Tuesday, March 2, 2021

More Woebetides Items

Woebetides productivity continues despite having had to postpone the event from April to September.

This witch-doctor is cobbled together from several sources. It's mostly made from a Victrix Numidian elephant crew figure but with a Perry plastic Zulu head. The feathers are sculpted from Green Stuff and the skull and pot are from Foundry.

I'm also making Deployment Points for the various factions. This one is made from an MDF base with a resin cast pot and bottle that were among the bits Richard Helliwell sent me with his prototype Gloranthan house. The sacks were made as a way of using left-over Green Stuff.

Finally, the central highlands of Grand Woebetide can only be accessed at certain locations that allow access to the plateau. One of these may be via this cave entrance:

It's made from polystyrene on a PVC base with lots of Tetrion and some parts from a Foundry Darkest Africa accessories set.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Finished - dockside buildings

I'm considering my dockside buildings for the Woebetides to be complete. 

As seen in the in progress post, they are built from foam core with the stone quayside from textured XPS foam from Firedragon Games. I got the foam in their original Kickstarter and it's blue. I believe their now using a black or dark grey colour. I struggled to cover the blue colour so I think that'll be an improvement.

The picture above shows the latest piece alongside a 20mm scale building I did years ago for the Woebetides. My technique has developed somewhat over the years!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yet another Sharp Practice project!

I suspect therapy is called for. Whilst busy preparing forces and terrain for Crisis Point's foray into the Indian Ocean in the early eighteenth century I'm feeling an urge to build some Napoleonics in 28mm!

The obvious setting for Sharp Practice Napoleonics is the War in the Peninsula. It goes on for long enough and covers a sufficiently broad geographical area that it's not difficult to shoe-horn in small fictional actions or even campaigns. However, I've done the Peninsula in 20mm and I'm not keen to do it all again in a new scale. 

I briefly considered the Hundred Days campaign. No, that's wrong; I quickly rejected the Hundred Days campaign. All the factors that make the Peninsula suitable for Sharp Practice tell against 1815 for me. There just doesn't seem room to accommodate significant opportunities for the kind of smaller actions that Sharp Practice covers.

An old magazine article did have me considering the fighting around Malborghetto as the Austrians withdrew across the Alps pursued by a French army in 1809. The heroic Austrian defence of the forts would make for a spectacular one-off show game but again the short period of time (to say nothing of the need for space-consuming terrain) counted against this option.

In the end I think I'm going to look into the 1812 campaign in Livonia and the siege of Riga. Some of you will be aware that I have an interest in Latvian history having visited the country some years ago. I'm confident with little more investment than in a couple of boxes of plastic figures I can get some interesting games going.

When Napoleon marched into Russia in 1812, he ordered X Corps under MacDonald to march north and capture Riga and then threaten St Petersburg. X Corps was made up mostly of Prussian troops reluctantly allied with the Corsican Ogre. This means that I can wargame the 1812 campaign with no snow and with Russians and Prussians as the forces involved! This appeals nicely to my liking for the more obscure subject matter.

The Black Powder source book "A Clash of Eagles" has provided some basic background information and I'm also revisiting an old friend for more ideas:

There are a number of inaccuracies in the book but it's still a damned fine adventure, rich with ideas that will transfer well to the table top. 

Also inspiring is this:

The diary of a Würtemburger infantryman, it covers campaigns against the Russians in 1806, Tyrolean insurgents in 1809, and the Russians again in 1812. Most of the book is taken up with the author's experiences during the march to and retreat from Moscow but there's still enough about the experiences of an ordinary soldier to be really helpful.

When I get to Wargames Emporium next I think I'll pick up a box of either Prussian or Russian infantry and start building. This will hopefully be a low-impact project. I don't intend to spend lots of time building dedicated terrain and things like wagons and mule trains can be recycled from the Woebetides or Mexican collections.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

More Woebetides Civilians

The Old Glory "Island Governors" pack continues to deliver.  

This guy is going to serve as M. Choufleur, the French senior engineer. He'll have a couple of important jobs for the French over the weekend of Crisis Point.

