Saturday, December 23, 2006

Finished another one...

Begun about the time of the 7th edition release of Warhammer (Late September in my case) This is my Orc and Goblin army as it now stands.

281 figures in total so far.

Including 20 cavalry, and a bunch of monster sized critters and characters.

I've still a few figures to add to a couple of units, a chariot to paint, and another unit of Orc bows - if I can be bothered!

The warboss on the right is a 40K ork with Ogre arms. I was quite pleased with how the Battle For Skull Pass Troll came out.

BFSP goblin spears, 36 as a single unit. The only way to field goblins is in huge units.

Goblin wolf riders, an absolute pig to paint

Ogres, easy by comparison.

Savage orcs. Actually painted sometime back around 1996!

Spider riders, fun to paint, but slow to finish.

Goblin Shaman, another old figure but a favourite of mine.

That's the last output this year I reckon. And what a productive year this was: a Republican Roman army in 20mm, a New Kingdom Egyptian in 15mm, a Japanese Imperial Army in 20mm, and the Orcs and Goblins in 28mm. About 900 painted figures. Additionally I expanded my Medievals, Rebased my ECW parliamentarians, started an ECW royalist army (100 figures so far), touched up my Vampire Counts army, and did about 200 WW2 sales and commision pieces. I can't really complain! I hope next year goes well too...

Merry Xmas folks!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The battle of Mastenhaas 18xx?

Sunday was my last game before the Xmas break, and featured another bout of the Napoleonics in the form of a unlikely facing of Dutch against Austrians and Bavarians. I suppose such a battle was a plausible as many ancients match ups I'd try, but it was basically dictated by the available figures.

The scenario was a classic village assault, with a small force of Austrians defending Mastenhaas.

I was commanding the Dutch under the Prince of Orange, and outnumbered the initial defenders about 3 to 1. I went with what Phil, my opponent, seems to thing is my classic tactic; a thin centre and a strong flank, intended to hammer the enemy flank then roll him up.

Here you get the sort of aerial view most commanders could only dream of, of my centre.

My centre got going fairly quickly, whilst the Right flank took some manoeuvring to get started. Initially, all the Austrians could do was bide their time awaiting reseves.

Eventually some reserves did arrive in the form of Lancers and Hussars, the Cavalry fight that ensued in open ground to the left of my army lasted the rest of the day, and ultimately had little bearing on the out come of the game, though it ultimately saw my cavalry beaten.

At the high-water mark, my forces began an assault on the manor and one of the village houses; managing to bring off a simultaneous assault. The Austrians were initially having no luck stopping me, although cannister fire from the artillery ravaged one of my battalions who can be seen running in the centre.

It was downhill all the way from here for the Dutch. Both houses proved unassailable. My losses were not desparate, but each assault failed to maintain any pressure. At this point a Bavarian infantry column appeared on my right flank. I was able to meet it in good order, and thought I'd have it soon beaten, when one of its' battalions broke to well coordinated musketry. But things soon reverted to the dismal note they'd been playing for a while.

In melee after melee I was defeated, for round after round the Dutch stood impotent whilst the Austrians laughed at them from inside their houses. At the bitter end I made one last desparate effort to attack the houses again; but instead found both attacks under threat by reserves.

It seemed like a good point to throw in the towel. Although at no point in the battle were the Austo-Bavarians anything other than outnumbered 3 to 2, the village was such an effective point of defence, I couldn't make the slightest progress. In retrospect I think I should have moved the artillery in to more or less point blank in the centre and hammered each building in turn. but overall I felt my plan was sound, merely beyond the size of my force to achieve.

Good fun, and a nice way to round off the years games.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Free rules: issue one - WW2 onwards

My xmas present to any readers out there; a set of rules I originally developed for a godson with an interest in toy soldiers. The idea of these rules is that they be really simple, whilst having some degree of tactical complexity and a command structure. As an introduction to gaming with figures I hope they sufficed, and they can easily be used as a simple club game or whatever for any period from the 1930's onwards.

Basic Rules

All measurements are in Imperial Inches, this is simply because the centimetre is too small to be a useful wargame measure. If you prefer the centimetre, simply convert all measurements by a factor of 2.5.


