French and Indian War: British Regular Infantry from Conquest Miniatures

French Indian War 1754-1763: British Regular Infantry boxed set

I’m a longtime miniatures painter in multiple scales and periods, but the 18th-century has always intimidated me. Large masses of European troops standing in lines, a sameness of pose and uniform bedecked with multicolored facings and detail all seemed a bit much. And if I was going to be playing the French and Indian War I was going to need British Redcoats – lots of British Redcoats.

I turned to a couple books to stoke my interest I turned to a couple books focused on my soon-to-be subjects. An old standby in the hobby is Osprey Publishing, and I picked up a copy of 1996’s British Redcoat, 1740-93 by Stuart Reid. While good for a few detailed illustrations by Richard Hook, the slim volume also gives a solid intro into the recruitment, training and life of a British soldier of the period. My interest piqued, I dove deeper into the topic with Stephen Brumwell’s Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763 from 2002. The book is scholarly yet very readable, and Brumwell goes a long way in smashing common myths about English soldiering during the FIW.

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With inspiration fired, I picked my first set of metal figures in the British Regular Infantry box offered by Warlord Games. Made from castings by Conquest Miniatures, the box comes with a nice selection of 18 models: four men firing, eight marching aggressively forward and a six-man command group including two flag bearers, a drummer, two junior officers and a commander.

I decided to paint my first British soldiers of the period to represent the 44th Regiment of Foot due to their role in the Braddock Expedition, the Battle of the Monongahela and other major engagements of the FIW. For my first time painting facings, I also thought the bright yellow against the red of the 44th Foot would also pop nicely on the table.

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My first test redcoat with basic colors blocked in

After basing the models on washers, filling the bases with rough wood filler and spraying a black primer coat, I blocked in the colors. I didn’t get carried away on exact colors, relying on a basic red for the coats, waistcoats and pants, basic yellow for the facings and a brown buff for the leggings. The cuffs were done in two steps, first with a bright white and then finished with a thin line of yellow. With a fine brush, white details were added on the basic black tricorn hats and on trim to the waistcoats and lapels.

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Halfway through my first batch of British Redcoats

Details were finished off with the same brown buff on stripes and belts, a basic brown to the guns and metal to finish off the guns, bayonets and officer swords. Finally, flesh and eyes were painted. Exposed skin and the leather leggings and straps got a careful light coat of brown wash to finish the painting. Flags were made by photocopying those included in the Warlord box, the bases were covered in my new favorite groundcover – Green Adirondack from Scenic Express.

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28mm: US Airborne Support Weapons By Warlord Games

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With my first 101st Airborne troops completed in 28mm, I’ve moved on to adding some support weapons. As a relative newcomer to World War II at this scale, I’ve also taken the opportunity to try another manufacturer’s miniatures for the sake of comparison.

WarlordlogoIn 2008, Warlord Games launched a small selection of WWII miniatures acquired from another manufacturer. To compliment the line of models, about three years ago Bolt Action came to the game scene with a slickly-designed rule set published by Osprey Publishing and a now vastly-expanding line of miniatures from multiple nations and combat theaters of WWII. The Warlord Games plastic and metal line of soldiers, artillery, transports and armor, along with the Bolt Action game system, have come to dominate the market and tournament scene for gamers playing tactical-level WWII in the larger 28mm scale.

For my first figures from Warlord Games, I stuck with a few metal models which scale nicely with my figures from Artizan Designs. The castings display a lot of exaggerated poses, animated facial expressions and detailed equipment which look great on a wargaming tabletop and reveal the influence of the designers who hail from the world of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 from Games Workshop.

