Dormant But Active

Given the ongoing Coronavirus situation, club meetings are obviously suspended for the time being. However, the membership are making the best use of their enforced leisure time with a variety of modelling and painting projects, so the blog is as active as it has ever been.

We look forward to the time when we can return to rolling some friendly dice across the table – in the meantime, why not enjoy some of the club’s prolific output.

MWS Quiz Retrospective 8th July 2020

The society have been running quizzes every few weeks to enable members to keep in contact; most of these have been posted to the blog for those who were not able to join in, and for our non-member viewers. There were a few set by Peter from last year that didn’t make it onto the website, here’s the first of them. Answers in a few days. AK.

Q01a      What was the name of the disastrous battle in the early 1stC AD in which three Roman legions were destroyed

Q01b     Give the date (within 5 yrs), and/or one of the commanders

Q02a      Identify this WW2 aircraft

Question 2a

Q02b     What was it’s nickname

Q03a      Name this character from The Lord of the Rings

Question 3a

Q03b     Where was his home

Q04a      Name the Avalon-Hill boardgame which covers major ship-to-ship combats from the age of sail?

Q04b     When was the song “Hearts of Oak” made popular? Give the war and/or year.

Q05a      What was the first major battle of The Hundred Years War which saw widespread use of the longbow

Q05b     How long is it generally agreed that the war lasted

Q06a      General Sherman said “…the man must be stopped…even if it takes 10,000 men and bankrupts this treasury…”. Which Confederate general was he talking about?

Q06b     Which post-war organisation is this person said to have helped to found?

Q07a      What is the official name of this branch of a fictional military force?

Question 7a

Q07b     What is the name or number of the planet to which they accompany Ellen Ripley

Q08a      Which 17thC French engineer gave his name to an entire system of fortifications?

Q08b     What is the term for a covered trench heading towards the enemy, which gave rise to specialised engineer units of the same name

Q09a      Although imitated later, the 18ft pike was the favoured weapon of mercenaries from which country during the early Renaissance Wars?

Q09b     Before embarking on their lucrative & violent career as mercenaries, how did they contribute to the unification of France under a single crown?

Q10a      Which war was expected to be so short that troops would be “…Home before the leaves fall from the trees…”?

Q10b     Who is credited with saying that

Q11a      What is this Napoleonic soldier commonly called

Question 11a

Q11b     Which nationality originally supplied the 2nd ‘Red’ Lancer Regt?

Q12a      In 2012, the MWS put on a game featuring the daring WW2 attack on which bridges

Q12b     Who was the actor who played Major Howard in the film ‘The Longest Day’, and why was he a good choice


That’s a Nasty Habit

Club member Steve conducted a series series of polls on the club’s modelling and painting habits over the Christmas/New Year 2020.

What paints do you use?

100% said they used acrylics. No real big surprise there. Although one person did say he uses both acrylic and enamel (Dave – you crazy kid, you!).

What make of paints do you use?

A lot more variety here. The most popular were Vallejo with 24.4%. I was surprised by what came second – Tamiya, with 14.6%. I think Tamiya use some kind of oil medium, which is why they curdle and can be a challenge to paint miniatures with, though probably not so bad when it comes to vehicles and buildings and things with other large surfaces. GW came in third with 12.2%. Then Army Painter, Humbrol, and ‘artist’s acrylics’ with 9.8% each (I cannot believe Coat d’Arms wasn’t even on the list! JC).

Which colour do you find the hardest to shade and highlight?

I expected red to romp home with this. It didn’t though. The most popular answer was yellow, with 53.8%. I was surprised at that, because I find yellow one of the easiest. Second was a tie between red and black with 15.4% each, and then both white and metallic with 7.7% each.

Do you brush or spray varnish?
Spray on got 53.3% and brush on got 46.7%. Fairly even (some of us use both JC).

Which brushes do you use?
Mid-range brushes (Daler Rowney, etc) were most popular with 10.4%. A surprising 7.8% went with those dreadful cheap brushes from The Works – I’ve tried them and they lasted all of one painting session. 2.6% went with decent sable brushes (I recently bought a kaplinsky sable brush and it is an absolute gem). 3.9% treated themselves to a proper miniatures painting brush (not sure what that is, to be honest).

Brush care also came into it. 2.6% take proper care of our brushes, giving them a clean after each session. 5.2% give them a clean once in a blue moon. 3.9% are heartless and cold and take no care of their brushes and just throw them away when they’re no good.

