March 20, 2024

God Save the Queen!

Done! It took longer than I liked, but I finally finished the small starter army for the British in my Crimean War project. I'm hoping to get these lads on the table soon to throw some dice against their Russian foes, which I finished back in January.

This was a great diversion from other projects and only took about four months to complete both sides. No army is ever really finished and I already have a few more units to add; but I have the attention span of a goldfish and I've already waded into the next project - the American Civil War! More on that soon...

January 28, 2024

Making a Start on the British for 1854

With the initial goal met for my Russian army, it was time to turn to some opponents and I decided to start with the valiant sons of Great Britain.

My starter army goal is similar, but not identical to the Russians:

  • Three Units of Line Infantry (12 models each)
  • One Unit of Light Infantry (12 models)
  • Two Units of Cavalry (6 models each)
  • One Gun (1 gun plus 3 crew)
The Light Infantry will be rifles so I can paint something besides red coats. I'm undecided on the cavalry, but they will either both be heavy (Scots Greys and Inniskilling Dragoons) or light (Light Dragoons, Lancers, or Hussars). Great War Miniatures doesn't currently offer British Lancers or Hussars and I might need to get creative, plucking these from other theaters (the Carlist War BAL and British Intervention Force 1860) covered by Perry Miniatures. There might be a few inaccuracies, but I'm not terribly bothered by that for this collection. I am aware Wargames Foundry makes these, but they are tiny compared to the GWM range.

I really to want to add "brigades" (two units, possibly supported by a gun or detachment of light infantry) of guards, highlanders, French, and Ottomans. Of course I'll need to double the size of my Russian army as well, adding naval troopers, light cavalry, and more Cossacks! That's how these things go when megalomania sets in!

With these armies complete, I'll have enough to play a small game of A Gentleman's War or Neil Thomas's Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe. I'll probably end up making my own - it occurs to me that Donnybrook would work with a little tinkering since the units are so small. I'm not planning on refighting any of the historical conflicts of the period and may explore alternate history narratives such as "what if the Austrian Empire had joined Russia?" to broaden the theater (and the collection).

More soon!

January 17, 2024

The Russian (Tiny) Horde

I've been steadily painting, but for some reason blogging is a chore right now and I can't seem to be bothered to post on a regular basis. The blog has become more of a personal hobby diary for me rather than "Look at what I'm doing!" Regardless, my starting Russian army for the Crimean War and A Gentleman's War is finished! It's remarkably satisfying to reach a set goal.

My initial goal was three units of 12 infantry, but I've decided I want the Russian units to be 16 models strong and have a couple more packs on the way (alternately, I will be able to field four units of 12).

Artillery is one of the strengths of the Russian army, so I decided to field two guns for this tiny army. I plan to add limbers soon, but for now I'm happy to deploy them reversed with the crew marching ahead to depict them on the move.

I've painted these dragoons as the 1st and 2nd squadron of the same regiment (distinctions on the hat trim). Russian cavalry units tried to have the same color horses throughout the regiment and I thought black would make a nice contrast to all of the brown and tan greatcoats.

You can't have a Crimean War Russian army without Cossacks! I'm going to definitely build more of these ruffians, but I only needed one for my initial goal. According to A. V. Viskovatov, the flags of the Don Cossacks were the same as the line cavalry. They bore the inscription "For the Deeds of the Don Host to pacify Hungary and Transylvania 1849." Several regiments may have had other slogans, but I'm keeping my flags as generic as possible.

This has been a fun project so far. I have the British mustered on the painting table and I'll post my plan for them and some initial photos soon!

November 11, 2023

A Gentleman's War - Crimea 1854

I've been in a bit of a painting funk this year. Although the blog often gets neglected, I've normally continued hobbying "off camera", contenting myself with quick Facebook posts on various groups. For some reason, I've painted almost nothing this year apart from a handful of models to finish my King of Buccaneers 4Play PDF (see the last post) waaaaaay back in January.

Something needed to change. I bought a whole new set of paints (Two Thin Coats from Duncan Rhodes). My amazing wife suggested we turn the spare bedroom into a dedicated studio (more on that in a future post... I'm still arranging things) so I have a whole new room for my hobby. I have a pile of projects that could use attention (a handful of units to finish my Boyne collection, British for the AWI, my SYW Imagi-nations, the Sudan... sigh), but somehow I couldn't get motivated to tackle them. What I needed was something to jumpstart the painting routine that used to be part of my weekly life.

I turned to the piles of books that are scattered through nearly ever room in my house for inspiration. There HAD to be something around here to give me a kick!

A Gentleman's War. Howard Whitehouse... I love the book he wrote on the Colonial era (Battle in Africa 1879-1914). Did I ever read A Gentleman's War? When did I even buy it? Skipping ahead a bit, this was it! The rules are fairly conventional and owe quite a bit to Charles Grant and Donald Featherstone with the addition of a turn mechanic inspired by Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame (all freely admitted by the author). If you've read my blog in the past, you know I'm a fan of all of these. The book is a delightful read and provided the spark I was looking for.

