22 May 2011

Basic Building Blocks.

For some time now I've marvelled at some of the 28mm buildings that are presented on the Internet from the many makers and sellers. I've also been appalled at the prices being asked for them. Being that I'm naturally shy of spending the hard earned readily, I thought there must be a better way. I think I've found it.

Surfing through the Web I chanced upon the site of  "Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture". They specialise in making moulds so that you can cast your own blocks and there bye create your own buildings or their designs. Initially I thought "This sounds like a lot of work for a very limited output ". So I let it slip for some time. However after a rather unsuccessful search for English Civil War/30 years war Buildings within my price range I revisited the site. Caught the bug and ordered about 10 of Bruce's moulds that I felt would supply me with enough variety of both stone and various roof types. True not many of the buildings on the web site will be useful outside of the Fantasy/dungeon genre, however its a system that can be adapted to represent the more historical gamer in my opinion, though you will need to design and draw them up for your self.

Having ordered the moulds over the Internet I sat back waiting for them to arrive. They arrived in good condition and within 5 days, which was brilliant. I concentrated on two buildings and started casting the required bricks to construct the models. It takes a lot of casting of the moulds so you need to be patient, though I found it to be not boring and must confess that I actually enjoyed the experience. Once the requisite number of casts of each mould has been done then you can start the building. I worked for about 2 hours a day for about a week to produce what was needed. My wife referred to my casting bench as my "Meth Lab" when ever anyone asked what I was doing in the garage. We were probably lucky that we weren't raided by the Police Special Operations Group (SOG).

If my wife thought I was acting strangely then you should have seen her face when I suggested that on her next shopping expedition could she stop by "Toys are Us" and pick up some Lego Blocks. Needless to say that I went out and obtained the required Lego blocks myself, naturally for my Grand children I don't have!! Another story for another time.

Front View
 The first Project I tried is called the "Dragon Inn". Designed for 25mm to 30mm they appear perfect for 28mm miniatures Pictured right it sits roofless until painted. You can build the model so that the roof can be removed from the walls or the building removed from its base for placement of miniatures within. Depending on the period and the location the roof can be thatch, wooden shingles, Slate or Terra cotta or a combination thereof. It is a large building as befits the center place of a village and its social life. I think the "Kings Arms" will be its new name fairly soon.

The second building I tried was "Warlocks Tower". This required quite a deal of casting of multiple moulds to produce the needed bricks. I found this easier than multiple casting of the same mould as in the Dragon Inn. It is however a much more complicated build and therefore requires considerably more time and effort.
Pictured below are a series of photo's of the build during its progress.

As you can see from the photo's both buildings look good and should serve well on the games table. Some kit bashing of the basic models should provide an endless succession of affordable good looking Buildings.
Below are the two buildings awaiting their roofs and Paint jobs. Some indication of their size can be seen by the ruler on  the work bench.

So until next time.


Neil W

PS. The leggo blocks are used as tools to keep the blocks straight and square.... simple really.

17 April 2011

Just what they needed... a fresh coat of paint...army painter style.

Well its finally over. The marathon task I set my self since last I wrote is now completed. My ECW armies have now had the army painter applied.  Do they look better than before? Well I think so, obviously I wouldn't apply something that made them look worse now would I?

It has been a labour of love though. Pretty slow and quite smelly due to the base used in the formula and the need for Mineral Turpentine used to clean brushes. I could have done it faster by removing all troops from their bases but as most of the bases were flocked, so I didn't want to ruin their look. Overall though I think they improved on my ordinary painting efforts and from hence forth will become part of my painting routine.

The gun crew and gun as painted above left and with the Army Painter applied with the dab method right.

Once more with the Pike unit original paint left and in their semi-gloss finish.

After treatment and in their new Matt look, pictured left.
Below are three more examples of the look troops.

 Now I can proceed to finish the the units sitting patiently awaiting their turn in the queue. Which if memory serves me correctly is two more units of Scots Cavalry, another scots pike unit, two more units of Cavalry for both Royalists and Parliament and some odds and sods to complete both ECW armies. I'll use the dip method for all future figures as they are completed prior to basing. It will be interesting to see how they compare to those done using the dab method using an old brush.