AB Paint SchemeIn painting my first Warlord Games miniatures, I went with my same quick and simple painting scheme I’ve been using so far:

Painting 28mm US Airborne Support Weapons

  1. Clean flash from metal models with a sharp knife and glue to metal washer or plastic bases.
  2. Apply filler putty to bases. When dry, scrape off excess with a sharp knife.
  3. Base coat models and bases with flat black spray primer.
  4. Paint uniforms and bandages on helmets with Tallarn Sand.
  5. Paint helmets and knee and elbow patches with Waaagh! Flesh.
  6. Paint faces and hands with Tallarn Flesh.
  7. Paint webbing and packs with Baneblade Brown.
  8. Paint bases, boots, gun stocks and helmet straps with Dark Brown.
  9. Apply Agrax Earthshade wash to uniforms, helmet netting, webbing and packs.
  10. Mix 50/50 Baneblade Brown and Off White and lightly dry brush packs, webbing and socks.
  11. Lightly dry brush bases, gun stocks, helmet netting, holsters and elbow and shoulder patches with Baneblade Brown.
  12. Paint metal gun, bazooka and mortar parts with black and finish with a light dry brush of metallic silver.
  13. Paint eyes with small dots of Off White and Dark Brown. Clean up around eyes with Tallarn Flesh.
  14. Mix 50/50 Tallarn Flesh and Off White and brush highlights on cheekbones, chins, forehead, nose and hands.
  15. Apply Company B decals to shoulders and helmets, followed by a coat of Solvaset decal fixative from Walthers.
  16. Cover bases in white glue and cover in 50/50 mix of fine light green and dark green grass flock.
  17. Glue small pieces of clump foliage to base.
  18. Spray coat completed models with matte finish.

To begin, I’ve painted up a 60mm mortar team and a bazooka crew. here’s a few photos of the final results:

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I’ll probably add a light machine gun and some other models from Warlord Games soon, but for now my US Airborne forces will be able to pack a bit more punch in upcoming games.

New Game Weekend: Force On Force

Enduring FreedomFor a person who spends an outsized amount of time reading about, researching, modelling historic soldiers and playing wars of the past, I have pretty much ignored the wars of my own lifetime from the late 1960s to present. Born during the Vietnam War, I grew up in the last two decades of the Cold War. From there, the protracted engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ever-shifting nation-less “War On Terror” have occupied my adult years. The United States has been at war for most of my life and all that of my two sons. For a whole host of reasons, I prefer to set my wargaming in the comfortable distance of the past.

FOFRulesForce On Force rule books from Ambush Alley Games

This past weekend at Metropolitan Wargamers in Brooklyn, NY, I took a rare trip to a modern tabletop battlefield with my first play through a couple of scenarios using the Force On Force rules system. Published in 2009 by Ambush Alley Games and distributed by Osprey Publishing since 2011, FOF has become the go-to rule set for miniatures gamers focused on modern conflict. The rules provide elegant gaming mechanics for asymmetric warfare between elite regular units and irregular forces. Using this, the FOF system accounts for the more advanced tactics, leadership, communications and equipment of US and NATO forces against the highly motivated yet less professional and poorly equipped irregular Taliban forces.

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The Afghanistan battlefield for our Force On Force scenarios

Our two scenarios presented a generic engagement between US Marines and Taliban forces in and around two typical walled compounds in rural Afghanistan in 2010. Amid the arid trees, hills and fields, the table was set with a hefty collection of 25mm Middle East structures from the Miniature Building Authority. The eight-turn scenario involved two four-man Marine squads attempting to hold a walled compound against the encroaching Taliban forces.

IMG_4792US Marines squad in Force On Force

As elite forces in FOF, the US Marines carry initiative and announce two actions  at the beginning of the turn. Actions include combinations of such things as shooting, remaining on overwatch, hiding, tactical movement of up to 6″ or rapid movement up to 12″ with a subsequent penalty for firing. The elite nature of American Marine regulars allows the unit to function without a troop quality check. Shooting for the US is achieved with D8s, one for each figure in the squad, with additional dice thrown into the mix for special or heavier weapons. For the Taliban without leaders present, movement must first be determined with a troop quality check with one D12 per each figure in the squad, and shooting is done using D6s. With their local knowledge, Taliban forces can also choose to move anywhere at any distance on the table provided they do not cross line of sight of any US forces.

