Thursday, 21 March 2013

Unboxing Grand Manner

Viktoria with Dave's packet
Actually this story started some weeks or even months ago. When I planned my new gaming table I asked me which terrain pieces to acquire. There are a lot of excellent manufactureers for 28mm terrain, but the awesome stuff Dave Bodley of Grand Manner caught my eye again and again. One of our group fellows has a large collection of Dave's buildings and at Crisis 2012 I was able to satisfy myself of the quality.
Anyway I didn't place an order until February when Grand Manner offer a nice discount which balanced the high shipping cost. So I gathered with Axel and we ordered some painted and unpainted models. Delivery took reasonable four week and yesterday the packet from England arrived. This turned out to be a very entertainng event for Viktoria who was very well practiced since she opened a parcel from Granma and Grandpa earlier this day.

So Viktoria and me opened the box with greatest curiosity and Mrs Monty documented everything after she recovered her self control.

Dave's packages are very well packed with insulating material to protect the worthy contents.
I highly recommend, to unbox them either when your wife is away or after you collected the vacuum cleaner to show good will!

Viktoria and me opening Pandora's box of styrofoam snippets.
The result of our work...
Considering that Mrs. Monty had cleaned the living room this very afternoon, Viktoria and me were careful not to scatter the stuff all around. At least as much care as possible for a two-and-a-half-year-old who attaches great importance to tear every snippet at least once before putting it into the garbage bag...

However after digging which would have done honour to any professional archaeologist we discovered the much desired parcels.

With great attention and shaky hands I started to unwrap the bubble sheets. And guess what I found inside:
Another protective layer of bubble sheet...

Once again: The shipping charge might be high, but transport companies got expensive lately and Dave avoids neither efforts nor material to garantuee the undamaged arival of his stuff. Thumbs up mate!
Unwrapping the first piece step by step.
Just before dinner Viktoria and myself had unboxed and unwrapped everything and after she got to bed I took the time to have a closer look at the terrain pieces.
I was far more than satisfied, actually I was steamrolled by the quality of Dave's stuff. Even the "simple" Wargames Standard painting service comes out great. It's absolutely fine for most games and for smaller pieces it's rather affordable since Dave charges the original cost of the model again for painting. For larger buildings that can get quit expensive but anyone must judge himself whether the result is worth the charge. I avoided it this time but seeing Axel's painted things I really got doubtful.

But look yourselves:
Two gun positions usable for many periods.

A corral and to circular huts for Axel's Africa collection.

Finally my first three buildings for my new gaming board: Two houses and a pigsy mainly for Napoleonics.
Last but not least I prepared a close-up view from my Night Watchman's Cottage. As you see the casting quality is excellent. I didn't recognize any clear molding line and there are only a few flashes at out sticking corners. Naturally the whole model shows recess of mould release but I hope to get them cleaned away easily. Then the heavy tast of painting and not disfiguring the house will await me...
Close-up view on the Night Watchman's Cottage.
Dave's terrain pieces are expensive. Maby some the most expensive on the market but at least the models are worth every penny. I've seen a lot of things that were only slightly cheaper but suffered either from a lack of casting quality or material quality. Both are without fail at all pieces I've seen from Grand Manner until now.
The painting service is very good as well. Wargames Standard is more then good enough for any board I've seen by now and Dave's Collector's Standard is really worth it's name. But nevertheless everyone hast to decide by himself whether he wants to engage this service or wants to spend some ours with painting the things himself. Personally I'm double-minded whether I should'nt spent my time for painting miniatures and let Dave do the terrain paintjob next time...
Unfortunately the shipping flat charge is rather high. Nearly ₤ 30 to Germany is a lot and you even could buy another terrain piece for that. But during the last years the transport companies rose their charges, Dave's packages are bulky and he uses a lot of material to protect the goods. All in all I cannot judge the shipping cost unfair but in the future I'll try to catch Dave at shows to save it.

