Wednesday, 20 July 2022

10mm Normans rebased

Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to do some painting etc over the last couple of weeks, I have now just finished reorganising and rebasing the 10mm Normans that I inherited. Actually finishing a project is a big achievement for me these days.

This project involved:

  • Soaking the old card bases in water and removing.
  • Planning the new units.
  • Adding a few additional figures for fun (crossbowmen and peasants with improvised weapons).
  • Repainting some mail in silver and some textiles in colour.
  • Sticking the figures on my preferred MDF/steel combination bases.
  • Texturing the bases with Tetrion filler and a sand/ballast mix.
  • Painting the bases.
  • Applying 2mm static grass.

Most readers will be familiar with all these techniques and I've covered them all before. However, I will make a few relevant remarks.

Front left: Sergeants. Back left and centre: ordinary cavalry. Right: veteran cavalry.

I like planning units and spent a lot of time doing it. The aim was to optimise use of the figures I had in order to produce two armies. In the end I went with 80mm wide bases to be used on a 100mm grid. This is for To the Strongest! Each base is a unit.

Repainting was fairly impressionistic. I hit the main areas. These are 10mm figures after all. Nobody should notice or care unless they lead very sad lives.

On the new figures, I painted faces but no hands. I might repaint some of the shields to provide more variation and I might add a dark wash to tone down the colours I used on some of the new figures, but I may never get round to it.

Left to right, front to back: Fyrd; Foot Sergeants; Flemish Spearmen, Norman Militia.

The sand was applied to the Tetrion while it was still wet. The best results are achieved by having the Tetrion very wet. But getting the filler between multibased ready-painted figures was awkward.

The bases were initially flood painted with a very dilute wash of household emulsion. The sand soaks it up. They were then dry-brushed with Zamesi Desert and Ushabti Bone.

The static grass was applied with an electric applicator. I'm not entirely convinced this made much difference but it didn't do any harm.

Left: Feudal levies. Front: Crossbows. Back: Bows.

I learnt two lessons from this project:

  1. Basing the figures before painting as I did for my 10mm ACW and 6mm TYW armies is a much better approach for multibased figures. In this instance most of the figures were already painted so I wasn't working from scratch. I'm not sure, however, whether I would pre-base 15m or 28mm figures, but I would certainly think about it.
  2. Dry-brushing the bases in just two colours was adequate.

The overall aim of this project was to expend the minimum effort and time, and to rely on the new bases for aesthetic effect.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

10mm armies for 'To the Strongest!'

I've had to deal with some domestic redevelopment work and have also been preoccupied with  following events in Ukraine, but I did find time to fit in a few more games of To the Strongest!.

I also inherited a 10mm Norman army with enough figures  to split into two TtS! armies (Anglo-Norman and Norman) based on the Battle of Tinchebrai (1106), thus plugging another historical gap in my collection of medievals.

The basing scheme and base sizes are rather random so I've decided to rebase them all. There are also quite a few unarmoured figures which have been painted as armoured so I'll also be dabbing a little paint on them to restore the look of textiles.

Once reorganised and rebased on 60mm wide bases the armies will fit a 75mm grid and thus a very compact 3' x 2' TtS! playing area.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

To the Strongest! - first game


I put on and umpired a game of To the Strongest! at my local wargames club. Bernard commanded the Huns and allies (left) while Ian had the Romans and allies (right).

The Allans flanked the Ostrogoths (top) and the Visigoths pushed back the Huns (bottom). In the centre the Romans and their Frankish and other Germanic opponents traded blows fairly evenly.

I had already gone through some moves in a solo game a few days before, so I had a reasonable grasp of how the game is played. I don't think we forgot anything or made any mistakes. The players were quick to pick up the flow.

Most importantly my wargaming comrades enjoyed playing and have a positive view of the game, endorsing my own optimism and paving the way to play the game in the future.

The photo above shows the situation at the end of five game turns. The figures are all 15mm from my collection. The Allans are proxies.

The game didn't reach a decision but the Huns were under pressure. 

I'll be sorting out some Feudal era armies for the next game and we'll play with slightly fewer units and just two commands a side while we're becoming more familiar with the rules.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Rebasing without tears - DBx basing, steel sabots and magnetic storage

15mm Frankish Warriors in three
ranks, on and off steel sabots.

As a grid game To the Strongest! doesn’t stipulate any particular basing requirements, and as my 15mm Ancients and Medievals are already based for DBx, it's just a question of combining them into larger units. The figures all have magnetic sheet underneath their bases so the obvious solution was to put the DBx elements onto steel sabots. 

Retaining the original bases means they will also remain usable for other rules. I had already gone down this route to some extent in order to play Impetus so I just needed to get more steel bases of various depths.

