Saturday 15 November 2014

Have you ever wondered...

what it would be like if you built a Fantasy Warriors army from figures you had lying around the house?

Well. That's what I did. (Well, mostly. I'll fess up to cheating very slightly later).

So the obvious army to pick is the "Men-at-Arms" which is basically a War of the Roses army -- and it turns out I have two boxes of Perry plastics with a couple of test figures assembled. Also nearby is a box of Gripping Beast dark age warriors.

So the warriors can make the peasant levy;

10 figures and a leader makes a 30p unit.

The various retinues will provide bows, bills and men-at-arms.

Two 80p units of bows. Each has 12 figures, leader and banner.

The bills are a 70p unit of 10 figures, leader, banner and musician.

The men-at-arms are the smallest constitute of each retinue, combined they're a 268p unit of 8 figures including a leader and banner.

That's clearly not enough shooting or fighting units, so we better hire some mercenaries.
12 crossbows for 80p...

...and 12 handgunners for 80p should add some shooting.

12 pike with leader and banner and musician for 66p will bulk out the fighting units.

Right, that's the army soldiers. Shooting units need resource markers to track their ammunition. There are tokens that come with FW, but they're fiddly and there's obvious opportunities there to make neater stuff.

This is where I started cheating a bit. First off, I bought some of the excellent casualty markers from Warbases. Then I wandered around a Partizan collecting bits and bobs. Some of the figures are the Perry metal pack of workers; the others are from Courteys/First Corps who make a fantastic dark age civilian pack. The barrels and other equipment are plastic Renedra, the brilliantly named "Dead Man's Baggage" pack and several sets from Warfare Miniatures. The pack horses are Redoubt. Mixed together, dry-brushed, washed and based up on the casualty markers they make much more atmospheric supply counters.

Then we need some leaders. We'll stick with foot versions to keep the costs down.

A war chief and two battle leaders adds up to 246p.

The battle leaders are a Joan d'Arc (give-away with Warhammer Historical's Age of Chivalry), and "Martin Schwartz" (a Partizan give-away). The war chief is (I think) a figure from Colonel Bill's Dark Age heroes range. These were all in the store of unpainted figures.

I also built a couple of extra bits for the army; the chap at the back is the paymaster (Perry figure and Warfare extras) and the encampment is from the First Corps pack. The blacksmith at the very back is another Partizan give-away figure from several years ago. He's slightly out of era, but never mind.

So that was quite an interesting project. I'm just waiting for their opponents to be painted to try them out...

Monday 4 August 2014

Terrain Building

So it's not all painting figures. There's other boring but necessary parts of wargaming and now we come to that sort of work...

First up, barricades.

They're resin castings that have been lying about half-painted in a drawer for ages. I stripped the half-paint off them and re-did them. There were a couple of casting flaws which I thought about filling and then decided to model as splits in the bags -- a scattering of fine ballast in the hole and around the sacks completed that look. I wish I could tell you who made them, but I honestly can't remember.

Next up is the reason I've been painting so slowly recently... bocage hedgerows. I've been making these for ages and I'd finally got to the stage of making the trees. Wow, that's a fiddly job. Woodland Scenics actual glue which they suggest for this purpose is rubbish. I tried a couple of "tacky glue" variants bought from hobbycraft and while they might glue glitter onto cards, foliage onto trees they don't.

In the end, copydex -- proper, gunky, smelling-of-fish copydex -- turned out to be the Right Approach.

And patience. Doing a small area on each tree and then leaving them to dry means less of the "every time you add a clump another one falls off" frustration. The finished bits look like this;

The base is a length of wood moulding, triangular in cross-section. Over this, wood filler for the "mud". The bushes are loops of wire hot-glued onto the moulding. "Rubberised horsehair" (apparently it's mostly pig bristles these days) hotglued in sections onto the wire loops gives the underlying structure. They're finished by a layer of white glue and a scattering of Noch leaves.

Mostly these are about 11 inches long (to fit on a 12x12 field grid allowing for the corners), but some are shorter both to edge roads and also leave gate gaps. I've also done a set of lower hedges and some tree clusters.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Ruined Cathedral

A little while back I was ordering a boardgame from Spirit and they do free shipping if you buy over a certain amount -- the game was annoyingly close so I was trying to think if there was anything to get at the same time and remembered that they stock Scotia-Grendel resin scenics. I've always liked the range, so I had a quick browse and found they had the ruined cathedral in stock.

So I got the free shipping and hence (effectively) a cheap cathedral ruin. It needed a little tidying up, but not much considering the model is so old; I guess it's been remoulded at some point. The six resin parts are supposed to assemble into an L shaped part, the doorway section and a long side. I decided not to connect the side to the window-end in order to aid with storing the parts.

