Friday, May 20, 2016

Welcome to the Dungeon...

A small backlog of photos of Repar miniatures finished over the last few months today folks; as is normal lets kick off with our valiant heroes:

 Firstly a barbarian and a well armoured cleric.

 The rippling muscles on the barbarian were certainly a challenge, possibly more exaggerated than I normally like, but the effect is pretty good.

Next up a pair of moody elves.

 Painted months apart these two, a young wizard and a ranger I guess look thematically similar.
Lastly, and occupying an awkward middle ground, is this character, described as a witch on the Reaper website:

 I think I was going more for 'sexy wizerd'  but I can take their point; if seeming implicitly a little distrustful of smart women!

I find the back of this model a bit odd, lots of "what's going on with that bit?" type thoughts during the painting process, as a result this model idled on the table for many weeks.

Alongside these a few more nasty gribblies were churned out.  Nothing complicated you understand:

I know which treasure chest I'd rather find.  I believe the one on the left is called a Mimic or something, either way as an enchanted trap it'd happily have your arm off.

 A low level rank and file Skeleton is matched here by a Wight.  The Wight was a really easy model to do thanks to basically just being armour and two flowing robes.

This skeleton came out very different to the other Reaper ones I've done so far, but that shouldn't be an issue, who's to say he was in the ground as long?

Lastly, some more Goblins.
Well the never appear in just ones and twos do they.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Jabberwocky - Finished

So, monsters really don't have to take a long time to paint; so it would seem.  Maybe it is just because I finally have some free time, maybe it is because a Jabberwocky isn't dripping in lace, facings, buttons and brocade.

Above you can just about make out why brass-rodding the tail or leg would not work, both are either too flexible or too thin to support it.  The clear rod is visible but not too intrusive for my eye.

The painting technique was a doddle for this one, after retouching the base coat with a dark green, I gave the entire model a glaze of military green plus a dab of black.  This was very dark, but responded well to an overbrush of the original base coat the following day.  Then I gradually added yellow to the mix and applied several dry brushes, with gradually smaller brushes slowly focusing on the highlights.

The red began as a mix of dark red with a tiny amount of the base green, dry brushed and blended at the transition area and more completely painted further along the wings and so on.  This was then overbrushed with unmixed dark red, followed by drybrushing repeated layers of red, with lighter red then orange mixed in.  No three layer technique here, just keep going until it looks right.

The chest/belly was next with the base green mixed firstly with a buff yellow, then increasing amounts of pale yellow then a little white added.  All that was then left was the claws and teeth - sand brown up to a pale linen shade, and the eyes.  A super simple base to match the rest of my Reaper dungeon models was all that was then required.

No time at all really.  But I'm really happy with the look.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

45eme de Ligne

I'm getting older, I can't deny it.  The other day I went to a rave and didn't dance at all.  Granted it was held in a shopping mall rather than a warehouse, and I was sober, but nevertheless; pensionable behaviour.

Also, it seems to take me 50% longer to finish a Napoleonic unit than it used to, and that's not even allowing for the reduced amount of free time to dedicate to painting I have whilst doing my Masters Degree.  The unit presented here realistically reflects 30 hours of toil, possibly too little return for the time?

But regardless, the 45eme de Ligne are ready for battle:

Ligne in Line
In column from the rear
 Half way through painting I was almost ready to give up on these, as they looked absolutely awful, but such is the long process with uniforms of this detail, that you have to just stick with it until they're done, it's only in the last few hours of labour that the effort is rewarded.  The converted Colonel came out rather well too.

Converted Colonel
I hope I never have to build and paint another regiment of Victrix French infantry though.  They are just too fiddly!

The 45eme is a regiment with a long and colourful history in the Napoleonic wars, with battalions serving in both Napoleon's Western and Eastern campaigns, as well as finally winding up at Waterloo.  You would do worse than to read up the short version of this at the site of their Re-enactment Group.

With these and the German allies I did earlier in the year, the infantry shortfall in my French force is somewhat resolved, still not enough to exactly match my Anglo-Portuguese, but much closer to balance.
Packed with goodies!
There are now 5 boxes like this, packed with British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German troops; getting on for over 600 of them.

Probably time to try and get another game arranged, eh?

Friday, May 13, 2016

What to do with a Wonky Monster?

Working through my Reaper Bones collection, and looking to find uses for them to boot, I've pulled one of the monsters out of the selection; the Jabberwocky.

