Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010: No, this is not a new decennium :)

In this time of 'highlights of the decennium' appearing left and right in the media, I would just like to point out that the current decennium (if we define that as the first ten years of the century) ends on 31st December 2010, not 2009. So there.

With that bit of pedantry out of the way, allow me to wish all visitors and readers of this blog a prosperous, productive and shiny 2010, a year wherein all your dice will roll high (or low, depending), your armies will grow and you finally get to complete that one project.

For me, here's my very high level plan for 2010 -- the 2010 project list as you might say:

* Great Northern War -- the idea is still to put on Poltava at Crisis in autumn. For the figures, an initial goal will be a playable game by early spring, and build from there. This is my primary project
* Napoleonic 28mm Bavarians -- I plan on steadily building up my (currently [one battalion]( large) Bavarian army. Initial goal is a playable force by summer (although the single finished battalion has already seen its first game).
* Romani Plastici -- 28mm plastic Romans. I currently have 3 legionary and 1 auxilia unit finished. The idea is to build this to a full army, with the initial goal being a 1000 to 1500 point force by spring.
* Napoleonic 28mm French -- these will be the refurbished ones from the Crisis bring & buy, plus the results of various Foundry sales over the past few months. There is no initial goal with these, just building the occasional unit here and there
* 'Gimmick' projects -- all the rest. Things like the Orc Uncharted Seas fleet, the 6mm Future Wars stuff, ... No set goal with these, so they will probably be painted in preparation for specific games.

What's everybody else's plan?

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Bavarian Infantry Regiment 1, 2nd battalion

While painting their cousins of the first battalion I realised I had not yet posted any pretty pictures of the fully done Bavarians. Consider that oversight corrected:

Bavarian infantry

Monday, 28 December 2009

"Painting" log: French 7th Cuirassiers

This isn't quite a 'painting' achievement, but I'm going to count them anyway -- I just finished 13 French cuirassiers.

They're a bit special, as I did not paint the figures myself. At the bring and buy at the Crisis convention earlier this year, I picked up a 28mm French Napoleonic army for a very cheap price. The figures are painted in a basic single colour style and have suffered a bit from use and transport. However, given the price, they were a bargain.

The idea with them is to touch up the paint jobs where necessary, give them a dip in [Army Painter Dip]( and finally rebase them. I have done just that for the cuirassiers: touched up a few scuffed paint areas, painted in little '7's on their saddlebags (cognoscenti may now correct me with the correct Napoleonic term :) ) and dipped them.

Even though it is not a full paint job, there is still some time spent on these 'transformations', so I'm awarding myself half points for them. That means these bring me 13 points (out of a normal 26 for 13 cavalry figures), or a total of 44 this month. Painting is picking up again, it seems.

Photos to follow as their basing is finished.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Comment system approaching sanity

After another evening armed with a text editor and some mean Javascript, the commenting system seems to be behaving a bit better now. It now says whether you are logged in or not, and does so everywhere.

One last niggle remaining is the fact that the Name and other fields for anonymous commenting remain visible to logged in users, which might lead to confusion. Another dive into the evil bog that is Javascript will no doubt fix that.

For the cognoscenti: enabling the default Javascript from Movable Type solved most of the problems. The extra problem that created however, was that with the way I hide the comment form until needed, I hit some seriously weird Javascript scoping issues which took a while to track down and resolve. If any visitor loaded a page off of this blog earlier this evening and got a popup saying 'Canary!' - don't worry, that was me trying to debug this thing :).

So, feel free to use the commenting system. If you run into a problem, you can always send me an email (link behind my name up there) or, just for the fun of it, why not comment it :) ?

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

To celebrate Christmas, here's a little scene showing part of my toy soldier collection, along with my original copies of Little Wars and Floor Games, the books that started hobby wargaming in the early 20th century.

The soldiers of the Regiment are proud of their well-decorated Christmas tree. Meanwhile, father and grandfather are busily testing the new wargaming presents, much to the anxiety of junior.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Skaven Banners and Elephants

Time for some more pictures from my 'old' wargaming collection. Since I previously showed some figures from my Skaven army (look for the tag 'Phil's collection'), I decided to add some more of the illustrious ratmen to this blog.

The first picture shows two hand-made Skaven banners. The designs of both follow illustrations found in GW published material from the 80s. The banners are mounted on bigger bases (for stability), adding a General figure. This is not how it's done in Warhammer, of course, but since 1993 or so I have used my own house rules for fantasy battles, hence some more freedom in basing requirements. The figure in the middle is a Skaven wizard - all figures by Games Workshop, dated late 80s, early 90s.

The second picture shows my Skaven 'Hannibal' horde. I put these together for a wargaming tournament at EuroGencon 1993, organised by Martin Hackett (and using his rules). The army lists allowed for a large variety of freedom, so I came up with the idea of elephants being used as war animals in the Skaven army. The howdahs are scratch-built (nothing too exceptional), and can hold 4 figures based on 20x20mm bases. All figures (including the giant rats) by Games Workshop, except two of the rat-swarms (Ral Partha), and the elephants (models by Schleich).

Update (2014): for more of my Skaven in action, see the blogpost "Oldhammer: Bretonnia vs Skaven".

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How I do bases these days

It's been a while since I've done a how to article, and even longer since I've done one on basing. Allow me to rectify this with an article on how I base figures nowadays.

As opposed to a full blown how to (which essentially is simply put stuff on base, paint, flock - no mystery there) I'm simply going to list the various materials I use in basing my miniatures.

The bases themselves

For the bases themselves I either use slottabases (both the 20mm, 25mm and 25x50mm cavalry versions) or variously sized bases from Litko in the US. The bases I order from them are the 1.5mm plywood ones, with the heavy duty magnetic bottoms.

Nd magnets

I glue these underneath the slottabases. I get these from

Golden acrylic pumice gel

These is my current version of the magic basing compound from Pebeo I wrote about earlier. Since then I have however been unable to track this down in my local Brico (it apparently was a one off and not part of the regular catalog), so I've switched to one I can get in a local arts'n'crafts shop (De Banier).

Ground cover

For ground cover I use various combinations of:

  • Woodlands Scenics blended turf

  • Static grass (no idea as to make)

  • Woodlands Scenics field grass

  • Noch grass tufts

  • The occasional stone, twig or acorn supplied in unlimited quantities by my children, who seem to have half a forest available to them at their school, and have no qualms whatsoever transporting most of it back home in their pockets.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Painting log: Bavarian Napoleonic battalion, first half

Despite the afternoon being spent doing heavy remodelling on the blog software, I did manage to finish 12 Bavarian Napoleonic figures tonight. I'm painting them up as the first battalion of the first regiment, with the [earlier battalion]( becoming the second battalion of the regiment.

The idea is using these units (24 men to the battalion, or 1:20 or thereabouts in figure to men scale) in brigade level rules, where the battalion is the basic unit represented. With my current amount of lead, this will give me about 6 regiments of infantry. I can also go 'grand manner' and combine two battalions into a single 48 man regiment (or battalion). Finally, by upping the nominal figure to man ratio to 1:40 my 24 man battalions become regiments and I end up with the entire line infantry component of the 1812 Bavarian army.

