Hills and Rivers part 4 – Paint it Black

Stage 4 then..

Everything got a black undercoat from a big tin of ordinary black paint (which I kep well away from the beer to avoid an unnecessary, but inevitable, mistake). Yes, it looks awful, but it’s all uphill from here.

Brown patches added, these will get highlighted later on.

Green basecoat next, hopefully one evening this week.

A 15mm Diversion

I recently fancied a dabble in a smaller scale, after all the 28mms I’ve been doing lately. I was given some very nice Khurasan 15mm Goth cavalry and command, and already had some Baueda Dark Age (Lombard?) foot command figures to go with them. These are intended as an extra command base, and some ‘heroes’ for my Goth army, which are inserted in the middle of a unit to provide some additional characterisation and battlefield punch when playing more ‘heroic’-style historical games. When I get round to certain future Armies of the Month this will make more sense!

In the meantime, while the Khurasan figures are very nice, the basic heavy cavalrymen lacked a bit of drama – specifically a lack of cloaks and some very short, insignificant looking swords. An upgrade was in order, so out came the green stuff for 4 cloaks and a couple of sword extensions. Much better. Quick pic below. I just need to squeeze them into the painting schedule somewhere now and they can join the army.

And that reminds me, after my earlier announcement, I’ve only got 5 days left to post January’s Army of the Month. Better get cracking on that!

Hills and Rivers part 3

I’ve now reached the stage where, once the glue is dry, I can give all the boards their black basecoat. I have applied the second (partial/patchy) layer of sand to create a bit of depth, while still retaining a mostly flat surface. I have also added some patches of rougher, but still faitly low-profile, vegetation using loose leaf tea (as I do on my figure bases) and some small scenic rocks. These will add a bit a variety when painted and break up the otherwise featureless terrain.

Painting everything with a wash of black is going to be tedious and messy, but it’ll be progress!

Second layer of sand

Patches of vegetation and rocks. I could stop now and call it North Africa!  🙂

A Visit to Campaign Headquarters

This weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting the renowned wargamer and figure sculptor John Ray at his home, and more specifically in his tremendous wargames room; to meet him for the first time, be introduced to his post Seven Years War campaign (which he’s kindly invited me to join), see the mighty collection – all sculpted by John himself, and natter about wargaming for several hours.

The company and hospitality were first class, and we discussed all aspects of our shared hobby – and our respective approaches to it. The figure collection was everything I’d expected it to be and more, with gorgeous units filling the display cabinets. As a big bonus, John had thoughtfully laid on a ‘small’ game (a tiny percentage of his armies but enough to represent an interesting tactical challenge) with which to illustrate how his rules work, and contribute a small piece to the overall campaign picture. I enjoyed the game very much and was impressed by the smooth simplicity of the rules, which belied their subtle cleverness and suitability for the mid-18th century period. I think my Wurttembergers made a sufficient showing at the border against the Prussian invaders to ensure that honour was served, before pulling back to preserve their strength for another day.

John also shared with me some of his plans which follow on from his book (A Military Gentleman – if you haven’t got a copy already, get one now before they’re all gone!), which sound very interesting indeed. I for one am looking forward to these developments, and the campaign is clearly going to be a fascinating experience.

All in all I had a superb day in the company of a true Wargaming Gentleman and came away inspired to keep working on my own 18th century collection while I look forward to my next visit.

Hills Part 2 – and Rivers

With the hills cut and shaped, I decided to plough on this weekend with getting them onto their boards, and making a start on the other terrain I’ve been planning for a while – rivers. As with the hills, there are always compromises when it comes to adding rivers to a wargames table. By their nature they look best with a bit of depth, and that’s the challenge of course. In an ideal world these are carved into thick sheets of high density foam board, providing the opportunity for deep banks, as well as sunken roads and realistic undulations everywhere else. With my terrain built from 9mm marine plywood that’s not a possibility, and with the rough texturing I use nor are ‘place on’ rivers.

So the choice comes down to painting rivers onto the boards and texturing flat ground up to the water’s edge (which I’ve done before) or cutting right through the boards to create river banks and placing everything on an underlying ‘water’ layer. I’ve gone for the latter, for a couple of reasons. The deeper banks work better for me aesthetically, especially with larger scale figures. Also, the ply boards I use have a grain on their surface, making smooth-ish water a difficult effect to achieve.