Choufleur is a younger son of a senior officer in Louis XIV's guard. The younger Choufleur is fascinated by science and engineering and despite the father's wealth and influence he has signed on with the East Indies company. He's a good looking chap but is a rigid disciplinarian who takes pleasure in having malefactors thrashed. As such he is hated by his men.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

One the workbench - dockside buildings

The last Woebetides test game made me realise that I don't have any dockside terrain pieces. As at least five coastal towns are likely to be needed in the game, I thought I'd experiment with making something appropriate.

The problem with building a quayside is that unless you are building your terrain using some kind of modular system, it's not usually possible to have the general land area of the table higher than the sea areas. You're likely therefore to need a step up to the quayside from the surrounding terrain.  

I thought I could probably make this less obvious by surrounding my quay with walls and buildings at the edge of the terrain piece.

I have some sheets of stone-block-textured blue foam that I got some years ago from a Firedragon Games Kickstarter. I also had an off-cut of PVC board that was just a little larger than a single sheet of the blue foam (about 11 inches square). This gave me the opportunity to have a sloping entranceway at the rear of the dock area.

The piece is at an early stage - a couple of sessions' work so far.

I started by cutting the baseboard to size such that it was a 5mm wider on each side than the blue foam. I glued the side walls in place and then built up the buildings, hot gluing them to the PVC base. I then trimmed the blue foam to fit and glued it down. Further trimming allowed for Lego pillars at the front corners.

I cut and sanded an earthen slope to the rear of the base between the buildings.

When the buildings' basic structures were dry (I'd glued them with PVA using map pics to hold them together) I started to add details. 

The roofs are scored, thick card. I've added doors from various thicknesses of cardboard and a laser-cut MDF balcony from Warbases. 

I've also textured the rear slope and some of the walls with Tetrion.

It's not really visible in the pic above but I've extended the gaps between the stone blocks down the front edge of the blue foam and the exposed PVC board at the front.

The next steps are to cut through some more windows, possibly adding (brass rod) iron bars, add more texture with Tetrion, and then paint a little PVA along the bases of the interior walls before sprinkling on sand. I might add a wooden bollard or two along the front edge.

I'm trying to keep the final article suitable for the Woebetides, for Mexico, or for Pavis.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Latest Woebetides Additions

Just after Christmas I ordered a couple of packs of figures from Old Glory to add a few interesting characters to the Woebetideus collection.  A pack of Pirate Artillery provided me with two ship's guns and their crew and these saw action in last weekend's Sharp Practice game.

I've also finished painting most of the pack called "Island Governors". This has proved ideal to provide figures for those Woebetides characters who aren't part of any individual player's force but whose presence will add considerable to the atmosphere of the game.

First up we have Mr Sidney Ruff-Dymond, the British Factor:

Ruff-Dymond's French opposite number is the comptoir.  Anne, Comte de Pommefrite is the senior officer of the French East India Company in the Woebetides. He is proud of his red suit (in the latest Parisian style) and insists on wearing it for significant occasions. No-one has dared to point out to him its similarity to the colours of the British troops (of Lord Custard's Regiment) stationed in the islands.

There are a few more figures in the Island Governors pack and I'll reveal them when I've decided who they are to represent.

In addition to these civilian types I'm also accumulating additions to the various military forces. Inspired by Richard Phillips's use of Numidian bodies among his Woebetideus, I made this fellow:

The body is from the Numidian crew of a Victrix elephant. His head and his right arm are from the Warlord Zulu Impi. The donkey I found when scrabbling though a box of assorted figures at a show somewhere (remember them?) and its load is from various other sets. He'll provide one of the Woebetideus forces with the option to resupply with water and/or ammunition should the situation require it.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Cutting Out Action at Djouadd

It's been a while since I had anything to post about here but yesterday we gathered virtually for a game of Sharp Practice that deserves to be recorded.

The setting was the Woebetide Islands, specifically the Coastal Arab town of Aj Djouadd, where a French merchant ship had been seized. Achmed Ibn Faad, the local caid, in pursuance of his lawful duties (or if you prefer, the notorious pirate Achmed Ibn Faad in an attempt to extort money out of the French East India Company) had taken the Marie-Hélène Charretier and she now lay at anchor with a skeleton crew of sepoys guarding her.

