Large scale fixed terrain battlefields – are you CRAZY! by Paul Weakley

Why build a large fixed battlefield?

Battle of Wagram 1809 refought at Call to Arms convention, August 5-6 2017.

In 2017 Terry’s Garage gamers continued our tradition of mounting a great big battle involving a dozen or more players and thousands of troops. This year we chose Wagram and fielded 122 battalions of infantry, 46 regiments of cavalry and 44 batteries of artillery.

The troops contributed by the players are, to a man, superbly painted and based. They are a great pleasure to see and game with. They do, however, put the terrain to shame. Even with some considerable advances in the quality of the cloth and the terrain we used, it still looked like what it was: a table with a cloth on it, with roads, trees and streams sitting incongruously on top.

And so, in 2017 it was decided to take our sport to a higher level of beauty, enjoyment and pride. The only way to do this was to build fixed terrain. This is a direction that many people are taking in this hobby. People are building high quality fixed terrain in either large single 6’ x 4’ boards or smaller 1’ or 2’ square panels that can be rearranged to create a variety of different terrains.

Paul standing with his boards before set up.

Compared to this, however, what I took on was a giant leap forward. I decided to produce fifteen 6’ x 4’ boards, coming together to create a 23’ x 23’ (7m x 7m) ‘U’ shaped battlefield.

What are the draw-backs?

The draw-backs are not inconsiderable.  First is time: it took an hour a day for 6 months to build.  Second is money: please, don’t ask, as my wife is never to know. Third is storage: as the master builder (with no garage), I took over the largest room in our house, the living room, and turned it into a work room, with the boards stacked in purpose-built racks on the wall. Finally there is inflexibility: the boards only assemble as the battle-field of Wagram, and can’t readily be turned into anything else.

So why did I do it – what are the long term advantages?

Here are my reasons: the battlefield looks beautiful and is an absolute pleasure to play on.  I was fortunate to have the time and the money – nothing better than a fool with money. I also wanted to generate admiration and inspiration: when we played an exhibition game, people stopped and admired the terrain, and were frankly impressed by the scale and detail of what we had achieved.  This response from others generates a strong sense of pride and comradery in the tight group of players we have brought together.  Finally there is the question of vision.  I am committed to this hobby for the long term.  This year we built Wagram, next year we will build something else. Eventually we will have a collection of battlefields, a gaming lodge to house them, and will be able to pull a custom built battlefield off the rack and play it.  I am also looking long term for quality and versatility – although the 15 boards come together to create Wagram, for our regular bi-weekly games we can use 3 – 5 boards to play smaller non-specific battles choosing from a range of plain, stream or village combinations.

What we set out to achieve is a great leap forward in the quality of our gaming. We have done this and will now reap the benefits in quality and pleasure for years to come.

 

 

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The Flashman Project(part2) by Russell Briant

I have recently started listening to the Flashman Papers in audiobook format during which Sir Harry mentions riding with JEB Stuart’s Confederate Cavalry (and then serving in the Union Army as a military advisor to Ulysses S Grant and being at Gettysburg). So that got me thinking that he could take a more foreground role on the table top, so in March I purchased from Warlord Games the British 17th Lancers Officer set from their Crimean War range, which I arrived at the end of March.

On a recent weekend (1st, 2nd April) I painted him up as a mounted version of Sir Harry Flashman KCB, VC as he might have appeared when observing the American Civil War.

He is wearing a mixed uniform, donning the crimson “Cherrybum” pants of Lord Cardigan’s 11th Light Dragoon (later 11th Hussar), his first regiment, to look less like a blue-belly Yankee to any trigger-happy Confederate cessationist. They also look fine for the ladies.

He is still in the Baltic Blue Lancer’s jacket of his current regiment, the 17th Lancers, with whom he led the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava. A loud passing of wind, occasioned by an upset stomach, startled his horse causing it to bolt towards the Roosian guns, triggering the immortal charge into the Valley of Death and further honours for Flashy. That may also give pause for thought for a Union Sharpeshooter.

His Czapka hat is covered by an Indian Pattern White Canvas cover, having recently served in the sub-continent, rather than the black oil skin of the Crimea.

His saddle cloth and blanket roll with their yellow, cavalry, trim have been borrowed from the war stocks of the Army of North Virginia.

His fine mount may well have been foaled on the Blue-Grass country of Kentucky and is likely to have changed sides several times. He’s a fearsome brute but horse riding and a talent for languages are two of three self-described skills Flashy is really good at.

I also found a use for a couple of my stock of rabbits from war-bases.co.uk too. Their relative timidity and search for a bolt-hole likely match Flashman’s own.

While it’s not clear in these photos, a spluttering fused artillery shell has just bored itself to a stop, roughly below Flashy’s scabbard, and who knows when it might go off.

The next episode in the Flashman Project is to have a foot version that can join his dismounted Confederate colleagues (no doubt after his horse has been shot and his means of fleeing the field have contracted).

Studio Miniatures are about to put out this figure in their Sikh Wars British range in the next month or so.

Watch this space…

Russell (guest contributor to Terry’s Garage Gamers blog)

 

 

The Flashman Project(part 3) by Russell Briant

Episode 3

I’ve had the paint brushes out in between reading more from the Flashman Papers.

As I said I was planning in the first post, I have changed Harry to having jet black hair, raised eye brow and cavalry whiskers as per the book. I think I has him looking more like the cover illustrations by Gino d’Achille.

Over the first day of the Easter break I have also had a productive day and finished a Confederate Officer on a fine dapple grey horse. This Southern Beau has been sitting around half finished for months, but with a game of Glory Hallelujah due tomorrow, it was time to get him finished. The miniature is from Perry Miniatures.

I have also taken the chance to place another one of my rabbits. Just one more to use.

In the same photo is Eloise Covington from Bombshell Miniatures showing the fine bow on the back of her costume. Eloise just looked like another miniature that would be part of a Flashman story.

The damsel on the right of the Flashman party and her small bulldog are from Eureka Miniatures. She from the Female victims in the Corpse and Musket 28mm range. I have bought her to be Marshal Massena’s companion, Henriette Leberton, for our refight of Wagram later in the year. Her pooch is from Eureka’s animal range.

Lastly I have added some flock to charging Harry.

 

Correction. I episode 1 I mistakenly said Dr Thomas Arnold was the author of Tom brown’s School Days. He was of course the Head Master of Rugby School from the story. Thomas Hughes was the author.

I’m on the lookout for another Flashman acquaintance – Tommy Bryant.

Bryant turns up as a fellow officer during Harry’s short service with the the 11th Light Dragoons (Cardigan’s soon to be 11th Hussars) in the first of the Flashman Papers (Flashman). He uses Bryant’s slight-of-hand skills to unload Flashy’s opponent’s pistol in a duel (best shot in the regiment, whose French mistress Harry had been caught in bed with). He promised Tom £10,000 to do the deed then reneges on paying him on the basis that he neither has the shekels and knows Bryant can hardly call him out on this without incriminating himself.

Tommy Bryant gets his own back in a later book (Flash for Freedom) making it look like Harry he’s a card cheat by slipping cards into his pocket while our hero is playing vingt et un (21) for pennies with Benjamin Disraeli and others. This nips Harry’s looming political carrier in the bud and sees him nearly kill Bryant when he punches him in the nose causing him to fall down a flight of stairs. Bryant survives, sparing Flashman the noose but forces him to be whisked out of the country on a slave ship.

So I think I am looking for a sneak in a Hussar’s uniform for my near name sake.