Friday, 15 February 2019


Today is Fleamarket day in Tonbridge, Kent, and I have half a table to flog some of my surplus books. I think this must be the first time I've reported live. My wife has the other half of the table to sell clothes.

As we don't drive we had to drag everything here in shopping trolleys, but we've got enough stuff to fill the table and will hopefully have lighter loads on our way home.

Books would not be a good option if I was trading for profit. They're bulky and the bottom has fallen out of the second-hand book market. So many books can be bought for 1p plus postage on Amazon or in charity shops for 50p which is where some of these books were originally accumulated.

But my motivation for disposal is my storage crisis. It was books or figures, so I decided to dump books. I started with my least wanted ones, but some of them are just duplicates which I tend to accumulate accidentally despite having a database on my phone!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

De-basing incoming 28mm ACW figures

These eBay figures are much nicer than their basing. My
own strategy is to make the basing better than the figures!
As I have only limited time to paint, I’ve been looking to eBay in recent times to raise 28mm armies for Rampant games. I’m buying only ready-painted figures, but rebasing remains an issue.

If the basing is completely inappropriate (e.g. multiple figures on rectangular bases) it has to go. OK, I know you can play these games with multiple-based figures and record the casualties, but it’s not my preference.

Even if figures are based singly, it’s probably best to rebase them in order to achieve uniformity in an army put together from different sources. However, it’s a shame to destroy nicely decorated bases and sometimes quite difficult to do so without running the risk of damaging the figures.

My latest acquisition were some ACW figures - painted Federals and unpainted Confederates (which I will probably sell on). The figures had been stuck onto MDF, then into plastic movement trays and finally covered with a thick carpet of flocking material which may have been applied with a hot glue gun and was still extremely gooey.

I prized the MDF out of the movement trays and then stood the figures in warm water to weaken the MDF. Then I used a scalpel to cut and scrape away the MDF and flock. Finally I used a cotton-bud dipped in Isopropanol to rub off some of the remaining flock and glue. In some cases, however, the Isopropanol  just made everything more sticky, so I returned to the hot water treatment which seemed to shrink, harden and loosen the glue rather than spreading it about.

I'm hoping that repeated immersion in hot water isn't going to cause the plastic to degenerate during my lifetime, but I don't have a lot of choice. The figures have been coated with Army Painter Quickshade or similar. This is giving them good protection, and there is no visible damage to the paintwork.

I don’t have to achieve 100% removal of the offending glue and flock as the new bases are going to be textured and reflocked anyway, but it’s good to get the old flock off the figures’ ankles.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Thoughts on Dragon Rampant

Dragon Rampant - fantasy version of
Lion Rampant.

I drafted this post before last year’s mid-year wargaming hiatus. It’s out of place in time, but I thought I’d go back to catch up with this interest.

As most of you will know, Dragon Rampant is the fantasy version of Lion Rampant. I'm not generally given to fantasy games, but I'm drawn to anything in the Rampant series.

I did collect a couple of 15mm HOTT armies (Pirates and Skeletons) but I never got round to painting them. I'm not keen on being drawn into the ever-expanding Games Workshop universe, and I find Lord of the Rings too well-trodden and at times a little twee.

I'm rather more attracted to Poul Anderson's darker vision in The Broken Sword. I read that many years ago, and last year reread it on Kindle. (To be exact, I mainly listened to it.) So if I did do Elves and Trolls they would as far as possible be as depicted in that book, which is set in the Viking Age.

Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword
- a dark version of Faerie Folk.
Mike McGraw (Skrapwelder on TMP) used Elf heads on Dark Age figures,  but I already have a 25mm Viking army and don’t want to duplicate it with pointy ears!

The best range of Elves that I've been able to find is the Grenadier range now sold by Mirliton in Italy, but at least partly available from a few suppliers in the UK. They look more Celtic than Viking but the castings are very good. I'd model the Elves on a Viking army, using High Elves for the Huscarls and Wood Elves for the Bondi.

