On Parade: Napoleonic French carts, camps and cantinières

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A French army on the march always had a long tail of camp followers. There were the wives and children of soldiers following their spouse or parent’s army from place to place. You would also find the many informal army service providers, selling goods or services that the military did not supply—cooking, laundering, liquor, nursing, sexual services and sutlery. And of course there were the ne’er-do-well soldiers, stragglers and walking wounded.

This latest instalment in my ‘On Parade‘ series shows the mini-dioramas that represent the camp followers of my French army. These are intended to add visual interest to the miniature battlefield, and would seldom take part in anything other than scenario-driven skirmish games.

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A well-laden supply wagon trails the French army on the march. This is the Perry Miniatures model, sculpted full of baggage and even including an overflowing rack at the rear. The model can be assembled either with or without the canvas tilt cover. I’ve just left it unglued, so I can choose whether the wagon will be covered or not.

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The wagon is driven by a soldier wearing a shako and greatcoat. He is giving a lift to a cantinière in the passenger seat. I’ve just blu-tacked these figures on so that I can remove them if I want to use the wagon for other periods. In this picture you can also see some of the Perry Miniatures civilians set.

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Speaking of cantinières, besides the one hitching a ride on the wagon, I’ve got another two. The one on the left is from Foundry, whilst Warlord Games make the running cantinière. The latter’s donkey is tied to a convenient rail, and is even carrying a bunch of daffodils in its pannier!

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This French campsite scene looks great placed as a decorative vignette on the table-top. The chap in a brown greatcoat looks like he’s returning to his campfire after finishing his turn of sentry duty. These figures all come from a set by Wargames Foundry.

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The New Zealand company Wildly Inspired make a nice line of pack horses and donkeys. In this vignette two horses are being led by a Redoubt Miniatures recruit, or ‘Marie-Louise’ as the recruits were nick-named. He wears an over-large greatcoat with a rope belt, patched trousers, fatigue cap, and wooden clogs. His musket strap is made out of string.

At the right is a rather relaxed looking Foundry infantryman with two pack donkeys. One of the donkeys is carrying a body in a bag—there must be a great story lurking behind this model to drive a scenario-based skirmish game!

Visit my previous ‘On Parade’ postings:

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My Napoleonic British army on parade

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I’ve been wargaming since the 1990s, and during that time have amassed many miniatures across a range of periods. However, I’ve never really catalogued them all, and some of them haven’t seen the light of day for many a year. So I’ve decided that over the next few weeks I’m going to parade each army for inspection, and take stock of what I’ve got.

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From 2003 to about 2009 I collected a British army of the Napoleonic period. It hasn’t seen very much wargaming action since then, so I thought this might be a good army to start my inspection tour.

The commanders

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Of course, every army has to have a commander. And if you’re playing British, why not go to the very top – the Duke of Wellington himself. This is a lovely set produced by Wargames Foundry.

Circling clockwise from the instantly recognisable Duke himself, you can also see Captain von Streerwitz (2nd King’s German Legion Hussars, and aide-de-camp to Uxbridge);  Lt-General Sir Thomas Picton (wearing civilian clothing as he did at Waterloo); Lt-General Sir Rowland Hill; an ADC on foot; and in the foreground, Lt-General the Earl of Uxbridge, who lost his leg at Waterloo.

I obviously didn’t know much about painting horses’ eyes back then! In fact, the way I used to paint eyes on human figures at that time ended up with them looking like Thunderbirds puppets. Nowadays I just hint at eyes with some dark ink.

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Also in the Wargames Foundry set are these four figures depicting a helmeted Dragoon Guards officer; Major-General Sir James Kempt; Major-General Sir Denis Pack; and Adjutant-General Sir Edward Barnes.

I painted this set in April 2003, using a simple block painting technique with very little attempt at shading or highlighting. I think this clean style actually stands the test of time surprisingly well (apart from those googly eyes!).

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Here are some more command figures from my army – General Robert Crauford and a mounted officer of the 42nd Black Watch. These are produced by Front Rank Miniatures, whose figures are a painter’s dream, with clean surfaces and crisp detailing.