As I expected, painting these figures 12 instead of 24 at a time makes things a lot easier. To wit, I finished all the white, which as we know is [a b*tch to paint](, in a single painting session. When doing them 24 at a time I could not bring myself to keep on painting the dreaded white and consequently painted that colour in three or even four sessions.

That adds 12 points, for a total of 31 this month. Next up is the second half of this battalion, which includes a mounted officer.

Time to get medieval on junk

You may or may not have noticed, but the number of spam comments on this here fount of wonder, insight and knowledge (as we internally like to refer to TTM), has increased sharply over the last few days. I blame a [post]( of mine on one of the [TMP]( forums for this. It seems those forums are a favourite hunting ground for spammers to find blog links in.

Whatever the reason, I've decided to bring out the blowtorch and pliers and see what I can do about this. First step is upgrading the version of the blog software to the latest one to see if I can get better anti spam controls there (the current one has auto-delete for spam comments, but only after 1 day - that's obviously not sufficient).

If you notice anything untowards during the day, that'll be me taking down and replacing the foundations of this blog.

_Update_: 13:13 - the upgrade is done. Everything still looks the same on the outside, though there is still an issue with comments (they get an Internal Server error - blowtorch and pliers time)

_Update 2_: 14:33 - damn. They've changed the entire templating system in this version, wrecking the way I implemented commenting on the blog. As it seems, I've been lucky that the main blog still works and it's just the comment entry system that's exploded. So, until further notice, comments are not possible any more (which, coincidentally, solves the spam problem :) ). If you really need to say something profound, clicking on my name up there gets you my email address.

Phil, those mails are for 'unpublished' comments. Those are comments held back for moderation, most likely because they were published on entries older than 10 days (I think, could be 5). 99% of the case these are spam as well and need not be approved - I clean them up regularly.

_Update 3_: 16:48 - well that was fun. After a pleasant afternoon with blowtorch and pliers (read Movable Type templates and javascript) I've got the commenting system back up. Instead of a pop up window, the comment form will now open in the page itself (why? Because the comment cgi does not accept GET requests anymore, if you really want to know ) but otherwise things are still exactly as they were. I've got some tweaking to do (styling the comment form and making sure it does not open for all entries on the page) but the bare bones are there.

_Update 4_: 17:40 - and we're done. Comment system rebuilt and integrated in the page style. CSS, javascript and freaking MT template knowledge refreshed :).

Friday, 18 December 2009

Table Top Teasers


In my beginning years as a wargamer, when I dabbled with systems such as Warhammer 1st edition, I thought that a good wargame involved putting together 2 armies of equal point values, lining them up on opposite sides of the table, and have a go at it. An offf-table flank-move was considered exotic and a revolutionary concept.

This all changed when I discovered the table-top teasers, written by Charles Grant. I picked them up in the books 'Scenarios for All Ages' and 'Scenarios for Wargames'. Invariably, the table top teasers, as these scenarios are called, always offer a very good starting point for a wargame. Composition of forces, initial briefings, objectives, and terrain are always detailed and given the appropriate amount of thought. Some of the oldest teasers are collected on this site, and the magazine Battlegames publishes a teaser in each issue.


It was therefore with much anticipation that I acquired two new volumes, containing a linked series of table top teasers, and written by Charles Grant and Phil Olley. These two soft-cover books, The Annexation of Chiraz and The Raid on St Michel, contain five teasers each. The setting is the 18th century conflict between two imaginary nations, Die Vereinigte Freie Stadte and Lorraine. Both campaigns look exciting, although it seems that 1 or 2 scenarios in each campaign are very unbalanced and probably do not provide a challenging game for one side. In all fairness I must say I haven't tried the scenarios yet, so it might be a bit premature for me to make this statement.

The flair and enthusiasm with which both authors describe the conflict of their armies, has made me very enthusiastic about 18th century wargaming. So maybe I should take the plunge and invest in a period my gaming group hasn't explored before...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Book Review: Verdy's Free Kriegspiel


Some time ago I reported about my interest in Kriegspiel as a wargaming form. I finally found the time to read the book Verdy's Free Kriegspiel, published by John Curry in his History of Wargaming series.

The book consists of several parts. Part 1 is the actual book by General v. Verdy Du Vernois, "Beitrag Zum Kriegspiel." It presents a variant on the classic Von Reissewitz idea, by dropping most rules and employing an umpire to interpret and judge the movements and combat made by the various players. After a short preface, the book basically describes the conduct of a wargame by two players, almost by the minute. Thus, it is an entertaining read, and one gets quickly the idea how such a free kriegspiel can be run. However, I also got the feeling that players back then had much more time and patience. I doubt whether a game nowadays can be run in exactly the same manner.

The 2nd part of this publication describes rules for the Victorian Army's 1896 Wargame. Again, this is meant to be a tool for 'serious wargaming', but instead of leaving everything up to the umpire, rules are presented to adjudicate movements and combat.

The 3rd part of the book is also very useful. It lists marching rates, lengths of columns etc. for various formation in different time eras, even up to the 1940s. A very good source for kriegspielers, since most of us hobbyists lack the insights and professional experience to 'wing' these things when trying to conduct a game.

I still have plans of running a Kriegspiel game one time. One of the things that are needed are maps, of course. An excellent publication in that respect is the Atlas Ferraris, a tome of over 600 pages, detailing Belgium in 2nd half of the 18th century, and based on so-called Cabinet Maps commisioned by the Austrian authorities that were in possession of Belgium at the time. The book, which is a magnificent publication, is quite heavy and large, but the above link provides an on-line version of the atlas. Scanned version of the maps are also available on CD-ROM, and that migh be a very good buy for wargamers interested in 18th century wargaming.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The boys in blue with red stockings and facings

The Jönköpings Regementet, freshly painted and based:

Jönköpings Regiment

The flags are Little Big Men, the officer is a Foundry Marlburian chap. I had to put three washers under him to raise him to the same level as the rest of the figures - the Musketeer figs are pretty hefty :).

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Dippity dip dip: a how to on dipping tiny Romans

As [featured]( on these [hallowed pages]( before, I'm currently (among many other things) building a Roman army using the Army Painter dip method. I find that it produces nice (not stellar, but definitely something you can show on the tabletop) quality figures in a short period of time.

During the painting process of the [last batch]( of them I took a few photographs along the way, so I can write a bit of a photo tutorial on the process, which in itself is quite simple (the verb to dip says it all, really).

The first step is painting the miniatures as you would normally do, except that, as we're going to cover them with what is essentially a dark stained varnish, you select lighter colours than you normally would. In my case, I tend to pick the highlight colour of the Foundry triad, or a similarly light valued Vallejo colour. For the auxilia that volunteered to be the subjects of this test, this results in the following paint jobs:


As you can see, the colours are quite light. I've also picked a grey undercoat to work from, as that means that for the vast majority of the areas on the figures, the metal colours, I can get by with a quick drybrush using a silver colour (Vallejo silver in this case). Anything that gains time in this process is good.