John Tennial's original illustration

It's a great sculpt, based on the original illustrations of the absurd poem, however the model itself once assembled has, shall we say, issues with its' balance and posture:

Go home Jabberwocky, you're Drunk

The soft poly Reaper uses simply can't cope with the weight of the pose resting on the slender leg, a dynamic lean of the pose only becomes an image of a creature caught in the middle of falling over as it serves to encourage the model to collapse in a heap.  The centre of gravity furthermore is outside of the base, or along its very edge, making staying upright on a level surface impossible; hence the tin lid blutacked to the base here.

This would not do, so drastic action would be needed.  One bonus of the bones material is that it's easy to modify - cut, drill and so on - so I set the the bits boxes (of which I have surprisingly few) to find something suitable to make it stand upright and balance better.  I found I had one old GW flying stand kicking about in a pile of bits and so felt its' transparency and relative strength would solve the problem.  I drilled through the base with nothing more than a pin vice and some good scissors, to widen the hole, so the fit was tight.  It was then a simple case of forcing the model into the right position and drilling an alignment hole into the underside of the Jabberwocky.

It penetrates a 'delicate area' in Jabberwockey anatomy

That done he was still a little wobbly, so to secure everything I added a thick wooden base; and hussaaah!  Works!

Sobered up 
Now he's ready for a proper paint job, a whole separate challenge.  But at least I've managed some progress on that front of late (of which more, soon).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A new army Sneaks in

I've been away folks, to parts foreign and of some relevance for the blog.  Perhaps something on that later, but whilst away my order of miniatures for Dragon Rampant arrived.  Oh, I guess I didn't mention I'd finally picked up a copy of the Fantasy variant of LR did I; well that was a thing that also happened.  University study is basically out the way for the summer, so fun times and army building are a coming...

Anyhoo.  I decided that for my first dedicated Dragon Rampant force I wanted to do something that was new, but also cut a clear path away from old Warhammer armies and Kings of War too.  Instead I fancied something themed on D&D and other classic roleplaying games.  After looking at what I had to hand for inspiration, and what was available on the net, I settled on a small order from the Reaper Miniatures ranges:

Modern Classics
So it's going to be a Kobold raiding party, with Bugbears providing the heavy hitters, and maybe a little surprise leading them too.  It means painting about 40 models, which shouldn't take too long seeing as how tiny the Kobolds are, but these little dog-warriors should give me an entertaining variant instead of Goblinoid nasties.

I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Boardgame Roundup

A few words on recent board gaming activity are in order today folks, I obviously do a lot of board gaming but tend to keep the blogs focus more on miniatures, still, I hope you won't mind the diversion.

Firstly I was pleased to receive the last of my Conan Strategy Game pledge this week, when the freshly minted Adventures in Hyboria expansion arrived.

Conan with Lightsaber, it appears...
 The expansion greatly increases the involvement and Influence of Conan in the game, as well as adding a new type of unit for the players - Spys.  I've yet to do more than scan the components, but they look to be of the promised high standard and will no doubt provide some interesting wrinkles to the base game.

I'm happy to report that I managed to get a game of 1812: The Invasion of Canada going in the last week.  Given the original cost of this game, I'd really like to get my money's-worth from it, but more than that, it's one of the best board wargames I've ever played.

The field at the end of play
It was only as a two player game on this occasion, but the game can accommodate up to five players; recommendations are that it works best with two or five players.  Head to head, I duelled with Ross' command of the British for five rounds; the Native Americans seized Detroit and the west whilst the British marched south from Montreal; things looked bleak for the Americans.  

Little did the British know that I had a forced march and a naval manoeuvre in hand and was able to sweep troops across Lake Erie and the Niagara.  Although the British had signed the Treaty of Ghent to end the game when they thought they were ahead, they suddenly found themselves on the back foot.  It was only by a paramount effort that they were able to pull the game back to a draw. 

As a light wargame, 1812 provides everything I could want from it; easy to learn and simple mechanics, but one's that provide for an enormous range of possibilities.  A game that is hard to master, and should vary every time.  Highly recommended.

Much of which can be said of Concordia too, except the wargame part.

What have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
Concordia is an archetypal 'Trading in the Mediterranean' Eurogame, a sneering cliché critics of European board games like to throw around; and sure, there is no fighting in the game, no dice rolling, no randomising element during game play to speak of.  But the game manages to address this with a semi random board set up and a card driven play mechanic that allows players to forge differing strategies for success.  

The game is only partly about the action on the board too, for all your efforts to establish trading outposts across the known world can be for naught if you don't acquire enough favours of the gods (cards) to maximise your efforts.

This would be a good Monopoly replacement for the more able family group, or for gamers looking for a mid weight game with plenty of re-playability.  Just ignore the dull as dishwater box cover, which really doesn't sell the game.

