Monday, 29 December 2014

Galleys & Galleons: the fleets assemble

My first batch of ships for Galleys & Galleons is now based and primed. The ships are to some extent interchangeable but these photos represent my first thoughts.

The Merchants. From back to front: Peter Pig Large Merchantman, Fluyt, and Small Merchantman. The Dhow (foreground) is a 1/300 Grumpy model with the original crew removed, and Peter Pig crew and guns substituted. I also replaced the supplied but rather vulnerable mast with a stout dressmaking pin. This made it harder to superglue the sail on, but I'd rather cope with a detached sail than a wonky or broken mast.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Galleys & Galleons: making sea bases

I decided to try a new method for basing my 1/450 Peter Pig pirate ships for Galleys & Galleons - aluminium 'turkey' foil. It's said this should be used shiny side up. I'm not sure why but I followed suit. Rather than just crumpling it, I rubbed it over the side of a ribbed tin can. I then varied the angle a little and re-rubbed parts to create a more irregular wave effect.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Galleys & Galleons

Nic Wright's Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End reinforced my interest in games which require only small armies and a compact playing area, and can be finished in 1-2 hours. I was thinking about other, similarly compact, land war options, when Nic's new pirate naval game - Galleys & Galleons - impinged on my consciousness. This is currently at the play-testing stage and I have enrolled as a volunteer.

The game involves very modest forces, can be played in a quite restricted area, and promises to be fast and furious. It satisfies all the criteria for a modest, compact and fast game, but what initially attracted me to it were the photos on Nic's blog of his superbly painted 1/450 pirate ships made by Peter Pig .

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

More cheap blocks

Whilst browsing an economy hardware store, I came across a Jenga-type game, but in miniature. The game had 48 smoothly finished wooden blocks, measuring 45mm x 15mm x 10mm. At only £1.99 each I decided to snap up four while they were still available.

I don't have any immediate use for them, but I think they could, for example,  make good 20thC ship counters. Being wood they are obviously lighter than my 'ceramic' Mah Jongg tablets and may be prone to shifting about, but that won't matter so much if they are used for a hex game.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Irregular Wars : Conflict at the World's End 2nd Edition

A new version of Nic Wright's Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End has just been published. Full details of where to get it are on Nic's blog.

I must declare an interest here as my friend Ian and I were amongst the playtesters. While the latter no doubt helped to tighten up the new version, the concept and innovations are entirely down to the author's visionary imagination.

Nic has enhanced Version 2.0 with some new mechanics including an important 'wavering' state, an expanded set of chance cards that add period flavour and high drama, and a straightforward campaign system to provide context to tabletop battles. There are also exciting new lists including Mapuche and Berbers (which I'm planning to use for Barbary Pirates), and Rajput and Vijayanagara.

Obviously I have an interest in 16-17C warfare, these are clever rules, and they give an exciting and enjoyable game. Irregular Wars requires only a modest investment in figures, a small playing area and can be completed in about 1.5 hours in my experience, though the author says 1 hour!

I'm still painting my colonial Portuguese and Dutch armies, but my English/Irish/Spanish armies are awaiting the release of Khurasan's English and Spanish figures which are exceptionally promising but are taking ages to appear.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Crossfiregrad facelift Part 3: finishing touches to the scenery

It's been about three years since I first posted about what I have come to call my 'Crossfiregrad' project - a Stalingradesque cityscape for playing Crossfire. It's been through several reincarnations. This post illustrates the final touches and the final look of the cityscape.

The starting point for the finishing phase. Cat litter has been added around buildings. I didn't add a fully realistic amount of rubble, partly because this rubble is merely decorative and needs to be differentiated from rubble that features as Crossfire areas, and partly because creating too much of a 3D effect would add to my storage and transport problems.

Monday, 13 October 2014

St Vincent refight at SELWG by Tonbridge Wargames Club

The game's organiser, Simon, fields questions from visitors.
Tonbridge Wargames Club staged a refight of the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) at the SELWG show yesterday. The battle was fought between British and Spanish fleets during the French Revolutionary Wars.

