Monday, January 30, 2017

Early French Legere in 18mm II

The sister battalion of French legere marches off the painting desk following closely on the heels of its first battalion.  With this battalion, the OB for Montebello looks complete.  Figures are from the fine line of AB Miniatures' early Napoleonics.  Excellent sculpts!  Shakos with side plumes make for an interesting contrast from the later, front and center plume or pop pom. 
Now, four battalions of French light infantry can be fielded for battles in this early war period.  More will be needed as the collection expands and more potential battles become possible.  As seen, none of the French light battalions carry flags.  I need to find samples to use as templates for creating early light infantry flags. 
Like the Austrian jaegers mentioned in the last post, this battalion empties The Lead Pile of French legere.  Seems an order to Eureka might be warranted.  Luckily, I received a Eureka voucher for Christmas!  First, I plan to paint down some of the early period cavalry before placing my next order.  With a focus on fielding Austrians and French for Montebello 1800, the Russian contingent has seen no action on the painting desk in a very long time.  Perhaps a unit or two of Russians can find their way into the painting queue?  My last order from Eureka included Russian cavalry and guns.  That might be a good place to start. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Austrian Jaegers for the 1799 Project

After pushing out a battalion of French legere, painting effort remains focused (temporarily at least) on the 1799 project.  Work is wrapping up on fielding units to complete the OB for Montebello 1800.  To that end, off the painting desk is a ten-figure battalion of Austrian jaegers from AB Miniatures
A couple more jaeger battalions would be useful but for now one battalion will do especially for Montebello 1800.  Besides, The Lead Pile is devoid of AB jaegers.  One more French legere battalion remains to muster off the painting desk.  It should move off into the painted box soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Early French Legere in 18mm

As work continues filling in the gaps of the Montebello 1800 OB, off the painting desk is one battalion of French legere.  These thirteen figures will be added to the 1799 project and like most figures in this project, all figures are AB Miniatures.  A suitable banner needs to be requisitioned for this battalion and its sister but for now it is ready to march into battle sans flag. 
One more battalion of French legere is needed to fill out the French OB and then all that remains to complete is one battalion of Austrian jaegers.  After that, Montebello 1800 will be ready for the tabletop. 
Of course, Montebello 1800 will not be ready until the several planned attempts at refighting the 1859 battle of Montebello concludes.  The first trial is in progress on the game table now and the Austrians are hard pressed early on.  One oversight is the discovery that I could not muster enough Austrian grenz for the battle and a couple of half-battalions of jaeger had to stand in.  Thought I had sufficient grenz mustered out but that seemed to be an alternative fact.  Depots have been called to fill out the missing grenz battalions.  I imagine these will be seen in the painting queue before long.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Alessandria Light Cavalry

Having an 1859 game out on the table provided even more the usual incentive to get an additional unit for the 15mm 1859 project into the painting queue.  This time, four squadrons (twelve figures) of the Sardinian Alessandria Light Cavalry Regiment trot off the painting desk.
These first rate figures are from Mirliton's excellent Italian War of Independence range.  While I do not field too many of Mirliton's infantry, their cavalry are probably my favorites from all manufacturers.  Excellent sculpts with figures offered in either walking or charging poses.  Many more bags of Mirliton cavalry await in The Lead Pile.  Enough bags I suspect to field all of the Sardinian and Austrian cavalry seeing service during the war.  It really is a shame that Mirliton make no French cavalry (or infantry) in 15mm.  Mirliton French cavalry would be well received, I bet.
Coming off the painting desk soon are three more reinforcements for the 1799 project.  These new recruits include three battalions comprising two battalions of French light infantry and one battalion of Austrian jaegers.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Battle of Montebello 1859 - Setup

After having put out the Montebello layout on the gaming table during the Christmas holiday, I finally have some time to begin playtesting the 1859 battle in 15mm.  As seen in the photo of the game table above, the battleground covers the entire 12 foot by 6 foot table.  Much of the area to the east of Casteggio was included so that the 1800 battle could be fought on the same layout.  
From Voghera looking east
The map stretches from beyond Genestrello in the west to far beyond Santa Guiletta in the east.
From Stradella looking west
Using a number of sources, I put together the following brief timeline for the historical battle to provide a sense of the flow of battle.