And on a final note for my British chums, if you've not already noticed, get yourself down to your local branch of The Works (or online) for they again have a batch of modern board games in stock, including for the military minded amongst you 'Sun Tzu', 'Chosun' and 'World of Tanks - Rush', as well as various others of a more varied nature; all seem well regarded by those I know who've picked them up, with perhaps 'Origin' 'Artificium' and 'Madame Ching' being the best reviewed:

For £10-12 each you really can't go wrong though, most of these games would've been £30-40 each.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Clash of Warlords

Today is International Tabletop Day, did you know that?  Well, it is more of a board game inspired event, so maybe not; but the closest to gaming I'll be doing today is upkeep on the blog.  At least today I have a game to recount for you!

Myself and regular opponent Gav arranged a game at short notice, and by dint of organisational simplicity I suggested Saga as the best option.  We selected six point forces from my collection, and Gav opted for the feisty Vikings, a first outing for their sparkly new troops to gather for battle.  I as usual was left by default with the Frankish options; I opted for Carpetians, to give me access to Crossbows for my troops.  The Viking Battle Board is simplicity to use well and ideal for a beginner or occasional player, whilst the Frankish board is a finickity one that requires careful handling to deliver on it's promise.

We rolled for the battle and got the Warlords scenario.  Scenery was set up per the rules and deployment was simply done.  The ruins represented the remains of a Frankish farm the Vikings had attacked during their campaign, so it made sense that my Force included a priest and his attendant, bent on enforcing the wrath of God upon the heathens.

The forces array behind their respective commanders
 In Warlords, the leaders of the units start in advance of their troops, as if in a hopeless parley, or intending to duel.  Both of us were backed up by loyal brethren, though in the case of the Franks rather more of these were horseflesh and man...

Fresh looking Vikings!
Tired looking Franks!
 Gaining the first turn, my Lord bravely high tailed it back to his own lines!  But this was at least lateral movement as his troops dashed forward to support him.

The Franks Advance
 On the left flank I saw an opportunity for easy meat, and stampeded six of my mounted nobles into Gavs Hirdmen, but I hadn't seen he had thoughts of Valhalla prepared on his battle board, and knowing his time was likely come he sacrificed three men to the gods and used some other dice to ultimately nearly triple his combat pool.

A bold Charge...
 The result was murderous: Repelled
 I decided I needed to be more careful with my remaining Milites, and so threw them wide to the right in the hope of drawing the enemy away from their lord, then I could us my manoeuvrability to outpace them and strike at a hopefully isolated leader.

The Warlord leads a Flanking Manoeuvre
 In the centre it was down to my infantry  to thin out his, mostly with their bows.

Hirdmen Suffer Withering Fire
 The Vikings again played their tricks - the power of Loki no doubt - forcing the crossbowmen to move instead.  Not a problem, the Vikings were so close, the Franks could simply charge them and make as it turned out a quicker conclusion to proceedings.
A Pincer move Develops
 The Vikings were by now running out of men, but the various action had cost my warlord a few cuts and bruises, and by the terms of the scenario my foe was ahead.  I needed to pull out all the stops in the final turn to outrun his withdrawing lord and deal him maximum harm.  I used the Frankish abilities to move my spearmen at the double and allied to an attack by my lord, I gave the Viking a brutal sustained attack.

The Frankish Lord and his priest goad a Final Assault
 But it didn't do quite enough.  My lord had 9 wounds to Gav's seven.  He won the game therefore by a narrow margin.  Never mind the loss of virtually all his men!

Few survive, but the Viking Lord Prevails
A typically bloody game of Saga!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Agincourt Diorama at Leeds Armouries

So obviously, whilst at the Royal Armouries on Sunday I took the opportunity to view the new installation of the Agincourt diorama; produced by model maker David Marshall and the Perry twins.  The presentation is very nicely done with the model itself being about the size of a Snooker Table

Nice environs too 
The fringe of the table is covered with a narrative of the battle, and details of the nobility involved.  A great feature here being that the images of the characters are pictures of the painted models themselves; given they are shown some 8-10 times original size, they display amazing detail.

A 28mm model blown up 800%
 The model features many thousands of painted miniatures, well lit under three large panes of glass:

Whilst the massed impression is fantastic, it is worth looking for the periscopes placed around the model - both on top and along the sides - which allow you to get a soldiers-eye view of the field.

Here from the English right 
However, these were a challenge for my camera to get a decent photograph from.  Much easier to get shots from above.