11.7% said they use size 0 and 1 brushes for miniatures painting. 2.6% said they go up to size 2 or 3 (must be painting giants with brushes that size!).

9.1% confessed to putting their brushes in their mouths (come on, must be more than that, surely!). And 7.8% admitted to having put their brushes in a cup of tea accidentally.

What colour Undercoat?
Both black and white came out jointly on top – with 33.3% each. Grey was next, with 20%, then both brown and ‘other’ with 6.7% each.

Metal or plastic miniatures?
40% of us prefer the heft of metal on the battlefield. 26.7% use metal but have the odd plastic figure, and 26.7% don’t care whether it’s metal or plastic just so long as it’s cheap! This left 6.7% who use the Devil’s cocktail – plastic!

Do you make or buy terrain?
I get the feeling that MWS is quite a modelling-strong club so it would be interesting to see what our modelling habits were.

22.6% took the middle road – making what they can and buying what they can’t. Which is fair enough. 16.1% confessed to buying the horror that is MDF terrain – shame on them! Another 16.1% said they preferred resin terrain pieces. 12.9% said they buy terrain, whilst 9.7% said they always make and never buy. picture of model buildings3.2% decadent souls said they have more money than sense and pay others to make it for them! 6.5% of us said that making terrain was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby. Which it is. And a disappointing 9.7% admitted to being so bad at terrain making that even MW’s Wargames Widow was inspiring. Can things be that bad? (In Steve’s opinion JC).

So there we go – a review of the club’s modelling and painting habits. I’ll leave you to draw whatever conclusions you want from the results. Let us know how your habits agree or differ with those of the club because it’ll be interesting to see how representative we are with the hobby as a whole.

Maybe someone else can run a series of polls on our gaming habits

Work in Progress Wednesday

After taking last week off, club members have struggled out of the holiday slump with details of what they have been working on (there’s actually a lot going on but the club members are being hopeless at taking pictures!)

First up Marcus’ son has been trying a bit of miniature painting. We think these sci-fi troopers are a very good start.

Next up Marcus is going to teach a bit of dry brushing

Then Sean surprised us with pictures of his 6mm Viking raiders. These most definitely look the part, even more so when we learnt the ships are actually paper models.

Vikings on Tour!

And lastly for this week, I’ve done some more work on the pieces of plasterboard I acquired (ahem) with a wash of black paint to give that real ruined look.

First of the painted ruin pieces

Hopefully the club will continue coming up with projects in 2021.


Every Cloud …

Jeremey gets plastered (it had to be done, AK)…

Sometimes I do worry about us miniature wargamers. Faced with the challenges of everyday life, their outlook can be slightly different to the non-hobbyist.

Recently there was a crashing sound and on investigation the utility room ceiling was no more. There were plaster board fragments everywhere. Dealing with reality first I cleaned the area up and started looking for someone to repair the damage.

Remains of the Ceiling and Collected Detritus

Not the sort of expense I wanted (but quite fitting given how 2020 was), however during the clean up operation I kept picking up bits of rubble and thinking how the chunks of plaster reminded me of concrete.

Proof of Concept

Before you could say “how much!” to the plasterer, I’d put together a proof of concept to turn the plaster fragments, into rubble for my 28mm troopers to fight over.

But I paused at this point when someone pointed out that old plasterboard could contain Asbestos! Well regardless of using the plasterboard for scenery I still had to tidy up my utility room. So I sent a sample off to be tested which came back as negative. So please do be cautious if you’re thinking of doing a similar project as this.

The plaster board rubble was very weak and dusty so I used a genuine DIY tip and painted the plaster with a watered down PVA glue solution to seal it. This made the plaster more like concrete and stopped it from crumbling while being handled.

Glue Gun to Stick it Together then more PVA

A lot of the rubble still had all the layers attached to it which I left in place to make it even more authentic looking. In the pictures I’ve done nothing but glue the pieces together and coated everything in a second layer of PVA glue.

These pieces have become very solid and are still very light, as light as resin would be. As you can imagine I have quite a lot of material to work with and so will be returning to the blog with an update on building an entire destroyed settlement.

Sci Fi Objectives

Stephen puts on his Sci-Fi modellers hat…

You can play games with sides who have equal points and just happen to turn up and have a smack up in the middle for no particular reason only so many times.

So to create a bit of variety I decided to make some objective markers so that games can have a bit more variety and meaning.

Of course, you can use simple tokens, or even dice, to be objectives. But I decided to make some sci fi themed objectives.

These are made from a variety of bits – some from odds and ends out of the spares bag, some from other household items, and some from good old fashioned modelling and sculpting.

