June 24, 2016

New Lenses for my Camera

Ok, I couldn't resist. I wasn't going to post any more photos, but I got a couple new lenses (birthday present from my cats - they are very generous) for my camera and took a pile of pics getting used to them. It seemed a shame to let them go to waste!

The Pennyburn Mill

Just some of the defenders of Derry (ironically the attackers in this game)

An Irish bog

A pleasant morning on the Foyle

A quick note on the last photo... there was no naval support in the historical attack on the Pennyburn Mill, but there were encounters on the River Foyle during the siege. I wanted to add another element to the wargame and take advantage of some of the new rules we will present in the upcoming scenario book (yes, it IS coming...). The Kestrel will be armed with a pair of light naval guns to give a bit of artillery cover to the Derry assault, though the range will be limited to about half of the table.

I suppose mentioning the new lens above, someone who cares about such things is probably shouting at their computer, "What was the lens?" I've had a Canon Rebel XSI for about ten years now and always used the 18-55mm lens that came with the kit. It's been a great unit and I've mastered the art of taking shots of single models, individual units, and relatively close action shots. What I've always struggled with is long shots with sharp focus across the entire depth of field. I also have to set up a very complicated light array in my game room to get photos with enough light to stop the camera from needing overlong exposure and often resulting in blurred shots.

Without going into a pile of technical detail, which I don't really know all that well anyway, the shots above were taken with an EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. It is ridiculously cheap for a camera lens (I think it was $100). It only has a single level of zoom fixed at 50mm, so you need to move the camera around to compose your shot, but that's not much of an issue with miniature photography. All of the shots above lack any post production on the computer except for a small amount of color correction with a cool filter to remove a bit yellow caused by the light from the room. I could have corrected that by setting the white balance on the camera, but I didn't bother for these. They probably could have used a bit of post, but that wasn't the point of the exercise. No complicated lighting (only the overhead of the room and a window), sharp focus all the way across the shot, and almost zero post production - very happy with this lens!

I'll talk about my other new lens, a Canon 10-18mm at some future time, but it also has great capacity for shooting under less than ideal light conditions. I'll still be carrying my original too, but now I will give the illusion of being much more professional as I pretend to carefully consider the correct lens for the shot!

Ok, that really is it. There will probably still be a few pics for units I haven't shown yet and maybe another post on the game in general as the time draws near.

June 18, 2016

More Uniform Guides - The Siege of Derry

Following on the heels of the well received Uniform Guides for the Battle of the Boyne, we are happy to announce the next series - The Siege of Derry!

D01 - The Jacobite Infantry of the Siege of Derry
D02 - The Jacobite Cavalry and Artillery of the Siege of Derry
D03 - The Defenders of Derry
D04 - The Battle of Pennyburn Mill
D05 - The Battle of Windmill Hill

There is more text in this series to cover the how's and why's of the decisions we made, as well as a bit more about some of the battles that took place around the walls during several months of fighting. It was challenging because even contemporary sources disagree or contain likely embellishments (in the famous George Walker text, he manages to be at the pivotal point of every engagement). Information was culled from a dozen different sources and Barry tried to drive me mad with revisions (I kid you not... the published document of The Battle of Pennyburn Mill was version 10 and we did a final edit after that) so we are confidant that you won't find a more comprehensive guide.

The PDF's are available individually or as a set on the League of Augsburg shop. You can download a free sample from the Boyne series here.

Here are pics of the copies I printed...

I printed the uniform plates on glossy photo paper and the text pages on quality bond paper. They are inserted into 3-hole punched plastic sleeves and placed in a binder. Now, I'm fussy about such things and it bugged me that the sleeves with only bond paper felt flimsy next to any with a sheet of photo paper. To 'fix' this I placed blank sheets of card stock in those to bulk them up. Yes, well, it made me feel better...

... and no, those cover images aren't available at this time. Just use your favorite image for now. I made them for my binders because... well, see the paragraph above. It's an illness. The spines even have titles!

There are more guides on the way, though I doubt we'll have the time to release anything until after Historicon.

June 14, 2016

Historicon 2016

Only a month to go! Here are the last two brigadiers needed for our game at Historicon...

Captain Adam Murray of Derry...

General Maumont, French general in the employ of the Jacobites...

Like most of the models in this period, these gentlemen may serve for many different characters in the future...

May 30, 2016

Historicon 2016

Work is winding down on preparations for our Historicon game. I still have two squadrons to paint which will be the work of a few weeks. I have a couple of brigadiers to paint, a few small terrain bits to add, and I still have a 2x2' section of the board to finish, but I took time out last week to dig into the little extras that add an extra layer of detail (and fun) to a tabletop game...

First up, to the left is a sign for the famous Penny Burn Mill. The graphics for the sign was produced on the computer and I glued it to a thin sheet of balsa and built a frame around the face with more strips of wood. The base is a pair of washers filled with green stuff that I sunk the post into. The result is very bottom heavy and difficult to tip over without a substantial bump!

