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!

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

Friday, 7 August 2009

Franco Spanish fleet, part 2

And here are the pics of the freshly painted ships:

Spanish and French sail of the line

Santissima Trinidad and friends

The terrain they're photographed on is my new terrain mat and islands from the imaginatively named Terrain Mat, which I highly recommend.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Painting Log: Franco Spanish fleet, part 2

I just finished the remaining 14 ships of the Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. That's 14 points, or a total of 24 points so far this month. Next up in the painting queue is a new Skaven Blood Bowl team (basically a new set of figures I'm painting in the same colours as the ones I did over ten years ago - should be interesting to compare them).

Pictures of the ships to follow once it's light again :).

And I'm now sure that I did not get the right mix of ships for the engagement. I think I got the mix that is stated on the website for the Franco-Spanish fleet, but that does not correspond to the actual ships present at Trafalgar. As I've said, there's only one three-decker and two 'full sail' two-deckers, while at Trafalgar there was one four-decker and three three-deckers. Oh well, in this scale, it's not really noticeable.

Skaven Screaming Bell

The model below is the first Skaven Screaming Bell, issued by GW in 1993 or 1994. I always tought it funny that the Bell could move by itself, so I decided to use 2 Rat Ogres to pull the Bell. A Clan Moulder Packmaster and some giant rats makes up the full model.


I am not sure what the current GW logic is moving the Screaming Bell. Some weird magical explanation involving warpstone probably ...

Anyway, my Screaming Bell never really saw action on the gaming table. I completed it after I was done with Warhammer, and since then, I never again played the large-scale fantasy games we used to have. I am still looking for the optimal fantasy mass battle ruleset though!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Uncharted Seas game

Yesterday my [new fleet]( got its first outing against both Frank's Shroud Mages and his Elves. Frank played with the Shroud Mages, Eddy took the Elves and Koen and myself were outnumbered with the Humans. The Shroud Mages and Elves had a standard fleet of 1 battleship, 3 cruisers and 6 frigates each, while we had that plus a squadron of 3 martyr frigates, all led by the mighty battleship _Tears of the Empress' Favourite Concubine_.

Some photos of the game can be found in this [Flickr set](

Our plan to take on the two fleets was simple: we had the wind advantage (the wind was on our starboard stern and side for most of the game), while the Elves would have to tack upwind to get to us (the Shroud Mages, being steam powered, were of course not influenced by the wind). So our plan was simple:

The human plan

While the Elves were busy tacking towards us (as Eddy can be seen doing in the background), our capital ships (the _Tears_ and the cruisers) would form a line of battle using their powerful broadsides to engage the Shroud Mages and hopefully do some damage (as at this range, the Human fleet has the more powerful guns. Up close, the Shroud Mages are a bit stronger, but at medium to long range, our guns are better). The frigates would use their speed and maneuvrability to dart in amongst the Shroud Mage fleet and wreak as much havoc as they could. The martyr frigates would hang back and engage targets of opportunity.

Things went awry fairly soon. The martyr frigates, as can be seen by their conspicuous absence in the above photograph, advanced too impetuously and were destroyed by long range fire of both Elves and Shroud Mages. However, one of them did manage to get in among the Shroud Mage fleet and blow itself up, slightly denting one of their cruisers.

Our main battle line never really materialised. While the _Tears_ swung into line soon enough and managed to destroy a Shroud Mage cruiser, our cruisers never really got into a good firing position.

What did work though, were the frigates. The two normal (as opposed to martyr) frigate squadrons got into the Shroud Mage fleet and between them dispatched a frigate or two and a cruiser (a pack of three frigates firing close range linked broadsides into a cruiser -- albeit one already damaged by battleship fire -- is nasty)!