The core rules are presented for the H.G. Wells era in the decades before World War I, but will work for any Horse & Musket period (and there are chapters dedicated to earlier periods). I have models for several different conflicts in this broad category and if it were just a question of playing games with the rules I could have gotten stuck in right away. Tilting at these windmills began as a quest to get me painting and for that I needed something new. Having just read Flashman at the Charge (again), the choice was an easy one. I toddled off the scour the web for 28mm scale models for the Crimean War!

There seem to be several good choices, but I'll skip the process I went through and just say I settled on Great War Miniatures. I always enjoy painting sculpts by Dave Andrews and Aly Morrison. I am planning out to start with VERY small armies... three or four units of infantry, two or three units of cavalry, and a couple of guns per side. I'm not basing the collection on any particular battle or brigade and will start with Russians and British. They will probably end up fighting over some fictional corner of the Ukraine far removed from the famous historical battlefields.

To ease back in, I picked the Russians first as the great coats would make for easy brushwork. My initial goal (and initial purchase) was:

  • Two Units of Line Infantry (12 models each)
  • One Unit of Grenadiers (12 models)
  • Two Units of Dragoons (6 models each)
  • One Unit of Cossacks (6 models)
  • Two Guns (1 gun plus 3 crew each)

I'm not a huge fan of the appearance of 12-model infantry units on the table, but another goal of this project is to realize completion. A Gentleman's War allows for larger units and if I manage to finish both sides, I'll explore expanding the infantry to 18 models. I am basing figures individually so I'll be able to reorganize things easily. I will also be able to use the collection with Donnybrook!

So here are my first two units...

In my head canon, these are "companies" because I just can't think of 12-model battalions, but they will be grouped into "brigades" for game purposes. I intend to paint separate command figures who will be scattered through the brigade, creating an appearance similar to my SYW units

I DID enjoy painting these and have the next models on the desk. I'll take some proper photos on terrain once I get a few more units ready. More (fingers crossed) soon!

March 20, 2023

King of Buccaneers

So this was an epic undertaking. When Barry first unveiled the 4Play scenario pack concept, he invited me to join in. While I had a pile of ideas, I quickly realized I didn't have the models to present them in the manner I wished. We were eyeball deep in Mad for War at the time. As naval gaming had never been a passion of mine, I set out to read some books on the subject to see what all the fuss was about.

Being a proud gentleman of Virginia, I decided to focus on events on this side of the Pond. There were small actions all up and down the coast of colonies, but what drew more of my attention were exploits of the pirates, buccaneers, and privateers. Scattered all through the exploits of these sea dogs were small unit land actions that are perfect for Beneath the Lily Banners and Donnybrook! While they weren't painted, I had a pile of lead I'd amassed for pursuing our period into the Caribbean (after Barry's great game I'd attended in the Old Country).

The Battle of Panama featured an army of buccaneer infantry against a mixed force of Spanish uniformed troops, native auxiliaries, poor artillery (some sources say any guns were left to defend the city), two large units of cavalry (extremely rare in this theater), and herd of oxen! Any time I start a collection, I always look for these kinds of mixed forces so avoid the fatigue of painting six identical battalions. I felt like this would be an amazing looking force on the tabletop.

The King of Buccaneers 4Play PDF is 20 pages and includes two scenarios for Beneath the Lily Banners and one for Donnybrook.

The first game is a 4Play BLB assault on the breach of the San Lorenzo fort which guarded the mouth of the Chagres—the route Henry Morgan had chosen for his invasion of Panama. At the time, the fort was a crude affair of earthen walls between timber palisades. I didn't have anything like that in my collection either (sigh), so I set out to build  a custom 24x24 inch tile for the game.

The second game is a standard-sized Donnybrook game on a 48x48 inch table. The encounter is fictional ambush as only a token resistance was staged as the pirates hacked their way through the jungle. It represents the Spanish intent rather than actual defense. As with the previous game, I wanted an bit of terrain I didn't have and custom built the ruined chapel for the center of the table.

The final game is a 4Play X BLB battle, featuring eight units per side on a 48x48 inch table set to last eight turns. 

I had a blast playing all three of these games. I'm hoping to explore more scenarios for the Caribbean in the future, including adding more uniformed units (I cunningly chose to paint my Spanish militia in the uniform of the French de la Marine so with a flag swap I have the start of another army).

You can grab a copy of King of Buccaneers at the Warfare Miniature USA shop!

Hopefully I'll have some more scenarios to add the the collection this year.

January 8, 2023

Donnybrook Essentials

It's been ten years since Barry and I published Donnybrook, our skirmish rules for 1660-1760. The book has been sold out for a while. We intend to release a second edition with the detail and full color treatment for which we are known (no date... it's in the queue... lol), there's a project I've been wanting to do for a while.

My introduction to wargaming was with the black and white booklets, wrapped with cardstock covers and saddle stitched bindings of the 70s and 80s. I love the slick production and beautiful photographs found in modern publications, but I still drag out these old books from time to time—WRG's Wargames Rules 3000BC to 1485AD, De Bellis Antiquitatis, the original Dungeons & Dragons, and many offerings from Partizan Press (including David O'Brien's Skirmish Battles of the American War of Independence). 