This first one is a comms station. The core is a bit of balsa. This was then skinned with Miliput and some details etched in. When the putty had hardened I gave it a quick whizz on some fine wet and dry paper to smooth it out. The radar dish was from the spares bag. I’ve no idea where it came from – I have a few of them, so must have ordered them from somewhere but for the life of me I can’t remember ever buying them.

Comms Station

The next one is a supply cache. These bits are all from the spares bag. The gas cylinders were freebies with an order from Scotia/Grendel. Not sure who the crates are by. I must confess, I wanted more ‘sci fi’ looking crates, but I had none and wasn’t in the mood to make any – I just wanted a fourth objective marker and wanted to throw it together sooner than later.

Supply Cache

The other two are what we’ll call ‘gubbins’. Or ‘tech’. Or something like that. They were made from oddments I had around. The cylindrical one is made from a sewing thread bobbin. It has a couple of round slotta bases stuck together on top, half a bomb from a Stuka model on top of that, and I glued some plasticard to the barrel of the bobbin. The other one hasn’t had so much done to it. It was a weapon pod that came from a toy spaceship bought in The Works. I just put it on its end and then some plasticard bits to cover the slot where it attaches to the model. 

Gubbins, before painting

On to the painting.

The two ‘tech’ objectives were given a once over with grey and then a dark brown wash. They were then dry-brushed with grey that had a little bit of brown added to it (to take off the harshness of the grey). I went down quite light with them. I wanted the blue sections to represent internal lights and power generation. So a royal blue base, and then taken down with pale blue and a final white section. To try and give it a glowing effect I dry brushed the surrounding parts of the model with one of the paler blues to represent the light reflecting on the surfaces and glowing.

Gubbins, after painting

The comms station was a simple paint job – field green. I decided to do the cylinders on the supply cache in different colours to represent different contents. For no reason that I can think of I just went with white crates. Glad I did because I think it looks good.

Supply Cache and Comms Station, painted

The models were decorated with some spare decals and the computer screens were found on the internet, printed off, and glued in place (I’m sure you can identify the X Wing targeting computer).

So that’s it – some objectives for scenario games.

Framing my Childhood

Phil takes us down memory lane with his introduction to toy soldiers.

We’ve been feeling rather nostalgic here at the club recently – swapping stories of our early wargaming experiences and lamenting the numerous model and toy soldier shops that have fallen by the wayside.
Many of our tales seem to start with the phrase “I had a lot of Airfix soldiers when I was a child” and I was certainly no exception to this. I had loads of them – WW1, WW2, Cowboys, Indians and ACW. The HO/OO Assault sets and the 1/32 Combat Packs with the firing pillboxes.
But it is the four boxes of 1/32 Napoleonic soldiers that stand out from the rest for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they were all painted. I was given them for my 8th or 9th birthday but before then my mother had spent hours painting them. They were all lined up on the dining table waiting for when I woke up that day.
Second, I kept the boxes. I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision, but I do remember from an early age being impressed with the artwork on them – probably the best toy soldier boxes ever designed. They’re a bit dog-eared, paint marked and have a few other dubious stains, but they all managed to survive for well over forty years.
A house move last year suddenly presented me with a lot more wall space for hanging pictures. So, I decided to dig out the boxes and give them a better life than languishing in the loft. A quick trip to my local picture framing shop and they now have pride of place on my dining room wall. A permanent reminder of those halcyon days.

And the little chaps themselves? They are still here – battered and missing paint but still ready to serve king or emperor as appropriate.

Work in Progress Wednesday

During this holiday period we still have a bit of progress being made by club members.

John continues building up his Zona Alpha city with some more progress on the warehouse.

A roof and windows next for the warehouse

But John has also teased us with the beginning of construction on a mill/ironworks.

The beginning of the iron works

Feeling like I should also be making stuff, I’ve turned to that icon of art and crafts, the egg box.

Finally doing something with an egg box

Despite looking like some sort of sci-fi power station I’ve never bothered to use egg boxes for fear that on the tabletop they still look like egg boxes. But having used this one over the holiday period I felt I should see what I can do. It was a box of 15 eggs so avoids the dozen/half dozen look. But lets see what I can do with it.

And finally Steve has almost finished his new Dwarven army most likely to be used with the Dragon Rampant rules.

Just a couple of units to go

That’s it for 2020’s WIP Wednesdays. Let’s see what 2021 projects the club members can come up with.

