Stephen gives us step by step guide to painting a Sci Fi villain.
For an upcoming game of Stargrave I wanted a baddie. The Big Boss. I looked at the models I had and none of them were really suitable.
So I decided I would buy something. I knew how I wanted the model to be armed, and knew my chances of finding something exactly like that was virtually zero, so it had to be something that could be modified.
Since I intended to order some bits from Ral Partha I thought I’d have a look there.
And lo and behold, I found just the thing – a Neo Soviet Handler from their Vor range (specifically, code 40-412):
I trimmed off the knuckle-duster thing in his left hand and in its place went a blaster pistol from the spares bag. His main armament was going to be a void blade. And when I saw this model, and what he had in his right hand, I couldn’t believe my luck. This would make the perfect handle for a lightsaber (sorry, void blade). I trimmed it down a bit, but I liked the flared ending so kept that. A hole was drilled and a piece of 1.5mm styrene rod was glued in. The model was then stuck to a 25mm plastic base and the base built up with filler. And then it was given a brown undercoat:
Now, in this write-up I am just going to give generic colours rather than specific names and codes for a brand. I use from more than one range of paints and I am sure everyone else does as well.
I decided his robes, gloves, and gimp mask were going to be black. So I slapped it on, letting it get into any awkward gaps in case I couldn’t get a brush in there later so it would act as a deep shade.
Right, this is just my own personal philosophy on black. But I never highlight black with just grey. No. Black is seldom that helpful. Look at any black clothes you may have. I bet they’re all slightly different shades – it depends on age, what the material is, what dye was used. Lots of variables. So try to keep that in mind when highlighting your blacks. The black for the robes had a bit of blue added, then white added to that for successive highlights. The gloves and mask had a blob of red added, then white added to that for successive highlights. You can see the slight difference in ‘black’ here:
Next up, I decided to do the bits that would get a dark brown (OK, OK, GW’s Agrax Earthshade) wash – the boots, pouches, bracers, and metallic bits. These received the same base brown colour. The metals had a steel base colour. Once dried, on goes the wash.
And when that’s dried the pieces are painted up. Like black (and most colours, to be honest) it helps if you vary what you use to highlight your base colours. It’s tempting to add white to lighten it. But maybe yellow might give a different shade to the base colour, or a pale grey. This is a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you have two uses of the same colour next to each other. That said, I did use white to highlight the brown. The metal bits were touched up with the base steel colour, and then highlighted with silver. I ummed and ahhed about what colour to do the lenses on the eyepieces. Blue or green were the first choices that came to mind. But then I thought, orange. So orange it was, highlighted with a dot of yellow.
Next up I decided to do his weapons. There’s a good reason for this – I just couldn’t make up my mind what colour to do his armour. Normally I would have left the weapons to last because they stick out and there’s every chance they could get knocked or rubbed as I did other bits. But I just couldn’t make up my mind. I had thought about green, but I had also decided that his blade was going to be green, and if there was too much green then I may have to re-paint the armour. With that, I decided to do the weapons first, and once that was done maybe the armour colour would be obvious. The handgun had a base colour that was a mix of steel and black to make a gun metal colour, then highlighted with the steel. A red laser sight was also dotted in. I knew from the outset I was going to do a green blade. I have a nice rich green colour, so I went with that. It’s hard to paint a 3D object like it is lit from inside, so I chose to just highlight the base and tip of the blade. I used white to highlight this time.
I looked at it. You know what, I thought, I reckon green would look OK. So I went with green for the armour, but a different shade of green. I gave all the armour panels a thin coating (not really a wash, but not really thick paint either) of the base green mixed with a blob of dark brown (again, you don’t have to darken colours with just black). Once dry I then painted in the panels with the base colour, which was highlighted by adding yellow to the green to create a more vibrant green, but also so it didn’t have the same tonal value as the green on the blade. The edges of the armour were based in dark yellow, and then picked out with a flat yellow.
And that’s the end of the painting for Doctor Moreau. Once finished, I thought the 25mm base looked a little small on what was a chunky model. So I pried the model off the base (and, inevitably, had to touch up a few knocks and chips) and glued him to a 30mm wooden base. Flocking was my standard recipe – a mix of railway ballasts first, and then some spots of static grass:
And that’s Doctor Moreau done, ready to be pestered and set upon by a group of ne’er do wells and freeloaders.
A brief picture album of the third meeting back, still operating under members only rules.
Four games in play today, in chronological order:
First up a FOG Ancients game by Colin & Paul, we only have one picture of this unfortunately.
Moving on to the 17th Century we had a FOG Renaissance game with Brett, Pete, John and Mark, the Scots involvement in the English Civil War.
Moving on a couple of Centuries we move to Mexico in the 1860’s, with the French Intervention played by Alan and Mike using Zouave II rules.
Finally we have a couple of games of Stargrave.
The first game was run by Stephen, with Eric, Marcus, Jeremey and Andy sending their crews to investigate Dr Moreau’s House of Pain.
