Monday, 30 December 2013

Monty's review 2013

2013 was a busy year. Concerning my personal development as well as concerning my wargaming hobby and this blog. I got acquainted to a lot of nice people and took part in several interesting games and project. Let me look back to the very beginning of this year and review it step by step. Some of you might remember some things or others but I hope not to bore you anyway:

January 2013
2013 started with a nasty pneumonia that tortured me for three weeks. Nevertheless I celebrated my blog's first birthday and started a new project which should keep me busy through the next months or years: Napoleon's retreat 1812. The first step were some humble conversions of mine.
My first Retreat 1812 figures... Victrix conversions.

February 2013
February started with an excellent session with my old friend Niclas. We shared paint pots and port wine and had some great time. But things got even better during the month. In mid-february we had a Napoleonic photo session and took some pictures mainly of Bernhard's excellent collection. Mainly for fun but additionally for the boys at Warlord Games who were working on the second "Albion Triumphant" Napoleonic add-on for Black Powder. Finally they took nearly all our pictures and published them in the book. And little proud we are of our work...
One of the pictures Warlord Games published.

March 2013
March was rather quit on Monty's Caravan. I didn't manage to finish more than four posts because I was rather busy with trying my new German renaissance bagpipe. But besides we prepared a special "Hail Fantasy!" (Hail Caesar ruleset with fantasy armies) game for Good Friday with our THS club. It took a lot of time to search my man-cave for all the old miniatures I needed...

April 2013
On Good Friday the large battle was fought. We used the holiday to spent the whole day with dice and miniatures. To be honest I don't remember the actual result but it was some great time with the boys from the club.
Large cavalry charge on the fields of Kuttel.
Additionally our blogging mate Andrew "Loki" Saunders celebrated his blog's second birthday and organized a nice little raffle. A very nice fellow who's running an excellent blog. Have a look there if you like perfectly painted vikings. Who doesn't? Meanwhile I had my first figures for 1812 painted and we started some gaming with a new ruleset one of our club fellows is developing. I had the great pleasure to experience the development from the very beginning and was occupied with a part of the historical research for a day after day review of November and December 1812. A lot of work but bloody interesting it was!
One of my Old Guard grenadiers for Retreat 1812.

May 2013
The next Mega-Game started to overshadow my hobby activities: We prepared AWI for our yearly summer event and the Crisis convention in Antwerp alike. So I chose a brigade of Scottish units and started painting them.
My first unit of AWI Scotsmen. Miniatures by Perry.
During the same month to fellow bloggers celebrated their 100.000th hit. Mike from "Trouble at T'Mill" and Tamsin the "Wargaming Girl" organized raffles to share their pleasure with us and while I was lucky enough to win a lot of Mike's raffle, I haven't been lucky enough to receive it until now...

June 2013
The AWI preparations went on and we fought the battle of Freeman's farm during one of our fortnightly club meetings. A great scenario from the Black Powder rulebook which Holger prepared for us gave us a couple of interesting and exiting hours.
British firing lins advancing...
Meanwhile a unique movement of wargamig bloggers started. Mainly Andrew "Loki" and James Brewerton with some fellows of theirs raised the idea of "Bloggers for Charity". The plan is to prepare a game together with interested bloggers which shall be presented on several shows in 2014. The main goal is to produce attention for charity initiatives and raise some funds for them. This time "Help for Heroes" and "Man Matters" will be focus of the project. Anyway I volunteered with painting some miniatures and maybe supporting some preparations for 2015 and so I'm in...
"Bloggers for Charity"

July 2013
Besides my birthday the preparations for AWI went on and I prepared some board tiles and a plowed field. Nothing to exiting for this month in the middle of summer but sweltering heat held me off being more productive.
August 2013
Finally our summer event took place. An awesome game of AWI Black Powder slightly based  on the Penobscot Expedition of 1779. It was two days of wargaming at its very best. Everything was well prepared by our THS club under the aegis of Bernhard and Kalle. On a board of nearly 6 meters x 4 meters we fielded hundres of figures and had a unique weekend.
One of my brigades chaaaaaaaaarge !