Next is the actual dip. There are two main ways of doing this: actually dipping the figures or painting the varnish on them with a brush. Most people on the web use a brush to paint on the stuff because they shudder to think what thick globs of it on the figure might do. I have no such qualms:


When the figure comes out, it looks like this:


It is, of course, covered in thick globs of the Army Painter dip. To remove the excess, I let some of it drip back off into the pot (a few seconds' worth) and then flick off the rest. By that I mean I give the figure about 15-20 good 'shakes' or 'flicks' that throws off the remaining excess. I do this into a cardboard box, that obviously becomes quite covered in the stuff over time:


Try and avoid doing this step anywhere near anything you or anybody else might possibly object to having spattered with dark brown varnish spots, as their *will* be spillage and overshoot.

After a while (a minute or two at most), the figure will look like this:


The dip has magically shaded and highlighted all of the figure, but it also has pooled in a couple of places: under the hand holding the spear and on the bottom of the shield in this case. Other typical places are between legs, on sandals or under lifted arms. These pooled spots have to be removed by a quick swipe with a brush. You don't have to be neat about this - on the shield e.g., swiping the pool away with a brush results in a spot that is now _lighter_ than the rest of the shield (as the staining substance is gone), but this gets solved automagically as the remaining varnish quickly (over the course of a few minutes) reflows and redistributes itself.

The end result is this (after applying shield transfers, which happens after all of the malarkey above has long gone and dried):

Roman auxilia

And that's all to the dipping method. Take figure, dip, shake, swipe, done!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Celtic cavalry, and some of their friends shanghaied into the Roman army

Just some pics of my painting output of the last two months (all 27 points of it):

Roman auxilia

Those are Roman auxilia from [Warlord Games](, painted using the Army Painter dip method.

Celtic cavalry

And some Foundry Celtic cavalry. The rear rank are figs I painted ages ago, the front rank are newly painted figures.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Painting log: Jönköpings regiment

And the boys in blue with the red facings and stockings (hi, Koen :) ) are done. They're currently recovering from their layer of gloss varnish (read, the varnish is drying). That finishes four of the five battalions with Roos, the final one being the second battalion of the Dal regiment.

Pictures to follow as and when the basing is finished (more on that anon).

That puts this month's painting total at 19 points (the 19 figures of this battalion), trumping last month's abysmal 12 points in the first week of the month. That said, while I did not paint much last month (essentially just the Celtic cavalry of which you can expect photos tomorrow), I did work through a huge backlog of basing figures. I based three battalions of Swedes, one of [Bavarians](, some Celts and Romans, and a whole bunch of [modern microarmour]( Giving points for that would be cheating though, as I already 'scored' those figures after finishing their paint jobs. So I am now left with the moral question of when to score the figures: after the paint job or when they are fully based. I suspect the latter will result in a more accurate reflection of what I can finish in a certain period of time (the entire idea behind the painting point thing), so maybe I'll have to switch. We'll see.

Next up (having just been basecoated) is the second battalion of Bavarians. I'm going to paint this in two lots of twelve as opposed to one of 24. I did the first as one lot of 24 and I suspect that is partly responsible for my drop in painting output afterwards. So let's see what happens with this lot.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Modern British follow up: painting the little beggers

Who would have thought that a long distance shot of some speed painted microarmour would elicit not one but two queries as to how they are painted? So, Benoit and BartD, this entry is especially for you :)

First up, a close up (really close, I used a macro filter on the lens of my camera) of an infantry stand and a Challenger I. In their neighbourhood on [Flickr]( you can find two extra pics of three stands each for comparison.

Modern British infantry closeup

Modern British armour closeup

These pictures link to the Flickr photo pages where, as always, you can select 'All sizes' and then choose the 'Original' view for a really embarrasing close up view of proceedings.

Both the tank and the infantry have been painted with literally only three colours. Of course, I cheat a bit and take up some of the colour of the base onto the tracks of the tanks and onto the infantry, so I guess there's four colours :).

For the infantry, the colours and mode of application are:

* Foundry 27A Storm Green shade. Heavy drybrush with a brush easily twice the size of the figure
* Foundry 5B Fleshtone. Dab on the faces and hands
* Foundry 34C Charcoal Black highlight. Paint on the weapons

For the armour:

* Foundry 27A Storm Green shade. Heavy drybrush.
* Foundry 34A Charcoal Black. Paint on camo streaks - about three to four per vehicle, fairly large
* Vallejo Beige (the number has worn off the bottle :) ) - light drybrush all over

When I do the bases, I use the dark brown for a heavy drybrush (well, wet brush actually) across the tracks and suspension of the armour, and take up the final drybrush colour of the bases (Decoart Hobby Karamel, a beige-ish colour from the local crafts store) in a light drybrush across the infantry.

And that's all. That's how to paint half the world's firepower in a few hours.

As to base sizes (Benoit's question) - I base everything on 1" square bases, except stuff with long barrels, which I base on bases long enough so that the barrel does not overhang the base (to try to avoid the all too common spaghetti barrel problem). In the case of the Challengers and Bravehearts, that's a 40x20mm base from my DBM days.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Modern British update

I spent most of the last few painting sessions finishing bases for a lot of the things I painted in my mad painting spurt a few months ago. That includes the expansion of my Modern British - here they are all laid out neatly in their storage box:

Modern British 1:285

Off the top of my head, there are:

* 4 Challenger tanks
* 4 Challenger II tanks
* 3 AS-90 Braveheart SP artillery
* 13 basic Warrior IFVs
* 8 improved Warrior IFVs
* 2 Swingfire AT vehicles
* 2 mortar carriers based on FV.432 APC
* 1 Cymbeline radar direction finder
* 2 FV 432 APCs functioning as HQ's
* 1 FV 439 signals APC functioning as HQ
* 4 TUM trucks
* 16 infantry platoons
* 4 AT missile stands (Milan)
* 4 AA missile stands (Blowpipe)
* 4 mortar stands
* 6 sniper stands (no idea what to do with them)
* 1 Harrier
* 1 Lynx AT Helo

And I'm probably forgetting a few here and there. Even then, although on first look it seems like a fairly reasonable amount of troops, there's probably more firepower (if not manpower) there than most of the worlds other armies combined.

Still in their blister packs awaiting paint are 10 Chieftain tanks, 10 Spartan IFVs, 10 FV.432 IFVs, 10 Landrover jeeps and a final Lynx.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Crisis 2009

Eddy Sterckx, Bart Vetters, and Phil Dutré overlooking their underwater game at Crisis 2009. Note the presence of several glasses of Ramée.

Crisis 2009 (held in Antwerp, November 7) again was a very nice event, and definitely the highlight of the wargaming calendar in the low (and not-so-low) countries. Not only was there the usual mix of traders, gaming clubs and old friends, but the whole was doused in a nice and friendly atmosphere. Instead of giving a long and exhausting list of games and traders present, go and take a look at the photo reports: here and here. The underwater scuba-diving game is the one we presented as a demo game.

So, how did I experience the con?

1. It is usually very hot in the venue. This year, I went in a light cotton shirt, no heavy sweaters or jackets as in previous years. As you travel light, you should also go to a con light.

2. Arrive early. As a game organizer, I had early entry, and was there by 8.15 (doors open at 10.00). That allowed me to unpack without too much trouble, and take the time to organize our gaming table.