There are a number of Orc options for the Trolls. These need to be a little shorter than the Elves, mostly semi-naked and armed with clubs. They are rather more simple and primitive than the way in which Lord of the Rings Orcs are usually depicted and the best option I've identified so far is the small range from CP Models supplemented by selected Reaper castings.

There would also be wolves, giants and sorcerers. Dragon Rampant very cleverly introduced the idea of reduced size and single model units as long as they add up to 6 or 12 Strength Points. For example, you can field 6-figure units counting 2 points per figure. Convenient sized units are, therefore, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 models, which gives you a lot of flexibility and is potentially very economical.

Foundry North European Bronze Age figures
Other possibilities would be to recycle my 25mm Vikings with the addition of some fantastical elements, and my 28mm Late Mediaevals as an Arthurian Romance army. More recently I've also been thinking about Nordic and Greek Bronze Age armies using Foundry figures, or something skeletal using the North Star Skeletons. So many options!

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Rebels and Patriots arrives

Taking stock - some samples from my collection
of American War of Independence figures. The
Continentals (left) are Warlord, the British (right)
are Perry. I'm not entirely sure how well they
match up in terms of historical uniform
development but probably as well as the
average Hollywood film!
My copy of Rebels and Patriots arrived last Thursday. It was highly anticipated and I'm genuinely excited!

The biggest innovation is probably variable-length charge moves,  which should add an additional touch of drama. Otherwise they generally follow the usual tried and trusted Rampant game mechanisms. Those chasing more detail should read David Sullivan's excellent review on the I Live With Cats blog.

I've already accumulated a couple of ready-made 28mm armies for it, and my first step was to look at the army lists and check to see if I have enough stuff for a standard-sized game (24 points a side).

The armies in question are American War of Independence British and Continentals.

The AWI British list suggests 3 Line Infantry, 1 Light Infantry and 1 Shock Infantry (e.g. Grenadiers). The Continental Army list suggests 3 Line Infantry, 1 Timid Line Infantry (Riflemen) 1 Skirmishers and 1 Aggressive Light Cavalry. The lists are useful indicators of appropriate troop types but by no means mandatory.

Infantry units are basically 12 figures but for +/- 1 point they can grow to 18 or shrink to 6. If I was designing an army list competitively I’d regard small units as risky and large units as extremely good value, but I’m not in that situation and I welcome this flexibility as it will allow me to optimise use of the figures I happen to have. Indeed, I think this is an extremely cunning design move to accommodate gamers with existing armies.

For the British I have:

3 Line Infantry @ 4
1 Shock Infantry @ 6
1 Light Infantry Small @ 5
1 Light Artillery @ 4

For the Continentals I have:

1 Line Infantry Large @ 5
2 Line Infantry @ 4
1 Line Infantry Small @ 3 (less 1 figure)
2 Skirmishers @ 2

I’m thus short on Continentals and will have to borrow some other figures (or upgrade them to Veterans) until I can get some more recruits. I need to add my usual 2p coin bases to the figures and prepare two or three boxes for storage/transport but otherwise I'm good to go.

I also have some 28mm American Civil War armies on order, but I'll have to wait till they arrive to see what I can make from them.

The 28mm 1798 armies continue to accumulate but won't necessarily be complete until next year.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Buccaneers vs Spanish for The Pikeman's Lament

Sir Henry Morgan
I didn't list 'Buccaneers' amongst my projects for 2019 as it wasn't current, but I have been giving the idea a lot of thought. Musing about potential projects has always been a big part of my engagement with the hobby - a sort of wargame equivalent of window shopping.

My attraction to the Buccaneer era goes back to the pirate imagery of childhood, the publication of The Pikeman’s Lament, the appeal of the Northstar 1672 range, watching the Versailles TV series (about Louis XIV) and some discussion on the Lead Adventure Forum (LAF). It didn't come together straight away but things gradually fell into place.

In developing the idea I am indebted to Jose Maria Cagiga Mata of the Spanish Lead Painting blog  for help with  figures, costume, background information and ideas.

North Star 1672 matchlock musketeers
For the benefit of those not fully up to speed, Buccaneers were English, French and Dutch freebooters licensed by European powers in the second half of the 17thC to attack and loot Spanish ships and cities in the Caribbean.