The models belong to the game's organiser, Simon, and are all 1/1200 Langton Minatures. The rules used were Rod Langton's Signal Close Action rules 3rd edition (there is a 4th edition). Ability dice determine each fleet's actions each turn with additional dice for more specific things such as signal receipt, boarding and collisions!  There are a lot more extras in the rules but for a big fleet action keeping it simple is best.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Model photography equipment

Since starting to photo models for this blog I've rather taken to the idea. First I made this light box. I subsequently made a larger one but was not entirely satisfied with the size, cast and how its framework threw shadows. I therefore invested in one of those cheap portable tents that you can get from Amazon for about £10. The backdrops may not be very good, but I bought a sheet of white 'Fab Foam' from Hobbycraft which is crease-free. When you pull the tent out of its packet it explodes like a jack-in-the-box! Getting it back in perplexes some but I've had previous experience of these sprung wire things. You just need to get a firm grip and force it into a figure of 8. It then meekly pops back into its little carrying bag.

I also picked up a couple of lamps with daylight bulbs from an Ebay supplier called germanladen for a very competitive £30 with free delivery. Why pay more?

The lamps are robust and stable, and good quality as well as good value. Some lamps which many suppliers offer with a tent as a set seem much more flimsy but can in total cost just as much.

So here is my first attempt to try out the new equipment - some Pendraken 10mm WW1 AFVs. I thought the original photo was still rather on the grey side but here is the shot after Photoshopping. I don't have the world's best camera and I have a lot to learn, but I think the equipment will be useful.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Paint stripping update

Before and after toothbrushing
After three days of soaking in Simple Green, the figures felt 'soft' to the touch, so I took them out and applied an electric toothbrush. I expected this to be messy and feared it might also damage delicate parts like swords, but I didn't need to worry on either count.

The toothbrush worked well but did not completely remove the paint in the grooves and undercuts so after rinsing in clean water I put the figures back for a further soak. I feel that relying on the chemical reaction as far as possible is preferable to physical action to remove the paint, but I accept that more brushing will be needed. I didn't replace the Simple Green at this stage, but reused the liquid the figures had already been soaking in. This may not be optimum, but I think the liquid is still active as it is quite warm.

A few pikes came adrift. Simple Green is said to dissolve superglue, but this was probably mainly caused by handling and a very minor issue in any case.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Rome vs Carthage at Sea - a Corvus II game

The fleets line up. Left: Carthaginians. Right: Romans.
I staged a game of Corvus II at my local wargames club for two members who hadn't played it before. Bernard commanded a Carthaginian squadron and Bob a Roman one. I acted as teacher, guide and umpire which gave me an opportunity to refresh my knowledge of the rules.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Two steps back: stripping miniatures with Simple Green

Taking a bath in Simple Green
Following my personally unprecedented spray undercoat disaster, I've now embarked on the personally unprecedented experience of paint stripping, at least in a modelling context. If you've landed here after Googling "modelling" and "stripping", you'll be disappointed. Otherwise you may wish to follow this experiment in case you are ever unfortunate enough to have to follow suit.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Crossfire: Spanish Civil War game with WW1-style trenches

Fulfilling a long-standing intention to see how well the Crossfire building complex rules could be applied to WW1-style trenches, I set up a Spanish Civil War game with three companies of Republicans holding a trench and walled cemetery while they were attacked by four companies of Nationalists. I reported the experience on the Crossfire Yahoo Group which led to a highly informative but inconclusive debate about trench warfare and how best to represent it.

This was a very sparse set-up for Crossfire. The Nationalists are attacking from the left. The Republicans hold the trench. There is really only one line of approach - through the fields.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Bad day at the workbench

Barnacle Joe
My life as a modeller and painter might look like a perpetual triumph, but that's not always true and today is a case in point...

