Tuesday, March 31, 2020

All the Time in the world.

Oh yes, there's no shortage of that now is there.

So I've been filling at least some of my down time with painting and modelling, as the gaming prospects are limited.  That said, we've managed to cobble together a play-over-WhatsApp version of Magic the Gathering, although a single game generally lasts about two days.  So it's faster than Monopoly at least.

Here' a few projects from the last week:

Firstly I finished some more Bocage, adding a couple of open gateways and short sections using the approach posted below somewhere.  I liked them so much that I figured something similar for my 15mm models would be great.  There was still a fair amount of foliage in the pack I'd bought so I improvised up a smaller scale equivalent.

These were super simple, some 15x80mm strips of 2mm MDF being the first stage.  I skimmed these with filler and gave it a rough texture.  Once dry the bases were painted in full, before adding the hedgerow.  the foliage was mixed through PVA in the same way as the larger Bocage, but a simple pile of it on the bases was all that was needed to represent well grown hedge five or six feet tall in scale.  The gates were simply chopped up coffee stirrers painted appropriately.

Lastly I added another unit of 15mm Ionian mercenaries to my Imagi-Nations force.  Not a fan of painting these, so I'm glad to be done with them.

Stay sane people.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A long overdue project... Well there's time now.

Given I now have no commute, I can pretty much start work when I get up, finish early and have two more hours of the day for myself.  You have to take the positives where you can in the present climate.  Cooped up alone is not that unfamiliar, but a lack of external social opportunities is obviously not great.

Anyway, yesterday's project was a rebasing effort on a pair of my creaky old - but beloved - plastic ancients armies.  My Imperial Roman and Ancient British armies are a mixture of mostly 2025 year old models, and the present painting reflects that.  The old basing was if anything worse, being onto scrappy bits of card in threes and fours.  

They were stripped off the bases a year or so ago, and new bases were finally cut out of sheets of 3mm MDF a while after; but yesterday I finally bit the bullet of getting the piles arranged, repaired, and rebased.

Imperial Rome
The Romans are mostly Revell and Airfix, the latter needing most of their shields supergluing back on.  Thankfully, despite the near thirty year age of the Aifix figures, they do not appear to have any of the brittleness issues older models were notorious for.

The bases are 80x60mm, with the intention of each being a stand-alone unit.  For example a single infantry base for the Romans contains three ranks of five men with a designated officer model to the side.  This could represent a single Cohort, or half a Legion, subject to scale.  This basing is with a view to use in Kings of War Historical, but would work for Hail Caesar or other games.

Ancient Britons
The Celts are a mix of Airfix, HaT, Revell and Italieri.  Repairs were surprisingly few, but the chariots and scratch built light horse needed some work.  I had to resort to the brutality of a hot glue gun for some poor souls.  The large bases reduce individual risk to models, and also allow the warbands to look suitably disorderly.

The next stage is to get the base texture and colour sorted.  A lot of the models have old flock on the base, and the simplest solution looks to be the paint it light brown, if it falls off in the process it's no loss.  Sand will then be added to unify the whole.  After that it'll be touch ups of the worst paint damage - mostly spears, swords and helmets it seems - and then a shaded varnish to protect it all and finally give the models some contrast.

Which, in the present climate, may not take that long to get to...

Friday, March 20, 2020

What will you do with all that free time?

Like many others I find my commute has got a lot shorter in the last few days.  And the permitted options to get out and about rather more limited.

The new office in all its' glory
This of course means that painting and gaming will now become even more the saviours of sanity than usual.

True story...
 Still, yesterday was full day one in the new setup.  Starting work ridiculously early, I was able to knock off by 4pm, and finished up these trenchwork markers for 15-20mm:

A super easy job, being sandwiched foamboard, painted with two coats of thinned down filler, then progressively lighter browns - the first coat a solid finish, then three or four drybrush passes.  Finally add a little static grass to the lower front edges for effect.

These are mainly meant to indicate the front of an emplacement, and the use would be that a figure in base contact with the steep rear side would count as in a full foxhole, trench or emplacement.  The largest pieces will fit my 20mm German mortar and machine gun stands.

