Thursday 28 May 2020

Wargames Atlantic Afghans

I ordered these from Northstar as soon as they were released. I've been wanting to expand my Afghan horde for TMWWBK for a while so these seemed ideal - 40 models for £25 - bargain.
They then sat in the shed for a week or two, fermenting.

And then I played TSatF and that was all the inspiration I needed to dig them out for a little play.

So what do you get in the box?
8 sprues like this
 T'other side

There are five bodies on each sprue. Including a kneeling one - nice touch for mountain dwelling guerrilla fighters. The detail looks relatively deep, so they should be easy to paint and take washes well.

There are five arms carrying rifles (1) and muskets (4) with two more muskets and another rifle also on the sprue.

And four arms holding swords. There's also a punch dagger thingy.

All the arms are numbered and letters as pairs, important for the gun arms when one of the hands is cast on the gun and you have to match it up to a sleeve.
For the other single arms mixing and matching should be possible.
Plus of course these are plastic so hand and weapon swaps should be relatively straightforward

There are eleven heads three in skull caps. With a mix of beards and face coverings. They're animated but not excessively cartoony.

 There are also four shields and several swords in sheaths.

The plastic is hard - surprisingly so - almost brittle. I was alittle worried getting some of the more slender items off the sprue.
The bodies and arms seem fairly realistically proportioned - they're not at the chunky end of the 28mm spectrum - but they're definitely wargames soldiers, not scale models.
Some of the heads seem a big - perhaps it's the turbans - but they felt a little out of scale.

The arms and weapons take advantage of the plastic medium to be realistically slender. Which makes for a nice model but also makes them a bit fiddly.
I hate guns where you have one arm attached them have to glue the other arm on to meet it. I know it's really hard to do the two arms attached thing, but it's such a faff to assemble with all the different joints drying and slipping at the same time.
Aesthetically though I think the Wargames Atlantic approach of casting one hand on the weapon is better than the cupped hand and slot in weapon version.
But I did swear while doing this.

This head went on nicely. it's a flat join, not a ball and socket, so motion is a bit more limited and you have to make sure it lines up.

Several of the other heads ended up making really long necks and  I had to chop either head or torso (or both) down in order to avoid Pathan giraffes)

Overall I found assembling them a bit of a chore. They felt fragile, a couple of the join points to the sprues weren't that well thought out so some cleaning of flowing robes/folds of turbans was necessary.
And the overall poses just felt a bit awkward. I think I'm spoiled by Perry/GW where it's actually quite hard to make a bad looking model - with quite a few historical plastics I feel like I'm having to work hard to avoid making something awkward. So it took a little while to make five models I'm reasonably happy with.

Here's a couple of comparisons.
Left is an Old Glory

L:R Artizan, WA, Old Glory. The WA is clerly more slended than either of the others, but not a bad match height wise.

And here is the first sprue's worth.

So what do I think?
Overall they're OK.
Not great, but pretty good for bulking out a native force.
I often feel with historical plastics that while I may have got them "cheap" the time it takes to actually glue them together and make them look nice erodes a fair bit of the savings.
I'm not looking forward to sticking them all together, but they'll be just fine alongside my existing metal pathans meaning I can play bigger games - which has to be a good thing.
Of course the real proof comes in the painting, but the detail looks pretty good to me - there's no obvious undercuts or places where scabbards blend in to belts or the like - so I think they'll work well with my spray white, cover in wash "technique".
Of course I'm actually out of white spray so it'll be a while before I can find out.

If you're looking to do big battles on the NWF then they're probably worth getting - but for a skirmish game I'd probably stick with metals.
Also the Perry's are supposed to be working on a plastic pathan set - at which point I rather suspect these will become redundant.

Monday 25 May 2020

Patrol in the Chamla Valley - The Sword and the Flame

I've owned The Sword and the Flame rules for several years, but never played it.
I know they're a much loved set of rules (particularly, it seems across the Atlantic) but I'd never had the models or time to play. And latterly, when the model count issue was solved I've had The Men Who Would Be kings to give me a Colonial gaming fix.
However one thing that lockdown has provided is time, if not opponents, so I took the chance to give The Sword and the Flame a solo run out.

I set up the table to resemble the game in the battle report that appears in the rule book. The British patrol needs to march down the valley to secure a fort (or in my case village) risking the wrath of the local tribes.
Playing solo I split the Pathan forces into four groups (as happens in the AAR) and then used the turn of a card to decide if a particular feature held a native group when the British approached.