So I enlisted the help of a good friend who assisted with some quality timber cutting to ensure that the river bank sections all match up, both in terms of positioning and angle (45 degrees, thanks to an angled jigsaw setting). The rivers were measured at 10cm/4 inches across, so represented the removal of about a third from the middle of each board. Of course, they then have the potential to be broadened by moving the 2 river banks apart either by a full board width (making a 16 inch wide river) or by any other incremental amount. Some of the cut-outs were rounded off to provide islands which can be placed in the river, and used in naval games too. With this batch I’ll have 6 feet of straight/meandering river and 2 x 90 degree bends. Plenty to start with considering the biggest table I can manage is 6 x 4 feet.

On Saturday I kept warm outside by sanding all the board edges smooth, and rounding the river bank tops off a little. Then I stuck down the hills with PVA and a bit of tape, before moving onto covering the polystyrene with a layer of quick-dry plaster for protection and smoothness. The afternoon was then spent making a right old mess applying the first layer of sand – sticking it down with black masonry paint. I’ve decided to add some small raised areas on a few of the river banks so I have a bit more hot-wire cutting to perform, and then once all the boards are up to the same stage with a basic layer of sand I can move on to the remaining texturing before undercoating and painting. As the dining room table is now a sandy, messy work area, I better get my skates on this week!

Some pics of the various stages described:

Hills added to boards

Plaster coat

Plaster done, including some filling on a older board

River banks added to the workload

First layer of sand goes on

Sand done

New Hills – Stage 1

I have a terrain expansion project planned, with which I hope to make good progress over the next few weeks (well, we’ll see eh?)

This will mean more 1 foot square boards to join the existing collection, to accommodate some additional features in order to provide me with more scenario and tabletop options. One priority is for some more hills, especially some slightly bigger ones than I currently have. The ones I’ve done previously are fairly small and low – one of the natural drawbacks of 1 foot boards I guess.

I have (like all sensible wargamers) collected a variety of polystyrene pieces from packaging over the years, and I recently dug out a few promising candidates to take the good old hot wire cutter to. Pic below, black undercoated 28mm figures in the centre background give a sense of scale..

In order to completely integrate them into the small size of the terrain boards, I need to get them ‘up and down’ in under a foot of space. Inevitably there are compromises, but they are reasonable gaming compromises and I can live with them. On the larger hills I have been happy to leave a flat top as there is a practical need to be able to place figures and scenery on them without having trees and building leaning over. The smaller ones are really more for providing some undulations to otherwise flat boards and should work OK. The thickest sheet of polystyrene I had was big enough to provide 2 hill ‘halves’ which can be placed back to back for a large hill, or separately on the table edge. I’d like to perhaps do more of this type, perhaps something much bigger with 4 ‘quarter’ hills.

None of these ‘hills’ are more than 25mm tall, but for the variety of scales I will use them with (6mm-28mm) they’ll give a decent impression and break up the general flatness a bit. I’m hoping to have a crack at stage 2 (sticking them to the boards and applying a layer of plaster) at the weekend and will post an update when I’ve managed this. I will also then be able to dig out the raw materials for the other part of this terrain expansion exercise and get to work on everything from there..

Army of the month – An introduction

It occurred to me that with the nature of a blog being to tell an on-going story through updates, it was perhaps less suited to looking back or showcasing earlier stuff. So I’ve decided to instigate a review of my existing armies and forces, partly as an opportunity to do a bit of ‘show and tell’ on the blog and partly to build up a photographic record of the collections that otherwise spend their time hidden away in dark drawers (good for keeping direct sunlight off the paintwork but bad for enjoying the figures on display!)

So, from January I’ll be running a regular Army of the Month feature which, while it won’t necessarily contain pics of newly completed stuff (which will be the subject of specific posts anyway), will encourage me to get out my existing armies and possibly even get them onto the gaming table. It’ll also give me something to post about if I’m having a barren painting spell and there’s nothing happening hobby-wise!

Now I just need to clear a bit of space and decide which army to cover first…

Most of them are currently in here:

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas – Part 2

The Battle Report

Playing a solo game to a scenario you’ve written yourself means that you have a good idea of what’s going to happen, but you usually still get plenty of surprises! First off, the random terrain rolls generated a nice handy forest avenue in the middle of the table for some of the beastmen to slip through without being targeted by defensive fire. The Kislevites were deployed in some depth in the centre, in and behind the church and village, as this was the key to the battle. However, their limited numbers meant that there were fewer units to guard the wide flanks, and these would no doubt prove vulnerable – depending of course on how and where the enemy attacked, and where and when the Empire allies arrived.