I also finished up some more road segments, but these are scarcely photogenic (being chopped up doormat with a little paint) so didn't make the journalistic cut.

Keep yourselves sane people.  Make things, paint things.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

SdKfz 171 Panzer V: Panther - 2nd Panzer Division, June 1944

Super detailing tank paint jobs is a slow process, even if the enthusiasm is up, you are sitting around waiting for various oils and finishes to take often days to dry.  That is partly my excuse as to why it has taken me three months to finish this one model.  Going next level on the modelling side of the hobby is no key to speed painting.

Still this vehicle is finished, and ready to supply some serious muscle to my otherwise second line German units.

This model has really leaned on the wet effects, draining off fresh rain, splattered with wet mud, covered in oil, rust marks, silt marks and general grime.  Clearly the crew spent more time in Normandy cafés than they did cleaning their charge.

The foliage is sections of torn up coloured sponge, hand painted with drybrushed highlights, to get the full look; I sourced tiny twigs from a shrub in the yard and attached these to the model first, this gives the sponges - which are soaked in PVA glue - something to adhere to, as well as making the whole look more like tree branches loaded onto the tank.  Its a much better look than lichen, or simple flock.

You may notice some shiny impact marks on the tank too...

I experimented with these based on a technique from 1/35 scale modelling:

They are not great, but for a first attempt they look okay.

The Armourfast Panther kit is, to be perfectly fair, pretty basic, bought a long time before this project went to a super-detailed aesthetic, but the details that are there are crisp and well enough done. 

The tracks are the inevitable weak point, as being single piece castings any attempt at realistic treads is impossible, using a rust base, water stains, weathering powders and some selective metallic's, I've tried to improve them.  I also tried a different effect on the exhaust system, picked up from some other tutorial; which although hidden in the images was simple and looks pretty nice.  One for another model perhaps.

Next up may even be an actual game with them, Covid-19 permitting...


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Miscellany - or how computers and cardboard slow the painting...


Not too much to report from TML towers these last few weeks, as I'll admit to being caught up in a couple of more ancillary interests to the blog, Card Games and Computer Games, and the conflux twixt the two.

In the last Year or so I've got very much back into playing Magic: The Gathering, and I think the odd image has popped up on here to reflect that:

Definitive 'kitchen table' Magic

Many, many years ago I used to play, but fell out with the game at the time, as it was purely a financial game.  The lack of information, the lack of ways to buy single cards, and the limited ways of playing meant that in the mid 90's he who had the most money, and hence the most cards, invariably won.  When I worked in a games store customers would regularly spend hundreds of pounds on boxes of cards, I could get a couple of packs a week.

Nowadays the game has blossomed with the internet age, and the formats out there mean that friendly, and even economic ways to play exist.  It's still not a cheap game compared to some, but you can probably get a couple of competitive decks together for less than a GW start collecting army.

Also there are a couple of online versions of the game, the most recent of these being the 'Free-to-Play' Magic: Arena.


Now unlike some other games, see below, you really can choose to download Arena and play it for free.  F2P games generally rely on in game micro purchases to make money, and keep you coming back, but Arena seems to offer a decent balance of play so that even if only played casually, you can get involved and win games without spending a penny.  Plus it is an excellent tool for learning the basics of the game.

Previously my videogame of choice for a couple of years had been War Thunder, another F2P game, but this time an Air, Sea and Land combat sim; in the mould of World of Tanks, but far more detailed:

It's not my actual gameplay, as the T34 is not on fire in the start zone.

The downside being, it really was not balanced for free play, as good as everything is in the game - 1000's of accurate vehicles, realistic physics, beautiful graphics, 16 on 16 team games by default - you are simply grinding away to little or no success unless you spend money.  I paid for premium access and bought a few downloadable vehicles to improve my win rates, before eventually concluding I didn't have the time or patience to progress further.  The fun of flying you favourite fighter into battle would so often be punctured by a blast of gunfire from an opponent you never even saw.  War Thunder is an exercise in frustration that Arena happily replaced.