Neil W

23 March 2011

Old Habits Die Hard.

Ever had an Epiphany? A sudden burst of light and with it an understanding not previously held.
Well it happened to me recently when I visited the NWA (Nunawading Wargame Association). Both Alex and I popped into their Friday night meeting over at Mitcham to see for ourselves the club and who was there and more importantly what they were playing.

Being that it was a fairly warm night I was surprised to find the place jumping. Lots of people and lots of games going on. Ranging from Fog of War, 40k, 28mm ECW, 28mm AWI, 25 mm French versus Austrians, DBA and others. Obviously I headed to the ECW and spent some time talking with the player there who was waiting for his opponent to turn up. I was interested to see how they were handling The Perfect Captains "Very Civil Actions" rule set as they were the only other group from my knowledge giving it a try out. Actually the talk was good as they had only played 1 game previously  and a number of questions were asked about the rules, which I answered to the best of my knowledge. But it was when he showed me his troops that I had my Epiphany.

His troops were a mixture of Warhammer and Hinchcliffe if memory serves me correct. Not competition winners by any means but pretty good nonetheless in my honest opinion. Now I've always painted as good as I can, but am really a pretty ordinary painter who simply doesn't understand or have the ability to do the shading and other advanced methods used by most painters these days. Having my army professionally painted is not a consideration as though I could afford to have this done, painting is the personal touch that each of us brings to their army. Its the infusion of personality that differentiates one army from another, though they may be in all other aspects identical. Besides, painting is that portion of our hobby that mostly is done in the piece and solitude of our painting desk and not only appeases our artistic natures but also gives us that sanctitude and release from the day to day drudgery of the real world, albeit for a very short time.

So I asked him what his secret was? No secret he replied. I paint them up and then apply the "Army Painter" system, by dipping them in the strong tone dip and then Matt spraying them after they are dry.
I was staggered, the light came on and I thought  "I must try this". At this stage his opponent Neil turned up and one look at his troops convinced me this was the way to go.

On returning home I booted up the computer and soon was watching many videos on u-tube about the Army Painter method. Within a few days I had my supply of the three dips,  Soft tone, strong tone and Dark tone. Also a spray can of their Matt vanish.

So armed I proceeded to do a number of single figures that I use for officers and a couple of elements of horse.


After Army Painter


Used Dark Tone
Do they look better? I'll let you be the judge.
For mine it has improved my rather ordinary painting to at least something acceptable for the wargame table. The above horse was done using the dab method with a brush, rather than dipping as recomended by the "Army Painter", as seen on many u-tube videos.



This officer was dipped as per the "army painters" instructions.

1. Dip into tin.
2. Allow the stain to run off.
3. Flick onto paper to remove any extra excess.
4. Allow to dry for 24 - 48 hrs.
5. Spray Matt finish.

Dipped in strong tone.

Dipped in Strong tone.

 I am happy with what I've achieved but things always improve with practice and I'm sure that by the end of the can I'll have results that will help make the troops look spiffing!

Neil W

20 March 2011

The Lads of Richmond Hill.

Played a couple of games of  ECW against my good friend Alex on Monday 14th, being our Labour day holiday. A smallish encounter between about 6 units a side, ranging from disciplined troops to a couple of militia units of dubious ability and character. We use the Perfect Captains free rule set named "A very civil Action" which is used in conjunction with their "Spanish Fury" rule set. It is designed with the smaller battle in mind and as such recreates the smaller battles, ambuscades and encounters very well. One of its main attractions is that each unit's Officer character plays a major part in the game and influences the way each unit acts, even to the point of changing the units abilities. As officers are drawn at random prior to the game and can be killed and replaced during it games can be different each time even though the same units are used in consecutive games.

As we are learning the rules set for both theses games we  had all "Bookish" officers heading units. In the first game 1 unit was rated as disciplined, 2 units undisciplined and the rest ordinary fellows. In the second game 1 unit was disciplined and the rest ordinary fellows.