After some thought and experiment I eventually decided on one sabot per unit and I am now absolutely convinced this was the best choice. If I ever play some other game requiring different basing, I'll just get more sabots of appropriate size.

15mm Late Roman cavalry, Auxilia, Legionaries and lights.

As I usually have to transport my armies on foot, I'm very keen on secure storage, so the sabots (with the figures on them) will in turn be placed into boxes lined with magnetic sheet. I've yet to find out just how well the figures stay on the sabots, but the sabots adhere strongly to the boxes. 

In fact, the attraction is so strong that I've had to put paper ‘ribbons’ under the bases so I can pull the sabots out without scattering the figures. Maybe there’s a slicker solution but this does seem to work.

15mm Feudal Scots with strips of paper to lift them out.
These figures were actually painted by me. The figures in the other photos weren't.

As mentioned above, I used to put magnetic sheet under the bases but it's much less trouble to snip off bits of magnetic tape. The tape is just a little narrower than the DBx base depths, so 12.5 mm for 15mm, 15mm for 20mm and 25mm for 30mm.

I currently get MDF bases and steel sabots from Products for Wargamers, magnetic tape from Magnetic Displays, and magnetic sheet from TinyTinTroops.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Blog List Update

I deleted the old blog roll gadget but still couldn't get new instances to display properly. After several reinstalls and some trial and error, I discovered the new problem hinged specifically on how each individual blog was added.

The blog roll is OK now, but I'll cover the issue in some detail for the benefit of any fellow bloggers who still have the same problem. One of the most frustrating aspects of this saga was the lack of information or help.

For each blog I found that I needed to enter the URL and the title freshly, either by typing or pasting. You will then get the following dialogue box, and I choose the first option: 


If, however, you allow Blogger to autocomplete the entry, the blog will be added but it will display like this and appear at the bottom:


Presumably there's no feed. I haven't exhaustively experimented with every permutation. This works for me so I'm sticking with it. Done properly, the blog in question appears like this and in the correct order:

Blog rolls are important. They promote other blogs with shared interests, they provide the most convenient basis for interactivity, and they draw readers. I know of one person at least for whom my blog roll is his starting point for wargame surfing.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Dum vivimus vivamus!

Current reading focus: Late Antiquity
A happy new year to one and all! I can only hope that 2022 will see an end to the epidemic of fear. We need to live, not just be alive, and Covid is just another risk we have to manage rationally. 

As regards wargaming, my new year’s resolution was to make no resolutions. I certainly won't be formulating any grandiose plans and I hesitate even to mention current interests in case of raising expectations...but that's the point of this blog so I will.

My immediate activity is to continue reorganising my 15mm Ancient and Medieval armies in anticipation of playing To the Strongest! and in learning the rules. As ever, my wargaming interests run parallel to historical reading (when I get the time) and I am currently focusing on Late Antiquity.

The combination of 80mm frontages and a 4" grid (which I have chosen for TtS!) works so well for me that it has also set me thinking about rebasing my 25mm Renaissance armies on 80mm wide bases.

I intend to continue work on the 28mm Russian Civil War armies for The Men Who Would Be Kings as these will be easier to complete than many of my other, more colour-complex, 28mm armies.

Other than that I should move myself to finish the 6mm armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day as they are not far from completion.

28mm figures on 80mm bases from the collection of
Norm (Battlefields & Warriors blog). Great dynamism
in posing the figures and a true inspiration. More
pictures here.

I should not of course be starting  anything new but there are some significant historical gaps in my collection and it is hard to resist nice figures. One such gap is the Hundred Years War and the figures which draw me are the 28mm ranges from Claymore Castings and Antediluvian Miniatures. This would be for the Anglo-Scottish Wars (e.g. Otterburn 1388) rather than the Continental theatre.

In recent years I settled on using relatively small numbers of individually based 28mm figures for Rampant skirmish games and smaller scales for multibased mass armies. This project would be multibased 28mm figures, thus breaking what has been a very sensible policy. So, to keep things under control, I am again looking at 80mm wide units for use on a compact table. Quite a few gamers have gone down this path and I am particularly inspired by the Wars of the Roses figures (pictured above) belonging to Norm of the very content-rich Battlefields & Warriors blog. This is just the look I am after.

I have to admit that if using TtS! (which seems likely even though I haven't yet played it), the armies and the game would be little different from using my 15mm Feudal English and Scots. I guess it's all in the aesthetics.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

"No rules were broken"

Osprey's Undaunted: Normandy
I can give a categorical assurance that no wargame rules were broken during the last twelve months because very few games were attempted. I didn't fancy wargaming in a mask at my local club and I only managed two games at home (apart from computer games).

Although I could have played more games at home, my heart wasn't in it. The ennui that many wargamers reported quite early during the Lockdowns finally got to me.

