Sunday, January 31, 2016

Vernazza and the Cinque Terre

With a light dusting of snow falling on my fair city this Sunday morning, thoughts turn to travels during warmer times.  
One stop during our 2014 trip to Italy is the focus for today's pictorial.  During that trip we made a generally south to north journey following a route of Rome-Florence-Lucca-Pisa-Vernazza-Milan.
When traveling, for two weeks, we try to fit in a rest stop at some point during the journey to relax a bit, do some laundry, and enjoy the culture for a few days.  On the 2014 Italian trip, Vernazza on the Cinque Terre was to be that resting place.
To reach Vernazza from Pisa, a change of train was required in La Spezia.  With the five towns on the Cinque Terre packed into the rocky cliffs close together, a passenger must remain alert in order to get off the train at the appropriate stop.  
Managing to detrain at the Vernazza stop, we grabbed our bags and climbed down from the elevated train station and headed out into the center of town in search for our accommodations.

Wanting a view of the harbor including Doria Castle, we booked a small room high up on the hillside overlooking the town, harbor, and tower.  Although the host stated that it was a ten minute walk up to the apartment, the number of stairs and steepness of the climb was a surprise especially carrying luggage.  
Where was our room?  Perched high upon the cliff overlooking the town and harbor.  It was a long hike up the side of the hillside to a spectacular view looking down upon the magnificent, pocket harbor.  Our residence for the next three days is pinpointed by the arrow in the photo below.
If the climb up to the rook had not taken our breath away, the view from our abode certainly would have.  Below is the view from our room.  Spectacular!
The small beach seen in the photo above was not accessible before the torrential rains and flooding in 2011.  Under the main street runs a stream that flooded during the 2011 storm cutting a new access point to the secluded beach.
Now, the beach is a popular attraction and provides the residents of Vernazza something not accessible before; a beach!
Still, the main attraction of Vernazza remains its inner harbor.  Certainly one of the most photographed spots on the Italian Riviera.

To maintain a military history tie, at the upper end of Vernazza stands a plaque commemorating the village soldiers lost in both World Wars.  In the WWII section of the plaque, some fallen soldiers are denoted as "Part."  These fighters were partisans who lost their lives fighting against Mussolini in the hills surrounding the  Cinque Terre. 
Given the long and challenging hike from our room to the town center far below, we often took a meal on our terrace overlooking the harbor and Doria Castle.
On more than one occasion, I left my wife on the terrace and descended down the trail in search of foodstuffs in the town center.  We found a variety of edibles including good seafood, a great farinata and the best gelato of our entire trip.  Of course, we visited the gelateria daily!
Vernazza is definitely worth a stop when traveling through the Cinque Terre.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Late Medieval/Renaissance Mounted Bowmen

With four units of 15/18mm figures passing across the painting desk, time to throw something different into the mix.  That something different is a three-figure stand of mounted bowmen.
When I ordered these fine Foundry fellows, my intent was to press them into service in the Great Italian Wars project.  After painting them, I looked through the Impetvs Great Italian Wars Army Lists in search of CL mounted bowmen.  Well, I did not find them fielded in any army.  Perhaps they will see service as mounted crossbowmen?

The lesson:  Research twice and buy (and paint) once!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Austrian IR#18 in 18mm AB

The 1799 project continues to see action at the painting desk.  Following close on the heels of IR#43, a second Austrian infantry regiment departs the painting desk.  Off the desk today are two battalions of IR#18.  While the earlier IR#43 was kitted out in the new 1798 pattern helmet, IR#18 marches off wearing the casquet.

While the helmet is a cool headgear, I find the casquet an equally nifty form of head wear.  As before, these 26 figures are AB Miniatures.  Excellent sculpting!  
Next up for the 1799 project will be a selection of artillery for the Austrians and Russians.  Until then, painting switches to a couple of small 28mm units.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2nd Zouave Rgt in 1859

Back to the 1859 project to add a regiment of French Zouaves to the roster.  Figures are the 'old' Old Glory 15/18mm models manufactured and sold by 19th Century Miniatures
The 2nd Zouave Regiment is fielded in three, twelve figure battalions for a total of 36 figures.  During the 1859 campaign, the 2nd Zouaves were a component of MacMahon's 2nd Corp in the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division.
While another French infantry regiment for the 1859 project is on the painting desk, a number of other units are in work too.  Likely next off the painting desk will be two battalions of Austrian infantry for the 1799 project.  Rather than more Austrians in helmets like the previous offering,  these lads will be mustering out in the old casquet. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Austrian IR#43 in 18mm AB