On Friday I was working from home, so in gaps in coding while the enormously slow self-tests were running (we really need to invest in the cluster of systems that runs on. It's slow in the mornings, but in the afternoons when the US developers are using it as well it's glacial) I could get some painting done and brickwork is something that can easily be done in small bouts.

One side...
The parts had already been under-coated with black spraypaint. The brickwork gets a light drybrush in a mid grey. It's important that it's a chromatically neutral grey, because the next stage is to use various inks to tint the bricks in various colours. I use Ogryn Flesh and the three Army Painter shades.

The other side...
The inking produces not only bricks with subtle different colourations, but also will vary those colourations across the bricks; making them look more like natural stone. One can get similar effects by very lightly dry-brushing colours on, but it's harder to do that on a brick-by-brick basis. Once the inks have dried, I dry-brush everything with Howard Hues "Old Wood". It's a dusty off-white which is one of my favourite ways of getting a quick weathering effect on almost anything because it's colourless enough that the underlying tones won't be erased by it but just given depth. I don't actually find the HH range particularly good to paint with - I find they have terrible coverage despite being quick viscous. However, exactly those properties seem to make them excellent dry-brushing colours.

The doorway!
After that, the plant growth was picked out in a dark green Vallejo colour (I can't recall which one now) and coated in PVA glue and then Noch Olive Leaves provide the texture. These are excellent for plant growth; larger than normal ground-scatter, they're visibly individual leaves which make the plant portrayals more eyecatching when you want them to be a feature rather than part of the backdrop.

Quite a nice bit of terrain for what amounted to about a tenner (after the free postage!) and an afternoon's work.

Friday 23 May 2014

Flintloque Wraith Infantry

I wanted to try out having some more unusual troops in my "Undead" army. Wraiths seemed like fun -- they get to have ranged weapons, command points and so on but they also get to turn into spirits and run through the scenery... and be invulnerable while they do it...

But Alternative don't make Wraith infantry as far as I could tell -- I certainly can't see them in the catalogue

Finding suitable figures turned out to be a little difficult. Many "Wraith" figures are very obviously tooled up for fantasy medieval combat -- lots of glaives, giant swords and so on. Those that are unarmed didn't look easy to convert.

I looked at the two Warmachine Pistol Wraiths, and decided they would make possible leaders if I could fill out the rest of the unit, but I couldn't locate suitable figures so I parked the idea for a bit.

While at a show I was browsing a pile of Reaper figures on Caliver's stand and they not only had a Banshee which I thought would work really well as the musician but several other wraiths -- which led to me wandering about Reaper's website where I discovered Reaper actually do a lot of wraith figures and the rest of the unit came from them; the banner is one of their traditional cowled "invisible" figure (There's nothing inside the cowl or the sleeves). The unit was completed by finding a two-pack of skull-headed, misty wraiths with open hands...

Some mail orders later, and I had two of those packs, a banner and two pistol wraiths. And an armoury pack from AA which provided muskets for those open hands. The duplication was minimised by reposing the figures (ever so delicately, the screaming of the pewter bending setting my teeth on edge..)

When it came to painting them, I knew I wanted them to look connected -- the differingstyles of figures meant I needed to tie the unit together with colours. Plain bone would have left me needing to do something with the almost-naked banshee which wouldn't match, so I eventually went with all-black clothing and both flesh and bone in shades of light blue. Weapons were muted down (tin instead of gunmetal and mahogany instead of my normal mid-brown) to add to the dark and gloomy air. The bases are the usual woodfiller, scenic materials and snow made from glass microspheres (sold as boat-repairing resin expander) mixed with wood glue.

So I have a banner bearer (with the improvised melee attack of hitting with his banner), a banshee who is the unit musician and has the scary music attack from Grapeshotte along with a sword, four musketeers and a sergeant and lieutenant both with a pair of pistols, making exactly 300 points.


Thursday 22 May 2014

Royul Marines!!


Basically, one of the problems with my painting output has been a bunch of pending projects which are only now all getting completed at the same time..

This time it's the crew and marines of "HMS Violence". There's two naval officers, two sailors and six marines. There's actually only two poses of marines and I dislike duplicates within groups as small as this, so I did a little customisation. First off was a bayonet transplant so that one of each duplicate has one and the other doesn't. I also added some extra baggage to some of the figures; one being a fiddle (figure on the far right) which came in a recently purchased Reaper pack.

I'm not actually sure marines of the time carried bayonets -- they used the "Sea Service Pattern" musket which is shorter than the other variants so it could be used in the close environments of a ship's deck more easily. While the musket had suitable fittings, adding a bayonet would remove the point of the shorter weapon..

In the section profile for this unit, I've listed them as equipped with carbines due to the reduction in power and accuracy from the regular Bessie which is nearly a foot longer.

