AVBCW A battle on the Welsh Border

Off to Cardiff today with Byakhee JP for a game of AVBCW. Tym and his son Captain Bigglesmay had arranged for a game at Firestorm Games which has a large gaming hall. The scenario was that the expansionist power mad Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire had decided to seize some fertile farm land over the border in Montgomeryshire. However, with plans bigger than his army, he had to call in some of Hereford’s crack Blackshorts and Black Skirts to help out. Meanwhile the Welsh LDVs had organised. As well as Tym, the Captain, JP and myself, Ciderfella and Swiper also turned up and we had some special guest star players to help out from the local gaming club.

The invaders had to cross the River Severn so the bridges became choke points. They did however have the advantage of an armoured train steaming to their help. The defenders set up to cover the bridges.

For the game we used rules for ‘spotting‘ units, so when we first set up we just had blank bits of card to represent Brigades. OR were they ? We also had a few dummy markers to field as well to keep the enemy guessing. Once a unit had been spotted it had to be deployed, OR when it fired it had to be deployed with the actual figures/vehicles/outlandish creations. This was a good idea and Swiper and I kept Ciderfeller in the dark for quite some time with our dummy markers. I think I may well be making some scenic terrain pieces to act as markers. It took a couple of turns of prevarication before the first units were revealed.

JP’s BUF forces lead by Blackshorts and Blackskirts converged on the LDV that were loosely hiding in a woodland and house. Meanwhile the Captain’s French tanks gummed up the works and made the bridge even more of a chokepoint much to the relief of the Welsh LDV.

Then all of a sudden hordes of Shewsbury troops burst across the bridge:

Meanwhile Ciderfeller’s Italian Tankettes and infantry support trudged along the far bank of the River being monitored by the still unrevealed forces of Swiper and myself.

Hard fighting continued with the Welsh LDV gradually pushed back from their first defensive line.

Ironically, it was the last turn that I deployed any troops, and then only the HMG and Mortar were in range and they didn’t hit anything. Still it was a good day, met up with some new people, and had a good time baiting the opposing players – like some bloke who thinks Zummmmerzet is the only county that can make Cyder properly.

More photos here.

EDIT: And yet more photos.

Basing, more fancy stuff

As well as my basic technique, I also do a few other things with my bases.

Firstly, here’re some old Citadel Ogres that I did for Mordheim:

I use textured plasticard to represents cobbles, simple card squares for flagstones, and chopped up plastic sprue as rubble. The Ogres are (left to right) Chronicle, Citadel mid ’80’s, Mordheim late ’90’s, more Citadel mid ’80’s. The basing tray was painted and flocked with my usual method, and is on the the GW modular plastic kits.

Next, is a viginette set from Empress Miniatures – their command squad (RCOM1, at the bottom of the page).

As the seated officer and table were four separate pieces, I was going to have to do some extra basing work, and then of course there was the horse and handler plus radio man…so as I intended this to be my BUF Brigade Command for AVBCW and as there are options for political officers, standard bearers etc, I thought I’d do a special base for them all.

I used a free CD and prepped it in the usual way. I added a medium thickness piece of card and cut three extra holes in it for the extra command figures so I could mix and match my troops. I get different thickness’ of card from artist supply shops as they stock quite a range (as well as chopping up breakfast cereal boxes). The edge of the card was then hidden with putty and the rest of my basing technique applied.

For my WEHFB Dark Elves, I have done the same for my Altar of Khaine, using an oval MDF base from Foundry, adding a layer of foamboard (3mm), carving out square base slots for the Death Hag and assistants and basing the altar itself on top of the foamboard.

Foamboard is also available in art supply shops.

For my BoB games, I had the Paleontologist and fossils set from Copplesgtone castings (BC8) and wanted to base them:

I only painted one as a fossil should look (top right), because, it didn’t ‘look right’…so the rest were then painted bone. I basically (heh) only added flock up to the edge of the metal castings. I then put a second set all together to show a full(ish) fossil skeleton:

I painted the undersides of all these card bases black – as I have commented briefly before this helps prevent the card warping. If you paint only one side, then the card warps curling up at the edges. If you paint the second side, it then warps back the other way and the net effect is no warping of the card and it sits flatly on the table.

Finally, an mdf cavalry base was used for AVBCW BOYS rifle team:

The rifle is thin, and in order to help protect it, plus put it in a more believable situation, I used a twig to represent a log they were hiding behind, and then a couple of pieces of Woodland Scenics clump foliage (rubberised horsehair). The twig did need painting !

More photos are here.

