Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tools of the trade

Thicker than water?
I've always thinned acrylic paint with water,  but proper acrylic thinner is said to improve flow and coverage. So I ordered some Vallejo acrylic medium which is apparently the same stuff used in the paint but without the pigment. The reason for this extra care is the prospect of painting 6mm figures.

Shiny new scalpels and lots of new ways to cut your fingers.
A visit to a homestore chain, The Range, produced a nice set of scalpels and a packet of small-to-medium sized files. I have in the past tended to crimp on dedicated modelling tools but now I pick up whatever looks like it might be useful.

Something to file away for the future.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

15mm Samurai for Irregular Wars

Japanese armed peasants join the lead mountain...
I bought some 15mm Two Dragons Samurai years ago to do a DBR army. There weren't enough figures and they've sat in a box ever since. But then I realised that with a few extras they would make an army for Irregular Wars. So I bought the extras and an Ikko-Ikki army to oppose them.

The Two Dragons figures are now sold through the Minifigs website and dispatched by Caliver Books. I'm very pleased to see that after all these years the castings are still excellent quality.

The only thing I'm now lacking is a portable shrine for the Ikko-Ikki which nobody seems to make in 15mm but which should be easy enough to scratch-build.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Reading Warfare - scenery grab and Bloody Big Battles! game

I had a very productive day at Reading Warfare last Saturday. I spent the morning accumulating scatter scenery for my Gruntz 15mm Sci-Fi skirmish project and some 10mm houses suitable for my Chinese Warlord Era Red Actions project. In the afternoon I was privileged to participate in a game of Bloody Big Battles! organised by its author Chris Pringle and his comrades from the Oxford Wargames Society.

Scatter scenery. I regret that I didn't note the names of the suppliers.
I'll write in more detail about my Gruntz scenery plans another time, but this shows the sort of thing I'm collecting or making for my grungy, post-Apocalyptic environment. Scatter scenery will be either low enough to provide cover or high enough to block line of sight.

10mm Far Eastern houses.
The houses come from two sources. The painted ones are Epsilon buildings from Pendraken while the remainder are from the Timecast Vietnam range. The Epsilon buildings are a slightly larger interpretation of 10mm but I think they will work well enough together. I was a bit unsure whether Vietnamese buildings would do for China, but I did a lot of Googling and am satisfied that similar buildings could be found in China.

The fallback position of the Bavarian I Korps at Loigny.
I arrived at Oxford's Bloody Big Battles! table at about 2pm, just as their second game of the Loigny/Poupry 1870 scenario was about to start. I was keen to play with the experts and was delighted to be given command of the I Bavarian Korps on the German right.

I was tempted to take advantage of the towns near the enemy edge of the table, but this forward defence was overwhelmed by the superior French numbers. I then fell back in line with the objective I was defending (Loigny). Hanging on to this was very touch-and-go the whole afternoon, but I just managed to do so. I was a bit rusty on the rules but got a lot of guidance, including tactical advice. After a while I began to make my own decisions, not that these always proved to be a good idea.

I didn't have much chance to take in what was happening on the German left or centre but did witness the final German assault on the left wing which, in the last (tenth) turn of the scenario, regained Poupry. This was very exciting to see and put all three objectives firmly in German hands. The game was over by 5pm, so it had taken four plus people nearly three hours of playing. Once again I felt I had relived history or an alternative history.

I also had a chat with Chris about doing the Urabi Revolt (Tel-el-Kebir) with BBB. I have been thinking about that for quite a long time because of an ancestral connection (British side) but Chris pointed out that it was a bit of a walkover and I realised that it wouldn't make for a very balanced game. I am thus able to cross something off my to-do list!

 I really enjoyed the afternoon and must make the effort to play BBB more. I will probably send off for some sample Baccus 6mm Franco-Prussian War figures, decide how I am actually going to base them and then put in a full order.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Flight and other bases for Gruntz 15mm

I usually base figures on a combination of steel and MDF, the former for storage and transportation in magnetic-lined boxes and the latter for thickness so that players are encouraged to handle the bases rather than the figures.

With individual figures and models it is inevitable that players will pick them up by the figure/model rather than by the  base, but this isn't too much of a problem with the Sci-Fi figures as they are generally quite robust and don't have fragile bits like bayonets and flag poles. Accordingly, there isn't much point in doing thick bases so I'm just putting the infantry on coins and the vehicles directly onto steel.

Following the use of the coins I decided to use round bases for the mecha and grav vehicles, and rectangular bases omly for tracked and wheeled vehicles. In all cases these will be of minimum size and unobtrusive.

The grav bikes, drones, VTOLs and grav AFVs presented the most novel challenge as they are not like anything I've had to cope with before. Grav vehicles need to be off the ground but no more than necessary.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - Gettysburg game blow by blow

This is the blow-by-blow account in photos of the BBB! Gettysburg game which I first reported on here. It was difficult to recall all the detail even directly after the game, and harder still at this remove in time. But if you study the photos you should be able to follow the main flow of the battle.

Unfortunately, it's a little difficult to tell the two sides apart in the photos. It may be clearer if you click on the photos to enlarge them and look for the ID markers which are predominantly grey or blue. The large numbers are turn indicators for the benefit of the camera.