The beastmen went for brute power, with their toughest, nastiest guys (including minotaurs and a giant) in the middle. With chariots, centigaurs, warhounds and ungor skirmishers they also had the advantage in fast troops and would be able to move forward swiftly on the flanks, causing the defenders concern there too.

 

So, without further ado the game started and the forces of chaos pounded forward through the snow as fast as their hooves (and command rolls) would carry them. There was little maneouvring apart from the light units on the flanks, which the Kislev horse archers and skirmishers sought to counter, and within 2 turns the defenders were beginning to open up with their handguns at the approaching horde. Casualties at long range were light, however, and it was clear that hand to hand fighting was going to decide the day. That said, help was suddenly at hand with the arrival of the hoped-for Empire allies (a lucky roll!). Doughty swordsmen and fanatical flagellants came on behind Noelev and St Nikolas as additional reserves, while to their left a glittering unit of Reiksguard knights cantered forward to plug a gap and take on the enemy’s boar chariots.

Led by a hero of renown the knights charged to victory over the chariots (typical, as the latter are of course a favourite scratchbuilt unit!) and helped to drive back the enemy on this flank. The allied units became scattered though, and their generals were never to have enough command points to make this early advantage count later on in the battle. On the other flank things were going most definitely in the beastmen’s favour, and before long they were beginning to roll-up the Kossars who stood increasingly exposed as the enemy swept in. In the centre the battle was fierce, with casualties high on both sides. The defiant priests, and even the Ice Queen herself, led the Kislev forces in a desperate defence of the church. Helped just in time by the Empire swordsmen they saw off several units of beasts and minotaurs and killed 2 of their chiefs, but the chaos giant was causing mayhem and slaughter, aided by the wizardry of a sinister bray shaman.

Eventually, though the giant was finally brought crashing down on the very steps of the chuch, the onslaught was too much and the overwhelmed survivors were forced to retreat (the Kislev army had suffered the requisite damage score for the beastmen to win), resiging the village of Noelev and its church of St Nikolas to utter destruction, and leaving in the bloody snow the last of the guardian priests who had sold their lives dearly for their beloved holy ground.

All in all, a good fun game and well worth the effort of writing up the scenario and digging out the terrain and figures. I’m sure there’ll be an opportunity for the Ice Queen’s revenge at some point…!

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas

With a little bit of the festive season, and more importantly some holiday, still left I decided it was a good opportunity for a small solo game – so yesterday out came the winter terrain boards and fir trees. Although there’s been no white Christmas here what better to fight than a battle in the northern snows of Warhammer’s Old World? Now, I don’t play Warhammer, or fantasy in 28mm at all for that matter, but I do like the GW background, setting and armies and have applied it to my 15mm collection, fighting under home-grown rules written by my friend Jase. By following this path I have, like a typical wargamer, made things difficult for myself, with lots of hunting for appopriate figures, converting and compromising, but it’s been fun along the way!

I’ll post more about these armies before long but for now, it’s off to a remote, frozen location in the border wilderness of Kislev where the forces of chaos have once again come south for blood and destruction…

The Scene

Barked orders echo among the trees as the panting, heavily
encumbered men hurry through the snow. Their exertions produce plumes of steaming
air, all thoughts of the day’s freezing cold forgotten while the soldiers’
urgent march continues. Then, with little warning, the dimness of the forest
gloom is lifted as the trees thin and the blue coated columns stumble into the
relative light of the iron grey sky, now open above them.

Ahead is a pale expanse, dotted with tall copses, stretching
off towards the dark forest wall to the north. With no time to take their
breath the men are led on, over white, rough stubbled, fields towards the
woodsmoke and church dome ahead, beyond which they are ordered into position
and hustled back into formation. Now their training takes over; packs are
loosened, heavy handguns gratefully grounded and oilskin covers removed from long
axe blades. The men, seasoned in war, know without looking that the rumble they
feel through their boots is caused by their light horse auxiliaries sweeping
past into position on their flanks, just as they know now to turn their
attention to the far tree line as the air, and the birds, become still. Eyes
narrow and blood quickens, but there is no shiver of fear through the ranks. Their
calm and strength return as the familiar words are spoken by officers and
priests, the chanted cadence pervades all and the men reply with their hard-edged
roar as they renew their bonds of duty and honour. They expect no one to come
to their aid but have followed their warrior Queen here and now stand as
comrades, shoulder to shoulder, defending sacred ground.

The silence ends when the horns begin to bray and flickers of
movement creep amongst the dark trees, but the men, blowing on their matches
and saluting their brothers in arms with flasks of hard spirit, stand ready.

