Wednesday, 22 September 2004

Current work in progress

The last newly painted figure on the left here, dates back a few days (and never mind the fact that I just [added]( [two]( ), so I thought to post an update on what I'm currently doing, painting and modelling wise.

First thing I'm up to is continuing the [rebasing of the 25mil SRB](/snv/ttm/archives/000065.html); the figures had already been put on single bases, which have had texture applied and painted, but they still need static grass applied. However, I got a good tip from Peter Schulein at the Crusade convention, wrg to gluing magnetic material to the slottabases. If you put the magnetic strip / sheet onto a metallic surface, and then apply glue to it, you can just put the bases on top, let the glue dry, and then cut the magnetic material to size around the bases. This is a lot better than cutting up the magnetic stuff and using the self adhesive they come equipped with (I use [Magnetic Displays]( magnetic tape), as you'll never get enough contact surface that way to get it to stick. Using Peter's method, the contact surface is maximized (because the magnet stays absolutely flat), and you can use stronger glue without spilling glue all over yourself and the miniature. Brilliant tip, so that's what I've been doing on and off the last couple of days.

Secondly, I'm preparing a figure for my Celtic army general. The basic figure is a Foundry Celt (the one labeled Venutius in [pack CB1 - Celtic Personalities]( ), but I'm converting him slightly: I've cut off his left hand and will resculpt it (along with his cloak in that area) so as to have his hand resting on the rim of his shield, which is placed on the ground in front of him (like the rightmost spearman in [this pack]( ). I also wanted to cut off the cast on base to mount the figure on a pebble, so it'll look as if he'll be standing on a rock. I hope. Of course, while cutting off the base, I destroyed both ankles and one foot, so I need to resculpt a foot too.

So that's what I've been doing lately, apart from my regular painting (currently doing one more of Phil's musketeers, some Celtic armoured infantry and SRB archers).

Saturday, 18 September 2004

Renegade Celtic chariots

Last weekend, a news entry on [The Miniatures Page]( caught my attention: [Renegade Miniatures]( was waiving P&P on any orders made during the weekend.

I knew that Alan had some WWI figures from them and was very enthusiastic about the quality of the figures, so I decided to have a look at them. It turned out that they have a range of Celts available, and I'm planning on building Celts for a [WAB]( escalation campaign / league we're setting up (I already have a DBA army of them, which, when I add a general and standard bearer model, will already meet the first goal of 500 points).

Back when [The Foundry]( was repackaging and remolding its ranges into their current pack format, they had a few sales where they sold off big bags of leftover figures that were still cast from the old (non-pack) molds. I bought the Celtic bag (and the Northern European Bronze Age one), which basically included one each of their Celtic ranges of figures (there were two), so I already have all the infantry and cavalry I will need. However, chariots are something I can still use (I have two Foundry ones painted, plus another three Old Glory ones awaiting paint), so I ordered the [boxed set]( of [Celtic chariots](, which includes three chariots with two crew (warrior & driver) each for �20.

The new toys arrived yesterday. One thing I noticed is that the boxed set is very well produced, at least when compared to some other 'boxed sets' from other manufacturers which turn out to be simply a number of ziplock bags when you order them by mail. The Renegade boxed set features an attractively colourful box cover, which includes a painting example and a short historical blurb on the troops inside the box. The miniatures themselves are sealed in a plastic bag, which is wrapped in bubble wrap inside the box.

On first look, the miniatures look very nice (although the sword on one of them seems a bit too caricatural), and are very well produced (no immediately visible flash lines, mold half dislocations or any other miscasts) and clean. I think I'll be assembling one of the chariots _real soon now_ to see how they paint up.

Tuesday, 14 September 2004

Coming full circle

Yesterday evening, I was painting some [Foundry]( [Darkest Africa]( [bearers](, and noticed that I had finally come full circle in my painting.

Allow me to elaborate. Way back when I started painting, the first 25mm army I painted was a Celtic DBA army, using [Foundry]( and [Old Glory]( figures. Back then, I was using the classic GW [block, wash, drybrush]( technique to paint the figures. Towards the end of painting that army, however, I was already edging towards my current three layer technique. Over the course of my next painting projects, I developed the three layer technique to something very similar to what is now become so popular through the work of people like Kevin Dallimore and Steve Dean.