The French, under Forey, are positioned in Voghera and covered by ten squadrons of Sardinian cavalry under Sonnaz. Three squadrons hold the line of the Coppa River between Verreto and Casteggio.  One squadron holds the high ground at Codevilla. Four squadrons at Pizzale and Calcababbio watch the Staffola River and bridge at Oriolo.  The remaining two squadrons remain at Voghera with Forey.
Movements of French (blue) and Austrians (white)
The Austrian plan was to develop a reconnaissance in force to bring out the French and determine their strength and intentions.  To meet this end, Stadion advances in three columns along the Stradella-Voghera road.  The left column, under Urban, marches by the main road Broni-Casteggio with two battalions from Boer's brigade.  Paumgarten's two brigades (with Stadion attached) in the center column march from Barbianello-Casatisma.  The right column, under Hesse, marches on Oriolo by way of Cacababbio.  Spillberger's detached column marches on Montebello from the north.

Urban at Santa Guiletta is ordered to capture Casteggio.  Gaal's brigade to support if needed.  Casteggio is easily taken and attention turns towards taking Montebello.  If possible, Urban is to capture Genestrello and hold it until the right and center columns can move on Voghera.

Forey, in Voghera, learns of Stadion's advance.  Half a battery and two battalions of the 74th are ordered to the bridge crossing the Fossagazzo where two battalions of the 84th are already on line.  One battalion of the 74th moves towards Cascina Nuova with half battery while the other battalion of the 74th supports the 84th along the main road.  Sardinian squadrons of Novarra and Monferrato move out in support.

For the Austrians, Gaal leaves Casatisma to march on Montebello with one column using the main road; the other using the Coppa Valley as an axis of advance.  Bils' brigade remains in Robecco.  Having taken Montebello, Urban deploys his guns on the high ground and begins digging in.
Montebello looking from the north
Stadion and Urban in Montebello discuss the possibility of pushing on to take Genestrello and hold until the other two columns can catch up.  Urban sends one brigade back to Casteggio to prepare defenses while the other brigade is posted between Genestrello and Torraza Costa.  Gaal's brigade is to hold the rail bridge north of Montebello and outpost the line of the Coppa covering Casteggio.  Bils to remain in Casatisma.

Austrian orders in place when heavy fighting in direction of Genestrello.  Baum advances by railway driving one battalion of the 74th out of Cascina Nuova.  74th counterattacks with support from Blanchard's brigade.  Forey has three battalions at Cascina Nuova opposing two battalions of Baum's brigade.  Six French battalions at Genestrello oppose three battalions from Schaffgotsche's brigade.  Hesse' Austrian wing is held in check by Sardinian light cavalry regiment Aosta augmented by a couple of battalions.

Austrians lose Genestrello forcing Baum to fall back.  Reinforced by three battalions from Baum, Schaffgotsche barricades Montebello.

4:00pm - 5:00pm.
Forey attacks Montebello with ten battalions.  Blanchard attacks from below while Beuret attacks from the right.  Even though Montebello's church and cemetery are fortified, the French gain ground in repeated attacks.
Casteggio and Coppa River looking from north
Austrians abandon Montebello, beaten.  Exhausted, Forey does not pursue.

While Forey used his forces at hand effectively, Stadion failed to bring his superiority in numbers to bear.  Forey gained local superiority first at Genestrello and then at Montebello to drive the Austrians back across the Coppa River.

Montebello 1859 Order of Battle
Each box on the OB represents either one battalion, one squadron, one battery, or one-half battalion of light infantry.
My plan is to set up the forces and fight it out this weekend using my own rules.  For the first trial, the game will start about 2:30pm with the Austrians already in control of Genestrello and the French ready to attack.  Follow up replays may start at 11:00 allowing both sides much more flexibility.  It has been a couple of years since the 1859 collection has been out on the table and the rules have had no workout since the Battle of San Martino at that time.  If all goes well, I may reset and give Neil Thomas' Wargaming 19th Century Europe a try. 

