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Getting Your Goat – Animals for Sharp Practice

A wise man once told me, “You can’t have a proper wargame without some nice animals”.  Naturally, I laughed politely as I called the local psychiatric care department, but, on reflection, he could have a point.  What is it that makes a good wargames table a great wargames table?  To my mind it is attention to detail.  I cannot tell a lie (as another wise man once said), I have always viewed model railway enthusiasts as slightly weird.  What is the point of creating those SUPERB layouts when you can’t play a proper game on them?  Weird as they are, one cannot but admire their layouts, with pot plants on the platform, chocolate vending machines, pretty gardens with washing on the line and the occasional amusing vignette to break the monotony of watching a train going round, and round, and round, and round.

So, it has always been my aspiration to “dress” my wargames tables as nicely as possible.  Not because I like making daft models, but because I feel that plausible and realistic terrain makes our games more enjoyable as it allows us to suspend reality somewhat and immerse ourselves in our imaginary world where we are commanding troops on the ground.  This is why I commissioned our garden terrain packs as it is the addition of small details like this….

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…which I feel makes our tables look tip top.  Indeed, one should note the presence of a couple of Hens and Sidney the dog in the photos above.

Now, Sharp Practice is one of those games where the narrative is absolutely at the heart of the game.  The heroes we are replicating on the tabletop surely deserve only the best terrain we can manage, and a visit to Poldercon in Utrecht earlier this month saw me introduced to a set of animals by Eltjo who was, very kindly and most ably, running a game of Sharp Practice featuring a classic historical encounter from Dutch history.  Eltjo’s table was enhanced magnificently by some really nice farm animals who completed the 18th century pastoral scene to perfection.  The models, I was surprised to learn, were a set of plastic farm animals in 1:48 scale from Pegasus Hobbies who, I believe are based in California.  Without further ado, I ordered a set off eBay and they arrived this week.

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I like a box that cuts to the chase.  FARM ANIMALS said the title.  And it was right.  Great to see they are “authentically detailed” too, whatever that could mean.

Anyway, without further ado, I opened the box to find 30 different animals from nine different species, all in 1/48th scale.  This box truly did not speak with forked tongue…

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What do we have?  Six cows, two big fat pigs with a pair of little piglets, two goats, a goat kid, two sheep, a couple of sheep dogs, a pair of donkeys, a brace of cockerels, four hens, a couple of grouse (partridge maybe?) and three tiny chicks.  Being practical, this is just about all the domesticated animals you could ever need for any wargame in any period, all for ten quid including postage.

Here’s a snap of how they size up to a 28mm Confederate officer.

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A really nice size match and a very suitable hound for the officer if anyone remembers champion the Wonder Horse.  Over the next week I will try to get some of these painted up and show you the results.

 

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10 Responses

  1. Ade Deacon says:

    I think two of your “cows” might be bulls?
    I almost expected to see Ethau & some chickens in that picture!?
    Is that my smock hanging there? ??

  2. Jim Hale says:

    I’m all for dressing the table, but I’m not picturing cows et al calmly chewing the cud with all that noise and humans running back and forth somehow. However yes to all the human impedimentia… cold frames, greenhouses, sheds and all that.

    Wargaming buildings usually resemble an abandoned shell of a building, rather than something recently lived in…no back gardens or fences for Sean Connery to negotiate to avoid Jerry, no green house for a U.S. Airborne trooper to land on, no garden wall for Richard Burton to bleed out against… and no backyard and orchard for John Mills and his guys to escape through when the Jerries roll up out front.

  3. Chuck says:

    Years ago I needed animals for my 28mm pirate game. I found and bought Irregular first, but they were too small. Dixon’s line of animals fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, although the Dixon site still lists “cow”, it doesn’t show chicken, pig, goose, sheep or goat. Maybe ebay or bring & buy’s?

  4. cpt shandy says:

    I also am a firm believer in the need for animals on the gaming table. I hope SP2 has similar random events as SP1 – I remember fondly an escaped cow bringing my line in disorder on the ‘Stampede!’ random event. When it was done, we diced for its further movement direction and, to the chagrin of my officer, who had just pushed his men back into formation, it headed right back!

  5. Graham says:

    And Eureka do some nice vignettes cows, cats, dogs, milkmaids and mad shepherdesses. I think I even have a couple of vultures for those desert or indian scenarios. I really must talk to Nic about some Shite Hawks

  6. John says:

    Once the soldier boys show up I don’t see any of those animals outlasting the dinner pot long except maybe the donkeys & dogs.

    The “grouse” are probably guinea fowl.

  7. John says:

    The two grouse are most likely guinea fowl.

    Once the soldier boys show up I don’t think those animals will be long for the pot, with the possible exception of the donkeys & dogs.

  8. Jan says:

    Mega Miniatures used to do a wonderful line of animals, all sorts from house cats to big cats. Sadly, the owner decided to close up shop at the end of 2014.

    Foundry do some nice sheep and pack horses and things, and Gripping Beast has some animals. Sgt Maj Miniatures’ Bloody Day line (the old Vendel figures) has some too, including geese and chickens.

  9. Thank you for the kind words, Richard. I’ll post some pictures of my animals on my blog.

  10. Levied Troop says:

    Redoubt Miniatures also have a wide range of domestic animals. Foraging raids are a distinct possibility in SP.

    You’re never alone with a goat.

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