The French, under Lieutenant de vaisseau Hollande (Phil Gray) were to launch a night-time cutting out mission to recover the ship and her crew. Richard Phillips ran the Arab forces assisted by Diego Correa who joined us from Santiago de Chile.  

I wanted to simulate the disruption to the Arabs' command and control caused by this being a surprise night attack but still give Richard some command decisions in the early stages.  I did this by asking him to rate his sub-commanders from most to least reliable and competent. Richard chose to put his best men in charge of the guard-crew on the merchantman and in the watchtower while the artillery crew and the patrolling dhow were led by less reliable followers.

I had Richard roll four dice (without telling him why) and used the scores to determine an Activation Value (AV) for each of his sub-commanders. The values were allocated in the order determined by Richard's ratings. Richard rolled 1, 1, 2, 5. The 5 was allocated to the crew of the patrolling dhow who now needed to roll 5+ on 1D6 before they could successfully activate. These rolls were needed until each group successfully activated. The sepoys in the watchtower could activate automatically (having an AV of 1+). The sepoys guarding the merchantman would have had an AV of 1+ except that I'd decided in advance that I would add +2 to their AV (up to a maximum of 6) as they had discovered the French skipper's secret stash of brandy on board!

I gave Phil the option of entering the table at any point along a "sea edge" of the table. 

He elected to bring on his boats right next to the watchtower. Lt Panais with a group of marines would land to the left the tower with two longboats carrying ship's guns landing to its right. Meanwhile another longboat would carry a group of sailors directly to the Marie-Hélène Charretier.

Immediately the marines rushed up the beach and the silence was shattered by a warning shot fired by one of two guards outside the barracoon. There was a brief flash of moonlight on bayonet and both guards lay dead. 

Six Arabs in the the watchtower had been alerted however and the marines came under fire from within, losing a couple of figures in the first few turns of the game.

The barracoon proved to hold the crew of the Marie-Hélène Charretier and they were shown to the marines' boat and told to join the attempt to recapture their vessel.

By now the crew of the Arab gun on the large hill to the east had awoken to the danger and roundshot began to rain down on the French boats.

Even the crew of the patrolling dhow managed to get their act together and they closed in on the attacking French boats. A blast at short range from their swivel gun put enough Shock on the recently freed crew they should have fallen back away from the enemy. We translated this to their boat sheering off to try and put the hull of the Marie-Hélène between them and the dhow.

In the picture below the grey boat containing the rescue merchant crew can be seen next to the two white longboats, who have just run up the beach. 

Meanwhile, Hollande's sailors had swarmed up the side of the Marie-Hélène Charretier. With pistols, cutlasses and boarding pikes they made relatively short work of the Arab guards and were soon starting to cut the anchor cables and sheet home a foresail to give them steerage way.

In the meantime, Achmed ibn Faad had gathered the men of the village and now led them in a wild charge to try and capture the beached longboats. despite a last minute blast of grape from the right-hand boat, the Arabs swarmed aboard and butchered the crew to a man (though it would later emerge that the leader of the guns, Enseigne Houllier, was alive but knocked insensible at the tiller). 

Success for the Arabs was brief, however. The other longboat had previously pulled back slightly from the beach and was able to swing around and blast the villagers in the other boat at point blank range. Grapeshot ripped through their ranks leaving the survivors demoralised and Achmed ibn Faad lying wounded.

We called it a day at 1700 GMT (1400 in Chile) with the Marie-Hélène Charretier in French hands but under fire from the dhow and from the cannon on the hill.

An honourable and enjoyable draw was declared but I think if we'd had another hour, the French would probably have been victorious.

Many thanks to Phil, Richard and Diego for taking part. We struggled a little with comms. We started using Discord but switched to Skype after a bit to see if it would be more reliable. It wasn't.

One final point; those few of you in the intersection of the sets "wargamer" and "folky" may like to note that Marie-Hélène Charretier is a French translation of "Mary Ellen Carter" - a little tribute to the late Stan Rogers.