The battlefield was approx. 7ft (2.1m) x 4ft (1.2m) and the games were played length wise. The scenery remained unaltered for both games and both players diced for ends as per DBA rules. Strangely both players  kept the same ends for both games.
The scenery consisted of a Church at the North end of the field (Table). To it's right lay a light wood. Travelling south down the table a meandering stream ran across the middle of the table in a North East to South west direction. A road crossed the stream at what appeared to be a ford, but the condition of the rest of the stream was unknown. On the south side of the stream to the West lay a moderate hill flanked further West by a heavy impassable wood. Further South near the tables edge lay a manor building. Both the church and Manor was considered the Headquarters of the respective armies and the objectives of both battles.

The biggest difference was the composition of the armies for each game. Prior to each game each player is given a printed sheet from which to pick their armies. They must choose 1 unit from a compulsory list of 5 choices. This unit is the disciplined unit and their best unit. From the optional list they then choose up to a maximum of a further 5 units, two of which were considered to be undisciplined militia units.
In the first game Alex chose  a unit of Cuirassiers, a unit of Horse, a unit of dragoons, unit of Pike (Undisciplined), unit of shot (undisciplined) and a Light Gun.
I chose a unit of Cuirassiers, unit of Horse, 2 units of Pike and 2 units of shot (Both Undisciplined).

Game 1.
Both armies deployed, Parliament (Alex) to the north and the Royalist (Neil) to the south. Alex drew his deployment on a map whilst I deployed straight to the table. After which he then deployed as per the map.
Basically he lined up his foot and advanced them toward the stream with a view to forcing a crossing or to deny me a crossing. It appeared that this was where the action would take place.

On the Parliament's right flank their commander Advanced a Unit of Horse and a limbered gun. The royalist commander also dispatched a unit of horse onto the hill to deny its use to the enemy.
Th hill ultimately was the turning point in the battle as  the royalist infantry being stronger than its counterpart started to cross the stream and the Parliament forces became defensive. The Pike and shot remained in a defensive position whilst their dragoons dismounted and entered the light woods to await the oncoming royalist foot.

Meanwhile the troop of Parliament horse started crossing the stream below the Richmond Hill. In the distance the gun was unlimbering, unable to assist the cavalry or slow the infantry across the Fields advancing on their foot. Seeing his opportunity the royalist commander charged down the hill and caught the Parliament horse in column, unformed whilst partially across the stream. In the melee that followed some unfortunate die rolls saw the unit break and rout with the Cavaliers hotly in pursuit. Sadly for Parliament their rout move followed immediately by the pursuit move resulted in both units being in contact at the end of their turn, which under the rules means that the routing unit surrenders unless they are a fanatical unit.

Bad as this was, worse was yet to come. Despite some desultory shooting from the Militia muskets which was mostly ineffectual , the Cavalry charged the gun, the gunners fled and the gun was taken. Back at the stream, both the Royalist Cuirassiers and the Lobsters charged each other over the ford. This rapidly developed into a stalemate that locked up both units for no result. Eventual a standoff occurred and each unit retreated back whence they came.

At this stage the Parliament Commander asked for parley which was duly granted. He felt that with his horse prisoners, the gun taken, his lobsters worse for wear and the Dragoons sitting in the light woods and only  a militia Pike and shot unit left that he couldn't stop the Royalists taking their objectives. A good game played in good spirit.

Game 2.

In this game we once again chose sides and strangely took each others forces from the first game. All commanders were again "Bookish" which meant they have to throw 1 die 6 before each move. If a 6 is the result then that unit does nothing that turn. Once again Alex drew a map, after which I then Deployed my units.

Having the army with less foot than the enemy, I had decided that this time I would be on the defensive and form a line in front of my Headquarters. With my Gun unlimbered and loaded in the line between my pike and shot units to the left and Horse and Currasiers to the right I awaited the stronger Parliament army to approach and when crossing the stream I'd have at him. To the left of the Royalist line were the Dragoons.

