Saturday 30 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [8]

I snatched some time during the day to finish off the second of the two improvised armoured cars. This one was originally going to have a turret mounted machine gun on the top but I thought this would have made it too tall alongside the other vehicles. I also ran out of ideas for suitable turret making bits, which didn't help. I've tried to make the end result similar but different to the other truck, which seems like a good idea.

As a result, I added a single side mounted machine gun which would (in reality) have a limited 180 degree arc of fire. In the rules an improvised armoured car is considered to fire in a full 360 degrees. I quite like the ad hoc look of the side mounted variant, so will just have to drive around in circles if my opponents question the effective arc of fire.

Back of Beyond Expedition [7]

I finished off the improvised armoured car yesterday, using some 1/35th scale ammo box lids as hatches, together with some loopholes for rifles in the sides. I also knocked off  the last of the unarmoured trucks with a few bits and bobs, then started on the last of the improvised armoured vehicles.

I also did a wheel swap on the tanker truck to make it fit with the other vehicles. I'm getting a bit bored with this phase of the project so I'm hoping to move onto the painting tomorrow to liven things up a bit. I'll undercoat all the vehicles and figures at some point today to get them ready for the painting stage.

Friday 29 April 2011

The Rules With No Name

I spotted a couple of really good half price deals on TRWNN over on the Foundry website yesterday, with the rulebook bundled together with two to four packs of figures. I already have the rules but thought some of the chaps at the club would be interested. A few of us have posses for Legends of the Old West already, I have Mexican outlaws and Lawmen, for example:

Some of the others have been interested in getting into Wild West gaming, being put off by the GW rules up to now. A game is on the cards for sometime later in May, with a couple of the usual suspects getting the rules now that they're on special offer.

I quite like the look of TRWNN, especially the one on one gunfighting focus and the card based turn sequence. It's also got me thinking about another small posse of figures, which is most likely to be some cowboys, as I have a few nice Foundry figures that would be ideal. It'll re-invigorate an old project and give me something quick and easy to turn around.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [6]

I've tinkered around with the improvised armoured truck by cutting down the cab and adding some rivet holes on the armour plating, together with a front mounted machine gun for self defence. I'm happier with the end result now but it still needs some baggage to finish it off.

I've also added some bits and bobs to a second diecast truck to make another unarmoured machine gun carrying vehicle. You may have noticed the lack of a machine gun but I'm thinking of getting a pack of pintle mounted guns from Pulp Miniatures (via Minituricum) to kit them out with something suitably intimidating.

If I can winkle some time out of the tedious royal wedding agenda over the weekend, I'll try to put together a second ad hoc armoured car and the last of the unarmoured trucks, so that I have everything assembled for painting by the start of May. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [5]

Here's the latest addition to the Back of Beyond, in the form of a not quite finished improvised armoured AC Mack lorry. It still needs some detailing, perhaps with tiddly rivets if I can work out how to do them, together with a machine gun next to the driver's vision block.

I'm not sure if it's quite what I'm after so I'm tempted to cut my losses and get a couple of Force of Arms SCW armoured trucks instead, although that would put me back £20 that I'd rather spend on something else. Either way, I need to finish it off and give it an undercoat before I decide whether or not to scratchbuild another one.

I've also added a tanker version of the AC Mack to the convoy, either as a baggage unit or as a third unarmoured vehicle. It's a bit shiny but I'm hoping that a bit of a wash and a drybrush will weather it down, together with a coat of matt varnish to dull the paintwork.

Finally, I ordered a set of Pegasus resin oil drums from an ebay seller yesterday and they arrived this morning! They're destined to form loads for the back of the unarmoured trucks, with the leftovers used as extra baggage items or as decoration on terrain and scenery. It's a nice little set and should be very useful.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [4]

I've spent a few minutes working out the points for my Wildcat Oil Prospectors in the Back of Beyond, so here's what I've totalled up for the entire contingent, based on the Dinosaur Hunters list in the supplement:

One Garford Putilov armoured car, 1 x FG(T), 1 x MG(T), 2 x MG(SS) = 110 points (1)