Figure scale is by default 1:72nd scale or 20mm. This is based on the likely case that a couple of boxfuls of plastic model soldiers are used to play. Of course there is nothing to stop more polished models or different scales being used. There is no need to revise measurements for use with 15mm figures. With 6-12mm figures you may wish to half all measurements; with 28mm or bigger you may wish to double them.

Equipment needed

Rulers or tape measures marked in inches, at least 12 inches long
At least a half dozen six sided dice
a playing area no less than three feet square
a selection of scenery or markers to show it by proxy
two forces of figures typically 20 or more a side
pencil and paper


Units are formed of standard sizes at the start of the game:

Squads are five figures strong
Machine gun teams are two figures strong
Mortar teams are two figures strong
Commands are two figures strong
Vehicles are always bought as single models
Units must stay together, no more than 1 inch between each figure in the unit.

As a unit takes fire it will remove figures. This does not reflect outright casualties, but does show the state of the unit (its' morale; for younger players figures removed are stunned or pinned down and may well recover later in the game). When a unit is reduced to no figures at all however, it is permanently out of the game (it is destroyed).


A force, or army, is formed of any number of units adding up to a points value agreed by both sides (see points values below).

Starting deployment

Once terrain has been laid out on the table, each player will roll a D6, the highest score may chose his side for deployment. The opposing player deploys one unit upto 6 inches into the table (unless he has trenches to deploy, see Trenches, etc in the advanced rules). Then the first player deploys one unit and they continue this way, alternating deployments, until all units are on table. There is no hidden movement.

Sequence of play

1: both players roll a D6 for initiative, highest score may elect to go first or second.
2: first player to activate a unit selects one of his units and attempts to control it (see below). If successfull it may then move and or fire in any order.
3: the second player now takes their turn; which must include moving any troops not in cover who have taken casualties as noted under morale below.
4: the first player now takes an action including compulsory moves and the game continues.

Control of forces

Once a unit is selected the player must roll a D6 to activate it, to activate a unit you must score a 3+ on a D6. You may add one to your roll if a commander is within 6 inches of the unit. A roll of 1 is always a fail. Failed units may do nothing.

Once a unit passes the test if may move and /or fire in any order, so long as each action is done only once whilst activated. Once done, the turn moves to the opposing player; as it also does when a unit fails.

A unit which is attempting to activate twice in a row (or more frequently even) must score a 4+ to activate. It is perfectly acceptable for the same unit to repeatedly activate, but this is tiring.

As noted under morale below. instead of activating a healthy unit, a player may use his turn to try to rally a retreating or pinned unit. This is all that may be dne in his turn if the player chooses to do this.


Infantry move the roll of a D6 plus 3 inches (D6+3")
This is reduced if moving through cover as D6 inches

Vehicles move the stated distances on their statlines (see points values below).

Cover is anything which is placed on the flat table to block lines of sight, for example areas of trees, counting as a wood, lines of hedges or walls, buildings and so on. Hills and buildings blockline of sight entirely to troops behind them, but otherwise units in cover are considered visible.

Infantry fire

When an infantry unit declares a target it wishes to fire at, measure the distance to the target, a unit may fire if any part of it is within the following distance(s) of the target unit:

    • Infantry...................................12 inches
    • Machine gun teams..............24 inches
    • Mortar teams*.......................36 inches

*Mortars may fire at targets out of line of sight of themselves, so long as any friendly unit on the table can draw a line of sight to the target.

Units roll the specified number of dice to hit for only those figures in range of the target:

    • All five figures: 3 D6 needing 6+ to hit
    • 3 or 4 figures: 2D6 needing 6+ to hit
    • 1 or 2 figures: 1D6 needing 6+ to hit
    • Machine gun: 3D6 needing 5+ to hit
    • Mortar*: 4D6 needing 6+ to hit

*Mortars roll only 2D6 if they themselves cannot draw a direct line of sight to the target.
The firer loses one D6 if the target is in soft cover
The firer loses two D6 if the target is in hard cover

Soft cover is trees, bushes, hedges, fences, ditches and similar
Hard cover is walls, houses, boulders, trenches and similar
Mortars are mot effected by soft cover

Each succesful roll removes one figure from the target unit and causes it to either retreat or become pinned (see morale below.)


