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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000359.html) 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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000347.html) 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

christmas.jpg
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.

skave_banners.jpg
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.

skaven-elephants.jpg
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 Supermagnete.be

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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000335.html) 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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000333.html), 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](http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=186664) of mine on one of the [TMP](http://www.theminiaturespage.com) 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


ChirazA.jpg


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.




StMichelA.jpg



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

verdyfrontcover.gif


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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000346.html) on these [hallowed pages](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000297.html) 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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000346.html) 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:

IMG_0696

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:

IMG_0700

When the figure comes out, it looks like this:

IMG_0701

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:

IMG_0697

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:

IMG_0702

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](http://shop.warlordgames.co.uk/plastic-imperial-roman-auxiliaries-1945-p.asp), 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](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000335.html), some Celts and Romans, and a whole bunch of [modern microarmour](http://www.nirya.be/snv/ttm/archives/000343.html). 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](http://www.flickr.com/people/robartes) 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.