I always did wonder a bit about that pose of using a telescope one-handed. I would’ve thought that would make the view very shakey!

The infantry

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One of the pleasures of collecting a British army are those resplendent red coats worn by most of the infantry.

This picture also shows how I break each infantry unit into six bases. Regular infantry have about four figures per base, whilst light troops are represented by only two figures per base.

In many rules the number of model figures per base doesn’t actually matter, as casualties are recorded by a set number of hits required to remove a base, rather than counting and removing actual figures.

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The other pleasure of a British army are the huge and stately colours (flags) carried by each battalion. GMB Designs produce exquisite paper flags that really set off this army.

Note that I make my flags wave by curling them diagonally, rather than vertically like many other wargamers do. The diagonal fold gives them a more realistic draping effect.

The smaller Union flag held by the chap in the middle of the photo is actually cast onto this metal Warlord Games figure, and had to be painted by hand.

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When I started my British army, I had a vague idea that instead of following any real-life order-of-battle, my force would represent the series of fictional ‘Sharpe’ novels by Bernard Cornwell. So these Front Rank 95th Rifles are led by Richard Sharpe himself (left), accompanied by his faithful Sergeant Patrick Harper (centre). Both figures were made by Chiltern Miniatures (now defunct, but possibly available from SHQ Miniatures).

The prone figure on the right isn’t a casualty, but a rifleman aiming his Baker rifle whilst lying on his back.

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The 44th East Essex was the very first British unit I painted. Again, I had in mind the Sharpe novels and was planning on giving this yellow-faced unit an alternative flag for the fictional South Essex Regiment from the books – though I never got round to doing this in the end.

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This is one of my favourite units, the 42nd Black Watch. These are once again Front Rank figures.

The individually based officer is a later addition to the unit. He’s a so-called ‘big man’ required for driving the action in the Sharp Practice rules for small-scale engagements. You’ll see that several of my units have had such single figures added.

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The challenge with painting Scots, of course, are those fiddly kilts. I’m really pleased how these came out, giving a nice impression of the Government tartan worn by the Black Watch.

Since painting this unit many years ago, I’ve tried painting other figures wearing kilts, but have never again succeeded  as well as I did with this unit. It’s odd how sometimes one’s painting skills seem to decrease with experience, rather than the other way round!

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And here’s yet another photo of my favourite unit, with the bagpiper leading the way. Note that the piper’s tartan is a different colour from the soldiers – this was actually the case in the 42nd.

Those criss-cross stripey stockings were also a challenge to paint!

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Besides my five line infantry battalions, I’ve got a couple of units of light infantry, which (as mentioned above) only have two figures per base to represent skirmish order.

My light infantry don’t carry colours, and the figures are posed much more haphazardly in various stages of loading and firing.

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Here’s a close-up where you can see a couple of my light infantry ‘big men’ for Sharp Practice, in this case a bugler in a yellow jacket, and an officer with the typical metallic epaulettes of the light infantry.

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A sergeant with his private pack-donkey, no doubt carting some illicit loot away from the battle. Yeah, I know, my donkey looks more like a large dog giving his master a baleful sideways look!

The cavalry

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The most flamboyant figures in any Napoleonic army were the hussars, and the British were no exception.

I chose to paint these Front Rank figures as the 10th (Prince of Wale’s Own) Hussars. The reason for choosing this particular regiment was simply because I recalled as a teenager assembling and painting a 54mm Airfix 10th Hussar plastic kitset!

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Hussars are rather difficult to paint, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the panache they bring to the table!

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Much more sombre light cavalry than the hussars are these light dragoons.  They’re wearing an early uniform with the Tarleton helmet – in the latter parts of the Napoleonic Wars they wore shakos.

On the right is another of my command bases, showing a mounted messenger handing orders to a light dragoon officer in the later uniform.

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Now for the heavies! These dragoons are once again wearing an earlier uniform, rather than the later uniform with the classical-style helmets.

My horses, by the way, are all painted with oil paints. I paint the entire horse with a light highlight colour, wait for it to dry, then paint it with a darker colour and immediately wipe it off with a clean cloth so the highlight colour shows through.