We had to cut the first game short as Stephen had to leave, so we then played a second game which Jeremey had devised. As Andy’s crew had to disband after his Captain was killed in the first game he ran the second game enabling Jeremey to play.
A ship had crashed, leaving a trail of cargo and potential loot in its wake. Jeremey, Eric and Marcus’s crews came looking for loot, with indigenous interference run by Andy.
Jeremey takes us through the various times club members have used actual toys for games.
Recently Tony posted pictures of a toy Millennium Falcon he bought for his current 15mm Star Wars project. This was a Hasbro Millennium Falcon toy measuring 9.5 inches x 7 inches.
All Tony did to this toy was to give it a wash of black acrylic paint thinned with Johnson’s floor polish followed by a heavy light grey drybrush.
As you can see the end results were quite impressive for such a simple technique.
When the Stargate rules came out Stephen decided to paint up a spaceship to act as scenery. Again going for a toy Stephen bought a strange looking spaceship from something called the Starlink range.
From what I can tell you can connect this toy up to a games console for added features. Stephen converted a few bits of the original toy to turn it into a craft for his bounty hunter.
I also got in on the toy action a number of years ago for my Fenris Descending game. I dug out one of my old Star Wars toys, namely this PDT-8 transport toy.
For this I did need to cover over the compartments you put the action figures in and went for a complete paint job, but that was still just a simple primer of grey, dry brushed silver and a black ink wash applied.
Again the level of detail on the original toy made it a good choice to use for wargaming. You can often pick up such toys for a bargain price on Ebay or in the toy store clearance bin. A purpose built wargaming spaceship of the same size (although likely better detailed) would be quite expensive.
I can see my self doing this again if I spot the right toy.
Last Saturday was the second meeting post lockdown. We are still operating with members only. Fewer games and members this time, perhaps because of the Bank Holiday weekend?
First up, a couple of games of Fields of Glory, Dominate Roman vs Selucid, report from Chairman John.
Mark’s Romans took to the battlefield against a very mixed force of Paul’s Seleucids. The Romans deployed their many legions in the centre to face off the Seleucid cataphracts, pikes and elephants.
With the full deployment revealed the Romans moved aggressively to take advantage with their skirmishes on the left flank. This resulted in successfully routing the enemy light foot off the table and capturing the enemy camp. However the Seleucids fought back attacking the rear of the Roman horse who were still sacking the camp. In the meantime on the other flank the Seleucid light foot seemed to be in excellent shooting form scoring hits in multiple rounds and routing the Hun cavalry.
The deciding battle should have been in the middle with the Seleucid caraphracts taking on the legions, but despite vicious fighting no overall victor emerged. At this point the Seleucids were declared the marginal victors due to their success on the flanks.
The second game was a repeat meeting, this time the Romans sat back and let the Seleucids come to them intending to not be aggressive on the flanks and risk losing their again. However the Hun cavalry again proved to be very vulnerable to shooting, with the cavalry and light horse on the other flank also suffering at the hands of some good dice rolling by the Seleucids. In the centre the cataphracts managed to manoeuvre to hit the Romans at their weakest point, eventually routing several battle groups, the Roman army withdraw just before it would break, a successful day of battle for the Seleucids.
The next table saw some Border Reiver action. Report by a different John.
I brought along Osprey’s En Garde! Ruleset, my collection of Outpost Reivers I’d purchased and painted many years ago and scratchbuilt terrain for Eric and Tony to try out the rules. We played on a 3 foot square mat. Whilst rule memory was hazy at times, we did manage to play two scenarios.
Scenario 1 – During a previous raid some of the stolen booty had to be hidden in a derelict Shepherd’s hut in Bewcastle Waste. Both gangs were desperate to recover the heavy chest containing cutlery and a wooden dinner service (yes, they would have been that desperate). We used the capture scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook. It was dark and raining, typical Reiver weather.
Both forces approached the hut with some figures dismounting so that they could enter the hut and grab the chest. Eric’s gang managed to score some hits using a Latch – a short range rapid fire crossbow as the skirmish developed around the hut.
With men down, Tony attempted a ride by lance charge on Eric’s Headman but unluckily failed and with that, Tony’s chances in the game faded.
Scenario 2 – Eric’s gang have kidnapped the lady love of Tony’s Headman’s son and locked her up in their fortified farmhouse. The scratchbuilt Bastle House is an accurate model of Gatehouse (North) Bastle in Tynedale. We used the Defence Scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook.
For this scenario, Tony had got some hired help as He would have to break into the Bastle. He decided to use the time honoured tactic of ‘Scumfishing’ applying fire to the door in order to smoke out the occupants.