When a unit suffers the loss of any figures it will either retreat or become pinned down:

Troops with casualties in contact with or on an area of cover will become pinned. Lay the figures down (or mark with a yellow counter)

Troops with casualties who are not in or on an area of cover, will retreat away from their nearest enemies, towards cover until they reach cover, upon which point they become pinned. Face the figures away from enemies (and/or mark with a red counter)

Whenever a player has the chance to activate a unit he must first retreat all units with casualties which are not pinned down. Retreaters move 1D6+6, to a maximum of 9 Inches.

Instead of activating a unit, the player may choose to rally a unit. In which case he must roll more than the number of casualties the unit has lost on a D6 (e.g. ifthe unit has lost 2 figures the roll must be a three or higher). Gun and mortar crews, and commanders always need to roll a four or higher, due to their smaller initial numbers. If a unit attempts to rally within 6 inches of a commander it adds one to the dice roll, though an unmodified result of one is still a fail.

If the unit is rallied it is returned to full strength and removes any markers. It may make a normal move so long as it does not advance closer to any enemy this turn; and it may fire.

If the unit fails its' test it must retreat or remain pinned as normal, other retreating units are moved and the players turn end. In either case all retreating units that can't take a test that turn must move (until they can become pinned) before play reverts to the other player.

Winners and Losers

When a player finds all his infantry Squads to be either Retreating, Pinned or Destroyed after an opponents turn they are permitted one attempt to rally a single unit. If this fails they are defeated immediately. If vehicles are being used, a player is defeated when all cannon armed vehicles have been destroyed or have left the field of play.

Advanced Rules

Vehicle Movement

Vehicle movement is listed on the statline for each type; for example wheeled vehicles normally move upto 2D6+6 inches. Vehicles move half speed in soft cover, and always roll a separate D6, a roll of 1 indicating they have become stuck, and may no longer move. No vehicles except Medium and Heavy tanks may move through hard cover, and they are at half speed and get stuck on a D6 roll of 1 or 2, if they do.

Vehicles always roll an extra D6 when their entire move is on roads.

Vehicles need never move their entire allowed distance.

'Vehicle' fire

Weapons other than infantry firearms, mortars and machine guns are considered cannons. Each has a different range and uses a different number of D6 to attack:

(Weapon; Range; Dice vs Infantry; Dice Vs Vehicles)

Light Cannon; 36 inch; inf=3; veh=2
Medium Cannon; 48 inch; inf =4; veh =3
Heavy Cannon; 60 inch; inf=5; veh=4
Bazooka; 6 inch; inf=3; veh=4

When firing against infantry, each dice needs a 5+ to hit

When firing against vehicles each dice needs to roll equal to or over the armour value of the vehicle (for example a light tank has an armour value of 4) on the dice. If the dice result in 1 hit, then the vihicle is damaged, and loses 1 fire dice on future turns. Mark it with a yellow counter. Damage is cumulative, each turn damage is done the vehicle adds a counter and loses a dice. If the vehicle is reduced to no dice against any target type, OR if it suffers two hits in the SAME turn; it is destroyed.

Vehicles never gain cover benefit, except if hull down; this means the vehicle is only partly visible to the firer behind solid cover, such as a building or hill ridge. In such cases add +1 to the vehicles armour, to a maximum of 6.

Vehicles fired on by a shooter who is entirely behind the back of the vehicle and able to shoot at the rear of it, lose -1 from their armour, to a minimum of 2.

Vehicle Morale

Vehicles never take morale tests.


Artillery may fire at targets out of line of sight of themselves, so long as any friendly unit on the table can draw a line of sight to the target; as with Mortars.

Artillery may move or fire in a turn, not both, but so long as it goes first, artillery may fire(not move), and then another unit on the players side may attempt to activate. This is the only way two units may take an action in one turn.

Light artillery may fire upto 48 inches and fires with 6 dice versus infantry only

Heavy artillery fires upto 72 inches and fires with 8 dice versus infantry, and 4 versus vehicles at upto 36 inches only.