So I hope you enjoyed this review and got an idea what is behind Grand Manner. At least after my humble first experience. I know that there are other good manufacturers and I really don't want to paly them down. But Dave has the most extensive and best researched range I know and my experience with him was just top-notch.

If you want to see more of his work, then visit the Grand Manner website (here) or have a look at the following AARs on Monty's Caravan:
- 2nd Siege on Kolberg: Part 1 and Part 2

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Hail Caesar Fantasy AAR - Trial Game

Last Friday we met at the THS-Headquarter which has been native to Kalle's basement since 1998. With the large game on Good Friday coming we played a smaller game of Hail Caesar Fantasy with three divisions on either side of the 3,0m x 1,50m gaming table. Unfortunately I wasn't able to bring my camera this time so I took some pictures with my cellphone only. However they turned out not as bad as I feared...

On our side a force of imperial men (Holger), stoic dwarves (Heinz) and grim Bretonnians (me) gathered to face sneaky goblins (Kalle and Georg), brutal orcs (Robert) and cold-blooded lizardmen (Axel).
My brave Bretonnians with my fellow generals Heinz and Holger in the background.
After a short view on the terrain the dwarves took the center position while the imperial men gathered on the left wing. Therefore I had to place my bold knights on the right flank where the terrain wasn't ideal for cavalry because part of it was filled with hedges and other obstacles. However I was confident to master this challenge since the opposition I was facing consisted of orc skirmishers and rather light armoured lizardmen.Obviously our opponents wanted to bind my heavy cavalry with light troops to buy their heavier troops in the center some time...

Past a few turns of approach the game arose to a fast and heavy exchange of blows. The goblins rushed forward on their right flank and some wolfriders clashed into the imperial knights. Those resisted and threw back the villainous greenskins. Then in steady pace the whole division countercharged and secured our left wing.
The Empire strikes back... The knights forming the spearhead and the infantry following to secure our left wing.
The center was more hard-fought. While Robert drove his orcs forward in a fierce charge on the dwarvish center, Axel sent two units of Saurus infantry to his support. Thereby my flank was only lightly guarded by some archers, skirmishers and two units of light and medium cavalry. But they tried to hide between the hedges and the fields.
Kalle is directing his fellow villains. Meanwhile there are some lizardmen and orcs sneaking around at my flank.
Nevertheless I wanted to bring my division into contact and galloped towards the enemies. The first unit which fell under the hooves of my warhorses was the saurus cavalry. They attempted to charge my light cavalry but failed. So their flank was wide open and the combined power of two units of knights swept them away. Afterwards those brave knights turned around and aimed for the center of the battlefield to support the besieged dwarves.
Axel's unlucky saurus cavalry awaiting their downfall...
Meanwhile the other knights weren't that successful. Although they won their battle they failed to break the orcish archers. These bowlegged creatures fled and gathered behind the hedges to shoot perfidiously at the succeeding knights which were tenderly slowed down by the obstacles in their way. The last unit of knights chased the skirmishers but they where able to evade more than once.

Finally the battle was decided in the center. The dwarves held out long enough to let my close the ranks. With some luck I rolled three action for two of my knight units and so they were able to clash into the backmost unit of Robert's boar riders to shatter them. Simultaneously Heinz's dwarves broke the front unit of them with heavy dwarvis infantry. During the same turn some of my yeoman rushed through the wooded area and charged the lizardmen artillery which was stationed their. After some heavy fighting they overcame the saurians and now threatened the rear of the viallains' attack formation. The day was ours!
My yeomen attacking the lizardmen artillery. In the background you see the last efforts to break the dwarvish defense.

So after the divisions started to break we finished our game and agreed that it was a good and lucky day for the coalition of dwarves and men. A good omen for the battle on the field of Kutteln which will be fought on the 29th day of March in 2013 AD.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Weekly News: Medievalish Music paralysed Monty's Caravan

Last week was a bit strange. One the one hand not busier than most weeks before but on the other hand I wasn't able to manage anything mentionable on the workbench.