Well, that is the plan anyway.  Will history repeat itself?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stradiots with Crossbow

A quick return to the 28mm Great Italian Wars project to field a trio of mounted Stradiots with crossbow.  With this Impetvs stand of light cavalry, the collection can now put on the field three such stands.  One stand is armed with lances, one armed with bows, and now this stand armed with crossbows.
As the other two Stradiot stands mustered before, these three figures are from Perry Miniatures.  Crisp detailing on the figures as expected from the Perry brothers with a number of (the all too familiar) tiny vent flash tidbits.  Seems like I never remove all of them until the figure is almost finished.  Oh well.  I do enjoy Perry figures!
Next up for the Italian Wars project will be two skirmish stands of Italian bowmen from TAG

Monday, January 16, 2017

Top Commenters Gift Card Drawing

I enjoy receiving feedback from readers.  One feature of maintaining a wargaming blog is that a blog entry may have many views but most readers lurk rather than leave a comment.  That is fine.  Those that leave comments are greatly appreciated.  Those visitors who routinely post comments are honored.  The purpose of the Top 10 Commenters widget allows identifying the most prolific followers.

To show my appreciation and gratitude to the cadre who not only take the time for a visit but also to compose a reply, I offer a drawing of one USD$25 Gift Card to one reader on the Top 10 List.  The Gift Card can be chosen by the recipient and valid towards any vendor allowing purchase of an electronic gift card. is an example of a book vendor fitting this criteria as are Eureka Miniatures, Brigade Games, and Newline Designs.  There are many others.  If the winner can find a vendor offering this capability, I will purchase the gift card and send the voucher on via email.      

Entries are weighted by rank.  That is, Gonsalvo at the top of the rankings receives 10 entries.  Dartfrog in Slot #2 receives 9 entries down to Scott MacPhee in 10th place with 1 entry.  Drawing will be by Simple Random Sampling with weighting by rank.  That is it.  On to the drawing...

And the winner of the USD$25 Gift Card is: 

Selection Method Simple Random Sampling

Input Data Set PWJ2017
Random Number Seed 195687001
Sample Size 1
Selection Probability 0.018182
Sampling Weight 55
Output Data Set SAMPLESRS


Congratulations, Jake.  A good way to begin 2017 with an unsolicited gift.  Please send me your email details along with your vendor of choice.  If for some reason you wish not to receive the voucher, I will draw again.

N.B. 18JAN2017 - Dartfrog requested a Warlord Gift Card as his award.  It has been sent.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Few More Moors

A foursome of Moorish horsemen make it out from the painting desk.  After picking up a bundle of BTD cavalry from the late fall sale, I need to work my way through the pile of Reconquista cavalry.  One quartet of Arab cavalry pulled out from the painting desk in December and this stand follows not too far behind.
One more stand of Arab cavalry is on the workbench to follow closely on its heels.  Before that third Moorish cavalry stand is called up for service, a Spanish heavy cavalry stand will muster out.  With balance of power in the cavalry arm leaning decidedly towards the Arabs, many more Spanish or Christian cavalry need to see action at the painting table to even the odds.
Under Impetvs, this stand will rate as 'CM' which I denote using four figure stands.  Looking at my painting log, seven units for the project were added in 2016.  All but one unit was cavalry.  Still, many many more cavalry remain in The Lead Pile.
When will the collection see action on the gaming table?  Sometime in 2017 with a testing of Basic Impetvs 2.0. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wizard Kraft Kickstarter Rivers

After having jumped into Wizard Kraft's Kickstarter last fall on the recommendation of several friends, I waited anxiously to see the product.  Although promised for a November delivery date, the package finally arrived around the first of January.

When I opened the slender box, I found the contents of my Kickstarter Backer Reward.  I selected the  one inch Temperate Muddy configuration package containing the following pieces:
  • 1 x Lake
  • 1 x Swamp
  • 1 x 12" straight ford
  • Left & Right fork
  • 2 x 12" straight sections
  • 1 x 8" & 1 x 4" straight section
  • 1 medium 45º bend set (2 x 6" long pcs)
  • 1 x small 45º bend set (3 x 4" long pcs)
Note that "one inch" river section denotes the width of the water feature, itself and does not include the width of bank on either side.  The final width of a one inch river is about two inches.  Upon first review, the pieces are much thinner than expected.  The profile on these pieces is quite slim.  No built up embankments and the pieces lay flat with ease. 
The joins between each piece match up very well and are practically invisible from a distance.  The craftsmanship on the flocking and hand-painting is brilliantly executed.  The couple behind Wizard Kraft seem to take great pride in the work they produce.  High quality rivers.  
Having backed the kickstarter beyond my initial $75 pledge, I took advantage of the free shipping to spend the remainder of my pledge for several other river packages.  All additional rivers packages were of the one inch, temperate muddy river variety to match this batch.

