Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

2017 was another productive painting year, with 2,342 figures passing across the painting desk, or 6.4 figures per day.

It was another year dominated by my enormous commission, with 2,086 of those figures going to Glenn’s armies.  Another commission for my buddy Kevin saw me deliver 44 28mm cavalry for his colonial armies.

Commission Work
15mm Napoleonic Austrians, 30 foot
15mm Napoleonic Prussians, 678 foot, 91 mounted, 21 guns
15mm Napoleonic French, 219 foot, 18 mounted
15mm Napoleonic British, 1,029 foot
28mm Colonials, 44 cavalry

The little painting I did for myself was scattered throughout various small projects. 

1/600 Ancient Ships, 12 ships
15mm Napoleonic Prussians, 12 cavalry, 6 limbers, 12 horses, 12 horses with riders from Austin’s trove
15mm Sci-fi, 10 infantry for gaming with my son
28mm ACW, 12 mounted generals, 22 cannon, 48 mounted cavalry for Pickett’s Charge
28mm Star Wars, 17 foot for Imperial Assault
28mm Napoleonic French, 2 cavalry, plastic figures from Warlord Games
1 mounted 28mm Napoleon
54mm Ancients 14 Roman infantry and 32 Gallic infantry for gaming with my daughter

For figuring my Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge points, I counted the following:

12 1/600 naval vessels, for 720points
1,966 15mm foot for 3,932 points
166 15mm mounted and artillery for 664 points
6 15mm vehicles for 36 points
17 28mm foot for 85 points
129 28mm mounted and artillery for 1,290 points
46 54mm foot for 460 points

That makes for a grand total of 7,187 points, an increase of 41% over last year.  I felt like I was accomplishing a lot this year, and the end of year counts bear it out.  In fact, 2017 was the most productive painting year I have had since I started keeping count in 2007.

My gaming group managed to fit in more than one game per month in 2017.  We played Seven Years War, Napoleonics, ancients, colonials, and American Civil War.  This year saw as many board games as miniatures games.  I learned three new board games rules and Honours of War for SYW.  My two eldest children are now confirmed Commands and Colors addicts.  All in all, this has been one of the best gaming years of my life.

I have not mentioned the biggest news of 2017.  I built a new detached garage for my house.  In addition to a lovely, deep garage with plenty of storage and work space, I added finished gaming space on the side.  It’s two levels, with a 1,152 square foot main floor and a 640 square foot basement.  Honestly, it’s the size of a new house.  I built a 9’x5’ miniature gaming table into the concrete basement floor, and the walls are covered with shelving for painted armies, source materials, terrain, rules books, and the lead pile.  Upstairs I am finally able to display all my board games.  It has a bathroom, two televisions, and a refrigerator.  I imagine hosting a dozen games in this space in 2018.

So what will 2018 bring?  I’ve read over my previous years’ goals to see how I did, and my record is decidedly mixed.  I did not finish my giant commission in 2017, although I am close to the end.  I have a deadline of late April, and I should meet that easily.

Once I finish, I will just be painting for myself.  I am thinking of ceasing commission work.  It’s nice getting the money, but it does turn my hobby into a job.  I’ll probably paint the occasional force for Glenn or Kevin, but the rest of my time will be for me.

I have a few hundred 28mm ACW figures in winter attire to paint, and I would love to get enough done to play a Stone’s River scenario on the anniversary.

I enjoyed my dip into ancient naval enough to paint more.  Maybe 2018 will see my group game Salamis or Lade.

I was in the middle of painting Blue Moon’s beautiful 18mm ACW Union figures, and I should probably resume that project.

There are a host of other projects I have neglected since I started this giant commission: 28mm WWI, 28mm AWI Hessians, 15mm ancient Persians, 28mm Battle of the Bulge, 18mm Napoleonics.  Those are just the figures I can see from where I type, primed and neglected since April of 2015.  I wrote then that this commission would take me “a year or more!”  Instead it has taken three years!

