Sunday, January 31, 2016

Retro Video-gaming Musings

The other day I narrowly avoided dropping £100 on a Super Nintendo.

I'd taken myself off to a Retro games fair in Leeds, something to do on a cold, snowy, Saturday afternoon.  When you tell people your a gamer their natural assumption is that you mean computer or video games anyway (oh how little they understand) and I do dabble in the videogames scene, but personally I think I mainly favour light material and the classics.  The last console I owned was a PS2, mainly for Gran Tourismo and early Medal of Honour games; but my real addiction was always the side scrolling shooter, and Tetris (225+ lines on the Gameboy).

Anyway, justification and background aside, the event was hugely attended:

You won't see many wargames shows this packed, thank goodness to be honest.  Most wargamers are aware of 'Convention funk', that special smell that seems to suffuse these events and comes from a handful of attendees who'd rather spend a few pounds less on personal hygiene to spend a few more on figures.  Well multiply that by a factor or two and you have the experience of forcing your way around this event!

The most popular consoles in the retro market could be judged by their availability; Sega Megadrives and Nintendo Gamecubes were everwhere for about £25 a pop, Super Nintendo's were rare and at least £60.  Still cheap compared to what they would have cost once upon a time.  I found one at a good price and it was only the need to go to a bank machine that allowed my common sense to take hold and stop me making a rash choice!  Part of that was realising the price of some of the games actually worth buying; it puts buying classic Citadel miniatures into context!

This may not save me in the long run, getting back to playing the games I remember from the arcades of my youth is still a thing I'd like to do.  But for now I had enough wisdom to walk away.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The 6th Confederation Regiment - Schwarzburg-Sondershausen

The start of the year is always a good time for me to get stuck into painting something meaty for the Napoleonics collection.  This year I know I need to enlarge the French forces, as they are badly outnumbered by my Anglo-Iberian alliance at the moment, so I selected an interesting subject from the lead pile to start.

Having somewhat impulsively bought a regiments-worth of Confederation of the Rhine troops from Perry Miniatures, I decided these would be worth the effort to get reinforcements on the table.  My purchase was probably influenced by the image of a heavily campaigned-out Schwarzburg-Sondershausen private in Hathornwaite and Chappell's classic Armies of the Peninsular War:

As was the choice of manufacture by the Perry's!  Of course there was the issue of whether to do a whole regiment of the same troops, or to mix and match several units in proportion to represent the whole regiment.  As you can see below I decided to go with the first option.  Most of my Napoleonic units represent battalion strength formations and therefore it was acceptable for the unit to represent one battalion strength mass of the Schwarzburg-Sondershausen troops who numbered between 350 and 700 men.

Now, there is one mistake on these models, oops.  A bonus 10,000 points to the first to spot it, but overall I'm pleased with the look of this lot, having a suitably dishevelled appearance befitting their hard campaigning.  Haythornwaite discusses in some detail the formations replacement of standard issue shakos, with simple pressed card equivalents, and locally procured trousers; elements I've tried to reflect.  And painting patches is a nice way to add a dash of personality and colour to a unit.

I found no evidence for what their packs would've looked like, but given their service the the French Empire it seems reasonable that this piece of equipment would have been French in design.  I also found no reference for a flag they might have marched under (the only national standards I could find appeared to date to well after the Napoleonic period) and so they are without an ensign.  

Well, these work for me, and can stiffen the resolve of my much put-upon Westphalians.

What next?...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Genuine Parts? The Question of Fakery?

On we continue with the catch ups.  I've been looking to rationalise my Orcs and Goblins of late for Kings of War, and this has meant buying additional figures to get units up to size.

I've gathered a group of mainly plastic Orcs to make another horde of sword and shield warriors, but I found myself a couple short of the full forty, and fancied the idea of some classic metal models to lead them.  Of course trawling around ebay for classic metal miniatures is a business that's normally a major risk to your wallet; so it was with a degree of suspicion I clicked buy on a set of Orc Big Un commanders for a mere £2.50!

Am I going to get shafted in some way I thought, are these ever going to appear, or will the vague listing turn out to only be for one of the three models?  In fact neither of these happened; but when the Items arrived I did postulate one other reason for the price being so low...

Big(ish) uns
Something about the models did not ring true, the casting detail looked a little bit soft, and the metal itself was certainly not the contemporary white metal - lacking that 'clink' sound or brittler texture of newer models.  It is possible that as models dated 1996 they pre-date the change, but then again, this doesn't look like twenty year old metal.  Add to that the fact that the seller has the same set of models up for sale again, along with a selection of other remarkably cheap Citadel miniatures, and the suspicions are overwhelming.