Next up are civilians - I think these are all Foundry models, but I may be mistaken as they came out of one the numerous bins I have stored around and were not purchased recently. It's fun to break up all of the rank and file with a few colorful characters, speaking in this case of their personalities rather than the hue of their clothes! The first is a shepherd and his flock. There is a quiet corner of the table where I happen to know no models should be entering and little scenes like this add life to the table... and maybe if Barry and I get bored, the flock turns into roaming rough terrain!

The second set of stalwarts is the miller (of Penny Burn Mill) and his bully boys. Where do the big man's loyalties lie - with James or Billy? Again they might not amount to more than scenery or they could be up to no good and it may change from game to game as we are running the thing six times over the course of the convention. I suspect no two games will end up the same!

If I run out of things to do, I may add a few more characters to add to the confusion...

There are two camps on the Jacobite table edge. I have a pile of tents that would work fine on their own to delineate the camps, but that's a bit boring. It's much more interesting to strew a bit of detritus around as well. Like the civilians above, I'm not sure where the crates were from, possibly Tabletop World, but the wagon is from Warfare Miniatures. It's also no accident that the wagon is based exactly the same size that I need for the artillery park of one gun in Beneath the Lily Banners! The baggage might end up as tempting targets for the Williamite Horse, possibly even over the objections of their officers.

The next vignette is a pair of sappers, hard at work to fortify the Jacobite position. The models are from Dixon (which fit in great with the Warfare Miniature range, BTW, while we're waiting for Barry to commission some). These models have no use in the game (that I of know of yet) and are meant to be another part of the camp scenery. The base will make a great marker for engineers in future games of Beneath the Lily Banners.

There's more, but we'll save some details for Historicon... Not long now!

May 16, 2016

Uniform Guides

One of the most common queries on the Fighting Talk Forum in relation to the periods covered by Beneath the Lily Banners centers on painting our little men. Wargamers are obsessed with details of a bygone age that most historians thought unimportant. What color coats did the Huguenots wear at the Battle of the Boyne? What kind of hats did Jacobite dragoons wear? Which Hamiltons were at Derry? What color socks did King James II's guard have? What... color... socks...

I've asked these questions myself in the few short years I've been involved in collecting armies for the period. Barry has been asking these questions for over twenty years. Often time the answer comes down to 'we just don't know'. Well, that is not very satisfying for the wargamer trying to collect the Danish Brigade in the Ireland campaign. So we go about collecting scraps of information from a dozen sources trying to piece together some idea. Here's where it gets fun - the sources don't always agree.

Some books are out of date simply because of... well, the date they were compiled. A lot of work went into these and they used the best available information at the time, but new research provides revelations all the time. Sometimes we find things are wrong because the original observer identified the wrong unit at this or that battle. We find out the error later, again by new research, but if you only have the first book, you have no idea. Why the hell isn't there something out there that brings all of this stuff together?

Now there is.

The League of Augsburg and Quindia Studios are very proud to present The Wargamer's Guide to Uniforms of the Battle of the Boyne. This is a series composed of bite-sized PDF's, each focused on a collection of units in a different part of the battlefield.

B01 - Williamite - The Cavalry of the Right
B02 - Williamite - The Infantry of the Right
B03 - Williamite - The Infantry of the First Wave
B04 - Williamite - The Danish Brigade
B05 - Williamite - The Infantry of the Center Reserve
B06 - Williamite - The Cavalry of the Left
B07 - Jacobite - The Infantry in Defense of Oldbridge
B08 - Jacobite - The Cavalry of the Right
B09 - Jacobite - The Infantry of the Center
B10 - Jacobite - The Cavalry of the Left

G01 - Artillery (covers both sides)
G02 - The French Brigade in Ireland

These are not blow by blow accounts of the battle - there are plenty of great sources out there for that. The PDF includes as much information as we could find - details on uniforms and flags, weapons and equipment, organization and command... When sources don't agree we tell you that. When we had to draw conclusions, we tell you that too, but we try to tell you why we made the decisions. Now, we haven't bothered with the shape of pockets or the number of buttons. These are meant for wargamers to use as a guide for painting their armies - though I'm willing to bet there's some cool stuff for history buffs too!

These are only the first series of many. The plan is to cover each theater comprehensively, starting with the war in Ireland - the Battle of Newtown, the Siege of Derry, the Ballyneety Raid, the Storming of Athlone, the Battle of Aughrim. Once we feel we've done justice to this we will move on to other areas.

Barry and I are extremely proud of these products and exciting about producing more. Undoubtedly, just as with old texts, new research will appear over the next months and years. Some of our educated guesswork will be disproven or on the odd occasion, be validated. That's ok. Use these to fuel your own research and let us know about it!

These PDFs are now available in the League of Augsburg shop!

Each PDF is 3-6 pages for ₤2, but allows the wargamer to just focus on the aspect of his collection he needs more information on. The entire series for the Battle of the Boyne comes in at exactly 50 pages and for ₤20, saving ₤4 if you order as a set!