Concurrent with the development of the new technique, I also became much more hung up about quality. I often spent hours painting a single miniature, just to make sure that every brush stroke was in just the right colour and in just the right spot. And while that did get me some medals in a few [Crisis]( painting competitions, it also led to a very slow rate of army painting.

Now I'm a wargamer first, and a painter second. This means that I find games played with fully painted miniatures arrayed on a model battlefield more interesting than single painted miniatures, no matter how well they are painted. Consequently, something had to change in my painting style. Over the years, I have noticed that I began to spend less time with a single miniature, starting at the lower scales, 15mm and 20mm. Quality, from a game viewpoint, did not deteriorate, but I took shortcuts: less precise application of paint, less layers, occasionally leave an error uncorrected etc. I also started using other techniques (washing, staining, drybrushing) when they would get me a good rather than excellent result, but do so more quickly.

This had not extended to the One True Scale (25 - 28mm, of course :) ) yet, as far as I knew, but yesterday I found out that it, in fact, did. The last twenty or so figures I painted (which you can see through my [Flickr]( account, with the five most recent ones in the sidebar) have taken me about an hour, an hour and a half a piece. This is about double the speed as before, because I am in fact cutting corners with them as well. I am less meticulous in directing my brush strokes, will occasionally leave bits with only two layers, do not correct every single error (only the glaringly obvious ones) and generally am less hung up about the whole thing. After five years of painting, my 'pain treshold' for army vs high quality painting has lifted to include 25mm figures. This is oddly comforting. I can now concentrate on getting armies done.

And the full circle bit? Those bearers I am painting -- they have the final layer of skin drybrushed on. Just like the Celts of way back.

Thursday, 9 September 2004

Armati at Alan's: EIR vs Picts

After three or so years, Alan and myself played a game of Armati again. It actually was Armati 2, but as we used to play Advanced Armati as well, there were no major differences or changes to the rules we used to play (I think :) ).

The game featured Alan's Picts (the army of ants, as one exasperated opponent at a DBM competition in the UK is reported to call them) versus my stalwart Early Imperial Romans. My deployment was fairly conventional, with some Light Infantry Bows, an Auxilia unit (Light Heavy Infantry) and a Moorish light cavalry unit on one flank, the heavy cavalry and cohorts in the center of the battle line and two units of auxilia and some skirmishers on the other flank. Alan deployed with his foot and warband in the middle, light cavalry and chariots against one flank (the one with the Moors) and light cavalry and skirmishers against the other flank.

The game did not start well for me, with a charge of my heavy cavalry into his warbands beaten off (I had hoped to break the warband with my impetus before he could do the same to my legionaries) and the only cohort of veteran legionaries swept away by his warbands. On the left flank, my defenses crumbled in the face of the onslaught of cavalry and chariots.

Things picked up after that, however. I managed to use the superior initiative of the Roman army to get into the flank of a big block of Pictish foot (high initiative in Armati means, among other things, that you are generally more maneuvrable, due to the division splitting mechanism), and the cavalry, after retreating and attempting to rally charged in again (with two fatigue points and 2/3rds of their break points gone - brave horsemen) and this time swept over the warband, thereby exposing the other flank of the Pictish foot. After that, it was easy going.

This game highlighted a few things we like about Armati, and had almost forgotten after years of DBM. Unlike DBM, which has a tenuous if any connection to history, despite what Phil Barker will say, Armati is firmly grounded in history. What this means is, for example, that your battles are won or lost by your important units. In the Roman case, I had lost most of my support troops, which in DBM would have broken my army, but in Armati it's the star troops that count: the cohorts of legionaries. They broke through the center of the enemy army, breaking the core troops of the Picts and winning the game.

Another thing that Alan (if not his troops) specifically liked, was the ability of my cavalry to break off of combat, fall back and attempt to rally (they failed, but that's beside the point), and go in to the fight again.

I think we will be playing Armati a bit more in the future :). I have already ordered my copy of Armati II.

