domenica 31 dicembre 2017

2017 is over!

2017 is almost over, so a little summary of this year from my wargamer experience.

My priorities and wishes shuffle continuously, I try not to follow ant kind of self imposed obligation, just my inspiration. Otherwise wargaming would no longer be a hobby for me.

Good news from 2017: I've got two new armies almost ready (about 10-15 models each missing), which would enable me to play three new rulesets: British Commandos for Bolt Action (1000 points) and  17th century Ottoman Turks for Pikeman's Lament and Tercios.

This year  Lion Rampant took the lion's share of gaming (pun intended) I didn't reckon the games I had with it, but more than a dozen for sure, my trusty Venetian Condotta serving me (quite always) well, even in defeat. Ronin with 4-5 games can also be regarded as a good second place (thanks to my Sohei buntai), then Tercios and Bolt Action (both with borrowed figures).

last club game of the year: three Lion Rampant tables and one X-wing
In the last meeting at our club in Verona (Band of Butei) we managed to arrange three tables with Lion Rampant, despite two players were almost new to this ruleset (they both won, somehow). We had great fun and chatting time and this is a big confirmation of this rules' potentiality and suitability for convivial gaming (aka Beer and Pretzel game).

This year can also be aknowledge as the (definitive) transition from 15mm to 28mm as my favourite scale. I still own 15mm Late Romans and Barbarians, and some 15mm WW2 Germans, but they're not very played at my club (just one game in 2017). 28mm fits also better my painting style now.

Next year? It will depend on my lavorative life, since I'm starting a new job in January. Anyway, if I can manage to finish 17th century Ottoman Turks and British Commandos I could invest in more Risorgimento figures or keep pushing TYW period with a brand new army (German Protestant forces), the latter being strongly supported by my clubmates (and by my wallet, since I've about all the figures I need for this army - new on sprues of course).

About this blog I hope I'll be able to keep posting about twice a month! I'm full of ideas about collaborations, conventions and my wish list is costantly updated (I won't post it here, because could be quite long - and annoying - to read!)

I thank all my readers, and wish you a happy new year, full of joy and wargaming adventures!


sabato 11 novembre 2017

Neil Thomas' Wargaming the Nineteenth Century review


I was looking for a ruleset to use my new Risorgimento figures and my attention was caught by "Wargaming the Nineteenth Century in Europe 1815-1878" by Neil Thomas.


I already heard of him as author of One Hour Wargaming and other works concerning our hobby, but I never dealt with his works.

Since I couldn't find much about the set on the net, I decided to purchase the kindle edition straightly from the publisher (Pen&Sword) at 4.99£. Great value for the money, but...there are no pictures only drawn maps. I know that in the printed edition (19.99£+ shipping) there are several pictures of gaming tables. Anyways, nothing essential. (EDIT: I found the pictures, they are at the very end of the book and not inside it)

The book gives a good historical and military introduction of the warfare in the period and then speculates on the best way to model a wargame to represent it. The process really reminds me Sabin's Lost Battles

The rules per se are just 8 pages (in the printed copy) and are very old style in layout, but the approach is interesting: simpler is better, and so we get a distillation of 19th century warfare. Those looking for detailed rules will be disappointed, but I love easy (yet period-specific) games. The rules are aimed at small battles involving around a brigade per side. They are very simple and should play in about 2 hours, involving about 10-15 units per side. Command and control is included just as optional rule, since "a player is able to act foolishly without external rules"

The rules are completed by 15 army lists, 5 generic scenarios (one mini-game) and 10 historical scenarios covering the main conflicts in Europe from the Carlist War to Franco Prussian War. There is no point system, but an interesting army generator which with a couple of dice rolls generates a casual army.

For the Italian Risorgimento there is only one scenario included (Montebello 1859), but are provided lists for generic revolutionary and monarchic army (1848), French, Italian, Austrian (1859 and 1866), Garibaldini and Bourbonic (1860). There is an error in the rating of Bourboinc troops, in my modest opinion, the author was too influenced by some sources he used. Anyway, this can be solved with some work. With some work a Papal State army can also be produced, and additional historical scenarios, too.