Having proclaimed that 2016 would see more painting effort focused on 15/18mm in general and the 1799 and 1859 projects in particular, off the painting desk are two battalions of Austrian (German) fusiliers for the 1799 project. 
While all of the other painted Austrians for the project are, thus far, wearing the pre-regulation 1798 casquet as headgear, IR43 is fielded in the post-1798 helmet.  The 1798 helmet likely was not introduced in a timely fashion so having most of the Austrian regiments donning the casquet into 1800 (or even later) seems a plausible decision to me.
Following IR43 is another two battalion Austrian regiment for the 1799 project.  With the next regiment in the queue, I return to casquet-wearing, German fusiliers.  In queue are a few artillery pieces to provide a bit of punch to the Austrians and Russians.  As I dig through The Lead Pile, I see that more artillery for all combatants is needed.  Of course, I could press existing artillery from the main Napoleonic collection into service for this project but I have decided to field era specific crew rather that using figures from the later periods.  Since the 1809 Austrian artillerymen are wearing bicorne, they could be easily pressed into service if needed.  For now, my goal is to supply separate artillery but I may change my mind.  More attention is needed on fielding cavalry too.  
With focus and energy returning to this project, time to begin pouring over OBs for a few of the 1799/1800 battles.  Which battle to address first?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Command Tents for Samurai Battles

With two stands for the Samurai Battles project completed near year-end, that project maintains a spot in the current painting queue rotation.  Off the painting desk are two command tents.  
While many of the Samurai Battles scenarios do not require command tents, a few do.  Wanting to build a comprehensive set of units for the game, a recent Peter Pig sale was an opportunity to pick up a few of these missing pieces.
Included in the composition of each of the command tents are one-half of a Maku screen, generals and messengers, and signalers with drums and conch shell.  Enough packs to field two populated command tents.
Since this project has been based for play on a two inch hex grid mat with double sized bases, each command tent is set upon three, 50mm hexes.  The 2 x 50mm hexes also fit within Jake's four inch hex mat.  Flexibility!
Each command tent's entourage was themed in either red or black lacquered armor to make each easily distinguishable on the battlefield. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Camelry for the Reconquista

Only one unit for the 28mm Reconquista project made it across the painting desk in 2015.  To remedy that neglect, I begin 2016 with a four figure stand of Moorish camelry from BTD.  
The camels from BTD are wonderful beasts.  Large creatures with much character.  Quite enjoyable to paint.  Considered medium cavalry under Impetvs, this stand is the second camelry to be fielded in the project.  Four more of these beasts lounge in The Lead Pile.  Although nearly 50 Impetvs stands have been painted to field two opposing forces, a ton of lead remains to cross the painting desk.  Perhaps, more of these will hit the painting desk in 2016?  An even better result would see this collection in a game at some point in 2016.
What else is currently on the painting desk?  Under construction are two command tents with commanders and entourage for Samurai Battles in 15mm, four battalions of Austrian infantry for the 1799 project, and a few sections of rock wall.   

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Parker's Gatling Guns in the SAW

While I have a couple of mountain guns for the Spanish forces in my SAW project, no infantry support for the Americans,  That is, until now.
 Off the painting desk are two Gatling guns from Old Glory's excellent 25mm SAW range.  I know, I have sung the praises of this figure line before but I continue to be impressed.  These figures are quite enjoyable to paint too.  Utilitarian uniforms that are easy to paint and take the Minwax stain well.  Very tempted to throw another unit of US infantry into the painting queue.  My 2016 painting goal of focusing on 15/18mm figures may not last long.
These two guns should be able to provide much needed punch to any American assault upon Cuban hillocks held by determined, Spanish defenders.

The SAW project is another one of my collections vying for table top time.  Perhaps, I will see them in action in 2016?  For rules, I have long considered using Pinnacle's Fields of Honor.  I played the rules decades ago and they provided a good game and created an interesting narrative.  The game, itself, is scalable to any size action too.  One of the few sets of rules where weapons' ranges scale out to mirror historical distances.  In lower level scraps where weapon ranges can cover the entire table, one really needs cover to be able to advance on an enemy position.  I need to dust it off and see how it has held up over the years.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Project Plans 2016

Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future - Niels Bohr

Looking back...
Quite a lot of figures crossed the painting desk in 2015.  From 2015 Painting Analysis, 1,145 figures crossed over from The Lead Pile to the Painted Ledger.  The distribution of figure counts even exhibits an improvement in focus over 2014 which surprises me.  Comparing the charts from 2014 to 2015, I managed to reduce the number of distinct periods worked on from 12 to 8.  That shows a bit more focus, yes? 