Tuesday, 7 September 2004

Crusade 2004

As mentioned before, Saturday last saw Alan and myself off to far away [Leopoldsburg]( (Bourg L�old to students of Operation Market Garden), for [De Witte Ridder]('s convention [Crusade 2004](

After getting up at the crack of dawn -- even earlier than I'm used to these days, with Britt and all -- to load up the car, I puttered over to Tervuren to pick up Alan, and then on to Leuven to wake up Phil who, unfortunately for his night's rest, had the hills for our terrain stashed away in his wargame room (having a small house stuffed to the rafters with the belongings of two adults and one growing child means that some of my wargames paraphernalia is distributed over a
variety of club members). Undoubtedly, the fact that he had only gotten in at 2am that night after a long flight, must have added to his bedraggled state. Sorry about that, Phil :).

The convention took place in a local school in the center of Leopoldsburg, with one big hall for the various games, and a second one (cunningly hidden in plain sight - it took me a couple of hours before I realised it was even there) for largely fantasy oriented traders (the only non-fantasy one was the inevitable [MBM Models]( ). The games room featured the usual suspects -- [TSA](, [Murphy's Heroes](, [Stipsciz Hussars]( -- but also quite a large number of Belgian and Dutch clubs I had never heard about before. This was mostly because they seemed to be largely [GW]( oriented clubs, but it was nevertheless a very nice surprise for me, and possibly a sign that the hobby in Belgium is growing (Willie Bogaerts, doyen of Belgian wargamers, is of the same opinion). This can only be a good thing.

After the inevitable repeated hike burdened with terrain tiles, boxes of trees and various other wargame related paraphernalia (not to mention cameras, food and our best behaviour), we were ready to set up the game. Setup would be a doddle, I thought,as the terrain boards were still numbered from the original setup five years ago, so it would just be a question of putting the right number in the right spot. Well, it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that, of course, perhaps bexause the numbers were moved or we used some arcane sequence five years ago. Anyway, after some puzzling together of boards and hills, we got the terrain set up and were ready to rumble.

As most of the 'loose' players hanging around were of the younger than ten variety, and with us not having the intimidating presence of BD near the table to instill some good behaviour in to the young ones, I quickly decided not to invite people into playing the game. Instead, we played the game as a demonstration game and got quite some interest throughout the day, both from historical players wanting to know how WAB plays as from [Fantasy]( and [40K]( players that wanted to have a look at the grass on the other side of the hill.

The game went smoothly and I am proud to say that history repeated itself, with the Britons thoroughly beating the Saxons, who nevertheless captured the imagination with a charge of their general against some hapless Briton archers. Said general was about the only Saxon unit to not have legged it or be in the process of legging it at the end of the game.

All in all, both Alan and myself enjoyed ourselves at the show, and I think we'll be going back next year. Well done, Dominik & co!

Ah yes, purchases. I did not buy much, just two packs of GW [movement trays]( These have already been cut up and reassembled in the correct sizes (they come as 5x4 figure bases for infantry and 1x4 figures for cavalry, whereas I need 6x3, 5x3 and 9x3 for infantry and 4x2(+1) for cavalry), which turned out to be quite easy to do, and are currently awaiting painting and flocking.

Finally, here's a short [photo report](/games/pics/wab_crusade_04092004) of the game.

Friday, 3 September 2004

Preparation time

You will have noticed that the sidebar with recently painted miniatures has not been updated for about a week now. The reason is simple: I'm in full convention preparation mode just now.

Tomorrow, Saturday 04 Sep 2004, is Crusade, [De Witte Ridder]('s yearly convention, and [Schild en Vriend](/snv) is taking our Mons Badonicus game in a WAB version. These days, for various reasons that will probably form the subject of a number of blog posts, Schild en Vriend is mostly myself, so the preparation of the game falls largely on my shoulders.

The Mons Badonicus game was created back in 1999, at the tail end of the Schild en Vriend golden age, so the preparation this time was limited to rebasing most of the troops to single bases. This week has been taken up by finishing the bases for most of the troops (creating basing gunk out of plaster, white glue, shell sand, gravel and paint, applying it to the bases, drybrushing the resulting mess with various pleasingly earth-toned colours and adding static grass).

All of the work is now done however (well, except for the static grass, which goes on tonight, in the time honoured tradition of finishing up just in time for a convention), so as of next week, there will be freshly painted figures again. You can also expect a report of the convention here.