All dice against infantry need 6+to hit, roll against vehicle armour as normal

The firer loses 2D6 if they themselves cannot draw a direct line of sight to the target.
The firer loses one D6 if the target is in soft cover
The firer loses two D6 if the target is in hard cover


Are laid in secret at the start of the game upto halfway accross the board from the buyers starting edge, they must be marked by a numbered counter - three for every real minefield; The owner writes down which of the sites is an actual minfield on a piece of paper (e.g. 'no.2 of minefields 1 to 3' or similar). Whenever the other player moves within 6 inches of a minefield counter it is removed from play unless it is a real minefield. If it is real it inflicts 4 D6 of damage to any unit or vehicle needing 6+ to hit infantry, and armour -1 against vehicles.

Once discovered a minefield stays in play and any unit straying within 6 inches of the marker is hit in the same way as noted above.

Cannons and Artillery may fire on an identified minefield as if it were infantry. If they score two or more hits the minefield is destroyed and removed from play.

Trenches, etc

Trenches, foxholes and so on are dug in terrain, troops in these features gain the benefits of hard cover even if placed in open ground. These terrain features if bought are placed by the owner after normal terrain is set up. Foxholes can give cover to upto 5 figures, trench sections (which may be joined together) upto 20. A player who buys trenches may set them up upto halfway across the table from their starting edge in any position they like, and may choose to deploy infantry to them.

Point Values

For a balanced game forces of similar values should be picked, a good small game without many models would be of 100 points per side, a large game with a number of vehicles would be of 500 points or more. Note that where one side is in defense of good ground with trenches, buildings to fight in, minefields and so on it should have only about two thirds the points of the attacker.


  • Infantry squads = 5 points
  • Machine gun teams = 8 points
  • Mortar Teams = 12 points
  • Command squads = 10 points
  • Bazooka upgrade (replaces on normal infantry man in a squad) + 10 points


  • Truck (Move 2D6+6; No gun; Armour 2; carry upto 12 figures) = 10 points
  • Jeep (Move 2D6+6; Machine gun; Armour 2; Carry upto 5 figures) = 20 points
  • Personnel carrier (Move D6+6; Machine gun; Armour 3; Carry upto 10 figures) = 30 points
  • Armoured Car (Move 2D6+4; Light Cannon; Armour 3) = 40 points
  • Light tank (Move D6+6; Light Cannon; Armour 4) = 50 points
  • Infantry fighting vehicle (Move D6+6; Light cannon; Armour 4; Carry upto 7 figures) = 60 points
  • Medium tank (Move D6+4; Medium Cannon; Armour 5) = 80 points
  • Light motor artillery (Move D6+4; Light artillery; Armour 4)= 90 points
  • Heavy Tank (Move D6+2; Heavy Cannon; Armour 6) = 120 points
  • Heavy Motor artillery (Move D6+4; Heavy artillery; Armour 4) = 140 points

Towed guns

  • Anti-aircraft guns (Move D6; Light cannon x 2; Armour 3) = 60 points
  • Anti-tank cannon (Move D6+2; Medium gun; Armour 3) = 60 points
  • Super anti-tank cannon (Move D6; Heavy Gun; Armour 3) = 80 points
  • Light Artillery (Move D6; Light artillery; Armour 3) = 50 points
  • Heavy Artillery (Move D6-2; Heavy artillery; Armour 3) = 100 points

Minefields and trenches

  • Minefields = 100 points
  • Foxholes (for upto 5 figures) = 5 points
  • Trench section (Upto 12 inches long; for upto 20 figures) = 15 points
  • Emplacement (for one vehicle or towed gun; gives hull down cover) = 10 points

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pudsey Recon

Wakefield and Osset wargamers run a show the first weekend in December, which because of it's proximity (less than 5 miles from my place) is one of the few I actually attend.

Its a small show, but usually well attended. As far as sales, I noticed that 28mm is easily the widest available scale at the show, with 15 & 20mm distant seconds and 10/12mm probably third. Sadly none of the books I'd hoped to find, but many figures, including some ex-Grenadier medieval cavalry at a quid a figure, a nice find!

Although there were a few games downstairs, they were mainly fantasy demos, promoting figure sales as much as anything. Upstairs was where the historicals were.