Two improvised armoured cars with MG @ 60 = 120 points

Three un-armoured cars with MG @ 50 = 150 points

One unit of eight Wildcatters/Roustabouts (T5/M5), marksmen with bombs, including two BAR gunners @ (14 x 6 = 84) + (2 x 16 = 32) = 116 points (2)

One unit of fourteen White Russian mercenaries (T4/M4), with bombs @ 8 points = 112 points. (3)

One sniper (T5/M5) = 25 points (4)

One Staff Officer = 60 points

Two Maxim Machine Guns (T4/M5) @ 72 points = 144 points

One DH2 Aircraft = 150 points

Total = 987 points

(1) I had to guesstimate the points value for the Garford Putilov.

(2) I substituted BAR's for the Lewis Guns in the original list on the basis of WYSIWYG.

(3) These are an alternative to Chinese Troops but count the same in points.

(4) I've chosen to have a dedicated sniper, rather than a sniper / staff officer rolled into one.

Monday 25 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [3]

I had a struggle with the Copplestone Garford Putilov today, due in the main to a missing back axle and an annoying superglue setting problem. I solved the back axle issue using some brass rod and a bit of colourful language. The superglue gremlins were subsequently banished by the judicious use of spit as an accelerator, although I did manage to superglue my tongue to my teeth in the process.

Thus, having completed the %$£^&* Garford Putilov, I moved on to one of the unarmoured Mack AC Bulldog trucks. These are from the Models of Yesteryear diecast range and scale out to around 1/55th or thereabouts, so within the realms of 28mm suspended disbelief. They are, however, a little on the bland side so I added a few extra plastic card and balsa bits in order to make the first one look less tidy.

I'll tackle the other one tomorrow and, perhaps, have a crack at the improvised armoured version.

The Last Great Imperial Adventurer

I found a second hand hardback copy of this in a National Trust bookshop yesterday for £3. It's in good nick and looks very interesting. My great grandfather was in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was on the infamous 1904 expedition to Tibet led by Younghusband. He got court martialled in the process but for what I have no idea. Perhaps this might throw some light on what he got up to?

Sunday 24 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [2]

A little later than predicted but here are the bulk of the figures for the Back of Beyond oil prospecting expedition, including a commander, a sniper, seven roustaboubts and a BAR gunner. The Lewis gun equipped figure had a bit of an accident whilst being cleaned up, so will be replaced with a second BAR gunner once he arrives in the post.

In the meantime, I've drafted in a spare Artizan US marshall figure as a stand in. I've also headswapped a Turkish Maxim gunner with a spare Indiana Jones figure to create a machine gun unit for the expedition. I've left off the loader, as I have a finite supply of suitable heads and also quite like the look of the single figure on the base, which I'll tart up with some additional extras to fill up the space.

I've also cleaned up the mercenary tatty Russians including a Maxim machine gun team, with a Bolshevik loader for extra scruffiness. I reduced the number of the mercenary unit to fourteen, including a standard bearer and office figure but this means no duplicate figures have been used, which is a nice touch.

I've also finished the assembly of the 1/48th scale Smer DH2 which only requires a bit of detail painting, some wethering and a couple of suitable decals to be ready for action.

I'll undercoat everything tomorrow and crack on with vehicles, including the Garford Putliov, the improvised armoured car and the two (or three) unarmoured AC Mack Bulldog diecast trucks that will make up the oil prospecting convoy.

Friday 22 April 2011

Back of Beyond Expedition [1]

We finally got home about four hours ago and haven't even unpacked yet. Nonetheless, I've had a rummage in the big Back of Beyond box and have dug out nearly everything I need for the Oil Prospecting expedition. This consists of a cigar chewing commander, a sniper, six tough looking roustabouts, one BAR and one Lewis gunner.

They're backed up by a sixteen strong unit of slightly tatty looking White Russians infantrymen, with an attached Maxim machine gun team. A second machine gun team will be converted from a spare Turkish Maxim gunner and loader, using a simple headswap to make them look more like the oil workers.