Great stuff!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Painting Log In Review

While a handful of units still need their shot at a photo session, The Painting Log for 2016 received its last entries on 29DEC2016 before I departed for Mexico.  In summary, 
  • Total Number of figures painted: 1,105 figures and 25 pieces of equipment
  • Total Number of Adjusted Painting Points: 4,317
Given my Top 5 goals put forward at the beginning of the year,
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for Second Italian War of Independence (1859) project in 15mm
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland project in 18mm
  • Add to Great Italian Wars project in 28mm
  • More gaming including first game using the 1799 collection
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for 18mm SYW and 15mm Samurai Battles projects (100 figures each)
How did I do working towards these goals in 2016?
  1. Reduce The Lead Pile for Second Italian War of Independence (1859) project in 15mm - 373 figures.
  2. Reduce The Lead Pile for 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland project in 18mm - 376 figures.
  3. Add to Great Italian Wars project in 28mm - 108 figures
  4. More gaming including first game using the 1799 collection - No increase in gaming seen in 2016 and no 1799 game.
  5. Reduce The Lead Pile for 18mm SYW and 15mm Samurai Battles projects (100 figures each) - Not much work here.  No SYW figures crossed the painting desk and only one unit of Japanese mustered off the painting desk.
Even though I noticed Goals 4 and 5 were slipping away at mid-year, no corrective action occurred.  Plenty of time to adjust the course but I failed to make changes.  I suppose other tasks took higher priority.  One example is work on the 19th Century Great Game project where 101 figures crossed over to the painted side of the tally slate.

Having made good progress on fielding figures for both the 1859 (373 figures) and 1799 (376 figures) projects, The Lead Pile did not experience much reduction since I restocked both projects throughout 2016.  Tough to reduce The Lead Pile when it keeps getting replenished!

Enough of that.  Time to move on to the graphs.  As with past years' analytics, painting totals are presented in unadjusted (raw) figure counts as well as adjusted figure counts.  Adjusted counts consider figure size as a component while unadjusted simply tallies the number of figures processed.  Adjustments are made based on Analog Hobbies' Painting Challenge points system.

On an unadjusted basis of painted figures by era (Figure 1), the major efforts were in the 1859 and 1799 projects garnering about 33% of total production each.  Next, The Great Italian Wars project and Great Game project come in with about 9% each.  Work on The Great Game project was motivated by expectations to put the Russians and Sikhs onto the field of battle in their first taste of combat.  Alas, we never could get schedules coordinated to put on such a game.  Perhaps in 2017?
Figure 1
On an adjusted figure count basis (Figure 2), the percentages by project transform as the weighting of the 25/28mm projects (Italian Wars, Great Game) dampen the effects of the 18mm projects (1859, 1799).  As in many classifications, size does matter.
Figure 2
Turning to disaggregating counts by scale (Figure 3), 15/18mm production dominates the output by more than two-to-one over 25/28mm painting. 
Figure 3
On an adjusted basis, the 25/28mm classification not only closes the gap with 15/18mm production but actually dominated it with a 55% to 45% margin.   
Figure 4
On an unadjusted basis, painting trends show consistency in 2014, 2015, and 2016 with each producing about 1,100 figures (Figure 5). My painting goals for the last three years have targeted about 1,000 figures annually.  I can hit some goals!  The 2016 stacked bar confirms that my focus on the 1799 and 1859 projects paid dividends.  Now to get these projects onto the gaming table.
Figure 5
Converting these counts to an adjusted basis by Year and Scale (Figure 6) shows that painting output in 2016 reached the fourth highest output since painting statistics have been tracked.  2015 was the third highest.  Again, I am showing some consistency.
Figure 6
Project diversity continued in 2016 as seen from the variety of differently colored bars in Figure 7.  Even given the 2016 focus, many projects crossed the painting desk.  For me, project diversity is key to preventing burn-out or loss of painting mojo. 
Figure 7
On an adjusted basis, Figure 8 reconfirms that 2016 was a good year at the painting desk registering my fourth highest annual points' total to date.  
Figure 8
While neither the 1799 nor 1859 projects saw action on the gaming table in 2016 as planned, games in these two periods are very close to seeing fruition.  The 1800 and 1859 battles of Montebello are almost ready for playtesting.  The map for Montebello has been transferred onto the gaming table and OB and scenario details for the 1859 action are in the final stages.  Playtesting should begin by the end of January.