September 2013
September was a good month for the hobby. On the one hand Anne's raffle initiative for author Patrick Hatt was a great highlight and on the other hand I had the chance to tackle some other things than AWI after the big game was over. Firstly I started a small Saga band with GP plastic vikings and secondly our work on the 1812 ruleset continued. Especially Bernhard's collection was growing excellently and we had another great testing game at his.
The setting for our September game.

October 2013
The weeks before Crisis were rather busy with last preparations for our AWI game. I finished my command vignette, repared the officer's sabre and finished some other things for the great show.
The finished brigade command...
Meanwhile my blod reached a milestone and I noticed the 50.000th hit on Monty's Caravan. For this very reason I raffled a couple of modelling kits and Peter from Belgium as well as Sean from Texas were the lucky winners. By now both noticed me that they received their prices save and sound.

November 2013
Autumn is one of the seasons I like most. Although it's getting darker outside it's the time to spent some more time at home with my wife and our daughter and I enjoy these precious moments very much. Additionally this November gave me a lot of time for hobbying and blogging. However it started with Crisis in Antwerp and it was a unique experience to spent these two days out with the boys. The preparation of our AWI game worked perfectly and we had the great honour to be decorated as "Best presented wargame".
The boys...
Afterwards I turned my attention to another battlefield: Operation Deadstick and the struggle for Pegasus Bridge. I bought Warlord Games fabulous set and started building the kit. It was great fun to assemble the perfectly fitting parts and some nice terrain pieces started to come into being. So one of the tasks for 2014 will be to finish painting the bridge and building a board for it:
Café Gondrée, one of the excellent models of the set.

December 2013
The year is about to come to an end but the hobby doesn't. Curt's Analogue Hobbies 4th Annual Painting Challenge started and I was lucky enough to get a place on his list. My goal is to paint miniatures for 600 points until March 2014 and with 87 points after two weeks I'm on a good way hopefully.
The AWI scene I submitted to Curt's challenge.
Meanwhile Bolt Action came up again and we decided to play this nice ruleset more often in 2014. As appetiser we played two or three little scenarios starting with an exiting reconnaissance patrol in Russia 1942 which Holger hosted.
Part of our force...
In addition my efforts for 1812 went on and I started to paint a new band for the game as well as I did some humble correction work on the ruleset for the author. It's really exiting to see how it arises from an idea Bernhard had months ago and to be part of it. I'm honoured and pleased alike to have a humble share in it.
And last but not least I finished my first Saga-Vikings. After Chris and Auld Nick, two close friends of mine, got fascinated of the game and the miniatures I had to intensify my efforts on that battlefield. Finally the cornerstone for my warband is set and I'm confident to play my first games early in 2014.

Well... That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed this little review and I didn't bore you too much. It was great to share 2013 with you and I hope to see most of you next year somewhere in the bloggosphere or maybe out there in reality. I'm really looking forward to Crisis 2014 where Loki and James want to present the "Bloggers for Charity" game. It'll be a rare chance to get acquainted to you face to face. Salute will have stay on the to-do-list for some more time. On the one hand a trip from the continent to London is always a larger undertaking it will fall together with some refurbishment plans we have for our home. My little man-cave will have to give way to a second nursery and I'll have to search another slot for my hobby stuff. Simultaneously a lot of hobby projects will claim my attention: 1812, a Plancenoit project for 2015, Pegasus Bridge, Saga... A lot to do in 2014 but I'm looking forward to it!

Until then I whish you a 
HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best for 2014
May those who befell good in 2013 experience an equally good year 2014 and may those you befell bad have a better year next time. 
Let me close my blog for this year with Tiny Tim's dateless words:
God bless us, every one.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Some Vikings

Thanks a lot for your kind Christmas greeting. The festive were stressful and fulfilling  alike. It was pure delight to see see our little one realizing the feast and the stories for the first time. Equally I love to have my family around me and even my parents in law are bearable meanwhile. On Christmas Eve and on 25th December we traveled around visiting our kin and on 26th December they all gathered at ours and I cooked beef "Rouladen" a traditional dish from the Rhine area for them. Some great days and more or less the highlight of the year for me.