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This photo is somewhat reminiscent of the famous painting ‘Scotland Forever!’ by Lady Butler, depicting the charge of the Royal North British Dragoons (or Scots Greys) at Waterloo. In reality the Scots Greys didn’t charge at the gallop due to the broken ground, and instead advanced at a quick walk – though nevertheless they did capture the eagle of the 45e Régiment de Ligne.

By the way, the Scots Greys didn’t get their nickname from their grey horses, but from an earlier grey uniform they wore in the 17th century.

The artillery

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The artillery gives some heavy firepower to my British army.  Unlike the redcoat infantry, the Royal Artillery wore blue uniforms.  These figures and guns are once again from the ubiquitous Front Rank.

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The Royal Horse Artillery wore a snazzier uniform than their foot artillery compatriots. The Tarleton helmet looks impressive, but I wonder how practical it was to keep on in the heat of loading and firing the guns.

Again I’ve got a ‘big man’ for this unit, whose flamboyant uniform is very hussar-like with its golden frogging and fur-lined pelisse.

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I only have one limber for my artillery. I’d love to have one for each gun, but with all the equipment and horses, limber models are just so expensive, not to mention time-consuming to paint and put together!

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Part of the fun of wargaming with a British army is the ability to deploy rockets, as shown here with the 2nd Rocket Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery. These models I think were from Old Glory Miniatures.

The Congreve rocket was a fearsome albeit unpredictable weapon. Different wargames rules replicate their sporadic accuracy in various ways, that can even include an out-of-control rocket endangering its own side!

The navy

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Along with Sharpe, another popular fictional character from this period is Horatio Hornblower. So adding a naval landing party to my British forces was a must!

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The sailors are from Wargames Foundry. They’re wearing a variety of clothing, and armed with a motley range of weapons.

The two individually-based ‘big men’ are by Brigade Games Miniatures. The naval officer at the left represents Hornblower himself.

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The sailors are accompanied by a party of Royal Marines. These figures are (I think) by Britannia Miniatures.

The ‘big man’ is a Wargames Foundry figure, and is one of my favourite figures in the whole army – I really like his pose and natty uniform.

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Of course, a naval landing party has to have a boat to row them ashore. This impressive model is by Britannia Miniatures.

Like the artillery limbers, it is an expensive luxury, as boats most likely won’t play an active part in a game. But as a model it is irresistible!

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So that’s it – my entire British army, mostly painted between 2003 and about 2009. Keep watching for my next inspection parade of another army from my collection.

  • See the next inspection parade: Spanish

 

Bolt Action: Spahis and Foreign Legion vs Germans

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Last night I pitched my WW2 Free French against Scott Bowman’s Germans in a 600+ point game of Bolt ActionScott, of course, is famous as being the owner of the Hobby Corner – probably the only pharmacy in the world that stocks wargaming models and paints!

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The above mid-game shot shows Scott in action, closely watched by his son. As you can see, he has a large wargames room with three tables. He’s now even adding two more tables in the adjacent garage. A great venue for gaming nights!

The board loosely represented a cultivated area somewhere in the Middle East. Actually, it was just the table still set up after Scott’s last game, but with his pine trees replaced with palms, and a European cottage with a Middle Eastern house. So vaguely Syria or Lebanon or somewhere like that …

My objective for the game was to hang onto the cornfield and the adjacent piece of road situated in the middle of the table. We delineated the actual objective area with some miscellaneous crates and oil-drums. Scott’s objective, of course, was to seize this area.

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Before the game started, I was allowed to emplace two units on the objective – I chose a Foreign Legion infantry unit and a 75mm howitzer (you can just see the latter in the distance in the above picture). I would then bring the remainder of my forces onto the table as reinforcements over the next two turns.

My first reinforcement to arrive was this Dodge Tanake truck, which careered in to take hold of the crossroads on the right flank. As it screeched to a stop, the Tanake’s gunners spotted a German sniper team hidden in the undergrowth, and let fly – no more sniper team! Unfortunately they couldn’t also hit a nearby forward mortar  observer, which was to prove disastrous later in the game.