3. An original game - such as underwater combat with scuba-divers, fighting sharks while photographing whales - attracts a lot of people, but doesn't make you win a prize for best game :-)

4. In order to win a prize, you have to put a lot of work in the presentation of the game (look here). Something we cannot do anymore, so we must go for original concepts. From now on, I will be known as an avant-garde wargamer, who will redefine wargaming as we know it, and will only be appreciated many years after his death :-)

5. So, what did I buy? A gelatinuous cube, Featherstone's Lost Tales, The Annexation of Chiraz, The Wargame Companion (yes, I'm a fan of Vintage Wargaming), some river terrain pieces, and the extension to the boardgame Ursuppe.

6. I drank a lot of beer. 6 Ramées is not a good idea when you still have to drive home.

7. It's always a lot of fun ...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Painting log: Celtic cavalry

That's 6 old Wargames Foundry Celtic cavalry done. Together with 6 more which I painted a *very* long time ago (they are from my first ever army - a 25mm DBA Celtic army. Ah, the memories) they form a 12 man cavalry unit reinforcement for my [Celtic army](

Pre basing pic:

Celtic cavalry

The front rank are the newly painted figures, the rear rank the over a decade old ones.

I tried something different wrg glues on these figures. Normally, I glue the riders to the horses and the shields to the riders using super glue. On these, I used hot glue (which I also use to fix the horses to the bases, but I do that more often). I had expected there to be horrible blobs of solidified glue splurting all over the place, but I'm pleasantly surprised as to this: no blobs and everything sticks quickly without the need to do the press-together-for-twenty-seconds-and-then-find-out-if-it-sticks-to-the-figure-or-my-finger routine one does with super glue. Recommended!

That brings this month to 12 painting points. Next up are some more Swedes (finally), this time the Jönkopings regiment.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Swedish infantry

Right, I've been bragging about the Swedes I've been painting, but haven't yet put up good pictures of them. Here's the first three battalions of Karl XII's army at Poltava. They're three of the five (technically, six, but I'm representing the two battalions of the Västerbottens regiment by a single one as they were only the size of one combined by the time of the battle) that ended up with General Roos in the losing battle at the redoubts and Yakovetski woods:

Dalcaria (or Dal) Regiment

Dalcarian (or Dal for short) regiment, first battalion.

Västerböttens regiment

Västerbottens regiment (two amalgamated battalions).

Närke Värmlands Regiment

Närke-Värmlands regiment, 1st battalion (the second went on to the main infantry line).

The figures are from [Musketeer Miniatures](, the flags are hand painted (Dalcaria), Little Big Men (Närke-Värmlands), or scanned from the Höglund book (Västerbottens).

The figures for the next two battalions (Jönköpings and second battalion of the Dalcarian) have arrived last week, so they'll be slotted in the painting queue soon.

__Update__: corrected Västerbottens spelling.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The painting slump has started again

Well, a new month has started so it's time to check on last month's painting total: a meager 15 points. I finished fifteen Warlord Games Roman auxilia (that I had started the month before) and started on 6 Celtic cavalry, which are currently still on the painting table. A long way from my intended 70 points per month.

I've long given up trying to analyse why my painting output drops occasionally, it's one of those things that seem to go in cycles. I'm sure that with Crisis coming up next weekend, painting will pick up again.

One thing I will say, is that I find the Celts harder to paint than the more uniformed types I've been painting lately. There's a distinctive reluctance on having to go back to an area you 'have already painted' to fill in stripes and checkers and stuff. At least with uniformed troops, you need to touch a brush only twice on each region (base colour and highlight). And that is as it should be :)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bavarian Temptation

Why, oh why did Foundry lower prices on [these]( to something only a bear's whisker north of 1€ per figure?

OK, I already own one of these armies (and one unit is [already painted]( ), but with a second one I'll have just about the entire Bavarian army of the period at a 1:30 scale.

Tempting, very tempting...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Painting log: Roman auxilia

To augment my growing plastic Roman army, I just finished a unit of 15 of [Warlord Games]( new [plastic auxilia](

While I like their legionaries, I'm not an undivided fan of these auxilia (which is a bit of a shame, as I've got 4 boxes of them :) ). They are nice figures, but they have a few drawbacks. One of them is that it is virtually impossible to build them differently than intended - the seperate arms are so specific to each pose that it leads to extremely silly results when you combine them with the body of a different pose (spot the auxilia with the extremely small arm in upcoming photos). Secondly, the spears they are armed with are plastic, and just in handling them while painting I already broke 3 of them - I shudder to think how much they will suffer in a game.

That said, this month's total is now 15 points. Last month, I got up to 62, just shy of my target of 70 per month.

Next up is 6 metal (old Foundry figs) cavalry for [my Celtic army](

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Book Review: The River War by W.S.Churchill

Spending some time abroad without any form of communication to the outside world (no internet, tv, or even radio), is always a good time to catch up with reading some books that have been sitting unread on the bookshelf for too long. So it came I read 'The River War' during my latest holiday in Corsica. 'The River War', written by Winston Churchill in 1899, chronicles the Nile Campaign of the British Army at the end of the 19th century. It describes in a fluent style the rise of the Mahdi and the Dervish Empire, the murder of General Gordon at Khartoum and the reconquest of the Sudan by the Anglo-Egyptian force under General Kitchener, culminating in the battle of Omdurman, in which Churchill himself took part as young officer of the 21st Lancers Cavalry Regiment.

The story reads fluently, and one is easily transported back to military campaign that happened over a century ago. As a wargamer, I often judge a book on military history by how inspired I become to recreate the events on the wargaming table. 'The River War' did not dissappoint me. During several reading sessions I regularly dreamed up several scenarios, along with grandiose plans of purchasing large quantities of figures for the period. And although I realize such initial enthusiasm wears off after a while, it is a strong indicator of the vivid descriptions present in the book.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Bavarian 1st Regiment 1812

Here's the finished Bavarians (though their bases aren't finished yet):

Bavarian Regiment 1, König (bases unfinished)

Please not that the 'original' size shows lots of bad cropping artefacts - my mistake :).

Painting log: Bavarian Napoleonic regiment 1

Finally, they're done. 24 Bavarian infantry, painted up as the 1st Regiment, _Konig_.

These guys took me longer than I expected, which is probably normal due to the large amount of detail that goes into a Napoleonic figure. Therefore, I'm going to award myself 1,5 points for each of these, giving 36 points for the entire unit. This is not cheating, I feel, as the painting point thing is supposed to give one a measure of one's painting throughput, and is thus directly related to the time it takes to paint one figure. These figures take me about one and a half time to paint as others, so 1,5 points it is :).

I am considering doing the next Napoleonic regiment in two batches of 12 though -- I found my enthousiasm lagging at several points during the painting of these. 24 sets of leather webbing (in white!) might be a bit too much. We'll see.

Oh yes, pictures to follow tomorrow, as usual.