The battle was fought on a blown-up version of the map. The map squares are only 8" square, but the figure bases are only 20mm square (instead of 25mm) so the table and the units are more-or-less in proportion.

Deployment. Union troops are deployed around Gettysburg or moving north-west towards Gettysburg up the Baltimore Pike. Two Confederate units are shown in the north-east moving south to turn the Union left flank and threaten the Union supply line.

Union troops (nearest) form line. As the Union commander I am feeling relatively secure, but that's mainly because I hadn't actually read the scenario in detail...

Monday, 31 October 2016

Gruntz 15mm: The first two factions

I've now collected two factions for my near-future forces for Gruntz 15mm.

The first is a hi-tech interventionist force  ('The Coallition'). They are almost all GZG and will be sand-coloured like the Gulf War allies. Some assets such as the power-armoured squad will be finished in blue-grey or some other neutral colour so they can fight for any faction if that's the way I want to use them.

The Sand faction: Grav IFVs, Grav MBT, Grav Command vehicle, Gruntz squads including squad leaders, SAWs and LAWs, Grav bikes. All models are GZG.
Grav drones, Sand commander, Spider droids, Power-Armour squad. All models are GZG except for the Power-Armour squad which is Brigade Miniatures.
The Gruntz are GZG's UNSC Light Infantry. Command vehicles provide command and control benefits additional to the powers of the Commanders. I'd like to organise the grav drones and probably the grav bikes and spider droids as if they were Gruntz squads rather than having to track them as individual units. This was discussed on the Gruntz Forum but requires further research with regard to costing etc.

The second is a mostly mid-tech force ('RussFed') and will be finished in green.  They are mainly ArmiesArmy Insurgents and represent a near-future version of the Russian forces which have been operating in the Eastern Ukraine. While technically not as advanced they will be rated as more experienced.

Tracked IFVs, tracked MBT, tracked Command vehicle, HMG, Commander, Gruntz including Squad leaders, LAWS, and SAWs, VTOL gunship, and Mecha. The last two are GZG. The rest are all ArmiesArmy.
Constructing the Mecha so that it stood in an animated stance was quite fun. The AA vehicles are part resin which makes them substantially lighter than the GZG ones. They also required less cleaning up. Almost everything was assembled with superglue apart from the arms of the Brigade Miniatures figures which required epoxy resin.

The GZG and ArmiesArmy infantry are a good scale match for each other.

Monday, 24 October 2016

10mm Seven Years War progress 2

Old Fritz
The first step after PVAing the figures to the combination MDF and steel bases was to texture the bases. I used a cocktail stick to apply PVA not only to the MDF surface but also onto the figure bases and around the figures' ankles. This is essential to hide the figure bases. I then poured over a mixture of bird sand and model railway ballast, shook it off, and repeated the application. (For 15mm figures I build up the bases with filler and then apply PVA. For 6mm figures I use bird sand without the ballast.)
As the figures for this project are packed very closely together, it wasn't possible to get right to the centre of the bases. This doesn't matter as this area will end up dark brown representing deep shadow.

With the figures so tightly packed, the ArmyPainter spray undercoat (Leather Brown) also didn't get between the figures too well so I had to  go over them with a generous wash of matching AP bottle paint.

A unit of Prussian Musketeers based, textured and undercoated.
I thought I'd have to add some coat colours before rendering the figures distinguishable and thus usable on the table, but I've now added temporary labels to tell the armies apart and to keep the appropriate bases in each unit together. I'm very glad I've never dropped these or muddled them up as it would have been a very tedious job to distinguish, for example,  Prussian, Austrian and Hungarian line infantry.

The unit duly identified from the rear.
For the benefit of those who haven't seen earlier postings, these are 10mm Pendraken figures for use with Maurice or maybe Might & Reason.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Might & Reason: Mollwitz

 The Austrian defence viewed from the Prussian end:
infantry to the left and cavalry to the right.
My club comrade Chris put on and umpired an introductory game of Sam Mustafa's Might & Reason. The game was an abridged version of the Battle of Mollwitz (1741) scenario. The real battle was fought between Prussia and Austria during the early part of the War of the Austrian Succession. The Prussians had to dislodge an Austrian scratch force sitting on their supply line. The game featured Chris's balsa block armies which were enhanced by authentic flags and worked very well. My fellow club member, Kim, was given command of the Austrians, a difficult assignment, while I got the Prussian killing-machine and an exceptionally lucky run of high dice throws.

Monday, 10 October 2016

My Irregular Wars Colonial Portuguese and Hollanders

General with Dutch East India Company flag
My 15mm Colonial Portuguese and Hollanders are finally finished. I first posted about these back in April 2014, i.e. two-and-a-half years ago!

The figures are mostly Grumpy's Miniatures and designed to be interchangeable between Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish colonial forces where appropriate.

As the figures came out rather dark I went light with the bases which looks good for the Tropics.

If you look closely you will see there is no facial or much other detail. The figures are designed to be viewed at playing distance. The 'realism' is achieved by (a) staining, and (b) the ground. The latter requires little time or effort but adds a great deal to the look. IMO this approach provides the most economical balance between effort and effect.