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At the other end of the table, my white-capped Foreign Legionnaires rushed from the objective area, scattering livestock as they raced the Germans to be the first to occupy a ruined building that could otherwise have threatened the French left flank.

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Having taken the ruined building and survived the German unit’s return fire, in the next turn the Legionnaires launched an all-out charge against their enemy. Luck favoured the bold, and the German unit was eliminated after two rounds of vicious fighting – though in doing so the brave Legionnaires lost half their number.

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Meanwhile, back at the crossroads on the French right flank the action was also hotting up.  A German command car (a captured Jeep) had rushed up the road to threaten another unit of Legionnaires who had just arrived as my second reinforcements. But it was a move too far for the Jeep, which was quickly hit and destroyed.

The red plastic marker is a clever device that indicates a unit is pinned down by enemy fire. You can turn a dial on the base to show how many pins it represents (the more pins a unit suffers, the harder it is to get it to obey orders). Whilst these markers are indeed clever, I do think they look artificial and so detract from the overall look of the game – I would perhaps disguise them with some cottonwool smoke.

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Another view of the burning Jeep. Scott’s smoke even contained a little candle-light flickering away to create dramatic effect! In the distance, the French 75mm gun in the objective area was still hammering away unsuccessfully at some German units located on that hillock on the horizon.

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Now the Germans brought on their own anti-tank gun to threaten the crossroads. It aimed a potshot at the Dodge Tanake. Luckily the driver spotted the threat. He quickly graunched into reverse gear, and, engine screaming,  the Tanake accelerated backwards around the corner and out of danger. Whew!

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The second unit of Legionnaires also turned at the crossroads and followed the reversing Tanake towards the objective area. I had just remembered I would lose the game if I left the objective unoccupied through becoming distracted into firefights on other parts of the table. The rules state that the objective can only be claimed by infantry, not vehicles.

Meanwhile, the 75mm howitzer carried on banging away ineffectively, having already lost a crew member from a hidden German mortar fire (remember that pesky spotter the Tanake hadn’t been able to eliminate earlier in the game?!).

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Sacre bleu!  Disaster as my howitzer gets destroyed by another direct hit from that German mortar!

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On the left flank, my newly-painted Conus auto-canon finally made its gaming debut, its Moroccan Spahi crew distinctive in their red sidecaps. The Heath Robinson-ish contraption accelerated up the road to reinforce my men at the objective area.

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Remember that first unit of Legionnaires we last saw as they charged and destroyed an enemy infantry unit at the ruined house? Well, off they go again, this time charging a German machine gun nest. Once more luck was on their side, and the machine gun crew was wiped out.

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The French began to converge on the objective area. There had been a moment of panic earlier when that blasted mortar got a direct hit on a unit of Legionnaires who had been sheltering behind the Tanake, killing them all.

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But once the French commander and his small team arrived, along with the Conus, they quickly regained control of the situation.

All guns now bore on the only remaining German infantry squad hidden behind the stone wall in the distance. There was no way they could stand so much fire, and when the German squad was eliminated, Scott reached over the table to shake my hand and concede the game.

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Let’s finish with another quick look at my two rather curious vehicles. Firstly, here is the Dodge Tanake by Perry Miniatures. During the war, approximately ten Dodge trucks were armoured and armed with 37mm anti-tank guns and a couple of M24/29 light machine guns. They were used by the French, Vichy French, Free French and Syrian forces.

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And now my latest model – the Conus, also by Perry Miniatures. The Moroccan Spahis used these Conus guns, which were CMP 30cwt trucks with a 75mm M1897 gun mounted on a turret race taken from a captured Italian M13/40 tank. The idea was proposed by a Lt. Conus, hence the name. Twelve Conus guns made up the 3rd Squadron of the Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains.

Settlers, samurai, a standard and a Shorland

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It’s been fairly quiet on the gaming front at the moment, but not entirely without some output.  I’m working on some Empress Miniatures figures from their colonial New Zealand Wars range, including these four colonists defending their homestead, and the three gunners to man a Maori cannon.