I hope you all had a 2017 full of enjoyable games.  Thank you for your kind comments over the past year; comments make the blog worthwhile to me, and I appreciate the time you take to make them.  Happy gaming in 2018!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Giant Commission -- More Brunswick Infantry

Just making the cut in 2017 are these 54 Brunswick infantrymen.  These units complete the Brunswick infantry at Waterloo.

Leib Battalion

Avant Garde Battalion, Legere Companies

Avante Garde Battalion, Gelernte Jager Companies

Now that these are done, I am finished with the Angle-Allied infantry at Waterloo!  I have the Brunswick and Netherlands cavalry primed and will start in on them tonight.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the MacPhees!

L-R: John MacPhee (father), Gina MacPhee (sister-in-law), Julie Dahlgren (mother-in-law), Teresa MacPhee (wife), Scott MacPhee (your humble blogger), Dr. Nathan Meltzer, Dr. Julie Meltzer (friends), Kevin MacPhee (brother), Carol MacPhee (mother)

Reflected in the mirror: Craig MacPhee (brother)

We had the traditional Christmas Eve lasagna with lots of good drinks.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

1/600 Ancient Ships

As a little distraction while painting Dutch, Orange, and Brunswick infantry, I built, rigged, and painted these 1/600 scale ancient naval vessels.  They are all from Xyston, and this was my first attempt at ancient ships.

In battle, the crews would have left the masts ashore, but I like the look of the sails.  Plus sail colors can be used to mark squadrons on the table.  I did my best on the crew and marines on deck, painting the highlights over a dark brown base coat.  These figures are only 3mm high!

I painted the ships with Vallejo's "old wood" and washed with raw umber oil paint.  I blocked in the sails with acrylic paint, washed with oils, and highlighted with thinned oils.

The bases are all from Litko.  I covered the bases with automotive putty then rolled toothpicks over them to create a water effect.  I painted the water with acrylics.

Greek Triremes

Phoenecian Triremes

Transports and Hemiolia

I enjoyed doing these, and I think they turned out pretty well.  The next batch, I will probably use Vallejo's "new wood," which I used on the hemiolia with the red sail.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Giant Commission -- Black Brunswickers

Black uniforms are always tricky, but the Brunswick contingent should stand out on the table top.  Glenn will have all three line and all three light regiments in his army.

1st Brunswick Line

2nd Brunswick Line

3rd Brunswick Line

1st Brunswick Light

2nd Brunswick Light

3rd Brunswick Light

This next week I will add the Leib and Avant Garde battalions.

And now, a word about attention to detail.

One of the hardest parts of painting the Anglo-Allied Waterloo army has been keeping the troops straight.  Glenn's order was huge, and the packages came in several waves.  The sheer variety of troop types is impressive.  Some (few) of the figures came mislabeled, so I have spent a good chunk of time comparing raw lead to the pictures on Eureka's website to figure out just what I have.

I think, and I am sure Glenn can correct me if I am wrong, that I have only made one mistake identifying troops.  In my last post, you may have noticed one solitary stand of the Orange-Nassau regiment did not have shako cords and had shorter plumes.  When I started painting the Brunswickers, I found one six figure stick was, in fact, Orange-Nassau troops that I had mis-sorted.  Of course I painted the new stand correctly.

So what I had painted as Orange-Nassau?  I am pretty sure they were Dutch line infantry in a bag labelled "Orange."  Whoops.  So Glenn will get one extra stand of mis-painted troops (at no charge of course; it's my mistake).

L-R: Dutch Line, Dutch Line painted as Orange-Nassau, New Stand of Orange-Nassau

I am on my last batch of Anglo-Allied infantry!  Since I started painting this army in August, I have finished almost a thousand infantry.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Giant Commission -- Duchy of Nassau Infantry

These 126 figures took a long while.  Only the highlanders have required a steadier hand!  The 2nd Nassau have one of the more colorful uniforms I have ever seen.