In a change from the normal recipe, I based them with various grades of ballast and scatter and then gloss varnished portions of that to be a watery beach they're storming.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Plastic Kit Buildings for ACW/Wild West

I've collected several of the Pegasus box sets of log/wooden buildings. Technically they're 1:72 scale, but they really do actually work quite well for 28mm. And they're quite cheap -- a few quid each given that you get two in each box.

The come with thatched roofs, which is OK if you're doing Russia in WW2 (or earlier, obviously) but it wasn't common in the US in the American Civil War or Wild West time-frame. The solution to this arrived in the form of 4Ground's laser-cut roof tiles. They come in strips which makes it easy to cover the moulded thatch roof with weathered wood shingles. (Although I'll caution that a pack doesn't cover as much as you think it will!).

The cowboy is (I think) a Foundry figure and even though he's
technically out of scale that building looks perfectly habitable.
I base them on 3mm plastic card, leave the roof off, spray them black and drybrush with Howard Hues colours (greenish-brown "Canvas", ochre "Wood" and light grey "Old Wood") and pick out the log ends with a finer brush. The base gets B&Q wood filler (conveniently a light brown colour, and what I use on figure bases these days) and then Woodland Scenics scatter, bushes &c.

I then hand-paint the visible roof parts black, drybrush them and then add the tiles before gluing the roof on.

One of the sets comes with small extensions which can be used to add variety - you can just see one peeking out of the back of the house in the picture.

Two of each of the two twin-house sets and one of the larger buildings makes a pretty good small town of nine buildings.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Italians vs Spanish & Portuguese

We had an opportunity to try out a new scenario I wrote.

The Spanish Guerrillas have taken advantage of French forces going on a "foraging" expedition to move in an occupy one of their gun batteries which lies on the line-of-march of an Allied force.

While they hold the position, an Orc exploring officer races off to get reinforcements and is returning with a unit of Goblins to bolster the defences.

Meanwhile the Baron Petrochemicoli's force of Todoroni -- a company of the elite Bella Manicotti regiment and a company of light infantry -- have been ordered to retake the position. Colonel D'Kless has decided to accompany the toads to "evaluate" how well they get on with using the muskets supplied to them. Petrochemicoli is, of course, offended by any suggestion that he isn't a truly great military leader...

Goblins marching as fast as their little legs will carry them!
Sophie advanced the shorty green goblins along the north side of the valley, with the intention of linking up with the Spanish. As Lorna advanced the confident 3rd Companie of the Bella Manicotti towards them, they carefully avoided engagement for as long as possible. It's what you expect from gobbos.

Toads, making use of ammunition to create noise and excitement...

Meanwhile the gloriously enthusiastic Light infantry advanced towards the gun positions, halted and emptied their weapons in good order while being peppered with erratic gunfire from the treacherous point-eared tanned ones hiding behind the gabions. Sadly, what the Light infantry makes up for in enthusiasm, it lacks in ability to actually hit anything.[1]

The Spanish hide and shoot, shoot and hide..
The Spanish resistance (or "getters in the way of proper soldiering" as they're known) take minimal casualties from the toad gunfire, thanks in part to Chris' ability to repeatedly roll 9s on a D10. (Later on, it was much funnier watching him trying to roll a number between 1 and 5.. and having many, many, many tries..)

Singing like mad, the Operato stands behind the troops.
So that any thought of retreating will require the
consideration of getting closer to the singing.
The elites adopt a battle formation, usually referred to as "Everyone hide behind Fred". At this point things got really interesting. The goblins decided it was time for a small fight (if it's a large fight, they can't reach up that high) and shot a number of toads. Sometimes in the face, but quite often in the knees because they're closer if you're only four feet tall. The toads responded by shooting away at various targets -- most decisively the serious wounding of Hogan, the exploring officer (and the most powerful figure on the table) before he'd really had a chance to get involved in the fighting) -- and also plunking away at the north end of the Spanish defence line.

Two of the toads ran away, badly wounded, shouting "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" and would have left a trail of blood, except that the club won't let me put red substances on the green battlecloths.[2]

The Manicotti turn the tide!
The rest of the nearby front line toads piled into the goblins, beating them about their heads with the butts of the expensive, ornate and delicate muskets so thoughtfully provided by our pale, blonde and very, very distant Imperial masters.

The other flank of toads leapt the defences and, outnumbering the disturbingly stabby Elves, started to roll up their line. (And were also slightly relieved to have some sturdy earth banking between them and the effective musketry of Sophie's goblins.)

The light infantry are having a breather in this photo just before executing plan "pile over the wall and kick people". The battle was soon after decided to be a casualty-heavy win for the Italians. The poor Spanish got several figures suffocated in toad-slime although the Goblins took relatively minimal casualties.

It would all have been so different if anyone.. anyone.. had remembered to bring cannon ammunition with them...

[1]To say I own these percentage dice, they're surprisingly unloyal.
[2]Paint, ketchup. Actual blood.