I like to hang my model armies on the peg of a specific historical reference point so I'm focusing in particular on the career of the Welsh Privateer Henry Morgan (1635 – 1688) whose English forces successfully raided a number of Spanish cities including Panama City in 1671.

Blood and Plunder Spanish
Despite their exotic and piratical nature, Buccaneers were typically military veterans, fought in conventional military units, and by 1660 were more soldiers than sailors in appearance. So this project will feature fairly conventional pike-and-shot forces rather than the more cinematic imagery of the Golden Age of Piracy. The Pirate actions of the early 18thC were essentially naval actions, while the Buccaneers also fought large scale land battles.

Subject to checking compatibility, I'll be using Northstar's 1672 and Firelock Games' Blood and Plunder ranges, English Civil War figures from Bicorne and Renegade, and some Monmouth Rebellion shot from Front Rank.

Bicorne Miniatures ECW firelocks
The Buccaneers will be flintlock-armed. Opposing them will be Spanish Militia with matchlocks and half-pikes bolstered with some Marines from the Armada de Barlovento and artillery. The Buccaneers totally outshot the Spanish Militia so it will be good to even the sides with the help of some Spanish Regulars.

Although the project is more-or-less planned, I don't currently have the time or space to pursue it, unless or until I have made more progress with the 28mm Reivers.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Border Reiver Project 1: Preparation of castings

Tools for preparing castings: 
Large flat file, scalpels, small files, Games Workshop
snippers, superglue and pin vices (drills).
I decided to report on this project as I go along, partly to put pressure on myself to keep going, and otherwise because my approach might be of interest to others or I might need some feedback on options...

The figures are 28mm Timeline and Foundry metals and there is a total of 13 mounted, 150 foot, 1 gun, 3 cattle, 2 sheep and 2 dogs.

I always make a list of stages. Then I can repeat the process in the same style if I need to do additional figures at a later date. I also mark off progress so I know where I am and to give myself a sense of achievement.

The figures are essentially on one continuous if virtual conveyor belt. I do something to each figure in the army or armies, then repeat. I never paint unit-by-unit.

First step is to prepare the castings.

1. File bottom of bases flat. 
I just run the figures up and down a large domestic flat file. A couple of passes is usually enough.
2. Remove casting tags and any flash.
Very few of the foot figures had any flash or casting lines, but they did have little casting tags which needed to be knocked off or cut. The Timeline horses were more challenging but I think they will look alright once they are painted.
3. Correct leaning figures. 
Some figures seemed to be bent over in relation to the angle of their bases. This was easily corrected by carefully bending them at the ankles.
4. Drill holes for pikes and superglue pikes.
Thankfully the pikemen are all empty handed allowing me to add North Star pikes. Some hands needed drilling with a pin vice. I used to use 2-part epoxy resin for sticking pikes etc, but have been experimenting with superglue. Epoxy resin seems to be quite scarce these days.
5. Assemble gun, cattle, riders and stick riders on horses.
6. Add Green Stuff to 'shorts' and around arm joints on riders.

Greenstuff and rubber-tipped sculpting tools. Some of the Foundry figures are 'Sea Dogs' so I built round the bottom of their open-ended shorts to represent the big baggy (but gathered) trousers worn by the lower orders of landlubber.
I decided the figure on the lower right was OK as it was.
Some of the Timeline riders have separate arms and needed filler to disguise the joints. I then realised that I'd have to rebuild the shoulder detail but I found that it was quite difficult to replicate the fine detail of the original castings. Not my finest hour but they will probably look OK once painted and on the table in a dimly-lit wargames club!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Organising playing aids

I’m pleased to publish a guest article by Simon Jones, a reader of this blog who has a very systematic scheme for organising playing aids.

This is the kind of thing I make up for games we play regularly. I just grab the box and go - they are all labelled.

I complete unit info in Excel and can amend and add info to make new unit sheets easily. I laminate these, and QRFs etc. I can then reuse them with water soluble pens.