Hope this has provided some inspiration. There are plenty of better model makers out there, and all of these suggestions are starters for 10, and aimed at getting some decent models onto a wargaming table.

WHFB Daemons & Dark Elves

Byahkee Rich has sent me some new photos of the battle we had at the beginning of the month taken on his camera. Including a nice one of my War Hydra and his Greater daemon of Tzeentch:

More photos here.

Special Guest Superstar DJ: High Elves

More blue stuff !

This time from Byakhee Stuart. In the form of High Elves.

And some great standards:

Nice bases. 😉

More photos here.

I note he does what I do, and use a darker base shade on the movement tray, so the more we see of the dark paint, the more we are reminded that unit has taken casualties.

Basing figures

This is not a rant, quite…but I often see painted figures that have a decent wargaming standard paint job, and a green painted base.. Or a half hearted attempt at flocking. The shoddy base lets the figure down as visually, the base is as big as the figure usually and catches the eye. I’ve even seen this on a few very well painted figures above wargaming standard, where the painter then lets the side down with a half arsed basing job. Not only that, a poorly based figure visually jars with a proper gaming table and continues to stick out like a sore thumb. It’s like having a vast pink inflatable Mr Blobby tacked to a Grade 1 listed Elizabeathan mansion.

Even a simple quick basing scheme can bring a model to life, indeed Byakhee Jim whose armies fall into this category (he buys them off e-bay so this is no reflection on his painting skills) was amazed at a recent Glue Sniffin’ session when we helped him do a simple base job on some trolls that it made a real difference.

A systematic approach to basing also helps key an army together. Jim does have a nice set of Skaven with a snowy theme to their bases which makes it hang together well.
Here’s what I do:

Use the right tools !

Use appropriate bases, from left to right: MDF cavalry bases (Foundry); round metal bases for 15mm figs (15mm.co.uk); and round plastic bases from Renedra for 28mm RCW/BoB/AVBCW stuff. Use appropriate glue, in my case I use a general purpose glue, as it has some ‘flex’ to it unlike Stupid glue or polystyrene cement. I either use model filler, or more lately flexible polyfilla type putties. The model filler can sometimes separate out and the liquid solvent can melt or warp plastic bases. hence my move to polyfilla.

Some games systems esp Napoleonics advocate multiple figures on large bases, none of the techniques I use wouldn’t be appropriate for multiple basing, except for one: I glue my figures straight on to their bases after I have undercoated them. If you base more than one figure on a base, then don’t do that. I use general purpose adhesive. If the base is quite thick then you need to build up the putty round the figure’s base edge so that it blends in with the rest of the base and there isn’t a ‘step’.

The figure on the left, is ok as it is – many Musketeer and Mutton Chop figures don’t need any putty added. The middle figure has some putty on its base to hid the metal base. The Great War Miniatures cavalry model will definitely need putty added.

Paint the base. Don’t skimp, paint it all, including the edges.Its one of the reasons I got the big pots of base paint done up. I also paint the undersides of my bases black. This helps me put names/labels/markings on the underside so I can keep specific squads, groups or units together easily. The figure on the right, is R1 – LMG, Regular (army squad) 1 – Light Machine Gunner).

Add the flock. I do not add sand/gravel and then paint/highlight as that seems a bit of a waste of time for armies, when you can achieve pretty much the same affect with a simple mix of flocks. As commented earlier, I mix my flocks depending on base type, but for most of my figures I use a mix of mid-dark brown with light brown and sand:

And on the base:

I use undiluted PVA/wood glue to stick it on:

I again buy big tubs of the stuff from DIY stores – they last a year or so and if you have a large army and or scenery to do then they are a very cost effective way of getting enough of it. If you only intend to do half a dozen figures, well GW and other model shop stuff will suffice.

I then wait until it has thoroughly dried, before dabbing on some more glue and adding static grass. Again, I have different shades of static grass depending on what affect I want to achieve:

Here you go, a squad of AVBCW LDV:

And that gets you to a decent wargaming standard base !
Even with multiple figures on a base:

You can adapt this to add in logs, boulders, skullz and all sorts easily enough. I’ll add some examples of simple things I have done in another post, maybe tomorrow as I have got carried away with this post. 🙂

Hope this helps. Any hints and tips then add a comment.

Iron Skies – Nazis from the Moon !

Iron Skies is an independent ‘crowd sourced’ film, that has just had its one and only day of distribution at UK cinemas (rush now you might get a seat! EDIT – they’ve now increased the screening due to high demand).

Here’s the trailer.

