Village in a Shoebox

Club member John L takes us through his latest terrain project.

One of the problems with 28mm wargaming is the size and bulk of terrain. I resolved to deal with this by fitting as many buildings as possible in a shoebox in a systematic manner.

The first task was to determine building foot prints to fit in the box. I started with four single story wooden buildings.

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Size test for new buildings

Phase 1
These first four buildings would be the main dwellings of the village. I elected to go for an all wood finish as these would represent traditional buildings prior to modern materials (a mistake as I spent days cutting out planking from cereal box cardboard) The building shell was foam core and exposed rafters were from coffee stirrers.

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The first two village dwellings

I used matchpots for the finish with light dry brushing of acrylic for the faded paintwork.

Phase 2
I looked at making a number of buildings with a concrete finish and corrugated roofing (asbestos I think). Along the centre line I could fit two inverted buildings which I decided to make as Chicken sheds.

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Concrete style building

I covered the foamcore shell with pva and then fine sand for the concrete effect and used corrugated foam from Hobbycraft for the roofing. To get the ivy, I used Jarvis Heath Green scatter finished with Morrison’s dried mixed herbs

Phase 3
I worked out that I could fit a further four buildings in the ones I’d made in phase 1, like Russian dolls. These would be the same construction as the Chicken sheds above. I made another Chicken shed, two workshops and a small office or dwelling.

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Building number four with rust in full affect

Phase 4
I thought I could make more buildings to fit along the sides of the box so added a further two buildings, a Sauna and a Village Store.

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A sauna and village shop

That’s it for the moment, twelve buildings in total, I’ve still got room in the box for wooden fences but I’m glad it’s finally finished so that I can get on with playing the game!

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again, so that means a quick look at what everyone has been up to.

First up Andy has finished his Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess. I suspect these are going to make an appearance in quite a few games.

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28mm Saxon, Viking and Welsh Princess

Steve has been taking advantage of the season’s availability of various plastic creepy crawlies to paint up some monster miniatures.

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Various plastic spiders and scorpions accompany a few other creatures (from Ral Patha)

Tony has finished painting up a new force for Hammers Slammers. This time the New Ukrainians, apparently they’ve already seen action (successfully), vanquishing the Thunderbolt Division.

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Tony’s new force of 15mm miniatures for Hammers Slammers

Lastly for this week John L has finished painting his scratch built bunker for Zona Alfa.

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Finished Bunker for Zona Alfa

The club members are definitely getting quite a bit done at the moment, next week it looks like we will have more Panzer action from Mark J and sea creatures from Marcus.

We’ve All Done It!

A constant of all miniature wargamers has always been to come up with your own set of rules. Every gamer has either written a set of rules (unpublished of course!) or heavily modified a published set of rules (just to to improve it), although to be fair to the club a number of home grown rules are used on a regular basis.

Jeremey takes us through such a typical Wargamer project and what happened to it.

Back in 2009 I fancied getting into mass battle fantasy games. I’d played a bit of 2nd edition Warhammer in my youth but was in a period of preferring smaller scales. I picked up a copy of Warmaster but it didn’t really grab me, the movement section with 20 plus pages (slight exaggeration) explaining how to perform a wheeling movement, just looked very similar to many of the historical rule sets that put me of historical wargaming for years.

Like all Wargamers in this situation I naturally started writing a set of 10mm fantasy rules of my own, I went with units based on round bases with no need to worry about detailed facing and movement rules.

When writing rules I’ve always had a weakness in needing actual miniatures to test the game with. I hate testing just on paper or with stand in’s, so I  created two whole armies first!

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Pendraken 10mm Skeletons painting up nicely

I decided to go with 10mm fantasy miniatures from Pendraken miniatures. Pendraken’s miniatures are cast individually which meant I could put them on a round base. Most other 10mm fantasy miniatures were cast on strips for 40mm wide bases. I used standard 40mm round bases and put 10 foot or 6 cavalry miniatures on each base. I was really pleased with the results but the first crack in the plan appeared as all the miniatures needed to be painted before putting them on the base and flocking the base was a pain to get between the miniatures.

Regardless I continued to torture myself and carried on creating two armies (Undead vs Barbarians).

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The Barbarian army faces down the Undead hordes

Unlike a number of other rule sets I’ve written I did get to playtest this set which I called ‘Battle Fury’ (often referred to as Battle Furry!), it was a very simple ruleset with no unit facing so you just moved where you needed to. There were typical bonuses for combat based on charging and having multiple units ganging up on the enemy. Activation was done by players taking it in turns to move a unit. I also went with 10 sided dice as I’ve always found the range of a normal 6 sided dice does not offer enough variation. 