Next up for painting is a unit of 24 Roman auxilia. As I'll be doing these with 'the dip', painting 24 in one batch won't pose the same problems as did the Napoleonics, I hope.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A lesson in paint dilution, or why white is a b*tch to paint

As you know, I'm currently painting Napoleonic Bavarians. When your average wargamer thinks of Bavarians, he thinks of cornflower blue coats and lozenged flags. But there's also a lot of white (a colour normally firmly planted in the Austrian camp) in a Napoleonic Bavarian uniform: the trousers are white, as is all of the leather webbing used to hang various pieces of kit on the Bavarian soldier.

If you would ask me which colour I dislike most when painting, the answer would be white.

To tell you why, I need to take a little detour and talk about paint dilution. Some of the comments I get from people who see my paint jobs is that the paint looks very smooth on the figure -- that's because of paint dilution. I never (well, almost never) use paint straight from the pot. Whichever paint I have used (these days, I only use Vallejo and Foundry paints) over the years I've been painting miniatures, I have always diluted it with water before using it. The reason is that I like my paint to have a certain consistency when applying it, and with me a number of other painters out on the web (and even the vaunted Kevin Dallimore as stated in his book). The consistency I'm after is the famous 'milky' or 'single cream' consistency everyone talks about when you do some research on the web.

Paint with the right consistency should flow easily off the brush onto the figure. Paint that is too thick does not flow easily and leaves 'ridges' when applied, paint that is too thin does not cover well and has a tendency to 'escape' and run off into depressions on the figure (areas that really should be shaded). With most paints, I can now pretty easily achieve this consistency and keep it while painting under hot lights (one needs good lighting while painting) by periodically adding more water. But white is a different story.

This has something to do with the pigment used in white paint (as an aside, maybe I should use my years of studying chemistry to figure this out :) ). The 'right' consistency for white paint lies on a razor sharp edge between too thick and chalky and too thin and useless. It is very difficult to get the paint to the right consistency and even more to keep it there. I have learnt to put only extremely small amounts of paint on my palette (well, ice cream container lid) so that when I muck it up, I can just wipe it off and try again without too much loss.

And even then, the right consistency is soo elusive that I usually consciously overthin the paint as that's easier to handle -- you have to be careful not to let the paint run off and need two layers to cover, but it works that way, and the alternative (using it when too thick) would not result in a nice smooth covering.

But still, it means that any figure with an appreciable amount of white (and believe it or not, the major colour on the Bavarian figures is white, not blue) takes longer to paint than the same figure in other colours.

I think my next battalion of Bavarians will be in campaign dress with lots of non regulation trousers :)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Miniature photography part whatever: new photo setup

One of the consistently high-scoring search terms that brings people to this here blog (except for the ones looking for pictures of real tiny men, that is), is that of miniature photography. I have written (or waffled on) quite a bit about this subject -- take a look at [these entries]( to read up on them.

As others will agree with me, the most important thing when photographing miniatures is not the camera or the post processing software, but simply light - the bunch of photons of various frequencies that bounce off of (or are absorbed and re-emitted at a different frequency by) the miniature and are captured on the camera's CCD (or film if you're inclined towards the analog side of photography). Specifically, one can never have enough of it. By far the most common 'mistake' in photographs of miniatures (including many of my own) is that there was not enough light when they were taken.

Now, if you're lucky, you can use daylight for your photographs, but you need good daylight. Diffuse, uniform and stable daylight. Hard, direct sunlight means harsh shadows and part of your miniature invisible in the shadows. As most of us work during the day, the only time we have for photographing miniatures is evenings, and it tends to be dark around then. Especially if you're anything like me and want to show off a freshly painted miniature when it is still that - so freshly painted that the paint is not completely dry yet. And as miniatures tend to be finished at the end of painting sessions, it is invariably late at night and dark at that time -- so no sunlight.

The second option is coming up with some kind of 'studio' setup where you have a number of lights shining on the miniature to be photographed. Over the years, I've had lots of setups, but they all suffered from the fact that they need some time to piece together. I have to clear the painting table, find a way to prop up the background paper, find and set up the lights, place the miniature, .... Too involved, which means that often I did not bother and settled for lesser quality photographs.

However, today I stumbled upon the (for now) perfect combination of ease and convenience -- my scanner (well, actually all-in-one printer). I can use the scanner bed as my 'studio', and the scanner lid hinges open to support the A3 paper I use as a background. Add two spots and the studio is done! Just put the camera on a tripod in front of it and we're done! The entire thing (as the spots live next to the printer when not in use) sets up in no time at all. Here's a photo of the thing in use:

The setup

And here's the result, with only the white balance adjusted (the light of those spots is very yellow):

The result

So next time I'll have to set the white balance manually before taking the photograph (so I don't need to do it in a photo editing program afterwards) and I also think I'll lift the camera up a bit higher, as now it photographs from just below the miniature instead of head on - and you start to see the shortcuts I take to paint the miniature fast that way :). BTW, the fusilier in the photograph is still a work in progress - the metals, musket and black still need to be finished.

The final step in lighting for miniature photography is a light tent, of course. Maybe that's next :)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Napoleon rules by Wargames Foundry

Some time ago I bought the [Napoleon rules]( by [Wargames Foundry]( and have been promising a review of them for quite a while now. This is that review :).

Having previously bought Kevin Dallimore's painting book from them, and having seen some full colour samples on their website, I knew that, at least in terms of amount of 'wargames porn', the book would be worth its fairly steep price of €37.

In that respect, I was not disappointed. The book is well laid out, with full colour pages throughout the book and one or more photos of well painted miniatures on the vast majority of pages. In addition to photographs of just painted miniatures, there are also dozens of photos of (probably posed) games in full swing -- both very inspirational and reassuring to the army painter amongs us as these show figures that have been painted to a much more sensible table top standard. As to sheer visual impression alone, I would even hazard to put forward the opinion that the book is worth its prize (an opinion that, given what is to follow a few paragraphs further down, might be seen as slightly surprising and even contradictory).

One area I particularly liked, a bit contrary to my expectation, is the tutorial section on painting. It shows a figure (a French Old Guard grenadier, arguably the iconic figure of the period) being painted by Kevin Dallimore in full-on three layer style with good close ups showing the 'difficult bits' such as the face. Educating stuff, and in my opinion even better than in his own painting book (that, I felt, was occasionally somewhat lacking in this last respect). Even better, in addition to Mr. Dallimore's tutorial there's also a nice bit by the author himself on his style of army painting. Not that this is much more than 'first do this on twenty figures, than that and after that another thing', but is nevertheless refreshing to see a section on army painting in a general wargames book.

Now to the quality of the ruleset contained in the book. Unencumbered, unphased and even undaunted by my [earlier record]( in [reviewing rulesets unplayed](, I will continue to offer bold statements totally denuded of any practical background and say that the rules as written are unplayable. From the way the rules are written and presented, it would certainly seem that they were never playtested in an environment where the rules author or someone familiar with the rules was not present. While it is easy to explain in person what the idea behind a certain rule is or how to handle a certain situation on the tabletop, it is something else entirely to have to write this down in a way that makes that same intent clear to someone who has only the words as written as a guide, and might even be a complete newcomer to the Napoleonic period or even wargaming in general. I think (though I can never be sure until I play them - they might miraculously turn out to be of the utmost
clarity) that these rules as written fail in that respect.

