Friday, 14 December 2012

Imperial Navy Landing Party Plans

A while back I was contemplating a series of 40k scenarios beginning with a crashed lander incident, a rescue attempt and then ramping up to a larger engagement. Nothing too large. I have been encouraged by the general response to the new edition of 40k and its narrative bent. To that end I have been painting up some old Mordian Iron Guard I had spare as an Imperial Navy landing party, think Royal Marines in the age of sail.

The two front figures are complete (except for bases), the rest almost done.
In total I have nine bods, two sergeant types, three assault weapons and a heavy weapons team. The heavy weapons team, which you can see lurking behind the two tester models above, are for a mortar. However, I don't have the mortar, and I rather want to equip these chaps with a little field piece instead. I had this in mind from Forgeworld:

Imperial Heavy Mortar. Copyright Forgeworld
Although not a field gun, at least the large shell in my gunner's arms will look appropriate. I might try and position the barrel at a shallower angle. At only £20 for the model it doesn't cost a fortune, and is quite a versatile piece. I will also need a head honcho for my guys to rescue and protect, and I thought the fellow in the middle looks suitably important.
Imperial Guard Regimental Advisors. Copyright Games Workshop.
And finally, a crashed lander is in order for the original scenario and again, another useful addition to the terrain collection can be made. I think things which are reusable, putting this down on any 40k battlefield, or even a Necromunda board, makes for something a little more interesting.
Crash Imperial Aquila Lander. Copyright Games Workshop.
These are all small purchases that I can make over the next few months without breaking the bank. I will of course be keeping you all updated with progress, such as it is.

Carry on.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Lack of Impetus and sources of Inspiration

Those more observant readers will have noticed that I haven't posted for a while now. I could quote my jobs as being the cause of this absence, but the reality is simply that I have been incredibly busy "living". In the few months whilst grinding away at my two jobs, I have also been nurturing a busy social life, meaning that I seldom have a night off, and when I do, it is usually spent ironing or washing dishes or performing other mundane tasks more suited to robots.

In any event, I have been keeping my ears open as I am elbow deep in suds scrubbing the dishes and the recently my favourite company in my labours has been the Independent Characters podcast. The last three episodes, 65-67, have been particular favourites, and I find that the more I listen to the chaps chatting away, the more I come to like them. I suppose it stems from the fact we share a love of a cinematic style of wargaming, dominated by a strong narrative. Episode 61 on The Mestre Incursion really brought this home to me, and I applaud their efforts to create what in my mind is the ultimate style of campaign.

If you haven't listened to the podcast, please do. I know some British listeners might find the American accents of the hosts grating, but I assure you, the ear adjusts very quickly, and this really is a podcast worth listening to.

That's all for now, carry on.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: 4Ground Anglo-Danish Hovel

The other day a few things came in the post from Gripping Beast. Amongst the Saga dice and Northern Fury was a little something I thought to purchase as a test case, an Anglo-Danish Hovel produced by 4Ground. For the price of £9.50 I got a little kit to assemble, which requires no painting at all. For many gamers terrain is often the weakest part of their collection. Considering our Sisyphean lead piles, we seldom devote much time to trees and buildings to make our bare green tabletops look pretty. And even when per-made terrain is available, it usually requires painting, and again, the queue is already there so many a table is graced with grey building and tress. There are some places where one can buy pre-painted terrain, but it tends to be rather expensive, or just utter rubbish. The gold standard appears to be GrandManner, but it is hardly for the budget conscious, especially the pre-painted options.

This 4Ground hovel is a happy medium, for about £10 I got a piece of terrain that requires almost no assembly to look really good, it's not going to win an contests, but certainly the tabletop will be neatly complemented by its presence. I have taken some pictures to document the construction which I hope will give a sense of the easy of assembly.

The instruction sheet was clear and easy to follow. 
The bits of building.
Everything neatly slots together.
Having assembled and glued the outer walls, I did the interior walls. Here it is drying.
There are many little details, even interior details, that make this kit good for skirmish gaming.
Here the door, fir pit and roof are drying, no issues at all.
The thatching, probably my favourite part of the kit.
Here it is after a combing through with thinned PVA glue as per instructions.
I built this kit over a three day period, allowing for glue to dry mainly. However, I would say that the actual labour involved only really amounted to half-an-hour, and I am very satisfied with the results. I have subsequently had a look at the 4Ground website, and am already tempted by some of their other kits, like the Roman Limes tower. Although I wonder how the kits hold up in larger form. One major bonus is the fact that these kits aren't as heavy as their resin counterparts, and also less liable to fracturing. I can't wait to take this little hovel for a spin!

