Friday 23 June 2017

Warlord Games British Heavy Cavalry Review

Hi Folks

Given Warlord Games have just released their boxes of plastic British Heavy Cavalry and I am building both British & French Napoleonic armies I thought I’d better bag me a couple of boxes – one of each.

Is say one of each because there is a box labelled British Household Brigade and a box labelled British Union Brigade – but whats inside the box counts…

And to be blunt they are virtually the same – the horses are the same, the riders bodies are exactly the same, the arms are the same etc – the only difference is the head gear.

In the Union box you get heads with Bicornes, Dragoon helmets and the Bearskins (scots greys), in the Lifeguard box you get the Lifeguard Grecian helmets (with and without plumes). In the union box you also get four heads title ‘watering hats’ – I doubt whether anybody would use these and I am struggling to understand why Warlord Games released two boxes and not just one. You could have easily put all the head gear onto the same sprue.

From a commercial perspective this makes nonsense – twice as much art work, twice as much packaging, twice as many sprues to manage etc. Profits I believe would be much greater with one box – tiled British Heavy Cavalry. Folks who want to buy these will do so regardless of the name on the box.

The two sprues - one from each box - aside from the heads they are the same

A little bit more detail- union brigade on the left

These are the only heads you get with the household box

These are the heads in the Union box

Whilst I am being critical let’s talk about the horses – each sprue contains two horses in two parts – these look like they should be interchangeable creating more than two poses – however they are not. Only one half will fit to another specific half. This wouldn’t be too bad but the poses that are created look a little odd (edit they are growing on me) – in particular one of the fronts of the horse looks stretched.

Only two horse options available - the bodies are not interchangeable

Assembly of these figures is straightforward (hint assemble the riders sword belt onto his body before adding head) but the posture of the riders leaning right or leaning left grates a little – I think it would be better with at least one upright pose. This leaning posture also means all the heads seem to be looking down once fixed on the bodies as opposed to ahead…I quickly realised this is because they are charging cavalry and should be amongst the infantry cutting and slashing.

This all sounds rather negative and perhaps you are questioning whether or not to buy…in which case read on.

If you are looking at assembling a British Napoleonic army on a budget price these boys are perfect for your heavy cavalry - £20 for 12 horses & thirteen riders (there is a metal command figure in each of the boxes) is a great price. They do look good en masse and I am looking forward to painting them…

Until next time

Thursday 22 June 2017

Napoleonic Project part 10 - French Infantry

Good Morning All

I think I mentioned in my last post regarding the Napoleonic project that I was working on the French Infantry

(previous post here - )

Well I am delighted to report that the planned 12 battalions are now complete and are proud to be lined up in line formation on my kitchen table.

Each battalion is 24 men strong and includes flank companies (voltiguers and grenadiers).

The figures themselves are made up on Warlord, Perry and Front Rank - all in my eye are perfectly interchangeable.

That's 288 infantry figures so far...

The flags have been used straight from the boxes

Each battalion comprises of six movement trays - thereby allowing a multitude of formations to be created

Rather than have mixed uniform units I have created units that are entirely wearing greatcoats and those that have not

The two units at the back are light infantry with their solid blue uniforms

Having laid these out I cant help but think that this is not enough so I have decided to add a further four regiments of French Infantry to the painting pile  ;-)

Come back soon

Part 11 is here

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Daleks versus the Afrika Korps - A strange encounter

Last night the Shed hosted a rather strange game of bolt action. I was joined by Mark & Steve for what they though was going to be a rather simple pulpy skirmish on my desert boards.

To be frank I cobbled the idea together about an hour before they arrived having decided to shuffle around the desert boards from last weeks crusader game.

The focal point of the table was my Egyptian temple sitting in the valley of the lost kings. Access to the valley was through the wadis beyond the Oasis.

The Nazi's (Mark of course) were given this briefing

Egypt - 1937
Transcripts from Radio Messages sent by Colonel Werden to Heinrich Himmler -
Herr Himmler
I am delighted to report that the dig in Cairo is proceeding as instructed. I have been informed by the archaeological team that they are about to open the doors to the outer crypt. It appears that the tomb has remained untouched in all these years. I believe we are on the verge of a most exciting discovery…
Morale remains high amongst the team only dampened by this dreaded heat and dust

Herr Himmler
At the request of Professor Benoit we assembled a series of monitors and testing equipment around the tomb entrance. Initial results suggest a high level of radioactivity and electrical interference beyond the tomb door. We will proceed with caution.