This is just an impression from two readings of the rules, and I'm not an expert on the Napoleonic period, so I'm willing to be proven wrong on playing these rules, as always.

However, I do have a big issue with the book in an area that I *am* somewhat familiar with - that of painted miniatures, and photographs thereof. The (often half-heartedly finished but nevertheless quite instructive in places) reference section is larded with pictures of large (for contemporary gaming, not the old style big battalion games) units of well painted figures. Of course, Foundry being a miniatures company, they want to sell miniatures, which is a big part of the reason these photographs are in there. And while the reference section sometimes skirts dangerously close to the line between reference and miniatures catalog (or, for some of the belligerents represented, leaves the line dwindling in the distance, well and truly crossed), _in se_ this is fine. They are a miniatures company and get their profit from selling miniatures. Nothing wrong there.

So, when I first browsed through and subsequently read the reference section, I ogled those pictures and admired the effort that must have gone into painting so many figures (an effort that I can now appreciate even better, being in the process of painting Napoleonic Bavarians). And then I looked again. And again. And felt cheated. Every single photo of a unit that I subsequently examined has had copy paste work done. For example, if a unit consists of 6 bases -- one command, 3 fusilier, 1 grenadier and 1 light of flank -- in all of the photographs that I examined (and I'd almost say all of them - though I haven't checked) the similar bases (e.g. the three fusilier companies) are identical to the pixel. _They have been copy pasted in a photo editing program_.

And it gets worse. There are pictures, e.g. the unit of early Austrian "German" infantry on page 159, where even within an individual base, _every single figure is a copy of the same figure_. The photo mentioned has exactly four individual painted figures on it, the remaining 28 are copy paste clones of the same figure.

Now, I might be wrong about this (though I doubt it). The reason I think these are copy paste clones is twofold:
  •  If you look closely at some of the photos, you can see the cropping artefacts one gets when cropping the background out of a photo
  • Every figure on these bases is painted exactly (and I mean _exactly_) the same, with every paint stroke at exactly the same place with exactly the same thicknes and exactly the same hue. Unless these were painted by a machine (and even then) that seems impossible.

So, we have here a company that is so eager to sell its miniatures that it rushes out a rulebook advocating large(ish) units (nothing wrong with that in itself) but subsequently cheating (in my view) their customers by not even bothering to paint (or, more precisely, have painted) these figures themselves. Instead, they paint a few and then copy paste their way to full units. This is not good in my opinion.

Now, while that has not stopped me to buy Foundry miniatures (hey, one has to keep feeding the habit, and they had a sale on) or even to play the rules, it nevertheless is something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's not a capital crime, but it nevertheless is further proof that Foundry has well and truly fallen from its perch as the nec plus ultra of historical 28mm figures.

Feel free to discuss in the comments :)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Nelson's column at Trafalgar (and some extras)

As promised, here are the photos (notice that I was too lazy to remove my kitchen table from the photo :) ):

Nelson's column - 1

Nelson's column - 2

Additionally, here's todays workbench pic:

Bavarian infantry

For some reason, these already look the part, even though there's only two colours of paint on them. I'm doing these a full regiment of 24 figures at a time - I'm curious to know where my upper 'army painting' limit lies.

Painting log: British fleet at Trafalgar, part 1

While the smell of varnish is still in the air, I'm calling these finished. 16 ships, being Nelson's column along with four frigates and _Africa_ that was in neither Nelson's nor Collingwood's column. Add another 16 points for a total of 26 points this month.

Pictures will have to wait for the varnish to dry.

Next up are the first battalion/regiment of the Bavarian Napoleonics. They've been cleaned and primed and are set for their first layers of paint tomorrow. As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy these figures were to clean up - these being old figures I had expected them to suffer horribly from flash and mould lines -- something I hate removing. However, apart from the obligatory flash at the tip of the bayonets these figures were clean as a whistle. Good job by Foundry!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Work in progress: British fleet at Trafalgar

The unresolved black blobs in the picture below are the second batch of my Trafalgar figures, the British:

Work in progress: 1:3000th sailing ships

They're cleaned and primed and have just been glued to magnetic sheets (some magnetic tokens I got way back at a Napoleonic game). They'll probably be painted in two batches, one batch being Collingwood's column and the other Nelson's column, _Africa_ and the frigates.

After that, as the Swedes have not arrived yet (though it seems that Bill from Musketeer has every reason to be behind on his mail order) and the Bavarians have, I might well paint up the first Bavarian battalion. Or the Orc Uncharted Seas fleet. Or some more Romans. Or some Swedish vignettes. Enough work :)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Painting log: modern British 1:285 infantry and support

First finished figures for this month:

1:285th modern British infantry

And yes, they *are* painted, it's just that between the still black bases and the crappy phone camera, it doesn't really look that way.

There's 8 infantry stands, 4 mortar stands, 6 snipers, 4 Milan AT and 4 Blowpipe AA. As these have a very basic paint job only (there's literally only three colours on them), I'm giving myself 10 points for the 26 stands. 60 to go for the month :)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

How I organize my painting ...


One of our loyal readers asked me what setup I use for miniature painting. The key is portability. I get less painting done when I have to go to a seperate room and be isolated from the other housemembers. Instead, I try to take my painting wherever my presence is most appreciated. That could be the kitchen, the living-room, or even in the garden.

To make things portable, I do the following:
1. A workstation containing all the tools. For this, I use the paint station from Games Workshop.
2. Something to organize your paints. For that, I use a paint rack from Miniaturicum.
3. Some discipline in not trying to work on too many projects at once. I also find it useful to have an old CD-rack to organize work-in-progress.
4. Don't put everything away after a painting session, but store it somewhere 'as is'. If I feel like painting, I take out the paint station and the paints, and in less than 5 minutes I'm working on whatever I left a few days before.

I sometimes even paint for only half an hour or so. Having everything ready at hand saves time in setting everything up. Granted, this may not mean much, but several such half-hours during an entire week can really get things accomplished.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Free Kriegsspiel


I have always been interested in Kriegsspiel, the wargaming exercises developed by the Prussian Military in 19th century.

For several years, I did own a copy of a translation of the original kriegsspiel rules, but I never used them, since I didn't have appropriate maps. However, last year I bought the mapsets from Too Fat Lardies. Alas, we didn't find the time yet to try them out. One of the reasons for that is that the rules of Kriegsspiel themselves are somewhat arcane and complicated, and it wouldn't pay off to invest time in learning a game with a steep learning curve.

So, I was very much interested to see that John Curry has republished the 'Beitrag Zum Kriegsspiel by the Prussian General J. von Verdy du Vernois. Published after Von Reissewitz' version of kriegsspiel, the booke xplains why playing kriegsspiel with a minimum of rules - and more in a freeform manner - makes a lot of sense. I haven't read the book yet, but will do so the coming days.

In some way, free kriegsspiel is very much related to gamesmastering, something most wargamers are familiar with through roleplaying. We also employed the concept in a demonstration game at Crisis 2005, and of course matrix games are also based on the same idea.

To the members of my gaming group: be prepared for a kriegsspiel scenario!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Painting log: modern British 1:285 vehicles

26 vehicles and 1 helicopter done:


Excuse the suboptimal photo - it's taken on my cellphone in bad light. The Romans behind are the ones I finished earlier, I just sanded their bases today.