The good: Lightweight, cheap and easy to assemble. The instructions are also good and help the construction process. It also looks good with little effort.

The bad: I don't really have gripes, but if I had to find something I would say that some of the smaller parts can be a little flimsy, but that is simply the nature of thinly cut MDF.

Verdict: I would highly recommend this type of terrain as a time and money efficient means of starting a terrain collection. I plan to get more of it.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

French Old Guard Grenadiers

So I managed to base up the last two stands of Napoleons brave fighting boys. And here they are:

The battalion looks good from a distance, though I am not entirely satisfied with the Pioneer, who didn't hold up well with the dip method. Other than that though, quite pleased, and it didn't take forever. I suppose the fact that these chaps are wearing greatcoats helps greatly.

The standard is from the Victrix boxed set, and finished quite nicely, I didn't really see the need to splash out on a fancy flag just yet. Once the Napoleonic project gains grows I might redo the standards, but for now it is good enough. Good enough truly is the operative phrase here, I am not looking to do perfect Dallimore-esque units, but rather units that will look good on the table top at low cost in both time and treasure. 

The next concerted effort will be to get a cannon done for the Dwarfs and finish the Thane to lead them into battle. Perhaps the Slayer as well. I am super keen to get the Dwarfs done soon so that I can have a play, having bought the Island of Blood box and had a flick through the rulebook I think I might actually like this edition of Warhammer. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dwarf Miners, Celtic Test Models and a Ploughed Field

As the twitter feed shows, the first battalion of the French Old Guard Grenadiers are now almost complete, the Colonel just needs to be done, and he shouldn't take too long given the painting method I am using. However, in the meantime, here is a completed unit of Dwarf Miners. I don't think the unit is legal, but frankly at this point it doesn't really matter too much. Even the smallest detachment of little men needs a big man to lead them into battle, so the next chap to grace the painting table is a Thane to lead the Karak Azul Militia into battle, at the same time I am going to get their trusty cannon done for a little added firepower. Hopefully, once these are done I can goad friend Taff into doing battle with his Khorne army. 

Without further ado, here are some pictures:

I'll be honest, I am not the biggest fan of these figures, but they do a credible job, and being single piece figures they paint up pretty swiftly. I still don't have the Dwarf army book, but I did take the plunge yesterday and bought the Island of Blood starter box, for the rulebook. I am not sure if I will do much with the figures, especially the Elves, but the Skaven Rat Ogres and characters will be good for Mordheim at least. I am looking to perhaps start a small Mordheim campaign as a means of getting some gaming done with an irregular schedule. 

In addition to the Dwarfs and French, I have been doing other bits and pieces, such as Battlefleet Gothic Imperial cruisers, which are so simple to slot in between waiting for paint to dry they don't detract too much from the main effort. Again, Gothic is a game I really enjoy far more than Warhamer or 40k, and requires far less on the table to have an enjoyable game. These bits and pieces appear on the twitter feed as they do not warrant a blog post, yet. I have also been painting some Foundry Celts for the Northern Frontiers project, at this stage I am still toying with painting techniques. 

Here are two elements of Celts. I stuck to relatively simple clothing patterns as barbarian filler isn't worth the effort of painting checks, something which I don't feel comfortable doing anyway. The element on the left has been painted using a three stage shade, base, highlight method; the element on the right the dip method. Honestly, I think that the dipped figures are good enough, as well as being swifter. That said, the paint jobs are compatible, so there is no harm in perhaps lavishing more time on the nobles and dipping the rank-and-file. Thoughts?

Here is also a picture of the lot together, including the ploughed field I made:

More to come. Be sure to follow the blog on Twitter at for little updates and random pictures.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Viking Hirdmen

I have been hosting a friend from New Zealand for the past week, and as a result haven't got much painting done. However, I did manage to finish these brave Norse Hirdmen to rally around their Jarl's banner. Again, these are Foundry figures, so quite "heroic" and on the large side. These fellows are individually based and will be used for both Saga and unit based games.