Well, until Civilisation VI appeared.

Now at this stage, I've only had Civ VI for a week, but I am loving it.  My PS4 spends a lot more time as a YouTube and Netflix portal than it ever does as a games console, but Civ is really my jam, and for the time being at least it is changing that.

Bronze Age India expands

Back in the day I used to play Civ II on my PS2, Civ VI shows all the core of the game is still there, but the details are greatly improved, and the games' graphics are a stellar improvement in every respect.  It's simply a case of finding time to play when I can, as I try to guide the Indian Empire in its ongoing negotiations with Persia and America, and the seemingly endless war with Arabia.

And so in essence, this is why the painting output is what it is at the minute, and not like the huge volumes I used to have a few years ago.

Well, there's other reasons too, but these are some of them!


Monday, March 02, 2020

The Beast of Caerbannog and the final Rabbits.


Rarely can any wargamer call a project truly finished, but for the Rabbits of War-tership Down I can truly say they are completely done now; given I have finally put brush to the last of the Kickstarter models I purchased, and with their regular price and postage from the USA simply being prohibitive for this gamer, I won't be adding anything to the collection!

A unit of light foot 
The added models allowed me to assemble a final regular unit, but I puzzled what to do with the assortment of novelty parts, extras and spares.  Eventually I settled on a specialist unit of elite Monk Botherers!  Equipped with sniffer dogs and snails, Beaters - both of the musical and brush variety - and Torturers, skilled in skinning Monks the way a Rabbit might expect from their human foes...

The Beast and an elite unit of Hunters
That still left a couple of spares to make a blood stained rabbit hero, and a standard bearer for the force.  Plus the fearsome beast of Caerbannog itself.

The rabbit was one of the decor pieces from the Kickstarter, to which I added parts from a deep dive in the spares box, and made a scenic base for what in game would clearly count as a cunning, and probably poisonous, Greater Warbeast!

The final push for this army completed, I await their likely first outing.  Three of my group are going to attend the Rampant Age day hosted by Wargames Illustrated:


Obviously in the fantasy section.  It felt like the Rabbits would be ideally suited to provide some charm to the event, also the potential match up of these against Chaos Warriors or similar cheesey GW models is too much to resist.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Neuchatel Battalion - Spain 1811


On review I find I haven't done very much for the 28mm Napolenics for a while, and really I like to get a couple of units added each year to steadily build the game options.  The main detractor from such output is the obvious size of any such task, infantry units of 24 or cavalry units of 12, in this scale do not pop on and off the painting table in a week, especially with my more constrained output these days.

Still I wanted to get something done, and so just after Xmas I began a new unit, to bolster the somewhat lacking ranks of French infantry.  6 weeks later they were finally finished.

The Neuchatel Battalion came from the French speaking Canton, which had been allied to Prussia until it was ceded to the French in 1806, after that date and until 1814 it supplied a battalion of infantry to the French.  The Canaries as they were known wore a yellow uniform faced in red; though there are many descriptions of the uniform that make the precise colouration open to debate.  Some suggest bright yellow, others more of a buff colour, others at all points in-between.

A classic illustration of the unit 
The above is one of the browner renditions.  I decided to go for  more of a chamois-yellow colour in my version, my personal bet would be that the non-chemical dyes for the uniforms faded over time from a bold yellow to a more subdued brown, and so all authors could be right.  The fact that prior to the second half of the 19th century there was no such thing as permanent dyes is something that escapes many 'button-counters', and allows wriggle-room in uniform colours!

Using Perry 1812 Infantry means that the battalion has more of a campaign appearance.  The new French from the Perries were a long way off yet when I assembled this unit, some two years ago.  That's how far I work ahead/procrastinate!

The Battalion in column 
The flag is a placeholder too, I've yet to find any indication what the standard of the battalion - assuming it marched under one - looked like, so the safest bet for now is that one was bestowed on the unit by France.  In the images you can just make out a company Guidon, which is completely hypothetical but based again on French archetypes.