The guy I'd taught WAB to was there with his schoolkids and a small game of 28mm dark ages. Nicely painted too considering they were done by a bunch of 11-13 year olds. One could see why they were in a wargames club and not on the football team, I think we've all been there at some point! anyway...

A highly attractive game of the desert war in 28mm (1/48th scale) was put on by the Ilkley club. Well, to be fair, I loved the look of the vehicles; especially the Italian tanks and a stunning Matilda. But the wargamery paint style of the figures (Really exaggerated shading and highlights) left the infantry looking like burns victims. A shame as from a distance, and up close for the scenery and vehicles, everything looked great.

An English covil war game, put on by some ECW re-enactors, nice figures in 28mm.

I had to laugh at the pained expressions that came over the faces of these guys when a wargames bore came over and started telling them how wrong their game was - "Too many dragoonss you know, I've been researching this period and most of the units fielded as dragoons were actually dismounted cavalry or never existed..." He was the sort of guy who obviously didn't like to listen nearly so much as he liked to talk, He slowly moved from stand to stand spouting his guff to whoever would stand and take it.

In terms of numbers, the biggest game there was this Napoleonic slugfest, I'd guess a thousand figures. To my mind deployed more like a parade than a battle, but impressive.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


As promised, some shots of the Warhammer ancients game I ran to show a chap the rules in the week.

2000 points of Danish mainland Vikings worked out as follows:

General and Army standard accompanied by a unit of 30 Hirdmen with mixed weapons and 2 hidden Besirkir

32 Bondi with mixed weapons

32 Bondi with mixed weapons

18 Bondi with Bows

12 Ulfhendhar with Mixed weapons

24 Jomsvikings with Hand weapons

Here you can see their opening dispositions; a solid mass in the centre, with the Hird on the commanders' right, next to the bowmen and the Jomsvikings in the rear.

I neglected to get a shot of my own deployment, not least because the figures for my Frankish army were largely pooled from my selection of old saxon models and rear rank vikings. Figures painted some 20 years ago as a kid (and many homecasts too to boot!) and boy did it show; at least to me. I think the audience (this club always seems to have a good number of spectators, and I'm of the opinion that 28mm is a mysterious new scale to most of them...) must have been being polite when they praised the sombre and realistic colour schemes of my troops. Sounds like a polite way to say 'they're badly painted, aren't they!'

Anyhow, the Ottonian Frankish army was based as the vikings on one of the Shieldwall sublists - in this case the Flemish list:

General and Army standard with a unit of 7 Milite horse

9 Milite horse

9 Milite horse

24 Milites, dismounted Representing the Thuringians, who though armed and armoured as milites, tended to fight on foot.

24 Liberi foot

24 Liberi foot

8 Coloni bowmen

8 Coloni bowmen

At first the Vikings were tied down by the narrow field of deployment they had; Their advance was reduced to a crawl, except for the Ulfhendhar on the left. However I was more concerned with crashing my cavalry into his flanks and, to ensure all the possibilities of the rules were investigated, a frankly insane frontal charge against his massed line.

About the same time his Ulfhendhar tried to smash a unit of Liberi on the hill, but their shieldwall held and the remants of the wolf warriors were caught and wiped out. Although in the centre I delivered a juddering blow to the Vikings they held, and the double handed axes in the line sent horse and man to the ground; the cavalry broke like a wave on the prow of a longship. Worse still on the flank my charge against the Viking bowmen was lost before it even made contact; shot asunder on the way in.

However, with my right flank cleared, I was able to come down from the hill, and got my infantry to the fore. Here the spears sung a song of blood (ooh, getting very warhammer here now aint it!) the Vikings could not raise a voice to. One bondi unit scattered, the other was killed where it stood, but it was a high water mark for me. Momentarily it looked as if the Vikings were lost, but their Jarl ruled his hirdmen with spirit and skill and drove the Thuringians into the ground.

At the end the vikings had their best two units holding the field with their valiant bowmen still peppering my surviving cavalry, and one unit they could at least hope would rally. I could only count on my lords' cavalry, one unit of Liberi and one scattered band of coloni, trying to trade shots with the Danish bows.