Meanwhile if Eric’s Headman’s son could rush out and light the straw pile, this would alert the Land Sergeant and the Militia who would be duty bound to come to their aid (unless handsomely paid off by Tony). The son was ruthlessly put to the sword by one of Tony’s henchmen. Tony was unable to start a fire at the door and with time running out, brute force was brought into play. A fierce melee took place in the basement with Tony’s men just avoiding a bucket of night soil thrown down the chute above the door. The Headman’s son was able to rescue his sweetheart (the only girl in the village with her own teeth) in the nick of time or by the skin of his teeth.
So honours were even over the day. We had a couple of queries on the rules and will probably bring in house rules next time where our protagonists will encounter ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ a merciless band of cutthroat mercenaries and I’ll start looking at the possibility of a campaign.
Last, but by no means least, Tony and Andy tried out Dragon Rampant. Report by Andy
Tony wanted to try out Dragon Rampant using his Lord of the Rings Rohirrim troops, so we agreed on a 24 point game.
For our first Game Tony’s army was made up of :
1 x Elite Riders (Theoden and guard)
1 x Elite Foot (Royal Guard)
1 x Light Riders (Eomer and escorts)
1 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
1 x Light Foot.
I fielded a Goblin force with the following:
1 x Offensive Light Foot (Durburz and guards)
1 x Light Foot Wizardling (Shamen and Drummers)
2 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
2 x Scouts
Tony threw forward his cavalry, with the foot catching up as best they could.
Having the leader as a unit of Elite Riders had the drawback of the unit having the wild charge rule, so once within move distance of my forces he had to test to charge.
After a game of attrition, with both sides losing their leaders, the last unit of Rohan foot await the end.
For the second game we both expanded our armies, Tony added a unit of Bellicose Foot, using his Army of the Dead models, and another unit of Light Riders, lead by Eowyn. I added a couple of units of Light Riders (Orcs on Wargs). This took both armies to 32 points.
In this game my Wargs were often successful in evading Tony’s Light Rider charges, until they ran out of space.
Another game of attrition, at the end all that was left of Tony’s Rohirrim was Gamling, leader of the Royal Guard
For our third game we expanded the armies yet again. I added a unit of Venomous Giant Spiders (Lesser Warbeasts) at 7 points. Tony gave his Elite Riders the Level Headed upgrade, which removed the wild charge and made it easier to move. He also converted his Light Riders to Heavy Riders and added a third unit. For the last point he added a War Banner to the Elite Riders.
Theoden still getting ahead of the rest of the units.
Eowyn lead her unit to charge the Goblin Shamen, who surprisingly held them off.
Theoden about to fall to the Goblin King.
In all we easily got three games in at the meeting, and plan to try doing the Battle of the Pelennor Fields at a future meeting. Tony now has to work out how to portray the Mûmakil in Dragon Rampant.
Inspired by the imminent arrival of Osprey’s new Stargrave rulebook, Marcus suggested that we have a shuttle scratchbuilding contest (this was several months ago, the book is of course out now). Although the rules are aimed at 28mm figures, this very loose ‘contest’ was for 15mm models.
A while ago I saw a 15mm scale spaceship made from a Nerf rifle on Facebook – it was probably the size of a corvette or small frigate. While I had no desire to make anything that big, the idea still seemed sound for a much smaller vessel made from a pistol or similar. So I picked up an X-Shot branded gun from a supermarket for a fiver … which then sat untouched in its box for over a year. The shuttle building competition seemed like the ideal time to dig it out and make something of it.
I started by dismantling it (it was held together by screws) and removing the trigger, grip and the spring mechanism that propelled the rubber projectiles. This left me with just three pieces – the triple barrel and the two body halves, which I superglued back together. The screw holes were filled with green stuff which I tried to hide as best I could by sculpting in detail to match the surrounding area. The plan was to turn the pistol round so that the gun barrels became the engines and the cockpit would somehow be grafted onto the trigger end. This was all a very vague concept, since I had no idea of the details and what I was going to use to make it all (this make-it-up-as-I-went-along theme ran through the whole build…).
I had to tidy up a couple of bits – I took a razor saw to what would be the nose and removed a protruding bit of plastic, which I covered with a hatch from a Games Workshop vehicle. The hole where the grip came out was boxed in with plasticard with a view to becoming a well for the nose landing gear.
After hunting through my spares box for a suitable aircraft cockpit I came up blank, so in the end I built a simple frame around a curved protrusion which should look like a cockpit when painted up.
Engines were my next issue. Try as I might, in my extensive pile of half-built kits I could not find three identical engines to cover the three muzzles of the original gun. I did find two Mirage-III engines which I used for the lower two. For the upper, central engine I found a rather odd finned one which came from a Japanese spaceship kit. I rationalised the different designs by designating the lower two as the sublight drives, while the upper one is the ship’s FTL or Jump drive.