Close up on the front, Command and Voltigeurs 
I decided to go with white Pompoms for all the fusilier company's, including the command, which is again based on the illustrations, but could be very wrong.  The cut-off plumes for the Voltigeurs and Grenadiers may not sit with purists, but it seems plausible for campaign once again.

Some speculative details to the rear
The unit went on to serve in Austria Spain and Russia, fighting the British in Spain at Aldea de la Ponte, and in other actions against Spanish Geurillas.  After Napoleons' doomed Russia campaign only 8 men survived, and though reconstituted in 1813, a year later the force had ceased to exist.

They'll provide some great colour to my Napoleonic forces, and help even up the French deficit in numbers, they now have 12 regular formations of formed infantry, as compared to the Allies 14.

Still, could do with some more, hopefully not in another 18 months though.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Flight of Captain Ustaskyivye

For three months' he had languished in prison, his status as minor nobility sparing him either the noose or the salt mines his few remaining crew who had not been willing to shift martial allegiance had been bestowed.  His damp roomings permitted him views only of hilly country outside the small castle serving as his brig, and the conditions of ransom negotiation had meant he had exchanged but three letters with the outside world, to confirm his status and to hear news of home.

And thanks to the devious codes of Gebrovian espionage, to inform him of the plan to release him.

The captain of the Aleste Doi Cheznavoy received word that on the eve of the winter festival bribed guards would bring him a new uniform, and he would slip out of the castle as part of the relieved shift.  Thence he was to make to the west, under his own initiative to a point on the border where he could be escorted to safety.

Tensions and attention eased by the celebrations, it proved easy for a military man to slip away as part of a military procedure, and once outside of the fortress that had served as his temporary lodgings, Captain Ustaskyivye discarded his disguise, revealing his own clothes beneath, and made good for the border.

Alarm raised, the chastened prison guards were soon out in force searching for their former ward, but in the next few days nothing was heard, despite offers of reward.  It would later transpire that the daring Captain spent many of the following nights charming his way to full stomachs, and other sated appetites at the welcome of the deserted farmers wives of the region; their husbands away in the army, militia or otherwise engaged in the hue and cry for the reward on the naval heroes head.  So it was that the Captain lounged at the bosom of hospitality on a small farm near the border, awaiting rescue more than seeking it actively.

Plutendorf Farm and environs 
Word had come to the Gebrovians, and a small force of Mercenaries, and elite Jaegers was sent to retrieve the Captain and escort him to safety.  They closed in on the farm as darkness fell.

Laird Conniert leads a small band 
But the region was not without Clementine patrols, and that evening horse and foot were in the same area with orders to check the farm.

 Clementinian Hussars and their own Jaegers 
Unaware of his own forces close at hand, when Ustaskyivye spotted horsemen closing on the farm he swiftly fled, taking shelter nearby.  Suddenly it seemed for a moment he was surrounded. 

The Clementine Hussars skirted the farm initially, scouting out its' meadows and orchards.

Meanwhile, Gebrovian Jaegers scaled a wooded hill overlooking the farm and set up a firing position.

Ionians began searching amongst some rocky outcroppings near the farm, but at this moment they spotted the Clementine horse, and exchanged perhaps unwise fire at a distance.

As it happened, it was the very hiding place of the captain they fired from.  Unfamiliar with Ionians however, Ustaskyivye had initially remained hidden, until the gruff northerners had fired upon his real enemy.  Seeing this as a sign of kinship he revealed himself in the hope of rescue.

Discovered, by the right side. 
Spurred on by the appearance of hostiles, the Clementine Hussars charged.  The local chieftain urged the Captain to flee back towards the troops on the hill, whilst he and his men would try to hold the horsemen at bay.

Captain Ustaskyivye, fled as implored, and just in time, for the cavalry patrol soon descended upon its' quarry, expecting swift victory.
Have at them 
But if a Gebrovian fights like a lion, then and Ionian fights like a bear, and their resistance was dogged and brave, skillfully making good use of the terrain to hamper the horsemen.  Although one of them would fall, the Clementines paid a heavy price for but modest success, and were sorely delayed.