However, that was more or less the high point of the game for the humans. As the Elves swung towards us, the wind suddenly veered into an advantageous position for them (well played magic card by Eddy), bringing their cruisers and battleship into close range of our fleet. The _Tears_, while pouring broadside fire into the Elves, made a last attempt at fleeing behind the central island (hoping to insert itself between that island and the anchored Shroud Mage battleship on the other side of it, limiting its exposure to said battleship), but an unlucky main mast hit slowed it down just when it turned away from the Elves, setting up the perfect stern rake position for them.

We struck our flag at that point :)

It was a fun game, with a nice and fun set of rules. The [Uncharted Seas]( rules have a good balance between complexity (or lack thereof) and speed of play. Things progressed swiftly (even though it was only Frank's and mine second game, and Eddy's and Koen's first) and I felt that there was enough tactical depth in the game to keep it at a level that is a bit more than rolling dice and see who rolls highest. Highly recommended!

Skaven Rocket Team

In 1993, I attended EuroGencon. Apart from the Magic The Gathering craze that was starting, I also participated in a fantasy wargaming tournament using rules designed by Martin Hackett.

Part of the fun was that the army lists did leave a lot of room for designing your own troops. Instead of saying 'catapult' or 'trebuchet', it would simply say, 'war machine'. So I came up with a rocket launcher for my skaven army. Starting from a Nippon Rocket Team, I made a very small conversion of 2 skaven models; giving one a rocket to hold, and another a torch to light the fuse.


I didn't do well in the tournament though ;-)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Skaven and the Escargotaurus

Way back, when Warhammer Fantasy Battles was still in its 3rd edition (1987-1991), I played Warhammer a lot. One of the nice features that was available in the Realm of Chaos books, was to give units chaos mutations. Skaven were one of the races that could receive chaos mutations, and it was encouraged to actually modify your miniatures such that they reflected physical the mutations.

The unit shown below is one of the units that featured in my skaven army. Besides some non-physical mutations, the unit received an alternate head mutation, and a changed forelimb. I tried to work that theme into the miniatures by replacing some heads, as well as some arms.

The skaven bodies are all from the Warhammer Regiments box, except one giant rat (giant rat 1) body (front right) and a skaven character (verminlord with halberd) (far left). The head mutations are (from left to right and back to front): unchanged skaven head on character model, goat's head from Chimera model, fly from a plastic toy, added horns to skaven head, genestealer (Spacehulk model), horse (plastic toy), pelican (plastic toy), lizard (plastic GW), deer (plastic toy), chaos hound, a very weird head mutation -- tail from the same chimera and finally a dragon head (also from chimera, he served well!) on chaos spawn.
The arms are the following: genestealer, no change, genestealer, space marine bionic arm, crab's claw (plastic toy), no change, no change, changed weapon, no change, skeleton arm, no change, and the chaos spawn doesn't have any arms.

A second model that was a conversion for my chaos forces was the model I dubbed the Escargotaurus. A cross-breed between a giant snail (from a plastic toy model) and a minotaurus was the focal model of my army. The minotaur body is from Advanced Heroquest, the wings (which were there to help the creature to keep itsbody straight) are from the same chimera model mentioned above.
I must say I had fun creating these models. I don't know whether such models would still be allowed under the current WFB rules, but they served me well on the battlefield many years ago!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Uncharted Seas human fleet

... and they're done. Bartholomeus Sinister Grassus' (also known as Black Bart in this setting) fleet is ready to take to the seas:

Uncharted seas human fleet 1

Uncharted seas human fleet 2

Uncharted seas human fleet 3

That's one battleship, three cruisers, 6 frigates and 3 martyr ships (frigates that go boom, as indicated by the ducks carrying bombs on the sails), or 10 points worth of Olley points. Good start to the month.

I'm not entirely happy with the decals though. First off, they turned out to be on white paper, so I had to rethink how I was going to do them and print a dark background for them. Second, I'm not that pleased with how they sit on the sails - probably the same as a commercial decal, but still. Oh well, this was my first time using decal paper like this, so let's call it a learning experience.