The final major subassembly that I had to work out was the landing gear – it would have to be robust enough to hold the weight of the ship and stand up to the rigours of gameplay. I’d originally planned to scratchbuild something with skids or feet along the lines of the Millennium Falcon, but during my various delves through my kit pile I came across the landing gear of a 1/48th Rafale which looked like it would work. Having wheels rather than skids also made sense as it would make the shuttle easier to manoeuvre in the tight confines of a carrier bay or hangar. The nose wheel fitted perfectly into the well I’d made earlier – I just superglued it solidly to the back of the well. I drilled holes in the fuselage sides to secure the two larger rear wheel struts and added some extra supports to make them even more secure.
The forward hull had a circular recess on each side – on the left I put the main hatch, originally from a GW Rhino. I gave it some hinges and a grab rail from various kits, and an entry keypad which is the only 3D printed piece on the ship. On the right is the ship’s main armament – when the shuttle was originally built this would have been a second hatch, but now it’s in private service the captain has added a twin heavy cannon mounting, which came from a GW dreadnought. I’ve never played Warhammer 40k, but once upon a time I worked on a video game project for Games Workshop and ended up with number of WH40K sprues in my bits box, which have finally proved to be very handy.
Then I was into full-scale greeblie mode, covering much of the surface of the vessel with all manner of bits and pieces – there are aircraft weapon pylons, bits of superstructure from 1/1200th battleships, a metal radome, some windows and shutters from model railway buildings, helicopter rocket pods and many other unidentifiable bits. There’s also a small defensive gun turret under the main hatch. The engine body got lots of pipes and valves made from plastic rod and strip, and a couple of lengths of old bass guitar strings.
Eventually I called a halt and declared the build finished, and moved onto painting. The overall colour scheme reversed the original colours of the plastic gun, with the main body in white and the nose in orange, and the engines bare metal. I sprayed it overall with Halfords’ white car primer and then washed it with light grey acrylic paint thinned with Johnson’s floor polish (I had planned to use Citadel Apothecary White contrast paint but I’d run out and had to improvise…). This was then heavily drybrushed with pure white with some edge highlights thrown in. The nose was painted with Gryph Hound Orange (another contrast paint) and drybrushed up, and then the engines painted with Citadel Leadbelcher before washing black and drybrushing silver. Contrast paints can be a bit patchy on large flat areas, which just what I was after – this is meant to be an well used, battered vessel that has seen plenty of use.
I painted the gun housing in dark blue-grey, along with the numbers etched into the sides of the fuselage, the cockpit glass in a variety of blues to give a graduated shade and the undercarriage in silver. I then picked out lots of details in different spot colours – a red and white striped probe, yellow emergency gas tanks, grey sensors, a green radome and orange and blue dorsal fins. I even had a go at a rainbow-like heat distortion effect on the engine using washes.
Finally I raided my collection of decals to finish things off – a mixed selection of aircraft markings and GW Tau symbols.
So that’s it – the Empyrean Drifter takes to the spacelanes. Of course it needs a crew, which I’m currently pulling together from various sources. And I’ve now started to think that they need a base to operate the Drifter from, which is a whole new rabbit hole…
During a recent discussion over Stagrave and making scenery Marcus mentioned a cheap set of terrain available from Mantic Games for the game Dreadball. Further browsing of the Mantic Games site showed a box set called Dreadball Xtreme for £9.99.
Club member Jeremey took the plunge and bought a set for evaluation:
This all started when I saw the Dreadball set of Free Agents that I thought would be good for converting into a Stargrave crew. The Free Agents set was £9.99 but I discovered the Dreadball Xtreme set for £9.99 included the Free Agents set, it also contained some terrain in the form of crates, perfect terrain for any Sci-fi games; so I thought I might as well pick up a set.
I had to pay postage so the whole thing cost me £16.99, and this is what I got.
I will say straight away this is not a review of the actual game. I had no interest in playing it. I bought the set for use in other games.
This is what you get in the set. First up were the 9 Free Agent miniatures that first led me to the set. The miniatures in the game are all hard plastic. The quality varied, some had sharp details others were very soft. Also the painted miniature pictures on the Mantic Games site gave me the impression that some of the miniatures were larger. For example the Treeman looked tall but is the same height as the other humanoid miniatures. Mould lines were quite pronounced on some of the miniatures, those needed to be cut off, filing on this type of plastic just roughs up the surface of the miniature.
Next came the female team for the game. The miniatures are quite slight and of all the miniatures these were the softest and worst mould lines.
This was a shame because I wanted a number of female characters in my Stargrave crew. You get two copies of five different miniatures in this set, although two are wounded. But these could be good for rescue scenarios in games.
Here is a close up showing the size of the mould lines on the female miniatures.
The second team are convicts and these had better castings. You get more variety with this team (they are convicts apparently), they are nice post apocalyptic looking. there are three miniatures where you get two copies. One pose being wounded as with the female team. There are two other miniatures and then the larger ogre/thug miniatures that come with different arms and heads so they don’t have to look the same.
The Dreadball Xtreme set comes with two figures to represent team sponsors. The suited miniature would be good as a boss to be protected or assassinated in games, with the other one potentially being a gang leader.