In principle, forgery is, I guess, criminal.  And of course if these are fakes someone is profiteering from the IP of another business.  But to play devils advocate for a moment, GW will never make these models again.  It is possible the moulds are worn out or even destroyed anyway.  If you want them now you have two real choices: buying often extortionately priced pieces from an ever diminishing supply, or taking your chances with knock-offs.  Now if a figure company keeps product in manufacture, forgeries are unacceptable, of course; if a manufacturer sells its' licences or designs on, fine.  We all know this is not how Games Workshop plays of course; and this is what leads to a black market for fakes.

Would I personally go looking for fakes? no.  You are only going to get inferior product one way or another; but sometimes inferior is not substandard enough to throw away on sight.  I would always prefer to know I was paying for the real thing.  But, if these are fakes they are good copies, if they are genuine, they're not GW's best, and the seller doesn't understand their worth.  It's a compromise either way.

It'll make me look more carefully at 'too good to be true' deals online, but if occasionally I get a dubious bargain, I'll just have to tolerate it.  After all I can't know if I haven't ended up with the odd fake in the past and not even spotted it.

Can I?

Any opinions yourselves?

Another little project

None of this product is particularly recent, but I have some catching up to do, not least a game to write up from three weeks ago!  In the mean time, here is a small addition to my Feudal collection.  Obviously prepared to go with my Lion Rampant English, but doubtless useful for many periods/games:

Is it me, or are Wagonwheels getting smaller these days?
This model is the Hay Cart and Heavy Horse from Warbases, teamed with a Gripping Beast plastic dark age warrior benefiting from a Fireforge cloak.  Clearly the wind is up as there is little other sign of cloak billowing pace in the team.

This can serve in endless scenarios, though for LR at least I may need a few more carts or at least baggage animals to support it.

This nevertheless was an easy and pleasant task to get out the way.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

G'n'P M3 Lee

Next up for my little Girls und Panzer project is a subtle little number:
Image result for team rabbit M3 lee
Team Rabbit

I picked up the new (to mee) Zvezda 1:100 scale M3 to add to the collection and had a go at the vivid pink of the anime series: 

I think in the end the shaded wash effected the colour too much, but it's certainly an unusual finish for a tank!
As to the kit itself, compared to the really simple early Art of Tactic models the M3 is rather complicated, with almost 20 parts.  These serve to put a complicated superstructure together without significant loss of details.  I would highly recommend the model to those looking for a 15mm version of this tank.  At about £3 you cant complain!

So I guess I should find a decent model of the final, most obscure, tank in the opening line up of Oorai High School.  This may take a while, and cost a fair bit more...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Technically, I'm not at a computer right now, but I had a backlog of output from the holiday season to get on the blog so this is a long distance call!

Amongst the side projects that I put across the 'painting table' recently, was a unit of Viking Beserkers for my revamped Saga force.

 These are the Crusader Miniatures set, good value at £5.60 for four, but if I'm hyper critical one or two of them look rather too generic for my eye.
'n Rear
 I did some patterns on the clothes to reflect the likely wealthy status or at least sponsorship of these individuals.  But mainly these were an opportunity to do some serious flesh-tones.

Check out my abs!  If you don't like 'em I'll brain ya!
I managed some nice work on the six packs and went as far as four or five layers of highlighting to get the look I wanted.  No chest hair or tattoos, though I was tempted by both.

With these finished I can scrape together a six point Saga warband in my new models, painted to a far higher standard than my old collection.  I know have to decide what to do with those older models, as they are part of one of my first properly painted and expensively bought armies.  There is a little sentimentality attached to them I guess.

Hopefully not too much to cloud my vision...

Friday, January 15, 2016

More Basing Business

Having got a bunch of Goblins rebased before Xmas I got on with a few of the Orcs whilst revising.

The same principles were applied as to the Gobbo bases, though with the Orcs it increasingly became a challenge getting them to fit and rank up:

Orc Ax Horde
 To be fair, this was not the issue with the older chaps, being somewhat smaller than modern Orcs.  I managed to mix four different plastic poses and a pair of metal miniatures to get a suitably irregular finish to the unit:

Classic metals lead the plastic masses
 For the 6th Ed. 'Gorilla' Orcs, everything was to be a tight squeeze.  In Kings of War Morax come in maximum units of 20 so rebasing forty models generated two units.  The Banner boy is along as fresh from the repairs shop!