Finally, I've got a convoy of diecast Mack AC Bulldog trucks, one or two or which will get armour plating as improvised armoured cars. The real thing will be supplied by a resin Garford Putilov heavy armoured car that I bought from Mr Copplestone himself at Salute a few years ago. To round things off, I've recovered the almost complete 1/48th scale Smer DH2 from the spares box, complete with pre-painted Copplestone pilot.

I'm planning to clean and base up all of the figures tomorrow and perhaps have a crack at up-armouring one or two of the trucks. This will help to make up for the total failure of my Easter holiday painting plans, which have fallen by the wayside due to the kids, the weather and the wife! The dealine for completion of this project is the end of May, so I should have enough time to get them sorted and perhaps finish off the Rapid Fire! leftovers too?

Thursday 21 April 2011

Another Darkest Africa Horde

My leadpile has now reached the point of no return and will very shortly collapse through the floor of the garage in somesort of event horizon critical mass implosion. To speed this along, I've just added another (yes, another) army to my, as yet untouched, mountain of Darkest Africa stuff. This has been a long term interest of mine which I have yet to get even anywhere near beginning.

Anyway, I followed one of those evil Foundry emails, the ones that offer 30% or 50% off books in the hope you'll buy some overpriced bits of lead. After a bit of a fruitless search around I wandered off to the Darkest Africa bit, on the way out of the annoying Foundry website. At this point, I spotted that the Belgian 'Horde' was reduced to a price which made each figure a little over £1 each.

This didn't seem too bad so I've gone and ordered one to add to the handful of Belgian Askaris that I already have. This means I now have about eight potential armies for an In the Heart of Africa campaign at some point in the indeterminate future, which is absolutely bonkers but not unusual for me. No one else at the club seems interested in this, so it'll probably be a solo effort as well.

Hey ho!

Back of Beyond Vehicles

I've been thinking through the logistics for the Back of Beyond oil expedition. I have all of the figures I need but I also need to put together a convoy of improvised armoured cars and unarmoured trucks. I have a couple of Models of Yesteryear Mack AC Bulldog trucks, which would be ideal for the up armoured army surplus vehicles, with the addition of some plastic card plating and some stowage. 

I need to think about the unarmoured vehicles too, so may use a couple more diecast Mack trucks or some Model T's, although I'll have to have a rummage in the box of toy cars under the workbench to see what I've got already. I quite fancy having at least one oil tanker truck to fit in with the theme so I may have to search on ebay for a suitable model to use.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Back of Beyond Campaign Convolutions

We've spent the last 48 hours travelling back to the UK and I'm now at my parent's house in Cornwall. In the interim, the BoB campaign has been falling into place with six players now firmly signed up. The British Indian player pulled out a couple of days ago but very graciously offered his army to another player on loan, so we now have an Imperial Column to add to the other contingents.

I'm still waiting for one other player to decide if he's in or out so we may end up with seven or eight players in the end. I think six will be spot on for a quick campaign, so I'm not unduly bothered if the last two don't materialise. If any one else wants to pile on there's a spare Chinese Warlord army and my old Bolsehivik army that can be loaned out as well, so we won't be short of numbers.

I've also decided to save the time and effort building a figure heavy Turkish army and have opted instead for a Dinosaur Hunting expedition. This has the advantage that I already have the figures and diecast toy trucks I need for the core units, together with a virtually complete 1/48th Smer DH2 which only needs some final stages of assembly to be ready for flight. The expedition only needs about thirty to forty figures as well.

As a variation on the Dinosaur Hunting theme I've gone for a different raison d'etre for the army. I intially thought of a hunting expedition, having just finished reading Shooting Leave by Jon Ure. However, I've settled on an American oil prospecting convoy, complete with stetson wearing Texans from the Copplestone US marshalls pack in the Gangsters range, backed up by some American Adventurers and Explorers of the Amazon from the High Adventure line.

The mercenary bodyguard for this lot will be provided in the form of some Ragged White Russian infantry and a couple of attached HMG teams, as a change from the usual Chinese figures. I may add some Chinese labourers but I think I'll have sufficient points with just these units, backed up by the various improvised armoured cars I'm going to kitbash from Days Gone By toy trucks.