The Parliament army formed a line of of two columns of shot then pike with the Unit of Horse and Lobsters to their right flank. Their intention it seemed to me was to entice me out and then crush me with their obvious advantage in foot, whilst the cavalry negated each other. A good plan provided that the Royalist commander fell for the bate. One comment made after the First battle was that artillery and dragoons were a waste as they were largely ineffective. A comment that would soon come back to haunt him.

The battle started with the royalist gun bombarding a shot unit which immediately retired back through the pike causing both to become unformed. Not serious but annoying nonetheless. The royalist commander dispatched the dragoons to occupy the Richmond hill. The rest of the royalist line remained stationary. The Parliament commander seeing the dragoons riding to the hill became somewhat distracted and dispatched his Horse, Lobsters and a unit of shot toward the hill. His foot he did valiantly try to send towards the stream and road, but here his subordinates failed him a regular intervals and being bookish would not move on occasions.

In the meanwhile the dragoons having not only made the crest of the hill, having dismounted commenced a withering fire down on the luckless shot unit crossing the small stream. Together with this and the effect of being fired on by the gun, the shot unit retired back across the stream. Their efforts were not in vain though as their sacrifice had made possible the Lobsters crossing of the stream intact and unmolested. Luck however was soon to play its part in this drama when the lobsters decided to charge and it failed to act that turn. Free now from the danger of the Unit of shot, the dragoons turned their attention to the Lobsters and fired on them, causing them to loose a squadron from the unit.
The shot unit had now returned and forced the dragoons to retire, though they still occupied the hill. The Lobsters again tried to charge but failed the morale test so sat and copped another round of shooting from the dragoons who then moved back to their former position. The unit of Horse also across the stream could not flank the dragoons due to the Heavy wood and so was locked unable to act by the Lobster unit position.

By this time the whole of the Parliament Commander's attention was on this hill and how 1 well positioned unit could hold 50% of an army. Determined to succeed he once again tried to charge the Lobsters, miraculously they went in and just as quick they came out. Below are some photo's of the brave lads.

From The Parliament side

View Along The Stream.
It was about this time that time ran out and we called it a day.
Some times in a few, only a few, games that a unit is heroic or does something that makes you say WOW, this was one of those times.
Sure The Parliament Commander got distracted.
Sure the Royalist lacked aggression, whatever the way you look at things its these rare instances when its just a joy to be part of .

Neil W

19 February 2011

I'm Back

As the famous English radio broadcaster said after the War "Now As I was saying before being rudely interupted", in my case not by war but a 2 month world trip and then the restarting of my business on our return.
I decided to restart this my wargaming blog now that things have settled down somewhat. My appologies to all my readers, hopefully it won't happen again....untill next time!

Looking back on the older posts it was interesting to see just at what stage I had left things. So the first thing was to bring everything up to date. Surprisingly I haven't been totaly idle and indolent with regards to my hobby, just to the blog.
Painting wise I have completed some more units for the armies and have even fought an early Civil War ficticious battle with my good friend Alex King, a Pailiament man., which resulted in a winning draw for the King after a very hard fought fun game of about 2 hours duration.

As of the last post I had left with my Lobsters  and Artillery unfinished and as such they were the first to be completed on my return. Left is one of the finished guns and crew. Finished 4 in total and my artillery now numbers 6 pieces. Notice that  I mount my crew directly to the base with the gun. When time permits I will build and paint single guns on bases to represent abandoned or over run guns as in this era the crew often did not stay and defend their piece. In fact the crew were so valuable that when  captured they simply changed sides and continued as if nothing had changed!
The Lobsters were a bit more complicated as I had changed my thoughts regarding them while I was away. Initialy I was intending to model two units of Haselrigs lobsters, which friends said was probably more than was ever fielded in real life. So I decided to take a liberty and model 1 unit as the King's Life Guard, a real life unit which to the best of my knowledge didn't wear the suits of armour that Haselrigs unit did. Also I can use the unit as a scottish Currasier unit which they fielded in the Bishops wars of 1639. 
Some more pictures of the completed pieces and Horse.

That brings the blogg up to date with the projects on the paint desk at the time of my trip. Since then.... well thats another story best left for another time.



Neil W