Herr Himmler
Grave news – Professor Benoit and his team broke the seal on the crypt this morning and entered the tomb. Two hours later there was no sign of him and his exploratory party. I instructed Kapitan Funf to assemble a small squad to investigate – they have entered the tomb. Soon after a lone trooper emerged with severe burns. Before he died de stated that Kapitan Funf and his squad had been wiped out…his last words were…Vernichten, Vernichten, Vernichten

Attention: Colonel Herzog
Since the last encrypted message from Colonel Werden we have heard no news from the excavation camp. You are to proceed with all speed to the camp, assess the issue and make the necessary steps to ensure the contents of the tomb do NOT fall into enemy hands

The Nazi forces (seven squads of infantry would enter middle right)

To the South lay the combined forces assembled by British Intelligence (3 squads of Sikh infantry and four squads of friendly Bedouins). Steve was given this briefing

British Intelligence Briefing
Recent radio chatter in Cairo has picked up a series of messages from a German exaction dig in the valley of the kings to none other than Heinrich Himmler in Germany.

These messages were encrypted but our boffins have done their best to decipher them..

Herr Himmler
I am delighted to ……..the dig in ……….is proceeding as ………. informed ……… team that ………….. to open the doors to the ………………... It appears ……………………..untouched………….. years. I believe ………….. discovery…
Morale …………………….team……………………. only dampened by this dreaded……………….

Herr Himmler
At the request of Professor Benoit ……………………………………..and testing equipment …………….tomb entrance. ………………………….results suggest a high level…………………………….. interference …………….. We will proceed with caution.

Herr Himmler
Grave ………… Professor Benoit ……………………..broke the seal…………..this morning and………………………... Two hours ……………………… sign of him………………………………..  instructed Kapitan…………………………… investigate…………… Soon after…………………a …….trooper…………….severe burns. …………………………………………………..last words ………….Vernichten, Vernichten, Vernichten

Captain Rogers

An assault force has been assemble just outside the valley of the kings –your mission to investigate what has happened and to take steps on ensuring that Nazis do not leave the area with anything important.

The British forces would enter from the Oasis

The British forces advance into the desert....

Meanwhilst the Germans enter the table - both sides heading for the dig

Inevitably this mad rush forward ended in tears as a firefight erupted between the opposing forces in the tight canyons

Lead by the Bedouin horse the British surged forward

The Afrika Korps set up a defensive screen....

and quickly establisghed firing positions in the scattered ruins around the temple

At this point something strange happened - the pillars around the temple started to glow - each turn another started to glow - eventually forming an electrical web over the structure.

Local diggers ran from the crypt entrance waving a heiroglyphic covered cloth...

This they handed to the Afrika Korps commander - look carefully !! You can see a tardis and a dalek...clues for what was about to happen....

Despite the strange lightshow above the temple the firefight continued between the forces - Arab horse charghed into a unit of Nazis - a very effective charge - the very first I have witnessed in Bolt Action

By now the temple was bathed in blue light and emerging from the entrance were some strange pepperpot shapes....

Each turn more units more forth. It became obvious to Mark and Steve that there own firefight was no longer important - they had to defeat a common foe...

We used the Dalek rules for Bolt Action published here

The only major modification being small arms gaineds a +1 penetration at very close range (ie under 6")

At this point a strange blue box appeared and a man claiming to be called the Doctor arrived - he quickly explained to the British commander that the only way to stop this invasion was to switch off the grid - each pylon had a switch at its base (found on a 9+). The Doctor could automatically find these.

I suspect if the Doctor had tried to talk to the Nazis he might have been shot ! True to form they had tried to shoot the local diggers only to be beaten by the Daleks


The next hour saw a furious and bloody firefight around the temple as each turn more daleks arrived. Casualties on both sides were extremely high but the combined forces of humanity were switching down the pylons slowly

The Afrika Korps soon realised that a long range exchange of fire was not working against their armoured opponents - subtlety was thrown out the window and everything descended into a point blank firefight.

More daleks arrived - ( i have nearly 90 of these magazine toys)

Links to build here

By now things were getting desparate - the humans were riunning out of troops and the Dalek grid was still operational

With a sustained charge the Bedouins, Sikhs and Germans pushed forward. Sacrificing their lives to switch off the pylons  - success !

A few rounds later the Dalek menace had been halted - only three Sikh soldiers remained

What fun !!

Tune in soon for another Shed report

Monday 19 June 2017

A Return to the Crusades

Over the last couple of weeks the Shed has taken on a distinctive Middle Eastern flavour, providing an opportunity to set up my desert boards and wheel out the Crusader and Saracen armies I painted the best part of two years ago.