Meanwhile I was able to paint the finishing strokes on maybe the last miniatures I finished this year: Some SAGA-Vikings.
The first five vikings off my hirdmen box.
 Actually it started with a box of Viking hirdmen by Warlord Games which I bought much earlier this year. I just wanted to try some Viking stuff and prepared a set of them right away. Somehow it took several weeks until I finished them. By the way the excellent shield transfers are by Little Big Men.
With some of them I tried some green stuff conversions. I'm more or less satisfied with the cloaks I made but they're no great piece of art. Actually those guys were planned to take the place of the hearthguard with the figures above serving as warriors but meanwhile I but the nice Gripping Beast metal miniatures so their plastic counterparts will just fill the gaps or go to Ebay one day.

However unfortunately I can't submit them to Curt's painting challenge because I started painting before the challenge began. Therefor my next projects are closely related to the kind Canadian's contest. Currently I have some 1812 retreaters and of course the villain for the next bonus round on the workbench...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas !

It's the most festive time of the year and my wife and me have the blessing to share it with our daughter who seems to understand the meaning of ceremony for the first time. Of course for a three years old whirlwind her moderate wishes (only two things: a bicycle and a bathtub for Carla the doll) have a certain importance but it's pure delight to see her dancing around the house and singing "Oh Tannenbaum" (Oh Christmas Tree) or "Lasst uns froh und munter sein" (Don't know an English version...)...
We'll spend the next days with our family and so I'll not find the time for blogging while most of you will not find the time to read anything I presume.
Anyway I wish you all a a Merry Christmas !
Enjoy this wonderful and magical time of the year.

If you have two minutes then pay attention to my most favourite Christmas carol "Good King Wencelas". It always moves me deeply to listen to this lyric hymn.

Monday, 23 December 2013

The finished AWI Camp Scene

Yesterday I promised to post some pictures of the finished camp scene here. Et voilà:
 The figures are from Perry Miniatures. An excellent set the twins published last year. It contains of six figures and a camp fire piece. Two of the figures are combined to a woman combing a man's hair. The miniatures are as good as all miniatures from the Perrys I know. There was rather little flash and the were easy to prepare.
These figures are some of the first figures I primed black for a long time. Surprisingly the colours turned out as brilliant as they usually do on white primer. I didn't expect that since my black primer experience is based on Citadel colours which seem to be far less pigmented than Vallejo Model Coulour.

As usual I used Vallejo Model Colours and a film of Armypainter Quickshade for shades. Once againi I was surprised by the brilliance of a colour. Obviously the Quickshade stays fresh in the plastic bottles I decanted it in and it was much darker than I presumed. Apparently I was used to stale Quikshade with less free pigments.
Anyway for my humble skills and the temporal pressure I painted the vignette under  I'm really satisfied. Together with some tents, some trees or something like that it'll give a nice touch to the battlefield.
The vignette shall represent a couple of soldiers of the 3rd Regiment of Foot "The Buffs" whose 3rd bataillon fought during the American War of Independence from 1781 in Cornwallis forces. They stayed in the colonies until the bitter end at Yorktown and were sent to Jamaica afterwards. Anyway just now the boys are having some nice tea and a chat while two of their wives shepherd them devotedly.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

First entry to Curt's painting challenge... And more prepared

After a week the first figures for Curt's challenge were finished. First of all a drunken monk by Shadowforge miniatures which I painted last week after havig it lying around for ages. Here he is:
Drunken friar by Shadowforge miniatures
 As usual I painted the miniature with Vallejo paints and some Armypainter Quickshade. The result is rather fine I think although the face didn't turn out that nice. Anyway faces are kind of Nemesis for me so I shouldn't bother. Curt brought me to the idea that the friar might make an excellent lookout for Lindisfarne. Perfect idea, so he'll go into my Saga collection.

In addition I was able to pass the first bonus round with my AWI camp scene. With my painting speed a lot of work for one week but I finished all six models, the camp fire and the base. Because Curt just posted the pictures on his gallery for the challenge (here), I'll wait until tomorrow evening until I post the pictures here myself. Anyway here's a small teaser for those who cannot wait:
Meanwhile business continues on my workbench. First of all I started to prepare a figure for the second bonus round of the challenge "Villain" which is scheduled for the sunday after next sunday. Simultaneously I started to paint a set of retreat 1812 figures. On the one hand I want to present them on Curt's challenge and on the other hand I need them for a the set of skirmish rules a friend of mine is developing and I'm supporting a little. Additionally the miniatures for "Bloggers for Charity" are prepared and some other figures have been waiting to be finished for some time. Maybe I'll spend a few minutes on them during the next few weeks.

