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.