About a week ago I spray undercoated my 15mm Colonial Portuguese and Hollanders for Irregular Wars using some old tins of GW Skull White that have been sitting in the garden shed for, literally, years. They seemed fine at the time, but when today I came to give the figures a dark brown wash I realised that about half the figures - the ones I'd sprayed with the oldest paint - had a very pronounced roughness.

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 10: Irregular Wars - Portuguese, Hollanders and Spanish Colonial

Whilst awaiting the release of the Khurasan English and Spanish for the Elizabethan Anglo-Irish Wars, my figure collecting for Irregular Wars has now refocused on the Dutch-Portuguese War (1602–1663) which takes me somewhat beyond 'Elizabethan' in both time and place. The figures are Grumpy's Miniatures Colonial Portuguese. They are depicted in cotton armour and will be doubling as both Portuguese and Hollanders. They will also be recycled as Spanish for lining up against the Mapuche or against my English rebel army in their guise as English Adventurers.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ancient Naval Wargaming 1/600 1/650

During my first, childhood, incarnation as a wargamer, Ancients were a fundamental feature, at least once Airfix had released the Ancient Romans and Ancient Britons sets. In my second incarnation as a wargamer, it was Phil Barker's Airfix Guide to Ancient Wargaming that got me reinvolved and ancient land warfare became my main game. In my third, current, incarnation, I have yet to blow the dust off my ancient and mediaeval armies, but I did launch these fleets of ancient galleys for playing Corvus II. I suppose this is what comes of having had a Classical education.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Spanish Civil War - Reinforcements

Here are some pictures of reinforcements for my Spanish Civil War armies. They were completed some time ago but have not been featured here before. The figures are all 15mm Peter Pig and based for use with Crossfire, though I'm also planning to use my SCW armies for something more grand-tactical at some point.


The Spanish Foreign Legion and Regulares (see below) spearheaded Franco's revolt against the Spanish Republic and provided him with hardened professionals. The Spanish Legion was formed in 1920 in imitation of the French Foreign Legion but actually recruited mostly native Spaniards.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 9: Irregular Wars - Scenery - Wattle enclosure

I'll be posting again about buildings for Irregular Wars, but my first acquisition is this 15mm wattle enclosure produced by Baueda and supplied in the UK by the indispensable Magister Militum (15WFN Wattle Fence). The pieces have been mounted on plasticard and are ready for an addition of  my usual PVA and sand base texturing before painting. When finished I'll stick some felt on the bottom to stop the piece from sliding around.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Homemade and cheap game tokens

In large games of Impetus it can be difficult to keep track of which units are in which commands and whether they have yet been activated, so I made these markers from pennies (for weight) sandwiched between plastic counters and stuck with superglue. I have to admit that I'm not very good with superglue. Regardless of how careful I try to be - and I'm well aware of the dangers - my fingers seem to attract it like a magnet. Each unit begins with a colour indicating its command. Once activated you turn them over to show black or white for the two respective armies. At the end of the game turn you turn them all back again.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 8: Irregular Wars - Playtesting

The birth of my interest in Nic Wright's Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End coincided with the author commencing development of IW2, for which my friend Ian and I have been privileged to act as playtesters.  Although I've been involved with the development and proof-reading of wargame rules before (mainly Peter Pig), this is the first time I have had the time to participate in playtesting and we are both finding it quite exciting.

Our twelfth playtest game featured Ian and three of our fellow wargame club members whilst I umpired/advised, i.e. four players with one Battle (force) each. These comprised two battles of Royal English versus one battle of Mere Irish and one battle of Spanish Expeditionary Force, a sort of alternative Battle of Kinsale (1601).

Monday, 31 March 2014

10mm ACW: The Grand Review: Part 4: The Cavalry And The Commanders

Now for the cavalry and generals. I resent having to paint horses - so much more painting but still only one figure! And don't mention artillery limbers. Having to paint them is a deal-breaker for me when it comes to choosing rules.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

10mm ACW: The Grand Review: Part 3: The Artillery

Herewith the Confederate and Union artillery. In a Civil War battle being with the artillery was the safest place to be.