The basic premise is that some Nazis escaped to the Moon in 1945 and have been plotting revenge ever since. Hmmm, Z movie quality territory…or ???

Byakhee Tom and I went early afternoon in B’ham. I wasn’t expecting much from such a movie premise on a limited budget and it was mostly so we could have a chat and catch up socially on the journey there and back. (Other Byakhees and associates are going later today)

I was pleasantly surprised, the film was funny (both knowingly and obviously), had decent SFX (the you tube clips don’t do it justice compared to the silver screen – who knows on DVD?), and a half decent script and acting. The comparatively atrophied Nazi technology and kultur was very well done, and the political premises on both the Nazis and their Earth bound opposition amusing and semi plausible.

DVD is out next week, and apparently a German DVD out late summer/Autumn with extras.

Somehow, I don’t think Sarah Palin is going to be impressed. 😉
(Well not once someone explains the plot to her)

Artizan do some figures that would be useful to wargame or RPG the film’s premises:

They also have the Sky Pirates and British Immortal Battalions to fight the Germans.

Paint, lots of paint

Well today has been fine and dry again, and after a ‘trip to the tip‘ I got home and decided to do something about the Feline Access Request Damage to the house’s paintwork. Basically my previous Cat Buster, would jump up to the window sill on the outside, hold on with his claws, mouth a silent “Let me in” before falling off again (the wonders of double glazing). In doing so he’d clawed the paintwork badly. So I popped up to the garage to dig out the white gloss and set to work.

Now having renovated two houses, the garage is a mine of DIY equipment, and is also where I do my spray painting, undercoating and varnishing amongst other things. So I am very familiar with DIY stores. Last year I finally decided I’d start painting my plywood gaming boards to match in with my Laserburn figures’ bases and scenery. As I use GW Charadon Granite as the basecoat for my bases I wanted something similar. A quick calculation indicated I’d need ~£500 worth of that paint to cover a 4×4 board. You don’t stay rich by spending money.

So I took a trip to B&Q and got a 2.5L pot of paint done up that is nearly the same colour – you can get a vast range of unpopular colours of paint mixed up at your request and most of them are more ‘natural’ colours of emulsion paint. The brain cell was aroused, and decided to do the same and get a light brown biscuit colour done up for my Warhammer and AVBCW bases. And then I went and bought a tub of matt black for using on bases. I usually paint the underside of terrain pieces black to reduce the card warping. At £10/15/20 each its a lot up front but these paint pots are going to last decades and save a lot of money whilst providing me with consistent paint colours for my armies and scenery.

However, my painting desk is not big enough to house these pots of paint easily. So the brain cell throbbed a bit more, and came up with a solution. My local curry house provides garish mint sauce with their onion bhajis, in little plastic tubs. One ladle later and I had the solution:

Here you go sir…

Then I mixed the two browns to get an intermediate:

Results…

  • The 4×2′ pieces of chipboard I use for Laserburn are shown in Landing bay 37, they fit in neatly with all the scenery and figures.
  • Surprisingly, I only needed one coat of paint to get a good solid finish.
  • I also painted the 6×2′ boards used in The Battle of Ledbury. The deep dark brown is almost black and stands in for a tarmacc’d environment like a town.
  • I still have about 1.5L of it left !
  • My AVBCW bases are much lighter – I had previously been using scorched brown – but it was too dark I found.
  • I still have lots left !
  • I can mix and match tubs of paint easily to produce all ranges of brown, probably the most necessary (if EVIL) paint colour you need when painting hundreds of miniatures and dozens of pieces of scenery.
  • I save money on endless pots of Chaos Black being used to paint the undersides of card bases.
  • I have consistent themed colours for my armies/genres so that all the baseboards, scenery pieces and figures bases are integrated.
  • However, I have yet to use these paints directly onto figures and would not recommend doing so, they are for basework and scenery use only.

So that’s some info on the paints I use for large scale painting. Next my obsession with baseboards and figure bases…

Pedology

Pedology is the study of soils:-

Soil is not only a support for vegetation, but it is also the zone beneath our feet (the pedosphere) of numerous interactions between climate (water, air, temperature), soil life (micro-organisms, plants, animals) and its residues, the mineral material of the original and added rock, and its position in the landscape. During its formation and genesis, the soil profile slowly deepens and develops characteristic layers, called ‘horizons’, while a steady state balance is approached.