For a change I had time to grab a couple of shots of the other games on that night too. There seemed to be a reasonably healthy turnout on the night, 16-20 players and hangers on. Below is some sort of computer moderated napoleonics game, not my personal cup of tea (15mm, needs a laptop to play, didn't see anything move or any dice get thrown) but seemed to support a number of players.

Two other guys were doing Warhammer skirmish, Orcs trying to capture a Brettonian watchtower.

All in all another good evening.

Next time, I think I'll roll out the 28mm WW2 and the Operation Overlord rules, by Alto Zero. I think I've done enough ancients of late.

Monday, November 20, 2006

AK47 Republic

A game at short notice, resulted in AK47 being dug out again at my house. Having amassed a huge collection of models and figures I let my two players select their own armies to any form the rules allowed; the end results being a Dictatorship, and a superpower backed state.

Chris' natural instincts for modern games saw him on the aggressive side with a force of armoured cars, tanks and mechanised infantry at the start. Phil, more at home with ancients and napoleonics, set himself a defensive task, initially equipped with tanks and militia troops holed up in and around a village.

Chris' flanking infantry captured one objective unopposed, but in the centre the armoured battle seemed to swing in the favour of Phil, who destroyed three afv's for the loss of only one of his own.

Reserves began to flood in as time ran out, Chris had well equipped and determined infantry arrive to the south of the village; Phil had truck-borne regulars move to intercept them. However in a tactical blunder the lorries were caught in the open, battered by fire and then obliterated by a close assault, the last defending tank to the north was destroyed, and in the end only the militia held out in the village.

By the terms of the rules it was a crushing victory for the attackers under chris. All in about two hours.

With time on our hands we even managed to fit in a came of cards, Nuclear War that is; a morbidly fun game in which the last man standing is not so much the winner as least defeated. you quickly get into the psyche of trading shots of ICBMs and attacks by stealth bombers with one another. How this hasn't been converted to a Collectible game overthe years I don't know.

Got a 2000 point a side game of WAB coming up on Wednesday; Danish Vikings versus Ottonian Franks; hopefully pictures to follow...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Speed painting challenge

How fast can you produce reasonable figures in bulk?

I often wondered, especially as I'm accused by others of being a ridiculously fast painter. It's certainly an advantage that my painting table is a permantnet feature of the living room, in plain sight of the TV, HIFI, PC and Wife! Hardly an evening goes by without an hour of painting (except Saturdays I guess), so results can appear to come pretty fast to others who paint maybe only on sundays, or that one night a week they're allowed to set the painting table up.

Still, it doesn't mean the result will be any good. The common answer to the question 'how do I get good at painting model soldiers' as asked on any number of forums and in magazines, is always some variation on 'paint 500 bad ones first'.

I'm always learning.

None the less how long does reasonable tabletop quality take. To find out I timed a set of figures from start to finish. The figures in question being 20 goblin archers from the latest Warhammer boxed set.

Clipped from the sprues, the figures were slotted into the bases and painting began. They were not glued into the bases, as I intended to both multibase and randomise the positioning of the figures later. The troops were laid out in the 5x4 block with a variety of poses in each row, then each row had its' robes painted a different shade of grey; starting with the lightest shade, and gradually adding more of a darker grey to the mix for each row until all 20 figures were done. I tend to start figures by painting the largest area of colour first, usually this means the main uniform, on ancients figures it is often the flesh, on moderns the fatigues.

Next for the goblins was the flesh tone. On goblins, I like to vary the flesh tones, and although I've never bothered with doing so on human figures the principle that skintone varies greatly would still stand true. The method is basically the same as for the grey robes, but this time with a mid green base lightened with Yellow and Cream through teh columns rather than the rows; to avoid them all matching the command group were shuffled along ther rows at this stage. I was neat were the edges met the grey, but not anywhere else. To this point the process has taken a total of two hours from out of the box.

Next the bows, belts, straps teeth and other details were despatched. The figures were entirely base coated in under three and a half hours out of the box. Next the figures had to be carefully cut off the slots, which were then reglued back into the bases.