I also have the last banner-man for my Kingsford Miniatures Japanese samurai to find a suitable flag design for.  Something nondescript, as he is not really required for either of my samurai clan armies, so will be just a decorative figure.

The Napoleonic British standard bearer in the background is a Warlord figure that came with a set of Black Powder rules.  He comes with a cast-on flag, which (like the samurai flag) has been quite a challenge to paint, because I’m more used to GMB Design’s exquisite printed paper flags.

Finally, I recently dug out a miniature resin model of a Dutch police Shorland armoured car, which I made a decade or so ago in my previous hobby of collecting model police vehicles (before I became a wargamer). From memory, the manufacturer was called something like Transports of Delight.  I can’t see any particular gaming purpose for this model, but I just  love the shape of the Shorland, based as it was on the common-or-garden Landrover.

An Antipodean view of SELWG

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When this official photograph was being taken of the winning game at the recent SELWG (South East London Wargames Group) wargames show at Crystal Palace in London, little did the guys know that the chap standing alongside the official photographer and sneaking some distinctly unofficial shots with his little camera was probably the furthest travelled visitor to the show.

The following article and pictures portray the impressions of the show from that far-flung visitor.  As such, you’ll probably find this posting displays a rather naive wide-eyed enthusiasm of an Antipodean abroad, in contrast with more restrained reviews from British gamers for whom attending such shows is almost just a routine part of the hobby.

This report might also be one of the most delayed, as it is already nearly a month since SELWG took place. But the posting had to wait until I finished my holiday and got back home to New Zealand.  I’m hoping people will still find this article of interest, as it is from the point of view of someone who has never before attended a big wargames show.

Getting there

I had flown from New Zealand with my wife and daughter for a five week holiday in the UK and Europe.  I had always yearned to visit a big show such as Salute or SELWG. So finding that I would be in Rye, less than a couple of hours away from the SELWG venue, meant that I just had to more heaven and earth to ensure no family events got in the way of my being able to attend.

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Luckily my evil plan succeeded, and I duly received a ‘day leave pass’ from my family!  I had initially planned to take the train from Rye to London. But then a few days prior to the event  I thought of asking online to see if there were any UK gamers who would be driving up from somewhere close to Rye, and whom I could join for the trip. My reasoning for this was to a) not get lost; b) have a chance to chat with some fellow gamers during the drive; and c) have some company during the event itself.

In the end this worked out better than I could ever have expected. Robert contacted me and offered not only to get me to the show without losing my way, but also invited me to accompany him to a restaurant afterwards for a meal with some well-known faces of the hobby.

First impressions

The day was rainy, but that wasn’t a problem for an indoor event, other than a bit of a soaking during our walk from the carpark to the Crystal Palace sports centre. Inside, once the fug of soaked raincoats had dissipated and the spots of rain on my glasses had cleared, the weather outside was easily ignored.

My first view of the event took my breath away. The huge sports hall was filled with colourful game tables, and surrounded by two levels of trade stands. And what a mass of people – I’d never seen so many wargaming enthusiasts gathered in one place. Who would ever have believed that there were so many people interested in my rather odd hobby of moving little toy soldiers around on a tabletop?

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Buying and selling

I decided to begin at the bring-and-buy, thinking that if there was anything interesting there, I should get in fast. But unfortunately all those other wargaming enthusiasts seemed to have exactly the same idea. So I experienced my first-ever bring and buy scrum, with the tables packed three to four rows back. The end result was that if there had actually been anything of interest to me on the table, it was well-gone by the time I managed to fight my way through the ruck.

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My next port of call was a quick round of the trade stands to see who was there, and in particular to see if I could meet in person some of the traders I had only ever dealt with online from New Zealand.

I quickly found one of my favourite suppliers – Empress Miniatures, who produce the wonderful figures I use for my colonial New Zealand Wars armies. It was great to chat with them, and especially to learn that there will be some new releases in this range next year.

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As a wide-eyed Antipodean, it was fantastic to wander round all the stalls and see in real-life all those miniatures that I had only ever seen as photos in magazines or online. The hall was a huge cornucopia of every type of figure and piece of terrain I could imagine.

