Readers of my Volley & Bayonet blog will have already read of my 6mm Hundred Days Campaign project. A project that really started a year ago when, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, I decided I needed to make the most of the time at home.
Now previously I have played all four of the major battles that mark the Hundred Days Campaign. However, searching through my lead mountain which had been bolstered by miniatures purchased second hand, it occurred to me that I could field all the French to allow me to refight the battles of Waterloo and Wavre on a single long table.
In February I completed the French, and they along with the project, are outlined in a previous post that can be found here.
Last week, around a year after I started, the next part of the project is all but complete. Specifically the Anglo-Allied army under Wellington. A colourful collection of regiments drawn from various national contingents the army is certainly diverse. For those interested a few photos of the miniatures, along with a short description, can be found here.
A couple of months ago one of my opponents turned up at our regular gaming evening with a newspaper clipping from the 1970s. The article was of course about our gaming in our younger days, we both were wargaming together in that decade and still do. The article formed part of our drive to recruit new members our fledgling local wargaming club. Clearly we convinced a local reporter to do a small article, possibly not to hard as I recall the reporter was himself interested in military history and modelling. Anyway, many years later the article proved both entertaining and kicked of some reminiscing of wargaming from the past.
Like many readers my interest in military history and wargaming started many years ago when I was at school. Now in small town New Zealand wargaming books were not to be found in local bookstores. However, the local library proved to be a wonderful source of inspiration. Almost on continual loan were the books by Featherstone and Grant, and as you can imagine they proved indispensable.
In those days Airfix plastics were a major part of my gaming. Plastic Churchill and Sherman tanks, supported by infantry of course, advancing across battlefields were engaged by Tigers and Panthers. These Germans were tricky opponents, but a Matchbox Sherman Firefly could even the battle. As to rules, well we used “Battle! Practical Wargaming” by Charles Grant for a number of years.
The book seemed to cover everything that was needed. There were the critical play aides like the “cones of fire” so important to the game, as well as the deflection protractors needed to determine the angle of fire. Then of course there were the battle reports. Outlining the concept of a scenario, which was all new to me at the time, they also provided that much need instruction on the rules in action. Lastly, and certainly not least, were the inspirational photos. Stirring stuff indeed.
In time our World War II games were supplemented by battles from the Ancient period. Now, our Airfix Ancient Britons complete with chariots, with solid wheels of course, engaged Romans in dramatic games. Next, at least for me, was the American Civil War. I recall having painted many ACW figures in my younger days, though in reality I suspect the number was far fewer than I now recollect. Such are the tricks time plays on us.
Soon my plastic warriors began to be supplemented by metal. Initially World War II naval in 1/4800th. This was expanded with orders to the United Kingdom for World War II and Cold War forces in 1/300th. Though I recall being sidetracked by Ancient naval at one point.
The 70’s were clearly vibrant times and today carry a degree of nostalgia, even if some of the detail is lost. I wonder how many readers can recall similar experiences in their early days of wargaming?
More recently, and clearly inspired by the newspaper article, I decided to keep an eye on the local secondhand book market. So began what I will call “Operation Nostalgia”. In an occasional series on Twitter I will explore a few of these books, as well as other aspects of my early wargaming. If you are interested keep an eye out for these posts. You can find them under “Odd Ramblings & Short Game Summaries” on the right, or alternatively follow me Twitter @Thewargamesroom
I hope the series brings back some memories for you and perhaps encourages you to share some of your own.
Over the last year I count myself fortunate to have been able to safely enjoy the company of others around the gaming table. Over the year our regular multiplayer games using Volley & Bayonet have involved our Napoleonic, American Civil War or Franco-Prussian War armies. All have provided plenty of enjoyment.
I’m also aware that my Seven Years War miniatures have not been deployed for around a year. Our current forces are relatively limited and therefore not suited to a multiplayer format. However, this week my Austrians were able to face my opponents Prussians in what was a fascinating game involving one player aside.
I am continually reminded how different the battles of the various periods play using Volley & Bayonet. This latest battle being testament to the more deliberate Seven Years War battle, especially when using infantry. This of course is a result of the simple but subtle period specific rules.
For those interested a short report of our latest Seven Years War action, with Field Marshal von Daun continuing his campaign against Frederick the Great, can be found here.
Of course with the year coming to an end it’s time for reflections. Ancient and Medieval gaming is something of staple for me with games played mostly in our Tuesday gaming slot. I use the De Bellis Antiquitatis, more commonly known as DBA. Over the year all manner of games have been played utilising a range of armies,. Yes, I’m fortunate to live in New Zealand where COVID-19 is currently eradicated in the community, but for a couple of months earlier in the year games had to be played remotely.
That said these days I don’t generally post long reports of games, time being something of a premium. Instead they tend to be summarised by a few photos on Twitter. However, last Tuesday’s game involved a couple of armies which haven’t been out for a while. In particular a couple couple of games using chariots. As a result I felt it required a little more focus. If you are interested a short summary of last week’s games can be found here.
The rest of this year’s DBA games have utilised a range of armies. A good number have been Punic Wars engagements interspersed with various battles between Rome and the Seleucids. One of my favourites however was a series between Rome and the Gauls, played remotely, which covered the campaigns of Gracchus, Flaccus & Maximus in Cisalpine Gaul.
In addition there have been a good number of Medieval engagements. While most have involved European armies we have also looked to the east. These include regular encounters in the Sengoku Jidai Period and even some campaigning in Sumatra. Finally, in a far flung corner of the world, and certainly far from Europe, we have managed some Maori inter-iwi clashes including as Te Kawau Strikes North.
All up a most enjoyable year of Ancient and Medieval gaming, despite the year being defined by the pandemic. While I’m sure I will manage some additional DBA games before New Year’s Eve – assuming their isn’t another breach of our border quarantine systems. Either way I find myself contemplating further classical texts to be read, future games to be played and of course additional armies to be built. I think that’s a good measure of success.
In recent weeks I’ve been focussing on some rebasing of miniatures. While rebasing isn’t as glamorous as seeing new miniatures roll off the production line I’m convinced spending time on basing quickly pays dividends. Likewise I feel investing time on terrain improves the visuals of the game.
One of my current gaming projects is to refight the Battle of Franklin using my 6mm miniatures. This American Civil War battle was fought in 1864 and is just south of Nashville, Tennessee. It’s long interested me and I had the pleasure of visiting the battlefield in 2018. I still need to post a few photos of my visit, but I shall leave that for another day.
Anyway, to refight Franklin I need some railway track. Finally this week I found time to complete this project. The track is from Irregular Miniatures and comes in 50mm lengths. I’ve always been impressed with much of Irregular’s terrain and use a selection of their range on my table. Specifically trees, fences, walls and field defences. Like the other items I think the railway track paints up well.
I have used a black undercoat to which I’ve dry brushed grey to represent ballast. Then the track sleepers are picked out with a faded brown for contrast. The tracks themselves are painted with Vallejo “Oiley Steel” before applying a matt varnish.
The final step was the selected application of a fine Woodland Scenic flock as used on my basing. This is locked in place with two applications of Woodland Scenics flock cement. I expressly didn’t apply a long line of flock. Instead sections of flock are used to break up the track edge and blend it with the basing used on the miniatures themselves.
Of course the track is useful for other battles. For the American Civil War Fredericksburg and Corinth spring to mind. But equally it will be useful for the Franco-Prussian War and of course 20th Century battlefields. With this in mind I’ve painted around 2.3m of track.
As to other items illustrated, the trees and split rail fences are from Irregular Miniatures while the buildings are from Timecast. The miniatures are of course all from Heroics & Ros.