To promote our game at Historicon and to kick off these new offerings, we are going to offer a sample D04 Wargamer's Guide to the Battle of Penny Burn Mill (yep... not even listed above... see we are already hard at work on the next series) free for a month. You can download this PDF at iii and get a good look at what we are offering.

Oh, and don't expect all of the units on the table at Historicon to match this guide as I painted many of them BEFORE we started the project. Wish I'd had something like this..

And by the way.. For the next calendar month to support the massed assembly of your forces for the Irish War, Warfare Miniatures will deliver POST FREE to anywhere in the world including the UK any order with over £45.00 of figures included in the order value.

May 14, 2016

Historicon 2016

The table is still a work in progress, but it's almost there! Online registration is now open for Historicon 2016. As loyal readers know, Barry Hilton and I will be running a BLB game many times over the course of the event...

Commander of Sallies: The Battle of Pennyburn Mill

Thursday 1300-1700
Friday 0800-1200
Friday 1400-1800
Saturday 0800-1200
Saturday 1400-1800
Sunday 1000-1400

Embarrassingly, the presenter is listed only as Clarence Harrison because I registered for the table and they tell me that's how it works. Barry is ignominiously listed as Assistant GM! I think we all know how the ranks are arrayed when it comes to running BLB games (six games is probably more than I played in all of 2015).

No need to avenge the slight, for I'm going throw out a teaser in that Barry Hilton will also be a Guest of Honor for Historicon 2016! Breaking news because it's not up on the site and I'll let him tell you more about that when the time is right.

So if you are planning to make the trip to Historicon this year (July 14-17) and want to sign up to participate in our game, head over to the HMGS page and register before all of the slots are full!

April 26, 2016

Earl of Tyrconnel's Regiment of Horse

I've managed to finish another unit for my 1690 project, the Earl of Tyrconnel's Regiment of Horse!

I actually have plans to expand this unit to three squadrons so I guess it's not truly finished (no model army ever is), but it was painted at this time to also serve for Captain Adam Murray's unit in our Historicon game. You can see more pics of this unit (with different flags) at the League of Augsburg blog! Parker's Regiment in white coats is up next (masquerading as another defender of Derry for Historicon).

April 20, 2016

Top Secret in Bolt Action

Had another game, this time as the GM for a pair of friends who've never played Bolt Action. They were given briefings in advance, but were unfamiliar with many of the mechanics and probably made a few mistakes they would have otherwise avoided.

Here's the German briefing...

The US briefing was similar, though obviously with a different view of the battle and without knowledge of the German objective. The US goal was simple to push the Huns from Lason.

Somehow I forgot to take any photos, but I tried to recreate the action on the maps below.

After a quick tutorial on the basics, the players took it in turns to set up their units and both elected to hold a few in reserve which I informed them would allow entry from one flank as well as their own base line.

The battle opened with the German infantry swarming up the center while the Americans advanced more cautiously. Long range sniping from tanks and mortars caused little damage with Sherman placing a pin marker on one of the Volks Grenadier squads, but causing only a single casualty.

On turn two, the Sherman fell from friendly fire with a deadly assault by a ground attack aircraft (second time in two games my USAF Forward Observer called down fire on his own side... I am beginning to wonder if he is a spy). All of the reserves managed to come on and center of the table was suddenly very busy! The lead Paratrooper squad took cover behind some crates stacked near a fence and wondered why the entire German army was bearing down on them...

The US commander suddenly realized the German objective as an enemy officer dashed to the crates at the center of the field. In a very Warhammer moment, he charged (yes, charged) and cut them down. He in turn was charged by the remaining Volks Grenadiers on the next order die from the bag. The Volks Grenadiers were then subjected to a withering hail of fire from the second Paratrooper squad, a lucky '6' from the mortar team (their only hit of the game), and SMG fire from the Forward Observer who had advanced out of the ruined inn to lend a more direct hand. They were forced to test morale and failed because of three pin markers and no officer in range. The sniper team killed the Forward Observer. The second Paratrooper squad was bogged down with six pin markers (they had several from last turn) as they took hits from all directions.

We ran out of time and called the game there, but talked through the last turn. The US player conceded the Germans would have easily secured their objective. He still had hopes of landing a hit on the Panther with his last remaining Bazooka team, but felt he had been pretty well thrashed.

The US player felt he had divided his forces trying to avoid coming under fire from the Panther and ended up fighting with only one squad against three. His support units caused little damage and of course the airstrike proved disastrous. One of the days, the blasted thing is going to hit the Germans! On the other side, the German player was amazed by how tough the US veterans were as it took all three squads and fire from the armored car to shift the first one.

They had a blast and have already asked when we can play again. I promised the Germans a few veteran Herr Grenadier squads next time and maybe some more armor for the Americans. I have it mind to run a modified version of the 'Operation Warboard' scenario which features an outnumbered German detachment hunkered down in a village facing three Shermans and supporting infantry. However, a river splits the board and the only way across is a single bridge. I'm off to see what I need to paint to accomplish this!