I'm hoping to start on this lot when I get back home in a couple of days time.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Salute 2011

Well, I missed Salute this year for obvious reasons but, to be honest, I'm not that fussed.

It's such a sprawling event that in recent years I've ended up all hot and bothered by the end of the day and haven't really enjoyed the atmosphere as much as I do at Colours or Warfare. In the past I've  taken my eldest son to Salute but would have to take both of the boys if I went now, which would mean the inevitable fraternal fisticuffs, so probably best avoided.

If I had gone I would have been over to the Brigade stand to check out the re-published Squadron Commander 3600 sci fi fighter combat rules and models. I really don't need another project but, if I did, I'd be sorely tempted by this range.

I'd also be over at the Peter Pig stand to have a look at the re-published Hammerin' Iron rules and the flashy new river mat. I have a big box of Peter Pig and Thoroughbred ships that I will one day get around to starting on either for Iron and Fire or Hammerin' Iron, which I have a copy of in it's old version. It's too much to start now though given my existing pile of half finished stuff that I need to clear out or complete.

I'll get to Colours and Warfare this year instead so will check out both of these products then.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Back of Beyond Campaign Complications

I've had a new club member sign up for the campaign but with a Chinese Warlord army, which doesn't fit with my Trans-Caspain campaign setting. I don't want to turn people away and, as he's bringing along 1000 points of figures it seems unfair to say no.

As a result, I'm going to change the campaign back to the conventional Back of Beyond setting of Sinkiang, with the city of Kashgar as the objective. This will involve crossing the Taklamakan desert rather than the Karakum but the weather and terrain rules will still be applied. It will mean that all the work I've put into new army lists will be wasted but, in the interests of inclusivity, I don't think that really matters.

It also means that I'll possibly use a different army to the Turks, as there are many more options available from my stockpile of figures. I might put together an archaeological expedition so that I can make lots of neat armoured cars out of diecast toys. I might muster a Chinese Warlord army from my spare Chinese figures. Or I may use my half finished Japanese as the basis of a more powerful force.

It's back to square one and time to do some number crunching.

Friday 15 April 2011

More Atlantic Wall

We went to La Torche today to have a look at the surfing. I'd been there before so I was planning to check out the various pillboxes, bunkers, Tobruk stands and other Atlantic Wall relics that are dotted around the area.

As you can see, most of the fortifications have ended up in the sea or toppled over by subsudence but there are still some impressive bits to photograph.

Apparently, the winter storms expose the concrete anti-invasion obstacles that are normally buried under the sand, causing some problems for the surfers. I'll have to have a look when we're over here again at Xmas.

Thursday 14 April 2011

La Guerre d'Indochine

I bought this book today while browsing in a local book shop. It's a bit pricey but packed full of fantastic full page photographs and text. It also comes with a DVD of the documentary. I'll be reading this for a few days and absorbing as much as I can with my limited French linguistic skills.


Wednesday 13 April 2011

Back of Beyond Turkish Army

I've kicked off the first stage of the Back of Beyond campaign for 2011 by posting the nuts and bolts of the campaign set up on the club yahoo group. So far I've had two players signing up and interest from several others, although I'll need at least five plus myself to make it work properly. I'm pretty confident that I'll get the numbers I need, so it's now down to me to do my bit.

The first thing I need to do is assemble and paint up my Turkish army. This will consist of the following units, which together make up a small but not inignificant pile of lead:

1 Commander

1 Staff Officer (50 points)

3 units of 10 Regular Infantry T4 / M5 stubborn, with bombs (330 points)

1 Maxim Machine Gun T3 / M5 (64 points)

1 65mm Schneider Field Gun T3 / M4 (42 points)

1 Erhardt Armoured Car (60 points)

1 Albatros CII or DIII Aircraft (150 points)

This lot adds up to just under 700 points, which is a bit on the light side, so I may well add a few extra figures to the infantry units or even an allied contingent of Basmachi militia using the Copplestone ragged white infantry as a best fit option. .

I'll need to get cracking straight away if I'm going to get this lot done and dusted for June!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Back of Beyond Again

Well, the Darkest Africa idea didn't go down very well with the club, so it's back to the Back of Beyond. I've decided to stick with Contemptible Little Armies with a couple of rules modifications to keep things as simple as possible.