Friday, 20 December 2013

WIP Update

Just a short WIP update because you comments were so encouraging. My work with the camp scene is going well and I managed to paint the figures during the past days. This evening I glued them onto a suitable base and used acrylic paste to coat some gaps at the figures' baseplates:
Alltogether I'm satisfied with the intermediary result. No top-notch paintjob though but it will make a nice vignette I hope. Anyway I'm confident to finish them just in time for Curt's first bonus challenge.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

So it begins... My start into the painting challenge.

Sunday was dominated by family business. In the mornig I went for a swim with Viktoria and in the afternoon we all took a trip to Düsseldorf and visited the (ice) hockey game of Düsseldorf against Schwenningen in the German Hockey League (DEL). Both was great pleasure and I enjoyed it very much but it delayed my start into Curt's painting challenge slightly.

So monday evening I prepared my workbench to start the challenge with some male delight:
- a glass of sherry to a good challenge,
- a cigar for this very special occasion,
- a cup of my favoured Earl Grey tea,
- a game of hockey in the background
- and -of course- some miniatures to paint
The scene is set...
So the first task for me is the entry for Curt's "Non-Combatants"-round. Last week I found a nice drinking monk which I bought ages ago. It would make a perfectly unmilitary entry but I found it a bit to easy to paint just a single miniature to tap the bonus points. Therefor I stayed with my original idea and started with the AWI camp scene by Perry Miniatures. Since painting went rather well on monday and yesterday I'm confident that I'll finish them until saturday.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have for writing during the challenge but I'll keep you in the loop concerning the my progress.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Patrol to nowhere - Bolt Action AAR

Next-to-last friday we gathered for a quick game of Bolt Action. After a year which was dominated by AWI and Black Powder we needed a trip to more modern times and our knowledge of the Bolt Action rules needed a reboot. So one of the boys prepared a table in his annexe and created a scene in Russia in summer or early autumn 1942.
The small village from the German deployment zone's view.
There we met the outskirts of a small Russian village lying in the line of approach of the German forces. The village was occupied by Russian forces of unknown strength and therefor we had the order to reconnoitre it with a small advance guard of light troops. So we fielded some cavalry, a squadron of bikes, a SdKfz 222 with 20mm cannon, an infantry squad mounted on a SdKfz 251 and our platoon leader with his SdKfz 250 against the Red Army which was represented by a couple of green tokens for hidden deployment. Not all of these tokens stood for "real" troops so we didn't know the actual strength of our opposing players. Our mission was to explore as much of those tokens as possible to get a view of the enemy forces here.
To keep the rules simple for this test game neither side fielded artillery, mortars or any other weapons with special rules.
The SdKfz 251 discovering an enemy tank...
The start of the game went rather well. We rushed forward with the bikes and the 251 and both proved better than we feared. The bikes are awesomely fast and the 251 benefited from the recce special rule when it discovered a T34 blocking the road. When the tank took aim the SdKfz made a sudden escape move and disappeared around a hill to evade the T34's deadly cannon.
..but it escaped and the infantry squad it carried dismounted.
Unfortunately sooner or later things exacerbated. It seems we were a bit too brisk and went into a trap set by our Russian opponents.
Our bikers rushing over the fields of Russia.
 When the bikes reached the outer walls of the village three Russian units appeared and laid devastating gunfire on our squad. With some lucky dice they annihilated the bikers in one turn.
After three Russian units appeared the remains of our bike squad turn tail and run.
On the other flank it wasn't better. Altough the tracks of the T34 had a malfunction and left it immobilized (random event controled by our umpire) we didn't managed to destroy the T34. Even a courageous infantry attack with anti-tank grenades didn't put it over the edge.
Unlucky tank hunters...
Into the bargain there were further infantry forces appearing and aiming at the squad dismounted from the SdKfz 251. Those boys got a lot of lead to guzzle.
Kind of Russian counterattack.
 Until then our cavalry was acting as kind of reserve and we sent them into battle then to relieve the heavily cannonaded troops. But anyway there wasn't any chance to dislodge the entrenched Russians.
Cavalry trying to reliev the pinned bikers.
Of course dismounted since cavalry charges were a bit out of fashion in WW II... Unfortunately.
At this point of the game our forces were decreased heavily. Most of the units were either pinnend or badly hurt or even both. But there were still some points of interest to explore:
Still unknown spots on the map...
 We suffered severely when trying to explore the last tokens and finally reached all but three of them before retreat was indispensable.
SdKfz 222 securing the flank and sneaking forward.
 Although we didn't manage to complete our mission it was an interesting game and we had a lot of fun. It was great to play such an agile and quick force but it was lacking strength and firepower to handle contact with a serious enemy. Anyway  this gaming experience confirmed me in creating a light airborne force for Operations Deadstick and Market Garden. Assuming that the opponent doesn't field too many heavy tanks there are a lot of interesting matches to come. Last friday we were able to get a first idea of my Red Devils when we played the Pegasus Bridge scenario in a modified way to test the scenario rules and the army lists. But that's a story for another post...
A perplex squad leader in his scout car.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Preparing the Painting Challenge