In painting points, as these have only a very basic wargames paint job, I'm only counting half a point per vehicle (rounded up :) ). That brings this month's total up to 84 points.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Various Work In Progress figures

Most of this month's painting output has been featured in [a few]( [earlier]( [posts]( and even [several]( [battle]( [reports](, but just to show that I wasn't lying about my painting output this and last month, here's a shot of what's in my painting desk awaiting basing:

Various completed units waiting for basing

Additionally, currently being painted (and on track to be finished by the end of this month, otherwise known as tomorrow) are a load of vehicles for my [modern British army]( They just need camo painted and a final weathering drybrush and they're done (unless I decide to do some extra detailing). The two finished ones are there for color reference while painting.

British modern 1:285

There's 4 Challenger II tanks, 3 AS90 Braveheart SP artillery, a radar mortar range finder (counter battery radar), a communications vehicle I'm going to be using as battery FO, 4 medium trucks, 5 early Warriors and 8 improved Warrior IFV's. Oh yeah, and a Lynx helicopter with TOW missiles as well.


I might be missing something here, but -- huh?

[Firepower and Flaming Lights](

OK, I can see a modicum of use in demonstration games or Christmas Trees, but I repeat: huh? This might be taking 'Visual Appeal is Everything' just a bit too far :)


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Damn, I cracked

As the title says, I cracked. I bought myself a [Foundry Napoleonic Bavarian Army]( The straw that broke the camel's back (and not, I hope, the bank) was the 20% off of all web sales promotion they have running currently. I had looked at the army before, but for 410€, I could pretty much construct the same army cheaper from [Front Rank Miniatures](, postage included (the Foundry army is post free). However, with 20% off, that is no longer the case.

So, I cracked. The specific enthusiasm for 28mm Napoleonics has been brought up by the Foundry's [Napoleon rules]( While I did not really like them on first reading, I am now rereading them (with the eye of doing a review on them) and find that many (though not, by far, all) of the negative points they had seem to be somewhat mollified by the second reading. I'm not entirely convinced yet that the set of rules is playable as is from the book, and there is one horrendous _faux pas_ in them (to do with the pictures of painted units in there), but as said, that's for the review. However, there's more than one way of skinning a cat, and that goes specifically for Napoleonic wargame rules, of which there are legion, so the figures will probably see _some_ use (the lack of opposition is a ticklish point. Although, for Bavarians under my generalship, that might just mean they can actually win a game).

As an aside, although the army deal has 4 36-man battalions, they all (from the photos at least) contain double command figures (officer, drummer, ensign), so I'm thinking of splitting them into 6 24-man battalions. With some judicious use of knife and green stuff for the flank companies' plumes, that should be doable. The 36-man units in the army are funny, BTW, as the Napoleon rules have the Bavarians as 24-man units (6 companies, with one stand of 4 figures representing a company).

This project will play second fiddle to the Great Northern Wars project, of course. Current status there is still as before: three battalions painted up, with two more on order from [Musketeer]( (who, as always, seem to take their time to process the order -- the order was sent out over a month ago and has not been despatched yet). The idea is to have a playable force (around 5 infantry battalions, 2 guns and 3 cavalry squadrons) by January and the full monty Poltava by late next year.

Which brings me to painting - I completed 16 Roman legionaries yesterday, bringing the Roman armylet up to 3 16-man legionary units. Auxilia have been pre-ordered and should be on their way next month. That also brings my painting points this month to 70. That seems to be a number I can comfortably do each month, so as of now that's my monthly target. Next up in the painting queue is some more modern British 1:285 stuff. Why no Swedes, the main project focus? See the paragraph above. As long as the newly ordered Swedes don't arrive, it's smorgasbörd painting for me.

Book Review: The Elfish Gene

I just finished reading 'The Elfish Gene', by Mark Barrowcliffe. The byline of the book is 'Dungeons, Dragons, and growing up strange', and that's exactly what the book covers.

It describes the author growing up as an adolescent boy in Coventry, becoming totally addicted to Dungeons & Dragons. Many of the episodes he describes are very recognizable for those of us who also grow up during the 70s and 80s, the golden age of pen-and-paper roleplaying games. Although of course the setting is a bit different, I could relate very well to the anxieties and obsession of teenage boys with games. I even admit that at one point I thought the ultimate career in life would be to run a gaming shop (to have free access to all the stuff), or at least be a game designer in one of the game companies.

Although I still play games, that same level of intensity one had as a boy is gone. But non-gaming friends tell me I still look like a game fanatic to them, so I guess it must have been really weird 20 years ago ;-)

Full reviews:

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

French take revenge on Spanish fleet

Exactly one week ago, Koen came over to my place for a game of Trafalgar. This time, we played the 'Harbour Raid' scenario, a followup to the [last game]( that saw the Spanish treasure fleet escaping a French ambush to safety. Or so they thought.

As it turns out, superior intelligence work by the French enabled them to find the location of the treasure fleet while still at anchor in its port of call. They quickly despatched a squadron with the mission of raiding the Spanish fleet in port.

In this game, I played the French with 9 3rd rate ships, while Koen took the Spanish with the _Santissima Trinidad_, the _Santa Ana_ (both 1st rate ships) and 4 3rd raters. As last time, the rest of this report is my view of the battle.

Start of the game

My victory condition was to get half of my ships (5 of them, rounded up as half a ship does not float :) ) between the two islands at the other end of the table. The wind blew from the south (right in this and following images). My plan was fairly simple - I wanted to sail SE, close to the wind, in line abreast with the intent of forming line towards the NE once past the central island and sailing in between the two Spanish squadrons (one of 2 third raters on the left, the two 1st and another 2 third raters on the right).

However, no plan survives contact with the enemy, or in this case even just the first turn, as I immediately changed the plan at the start of the game. For some reason, once movement was underway, I did not like my chances going in between the two Spanish squadrons and decided to make a dash for it and try and contest the wind gage (i.e. race to the south to make the southernmost ship a French one, giving me some advantages). This would enable me to concentrate all of my ships (in two lines, one to windward and one to leeward of the Spanish) on the big Spanish squadron, hoping to finish it off before the other two Spanis ships arrived. Of course, that would also mean my deployment was wrong, as that was meant to swing into line off of the leftmost ship, while now that would be the last of the line...

French modify their plan

The red lines are what I thought Koen would do, but he quickly got wind of my plan and raced his ships towards the south as well, so the first part of the game was a race to the edge of the world by our respective windward squadrons:

Race for the wind gage

Meanwhile, I decided to see if I could cause the other two Spanish ships to stay away from the main fight by sending my second column through the island chain in the middle of the table (still intending to swing that column south towards the main fight). It took me a while to maneuver the ships into something resembling a battle line (finely maneuvring these things is harder than it looks in this game), but I got there after a turn or two:

The French leeward column

However, all this work quickly turned to nought when the wind turned to the NE at exactly that point (when the two pictures above were taken). This meant that the leeward column now could no longer get through the islands (the wind being now ahead of them for such a maneuver) and that my windward line was suddenly sailing into the wind and was thus taken aback. Some fancy maneuvring (read: good dice) was called for...