I have, however, decided to use the full terrain and weather rules from the supplement to add a bit of a change to the usual way of doing things. This will be tied into the campaign map so that there's more of a geographical fix to the campaign as it progresses.

I've also narrowed down the campaign to Russian Transcaspia c1919, in order to bring a historical flavour to the proceedings. This means that one of the two Bolshevik players will now be the SR / Menshevik Transcaspian Government army, which should be an interesting diversion from the usual and give me the opportunity to play around with the army lists to come up with a suitable variant.

I know that we have a British Indian army, a French Trans Asian expedition, a British Museum archaelogical team, a Bolshevik army and a Turkish and/or Basmachi force. After that, it's a bit sketchy although there are some Cossacks and a few Bolshevik stragglers knocking about. I need to get everyone agreed on what they're going to bring to the campaign before I get started on the planning and organisation.

Fingers crossed.

Monday 11 April 2011

Back of Beyond or Darkest Africa?

I've been thinking about the Back of Beyond options, with regard to rules, campaign systems and figures. While I'm still up for some BoB games, I've been debating wether it's worth re-inventing the wheel for another full on club campaign.

I've looked at the Triumph and Tragedy rules and, while they look OK for one off small skirmish games, I'm not sure they'd dovetail with the Back of Beyond set up and the supplement. I've also been looking at various campaign systems and haven't found anything that quite translates over to the rather non-specific nature of the Back of Beyond.

However, I have re-discovered a good mini-campaign system and rules for colonial Darkest Africa in the Foundry Compendium, re-printed from an old article in WI 132. As a result, I've been about running a mini-campaign built around exploring Central Africa, either using these rules or the full blown In The Heart of Africa rules.

The Foundry Compendium campaign, In Darkest Africa,  is based on a map system with up to six players taking part. There would be four expedition parties and two 'native' armies in the campaign. The rules feature one European expedition, one Zanzibari party, one Tribal Herdsman force and one Native Warlord army as the key players.

However, I could easily adapt the system so that the four players could all be Europeans of different nationalities, which might be more appealing. This would have the added advantage of requiring fewer figures, as the European armies have only 16 - 24 figures on average, so not too much in terms of outlay or painting.

My initial thoughts were that this would be more popular than the Arabs, Herdsmen and Warlord armies, but I could be wrong. The latter need more figures (30 - 65 on average) but might be interesting for someone who wants to try something a bit different.

Anyway, I would provide all the terrain, the two large native 'non-player' armies and possibly one of the expeditions. I'd also do the background umpiring and campaign organisation, using the system in the Foundry Compendium or the full on In The Heart of Africa rules, depending on the preference of the players.

Either way,  the full In the Heart of Africa rules could be used as a follow on for club games. So, rather than a BoB campaign, I've proposed a Darkest Africa campaign for the Autumn, for between four and six players.

I wonder if anyone will sign up?

Back of Beyond Books

We arrived in Brittany on Saturday and spent most of yesterday getting things sorted out, so I've had no time to post anything here over the weekend. However, I have organised a bit of reading for the holiday, including a copy of Shooting Leave by John Ure, which looks like excellent inspiration for the Back of Beyond campaign.

I'm still thinking about the campaign set up and the way the system will work. I have quite a lot of forces to accomodate, including a Bolshevik army, a British - Indian force, a British Museum expedition and a French Trans Asia exploration  and various other hangers on. I'm planning to add a Turkish or Basmachi type force as well, so it'll be a pretty crowded campaign to say the least.

I think that some sort of map related system would work well for this, with each player having a different objective and a seperate but interlinked path to follow. When forces meet thay could either ignore each other, join together or battle it out, depending on their common or competing objectives.

Friday 8 April 2011

Back of Beyond Trans Caspian Campaign

I've decided to set the proposed Back of Beyond campaign in what is now modern day Turkmenistan. This is a great location, given the armies that we have available amongst the club members and the intersting post WW1 events that might have taken place in the region. It's a bit further West than the conventional Back of Beyond scenario which makes it a bit out of the ordinary.