What lays ahead for 2017?  Well, in general, more gaming would be most welcome and a new project (Neo-Assyrians) will likely take center stage.  Those thoughts are for another post.  Until next time. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mexican Riviera for the Holidays

With snow piling up on the Home Front and temperatures forecasted for the single digits, we loaded up the two girls and their families and headed south to begin the New Year with a week in sunny Mexico.  

Rather than fly to one destination for a week's stay, we chose to book everyone onto a seven day cruise out of Los Angeles aboard the Norwegian Jewel.  With five adults and two grandkids, this should be a week to remember.
We sailed from San Pedro on DEC 30 with the first two days of the cruise to be spent at sea.   On this particular cruise, there are three ports of call: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.  After three nights on open water, the Jewel arrived to dock in Puerto Vallarta.
While I was interested in taking a taxi into Old Town, the rest of the family opted for a leisurely day on the beach.  Ensuring that they made it to a suitable beach, I left for the Malecon for a long stroll.

All along the Malecon or Promenade are displayed numerous sculptures; a few of which are captured in the following photos.

After strolling along the Malecon and trying my best to avoid contact with aggressive vendors, I headed back in the general direction of the ship.  First, I visited the Mercado for look around and then to a pharmacy for sunscreen.  Now, the ship was docked about three miles from Old Town so I was faced with a long hike.  Temperatures were hovering in the upper 70s F so the walk would be warm.
Having returned to the beach where I deposited the family, I searched for them but found no one.  Figuring they must have returned to the ship, I followed suit.  Of course, I stopped for a nice cold drink before boarding.  Back on board, I surveyed the pool deck from above.  
Returning to the room, I found a message stating everyone had found a nearby resort in which to spend the day and that I could join if I returned in time.  Since the ship would be underway in less than two hours, I opted to find a snack on board and await their return.

With everyone back on board, in late afternoon, the Jewel set off for our next stop, Mazatlan.
When the ship docked in Mazatlan the next morning, we negotiated a van to drive into the Zona Dorada for a day of shopping and sunning.  After shopping and a snack consisting of huge plates of guacamole and chips, we went out onto the jetty before hailing a taxi to return us to the ship. 
As the NCL Jewel left Mazatlan harbor, another cruise ship from Holland America line followed us out into the open sea.
Next stop:  Cabo San Lucas and the famous Lands End.

Arriving at 0700 in the harbor and a short day onshore, we had a quick breakfast and made plans for the day.  The plan was to tender to the port, negotiate a boat for a tour of Lands End, and then have the boat deposit our group at a resort for a mid-morning lay about on the beach. With no port facilities large enough to handle a cruise ship, we are forced to reach land by ship's tender.

Up close, the rock formations of Lands End are fabulous.  With more time, snorkeling in among the rocks and fish would be great fun.  Maybe next time?

Passageway leads from Sea of Cortez to Pacific Ocean

Having completed the 45 minute tour and being deposited back on shore, the group settled in for play time on the beach.  At this time, our group split up to explore different areas of Cabo with the two grand kids remaining on the beach with their mother and Grandma.  While my youngest duagther and her husband struck out up beach to try paddle boarding, I headed back into town to find Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina.  We agreed to meet back on ship (hopefully!) before sailing.  

After meandering through the streets, I found the object of my search; Cabo Wabo.  Being a fan of Van Halen and especially Hagar's stint as frontman for the band, I enjoy paying a visit when in Cabo.
Since it was very early in the day, no band was performing but the stage was set and lit so that I could snap a photo.  The place reminds me of a dungeon.  Not too dissimilar from some of the bars in which I performed in my younger days.
Back on ship, I could get a general survey of the harbor and town.  Seems to have been much development since my last visit for my 50th birthday in DEC 2008.

As we set sail from Cabo, there would be one more sea day and then back to Los Angeles to get our flights home.

When we returned home, we were welcomed by more snow and 30 degrees of frost.  Quite a contrast from where we spent the last week.  
Nancy could be found thumbing through real estate ads for condos in Cabo this morning!