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Thus the differing size of the dice thrown for each squad type — US regulars and Taliban irregulars — is used to determine all the variations in asymmetric troop quality. In FOF, any rolls of 4+ are considered successes, so the relatively easy D12 motivation tests for the Taliban account for their zealous dedication while their weaker D6 combat rolls mimic their relatively untrained fighters and poor weaponry with only a 50/50 chance of hitting anything. In addition, a Taliban figure firing a rocket-propelled grenade RPG gains two extra D6 but hits must be re-rolled with results of a 1 indicating a dud rocket and no effect to the target. On the other hand, US forces hit 2/3rds of the time using their D8s. Hits are applied randomly to figures in the unit, except for successful hits from US snipers which allows for a choice of targets.

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Second US Marines squad with sniper advances

In our game, the first US Marine squad began in a field adjacent to the objective compound with a single Taliban unit perched on an adjacent rooftop. The Marines chose to remain in cover on overwatch, allowing the Taliban a first ineffective round of fire. The Marines returned fire killing one of the Taliban fighters. Turn two saw the entry of the second US Marines team, including a sniper, while the first team scooted into the compound at a full 12″ of rapid movement through two open doors. The Taliban’s second unit, including an RPG, entered the table with a lucky roll of 6 which allowed them to deploy at the corner near the second US unit and the compound.

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Second US Marine squad takes heavy fire from two Taliban units

Over the next two turns, the first US team remained within the compound guarding the objective while the second US squad crept to a copse of trees just outside the compound’s walls. At the wall, the Taliban fired their RPG to open a hole in the wall to expose the US Marines inside. Another Taliban unit with two RPGs and a leader rolled another 6 to also deploy near the compound, moving close to their nearby allies to give the other unit the benefit of the leader.

Along the way, “fog of war” event cards were drawn on rolls of 1 during reactive fire. These cards add an extra element of randomness to a FOF game. The first card eliminated the Taliban’s ability to move anywhere on the table out of line of sight due to an US drone launching overhead. The second card drawn allowed the Taliban to set an improvised explosive device (IED) between the second US squad and the compound, effectively eliminating a direct path to the objective. The final card was pulled by the Americans an allowed for an “excellent position” to be created to protect the second team at the trees.

In the meantime, combined fire from the Taliban eliminated the US sniper in the trees and injured the other three members of the squad, effectively pinning them for the remainder of the game with no friendly force nearby to attempt a first aid check. With one American squad left and the Taliban poised to close in on the compound from multiple directions, the game went to the Taliban.

We switched sides for the second game with one US Marine unit immediately taking up position within the compound and the second unit moving under cover through the nearby ruins and trees. The Taliban reinforcements were not as lucky with their placement, and all entered at the far end of the table with stalled movement due to a lack of leadership. Again, a fog of war card eliminated the Taliban’s free movement on the table. A RPG shot blew up one building in the target compound, but the Marines survived and pulled back to another building. By turn six, the second US squad most moving to protect the compound and the Taliban forces, while great in number, had failed to advance far enough to prove a threat. A final fog of war card brought in a sandstorm, effectively shutting down shooting and movement for the remainder of the game. The US Marines had done their job and held the objective and the day.

One of the benefits of gaming modern war is the wealth of immediate information available in refighting actual engagements or creating other realistic scenarios. For our battle, some of the excellent coverage from National Geographic’s documentary Inside The Afghanistan War was used, and countless books, articles, photos, videos and websites provide further information and inspiration. The Force On Force rules do a masterful job at representing small engagements between regular and irregular forces, and I look forward to another series of games bringing in additional types of weapons, support and vehicles to the mix. Yes, our modern wars are still unfolding immediately in real-time, but with FOF a better appreciation of the tactics and challenges of today’s soldier is well represented for the interested wargamer.