Apologies for the grotty looking movement tray, it has taken a battering over the years. I am hoping to finish my first battalion of Old Guard Grenadiers this weekend, and some more Vikings. However, if the weather is fine I might actually go outside instead...

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Vikings and Grenadiers, better pictures

I woke up to glorious sunshine this morning, so I took the opportunity to take pictures of the completed figures again. Here they are in natural light, which I think does them far more justice.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Some pictures: Vikings and Grenadiers

I managed to finish basing five more vikings of the rather heroic persuasion, as well as my first complete base of French Old Guard Grenadiers. Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, I am trying to arrange for a better quality lamp for lighting since the changeable weather makes photography outside impossible sometimes. Initially I had tried to save time on the French by simply gluing sand to the base and washing it with brown ink to bind it and shade it, but there was a distinct lack of definition and it looked lame. Instead I opted for my standard basing method using cheap acrylic paint I buy in 250ml pots. First dark brown, then a drybrushing of yellowish brown and finally a drybrush highlight of bone. This is followed by some static grass to finish it off.

I am rather chuffed with the way that these grenadiers turned out, they look rough and ready and overall look rather worn. I have the weekend off, so I am going to try and get a unit of Dwarf Miners done, in addition to finishing off two more companies of grenadiers.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

How I discovered Wargaming

Today I listened to the latest episode of "View from the Veranda" with Neil Shuck and Henry Hyde, featuring guest Rich Clarke, whose beautiful Dux Britanniarum rules arrived yesterday, and the episode got me thinking about how I got into the hobby. Messers Shuck and Hyde shared their own "conversion" stories and this gave me the idea of writing this little post which is nothing short of naked narcissism.

For many people wargaming begins with Games Workshop, as so too did I. The general story for most people seems to be that they start off with the Fantasy or Sci-Fi offerings at Games Workshop, and then, as they start to grey they turn toward the dark art of historical wargaming with its doctrinal issues. Much like Orthodox theology, historical wargaming is a closed club making very little sense to those who are not participants in the eternal debates. Which Napoleonic ruleset is best? How do we accurately model command and control? What weapons did Hypaspists carry? It is, therefore, no wonder that for most of us Games Workshop is our way in. The rules are simple enough to learn quickly, there are well carved out backgrounds for the worlds, and, most importantly, I can walk into a shop and buy a box with all the bits I need to play.

The thing is, I always wanted to play historical wargames, I just didn't know anything about it, no surprise then that when I was finally introduced to the hobby by way of a sixth edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles starter set I opted for the Empire and set about trying to mimic a Landsknecht army. When I finally decided to dabble in 40k, no surprise, I chose Imperial Guard. Humans all the way, and always trying to build something historically themed, to the detriment of my results... This all changed on the day I discovered Warhammer Historicals. Almost overnight the Fantasy stopped, and I was intent on building an Early Imperial Roman force. The great part was that the rules were familiar, but they did things Fantasy didn't, for instance fire and flee. Because Warhammer Ancient Battles wasn't marketed at ten-year olds the rules allowed for greater complexity, whilst doing away with that magic rubbish which I frankly don't much care for.

The problem was that, unlike Games Workshop's neatly vertically integrated ecosystem, historical wargaming is a fractured mess; I was buying rules from here, figures from there and bases from over there. And it is precisely this disunity which keeps the newcomer out, so that even someone like me, who only ever really wanted to play historical wargames had no smooth path to entry and had to discover it through Games Workshop. From the discussion on "View from the Veranda" I glean that the good news is that this is starting to change. It seems that as the historical wargaming industry becomes more professional, and less of a cottage industry, the companies we know and love are realising the necessity to provide things like starter armies and bundles. This is important because if I wanted to introduce someone to wargaming who shows an interest in the Games Workshop window display, I can show them a demo with my stuff and if they are still interested, for about £80 they should get up and running with a Dux Britanniarum ruleset and a force to start playing. I for one am excited by the prospect of a more user-friendly historical wargaming industry that markets itself more effectively to newcomers and those who cut their teeth on Games Workshop stuff, because frankly I would like some more opponents to play. (and the self-centeredness resurfaces)