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Despite what looked to me like every trader under the sun, I learned there were actually several big names who were absent.  For example, I would’ve dearly loved to meet up with Front Rank Miniatures, whose figures are the mainstay of several of my armies – but sadly they weren’t at SELWG this year.

In a remarkably restrained manner, I bought only one thing all day (a small resin sampan for my latest samurai project). But before traders get upset at wasting their time at shows for such measly purchases, I must add that I took note of quite a few items I’ll probably be buying through mail-order once my current project is completed.

Meeting fellow gamers

Another thing I was really keen to do was to meet up with some of my fellow wargamers whom I had only even known from the online word.  To help them recognise me, I wore my Kapiti Fusiliers name-badge, clearly emblazoned with my name ‘ROLY’.

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This didn’t quite work as well as I hoped, partly because most of my online wargaming friends know me more as my nickname Arteis, and partly because most people assumed the name-badge meant I was just a trader.

So it was up to me to go up to people I suspected I might know (which for some puzzled gamers, will account for the rather pushy New Zealander accosting them at their games).  With so many people at SELWG, in the end I wasn’t too successful meeting up with people by this cold call strategy, and so didn’t find too many I knew (though I heard later there were plenty enough of my friends there, if only I had recognised them).  

One meeting that did succeed, however, came down to my Dutch heritage.  At one point my ears pricked up to hear some Flemish being spoken behind me (almost the same language to the untrained ear), and so I turned round and introduced myself with a ‘Goede dag!’ – and so was very pleased to meet up with a couple of the guys from Antwerp.  

And of course, the games!

The other anticipated excitement of the day was to view all those luscious games, and I was not disappointed. Every period I could think of was covered in one scale or another – except sadly my current obsession with samurai, which was surprising considering the excitement at the moment about the new ‘Ronin’ rules.  Though this was partly assuaged by some magnificent large-scale samurai figures on a painting demonstration table.

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Most of the games were fabulous, and the painting and terrain were simply superb. But I did note a lack in using the third dimension (height). Photos I’ve seen of previous shows depict dramatic games set on mountains, hills, tall buildings and other high terrain. The time and effort involved in producing such lofty terrain means they tend not to occur in normal club gaming (in my experience, anyway), and so are usually only seen at big shows like this.  But with only a few exceptions, the games at this SELWG were pretty flat, and none at all blew me away with any exciting use of the height dimension.

But apart from that minor disappointment (which, after all, was only my opinion), the games were otherwise stunning. And not only with their terrain and figures. I also noticed the lengths to which some clubs went to give their games period character, such as using appropriate props to decorate the sides of their table, or by judicious wearing of uniform items.

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Also evident was the readiness of the players to engage in conversation with bystanders, rather than being too engrossed in their own gaming. It was fun to chat with quite a few of the players, especially where the rules were a bit out of ordinary.

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An aftershow treat

The hours sped by very quickly, and all too soon it seemed it was time to leave this bulging palace of wargaming treasures. But the excitement of the day was not yet finished. My host’s offer of a dinner out with some of the luminaries in the hobby came true, and I was soon chatting over a yummy meal with a friendly group of people I had only ever seen in the wargames magazine world. I had to pinch myself to find myself dining with the likes of Mike Siggins and Bill Gaskin …

And so that was it – SELWG! As I mentioned at the start, some of the local reviews of SELWG seem to regard it as a commonplace event. But I urge UK wargamers to never take such events for granted. Remember that for many of us, these big shows can only be a wishful dream. It is just a lucky few of we Antipodeans (and other such far-flung gamers) who can ever attend a big UK show in real life, as I had the pleasure to do.

Many thanks to my host Robert; to my dinner companions Mike, Bill and his charming wife; and to all the wonderful people I met during the day, who all made SELWG so memorable for this wide-eyed Antipodean visitor.

More pics of the games

Let’s take a closer look at some of the games that particularly caught my eye.  Don’t forget to click on the pics to enlarge them and see all that lavish detail.