The Game

An army of Beastmen has stuck from deep within the forests
to the north, overrunning the lightly-manned watch posts, though not before a
lone messenger escaped to bring news of the threat. The hastily-assembled local
militia were no match for the horde of ferocious creatures that swept bloodily
through the first villages and within two days the chaos horde was closing in
on its true prey – the inhabitants of the village of Noëlev and their priestly
guardians in the church of St Nikolas. However, as the cold, grim day moves
past noon the tramp of marching feet announces the arrival of units of the
field army under the command of the Ice Queen herself. Unfortunately for the
Kislevites, their winged hussars were elsewhere when the urgent news came, so
the army comprises Kossar infantry and Ungol light horsemen only. Before marching, the
Queen despatched a request for aid to a nearby contingent of Empire troops that
had been assisting Kislev in its winter patrols. It is hoped that the courier
found these comrades in arms, but even if he did there is no certainty that
they would arrive in time..

The Table

Played on a 4’ x 3’ table. The village of Noëlev and its holy
church of St Nikolas are in the middle of the Kislev deployment area, 3 squares
in from the southern base edge. Additionally, 1dAv of further ‘bad going’ 4” squares
are placed randomly on the table, containing forest. Remaining trees to be placed aling the northern board edge as background scenery.

Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
 
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 
Noëlev &
St Nikolas
Kislev
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 

Objectives

The Beastmen must capture the church to destroy the holy
order that resides there and bring their darkness to this remote part of
Kislev. The defenders must prevent this from happening.

The Armies

100 points per side

The Beastmen army is a standard army which can deploy up to game
2 squares onto the table from their base edge. The defenders are split into 2
parts; 2 ‘forces’ worth from Kislev, which begin deployed on the table up to
their deployment line, 3 squares in. The 3rd force consists of
Empire troops hurrying to support them. They will arrive in the turn that the
Kislev player scores a total of 6 when adding the score on a d6 to the turn
number. This roll is made at the same time as his CP rolls. The Empire units
all come on either to the east or west of Noëlev, as the defending player
chooses.

Special Rules

The Guardians of St Mikail

The church of St Mikail is home to an order of warrior
priests who will stand with their Kislev and Empire comrades in defence of
their holy shrine. A warrior priest will automatically join any defending unit
occupying the church and fight with them using the normal rules, with the
exception that they have a free power point per turn which can only be used to
boost the morale of the unit within the church’s 2 squares, although it can still
be used offensively against a Beastmen unit in an adjacent square. The warrior
priest cannot leave the church squares, and if killed is automatically replaced
the following turn by another member of his order. Should the Beastmen capture
the church and win the battle (see below) it is assumed that all of the priests
have been killed.

Game Length

The game continues until one side or the other is
victorious, see below.

Victory Conditions

The Beastmen win if they capture both the squares containing
the church (ie. there is no defending unit contesting it). They will be
considered to have achieved this is they defeat the defenders according to the
standard rules for victory, as the defeated army would retreat. However, to
reflect the religious and patriotic nature of the defence of the church, the
defenders’ Army Morale breakpoint is 16 points rather than the standard 14. If
the Beastmen fail to win (ie. are defeated through reaching their own Army
Morale breakpoint), the defenders are victorious.

The stoic defenders await the chaos onslaught

The beastmen emerge from the dark forest

The armies drawn up, but will the Empire allies arrive in time to help?

The Ice Queen herself, ready to lead her men in the defence of this holy place

Next time, the action!

A good haul

As well as my self-indulgent Minden order, I was also very fortunate in having a generous and thoughtful family which furnished me with some great hobby-related presents. First up, new and old books from my wife and mother in law respectively. The new ones add to my collections of the Wargaming in History and Wargamers’ Annual series respectively and both look like excellent editions. The Great Regiments book seems to have been printed the year I was born (so it’s a vintage publication obviously!) and contains an interesting mix of armies, units, battle histories and uniform information. Together these will keep me going for a while!

Then there is my academic artist sister who has come to my rescue as I could never find any Gesso when I’ve visited art supply shops. Now I can finally get to try it as an undercoating medium. Thanks sis!

Finally, there is my sister’s clearly bonkers partner, who decided he’d found the perfect present for someone into toy soldiers.

 

This door stop, clearly Airfix-inspired(!), weighs a ton, stands a foot high and comes from a company called Suck UK Ltd. Magic. Well we all like gag gifts from time to time don’t we?! 🙂

Now, I know someone into 54mm WW2 and that’s pretty big stuff, but I’m thinking I’d quite like to see a game using a bunch of these!