On Monday I listed up my Bretonnian forces for the upcoming game on Good Friday and helped Kalle a friend of mine to sort his Dwarves. Simultaneously I watched our sewing-machine when it prepared an embroided sample batch for the new THS-shirts:
First sample... Just on an oddment of linen.
I'm rather happy with the result although the linen curled away a bit near the letters and the black part of the face isn't perfect. During the rest of the week I optimized the pattern file and I hope to get a better result this afternoon.
On Tuesday I assembled some British Lineinfatrymen which shall form the 3rd bataillon of the Royal Scots for my Waterloo project. A good start but nothing to stress your eagle eyes with.

Wednesday evening was heavily interesting because another Bernhard, friend of mine, asked me to help him with some historical research for a 1812 Russia retreat skirmish game he has been working on since last year. Perfect timing though that the Perry twins presented some new greens for this setting last week (link).

But the highlight was yesterday. At about 3 o'clock Viktoria (our heartly beloved, two-and-a-half-year jackanapes-daughter as some of you might remember) phoned me in at work and told me that the postman brought a parcel which must contain a bagpipe whithout any doubt.
Obviously she was waiting for it even more urgently than I did myself:
My bagpipe "Hümmelchen".
This small thing is of course no Great Highland Bagpipe as you see but a small German Renaissance backpipe called "Hümmelchen". It has just one drone and a flute that can be played similarly as a recorder with German fingering. It's rather popular among medieval or Renaissance musicians and those you make music on medieval fairs. Not all pieces I want to play are truely medieval but at least sound kind of medievalish. Maro Siegismund a crafted instrument maker from Ore Mountains in Saxony made it for me and after five or six weeks of waiting I received this wonderful workpiece made of pear wood and leather.

Whoever of you is bold enough may turn your ears to one of my first tries:
Actually it went a bit better than I feared but it's really complicated to hold constant pressure from the bag. Additionally the flute takes a bit for me to get used to because it's holes are smaller are more difficult to sense than those of my old recorder. However I'll keep practicing and maybe it'll sound a bit like that one day: Sample from Mario himself.

Well then... Enough news for now. I hope to get more hobby things done this weekend or next week and I'll keep you in the loop.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Hail Fantasy !

Hail Caesar by Warlord Games

This time for something different:
Preparations for a game of Hail Caesar fantasy.

This year one of our biweekly meetings falls on Good Friday. So we took the chance to start a bit earlier and will have a rather large fantasy game then. the idea to use the Hail Caesar ruleset in favour arose because one of the fellows in the THS tried it with 18mm fantasy figures and it worked rather well as long as you ignore magic for now.

Actually his playtesting based on the awesome miniatures and terrain he prepared for Crisis 2012 and Tactica 2013. If you took a trip to Antwerp or Hamburg you'll probably remember the board. Otherwise you might have a look back to my review the board and the trip: Part 1 and Part 2. Unfortunately I wasn't able to visit Tactica this year but you could find some excellent pictures of the show in the web. Especially here. Pics of Roberts board are to be found in the lower third of the article. The terrain which he added for Tactica is really worth a look ("Castle Keep").

A view of Robert's excellent board.
However when forces became too large for Triumph and Tragedy we tried Hail Caesar with them. Ignoring magic we used the Hail Caesar Army Lists to find historical troop type matching the fantasy units. So dwarves became "Heavy Infantry", Goblin Wolfriders became "Light Cavalry" and so one. Great advantage of the Hail Caesar rules is that they resemble Blackpowder a lot which we know very well from our Napoleonic, SWI and ACW games.

Thereby the idea arose to make a large fantasy game in 28mm and we started to collect the forces. That was a rather easy task since any of us has got some fantasy troops lurging around in boxes or cupboards. Probably I'll field two divisions of Bretons: One consisting of brave knights and one of humble henchmen. So until then I'll have to put my Napoelonic efforts on hold a bit and prepare the Bretonnian figures and learn the rule.

But hoping you're interested in them I'll present some pictures of my good old fantasy forces.