Naturally (heh!) having a degree in Environmental Science, I had to study this subject. Which is just as well as I am a relatively keen gardener, and a wargamer. Yes, a wargamer. There is no point is putting flock on a model’s base that does not reflect the nature of the soil/ground the model is likely to be standing on. You don’t put a Tomb King’s model on a rich and lush grassland base, nor do you put a British LDV figure on a sandy base (well unless its for a beach party!).

Dave the gardner was round today, and he zipped of some nettles, brambles and thistles for me in the front garden that I can see out of the corner of my eye when siting here writing my blog roll posts. So I was motivated to go and dig over that border.

Here, in Deepest Darkest Hereford, the ‘soil’ is basically red clay. This is no good for growing plants in really. Clay may have lots of nutrients but, the clay is made of platelets, and they act pretty much like a stack of plates. Pile your plates up high, and nothing gets through. Difficult for roots (and spades) to penetrate. Therefore, it needs breaking up. You can see the layers of plates in this chunk I dug out:

Therefore to make proper soil you need to do something about it.
Add this (organic compost/ or organic manure):

Add this (sharp sand):

Dig over for a couple of years, and get this:

Nice good soil, that crumbles apart in your fingers. Dig it over and you find loads of worms, it’ll have lots of other micro-organisms and be well aerated which is what plants like.

What’s this got to do with Wargaming ?, what does this mean ?
Well I keep a range of flock for all occasions – there’s nothing like a good hard flocking !

I use plastic blisters from Foundry to store the flock mixes.

You can then represent a wide range of soils and ecological habitats that are suitable for the figures you are painting and basing. Get it right !

You should also remember you are part of the same planet, and seek to minimise your impact on it. Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle. (I know that’s a bit trite and have the OOTs t-shirt: Zombies – Reduce, Re-Use, Re-animate)

What’s this got to do with AGW ?

Soil is an important carbon sink – healthy soils retain far more carbon, than denuded soils. Sadly, globally, our soils are being degraded at an increasing rate. We are stripping out the organic (carbon) content of soil faster than it is being put in. This means farmers have to put in more artificial fertilisers. These artificial fertilisers are produced using fossil fuels which adds to AGW via increased CO2 emissions. And of course in economic terms, artificial fertilisers cost more £.

Some argue erroneously, that CO2 is a plant ‘food’. Give me a pizza and that’s food and I’m happy. Force feed me 20 pizzas a day and I’ll be fat, vomitting and not very happy at all. That’s also what the science also tells us about plants and CO2 – they simply aren’t evolved (and cannot evolve in time) to deal with constant high levels of CO2 that we are going to produce if we continue our ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) model of activity.

See also:
The Nature & Properties of Soils (Tenth Edition), Brady N. C.
Sceptical Science – CO2 is Plant Food
Gardeners’ World, Hamilton G, esp p11 for a comparison of garden and field soils.

BoB Heavy Weapons

Here are some Chinese Heavy Weapons and a White Russian HMG – all by Copplestone Castings. These are all based on flat GW plastic bases. It means all the weapons and crew are stuck together. casualties are represented using d4 dice placed behind to them (not d6, as they can easily and accidentally be picked up), as they are often crewed with 3-4 crew and some games systems do track casualties for heavy weapons and affect their ability to fire.

Chinese Artillery:

Chinese Mortar:

Chinese HMG – missing one figure, I’ll have to hunt that one out. 😉

White Russian ‘Colourful’ regiment HMG:

I based their outfit on the White Russian school cadets in Dr Zhivago, impractical and mostly historically incorrect (the uniforms were really only worn later after the White’s were defeated and exiled) but makes for a more interesting battlefield and a change to painting khaki !

More photos here and here.

BoB Russian Buildings

In previous posts I’ve shown my central Asian adobe style buildings, but obviously with a strong Russian presence in the background of BoB it would be amiss not to have some Russian style buildings. So here they are:

They’re made by Hovels, one piece resin casts. On the smaller side of 28mm, but a bit bigger than some of their other stuff which is true 25mm. As can be seen there’s a couple of absic structures that they vary using thatched roofs, or ruined versions – always useful for battlefields ! They’re also quite cheap. Painted using Foundry Bay brown with Granite (light) drybrushing to hopefully get that weathered wood effect.

The Church with ‘onion’ dome:

The large house:

And this ruin I added some posters to, by Legio XX** – I bought one of their Flags & Standards for 28mm figures at Partizan several years ago. So you’ll also seem some of their flags (coming soon to a blog post near here).

Here’s part of the set:

Helps add a bit of ‘feel’ to the buildings.

More photos will be added later today – the camera is recharging currently !

** They may be distributed by NorthStar figures now, but I can’t find them on the shop search function