Thursday, 2 July 2020

Taiping Update

The last week or so I've had a major push working on the "Taiping Era" rules. The download version I put up several years ago (don't look - it's gone now) was 12 sides of A4 with a single page QRS. I thought at the time that I'd covered everything, but the act of writing it up and doing the examples and diagrams showed me that wasn't the case as I've remarked before. I'm up around 40 pages of rules text (still only one page QRS), and I haven't done the historical background and painting guides yet.

Things do seem to be clicking into place, and the core mechanism is robust and generally applicable, in that it can be used in all situations. The recent spell of less clement weather has meant that there's no excuse not to work on them although it is less pleasant sitting in the study than sitting in the garden in the sunshine.

I have also gone back and admitted I need to sort out the French Army for the 1860 campaign. I did buy all the figures to do them from Lancashire games then found them terribly out of scale compared to my existing Irregular Miniatures figures. The Lancashire fellows have gone up on ebay, to an underwhelming response so far, and I sent in an order to Mr Kay. His FPW figures are close enough to the 1860 uniform, although probably a little heavy on the packs. I might have been better to have gone for his French Foreign Legion figures, especially as I had to add neck cloths to the kepis in any event. No matter, the figures are ordered and have arrived. Alas the lockdown seems to have mushed my brain a bit, and I ordered too many trurcos and not enough light infantry. Still, I can make them up later.

I decided as well that I'd buy fresh pots of blue and red paint for the uniforms, so I don't run out half way through the paint job. I usually buy a lot of my paints at shows and my french blue and red come from a non-brand supplier I see at Newark mainly. In the absence of such things, I tried out my Local Model Shop, hoping it would be open. Luckily it was.

Turns out they've never been busier, and there certainly were a few people in there, discussing model aeroplane motors and model railway rolling stock and me hunting through the newly arrived boxes of Strelets figures. It seemed to me that the lockdown had seen a run on blue and red paint, and I ended up buying some Humbrol acrylic, which I haven't done for years, and a pot of Revell, which I've never used instead of my regular Tamiya.

So here we have some Chasseurs, at the back, and a line battalion at the front. It's a compact little force, hampered only in the campaign by a lack of cavalry. They had about 60 Spahis with them, and that was it. And no commissariat. They had to be supplied with lots of kit and so on by the British force, which was one of the best supplied field forces put out after the Crimean debacle.

So, better stop this typing lark and get back to the Taipings.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Fusiliers Finished

Luckily, in my hectic life, I was able to find some time to put some finishing touches to my Strelets fusiliers.

This involved finishing the basing for the second regiment (Dalrymple's) and adding some flags. The flags are a bit generic Scottish regiment, being a simple blue saltire, then a variation on blue with thistle for the Colonel's colour.

I took them into Shedquarters for a quick photo shoot with the phone. Alas it was a wee bit bright, with the early summer sunshine pouring through the windows. I really must dig some curtain rails out of the spares in the garage, and put up some drapes.

Dalrymple's are at the front. Apparently they had two red lions on the front of their mitres. I gave them two wiggly red lines instead.

I had to re-do the flags as the varnish really did a number on the ink from my printer, making bit run and smear. Instead I fell back on covering them with clear sticky back plastic, which makes them glossy like the figures, and also helps hold them in the wavy position.

I have a couple of the tricorn units on my painting bench now, waiting to be cleaned up. These might take me a while to get round to. If the weather is going to be as nice as they say, the paint will be drying before I can get it on the figures. I may be forced to sit in the shade and write wargames rules, as it's clearly going to be too hot for gardening.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Some Strelets Fusilier Eye Candy

In a break from rule writing and publicity I took some time out over the last few days to paint up some of the new Strelets WSS British.

As previously trailed, I've done a load of the early grenadiers as Scots Fusiliers. I did hat swaps for the officer with spontoon and the drummer (who should probably have a reversed colour jacket).

The poses are simple. The man waving his hand in the air used to have a hatchet, so I snipped it off at the suggestion of a friend.

As always with figures it's all very well having a load of detail but the question is whether it's paintable. This is mostly okay. The flash and mould lines don't obscure much, and they weren't too bad to clean (I'm running short of fresh sharp scalpel blades alas).

The mitres are quite nice mouldings and there isn't too much fussy etching on them.

There's no standard bearer in this batch, - the box comes with some, but they will be doing service elsewhere. Besides, I'm going to do big flags that are drilled into the base anyway, as I've done with the rest of my stuff.

There is one classic error on one of the castings, - there's a cross body strap that is only on the front, but then I've painted a Perry figure with that error on it, so even the best sometimes get it wrong.

I'm not the greatest painter in the world, but I'm pleased with the outcome. The figures are nicely proportioned, and are possibly a bit taller than I'd like compared to my Washington's Army veterans, but they mix in okay.

