Reaching peak firelock
Firelocks were infantry armed with muskets with flint firing mechanism instead of the more common burning match. This made them much safer around combustible items like powder. This may have been offset by the fondness for clay pipes in the 17th-century though!
I used the Warlord Games plastic firelock figures because I had gathered quite a lot of them. By the time I finished I probably had more firelocks than Charles I and Cromwell combined! I also made some baggage for them to guard.
Assembling and painting the firelocks
The figures are simple castings and fit together easily. Not the the most exciting of figures but they do the job well. I used spare hats from other Warlord Games plastics for this period for variety. For a sergeant for each company I used pieces from the command sprue and a pikeman body. Again from the English Civil War plastics range.
I use plastic figures because they are cheap and I don’t feel obliged to spend ages painting them! So an undercoat of Humbrol dark brown matt enamel was followed by acrylics. I use Citadel base colours and Vallejo Heavy Colours because they cover well. A varnish with Humbrol matt enamel varnish and job done. I based them on Renedra plastic bases and used my own mix of basing gunk.
I painted a red and a blue uniformed unit to represent the Oxford Army of 1643. The idea being to use these for the western battles.
The third unit was painted grey with some orange tawny hat bands to depict a generic Parliamentarian regiment.
Baggage to guard
Firelock guards are recorded as protecting vital stores like powder. So I made an ammunition cart and a water cart. I used 4Ground MDF models assembled with PVA glue, undercoated with Wilko spray undercoat and finished with acrylics.
The MDF models were easy to assemble although some parts are fragile. Breakages are easily fixed with a spot of PVA though! The only shortcoming is detail is only on one side of the parts. For example, where the inside of a wheel is visible the surface is plain. This shouldn’t put you off I think because it’s only visible on close inspection.
The annual wargames show in Exeter
This year’s show lived up to expectations. Plenty of great looking games spread across history with quite a few non historical games. The Star Wars competition looked spectacular with all the space maps joined together. I was so impressed I forgot to take a photo!
A good variety of traders with plenty of stock meant temptation but I mostly managed to resist. And an impressive bring and buy where I got a couple of bargains.
Helms Deep besieged in Exeter
The Exmouth Imperial Wargames Club who run the show had a good looking siege of Helm’s Deep game. The fortress itself was very impressive with the stone beautifully painted. Talking of painting I was impressed to hear the elves had been painted for the game.
Napoleonics in America
Another game that caught my eye was Graham Cookson’s War of 1812 game. The smoke effect on the rocket team looked most convincing!
As usual the show was a great opportunity to catch up with people. I had my annual chat with Martin Goddard from Peter the Pig who seems to be making the Russian army of the Second World War on a 1:1 basis.
I look forward to next year’s show
Lots of games and Star Wars
The show lived up to expectations this year with lots of games to enjoy. The standard of both demonstration games and participation games was high. The MDF houses in Graham Cookson’s Dad’s Army game even had wallpaper in.
There was a Star Wars X-Wing tournament with all tables filled plus a big armada game. I was really impressed by the quality of the ready painted models. Not so sure about how very close the models get in combat. As Hawkwind said space is big and deep and empty.
My game of the day
I really liked the sci-fi game that used Dropzone Commander card buildings with lots of flock to create a post apocalypse city. The way the colours changed across the board and the central building was the only clear spot added to the atmosphere. It had a look of JG Ballard’s novels to me. Apparently it took an awful lot of hairspray to get the flock in place!My second favourite game was an American Civil War one. This has lots going on from a signal balloon to a band but didn’t look crowded. A nice variety of eye catching regiments too with zouaves and US Coloured Troops present. All figures were well painted and the terrain had enough presence to add atmosphere without looking cluttered.
Hello Peter Pig
Any show is good for catching up with old friends. Seeing lots of people I’d not seen for a while was one of the best bits of the day.
Knowing Martin from Peter Pig from my days in the games business it was a good chance to catch up with him. Very tempted by his Sudan range still!
A great day out and shopping too!
A good venue complete with cafeteria and bus service added to the day. Some people thought it was a bit cold but I prefer that to a warm and whiffy show!Purchases were a couple of Warlord Black Powder books and more Perry Miniatures American Civil War figures. And some Hoplites for good measure all from PE2 Collectables. Also got a MDF A frame building from Original Laser Designs who knows his Viking ships and Anglo-Saxon architecture.
From chatting to a 28mm Early Achaemenid Persian army
Discussing the new version of the DBA ancients rules with a colleague led into how he’d always wanted a hoplite army. Given I’d always fancied wargaming the invasion of Greece by Xerxes in 480 BC before we knew it we are planning armies.
We agreed on larger figures simply because Tony was keen on them and plastic ranges make such an ambition affordable. I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to get a 25/28mm size Persian army in metal as with all the cavalry and hordes it would cost a small fortune!
Planning out the Persian host
Having settled on DBA I looked at the Early Achaemenid list. Double bases for the Immortals and sparabara infantry increased the body count but using light infantry instead of hordes reduced it. Well, reduced by a small amount! Once I had worked out what I needed I looked at the Wargames Factory range of Persians.
Happily they cover all the troop types I needed and I set about planning the figures I needed. I then got a bit too enthusiastic and decided only Big Battle DBA would do justice to the battles of 480-479 BC. Some thinking later and I produced the army and list of figures needed at the end of this post. The number of figures was slightly daunting but having more time at home because of a health problem meant I had time to assemble them.
In the course of thinking about the army I used the usual references for wargamers from Duncan Head’s book on the Persians to Field of Glory army lists. Plus this made a great excuse to buy Tom Holland’s new translation of Herodotus!
Recruiting the plastic Persians
Happily I found some boxes on eBay and then North Star Figures had a sale of Wargames Factory at the right moment. Even so I found after much sorting out and assembling of figures more were needed! Caliver Books provided my last recruits so it was just planning how to paint them.
Painting 28mm Persians
Whilst the Wargames Factory Persians are not the finest figures on the market they provide the basis for a good paint job. I realised if I did that painting my miniature Persians would take longer than the campaign lasted! So I decided to go for the good old block colours and brown varnish technique.
This is also known as “the dip” method as marketed by the Army Painter company. I use a similar approach of painting in the basic colours in almost toy soldier style. I let them dry completely and then apply a coat of Ronseal acrylic varnish with a brown stain in it. Using lighter colours than you usually would helps the varnish stain combination do its work. The stain varnish combination provides instant shading and looks ok on the gaming table. A bit crude for 28mm size figures perhaps but gets them on the table.
Big Battle DBA Early Achaemenid Persian army list
General and sub generals 3 bases of 3CV = 9 figures
Cavalry 3 bases of 3CV = 9 figures
Light Cavalry 3 bases of 2LH = 6 figures
Immortals 3 bases of 8BW = 24 figures
Sparabara infantry x bases of 8BW = 72 figures
Hillmen 3 bases of 3AX = 9 figures
Medising Hoplites 3 bases of 4SP = 12 figures
Light infantry 9 bases of 2PS = 18 figures
There is an option to replace the light infantry with hordes but that would be another 63 figures to make and paint…