It limits the number of potential armies that might be used but that makes it easier to fit things together into a logical framework. It also allows for some original armies to be included if there is an appetite for something a bit different. Finally, it gives me plenty of scope to work out a new campaign system based on an actual map rather than a turn matrix, with all the depth and detail that makes for a bit more 'derring do'.

I'll be working this out over the Easter holidays, so hope to have something a little less fluffy in a couple of weels time. Until then I'm doing some background re-reading and scrounging ideas from various existing campaign systems, from Darkest Africa to 1644 and back again. I'm hoping that it'll fall together without any major headaches?

Thursday 7 April 2011

Red Armoured Train [15]

I finished the flat wagon this evening, although it was a bit rushed and needs one or two final details before it can be undercoated. This means that the armoured train in 90% complete, which isn't a bad achievement for a week and a bit of work.

I need to complete the command wagon and then paint everything up but that'll have to wait until after the Easter holidays. I think a second artillery wagon is needed but I'll have to get hold of another toy carriage if that's what I decide to do.

Holiday Painting Plans

It's a couple of days before we're off to France for the Easter holidays, so I've been thinking about what I'm going to take with me for painting up. In the past, I've taken figures to clean up and base but all this leads to is yet more boxes of figures to be painted up, rather than anything actually being painted.

This time round, I've decided to do some painting instead, although this throws up all sorts of logistical problems in itself. To keep the number of paints down to a manageable quantity and to ensure I finish what I start, I've decided to take a couple of half completed or prepared projects with me to get wrapped up.

The first is the 1/2400th scale Victorian Ironclads that I prepared during activity week last year. I have a varied selection of British and French vessels assembled and undercoated, which only require a handful of paints to be tackled effectively. I'll also take Iron and Fire and Floating Castles with me, so that I can get some practice games in with the finished models. Neat, eh?

The second is the 15mm Dervish army for PITS that I have almost finished but which has been stuk in a box for a couple of years. This also needs only a handful of paints to complete and will be easy to transport. If I get it done, it will open up the possibility of an Anglo Egyptian army some time later this year. Good stuff!

For the moment, the Rapid Fire! project and Red Armoured Train are on hold but I'll be getting back to them after the holidays. I'm also going to start on the Iron Cow stuff as a mini-project in the extra bank holiday time that we've been given in May, so there's plenty to be looking forward to in the next month or two.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Back of Beyond Rules

I've been giving some thought to the Back of Beyond again. I ran a couple of campaigns a few years ago using the Contemptible Little Armies rules and with eight to ten players taking part. The campaigns were popular and resulted in some good games for everyone involved but somehow the all important narrative element was missing.

In fact, the campaign system was really just a mechanism for setting up a series of games between the different factions, leading to one grand finale big battle at the gates of Kashgar. The rules themselves also proved to be less than popular due to some of the mechanisms involved and the original focus of the system on the First World War rather than Central Asia.

Anyway, I'm thinking of another campaign but this time with a different set of rules and more of a scenario based skirmish level approach. The plan is to keep the Back of Beyond supplement as a focus but use a platoon or 1:1 level set of rules instead of CLA. There would be more of a storyline connecting the scenarios and greater emphasis on the 'derring do' aspect of the semi-historical setting.

I have three sets of rules as possibilities for this project, which might kick off in the Autumn if I get myself organised over the Summer. The frontrunner is Triumph and Tragedy, which seems perfect for the sort of thing I'm after.
The second option is Heroes of the Russian Civil War, which is based on Brother Against Brother and has the added advantage of being free.

The third and most recent addition to the equation is the Back of Beyond variant of Battlefield Evolution, which I've had a quick browse through today.

There are other rules that I've also thought of using but these three sets seem to be the most likely options at the moment. It needs a lot of time and consideration but I think this could get the Back of Beyond back on the menu at the club, at least for a few games in a row? At least I'll have an excuse to build another army.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Red Armoured Train [14]

I finished the armoured tender this evening and it's now drying, ready to be painted tomorrow along with the locomotive. I'll also try to get the command /machine gun wagon finished off and some work done on the flat wagon, so that I can wrap up this project by the end of the week.


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