In other news, I finally got five more Vikings done and finished basing my first company of Grenadiers, I shall try and get some pictures up tomorrow evening for your delectation, gentle reader.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Dwarf Thunderers

The end of July is rapid closing, and I finally have a day off. I have managed to get a small unit of nine Dwarf Thunderers done this month, whilst continuing to repaint my Vikings. Here are some pictures of those retouch jobs, these chaps have been based and varnished and are ready for action. 
Since the weather was nice, I took these outside in some natural light which does the figures more justice than yellow internal light. These are Foundry figures, quite large and on the heroic side, when I was originally putting my Norwegian Viking army together for WAB using the Shieldwall supplement, I had planned to use these guys as Jomsvikings as they seem the adventuring sort. They will fulfil the same role in Saga. 

Here are some pictures of the newly completed Dwarf Thunderers, this unit is missing a musician, I simply cannot find him anywhere, hopefully one day he will turn up. Not quite a legal unit yet, but who's counting. The first picture was taken indoors with yellow light, the others outdoors in natural light.

I am quite pleased with the way these guys have turned out, they were pretty quick to do and look pretty smart for rank-and-file chaps. So I am now up to three units, though they are rather tiny units and not much use yet, but things are taking shape and soon Karak Azul will have a small defence force for some low point games, though I need an eighth edition rulebook before I can get gaming.

I am currently basing up some more Vikings and three companies of Old Guard Grenadiers, I'll try and get some pictures up by tomorrow, so let's hope the weather is nice again so they can be taken outdoors.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pictures: Dark Age Village Folk

I finally found an opportunity to post a few pictures of my Dark Age village folk. These are Foundry figures from their Viking range, and by the style I would guess Copplestone sculpts. They are an absolute pleasure to paint and make a nice change from the usual armed bods. Enjoy...

Some rascally kids.

I really enjoyed painting the two women in this picture.

The middle figure is Brunnhild Ravenhair, the chieftain's daughter. She will make a good target for a woman snatching scenario. The rightmost is a hedgewitch character, who could be given some "magic" powers for a scenario to make things interesting.
 The really good thing about most of these figures is their wide range of usability. Although they are "Viking" folk they could easily stand in for most Dark Age or early Medieval civilians. I am a big fan of versatile miniatures that are at home in many different armies, places, or periods. I find that the Dark Age period is particularly good for reusability as Northern Europeans seem pretty generic in dress. Anyway, that is all for now. Hopefully I will get a chance to upload some pictures of my Romans in more detail.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Tough Month Ahead

July looks to be rather unfriendly with regards my painting schedule. The reality is that I do not have a single day off, bar a few Sunday afternoons, when I go to Mass anyway, until August. This is due to working Monday to Friday and a heavy Army commitment on the weekends this month. However, the monetary benefits will certainly be a reality next month!

So basically this is a heads up that I might not get too much new stuff up on here, though I will try and push on. I have almost finished a rather leisurely painted Dwarven Thunderers unit, and the first half of my Old Guard Grenadier Battalion, so I might be able to round those off in the few hours I have to myself in the evenings.

However, in lieu of painting, I will try and get some reviews up on here. Well, not reviews, but thoughts on things I have bought recently. I wasn't planning on purchases, but the combination of my birthday in late June and a desire to see the new plastic sets in the "flash" have made me buckle. Addiction. In any event, I have already shared my thoughts on the Black Tree Designs Romans, so expect more poorly thought out thoughts on figures.

I got hold of 60 Perry Foundry Early Imperial Romans, which are my favourite, for about £20, an absolute bargain, on eBay. These are for the planned Northern frontiers army. I also thought I'd get my hands on some Warlord Roman Veterans to see how they scale, and just what they look like since I find pictures on the web seldom give one a real sense of the figures. I also got some Celts and got a cheeky box of Perry French Infantry out of curiosity. However, I have been really busy so the boxes are still sat unopened on my shelf.

On another note, my friend James from the Whispers of Chaos Blog put me onto the Bad Dice Podcast, a *spit* Warhammer podcast. I was, however, pleasantly surprised and am enjoying listening to the back episodes when I go running or at the gym. Even if you aren't a Warhammer player, which I am not, I'd recommend it as one gets some insight into the scene and frankly it makes me want to actually play.