The bases were then glued to squares of 60-thou (2mm) plasticard. 4 pieces for three bases, 2 for two bases and 4 singles. The gaps were filled with quick drying filler (Tetrion of similar) and the figures then glued in position. You'll have noticed that the figures were so far painted in flat colour. That is because this is speed painting! No time for highlights here! Instead I use a combined varnish and wash mix to shade and protect the figures. Some use woodstains for this (the notorious 'DIP' technique) but I prefer to mix my own:

20-30 parts Humbrol Mattcote varnish (well mixed) + 1 part Humbrol matt black paint (or brown/dark green/etc as appropriate) + 3 parts thinners (optional)

It's a bit of an art to get right, and results can vary, I certainly put in more tint than I like on these chaps, but the results are instant and magical. Just slop it on, and the figures are transformed. It can be worth using a clean brush to draw of excess pigment if it is building up in blobs at the bottom of the figure. Lastly in this shot the bases have been given a coat of of sand brown paint.

For finishing, a layer of wood glue was applied to the surfaces of the bases, and they were dipped in fine playpit sand, a second pass was used to add patches of GW/Noch static grass (Noch is a model railroad company; I suspect they supply GW its' scatters, but from source they cost half the price). Last of all the bases get a second coat of sand brown paint; and they're done!

From start to finish the unit has taken just 5 hours, to do everything, that's 300 minutes, which works out at 15 minutes per figure. Bear in mind tough you have to allow for drying time at several points, notably the filler, varnish wash and basing stages; the painting itself allows me at least to work with wet colours, but you have to still take comfort breaks. In all the figures were onto and off of the painting table in 6 days.

As you can see from the command group above, there was still time for some detail in the unit, I was able to do the eyes with highlights, pick out the teeth, give the command group some personal details and spend a little time on the standard. The key to this technique, beyond being fast is simply to be neat and light of touch. Better to ned two strokes of the brush to put a belt in, than to make a messy blob of it in one go.

Of course practice helps, as does having all the right kit available, but it is a perfectly reasonable timescale for producing straightforward wargames figures, whether fantasy or historical, 28mm, 20mm or 15mm!

Time yourself, you may be surprised, maybe try my techniques, see if it's any faster for you...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bailed out

Airfix & Humbrol have been saved by Hornby you may have seen over the weekend. Of course Hornby itself is hardly on the cutting edge of it's own hobby, though they make enough money to pay the pittance Airfix was up for; £2.4m seems very cheap for all their assets to me.

To be fair to Hornby too my brother, who'se into trains, assures me that recent Hornby product has seen heavy investment to bring it up to it's competitors standards, whilst wisely pitching at the 'Memory lane' market. I think it could be the shot in the arm Airfix need. But on the positive side for me, it means I don't need to start using water based paints just yet. Hoorah!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Armarti - the war against Etruria

OK, so for a bit of variety I took Armarti to the Leeds club this past week. It was another opportunity to 'display my wares' so to speak, and Armarti as a set of rules have the advantage of being very simple to run through in an evening, even with players who've never played the game before.

As makes sense, I'd preselected a couple of matched armies - Early Roman Republicans, and Etruscan Greeks (i.e Greeks with a warband ally for novelty value, a simple tweak of the Armarti Greek list). Once the players had the basics of units explained they deployed based on their map plans.

Armarti is dependant on the map deployment, like historical generals of the time players plan the fight with no idea what the enemy will do for sure; I wish more games used so simple a method, it produces fascinating results. Here the Etruscans deployed wide, whilst the Romans deployed deep and entirely refused their right flank.

Battle commenced and the Romans moved aggressively to try to outflank the Etruscans. Armarti dictates armies have a fixed number of available formations in a game. This limits tactical flexibility. The less flexible Etruscan army had to deploy a huge line, which spent the early game redressing to face the enemy.

The Cavalry battle eventually went the way of the Romans, though the horse were battered, their commander tried in vain to rally them. Eventually chosing to attack the Etruscan psoloi in the rough ground. An error as psoloi fight at their best in difficult ground - each unit has three combat factors, one for fighting in good going, one for difficult ground and one for being hit in a flank; in this case foot troops are better han cavalry in rough going. This as a result allowed the psoloi to hold the Roman flank attack up, whilst the phalanx closed with the Roman centre.

The figures used were from my extensive 20mm ancients collection. A mixture of Zvezda, Hat, Nexus and Revell in this case.