Revisiting and summarizing my goals for 2015, I laid out the following top project guidelines for tackling The Lead Pile back in January 2015: 
  1. Second Italian War of Independence in 15mm
  2. 1799 Napoleonics in Italy and Switzerland in 18mm
  3. Peninsular War Napoleonics in 28mm
  4. Great Italian Wars in 28mm
  5. Minden SYW Prussians in 1/56 
How did I do with these Top 5 goals for 2015?
  • 15mm 1859 Risorgimento Project - 234 infantry, 36 cavalry, and 3 limber teams made it across the painting desk.  Finally got an earnest start on fielding French.  
  • 18mm 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland Project - managed only a dozen cavalry during the entire year.  I had such high hopes too.
  • 28mm Napoleonic Peninsular War Project - Great progress on this goal.  159 infantry, 41 cavalry, and two guns and crew were fielded.  I was able to reduce The Lead Pile for this project from two large boxes down to one.
  • 28mm Great Italian Wars Project - limited work on this new project.  Only 16 infantry, 18 cavalry, and one gun with crew passed over the painting desk.
  • 1/56 SYW Minden Prussian Project - I managed to push out one 32 figure battalion of Prussian musketeers.  I made my goal of one battalion, but just.
What unplanned work was completed?  Well, I began a 25mm 19th Century Great Game project on a whim.  That whim resulted in fielding 146 infantry, 20 cavalry, and two guns with crew.  No small feat in itself and a surprising result.  The 28mm WWII project was reignited with our introduction to Chain of Command.  The 28mm Spanish-American War project also saw unplanned additions of 60 foot and two Gatling guns.  Of course, quite a few other figures passed across the painting desk too.  The number of figures painted and painting points exceeded goals.  Surpassing the painting point goal was helped, in part, by concentrating on 25/28mm figures.  On balance, a pretty good year before the mast.

Looking forward...
For 2016, I will shuffle the deck chairs of 2015 around a bit.  With good work on reducing the unpainted 28mm Napoleonics lead during 2015, that project will drop out of the top goals for 2016.  A large box of unpainted Napoleonic lead remains and a few more figures are incoming.  I will try to keep the unpainted lead contained to only one box.

Having been seemingly focused on producing 25/28mm painted figures in 2015, painting focus will shift to the 15/18mm side of the project ledger in 2016.  With that in mind, both the 1799 and 1859 projects should remain high on the objective list.  Keeping with 15/18mm projects, add in work on the SYW and Samurai Battles projects.  With painting determination and buying restraint, much of the unpainted SYW and 17th Century Japanese inventory could be reduced significantly.  I would like to see a few new units added to both the 25/28mm Great Italian Wars and Reconquista projects.  Add to that more work in the 25mm 19th Century Great Game and 28mm Peninsular War projects.  One new project awaits in the wings but 2016 may not quite be the year to begin. 

For gaming, one goal is to host/attend twelve group games in 2016.  I know, not always feasible but I will make the effort.  Focusing on fielding units for the 1799 project should finally allow a first game in 2016.  Getting the 1859 project back onto the gaming table would be welcome too.  More gaming in Impetvs for Great Italian Wars, Reconquista, and Ancients.  For the Great Italian Wars project, commit to adding one pike block plus accompanying supports to the painted ledger.  Field two cavalry stands.  More gaming with Commands & Colors including Samurai Battles.  Having gotten the 15mm Napoleonics and 30mm ECW collections out onto the gaming table in 2015 for the first time in ages, commit to getting another old stalwart, the 10mm ACW collection, into a game.  A number of boardgames lay in wait too.  I would enjoy seeing a few of these out on the table.

Having become inundated with boxes of painted figures and unused collections, thoughts have turned towards culling one or possibly two projects.  These projects are yet to be named but they know who they are.  

Given the thoughts and criteria above, my Top 5 goals for 2016 are,
  1. Reduce The Lead Pile for Second Italian War of Independence project in 15mm
  2. Reduce The Lead Pile for 1799 Napoleonics in Italy and Switzerland project in 18mm
  3. Add to Great Italian Wars project in 28mm
  4. More gaming including first game using the 1799 collection
  5. Reduce The Lead Pile for 18mm SYW and 15mm Samurai Battles projects (100 figures each)
For painting counts, I will set the 2016 target figure count at 1,000 figures.  The 2016 Top 5 Goals are dominated by 15/18mm projects.  Still, expect to see a variety of projects crossing the painting desk including many of the 25/28mm projects.  

As I re-read the above, my 2016 goals still produce a scatter gun approach with a little of everything on the slate.  That should be plenty to keep the painting desk and gaming table busy in 2016.  Sometimes, focus is a hard master.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dismounted Cavalry in 10mm

Following my earlier parade ground review of the 10mm ACW project (see 10mm ACW Project in Review), a need for fielding dismounted cavalry became apparent.  While a large number of half-size stands could be pressed into service to represent the dismounted horsemen, a bag of Old Glory figures lingered in The Lead Pile.  Having about 50 figures in the bag, why not paint and field them?  Why not, indeed!
Off the painting desk are 30 Federal and 21 Confederate dismounted cavalry.  All are based three figures per base in open order.  Under Regimental Fire and Fury, dismounted cavalry are always considered as being in extended line.
With a dismounted cavalry contingent ready for action, I can put the collection away until the next game.  Hopefully, 10mm ACW will be back on the gaming table soon.  Perhaps, I should look into developing a scenario?  Should a game focus on regimental-level BMUs or brigade-level BMUs?  Time to hit the books.