Southend Wargames Club won the show with their depiction of the War of 1812 Battle of Cryslers Farm.  This was one of the few games at SELWG that I felt made some use of the third dimension, height.

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Here’s one of my favourite games of the show – and I’m not even usually a fan of WW2 (though to be exact this is a post-war game – just!). It is the Deal Wargames Club’s rendition of the Russian attack on the Japanese-held Shumsu Island.

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The South East Essex Military Society (SEEMS) put on a War of the Spanish Succession game as their ‘Tabletop Teasers on Tour’ display.

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A deceptively simple-looking table, but one that nevertheless caught my eye, was the Maidstone Wargames Society participation game called ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Floating Machines’. The idea was that smugglers in balloons had to get their contraband to the British coast, pursued by other smugglers and the local constabulary (or rozzers).

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The Shepway Wargames Club put on a very nicely-done game of the Battle of Nobovidy, 1422. The snowy terrain was particularly well-done.

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Loughton Strike Force used the Panzergrenadier Deluxe rules to play their eye-catching WW2 Kursk game, the Attack on Ponyri.

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Ancients are not normally my thing, but who could resist Simon Miller’s magnificent depiction of the Battle of Thapsus, 46BC?

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Finally, here’s a look at an early WW1 game called Crush the Kaiser. It included something often missed in wargames, namely the effect of the civilian populace – something to make us remember that playing wargames is (thankfully) a great deal different from making war.

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Tally ho! ‘Albion Triumphant’ on pre-order!

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I haven’t done anything Napoleonic for some time now, neither gaming nor painting, despite having a cabinet full of French, British, Spanish, Portuguese and German troops.

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However, having just pre-ordered a copy of the new Albion Triumphant  supplement for Warlord Games’ Black Powder rules, that may hopefully change.

Well, I hope so, anyway.  I must say I generally find Napoleonic gaming very fiddly compared to earlier horse-and-musket gaming, what with having to worry about skirmishers, more formation variants, etc.  So we’ll see!

Albion 2The Albion Triumphant supplement covers the Flanders and Peninsular campaigns in the Napoleonic Wars (the vast bulk of the book focusing on the conflict in the Iberian Peninsula).

Some people on TMP have questioned the pro-British stance of the title.  But I think Black Powder is known for its whimsical and tongue-in-cheek “Haw! Haw! ‘pon my whiskers, tally ho and all that” old-fashioned British gentlemen’s club writing style.

So in my view, this supplement’s title Albion Triumphant fits that style perfectly.

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The free figure that comes with the rules will immediately jump to the front of the queue.  I don’t actually have any Foot Guards in my army. But who cares?  This is going to be such a nice figure as a one-figure diorama to dress the table.

And besides Albion Triumphant, he’ll also do nicely as a ‘Big Man’ for the Too Fat Lardies’ Sharp Practice large skirmish rules.

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Why does my painting look so terrible in photos?

I’ve noticed for a while now that when I photograph my figures, they look terrible.  The detail looks like it was painted on by a real ham-fist, the shading is blotchy, and the overall job looks messy.  This despite my being very happy with the actual figures in real life.   To the naked eye they look more than adequate.  But photograph them, and they look terrible.

I’d like to blame my camera, but I strongly suspect it is more to do with my increasingly impressionistic way of painting.  I do find it harder these days to see the detail  as I’m painting.   While I’ve never been as clean and crisp a painter as many of those featured on websites such as the Steve Dean forum,  I’m sure in the past my figures didn’t come out as bad in photographs.

A case in point is my latest work – a Warlord Games 28mm French vivandiere for my Sharp Practice gaming.

Here she is in all her un-glory:

Now compare her with a similar Foundry figure I painted several years ago.  Still not a painting competition winner, but definitely much tidier than my latest work.

One thing I have noticed is that my shading of the apron on my latest figure is a total disaster, so I’ll do that again.  I’ll also try to deliniate the frogging on the tunic a bit more (even though it looks fine to the naked eye).

I noticed the same decrease in painting quality in the picture of my latest naval officer and an older marine officer in my posting the other day.