In conclusion: it's not the scale of battles I'm interested in, since I'm going to play the period with 28mm figures and I aim to play a large skirmish kind of game, as Lion Rampant or Sharpe Practice, but I'd steal some idea (best form of adulation, isn't it?) if I ever had to write my own rules.

mercoledì 1 novembre 2017

Shakò64 Borbonic Hunters (1)

The debout of Shakò64: a Italian company dedicated to Italian Wars of Indipendence.

 

Italian Wars of Indipendence, or Risorgimento, is considered a lesser conflict and is often overviewed by wargamers and manifacturers. For this reason a new manifacturer dedicated to this period is a wonderful news! Shakò64 entered the hobby market this year. I recently received a sample from their first released range, consisting in Cacciatori Borbonici (Borbonic Hunters) a light infantry unit of the Army of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies which fought against Garibaldi's redshirts during the 1860 campaign. 

In their online shop are currently aivalable: Hunters with different combination of campaign dress/frock coats and jackets with covered/uncovered shakò or kepì and Hunters Command group wearing tunic, with the same headgears options, but the manifacturer intention is to extend their range to cover both the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and Garibaldi's armies. Also aivalable the flag for some battalions of Borbonic Hunters and Carabinieri (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th battalion Cacciatori and 1st and 2nd Carabinieri). They're sold in packs of 4 for 9€ (2.25€ for infantry figure).




The figures are sculpted by Cosimo Auricchio, former sculptor for Ital.Model, a discontinued brand producing figures for the Italian Risorgimento. At the first look they looks very well sculpted virtually no flash and smooth mold lines, basically ready to be washed and primed! Very interesting the choice to provide separate backpacks (at least 3 different models) to add variety and help the paintjob. At a first measurement they looks 27-28mm to eyes level, so definitely a modern range (the so called "heroic 28mm"), larger than Mirliton and Foundry, and similar to Gringo40s. Comparison is needed (stay tuned!).
 



venerdì 6 ottobre 2017

The blog name: Arsenale del Nano

What's in a name? 
(Romeo and Juliet, act II, scene II)

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of my blog, and I feel that's a good excuse to give to the (few) curious a short explanation about my blog's name, expecially for not-Italian speakers.
View of the Entrance to the Arsenal by Canaletto, 1732.

 

Arsenale

What's an Arsenale? "arsenal, armoury, dockyard", where weapons are stored and (sometimes) forged. Obviously my weapons are lead and plastic (and resin perhaps) soldiers and scenics, but also rulesets, scenics and terrain, painting and brushes, all that sort of stuff which keeps the bellic effort going. 

But Arsenale  was chosen also with a precise geographical reference in mind: Venice. The name Arsenale itself derives from this city, it's Dante Alighieri, the most famous Italian poet in his Divine Comedy to first use this term to describe Venice dockyard, comparing the boiling pitch used to mend the vessels during winter (a period in which navigation was suspended during middle ages) to the hell environment. For those interested in literature here's the full text, both in Italian and English.


As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels over again
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern
This one makes oars and that one cordage twists
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch

Which upon every side the bank belimed.
Quale nell'arzanà de' Viniziani
bolle l'inverno la tenace pece
a rimpalmare i legni lor non sani,
ché navicar non ponno - in quella vece
chi fa suo legno nuovo e chi ristoppa
le coste a quel che più vïaggi fece;
chi ribatte da proda e chi da poppa;
altri fa remi e altri volge sarte;
chi terzeruolo e artimon rintoppa -;
tal, non per foco ma per divin' arte,
bollia là giuso una pegola spessa,
che 'nviscava la ripa d'ogne parte.

(Dante, Inferno, XXI, 7-18)


 

The Lion

The symbol of the blog is going to be the Pireaues Lion, a statue located at the entrance of  Venice Arsenale, originally located in Athenes (Piraeus port), was taken in 1687 as plunder by Morosini during one of the various Turkish-Venetian wars. Probably it seemed pretty appropriate, since Venice symbol is a (winged) lion. The lion hides an additional history: at the end of 18th century a Swedish diplomat recognised a lindworm carved on the lion, probably by Varangian merceanaries sent by Costantinople to sedate a riot in Athenes during X-XI century. Nowadays the carvings are seriously deteriorated by pollution and time, but it's still intuible.




In conclusion, I felt that Arsenale and its Piraeus Lion are the perfect sintesis of the many instersections of histories represented by wargaming, the site where armies and weapons were assembled and where many glorious (and bloody) deeds had their beginning.