Orange Nassau Regiment, 2 Battalions

2nd Nassau Regiment, 2 battalions

Nassau Skirmishers

Now only the Brunswick infantry remains!  I hope to finish them up by the end of the month.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Every year our gaming group exchanges Christmas presents.  This year I painted this Foundry figure for our own Francophile, Kevin.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Austerlitz Game

Austrian Infantry Attacks toward Pratzen village 

Today Jon and Kevin joined me for our inaugural game in my new 600 square foot gaming room.  I built my own 9' by 5' table in the center of the room, with the table pedestal nailed into the floor!

Because today is the anniversary of Austerlitz, I dug into my scenario trove and came up with the initial French attack on the Pratzen Heights.  In the scenario, a small French division of veteran and elite troops was tasked with seizing the heights from a mixed Austro-Russian force of decidedly mixed quality.  We used General de Brigade for our rules.  It's a great set of rules for getting into the weeds.

Austrian Brigades 

Jon commanded the allies, and his force looked formidable ...

Austrian Battalions 

Until you looked at troop quality.  Jon would have to try to get these conscripts in position to slug it out with the cream of the French Grand Armee!

Austrian Guns 

Jon would have some Austrian light batteries, but he would have to get them into position.  Not an easy task.

Russian Brigade

His Russian brigade had better quality troops: mostly line and 2nd line, and a formidable 12 gun battery.

French Jump-off Position 

Kevin commanded the French, with three elite battalions, five veteran battalions, and 2 elite batteries.

French Shock Troops 

Could the Russians and Austrians hope to stop these elite units?

Russians Fall Back

Jon chose to have his Russian brigade regroup short of the scenario objective, the Pratzenberg.  His division commander was rated poor, and his orders failed to get through, but his brigade general rolled for his own initiative and passed!  Jon was able to deploy his vulnerable brigade out of immediate danger.

The French Advance 

Kevin ordered his troops to the reverse slope of the Pratzenberg where they would be sheltered from allied artillery.

Forward the Guns! 

Kevin moved the two elite French batteries into position and began hammering the Russian infantry.

Russian Counter-battery 

The Russian guns brought all their fire to bear on the French artillery.  Over the course of the game, the guns alone would chase both French batteries from the Pratzenberg.

Austrian Advance 

While the artillery duel carried on on the allied left, Jon was able to get his Austrian rabble moving forward.  He failed some command rolls, but within an hour of the scenario start, the Austrians were in position to do some damage.

Battle Lines Drawn 

On the Allied left, the Russian guns continued pounding away.  Both commanders were wary of exposing their infantry, and the objective remained unoccupied by anyone but French guns.

Mid Game 

The jockeying for position was over.  Now the day would be decided by bullets.

French Reverses 

The lead French unit, an elite battalion of legere, failed its morale roll and routed!

More French Reverses 

Jon was unhappy with his rolls, but his guns were still effective.  One elite battery routs!


The conscript Austrians moved up as the French steadily retreated.  Both sides racked up hits on the opposing infantry.

The Russians Pounce 

With half the French artillery chased off the hill and the other half nearing 50% casualties, Jon committed his Russian brigade.  Here he moves them toward the objective.

The French Lie in Wait 

Kevin's reverse slope defensive line prepared to attack as soon as Jon cleared the crest.

Russian Losses Mount 

As Jon's force topped the crest, French volleys toppled a few hundred Russians.  The stolid Russians held their position and returned fire: double sixes!  Kevin's brigade commander was captured, and the command paralysis that ensued kept Kevin's troops from closing on the objective.

Austrians Rout 

Just as the battle was reaching its climax on the Pratzenberg, one entire Austrian brigade failed its morale roll and routed to the rear.  It failed its rally roll, and the entire brigade lifted.  The pressure was off the French left, but those Austrian conscripts had kept the French too distracted to take their objective.

End Game

The French managed to inflict 3:1 casualties on the allies, but the Russians remained in possesion of the Pratzenberg.  This game ended in an allied victory!

As always, we had a great time.  The scenario was a very interesting example of undisciplined mass against very high quality troops. I was amazed that Jon, with poor troops and poorly rated leaders, was able to get his army to slug it out with the French at all, let alone snatch a hard-fought victory!  The fellows enjoyed the rules.  Everything went pretty smoothly, even though I was rusty with the rules.