The games I did play at home were of the Osprey board wargame, Undaunted: Normandy, with my good friend Ian.  The game is simple but subtle. The score was one all.

My 'meta-wargaming' was also modest:

1. I accumulated quite a lot of military books, particularly from Osprey and Helion, but didn't get much time to read them. I try to buy only slim books these days. I don't have time to read or room to store any more fat books.

2. I finished collecting, cleaned/constructed and based the 28mm Russian Civil War figures for The Men Who Would Be Kings, and clarified the minimal adaptions I would be using for extending the rules into the 20th Century.

3. I developed an interest in To the Strongest! and have started to reorganise my 15mm Ancient and Medieval armies. I’ve even bought some extra (painted) figures to fill gaps, but my main activity has been arranging figures into units on sabot bases.

4. Inspired by the simplicity but effectiveness of Undaunted: Normandy I made another attempt at writing my own WW2 fastplay rules but then lost interest in them again.

Overall this has been another depressing year. At this point I should probably say something optimistic but I can't think of anything.

Monday, 6 December 2021

To the Strongest!

Although gaming massed battles with Ancients was once my main wargaming activity, I've done very little of that in recent years.

I enjoy DBA but my circle of players haven't moved on to Third Edition and I don't want to take a backward step. I would never go back to DBM or its derivatives - too much unnecessary detail. I like Impetus basing but didn't take so much to the rules, though I haven‘t yet tried the current edition. ADLG was judged a good game but too demanding for a club evening. I’ve also played and enjoyed Sword and Spear but for one reason or another none of them stuck.

And then, by chance, I recently noticed To the Strongest! by Simon Miller of The BigRedBatCave blog, a set of rules that has been out for some time but which I had previously managed to overlook despite being on Simon’s mailing list at one point. I’ve now bought the rules and army lists and a new gridded mat, gathered some playing aids and have begun to reorganise and even supplement my collection of 15mm Ancients/Medievals.

I haven't yet played this game so I won't go into too much detail but they look very promising. Activation is at the game’s heart, providing the friction that reminds players they are mortal, and this is achieved not with dice but playing cards. Friction is essential in game design but too frustrating for some gamers! In TtS! activation failures are ameliorated by the ability of Generals to replay an activation card once per turn and there is also an amendment introducing group moves which reduces the chance of some units being inappropriately left behind. Players can also intervene by using 'Heroes' to replay missed 'to-hit' cards.

The other big feature is that like Commands and Colors, this is an area movement game played on a 12 x 8 grid. Grids are not to everyone’s taste, but they allow players to concentrate on generalship rather than geometry, eliminate measuring disputes and speed up play. If figures and scenery are good and the grid not too obtrusive, it will look and feel like a miniatures game, not a boardgame.

As a grid game TtS! doesn't demand any particular basing but I believe it's prudent to retain, more-or-less, DBX standards, albeit with the DBX bases combined onto larger sabot bases. As my 15mm Ancients/Medievals already have magnetic bases I can put them on steel sabots which means they will be detachable and still usable for Impetus, Dux Bellorum, ADLG, DBA or anything else my wargaming comrades agree to play.

I decided on 80mm frontages and 100mm (4”) boxes which means that units will be two DBX elements wide and the 4’ x 2’8” playing area will conveniently fit my modest dining-room table.

At the moment I am learning the rules but I hope to try them out in the near future.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Warfare 2021

The Wargames Association of Reading's Warfare show took place last weekend. It's one of my favourite shows along with Cavalier and SELWG (when it was still in South London). 

This year's venue was Ascot Race Course which has an impressive building lit by natural light. What a pleasure after the awful 'aircraft hanger' experience at Excel. Saturday was an extremely cold day and the train from London had no heating. A bitterly cold wind was blowing in Ascot but the venue was a fairly short walk from the station and entry was handled efficiently. Strangely, there was no-one at the door giving out bumph.

I bought virtually nothing but I did take in the games. I don't attempt to catalogue the games at shows because others do this so well, but three caught my attention.

(Incidentally, I noticed when preparing this post that Blogger no longer 'holds' the photos you are uploading so if you are placing them one at a time you have to go through the same long process for each one. Blogger pretends to get better and better but actually just gets worse and worse.)

The heading photo and the two photos above are from a North American game of Muskets and Tomahawks presented by Combined Oppo's Wagames Group. Great work on the scenery including three grades of loose stones and gravel.

 Huntingdon & District Wargames Society presented this Rome versus Carthage DBA First Edition battle using HAT 52mm figures. A great choice for demo games.

Lastly, Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog presented The Second Battle of Murfreesboro/Stones River 1862 using Fire and Fury. The superb scenery was outstandingly realistic.