...and Nano?

Oh, that's just a nickname my girlfriend gave me at the beginning of our relationtship. It means dwarf in Italian, since I'm only 1.65 metres tall ...and she's 1.76! (Incidentally it's also my grandfather nickname, but as a shortening of Giordano).


mercoledì 13 settembre 2017

X-wing, Tercios and Bolt Action!


X-wing


After one year I eventually managed to have a couple of games. I appreciate it because is fast, quick to learn, yet deeply strategic. Having pre-painted minis (and of good quality) is a great plus. I shall start studying a bit the combination between the different ships! Thank Alberto and Alessio! 



 Liber Militum Tercios


Back to Thirty years war again! Luca introduced me to Tercios a quite new ruleset by the Spanish El Kraken publisher dealing with the great battles of the period. The rules aim to recreate the grand tactic of the battles. The rules are easy to learn, but has some interesting feats, the most interesting, at least to me, the orders cards. As many of you may already know, I love all sorts of orders vinculating units freedom of action. General de Brigade and Et Sans Resultat! are good examples. In Tercios orders are not persistent, but are re-assigned each turn. Anyway, it's a good start for future modifications. Some mechanics aren't really new, for example any wear unit must test to activate its order (like Bolt Action pinned units) or the hits vs save mechanic (wherte savings, describes by the courage attribute of the units is a sum of morale and armoured resistance to enemies' offences). Overall all this already seen features blend in a very smooth way. I need a couple more games to write a proper review, so stay tuned!

In the pictures the 15mm collection of Luca (Testudo). But 28mm figures I can use both for Tercios and for Pikeman's Lament are ready to be painted (somewhere under the pile of plastic and lead in my basement).






Bolt Action


My first 500 points Commandos army is complete. They just went out for their first training mission against a German Pioneer force...and went awfully. Many things to reflect upon and more figures to assemble and paint for a 1000 point revenge!


 


venerdì 1 settembre 2017

Italian Wars of Unification from Osprey!



Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1)
(by Gabriele Esposito; illustrated by Giuseppe Rava)


Last month, Osprey published in its Men-at-Arms collection the first of a two books series about Italian conflicts of XIX century.  

Italian Wars of Unification is a subject always neglected by the international publications, at least from a uniformologic point of view. Of course in Italy it's a more common theme, but it's really cool to start seeing it arising some interest abroad. The Italian Wars of Unification lasted about 22 years and saw the birth of Italy as a Nation. They offers a wide choice of scenarios for wargamers of any nationality. The numbers of factions involved, the many different uniforms (essentially a mix from original Italian design and foreign inspirations) have the potential to please both the warfare and the  estethic lovers.

Of course there is still a lack of appropriate models, but there are some "promising" signals, I will talk about them in a separate post (stay tuned!).

The author, Gabriele Esposito, has done a great job of sinthesis. In fact describing the 1848-49 war as a single war is misleading. There is a proper campaign (Kingdom of Piedmont against Austrian), but there is an insurrection of Sicily (proclaming indipendence from the Kingdoms of the Two Sicilies) and many national uprising, in Rome (Republica Romana), Venice (Repubblica di Venezia) and other cities. So regular armies and volunteers twingles in confusing years. 


Remember: the booklet is the first of two. In this one are described the armies of Piedmont and the Two Sicilies. For both you have a nice (even if schematic) introduction, organisation and different specialities are treated in order (infantry, cavalry corps, engineers, etc...) and then there is a short chapter about weaponry. Comparing it to other Osprey MAA, the uniformology is quite "light". Honestly it'd have been difficult to be more specific with so many troops to treat. Just assume Austrian armies of roughly the same period are treated in two different books (The Austrian Army 1836(1), for infantry and (2) for cavalry) and that's just one Nation! So I appreciate even more the skill of the author to concentrate the informations, many of them added in the description of the pictures inside the text or the plates, painted by Giuseppe Rava, probably the most skillful Italian military painter, compared to Angus McBride himself.



The plates are fantastic, they are a really great added value for the book, historically accurate and characterized by a great vivacity. In addition the booklet features a large number of illustrations and drawing from the period.

The next booklet will be focused on Papal army and volunteers.