Now we come to the terrain which is one of the reasons I wanted to get the set. These are quite good with four power unit pieces, six square crates, four lighting units and 16 hexagonal crates. These were all nice clean castings with few mould lines.
I should also mention the other bits from the box that I might find a use for. The rules, counters and cards for the game don’t hold much use for me. But the game mat from the set is about 24″ x 24″ and a hefty piece of rubber (mousemat?) style fabric. You could probably use it as a door mat it feels so tough. But I’m probably going to cut it up as the design will work for landing pads, storage areas or to represent the interior of a starship. There were also 24 plastic hex bases in two colours. These could be good for various terrain projects of bases for other miniatures.
So was it all worth it? I must say I was hoping for more from this set, the casting is a bit poor on some of the miniatures and the detail very soft. I will have to see how these look once I apply the spray undercoat. That often highlights the detail a bit better. But for my £16.99 I got enough miniatures to create a fairly good crew of 8 or so miniatures, some creatures and characters for scenarios, 30 terrain objects and a mat that will make several pieces for games/terrain, all that considered it was probably worth it. But I do wonder why the Dreadball Xtreme set is £9.99 when the contents if bought separately on the Mantic Games site would be over £60 just for the miniatures. Are the individual team sets at £25 each better cast? Who knows the reason behind it. But I’m happy enough with the amount of material I got from this set.
After a gap of exactly 17 months the Society resumed meetings last weekend. For the time being meetings will be members-only, no visitors or prospective new members are allowed. That is being kept under review.
For the first meeting we had five games in progress; Ancients (6mm, Fields of Glory), Dark Ages (28mm, SAGA), WW2 (3mm, Rommel), Modern / Post Apocalypse (28mm, Zona Alfa) and Fantasy (28mm, Lord of the Rings).
Fields of Glory, by Mark.
This was the first outing for the Pontic army, who took on a late Republican Roman army, basically pike and cavalry vs well trained legionaries.
The first battle was a close run thing, the Pontic cavalry chased the Roman cavalry around the left flank before taking out two units, alas this was too little too late as the Romans swept around the right flank destroying all in their path, a close battle but the Romans won the day.
The second battle saw the Pontic forces consolidate their pike into one large block (24 bases) with two generals attached and rear support in the shape of offensive spearman. The intent was to take out two elite legions, however the Romans had other ideas and deftly avoided a full on battle taking out the supporting spearmen and eventually surrounding the pike block which spelt the end of things for the Pontic army.
A heavy defeat for the Pontics this time as the Romans showed that well drilled troops and some great tactics can win the day. Great to be back at the club, as for the Pontic army, there’s always next time!
SAGA, by Andy & Jeremey
We staged two games, both with 6 point armies. In the first game Jeremey had a Viking warband, comprising his Warlord, two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts) and three units of 8 Warriors (3pts). Against that Andy fielded an Anglo-Danish warband, comprising his Warlord, two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts), two units of 8 Warriors (2pts) and a unit of bow armed levy (1 pt).
Both sides deployed across a diagonal centreline, with each sides right flank extending past the opponents left flank.
As the warbands advanced Andy brought the units of Warriors and Hearthguard on his right flank round to try and out flank Jeremey’s left, and also pushed his levy forward taking a second activation (and a fatigue marker) in order to loose arrows at some Viking Warriors, to little effect. Jeremey responded by using the Viking Battle board ability Odin to exhaust the Levy, and promptly charged the Warriors in decimating the Archers.
That set the tone for the first game, with Andy dishing out Fatigue when he could, and Jeremey removing it and several of Andy’s warband in response. The battle culminated in Andy’s Warlord with a couple of Hearthguard taking a stand against the last of Jeremey’s Hearthguard, only to fall in ignominy.
In the second game both players changed their warbands.
Jeremey changed his army completely, going for a Anglo Saxon warband with three units of 16 Warriors* (2 pts each) in addition to his Warlord.
* (Ed: We got that wrong, maximum unit size is 12 figures, so it should have been 4 units of 12 Warriors).
The Anglo-Saxon battle board is markedly different from most to others, with abilities dependent more on the number of figures in a unit rather than their quality.
Andy retired his Levy archers and took an additional point of Warriors, splitting them between the two units to make 2 units of 12.
The armies advanced, clashing in a range of hills. Jeremey made good use of the abilities that reduce the number of attack dice available to their opponents. (Ed: Which would have been less effective with units of 12 rather than 16).
The battle raged back and forth with the Saxons keeping the upper hand while their unit sizes remained large. But similar to the first game the battle was hard fought, coming down to a fight with the Warlord. Although in the second battle Andy sent his Warlord to his doom against the last of Jeremey’s Saxon Fyrd, cutting down several before being overcome.