Choppa, choppa, choppa!
 As you can see below they are crammed together, but unlike their previous iteration, theye happily rank up behind one another:

So that's another 80 models, or about 600 points of figures converted to the new standard.  Having had a sort through and a proper audit, I find I've enough models for three more hordes and another Morax regiment.  Alongside these are a couple of troops of bows, cavalry and many more goblins to tend to.

A lot of work yet to come...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

3D Colouring In and other Challenges

One of the trends of 2015 appears to have been colouring-in books for adults.  It's not a trend that has passed unnoticed at TML Towers and the fad shows no sign of abating yet if my local book store is anything to go by:

One of two displays
 Who is the audience for this; Hipsters just to be different? those doing it ironically?  Perhaps, but equally there seem to be a proportion of custom amongst those doing it for reasons many miniatures painters might recognise.

The main reason I came back to painting after hiatuses of from one to several years has invariably been that it was a calming, relaxing activity that helped get me away from the daily stresses prevalent at the time.
My current colouring in project
At the end of the day (and it often is the end of the day when we as adults can paint) it is hard to think about much else other than the process of painting whilst brush in hand.  In another situation I might put brush to canvas, but as a gamer there is an additional reward to completing miniatures, that a colouring in book can't offer me.  But then the audience for these books doesn't need additional reward, so who is richer for the experience.

I'd say it's a matter of perspective and neither side is wrong.

What I've moved away from personally is production at an enforced pace.  Many of the blogs in my feed presently are involved in a Painting Challenge, you may well know it, or be involved yourself.  It's a great motivation to productivity, and I myself ran to the pledge - to paint more than I bought - for a few years; but eventually self imposed minimum targets and output monitoring took some of the pleasure away from the activity of painting for me.  When I was churning product to hit my own quota, it meant my choices of output were less varied and more mechanical (how many WW2 Germans did I paint purely for sale and as they were easy production points I wonder).  There was little time for side projects or fun exercises.

Nowadays whilst I still have long term goals, such as my 15mm Austrian army last year (completed and then some as it happened) I am much happier to allow them to be interrupted by whatever takes my fancy at the time, including breaks if I so wish.  Painting should never be allowed to become work.

As another blogger observed from the outset; painting is therapy.  That's why those without a draughtsman's skill, or a painters eye (or our particular set of talents for making dull lumps of metal and plastic vibrant reflections of life in miniature) can enjoy the simple childhood pleasure of filling space with colour.  And maybe creating a humble piece of art in some way.

It works for me.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Nasty, Dirty Piece of Work


A word that can bring a shudder to the spine, a cold shiver like the grim touch of Death's icy hand to any self respecting wargamer.  Surely nobody relishes the prospect of cracking models out of one surface to stick them to another, it's usually a messy business for one, time consuming, tedious and worst can result in damage bringing on the need for the second worst job; repairs.

Still after years of cursing the unrankable hordes and millions of bases involved in my Orcs and Goblins army, I've finally begun the onerous task of rebasing the little blighters for Kings of War.  The idea being to go from my old Warhammer set up of mainly singles with some double and triple bases, to blocks of ten.  All the units in KoW are multiples of ten for normal infantry so this seemed like the ideal foundation for the troops.

First for the chop would be some of my Goblins.  I began by trying to cut them free with a craft knife, but after ten minutes labour I had only freed three models from their bases, and had only narrowly missed freeing one of my digits from the bond it had long shared with my hand too.

This would not suffice.  Out with the Dremel:

A job only a single man would tackle in his kitchen...
 By comparison, the cutting disc made swift work of getting through slottabases, unibond filler and plastic cement.  But the by-product was of course a toxic spume of molten plastic, grit and plaster dust; even with two extractor fans running the room soon smelt like I'd indulged in a tire fire as a novel way of heating the apartment.

Remarkably I managed not the inadvertently chop up any goblins, and only a couple were bounced off what was left of their bases by the vibrations.  The remains (after much hoovering and cleaning up) could then be affixed to 100x40mm MDF bases, and the gaps filled with a textured finish roughly the same as the old models.

That's better
Thankfully my really old goblin spearmen and bowmen (the 4th ed. guys at the back) were just based on plain plasticard and the simple expedient of gluing these directly to the MDF and doing a little gap filling was enough the match the height of the newer models.  After a day of this grubby business I had 60 Spears and 40 bows re-based.  Whilst they'll never win any painting awards, it certainly looks acceptable to my eye, and really speeds up using the models on the table, and of course removing them too.

You do a lot of removing goblins from the table...