Actually my next post was planned to be an AAR from the first of our last two Bolt Action games. But I didn't manage to prepare the pictures. I'm really sorry for that delay since my last post here is now a week old, but preparation of the Painting Challenge was so time consuming that I didn't have the time to edit the pictures for the AAR during the weekend.

So take this as a sign of live and a short preview on the things to come:
Grand Manner's Horsa Glider ready to be primed.
To be honest I can't remember when I prepared that many figures for the last time. During the last days I spent three evenings with deflshing, assembling and cleaning miniatures. But the result is a more or less complete set of the minitures I have on the list for the challenge and in addition some emergency miniatures for the unlikely event that I'm fast in painting then I expect.
Some Perry miniatures and a set of FIW British for "Bloggers for Charity" (by AW Miniatures)
Anyway my main goal is to pass all seven bonus rounds and of course the mandatory entry fee miniature. If my plan works I might get between 400 and 500 points with that. With a bit more enthusiams I could aim 600 points a goal which some well-known bloggers are on target for. Ray, Big Lee, Fran and Clint are duelling for this. Would you let me join your company of 600 points , gentlemen?

KGL Riflemen and other Perry miniatures degreasing.
However I'm really curious about the challenge and I have no idea whether I'll be able to pass my task or not. Nevertheless I presume I'll be an interesting experience and a lot of fun to share this with a lot of nice guys from the bloggosphere.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cold overcome and Pegasus Bridge assembled

This weekend was rather unpleasant since I was suffering an unpleasant cold. Cough, snuff and headache tortured me and I didn't manage to prepare an AAR from friday where we had a small Bolt Action game to recall the rules. Meanwhile I realized that there aren't too many good pictures but I'll present them later this week anyway.
The bridge in all its beauty.

But the last days weren't in vain since I found the time to finish the largest kit I ever constructed: Warlord Games incarnation of the famous Pegasus Bridge.
The whole terrain piece measures about 85cm x 45cm and is nearly 30cm high. It will definitely dominate any gaming table and momentarily I'm not sure whether I'll build a complete Pegasus table or whether I'll prepare some board tile for the bridge which fit into my current tiles. Anyway this piece is too awesome to place it just somewhere on a blue blanked which is called Caen canal.
The first paras stepping on the bridge.
On this picture you can get an idea of the size of the bridge. I marked the three Red Devils which I placed on the bridge that you can spot them easier. Those are the usual 28mm Bolt Action miniatures.

Momentarily I haven't glued all parts together. On the one hand to be able to place miniatures inside and on the other hand to make it easier to paint the different parts. Probably I'll let some parts unglued permanently to simplify storage and transport.

Anyway it was a pleasure to build this kit. The construction manual was simple but rather clear. The parts were cut extremely accurately and they were easy to remove from the sheets. After this experience I acquired a taste for MDF kits. Maybe I'll try one of the ships which Laser Dream Works offers next year...