Counterattack at Deir el Tarfa, by Alan
In the summer of 1942, following its victory at Gazala, Panzerarmee Afrika pursued the British 8th army into Egypt. Rommel’s first attempt to break 8th Army’s lines failed in July, but by the end of August he was prepared to mount one last major offensive. German and Italian armor turned the Allied left flank almost 90 degrees and drove deep into Allied positions. On the evening of 31 August the 15th Panzer division began an assault on Alam-el-Halfa Ridge while the 21st Panzer division protected its exposed left flank.
The latter, however, suddenly found itself under counterattack by the British 22nd and 23rd armoured brigades. Eighth Army’s new commander, Bernard Montgomery, had held these units in reserve for precisely this contingency.
Our game focussed on the fight between the two British armoured brigades and 21st Panzer which was supported by elements of the Italian Littorio Division.
An initial advance by the British held most of 21st Panzer between the Deir el Tarfa and Deir el Agram ridges and an intense tank battle ensued. But the Italians swept around the British right flank and managed to seize one of the objectives. With the tank battle see-sawing between the British and German forces the Italian held objective became the key to the engagement. Despite several British counterattacks on the position the Italians held on.
The last British infantry assault almost succeeded but couldn’t quite take the position. So as night fell the engagement went to the Axis but with supplies running low they were forced to pull out overnight.
The game was played using the Rommel rule set by Sam Mustafa and using 3mm models from Oddzial Osmy.
Zona Alfa, by John and Tony
I decided to run a 4 mission mini campaign to introduce a new player (Tony) to the rules. Tony would have to recover salvage to generate funds to enable retirement from the zone whilst achieving the objectives from the mission. This is done by searching Hotspots of which there are five and the objective. A triggered Hotspot is guarded by Zone Hostiles, these can be of 6 types, the type and distance from the Hotspot being determine by Dice. Those Zone Hostiles with Melee capability head for the nearest member of the crew, those with ranged combat capability will head for cover then shoot at the nearest member of the crew. The missions were linked so that achieving an objective allows the player to proceed with the following mission.
Tony’s first job was to pick a 4 person Veteran crew from my collection and kit them out ready for action.
Mission 1. Disaster at Kovgorod.
A patrol has been lost in the Exclusion Zone. The last signal has been tracked from their APC to Kovgorod so that’s where the crew are headed. As they approach the village, they spot the disabled APC but a pack of Zombies has beaten them to it attracted by the smell of Blood.
Tony did well in this game and was well on his way to the retirement fund target after just one game. What could possibly go wrong?
Mission 2. The Prisoner at Bunker C13
After completing the mission, the crew recover a map with a bunker highlighted. There were four dead bodies in the APC, the map revealed the location of the fifth member of the patrol. Here Tony got into trouble with Bandits. One party of Bandits had been triggered before the start of the mission and a second entered on table as Tony triggered a hotspot. Caught in a crossfire his Leader was killed early on the mission and when deciding to head for the objective, he found that these were also guarded by Bandits. Using smoke to blindside this group of Bandits, the crew were able to move out of Line of Sight, rescue the prisoner and make it out. The objective had been achieved but at a high price.
Mission 3. Road Block at Strabants Crossing
The Prisoner from the bunker had recovered and told the crew about a Laboratory hidden deep in the forest so after reequipping that’s where they were headed until they found the track blocked with a party of bandits lying in wait. This time they were dealt with clinically, as were a swarm of zombies headed for them.
A satchel charge was laid and the roadblock cleared at the second attempt. Another hotspot was triggered and a gaggle of ghouls were stopped in the nick of time. Things were heating up as another hotspot was triggered and a pack of wild mutant dogs clambered over the APC to attack one of the crew members stationed on its roof.
A desperate fight saw all dogs killed and as the PC was refuelled from the diesel tank, the crew were able to make good their escape.
Mission 4. The Hidden laboratory.
With no time to replenish the supplies, Tony’s crew appeared in good shape. The retirement fund had almost been achieved and now all that was needed was a top up and recovery of the drugs caches hidden in the lab – piece of cake, except at the start of each turn a D10 was rolled. If this result added to the turn number was more than 10 a zone event would occur the following move. The crew moved quickly to the lab and whilst the first zone event, a swarm of irradiated insects was easily avoided, the second – a zone security patrol was a different proposition and two of the crew were wounded in a protracted fire fight whilst the lab was being searched. With the security patrol eliminated and the drugs collected, it was time to head back to the APC, just as a terrifying Alpha Mutant entered the arena.
Unable to take on this monster one crew member bravely fought it as the rest of the crew fled. Finally succumbing to the vicious attacks of the Mutant, she had bought vital time for the rest of the crew as they just made it back to the APC before another Zone Patrol entered the area.
It had been a rollercoaster Zone Run with plenty of tactical decisions to make, with some jeopardy and the result hanging in the balance until the final stages of the final mission.