The 99th Humberside Patrol sets out under the command of Lieutenant Bartholomew.

A scout reveals the presence of Pathans in the brush.

Who duly give fire. Killing one man and wounding three more.

Bartholomew reorganises the column to return fire.

However he ignores his flank and more tribesmen appear.

And charge toward the British line.

Undaunted the British fire on the pathans, but with little success.

Fortunately the resounding crack of rifle fire is enough to deter the charging tribesmen who flee back toward the rocks.

More fire from the brush wounds more British and Bartholomew orders Sgt Wiseman to continue toward the sanctuary of the native village with the wounded.

While Bartholomew orders a charge on the pathans.

However like the tribesmen before them the charge falters at the last minute and the pathans take advantage to charge Wiseman and the wounded.

Bartholomew orders his men to the rescue

The pathans in the brush pick off a couple of British stragglers.

The fight is brutal and bloody.
Initial British success sees the pathan leader cut down, but numbers tell and Wiseman flees with two remaining privates.
Bartholomew attempts to turn the tide but is himself hacked down.

The last two Britsh soldiers gather up two of the wounded and head off back down the Chamla valley.

Resounding victory to the pathans whose valley remains free of British interference for now.

So what did I think of The Sword and the Flame?
Hmmmmm, well, I'm not sure.
I didn't play the British particularly well and the luck of the draw favoured the attacking pathans. But that's about me and the roll of the dice - not the fault of the game system.

I think the primary issue for me is what sort of a game does TSatF want to be? A skirmish where every model matters? Or a  small unit game - like TMWWBK?
Combat (and to a lesser extent) shooting feels too detailed (more skirmish level) for a "small unit" game. However there seems (to me) to be too many models for the former but too much detail for the latter. In fact I felt like the game needed more models on the table - I only ever had to turn over a maximum of three cards in any turn and the movement rates and gun ranges all suggested a bigger scale than skirmish to me.
Other examples of skirmish type mechanics in a unit sized game were that on two occasions troops charging disadvantaged enemy decided to turn tail for no reason. As far as I can see that will happen 1/3 of the time for your pathans.
Stragglers? Carrying wounded? Again OK for a genuine skirmish game (which for me is under 20 models on the table) but something that is better abstracted when you've got multiple units of 20+ models .
The D20 thing seems a bit odd too. 20D20 is a a funny old thing to have to roll.
Also I have to roll 20D20 for shooting, but whether I complete a charge is a single D6? Especially when the succes or otherwise of the charge is already impacted by distance rolled and stragglers.
I'm just not sure you need the level of granularity a D20 gives for the effects of massed unit shooting.

On the whole it just felt a bit "old fashioned". And I can see why that's a part of it's charm.

However it was only a first game and I played solo. I suspect familiarity with the rules would help and I've no doubt playing with the right sort of chap (or chapess) in the right sort of spirit would add immeasurably to the experience.

So I'm not completely given up on TSatF, but I think TMWWBK does most of the small unit type game better and Triumph and Tragedy works better for the skirmish type of game.

Friday 22 May 2020

Bad Squiddo Norse Witch on Moose

I bought this a while ago wanting it for games of Norse Of Gods and Mortals. What's not to love about a witch riding a moose?

She's mostly painted with contrast colours - just because I had some that seemed appropriate from when I painted the WarCry gang last year.

I'm not 100% happy with the moose, seems a little flat. I decided against a wash and went for plenty of drybrush, but I'm considering if it's worth washing and drybrushing again, just to try and bring out some contrast.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Uruk Hai and Orc Shaman

To further boost my chum's forces when he next brings his son over for a game I painted up the sprue of plastic Uruk Hai scouts I found in the pile.

Dead quick paint jobs, drybrush metal, plenty of browns, wash with not even any highlights.
When i started with Lord of the Rings I decided I'd always keep it quick and dirty as it was only ever a distraction from my first love Warhammer. Fortunately the sculpts are generally of good enough quality to give pretty good results to even basic paint jobs. And as a resuly I've got plenty of painted models to play with.

I took a little longer with the metal shaman figure, using various washes (rather than just the soaking in brown the Uruks got)
He's a character - so deserves a little more love. But it's still pretty basic.

He'll be a nice surprise for the other next time we play.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Warmaster Empire

A coiple more units touched up and rebased.

The paint jobs on these must be over fifteen years old.
I left them pretty much alone, jist a bit of touching up where they'd got a little chipped.
Then I rebased from snow to something more useful.