Still one of the horsemen circled around this fight, spotting the fugitive in the gloom.  He galloped down upon him, sensing an opportunity to cut down a defenceless villain.  Fortunately for the captain, the entire affair was watched from above by the Jaegers and Laird Conniert; who spurred his horse to a gallop to intercept, and make a fair fight of it.

Conniert was a swordsman of great reknown, but no bloomered elite.  He was raised in the dour and brutal Northern states, and learnt his fighting skills in the savage clan wars of his nations borderlands.  His heavy sword was no fencing rapier, and far outclassed even a cavalry sabre, as did the man wielding it.  

The naval captain watched with a mix of horror and relief as the Hussar looming over him slumped in the saddle, his head tumbling to the Captains feet, as the Ionians' horse barreled past, a glint of moonlight catching his bloodstained blade as he passed.

By now, Clementine Jaegers were attempting to encircle from the North, and investing the farmlands, but steady and accurate fire from the other contingent of Ionians, and from the Gebrovians on the hill would drive most of them off.

 Rather the Clementines consolidated at the farm, observing the retreat of the Naval brigand and his allies, and the final skirmishes of their cavalry.  Realising the Captain was about to escape, they hurried to make one final attempt to steal their prize back, and a combined attack by perhaps half each of the Clementine horse and foot went in under withering fire.

Another Hussar attempted to raise Sword on Ustaskyivye, and another head fell, as Conniert defended his with deadly efficiency.  The Clementine Jaegers fought bravely, and pressed their foe atop the hill.

But it was soon apparent the situation was lost, the Captain had slipped away with an escort, and they were in danger of being more heavily outnumbered.  The Jaegers retired from the hill, and both sides respectfully disengaged.

Numbers may have been small in the skirmish, but the losses were galling for Clementia, several soldiers dead, several others badly wounded, and the prisoner escaped to freedom.  The bodies of two Ionians were small compensation, and even these were not left behind by their comrades and so gave no trophy.

The naval Captain returned a hero, in so far as one could after recent defeat at sea.  His sensational escape, and the limited intelligence he returned with would stand him in good stead however.  Clementia was embarrassed, Gebrovia triumphant.

And Gebrovia would soon plan new raids on the Clementines, to make them pay for the perceived slights served upon it.


This was another game in mine and James' Imaginations Campaign, this time being a Skirmish devised by James - having won the initiative in the last game with his victory - using the En Garde rules from Osprey miniatures


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Grand Manner Spanish House


As far as I can understand, Grand Manner normally only sell their models painted, But James S scored a couple of their models a little over a year ago in a sale, at a fair price.  Fairer still he passed them on to me, on the condition that I paint and use them in any future games we manage. 

Those may yet be some way off, but at least I have finally had time to put brushes to one of the models:

Front - Stan for scale
 This is a heck of a chunk of Resin, weighing in at 1.4 kilo's!  As you can see from Stan, the 28mm man, it has a significant footprint too.  Given GM only appear to sell these painted, it puts their £174 asking price into perspective.  I feel very lucky now to get this, even conditionally, free.

The painting here was simple, After a black undercoat I base-coated the whole model in a light pinkish-tan (flesh-tone really).  After that the stucco was dry-brushed sloppily up to white in about four graduated layers, which also covered every other detail except the roofs.  Then glazes of colour were applied to the exposed stone and wood work, dealing with most of the rest of the work.  The roof and ground were both simple dry-brush jobs, in my usual fashion.  Mostly craft paints were used.

Despite the cheap materials and quick work, I'm pleased with the results.  There is one careless error, but I didn't spot it until half way through the painting process, and as I'd assembled the model with epoxy there was little hope of reversing it.  See if you can spot it!

I hope I can get it in a game soon, though it will tower over my other Spanish buildings.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Peace 'n' Quiet

Prolonged radio silence was due to a two-week trip round Costa Rica, one for which there is no military content:
Rather it was a trip for natural wonders.

Back to normal content in the next day or two!