Saturday, January 02, 2016

At the Temple of Prothero

Eschewing all that 'End of Year Review' nonsense, lets get down to some gaming.  Over the course of the Xmas period I managed to get two games of Kings of War in, so lets begin with the first of these.

My Orcs were once again to face Ross' Ogres.  A tough nut to crack.  We rolled off and got the Dominate scenario, one of the new ones that involved gaining control of a central feature.  To that end we set a Temple to the centre of the board and declared only the victorious army would be permitted entry by the gods.

I had an Orc army with a small number of Goblin allies, able to deploy both deeply and wide.

Orcs, Trorcs and Goblins in depth
 For Ross' part numbers were light but made up for in strength.  He was also able to provide depth of cover to his flanks.

Ogres only have two colour of pants
 I had the benefit of first turn and made a general advance.  It was clear that with large portions of my force being formed of substantial horde formations it was going to be difficult for my troops to manoeuvre around the impassable building and the troublesome woodland terrain.

 Goblin bows unleashed a deadly storm of arrows on the Ogre scouts, destroying one unit straight away.  Simon the Giant advanced to the space resulting looking to encircle the Ogre main line.  My deployment as a whole had placed several large units on my right to face Ross' limited cavalry, but this was only due to bitter experience in the past of my own cavalry being unable to hold their own against them.  Therefore 40 goblins and 20 orcs with a giant in support seemed provident!

 But laying additional troops to the flanks meant that the centre was at risk.  Ross was able to coordinate the attack of two behemoths and a horde of Ogres onto my one horde of Orcs.

 The result was an absolute hammering, and the start of a phase of the battle that saw the Orcs simply suffer.

 Goblins would have to fill the gap, a prospect that filled me with little hope.  Orc chariots and flank attacks in the woods tried to contain the Ogre assault, to little effect.

 Only the right flank seemed to be mine at this stage, and given it as a minor concern for the Ogres it wasn't particularly a worry to Ross.  Simon had taken some damage and Ross fully expected him to fall to blows in the first combat he entered,  My goblin cavalry rounded on the rear of the Ogres but thanks to Ross' abundance of cannon armed infantry, they achieved nothing.

At great loss the Orcs managed to destroy a unit or two, but the appearance of encirclement, was actually the shortened interior lines of an army securing its' objective, as the Ogres encircled the temple.

Somehow, my goblins had survived and prevailed where troll and orc had failed, and I was able to bring more from the right flank to try to bail out my diminishing numbers.  Somehow I had made it past turn three, when it all looked to be over.  But still With Simon seemingly on his last legs it looked like a forlorn hope to continue.  Ogres charged in to finish him.

 But not for the first time in the game, Ross' dice betrayed him, and when 'anything but a one' would ensure Simon's demise Ross rolled two of them, a double one allowed Simon to stand, and proceed to smash the Ogres to dust.

 Still, now my chariots had gone, and the Orcs were mainly a collection of characters trying to plug holes.  A troll hero was doing a manful job of supporting the goblin spears whilst the last remaining Orc infantry were divided between a fight near the temple and playing a supporting role to a goblin bow unit.

 Another stellar round of shooting from the goblins caused the Ogres a surprising amount of trouble, whilst the goblin spears found victims on their left all too ready to scatter in the face of their jabby sticks!  Simon did his work of stupefying vengeance.

 Somehow, the Orc and Goblins, well mainly the Goblins were right back in the fight.  The gods must have favoured them for the battle had turned around to our favour, and suddenly it looked more like a complete collapse for the Ogres.  Ross was bemused, frustrated, and left cursing his dice.

 They were able to finish off one of the remaining Orc units however, and felt they could hang on if they simply got rid of Simon.

 It was not to be, Simon got the drop on them and with great vengeance and furious anger managed to destroy another unit.  Goblins and Orcs rallied to his aid forcing the remaining Orges to retire in the face of too many targets for them to deal with.  As the battle drew to a close, it was clear they had little left to offer.

 Rather the battle had swung to the greenskins rather than the guts.  Already the Orc Krudger was making his way to the temple.  Two great masses of Goblins had, along side various heroes and a handful of their larger brethren carried the day.

 Like all the best games of Kings of War it was a close battle, and swung from one sides control to the other.  Ross was justified in feeling a little betrayed by the result, he seemingly wiped out half my army in a couple of turns and should've destroyed more.  But certain units just would not die, unlike his die rolls, which would not comply!

So a rare win for the Goblins (and Orcs I guess!) against the might of Ogredom.

But what would happen in the rematch...