And then the _instant de gloire_ came for the French fleet. What initially looked like a disaster quickly turned into a game winner. The wind turning made my decision for me on where to deploy the windward column (left or right of the Spanish). Right was no longer an option as I would then tack right of the table, so left it was. This meant that five of my ships (not to mention the leeward column having a bit of a scrape with the islands) would need to tack in succession to the left, or five command rolls would need to succeed. The result:

The French windward column tacks perfectly

Perfect maneuver! Suddenly, I had five ships crossing the T of the Spanish fleet, or 5 close to medium range broadsides bow raking the Spanish fleet. Vive la France (et les dés)! This pretty much decided the game:

The end of the game

My concentrated broadsides decrewed the Santissima Trinidad (not that there was very much left to crew after two raging fires) and knocked out the rudder of another ship (the one sailing blithely on on the right). The remaining two Spanish ships did manage to set fire to one of my ships on their turn to cross our T (with even more devastating stern rakes) however.

After this turn, we declared the game for the French, as my windward column was now past the Spanish main line and would, with the help of the leeward column that was now past the islands (though on the other side as intended - damn wind :) ), easily be able to deal with the two remaining Spanish ships between us and the port. Revenge!

Good game again -- I really like these rules.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Skavenby Literary Convention IV

Here's the pictures of the newly painted Skaven team. I photographed them with sunlight only, and they turned out too dark, so I did not follow [my own advice](, but so be it.

Skaven Bloodbowl team

There's 6 linerats, 2 Storm Vermin, 1 Thrower and 5 Gutter Runners (though I just reread the rules and it seems you can only have 4 of them on the roster -- oh well).

Just for giggles, I photographed a few of them with their counterparts of fourteen years ago, to compare painting styles. Way back then, I was only just starting, and used the classic base coat / wash / drybrush technique. These days, I layer - here's the comparison:

Skaven Storm Vermin

Skaven Gutter Runner

*Update*: I've replaced the main picture with one where I lightened things a bit (delete the background to transparency so the dynamic range of the image is determined by the figures and not skewed towards the light background, then autoadjust levels and add a new background).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Der Spiegel & Wargaming

For those of you who want to freshen up their German, here's a nice article about wargaming in Der Spiegel (dated July 2009).,1518,634213,00.html

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Skaven Blood Bowl team

Next up on the finished units is a 're-imagining' of my old Skaven Bloodbowl team, the Skavenby Literary Convention (I, II and III). I painted these models way back when I started playing with toy soldiers, even before I met Phil and got into historical miniature wargaming. This must have been 1996 or so, almost fifteen years ago.

The last bits have been painted yesterday and they're in the varnishing pipeline at the moment (gloss first, then matt), so pictures will have to wait. This post is just to tally the painting points - I'm giving myself 2 points per figure on these, as I've gone full hog in three layer painting on them (though not competition quality, there's too many uncorrected mistakes for that) and there's a whole lot of fiddly detail on the figures (lots of straps, buttons, pointy bits and sometimes even pointy bits on the other pointy bits).

So at 14 figures -- 6 linerats, 2 storm vermin, 1 thrower and 5 gutter runners (yes, that's a lot of gutter runners, and should tell you something about my playing style with them), that's 28 points.

Total for the month is 52. Next up is probably another unit of Romans, as the new Swedes from Musketeer have not arrived yet (have, in fact not even been shipped yet).

Thursday, 13 August 2009

How do you organize your paints?

My paint bottles are usually kept in boxes. I try to organize them by color (all the reds go together, all the blues, etc.), but I still have trouble finding a specific colour when I need it.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to find this product:

A must-have paint organizer rack for the discerning wargamer!!!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Spanish treasure ship escapes French ambush!

Last Sunday, Alan and I played a game of Trafalgar using my [freshly painted]( [French and Spanish]( sailing ships. The scenario we played was one from the book, called 'Pursuit', which is a variation on the 'important ship needs to get off table' theme.

I played the Spanish, with 4 3rd rate ships of the line and one 1st rate, the _Principe d'Asturias_. I nominated one of the third raters, the _Bahama_, as the Spanish Treasure ship that needed to get off table (we quickly decided this was the [Spanish Treasure Fleet](, even if that had last sailed over a decade earlier). Alan played the French with six third raters (so he had the edge in number of cannon) but had to deploy in two seperate groups, as per scenario rules.

What follows is my view of how the battle developed.

As I had the wind advantage (the wind was blowing in the direction I needed to escape -- east, or towards the bottom in the overview photos of the table) and Alan thus had to tack upwind to get to me, I was in a very comfortable position. My first few turns were thus spent sailing towards the spot indicated on the photo below, not needing to decide anything yet. The French sailors, in the mean time, did not same to be able to remember quite what to do when needing to tack, and a full five out of six ships ended up in irons with some mast damage to a few. Good start!

The blue arrows in the photo below represent what I thought Alan would do, if his ships ever got underway.

Start of the game

Having, after a few turns, arrived at the decision point, I had three options:

Decision time for the Spanish

Option A seemed the safest, with my five ships concentrated against just a few French. However, as the wind had now turned a point towards the south -- advantageous to the French -- and his farthest ships had set full sail and were thus chugging along at a fair clip, I thought that perhaps the French might yet catch me.

Option B, going down the middle, seemed to be the most risky as that would definitely land me in the middle of the French fleet.

Option C beckoned as a surprise alternative. Using it, I would have to hope that I could dash behind the northernmost (rightmost in the pictures) French squadron and sail off to safety.

In the end, this is what I did:

The Spanish make their decision

I decided to mix options A and B. The Spanish ships in the above picture are the ones with the blue markers (for full sail setting), so you can see that I sent three ships, including the _Bahama_, down path A, while two ships, including the _Principe d'Asturias_ went down path B in the hopes of interfering with the French ships that were closing the range fast. _Bahama_ would obviously have to remain at full sail and dash of at the utmost speed down the path indicated.

And with that, hostilities were opened and many a broadside was loosed. I suffered many hits on my ships, including many fires that luckily were fairly easy to put out on account of the rain that had started to fall. In response, the Spanish gunners turned out to be a panicky bunch that half of the time did not seem to be able to remember how to fire their cannon in the heat of battle, and that, when they did remember, were quite unable to do any real damage -- perhaps forgetting to actually load ball into their cannon, being satisfied with just the nice big bang (read: bad dice rolling on my part). Frustrating, especially when that meant that two unscathed (as opposed to at least somewhat damaged by the preceeding Spanish broadsides that would have been fired at them) French ships were able to cross the T of my northern 'screening' group (good maneuvring by Alan there):

French ships cross the T of two Spanish ships

Grumble. Luckily, however, what little damage and delay my ships could do to the French ships was enough to enable the Bahama to escape in the nick of time. Victory to the Spanish! Truth be told, it's probably the turn or so the French spent getting underway again after they failed to tack in the beginning of the game that saved me :).

Anyway, Alan and myself were pleased with the way the game played and with the result. We handled five or ships each and the game was played to conclusion in just 2,5 hours. Good ruleset!

More pictures of the game can be found [here on Flickr](

On to the next encounter!