My only complaint is about the chronology: the usual introduction about the conflict, more necessary because this is a greatly neglected conflict, has been splitted between the two books, thus in this one only 1848 events are described, the other years will be treated in the second one. I understand the choice from the point of view of the publisher, to respect the number of pages Osprey standard imposes. But this fact made me feel the book some of incomplete. I suppose is something it will be solved when this book will be placed in the shelves next to the second part. Luckily we shouldn't wait too long, I don't remember the publication date, but if I recall correctly should be available in some months time.


All the images are used with consent of G.Rava, taken from his official Facebook page, which I kindly suggest you to follow. The author is at disposition for any request from the Publisher.

PS If you're looking for the Austrians who fought the Italians (Kingdom of Sardinia at the beginning of the period), look for Osprey MAA 323 and 329! So actually we can consider Italian Wars of Unifications from Osprey to form a quadrilogy!

lunedì 28 agosto 2017

Commandos in training!


Back to my (first) 28mm WW2 project.

I always liked WW2, and last year, after my conversion to 28mm (Lion Rampant, Ronin) I decided to jump into this period, too, in order to be able to play a different game. The only club mate interested in the period had German and a friend of him American. He was complaining that he couldn't get many games and so I decided to start an army. 

They chose Bolt Action as ruleset, because it's easy to learn, quite fast (about 2-3 hours) and fun fo play, even if it's not the most historically accurate ruleset. But, hey, it's a game, after all!

Since Germans (I must admit, my first choice) had already been taken, I decided to go Brit. But, as some of you may know I dislike easy/common/mainstream armies and so I chose Commandos. 



Here some reasons:
  1. to be able to play several scenario: Commandos fought from 1941 to 1945 in almost any theather
  2. cheap plastic aivalable (see below)
  3. peculiar unit (I love veteran and strange troops)
  4. veteran units: more pointsworthy the unit less models needed, and it's not a secundary consideration when valuating to get into a totally new period

Last Christmas Warlord games had it's usual sprues' offer (50% IIRC), and I bought a consistent quantity of Commandos sprues (maybe 5), plus a plastic Commandos box, which gave me the weapon and more infantrymen. Later I found an action for MMG, Officers, medics and a beautiful AEC mk III. At Model Expo in Verona I eventually purchased straightly from Italeri stand a Churchill plastic set. So I was ready to start (for more details about my models, check this post on my blog)


Now (note that I looked accurately after purchasing the models) I started to looked the exact operations the Commandos were involved in.The issue was made easier by this excellent wikipedia page.

My attention was drawn by:

  1. Norwegian islands 1941,  I should use SAS models but I guess any Commando unit could go
  2. Sicily 1943, interesting to play against Italian not in the desert
  3. Normandy 1944. Too mainstream, but a good "generic" start
  4. Italy 1945 (last offensive in April) just a few weeks before the end of war in Italy (25th April) Commandos + partisans in the Comacchio lagoon against a generic Wehrmacht force

Norwegian islands (1940)
Early war period, very small actions (realistically playable in 1:1 ratio), and with a strong scenario objective (usually a fish oil and glycerol factory or a coastal battery or ships).  The main drawbacks are: limited troops choice (no tanks, no artillery) and Commandos always as attackers (except local counterattacks).


Sicily 1943
A good choice of enemy, in particular some Italian troops in a small, but interesting choice of scenarios (both Commandos attacks and Italian and Germans counter attacks, noticeably Malati bridge). One day I'll be glad to have a WW2 Italian army!

Normandy to Rhine (1944-1945)
The standard. Good selection of troops for both sides, an interesting addition is the Churchill AVRE supporting the operations (and I own a Churchill). From DDay to Rhine an interesting idea for a campaign as well.



Northern Italy 1945
In the late war, in the Comacchio lagoon, relatively near to where I live (in comparison with Norway, at least). Commandos spearheaded an advance against the latest German defensive lines. Supported by the North Irish Horse Churchills (yeah!) the crumbled the poor Germans. An interesting addition (already on my wish list) the LTV Buffalo!




Recently I discovered an other group of players (5-6) playing Bolt Action in my city and so I decided to prioritize the painting of my models.  I've just finished Ottoman Turkish (ok they need bases) my second army for Lion Rampant (so far my most played ruleset), so it's time to move to this new project. I hope in a few week I could be able to show you my first 500 points Commandos army.