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Battle in full swing

Games of this type often suffer from needing lots of markers for activation, wounds etc. But I had the genius idea (in my opinion of course) of making flags for both sides that showed the number of hits the unit had remaining (see the skulls on the flags!). The rules had the units roll a number of dice based on the number of hits remaining so you could see at a glance how strong the enemy or your own units are.

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Fight between the Barbarian Mammoths, Skeleton Cavalry and a Skeleton Giant

The game worked fairly well on the playtest, the forces came out quite balanced and I got the kind of game I wanted with big beasts fighting it out and plenty of back and forth action allowing for tactical moves.

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Barbarians and Skeletons in full Close Combat

This project taught me a lot about writing rules, having a clear idea of the kind of game I wanted from the start really helped. But it also taught me a lot about creating games and mistakes that can often be made.

The use of round bases for this scale hasn’t really been done and so the idea that wargamers would be willing to rebase their armies is unrealistic. However the round bases packed with figures looked good and better reflected warfare in an undisciplined world where armies just charged at each other and fought to the death. The flags that could be changed to reflect the hits of a unit felt like a good idea, but having to create enough to show the correct number of hits as units suffered damage became quite a challenge.

And so this project came to a halt and the miniatures are back in the pile of unfinished ideas (which is quite large if I’m honest), although after writing this I might revisit the flag idea for my WOTR army instead of the mini dice added to the base.

Work in Progress Wednesday’s

Each Wednesday club members have taken to sharing progress on the various hobby projects they are working on. This has been a good way for club members to inspire each other, swap tips and build interest for when we are back gaming together.

Rather than keep that all to ourselves we thought we’d show you what we are working on every Wednesday.

First up we have Steve’s new tower, made from a Pringles crisp tube. This was made to provide scenery for various fantasy games, predominately Dragon Rampant.

Picture of model wizards tower
The White Tower of Wykeham Heath. Located in a remote valley in the Welsh marches, no one know who lives there, but he’s referred to as The Ferret…

Steve has also painted up some mages to go with the tower, he’s calling these ‘The College of Mages’ and is hoping to add few more figures from Ral Partha.

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The Collage of Mages

Next up club Member John L has been increasing his figure count and scenery for the game Zona Alfa.

Here we have three Insurgents and a concrete bunker being suitably distressed and weathered.

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Three eager Insurgents searching for targets
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Work in progress on a concrete bunker

Lastly for this week we have Andy making progress on a set of Wolves and miscellaneous figures. Being a club that plays a vast number of different games Andy is hoping to use these miniatures with a score of games including SAGA, Dux Bellorum, Lion or Dragon Rampant.

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Wolves and miscellaneous miniatures next in the painting queue

The Witch and mailed woman are from Belt Fed gaming, as are two of the smaller wolves. The other three smaller wolves (same pose) are Ral Partha.

Dim Sum’s First Foray

John Lambert plays with his junks.

I scouted around for a suitable set of rules for Chinese Junk Warfare. I wanted a set that would allow ship v ship action during the age of Discovery in the Far East. I saw that a set of Solo play instructions were available for the Galleys and Galleons ruleset and so took the plunge. After three play test games, I’m glad I did. They fit the bill well and whilst they may not appeal to purists they appear suitable for other theatres. As they are quick play, with a minimum of reference tables you could easily play large scale encounters such as Galley battles in the Mediterranean, Armada battles or pirate adventures in the Caribbean prior to Line of Battle tactics.

Play Area and Measurement
The rules are designed for 2ft, 3ft, 4ft square table options. All ranges and movement distances are measured using measuring sticks scaled to the play area.

Vessel Stats
There are example stats for 36 different vessels in the rulebook and 27 individual special rules you can use to build your own ships using a downloadable fleet builder to tailor your own designs and calculate a points value for the vessel. Each vessel has two common stats these are Quality (Q) and combat (C). C can never be more than Q+1. The lower the Q value, the easier it is to activate a vessel and it is likely to carry out more actions in a turn though this is likely to be disadvantaged in combat compared to a larger vessels which are likely to have less actions in a turn though the use of the special rules can add combat bonuses so for example a Race Built Galleon may have a Q value of 2 and a C value of 3, add trained Gun crew and Master Gunner special rules and you have a tough customer though this comes at a point cost. Points costs re used to provide a balanced game.