The photos in this post come from some of the recent games

I think all Wargamers go through phases in their developments of new genres and I am no exception. I originally set out to create the two Crusading factions with a view of playing a multitude of games including Lion rampant, Crescent and Cross and Hail Caesar. In fact these forces have only ever visited the table about three times in their life and in every case we have used the Lion Rampant ruleset. I have decided that whilst I am painting up my Napoleonic’s we will give these boys a bit more airtime.

So two weeks ago Mark and I convened to play for the first time Crescent & Cross – these are the Crusading rules based on the successful Saga series brought to the wargames fraternity by Studio Tomahawk. Indeed I think I bought this ruleset over two years ago and having had a cursory glance through the beautiful rulebook we’d never actually played.

The rules are effectively the same as Saga in terms of combat, movement and force design. Of course what makes the Saga rules so very different are the use of custom dice and the battle boards. The two factions are represented by three forces on each side. The layout of the boards are somewhat different to the original saga boards but the mechanics are very similar. I don’t intend to put together a full review of these but rather how we coped with the introduction of the new forces.

In our first game Mark took on the Crusading force (chock full of charging knight abilities and governed by the key attributes of chivalry) whilst I took on the unpronounceable M.... faction (best described as suicidal fanatics). It became apparent in our first game that our force choice and composition did not best match the abilities of the board. For example I would have been much better off have smaller units to throw themselves against their Christian foes.

Suffice to say that the Infidel got crushed in the first game whereas the second game (Crusaders versus Saracens) appeared to be much more balanced. In the end the Crusaders won a second time round (a large part down to Mark learning the capabilities of his board).

I think it’s fair to say that saga is a firm favourite in the Shed especially when there is only two of us – this is in part down to the fact we have played sufficient times to understand the intricacies of the original boards. It’s going to take time to get used to the C&C boards but we will persevere.

Our second Crusades game was played on Monday night – this time it was a much bigger affair using Lion Rampant rules with circa 70 points aside. I have already mentioned in previous posts that we have chosen to drop the rule that a failed activation causes the whole army to miss out on orders. Each unit still has to roll for activation (attack, move, shoot) but the game now moves much quicker and a sixty point plus game can easily be fought in a couple of hours with two aside.

Alastair bought along his son on Monday so it seemed only right that as a family they should take on myself and Mark. This father/son combo played the Crusaders – they had over 18 units on the table – predominantly Knights, men at arms and armoured spears. Their forces were augmented with a sprinkling of crossbows, archers and bidowers.

By contrast the Saracens had 27 units on the table with the majority being lightly armed and far more missile troops – this was telling.

A combination of numerous missile troops, some great attack rolls and some really poor ( and I mean poor) morale checks on the Crusading side gave the Saracens a crushing victory. The Crusaders lost or had routed over 70% of the forces for possibly less than 20% of the Saracen force. 

If anything volumes of missile armed troops (couple with skirmishing ability) continuously saps the Crusader strength and once courage/morale throws go awry there is little they can do to force a fight on their more lightly armed opponents. I am still in two minds as to whether these rules are biased in favour of archery but in our particular game they did force a decisive decision. I now know that the Crusaders themselves knew they had a deficit in this area of force composition and employed their own mounted skirmishers so maybe next time we will give them some of these versatile troops.   

Thursday 8 June 2017

Napoleonic Project Part 9 - Chasseurs a Cheval

Hiya Folks

Hot on the heels of my French Cuirassiers are the Light Cavalry - the Chasseurs a Cheval

If you missed the Cuirassier post you can find it here

For some strange reason (OK - I got carried away on ebay) I have ended up with three regiments of these (each regiment 12 strong) - but it does give me some flexibility in the troops available for our games.

All three regiments are from Warlord Games - I was actually two figures short post ebay purchases so a couple of spare bodies from the British light dragoon set got roped in and painted up as best I could to look French (they did get the right french shako - so that certainly helps from a distance.

To date I have painted French Dragoons and the Curassiers. The plan is also to paint up one lancer unit and a Hussar regiment. These new three regiments will bring the total to seven. I'll probably add one more dragoon unit when funds permit to bolster the heavy cavalry division.

Whilst researching these units I discovered a wonderful article on the Warlord Games website and if you are looking to add these boys to your french army it is a must read

Now I read this article a couple of times but did not refer to it during the painting phase !!

I should have done because my riders are all painted wrongly  - rather than fiving them solid green jackets with the appropriate coloured piping I painted their chest panels in the facing colour. I did consider repainting but in the end thought it would be unnecessary.

Onto the pictures....

Orange Facings

Blue Facings

Scarlet Facings

Almost All present - one has gone missing??

Dressing the lines

More very soon
part 10 can be found here