so secret that it impaired the training and proper use of the weapons when war with Prussia came in the summer of 1870.

Great sculpting by the Perrys as always - particularly love the gunner figure
It was fired using a hand-crank.  The bullets were 13mm, and were loaded onto a plate placed into the rear of the weapon.  There are no rotating barrels or anything like that, but rather a series of individual barrels inside a larger tube that otherwise approximates the shape of a light cannon common to that era. I found a neat video here that offers an idea of how the weapon was fired. In an era where weapons were single-shot (I mean, getting rifled and dangerous, but still) and when troops in Europe still moved around in dense lines and columns, one can imagine how this sort of weapon could have been devastating.

One of the gunner figures is sporting a carbine
In the end it did not have much impact on the battlefield, much less a decisive one. So many things went so wrong so fast for the French army in the Franco-Prussian war, and "should have made better use of the Mitrailleuse" is generally one of the top parts of any set of talking points in a review of the French defeat.  The French gunners had little training with them, the French commanders had little understanding of their potential, and the doctrine of their use was based on using the weapons as artillery pieces.  They were seen, essentially, as an alternative to an artillery piece firing grape shot, rather than something that would work closely with the infantry.  As such, they were deployed like artillery, and not attached directly to infantry formations.

The weapon was tricky to use at range - it threw off a lot of smoke, and it was hard for the crew to track the effectiveness of their shooting when operating at artillery-style ranges (even short ones).  Meanwhile the big plumes of gun smoke that appeared when in use made the Mitrailleuse batteries easy to spot - and they seemed to have been priority targets for the lethal Prussian breech-loading artillery, who duly hammered them as soon as they spotted them on the battlefield.

Excessive use of Tajima wonder I run out of them so quickly....
While there is quite a lot to criticize when looking back at the performance of the French Imperial Army in the Franco-Prussian War, I think picking on the Mitrailleuse is a touch too easy for we of the Monday-morning-quarterbacking-military hobby-types today.  Of course, as wargamers, we can perceive the Mitrailleuse within its proper place on the spectrum in the evolution of military weapons.  It's a rapid-firing, proto-machinegun, and we ask - why didn't the French use it that way?  The French infantry already could out-range and out-shoot the Prussian thanks to their superb Chassepot rifles - just imagine how much tougher those French infantry battalions would have been with a battery of Mitrailleuse right up there in the line!  When you consider the later 19th century overall, and think of the deadly effect the Nordenfelt and Gatling guns had in the various Colonial conflicts that flared up in the period, the French use of the Mitrailleuse seems extra bonkers.

But the contemporary military planners of the day did not have that context...they were coming to this as something to augment artillery. In hindsight, it was not that successful, but I can kind of see what the French were going for, and why they went about it - not sure the excessive secrecy was helpful, as it impaired the training and deployment, and understanding of the commanders regarding how these might be employed.  On the other hand, the performance of the overall French high command was so dismal in 1870-71, I don't think the Mitrailleuse could really have changed what happened.

Prussians in sight...
In gaming terms, this will be fun to use on the table for several reasons.  For one, I feel like it's a bit of an iconic piece for the setting and the period - players will see it and immediately think Franco-Prussian War.  Second, we can do "what-if" type situations where the Mitrailleuse is deployed, perhaps due to evolving or accidental circumstance, in a much more "front-line" position - and do this in a "Black Powder" mass-battle setting, or a skirmish setting.  Finally, use of these early proto-machinegun type weapons, it's always fun to have rules for jamming and other mishaps, and see what happens when the players start employing them...

Imperial Wall Project

 Since I started collecting my 30k Imperial Fists, I've been thinking about how to best represent the Battle of Terra. There are a few examples such as this and this, but these are more of diorama displays and not quite playable battlefields. The breaching of the Imperial Wall protecting the Emperors inner palace has been a part of the Horus Heresy story for as along as I can remember (which was 2nd edition). How do you capture the grandeur of the wall and still make it playable? My solution was to make the entire battlefield the breach in the wall and the remaining wall sections bookmark the table. I envision the Traitor forces rushing into the center of the table to exploit the breach which is being defended by loyalist forces. The loyalists have thrown together a desperate defenses out of the wall rubble, while more loyalist reinforcements rush in to plug the gap. This would be a mega game befitting the Battle of Terra.

To make the wall I used some large pieces of Styrofoam I found in my garage rafters (the previous homeowner liked to store stuff in the rafters apparently) that served as the wall and various rubble pieces. The Styrofoam wall sections were then covered in drywall patching tape followed by several layers of drywall mud. Once dried, they were sanded and given a thick coat of primer.

 I then sprayed textured paint over it. This still caused some sections to be eaten by the spray, but I persevered and repaired these sections through a process that is too ridiculous to lay out in this blog. At times I thought I was actually building a wall!
I then cut strips of plastic I found at Lowes and glued them onto the front of the wall to represent some metal details. Furniture nails were used to represent studs.

That is an actual tube of caulking in the bottom right.
 I bought some MDF and resin pieces from TT Combat to add some details to the walls. These include firing steps up top, stairways at the back and a resin hatch to enter the wall. The entire structure was painted with craft paint, GW leadbelcher and Nuln oil wash.
I quickly set up a 6x4 board to demonstrate the scale of the wall. The green flocked board doesn't work with the wall in my opinion, but Dallas has several options that would work better I think.
Imperial Fist groundskeepers are the best in the galaxy.

Large sections of broken wall litter the breach. These serve as improvised defense.

Air defense also from TT Combat

Hatch and stair from TT Combat

. Will Malcador the Sigillite resist pressure to call a public inquiry after Iron Warrior "stress testing" revealed that DornCo was skimping on construction materials?

So hopefully after I get a few more units painted for the Fists, we can roll this out for a mega game this summer.

Monday, April 16, 2018

From Faith, Cometh Honour - Massive Heresy Iron Warriors Update

So, as prep for the New Year's game, some desperate last-minute escalation occurred on the Iron warriors front, in the form of a Leviathan Siege Dreadnought, two squads of Iron Havocs, and a mighty Typhon Siege Tank!

The best thing about the Iron Warriors, though, is how quickly the models paint up. Even assembling the Leviathan went quickly. I used magnets to attach the arm weapons for quick swaps, so the model can be equipped with any two of the Siege Claw, Cyclonic Melta-Lance (!), or Grav-Flux Bombard (!!)

As a side note, it was pointed out at the game how comical the naming conventions are for the Heresy-era Forge World weapons. It's like the designers take one adjective from column A, one from column B, and stick a noun in from column C, and there's your weapon name:








Magnets are fun... and the economy that results from easy swaps is undeniable.

Five missile-launcher equipped MKIV Marines add some flexible firepower...

...while a lascannon squad adds some vehicle-killing capacity.

The Typhon Siege Tank is another key addition to the Iron Warriors contingent.

Assembly was mostly straightforward. The sponson lascannons were a bit tricky but still went together OK.

Decal is from the Iron Warriors transfer set with an added numeral.

The Typhon is a mighty chunk of resin for sure! The main gun itself is ridiculous, but cool-ridiculous, if you know what I mean.

Tracks are ready to roll over the enemies of the Emperor Warmaster!

Of course, all new models acquitted themselves admirably as detailed in the battle report!