Activations
To start with three ‘white’ dice are rolled for a designated vessel and compared to the Q value. Any roll equal to or over the Q value allows an action. All sailing ships get a movement action but if they fail to succeed any activations rolls, they continue on the current setting even if they sail over the edge of the world or into shallows. These vessels which have the Razee special rule have been lightened and can move an additional short move – good for chasing down an opponent. All movement distances are based on the type of rig – Square Rig, Galleon Rig or Lateen Rig and attitude to wind. Other special rules include Yare which allow an additional change of direction and shortening sail – important to avoid those rocks. When a player fails to activate a vessel or completes his turn, initiative passes to the opponent.

Combat
This is a straight D6 roll with C value added and any other combat bonuses depending on gunnery or boarding action. Additional actions allocated to combat can boost these too or are required to deliver a stern rake broadside and during boarding, so timing of a boarding attempt is critical. When a vessel is damaged, it has to roll on the critical hit table (2 x D6)

Effect of damage.
If vessel is damaged, usually by combat a ‘white’ dice is replaced by a ‘red’ dice. If a 1 is rolled on the ‘red’ dice, bad things happen. Of course, you don’t need to roll a ‘red’ dice but your actions are limited. Quite neat.

Scenarios and campaign rules
There are five scenarios of which I’ll use four in my games and simple campaign rules for a Mercantile or Pirate player. There is also a section on Fantasy beasts – a Kraken and Leviathan which have some appeal. One of the drivers for me was the Korean film ‘Pirates’ where a huge whale swallows the royal seal of the Emperor and the ‘plot’ centres on it’s retrieval.

Playtest
I pitted Dim Sum’s Pirate ship against a Merchantman using the introductory pursuit scenario.

Dim Sum’s Junk : Q3, C2 lateen rigged, reinforced hull
Merchantman : Q4, C3 lateen rigged, reinforced hull, Chaser Guns (360o), Merchantman (not so good at firing or boarding actions).

In this scenario, the defender Merchantman sets the play area and wind direction with terrain items to bog down the pursuer. The objective for the Merchantman is to cross the play area diagonally. The pursuer can select one of the other three corners to deploy on and starts with the initiative.

Dim Sum choose to broad reach around the shallows and get at the Merchantman as soon as possible. Dim Sum’s lower combat value and reinforced hulls would make damaging the Merchantman difficult. When activation dice are rolled and there is a double, the wind changes direction. Mid table both ships traded desultory boardsides at long range to no effect but in the final third, Dim Sum managed to get three successful actions and was able to move into position to deliver a stern rake broadside at close range.

The Merchantman had been doubled , taking a damage and having to roll on the Critical Damage table, 2 D6 (avoiding an 11 or 12)

Oh Dear! The Merchantman’s magazine has exploded and Dim Sum had his first victim.

On Farthest Tides

John Lambert prepares to sail the Oriental tides.

I’d been interested in doing this for some years and with Lockdown decided to take a closer look. I’d considered the ruleset Galleys and Galleons last year and collected information on junks. A solo adaptation of the rules was available on line and I decided to scratch build the ships for variety. Here’s how I got ready to play.

Sea Mat

I decided to make my own based around the smallest playing area in the rules 20” x 20”. For this I used Weed Control Fabric from Poundstretcher and Acryllic Caulk from Wickes. I spread one layer of caulk thinly to one side of the fabric and when this was dry (overnight), flipped it over and applied two layers. When this dried, I painted the surface with acrylic Hobby Craft paints which I blended using a J Cloth. I added Pthalo Blue (a really great intense pigment) as a wash and when this was dried, I dry brushed white on any raised areas. Finally I sealed it with Wilko lacquer spray. This last step was a mistake as the surface remained as tacky as a dodgy pub carpet!

Terrain

I made shallows and whirlpools using the same method as above. I made islands from some old polystyrene tiles and made Karst Columns and a cave from carved polystyrene covered with filler then fine sand, then added flock and clump foliage.

Ships

For the hulls, I used 30 thou card for the basic hull (white) and 20 thou for the sides(black) and then on some ships I detailed the sides with microstrip. For the sails, I started with 10 thou card (white0. I then added battens from 20 thou rod. On the front of the sails I added strips of 20 thou (black) and when dry, sanded down to form the sail profile. I used cut down pins for the masts. I based the hulls on mounting board adding the sea texture from filler and painted the sails separately before fixing with superglue. I didn’t make the ships to a set scale, I just worked on what the smallest I could make was then scaled up from there.

Player Aids

All distances in the game are measured using measuring sticks appropriate for the play area. I used a Bamboo skewer for this. I copied the weather gauge from the ruleset and laminated it. I bought a wind direction indicator, some coloured dice and fire arc from Warbases. After this I was ready to play.