So, for about 20p a figure I think I'm a happy man.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Busy or Not

I'm beginning to wonder how I ever got anything done, let alone blog. Blogging has dropped off to next to nothing (BTW for those of you who use Blogger, - how much do you hate the new interface?) and the recent sunny weather gave me a good reason to sit in the garden and catch up on some reading. 

That's not to say I haven't been busy. I mean, I've watched a bit of telly, I'll admit, and we've nearly finished watching our way through the MCU. And we're 5 seasons in to Brooklyn 99, so I've not exactly been wasting my time.

I have made progress on quite a few projects. The Montrose Army that I previewed a while back is now completely painted and based. Currently it's in a storage box that has been re-purposed from another army when it became surplus to requirements when I changed base sizes.It needs the dividers moving around, and proper labels applying, but they're safe for now.

The current painting project is some Strelets WSS "English" infantry. Due to the figure mix I have an abundance of figures in early grenadier caps. These look like fusilier caps, so I've got a battalion of those becoming the Scots Fusiliers (Earl of Mar's "Grey Breeks"), and another regiment for some other Scots fusiliers in Dutch service (I have the exact details somewhere; I'll get them out when I need them). The rest of the boxes - I bought 3 in total, giving me 120ish figures for less than £26 - have been sorted into regimental/battalion groups waiting to be allocated to armies. I probably need more Dutch, and the French are outnumbered, so some will go to them as well (look, I current use Washington's Army for everyone, so some issues over the shape of a knapsack don't fuss me) and I'm also short of a regiment or two in the Jacobite Revolts..

Meanwhile I'm trying to push the latest rule set, the gladiatorial "Dicing With Death". So far it has sold a few copies, but not as many as I had hoped. This isn't helped by the ad on TMP being bounced off the front page in about 2 hours, and the fact that my ad banner with them on still hasn't been processed by good ol' Bill, despite him having it for a couple of weeks. No doubt he's really busy at the moment. Also, threads on various forums have singularly failed to take flight. I really shouldn't mind, I guess, I've shifted as many as I hoped for when I started out with "To Ur...", and the whole COVID-19 thing means everything is taking a little bit longer than usual. Finding affordable ways of promoting the rules is a challenge. My personal rule is that I don't publish anything that I think won't cover its costs. I mean, I know this is all just vanity, but if I don't take it seriously, why should anyone else? I've therefore started a Facebook page (search "Wargaming for Grown Ups Publications") to generate some interest, as I can then share that with other wargame groups as the rules range expands.

As I go to work on the Taiping Era rules I've come to accept I do need to do the French for 1860, seeing as they were present at every action of the campaign. I looked again at the Lancashire Games figures I bought, and they really are too big to go with the rest of what I already have. They need to go to ebay, probably. There's about 140 figures, and I've even painted and based a few regiments. And a gun. What a waste of effort. So there's painting to be done before I publish, probably.

In common with all of my previous rule sets, the moment I sit down and start to transfer my little booklet of rules into a fully worked up version with examples, I start to see the holes. And as I'm researching and reading at the same time I notice things I want to include, so it all starts to expand. The challenge with Taiping Era is that it is a single mechanism set, - everything is driven be using a unit's Moral Vigour rating, - so including new things requires some thought. My desire to put the French in means I need to look at Attack Column formations, because as far as I can tell the French liked them still whilst the British did not (thanks, Colonel Callwell). That unbalances some things I'm currently doing with square occupancy movement rates. Hopefully I can spend a day in Shedquarters this week and sort all of those kinks out.

I'm also having issues with the descriptions of Taiping formations. This is a "shih" of five battalions or "leu" set out in the described formation, with a unit of skirmishers in front. The use of squares probably solves issues about exactly how units were made up and deployed, as under the current version everything in a square fights.

Mongol and Manchu cavalry are also giving me pause for thought. The Mongols seems to have been quite effective, but were thoroughly beaten by relatively few Indian cavalry.

I'm also experimenting with how best to display the Imps on the table. Here I've got them in a sort of renaissance pattern with all the spears in the centre, flanked by muskets. Re-reading about the Hunan Army they had a quite eccentric type of formation, which will also need some experimentation to get right.

So, an afternoon or two in Shedquarters in prospect, as I said

Now, back to editing the photos from that holiday we took three years ago...

Thursday, 4 June 2020

The Marketing Machine Ramps Up

Yes, "Dicing With Death" has been released into the wild, and now it is time for the weary process of trying to get people to buy them. They're available through Amazon here, currently ranked at 171 in Board Games (which is good as the sales report is showing zero sales so far).

I've got a new banner that'll start cycling round on TMP soon as well:

It was a challenge to get all the rules on there meaningfully, without overcrowding it. I also posted up a Hobby News item on TMP, with all of the buying options, so we'll see what that does about sales over the next few days. It's normally positive.

We're also on the front page of Wargame Vault for the moment, although how long that will last, who knows?