So a rough one ahead, but we will grizz it out and hope for the best, stiff upper lip, what-what...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Foundry Old Guard Grenadiers

I managed to get some highlights on the Foundry models that I painted. The technique I used was based on Doc T's. After the anti-shine I added a little white to the raised areas to give the figures greater depth, and also to spruce them up a little. Apologies for the lighting in the pictures, I need a more focused natural light source, and sadly the British summer is on hiatus.

I varied the exact area I highlighted for a little variety, dirty gaiters seemed most appropriate.

I tried a "feathery" highlight, trying to avoid the paint being to wet and running. From a distance it looks quite good.

So this will be the technique I employ going forward. These chaps are going to be mounted six to a base for a company and then four bases for a battalion. My base size is 60 x 40mm. I only have eight of these grenadiers, and Foundry are far too expensive, so I will fill out the rest of the battalion with Perry Miniatures and Front Rank. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Old Guard Grenadiers

So I have been planning for some time to build forces for the 1809 Austrian Campaign. Originally I was going to do it in 15mm using AB Figures however, with the advent of plastics, 28mm has become a real option. Given that an AB battalion comes in at £24, I really couldn't turn down 60 figures, at least two battalions worth, for about £20. I prefer painting 28mm and these Victrix figures are a pleasure to speed paint using a dipping method which I have copied from Doc T on the Warhammer forum.
My first attempt was on eight Foundry Old Guard Grenadiers which I received with the Napoleonic painting set. I was never going to use them, but it seems that will not be the case anymore. I got those eight painted in record time using the wash and dip method. The only thing the much smaller Foundry figure now needs is some highlighting, especially on the belts and raised cloth, to make it look less dirty. They are in full dress after all. The great coat wearing Victrix grognards can afford to look a little more scruffy as they are "on the road".
Grenadiers at various stages of completion.
The first picture shows four figures at various stages of completion. The leftmost has simply been washed with very watered down coats of paint. The second figure has had black added for the boots, bearskin and those parts which will be metal. The third figure has been painted with Army Painter Strong Shade dip, dried and sprayed with anti-shine. The final figure is complete, with metal parts done.
Close-ups of the initial stages of painting. 
You will notice a difference in the opacity of the blue. Using a wash that is super thin results in a more faded look, so by playing with the ratios of water to paint you can get a really nice variety of blues. This would have been due to the sun, colours running when soaked, and general wear. I am currently aiming at getting this first battalion done, which will be the 1st BTN 2nd Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard. The unit will consist of 24 figures which will include a mounted Colonel and a Sapper since these are the first battalion.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

June Review: Early Imperial Roman Refurb and Viking Civilians

June has been largely dedicated to painting bits and pieces, given that I was busy with work, the army and life in general. The good news is that my Roman army for Vespasian in the East is now fixed. The shields have been reattached, and the chipped painted reapplied. Here is a picture of the Roman host:

The Roman host without their general Vespasian, the Eagle and their two scorpios.
The Muleteer at the head of his army.
I used this army at the BHGS Challenge WAB competition in 2006 where I finished dead last. The army also included some Commagene horse archer allies, Nabatean archers, and slingers from Chalcis which are not pictured here, as these were dragooned from my Seleucid army. I always enjoy fielding an army from a specific theatre or campaign, even at a tournament. I realise that I could simply field an army of drilled legionaries, but I prefer something with a narrative. I am currently gathering the lead for a Western Empire project, a force to fight Caractacus or the Germans, and of course, play the other sides in the year of the four emperors. I am thinking of painting that army in a far less uniform manner, ie. less red!

Having fixed up the Romans, I have started getting my Norwegian Viking army back into one piece. The years have been unkind to them and they are quite battered, most shields need reaffixing and a lot of chipping needs painting, but actually it has been a good opportunity to add a highlight here and there as I get through them. I also managed to knock out a few Viking age village folk and a cottage for scenarios. I recently received my Saga rulebook, so skirmish level gaming is a go and civilian figures and village buildings are great for that sort scenario based gaming. I have another Gripping Beast cottage to paint up, which I will try and get done soon to go with this one. Looking forward to the month of July, I am going to push on with a 28mm Napoleonic project which I have been thinking about for some time. I will document the planning and practice of it on this blog as it happens. The vikings and dwarfs will share the table with some Victrix Old Guard Grenadiers which I got for my birthday in June.