Sunday 18 May 2014

New Infantry Units

Actually they're not that new, but I've only just got round to photographing them.

Bavarian Dwarfs
This unit of Bavarians are Ferach allies. There's a captain on a pony, sergeant, drummer and 8 soldiers. The 300 point target for skirmish units means missing out one of the regular infantrydwarves. The uniform is reasonably historical; light blue coats, black crested raupenhelm with bearskin crest for the sergeant/drummer. The green plume indicates light infantry. Originally this unit contained the blister packs listed as the "Legion de Nain", but when we tried them out, that group was a bit underpowered -- the Dwarf musketry skills being lost in a unit with so many people armed only with close-combat weapons. I didn't want to double up the poses, but I realised that "52013 Beervarian Line" could be used to expand it. So the figures became less elite, but the unit got bigger.

The Emperor!
No Ferarch army would be complete without The Emperor. This version is from my copy of Slaughterloo. I wanted to do a dappled white horse so he stands out, and I added extra decorations to the base.

Spanish Guerrillas
This 300pt group of guerrillas is led by a version of La Spiga on foot from LE005 which I bought from Ainsty. With most of the contents of the two guerrilla blister packs, the add up to a pretty interesting group -- with the Dark Elf trait of melee bonuses it's worth giving them lots of knives and swords and other sharp pointy, stabby things to make the best of it.

Portuguese Line Infantry
Captain Stonelaugh's Centre Company is 300pts of Portuguese who are dressed in the Britorc-supplied dark blue line infantry uniform with yellow turnbacks. They don't have a flag yet because I've not managed to run into anyone selling one at a show yet. But they do have a Lt. Elvis Madkaff in the rear rank!

Orc Characters
I've been slowly adding character figures for the various armies -- this is Sir Marcus Conclave (a exp/civilian who leads pioneer teams) and Mrs. Stone, widow of the popular Sgt. Stone from the Sarf Essex who still accompanies them.

Italian Todoroni Light Companie.
This 300pt company is commanded by Capt. Alberto Bertoada assisted by the enthusiastic Sgt. Giovanni Oppeti. Newly formed, they're not the best troops. Each is armed with a musket and the cowardly trait. Technically they should be in a pale green uniform, but I didn't really want to do that because it wouldn't give a lot of contrast with their skin. Some Italian units did wear all-white uniforms (although not with bicornes) so I've stretched reality a bit, but we are talking giant musket-armed toads here..

Elite Todoroni
This unit is LEU001 "Bella Manicotti" along with LE043 "Baron Petrochemicoli". The LEU (which I bought off Ebay) contains 16 figures which makes it phenomenally expensive as a Flintloque unit (way over the 300pt guide). I pondered converting some of the figures and moving them into other units, but in the end decided to go with it as intended and six of the figures will stay in the box. Numbers 1-10 make up a 300 point regular unit, including the opera singer! Petrochemicoli gives me a commander for the pair of units, making them a nice-sized force.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Update on Painting and Modelling.

So for various reasons, I've not done much in the way of updates. It's not that I've not been painting -- I've just not go round to taking photos...

Something I've been working on recently are battlefield features for Flintloque games -- models to form focal points in scenarios, objectives or just decorations...

Ordinance Officer McTavish's Equipment
The first on the list are the extras from "VLE04 Ordinance Officer McTavish" which was bought off Ebay and comes with a demolition charge (which I mounted on a small base to stop it getting lost) and a rock with surveying equipment. The rock I based on a couple of washers on a large slottabase and added groundwork to make it a bit more inspiring. It gives an initiative bonus to any section with a member in contact with it.

Equipment from Orc Camp Followers
This handcart and camp-fire are from the "54502 Orc Camp Followers" set. The handcart is just painted and mounted on a base to protect it. The camp-fire I painted, put onto a base and then added a surround of stones and filled in the base of the fire with grey and black model railway ballast. I'm toying with the idea of using thin wire to add a twist of smoke rising from the centre of it..

Ammo Dump and Ruined Walls
These elements are assembled from items in the "59006 Battlefield Debris" pack. The ammo dump is spare muskets stacked against some of the supply elements. The walls I assembled onto a 40mm square base and added overgrowth. They're painted to match my medieval/napoleonic buildings.

The well came out of a pile of Wild West scenery which had been awaiting painting for a while -- it's a Hovels piece. Mounted again on a 40mm base and a puddle and weeds added around it. The water effect is just Humbrol gloss varnish in several layers.

General's Table and Globe
Lastly, the equipment for a general! The globe was (I think) a Mega Miniatures casting. That's just painted and based up to match, although I did gloss the sphere. The general's table is made from balsa, the chicken dinner, bottle and mug from my spares box (I think they were originally made by Grenadier). The maps are simply scans shrunk down and laser-printed... but for consistency they're scanned from the original scenario maps from Flintloque edition 1.