Lord of the Rings
Tony and Phil staged this game, they each sent reports, Tony’s first:
We played two Lord of the Rings games, both involving Mumaks. The first involved a group of Knights of Dol Amroth supported by some Gondorian archers attempting to take down a single beast. This all went horribly wrong for the good guys early on when Phil started shooting my knights from their saddles with archers from the howdah, much against the odds – he is not renowned for rolling sixes when it matters !
Prince Imrahil did his best to tackle the beast single-handedly but in the end was only ever one failed priority roll from being trampled, as he duly was…
The second game didn’t show any improvement (Ed.: If you can’t kill one Mumak in the first game then of course you should have two in the second game!)- this time we played a scenario in Ithilien (similar to a scene in the films) with Faramir’s Rangers ambushing an advancing group of Haradrim.
My plan was to wound the Mumaks, hope it panicked them (as happened on screen) and defeat them that way – trying to just pick them off with arrows was never going to work.
I managed to inflict some wounds on Eric’s overgrown pachyderm but it simply shrugged them off, and they simply marched on by, killing Denethor’s second son on the way.
Finally, Phil’s somewhat shorter report:
“Phil in shock double LOTR victories”
It should be noted that Phil deliberately stomped on a couple of his own spearman to get to the Dol Amroth chaps.
The Union are on the advance and have discovered Confederate troops in position on a hill overlooking a creek.
The Union troops are given the order – engage the Confederate troops and take the position.
The Union had two small divisions of three brigades each plus artillery. The Confederates had just the one division, though a sizeable one, with five brigades and artillery.
The Confederates were deployed with the artillery atop the hill so they had a good field of fire. The infantry were positioned at the bottom of the hill along the line of the creek. The Union divisions each had two of their brigades up front with the third brigade in reserve.
On the first turn the Union moved forward. The guns started unlimbered so moved slowly, and I decided to move the infantry with them to keep the line together. But the Confederate artillery rolled really well, and one of the Union brigades took (light) damage. So it was obvious that if the Union infantry moved slowly with the artillery they’d spend longer getting pounded by the artillery, so on subsequent turns they left the artillery behind, but that was OK since the artillery had now moved into effective range.
The Union right flank had been loaded with a single division concentrating on the extreme right – just the one Confederate brigade facing them, but a second in position to turn to offer support. This left the other Union division to contend with the middle and left flank. The fact that the middle was fairly open meant it was always going to be a difficult proposition. The two Union brigades going up the middle also had the artillery from both divisions to support them, however, although the Union artillery was in range of the Confederate infantry brigades at the bottom of the hill the Confederate artillery was at long range, which made counter-battery fire ineffective. Conversely, as the Union infantry advanced they put themselves in effective range of the Confederate artillery.
You can work out what happened. Needless to say, even before they reached the creek, the lead Union brigade took withering fire from both the artillery and dug-in infantry. Exit one Union brigade.
This left the two Union brigades in the middle/left to split either side of the farm, with one now taking up the fateful position in the centre against all and sundry, and the other on the extreme left facing just a single brigade.
On the right flank the two opposing forces came into musket range and let rip at each other. The Union advance had been slowed due to the rocky ground delaying one of the brigades, and this time it was obvious they should advance together to support each other or else be destroyed individually.
Back in the centre the inevitable happened again – the Union brigade there took heavy fire from both infantry and artillery. Discretion was the better part of valour, so they were pulled back out of musket range so they could rally. The Union artillery moved up so they could fire at the Confederate artillery, scoring a good hit.
There was only one way the Union was going to win this – take it to a charge.
And that’s what they did. On the right flank the order to charge went in and two Union brigades went forward. The Confederates fired their muskets, hoping to blunt the charge. But in it went and the Union troops won and pushed the Confederates back, but lacked the oomph to pursue them.
Emboldened by this, the Union brigade on the left took the hint, fixed bayonets, and charged in as well. Not so effective this time – the Confederates did counter-charge and pushed them back across the creek.
Meanwhile, in the middle, the Union brigade had pulled back to rally. The artillery of both divisions turned their barrels to the Confederate artillery on the hill, hoping to silence them.
Again, the Union brigades on the right went in and charged, again pushing the Confederates further back up the hill. Only now, sensing victory, they managed to follow-up on the charge and in they went again and swept away the Confederates on top of the hill!
But the middle was once again turning into a killing field, for both sides. The Union artillery annihilated one Confederate brigade, and the unlucky Union brigade who had rallied had been sent back in – they would not be coming back out.
And then, on the left, the Union brigade that had charged found itself taking musket fire. The combination of being bounced by the Confederate infantry and then the musket fire was enough – they were routed and left the field.
At the end of the turn, both sides had taken enough loses to lose! Although the Union left had taken the hill they did not have enough strength left to chase off the rest of the Confederates, and there was not enough Confederates left to truly hold the hill securely.
A draw was called.
In the end the Union did better than I was expecting. I thought they might get a good drubbing. The fault I made was trying to engage the Confederate troops on a wide frontage. The middle ground was very open and it should have been obvious that any troops advancing through it would suffer badly. What I should have done is load the left flank the same way I loaded the right flank, and brought the Union artillery together to keep shooting away at the centre.