The old school renaissance in gaming isn't new. There is something very charming about these old books and it's long been an ambition of mine to do something similar.

The day before Christmas, I sat down at my computer to try and get an idea of what an old school version of Donnybrook might look like. After laying out a few chapters, my OCD took over and I was hooked. Over the course of the next few weeks I spent many hours forcing the manuscript into the half-sized pages and madly scribbling new drawings (or reimagining old) with which to crown the tiny volume. Finally, I had a couple of copies produced by a local office supply store. 


I am extremely happy with the results. The book is 5.5"x11" and 36 pages, printed on 24lb matte paper (the shine in the photos above is just the desk lamps reflecting the ink) with a 110lb cardstock cover. It will include a full page, double-sided play sheet (folded neatly tucked inside). All of the rules needed for swashbuckling adventures can be found in Donnybrook Essentials.

So how is this different than Donnybrook?

First and foremost, there are rule updates—not a ton, but there are a few things over the years that haven't worked as intended or were just unclear. Troop ability types have been changed to match Beneath the Lily Banners, with Recruits becoming Raw and Elite, Veteran. If you already have a copy of Donnybrook, you don't NEED this book, but you may find it handier to use at the game table.

The largest change (and biggest omission) is the lack of faction lists. I've long intended to change how these were presented. They have always been meant as guidelines for new gamers, but were never meant to be set in stone. Barry and I break them on a regular basis to fit the stories we tell. Factions WILL return in the second edition, but didn't seem necessary for Donnybrook Essentials.

To ensure you still have plenty of variety when building your forces, Special Characters have been expanded. There are nine "generic" Characters you can choose to bolster your forces. While some of these Characters are more appropriate for certain armies, your narrative may justify their inclusion in your force. For example, the Master of Hounds may be a common component of a Highlander or Cultist force, but if your Army Captain's raison d'être is hunting, he may have a pack of wolfhounds in tow.

Donnybrook Essentials also features an Events section, optional rules, and a sample scenario (The Curious Case of Peter Pett, adapted from one of Barry's 4Play scenarios). It will still be a couple of weeks before this is available as we work through the logistics, but it will be offered in hard copy and PDF. If you buy the book, we will include the PDF free of charge.

Get your copy at Warfare Miniatures USA!

July 5, 2022

Grimjawsopol Musketeer Regiment


I finally managed to finish my second regiment for my oldschool Horse & Musket project. They've actually been painted for a while now, but I just got around to painting the colonel and basing this horde.

This is the Grimjawsopol Musketeer Regiment of the Gran Duchy of Sazir, named for the province in which they are recruited. Colonel Yakov Romanov was appointed to lead these stout lads by Count Aleksandrov. The good colonel accepted the appointment with some trepidation as the Count of Grimjawsopol is known by the peasantry as "Alek the Mad" and the lord has been known to meet out gruesome fates to those who disappoint him. 

The regiment is again shown in summer campaign dress. Most of the officers are in full uniform and reflect that worn by the rank and file during other times—dark green coat with black facings.

The unit is often brigaded with the von Tripdenfel Musketeer Regiment as they also come from the Grimjawsopol province in Sazir (raised privately by Lord Gregor von Tripdenfel).

I'm still toying with rules, but I have a long way to go before I can actually put armies on the table!

Up next on the painting table are an (as yet) unnamed company of Pandour Light Infantry, represented by 16 models and two characters (an officer and drummer). I'm hoping they will quickly join the painted brigade. This small force will be supported by a a full regiment of dragoons (24 models + characters) and a pair of field guns. 

June 27, 2022

Cult Units for Turnip 28

While I've already mentioned The Slug's Lament (last post), I've done a couple of other units to allow myself some flexibility of my forces. The fickle folk of Cist can change Cults between games so it seemed like a good excuse to convert a couple of unique units.

The Lopers of Maudlin Marsh. Stilt walkers of the Maudlin Marsh. Pitiful drunks, they stride into battle tottering this way and that. 

These guys can ignore Dangerous Terrain, which makes them valuable in the fetid swamps of Cist. Other units may include Stilt Spotters which give them a range bonus of 6", making them extremely useful for black powder armies.

Knights of Shellwood. Shields, banners, and shattered lances litter the shells of the ancient knights. They ooze over the battlefield, unstoppable in their advance, an army dedicated to their snails’ pace. The followers of the Knights of Shellwood bring with them their favourite snails to stave off nostalgia. In return for the holiday, these treasured molluscs provide excellent cover for their loving guardians.

Really just picked this unit because I wanted to make the conversion. Your army is extremely slow if following the Cult of the Knights of Shellwood, but units count as being in Defensible Terrain if they haven't moved.

I've got one more model setting on my desk awaiting glue and greenstuff, so I'll have another post soon. I also have the table set up for my first (solo) game and I'll have a battle report when I get through it.

Mr. Biggles bids you good day!