Black Ops – Into The Junkyard

Stephen gives an unredacted report on a Black Ops mission…

Thought I would have a game of Black Ops.

It’s been a while since I played it and having enjoyed it before I decided to have another go.

I decided not to use the stealth rules and have a simple encounter game – just to refresh myself with the rules and because I just wanted a simple face-to-face scrap.

Each side had 75 points. On one side was a group of droids and on the other a section of special forces troops. The game was simple enough – seven turns to see who can cause the most amount of damage. Both sides comprised a leader, a heavy weapon, and 5 troopers.

I used my smaller (3’x2’) board and set it up as a huge junkyard/recycling plant with loads of cover. The humans deployed in 3 groups (two lots of 2, and one lot of 3) and the droids deployed in 2 groups (one lot of 3 and one lot of 4).

Into The Parking Lot

Due to the amount of terrain both sides managed a couple of activations before shots were fired. The humans, deployed on a wider front, managed to get some troops around the flanks, forcing the smaller droid unit with the Leader into the middle. However, the large droid unit had deployed on a different flank and their numbers looked strong against the 2 man human team facing them.

The Droid Leader Commands

The humans came up through the parking lot and took fire from the droids. No casualties this time – the blasts struck the assorted junk and barricades. Locking and loading, they took up their positions and returned the gesture – one of the droids went down so it was first blood (Ed: oil?) to the humans.


The droid leader had found himself in a difficult position. With two of the droid troopers (one of which went down under fire) he was taking crossfire as one human team took up position behind a large piece of junk and another team edged around behind some trashed vehicles. Then, bang! Down went the droid leader.

Droid Down!

And then in the following round, down went a couple more of the droids. I wasn’t convinced this was going to last 7 rounds. That said, the droids had managed to squeeze themselves into a good position and it was hard to see how the humans could advance on them without taking casualties. So a firefight ensured with both sides digging in.

The Droids Dig In

This firefight didn’t last long though. One the human teams took a casualty, and then so did another.

Man Down!

With the human position suddenly weakened the droids were able to move up and advance on the humans, despite having taken more casualties and losing their leader.

Working Around The Flanks

The game was starting to change. The droids managed to hit another human and down he went as well. On one of the flanks the humans had made good headway, but they now needed to fall back and consolidate or they would be picked off. The human leader ordered his men to take cover behind some barrels and crates. The droids moved on them, and a lucky shot took out the human leader! Just two troopers left.

Droids Bypass the Bodies

Then crafty shot from one of the human troopers dropped a droid and he rushed round, to outflank the final droid. As he did, his colleague put in a fresh clip and with gun at his hip, let rip and down went the last droid.

Game Over

Victory went to the humans. Just.

Black Ops is a great game. Once the shooting starts it can be quite deadly. A modelling project for early 2021 is to make some sci fi themed objective markers.

Slam! Dreadball: Kalimarin Ancients Versus Z’zor

Christmas Special!

Marcus reports on a Dreadball game with some teams he prepared earlier …

Recently you may have seen that I have been painting up some new Dreadball teams. I am a notoriously slow painter (this is partly because I don’t have a dedicated painting/modelling area), but I did promise a report on the game, so while the second coat of varnish is drying on the Nemion Oceanics, I broke out two teams I painted a while back: The Kalimarin Ancients (alien crustacea) and  the Z’zor (alien insectoids) for a game with Son Tzu.

A bit of background. Dreadball is a sci-fi sports game from Mantic games. I envision it as a bit of a cross between American football, there is a lot of rough stuff, notably slamming, and basketball.  As can be seen from the picture above, the game is played on a broadly rectangular pitch composed of hexagons. In fact the pitch actually looks more like one hexagon that has been stretched lengthwise. There are three strike zones in each half with the target hex at the furthest extremity from the centre. The two closest to the centre line can generate scores of one point from any hex except the furthest from the target, from which two points can be scored. Similarly, with the remaining zone, the hexes are worth three and four respectively.

A typical team has three types of player; Guards, who don’t hand the ball but are good at blocking and tackling; Strikers are good at stealing, passing and scoring; Jacks, do a bit of both. However, not all the teams have all the players.

In common with many games, each player has a stat-line. The stat line features values for movement, strength, skill, armour and speed.  The stat line values give a target figure for a success on a D6. A number of manoeuvres are available to the player, some of which may depend on a test against these values with a varying number of dice depending on circumstances. These include shooting, passing and slamming; a kind of tackle that you can do on opponents whether they have the ball or not. Often, if you double the target number, or for opposed rolls like a slam, double the opponents successes, you gain a positive result. These include a free move for a double on picking up the ball, additional fan checks on scoring (which may yield extra coaching dice) and temporarily or permanently removing an opponent from the field. Coaching dice are one use dice which may be added into any test at the players discretion, but are then lost.