Late in the day the Etruscans clashed with the Princeps in the centre. At the rear the Etruscan general was lost along with the warband, to a cavalry charge in its' flank. In the end the Etruscans crumbled first in the cantre, largely through not being willing to attack the available flank of the Romans. It was a straight 5-0 break point victory to the romans.

Armarti is a good game, hampered mainly by only being suitable for stand-up fights. It is however quick to play once you are familiar with the conventions it uses you can get two games in, in the shortest of evenings.

My figures attracted a fair deal of favourable responses too, which is always nice!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two in One!

Last week was a good week for games.

Been a very long while since I got two games in within seven days, but I did it this week.

A game at home on sunday first of all; we rolled out the Epic 40k figures. As you can see from the arrayed armies of Orks and Imperial Guard, what they lack in size they more than make up for in numbers. In total the game involved around 250 figures and 120+ vehicles.

An Ork assault developed on the ruins of a regional penal colony on Armageddon. At first only an Ork supply station was occupied, but the fast moving forces of the Kult of Speed and forces of Battlewagons sonn applied some pressure to a defending Company of the 181st defence militia regiment. Although reserves for the 181st were arriving, it appeared it would be too slow to stop the Orkish advance.

A wide advance by the Orks was then backed up by infantry and the slow progress of the Ork Great Gargant. But now the long range firepower of the 181st and their tanks and artillery started to make an impression. Several ork units were pinned down whilst a Tank company made a rapid advance on the left flank:

Whilst some Ork forces advanced, others stalled and the first force was outright destroyed, sent into retreat. The artillery and concentrated fire of the Baneblade and Shadowsword tanks stopping the main attack. On the left, Orks were trying to counter the Tank advance.

As many Ork units broke, the Gargant finally came into play, in doing so attracting a mass of fire from the Reaver titan and Shadowswords. Sorely outnumbered, the Leman Russ tanks broke, but not without inflicting many losses on the Orks. The 181st and its' command company held in the centre. Overall a hard fought,but inconclusive draw; cut short a turn by the start of the final F1 race of the season!

The second game was at the Leeds club last night, and as promised I took along my Medievals; but not alas my camera! Two 1600 point armies for WAB - Flemish and French - put about 250 figures ont oa little 4x4 foot table.

A solid line of Flemish Pike were under my command, with a little help from some foot knights, Swordsmen, handgunners, bowmen, a cannon and a troop of mounted seargents. My opponent had a typical French array; two units of knights, some crossbowmen, heavy spearmen, light spearmen and a mass of peasants.

Terrain played a major part, as the French knights got lost behind a wood for the first three turns (moving back and forth in column trying to find a point they could attack without my cannon and handgunners getting them first). on the opposite flank the peasants occupied a farm, whilst my pike line advanced over a low hill, slowly forming an oblique line.

A misjudged manoevre on my part left my seargents - attached to the General - exposed to the smaller unit of French knights, near the farm. He should have pounded me on the charge, but even needing 6's to save, I made 5 throws and escaped unscathed, my horse cut two of his down and they fled. I'd turn his flank through pure good luck! He now had to try to block me with his knights, from charging his fighting line in the rear. He also turned his crossbowmen in fear of my horse.

The rest of his line had come well forward, whilst his general tried to chase down my skirmishers. Some of his spearmen tried to occupy the woods, but handgun fire and a pikeman charge dealt with them. My cannon enfiladed his crossbows, and the fled with heavy losses. Neverthe less a charge in the centre by his heavy spearmen stalled my advance and initially put flight to some of my troops. Only the foot knights held.

His king rode down the handgunners and threatend to do the same to my cannon, but by this point my centre had consolidated, three units outflanked and then destroyed his spearmen, whilste my last unit of pike flushed out the peasants from the farm. My horse failed to charge again, but by this poiunt the game was over. A Flemish victory, Hurrah!

All good fun, and my figures received a favourable response from the other members. Leeds seems to be one of the clubs where they think 28mm is dead; Oh how very wrong they are! still, it means my stuff gets some good attention. Other games on last night were a WW2 skirmish, a Vietnam game in 20mm; and as ever 15mm DBA (the same 2-3 players as always, with the same armies, and so far as I could tell, the exact same terrain) - apparently it's all they ever do.