The bag contains dice, tokens etc. The box has tape measures (cheap in B&Q, but any other brand will do), other gaming bits and pens.

If I can every now and then I find a cheap extra copy of the rules. It helps when people sit in on games.

You can find extra bits like unit cards on the Internet. I laminate and make up this kind of stuff as well. I have started adding movement bases to boxes as well now.

For Poseidon's Warriors I even have the ships included in my rules box.

So I have boxes for:
  • Congo
  • 7TV first (DVD size box) and second editions
  • TMWWBK (Rebels & Patriots will probably share this box)
  • The Pikeman’s Lament
  • Dragon and Lion Rampant (although I do not play LR)
  • One Hour Wargames and The Lamps are Going Out early WW1 Rules
  • Poseidon's Warriors
  • Just started a box for One Hour Skirmish Games and What a Tanker

You can obviously reuse boxes etc when no longer needed. To be honest the cost is not great. I know I have everything to play easily to hand and portable.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

2019 Interests

I didn't actually get to play many games last year, so this year I need to be more proactive. Games I'm keen to play are:
  • The Men Who Would Be Kings using my Pathans and Egyptians.
  • Lion Rampant using my Late Medievals. 
  • Dragon Rampant.
  • Dux Bellorum using my 25mm Vikings and Anglo-Danes. 
  • Hammerin' Iron.
  • L'Art de la Guerre.
I've learnt not to over-face myself with too long a to-do list, so while I have a lot of unfinished and potential projects, I'm only going to list (1) major projects which are (2) currently underway and (3) which I seriously intend to progress during the year:

     Timeline Miniatures Border Reivers from Hoka
    Hey Wargaming (not my painting!).
  • 28mm Border Reivers for The Pikeman's Lament. This is my main painting project for 2019. As soon as they have a basic coat of paint I intend to start using them and will then finish painting them over time.
  • 28mm 1798 Irish Rebellion for Rebels and Patriots. I'll continue gradually to collect these. If I complete my Border Reiver project, acquisition might speed up.
  • 28mm American War of Indepenence for Rebels and Patriots. I recently bought an ideal collection of well-painted Perry plastic British and am now looking out for a matching force of Continentals. This project will either be realised suddenly or not at all.
  • 15mm armies for L'Art de La Guerre. I'm currently reorganising, rebasing and supplementing some of my old 15mm Ancient and Mediaeval armies in order to create paired opponents for ADLG. My areas of interest are the Late Roman period, the Dark Ages and Europe 1250-1300. Rebasing figures and buying painted ones doesn't involve too much time or effort.
So there you have it: a modest range of rules systems (mostly closely related) and a firm committment to working on only one major painting project.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

2018 Scoreboard

In a year l did little, I at least did something, and while the middle of the year was a near total wargaming blank, the year opened and closed on a note of wargaming interest, activity and optimism. There were a lot of little achievements (noted on my Workbench page) but here I'll just revisit the headline interests I outlined back in January together with the usual tally of games played and a note on the readership of this little blog.

The Men Who Would Be Kings

I didn't get into the Boshin War but I did accumulate Pathans and Egyptians and reinforced my Zulu War armies.


Rommel has been put on ice indefinitely owing to lack of local enthusiasm. Life is too short to flog dead horses.

Chain of Command

I remain interested in Chain of Command but never got round to it and probably won't pursue it in the near future unless another local gamer emerges to champion it.

Thirty Ýears War

This came a little closer with the publication of Twilight of Divine Right, and I've been giving it some thought.

Games played

This has been the year of Rampant/Dan Mersey games which accounted for no less than 7 of the 10 games played:

Dragon Rampant 2
Dux Bellorum 1
Lion Rampant 1
The Men Who Would Be Kings 2
Pikeman’s Lament 1

The other games were:

Art de la Guerre 1
Command & Colours Great War 1
Corvus 1


Lastly, this blog's audience has maintained an overall upward trend despite the five month gap in publication.

That's enough looking back. I'm now looking forward to outlining my 2019 interests which I'll do in my first post in the New Year.