Friday, 28 March 2014

10mm ACW: The Grand Review: Part 2: The Union Infantry

Next up it's the boys in blue. I selected the figures and painted these to give a very uniform appearance in order to accentuate the contrast with the Confederates, although I doubt if any army in the field was ever as regularly equipped as the regulations and uniform books imply. (I also know that the Confederates could be very well supplied.)

Monday, 24 March 2014

10mm ACW: The Grand Review: Part 1: The Confederate Infantry

My 10mm American Civil War armies are at last complete. Painted, stained, grassed and Ardcoated. Thank goodness. As promised/threatened, I'm now going to photo them all so you can see how they've turned out. The photos reveal both the good mass effect and the not quite so good close-up effect. First up it's the Confederate Infantry.

I like irregular armies and I prefer painting infantry, so the Confederate
Infantry are my favourite, even though they took more time to paint.

Monday, 3 March 2014

10mm ACW: visible progress at last

Union infantry after washing and drybrushing
Keen to generate some space for starting work on my 15mm Irregular Wars armies, I'm having a real drive to finish my 10mm ACW ones. Since my last post on this subject I decided the figures looked rather dark, so I chose very light colours for any finishing details, especially Confederate hats and caps. Although these are relatively small areas, this really lifted the appearance of the stands.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Crossfiregrad facelift Part 2: Game trial

Part of the reason for developing a permanent layout for my 'Crossfiregrad' game has been with a view to making it a possible participation game for wargame shows.

View from the German assault gun late in the game.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Still thinking about armies for Maurice

Culloden 1746
Despite the success of my MDF counters, I'm still hankering for some Maurice armies made of lead, but what scale, war and ranges?

I've posted about scale preference before. To recap, I prefer 28mm for skirmish, 15mm for middle-level games (e.g. Crossfire and Irregular Wars) and 10mm for mass armies (e.g. Square Bashing). For mass armies I would also consider 6mm, or 3mm (really 4mm) if they were available.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 7: Irregular Wars - Getting picky about measuring wheels

Some people have some strange ways of measuring wheels. I like the closing door analogy. When measuring (forward) wheels, one front corner remains stationery (the hinge) while the other corner swings round.

The usual and most practical way of measuring that move in the absence of a turning circle is in a straight line, but that is actually a short-cut across the turning circle rather than the long way around following the circumference. How significant is the difference?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 6: Irregular Wars – Update

I've finally played my first actual game of Irregular Wars against another player. This was not only my first proper experience of IW, but a play-test of the draft IW2. The game was of mammoth length because we were learning and discussing the rules and making notes, but I'm told the game should run in an hour once we are up to speed.

We both enjoyed the game and were impressed by its mechanics and the clarity with which the rules are written, and look forward to playing many future games with different armies.

This introductory game was played with counters, but here are some links to other blogs showing games and armies and these provide much better eye candy:

Irregular Wars (the author's blog)
Le Coq Fou
Dux Homunculorum
Knight Recoil

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 5: Irregular Wars – Temporary counter armies

Keen to start playing Irregular Wars while the 15mm metal figures are being released, collected and painted, I knocked out a couple of counter armies (Royal English and Mere Irish). The counters were made from 30mm square pieces of MDF.

The designs were created in CorelDRAW and printed on A4 labels. As these counters are supposed to be only temporary I used simple geometric designs to represent the 15mm figures which the 'real' armies will have.
The labels were cut up and attached to 30mm square pieces of MDF.  The MDF were old mechanically-sawn bases with rather rough and hairy edges. I now buy only laser-cut ones.
Two armies in an old hummus tub. The hardest part of this exercise was cleaning the tub.

You can download copies of the counters in PDF format here.