Instead I wasted two Union brigades marching up the centre just to get obliterated for nothing. I would fully expect the officers of those brigades to come up to me afterwards and tell me exactly what they thought of me.
I start off by washing the figures in warm soapy water, to remove any mould release agent, then rinse and dry them.
For 28mm infantry I standardise on 2p coins for the bases. I can then use them individually for games like SAGA or Lion Rampant, or on sabot trays for games like Dux Bellorum.
So once cut from the sprues and any mould lined removed with a scalpel and file the figures were stuck to their bases using a general-purpose adhesive, like Bostick.
Some of the figures have their left arms as part of the torso, others have them as separate pieces. I then assembled the figures using liquid polystyrene cement, except for the shields. I leave the shields off to make it easier to paint the left arm and chest. I do keep a shield handy to check the position of the left arm against the position of the right arm and spear during assembly.
I didn’t have quite enough heads with helmets for the 16 (I had previously used some on some unarmoured bodies) so a couple of the figures had bare heads from the Dark Ages Warriors box. The bases were then built up with Polyfilla.
I then undercoated the figures with grey car primer spray.
Most of the paints I use are Vallejo Model Colour, exceptions are mainly Army Painter (AP) washes and inks.
First off, I painted any areas of mail matt black, followed by dry-brushed Gunmetal Grey. Spear tips and helmets were painted the same colour. Next the faces, necks and hands were base coated Brown Sand.
Skin was the painted Medium Flesh Tone.
Now to start with the systematic randomisation of colours for the clothing. I arranged the figures into as near a rectangular formation as possible, in this case the 16 figures simply went into four ranks of four files.
I then painted the figure’s trousers by file:
Light Brown (A, E, I, M)
Chocolate Brown (B, F, J, N)
AP Dark Stone (C, G, K, O)
Basalt Grey (D, H, L, P)
Then the tunics by rank:
Grey Blue (A, B, C, D)
Deep Green (E, F, G, H)
Red (I, J, K, L)
Mahogany Brown (M, N, O, P)
If I had been painting lower status troops, I would have used the same colours overall for tunic and trousers, but added an additional colour to the tunic mix to avoid having the tunic and trousers the same colour on any individual figure.
Next were the leggings, in diagonal lines top left to bottom right
Buff (A, F, K, P)
Pale Sand (B, G, L, M)
Beige (C, H, I, N)
Deck Tan (D, E, J, O)
Next is the leatherwork. Belts, pouches and scabbard in diagonal lines from top right to bottom left, I used the same colours for the figure’s boots in a semi random order.
German Cam Black Brown. Belts etc: (A, H, K, N) Boots: (D, F, I, O)
All leggings and figures with Tan Yellow or Brown Sand hair was washed with AP Light Tone wash.
The bases were then finished with green basetex.
Having finished the figures, I moved on to the shields.
These were cleaned up in the same way as the figures, then undercoated black on the backs and white on the front. I use white on the fronts as I was going to use shield transfers rather than painting the designs.
I then drybrushed the back of the shields with Beige Brown and painted the shield bosses Gunmetal Grey while still on the sprues.
Little Big Men Studios decals have a hole for the shield boss already cut out, but the Battle Flag decals don’t, you have to cut those yourself.
I did have some issues with some of the LBMS decals, I couldn’t peel the plastic cover off to expose the self-adhesive surface. After ruining a few of the decals I ended up gluing them to the shield complete with the plastic layer using PVA glue. I haven’t had that problem before, so I wonder if it’s because these are fairly old, 3-4 years maybe? I didn’t have any problems with the Battle Flag decals.
Once the decals had dried, I painted the shield rims with Japanese Uniform to represent the leather edging. Once this was dry, I then cut the shields from the sprues, tidied up the edges with more Japanese Uniform.
The astute among you will notice there are 20 shields, but only 16 figures, the extras will be used as battlefield markers: Fatigue in SAGA, Battered in Lion Rampant, or Leadership Points in Dux Bellorum.
It’s never a good idea to glue painted articles together, paint to paint bonds aren’t strong, so I used a file to remove the paint from the contact points and then used liquid polystyrene cement to glue the shields in place.
The figures were then given a coat of spray matt varnish.
Here they are, 16 figures, making up 4 points of SAGA Hearthguard, a unit of Lion Rampant Sergeants with four figures left over or 2 units of Dux Bellorum Noble Shieldwall:
The guy on the left of the front rank has a painted shield (Green and Light Blue) from my stash of spare shields rather than one of the shields I did in this session.
So, that’s my method for painting irregulars in a systematic way.
The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.
I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.
Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.
Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…
The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.
The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.
I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).
I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.
I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).
The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.
The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.
One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.
The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.
Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.
It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.
Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.
Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.
Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.
The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.
Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?
Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.
So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!
On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.
No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?
Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.
Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.