Tuesday 20 October 2020

Classic Wargames Book Collection reaches 100 titles

Following a spate of recent acquisitions my collection of Classic Wargames Books has reached the magic triple figure total of 100 titles. It's only a number after all but it has given my something of a sense of satisfaction even so. There's few things nerdier than a slightly OCD wargamer who is also a qualified librarian it seems...

The last few years have seen prices (and postage!) increase. Combined with ever increasing scarcity of titles it is making it more and more difficult to find the remaining items on my wish list in good condition and within my price range. It is what it is and we soldier on manfully.

The most recent addition is a rather unique item - one of the very first published sets of wargames rules from 1964 - Miniature Wargames du temps de Napoleon by John C. Candler.

It's a surprisingly comprehensive tome containing plenty of B&W imagery, the rules themselves for both land and sea, tips on painting, modelling, campaigns and more. At the time it would have been virtually unique in breadth of scope. The larger commercial sets these days have very similar formats and content so it's interesting to note how prescient Mr Candler was in that regard.

That's all for today. Hope you are all safe and well!


Sunday 11 October 2020


 Back in an Ancient/Fantasy vein now - the three venerable gentlemen above are from Warlord Games.

The chap in the centre is Susages (or 'Snags', as Cory likes to call him), a holy man and adviser to King Decebalus of Dacia. He came as part of a box of resin figures of Dacian and Sarmatian heroes for the SPQR skirmish game. He looks all windswept and interesting with that robe billowing in the breeze.

The other two are Druids from Warlord's Hail Caesar Celtic range. Suitably grumpy old men to see off those pesky Romans!

"Get off my lawn sacred grove!"

"And that will be the fate of all sinners, sinners just like you, sir!"

Have to say, that group shot looks like the yearly argument over who's got the knobbliest staff...

So what will these fellows be used for? I'm thinking NPCs in my RPG of choice, RuneQuest, which abounds with assorted shamans and holy recluses who can impart wisdom and teach spells. They'll make a nice accompaniment to my Bronze Age folk from the last Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

On to some more warriors next, I'm thinking - stay tuned!


Tuesday 6 October 2020

Old Dog Learns New (Terrain) Tricks - Part the Last (At Last)

My modest terrain project has been languishing in obscurity for the last three months while real life does its damndest to upset my personal applecart, but I'm going to draw a line under the blasted thing and blog it.

OK, the last we saw of the piece, it was awaiting paint and groundwork. The plaster rocks had been hot glued into place, the gaps filled with Sculptamold, and the MDF base smoothed over with more of that excellent product.

Painting was next, using the "leopard-spotting" technique I picked up from Mel the Terrain Tutor and Luke at Geek Gaming Scenics (both channels are an absolute must for aspiring scenery builders). No, it doesn't mean taking a pair of binoculars out on the savannah. It's a technique for painting rocky surfaces more realistically than the old "three shades of grey plus a drybrush" that many of us cut our terrain painting teeth on.

I splashed a thin wash of yellow ochre acrylic (the cheap stuff from the $2 shop) over about a third of the rock faces and ruins, following that with burnt sienna and umber in similar quantities. These soak into the plaster and give a realistic mottled effect. Leaving some of the plaster in its natural white will give some nice contrasts for the final wash.

Once dry, a thin wash of black is applied over all. Have plenty of paper towel ready to soak up the excess. The flatter areas were going to be flocked, so I painted them in basic burnt sienna to prevent any white plaster showing through.

I used foam flocks for the ground covers, spraying with diluted PVA glue as I went to build up layers of progressively lighter-coloured flock. I'd never worked with foam flocks prior to this, but I was delighted to find that once they're dry, they harden up a treat, providing a realistically textured surface without sacrificing durability. 

Most of the work was done down in the garage out of consideration for the cleanliness of our kitchen, so I didn't end up documenting the whole process step by step, but I can at least share pics of the finished product.

The slopes of the hill and flat areas are finished with assorted foam flocks, plus Tajima's wild grass tufts and Moorland diorama effects. More tufts were placed in recesses in the rock faces. Small rocks, twigs, and sand were scattered around and hit with liquid super glue to fix them immediately in place.

More offcuts from my mother-in-law's garden were pressed into service to make a dead tree, because this tower has been a ruin for a long time. This was painted with GW Dryad Bark and drybrushed with GW Gorthor Brown and a light dusting of Vallejo Game Colour Cold Grey. Geek Gaming Scenics Forest Floor flock was scattered around the tower's interior.

Add a few tufts growing out from between the stones, and a raven perched in the tree (courtesy of the Warhammer Giant kit, the best source of fantasy set dressing materials for my money) and voila, it's done!

So what lessons have I taken away from this? 

Firstly, Sculptamold doesn't take up the washes used in the leopard-spotting technique as readily as plain plaster, so use it sparingly when building rocky surfaces. It's best as a simple gap filler in this situation. I used a bit too much on this piece and had to go over the affected areas a couple of times to ensure coverage.

Be sure to mop up excess washes quickly - MDF REALLY doesn't like to get wet.

When spraying diluted PVA from a spray bottle, sooner or later you'll get blockages. A squeeze bottle with a fine nozzle can do just as well when wetting down flocked surfaces. It can be messy, but as I said above, keep plenty of paper towels on hand and you should be right.

Working with washes and successive sprays of PVA glue means a fair bit of waiting time between steps, and the completed piece can take a while to dry, so patience is a virtue.

I'm quite pleased with the results, and this little project has definitely given me some more ideas to go on with. Considerations of space probably mean that I won't be building any huge modular gaming tables in the near future, but if ever I get a shed, watch out!

What's next? Maybe some more Frostgrave, or maybe a detour to the Bronze Age?

Stay tuned...


Sunday 4 October 2020

A Song of Frost and Gravy - Chapter 6, "The Millsy Imperative"

My friend and blolleague Millsy emailed me a while back about our progress (or lack of) with Frostgrave;

Now, as we picked up Frostgrave back in 2015, and the second edition has just been released, that was an uncomfortable assessment. A pretty poor show on my part!

So what to do? All very well for me to faff about with terrain, but if we never play a game, what's it all for?

Remember these guys?

This is the warband as it had been for many a long year; Vaino the Enchanter, Ilmar the Apprentice, a Ranger, an Infantryman, and Doctor Lividus de Bruse, Apothecary-at-Large to the Court of Duke Delius of Marchmont (deceased).

Well, they have some new friends;

A Crossbowman, two Thugs, and an Archer; while this brings the numbers up to a more playable level, the limited funds for a starting warband mean that the Apothecary will need to be sidelined until after we accumulate a few extra spondulicks.

But in the meantime, the new missile capability will hopefully give the warband a chance of survival in the snow-bound ruins of Felstad.

And for heavy lifting and general expendability, the two Thugs; not by any means elegant, but they come cheap.

Finally, a complete warband, and it only took five years! Truly, all good things come to those who wait, but poor Millsy has had to wait longer than most...

What now? Stay tuned...

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