Each player turn is called a rush in which the active player gets five actions. Players can add actions through the use of cards, which opponents might also use to interrupt the rush. Cards can also introduce random events. None more frustrating when having orchestrated a four point shot, you find that your opponent lays “The ball shatters” just when you are about to shoot! Finally, there are a number of special rules relating to individual players or teams.

In this game the Kalimarin Ancients have two types of guard; one good at holding opponents to make slams even nastier. They don’t have any jacks and are probably one of the better teams. The Z’zor have the usual mix, although both teams have a special MVP (Most Valuable Player, of star quality)

The set up varies at the players discretion but six players is the maximum legal number of players on the pitch. Note the word legal, it is not uncommon to sneak on extra players and if you can get away with it…

Scoring works on a net basis. If one team scores a 3 pointer and the other team replies with a 2 in their next rush, the net score will be +1 to the first team. Play continues in the manner of a tug of war in an attempt to either reach +7, when a team wins outright, or to have the best score after 14 rushes.

It was the Z’zor rush first (rush is a term from American football for your “turn” or series of plays during which you retain the ball). A striker picked up the ball launched down the centreline easily, but lost the ball on having to evade around an opponent twice. Unfortunately for the Z’zor, losing the ball so unexpectedly ended their first rush. Son Tzu, who thinks of himself as something of a genius, picked up the ball with a throw of 555, resulting in an extra action for the player in possession (three successes against his skill stat. Only a double is required to give an extra action).

Moving down pitch, with his second normal action he moved another player with a sprint action (double move value but each facing change also counts as against the move total as well as hexes moved). A 6 hex pass to the sprinting player, passing the throw and catch skill checks, and the Ancients are in the near three point zone, and score, (the 4 point hex being currently blocked).  He picks up some fan checks. (Three can be traded in for coaching dice)

On the third rush the Z’zor pick up the ball which scattered into the Ancients half.  A sprint up the field by a guard results in a slam on the second action in an attempt to clear the 4 point strike hex.

With a 5 dice check at 3+, surely the way ahead can be opened up? The 5 dice yield a paltry success, against the defenders roll, with the two guards squaring off. In the meantime the Z’zor take an action to slam a pesky striker in their own strike zone; but this time a glorious 5 successes is answered by the Ancients 4, so the striker is only pushed back. Unfortunately however, this left the defender out of position…But at the other end the Z’zor striker goes for a 3 pointer, scoring easily with 2 successes. He picks up a fan check for the extra success too. It’s all square!

Rush four, and the Ancients gain possession again, slicing down field into the now undefended 4 point zone. An Ancients guard attempts to put a put a Z’Zor out of the game, but falls over in the process. However, using a card from his hand for an extra action, the Ancients are able to move up and make a point strike, with two successes on a 551, and gains fan checks for that double.

At 4-0 to the Ancients, it’s not looking too healthy for the Z’zor, but a single strike in the 4 point zone can level things up. Having picked up the ball again, he Z’zor look to open up the 4 point zone, but 6 successes (any 6 rolled “explodes” to add an extra roll) are met by an opponent slam-back and another 6!  Foiled. The Z’zor MV, Ludwig, uses a card to get into the zone and go for the 3 point strike, but requiring 4 misses on a single dice with a 3! The ball scatters off the strike zone…

…from where the Ancient’s pick up the ball deep in their own half. A scything move of a sprint followed by a throw and a catch with just one success by a striker sets up a chance. The striker evades successfully and makes it to the zone, but loses a dice for moving and shooting in the same action, making a 3 point attempt; Good enough for a sudden death victory, on 3 dice with a success on 4+.

Rolling a 621 the Ancient’s just manage a score for the win.

So another lucky win for Sun Tzu, confirming his own opinion that he is the greatest. My dismal performance at this game continues. Surely I can do better? Will the newly painted Nemion Oceanics or the anarchic (read cheating; maybe that is the right style for me?) monkey team that we have named the Golden Banana’s prove my salvation? The Oceanics are now painted despite my glacially slow painting skills. The Banana’s are well on the way…or maybe I should just break out Red Alert again?

In the meantime here is an action picture of the completed Oceanics posed with a robot team; the Chromium Chargers including MVP DBR7 “Firewall”.