French Knights approach the English centre
The quality of painting is certainly good enough for wargame standard, and the en-masse effect is ultimately impressive.  The terrain is also very good, though with a little of the model railway about some of it.  I liked the simple touches for authenticity, such as the coppiced woodland, the ploughed field, and the thousands of footprints obliterating it behind the initial French advance.

French infantry await their moment
Some of the models are apparently mass castings in resin, but they are not that obvious, fringed by individual miniatures, and all painted to the same standards.

You get a real sense of the press 
Having read many accounts of the battle, I personally feel it is a good representation of the field, naturally it is somewhat scaled down, but you can't be so surprised by that.  In essence the effect is what you'd want it to be and the little details are enough to keep you exploring for some time.

Contrastingly, a little further around the display you'll find the Siborne model of Waterloo, part of Waterloo anyway.  Some 170 years separate the two dioramas, but their aims are the same, with each trying to represent the field of battle as accurately as it can.  Siborne's model is far larger, covering at least twice the space at a smaller 18-20mm figure scale.  Again it manages the sense of scale well, even if the individual models are not as attractive:

British Cavalry clash with French foot
 The details of the terrain are perhaps most interesting here, I noted the depth of the sunken road and sand pit at the La Haye Sainte, far more pronounced than most wargames tables could reflect - how often is their physical impact on the battle forgotten as a result I wonder?

The same too can be said of the rolling hills the British used for cover; Siborne's model really gives a sense of the value of the English defensive line.  Alas the main detraction from the Siborne display is the lighting, which makes viewing the model frustrating, and photography of anything other than small details nigh on impossible.

Still, two displays well worth a trip for any gamer or military history buff.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A visit to the Royal Armouries

If it's been quiet on the blog, well that's understandable, I've been neck deep in Masters Degree study for a very long time; a very-very long time.  But having completed a fiendish programming assignment yesterday, I was able to justify a day off today, and this timed nicely with the Royal Armouries in Leeds' 'RAGE' Gaming event; an event timed to coincide with the unveiling of the Agincourt diorama (more on that later in the week folks).

Obligatory up-shot...
The Royal Armouries Gaming Event, so far as I know is in its' second year; last years' event as Napoleonic themed, and this year was also themed, not unsurprisingly to the Hundred Years War theme reflecting the Agincourt subject of the weekend.

This year the event was in the smaller Newsroom on the 4th floor of the Armouries, but in terms of games it probably had only one or two fewer than the previous year.  Not being a traditional convention, there were no traders and on this day no Display games; just a dozen or so participation games.  The Royal Armouries had generously provided each group with attractive little display stands, which made the whole even look a little more professional, and made you humble author's task of recall far easier.

That said, we kick off with  a Game whose presenters eluded my camera.  The game appeared to be called 'St. Crispin's Day' and the rules looked homebrew.  Nice scenery and what looked to be mainly Perry Miniatures.
Free figures for participants to take away too
 Derby Wargames Associates had a couple of games, using some very familiar terrain mats.  This one was another skirmish based game featuring only a handful of models.

 My very own Headingley Games Club represented with the DBMM players putting on a 15mm version of Agincourt, featuring plenty of beautifully painted miniatures.

 It's just a shame that DBMM is a system apparently prejudiced against the use of decent scenery.  I've kept the photographs tight here to hide the horrible spray-painted pieces of cardboard masquerading as woods and hills.

Damn fine 15mm painting tho'
 Doncaster Wargames Society, went with a slightly different feel, and presented Sluys; with papercraft ships.  The models were oddly effective, in a retro way.  Unlike the sea...

It's material; somewhere someone is wearing that!
At the time I missed the club presenting the best game visually at the show; I'm since informed it was Harrogate Wargames Club.  One of several 'thematic' interpretations of Harfleur, this one used Lion Rampant in a scenario based on sallying forth against the siegeworks.

Good numbers of  28mm minitures
And well painted to boot
With decent scenery
 If I'd had the time to play one game this would possibly have been it.  Though I also could see the appeal of the absolute retro presentation by the Peterborough Wargames crew:

D Featherstone would be proud
This was part produced by one of the bloggers I follow Mike W over at Trouble At T'Mill.  I should have said hi, but I'm a stalker when it comes to my blogging!

 Lastly the Leeds Wargames Club decided ugly was this years' new look, and made spray painted scenery and seventies fashion waves look like maximum effort.  Sure you can make a wargame out of stuff in the cupboard, as their version of Agincourt propounds; or you could play a decent boardgame version of the same.  Or at least bring some models!

There were a couple of other games on ,but I didn't get decent enough pictures of any of them.  Overall it was  nice enough way to spend the hour or so I had to spare, and good to see some regular everyday museum visitors enjoying a bit of gaming.