Revisiting Snowfall

Back in 2015 club member Marcus put together a James Bond themed game for that years show circuit. The game had secret agents being chased down a snowy mountainside pursued by numerous bad guys.

Marcus demonstrating an early mock up of the game

There were many challenges to putting on a game like this, constructing the mountain, sticking magnets to it to stop the miniatures sliding to the bottom as well as many action cards, unit stats and rules for the game.

But another challenge was a real lack of 28mm modern era skiing miniatures. Marcus could find plenty of WW2 winter troops but wanted this to be modern. Marcus did manage to find suitably positioned troops to act as the bad guys, and converted them to be on snowboards.

Modern troopers on snowboards

However Marcus needed skiing miniatures to represent the secret agent, their love interest and a final miniature for the main bad guy (well bad woman in this case).
Having dabbled a bit with sculpting miniatures I volunteered to see if I could convert some existing miniatures for the starring roles.

The man himself

Marcus provided a number of miniatures, so I started with the main character, the body was an artic trooper miniature with a head swap from a Copplestone Castings Man in Black miniature. I chose this miniature because it needed to be holding ski poles and have their feet in a suitable position for ski’s, and this one was already in a good pose.

I had changed the left hand because of the original weapon being held, repair the detail on the miniature and added a fur collar to ensure it looked suitable for cold weather.

The Female Agent before and during the conversion

The miniatures Marcus was hoping to use for the female characters I struggled to get to work, after a few failed attempts I went looking for substitutes. For the good female agent I went with the Vampire Hunter also from Copplestone Castings. After removing the weapons and replacing them with ski poles I repositioned the arms and legs into a skiing pose. Marcus wanted them to look cool so I also added a pair of sunglasses. A bit of fur for the top of the boots and jacket collar added the winter feel, rather than the leather style of the original.

The enemy agent before and during the conversion

The enemy agent proved to be the most difficult to create. After a lengthy search I found a suitable miniature from Reaper Miniatures.

The miniature came with separate hands holding different weapons. These were tricky to remove and I had to pin the hands to the main body. I decided to do a head swap on this figure since the original was wearing desert style garb. The next step saw a twist of the arms and legs, again to get that skiing pose. I also bent the cloak to give the impression of it being caught by the wind as the agent sped down the hill. Sunglasses came last with the same added fur to winterise the miniature.

The finished conversions

Here we have the finished converted miniatures. The ski’s were cut from a plastic cover off a note pad, with the final stage just to add the ski shoe binding points.

The agents in action

Tony F from the club volunteered to paint the agents and we can see them in action. This was an interesting game to create things for and a popular choice at the shows that year.

 

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again, so let’s see what everyone has been up to.

First up we have some more Panzer progress from Mark J. Mark says tis is a picture showing some finished Germans from his 3rd Panzer project, these represent each type of vehicle painted for the mech battalion. Mark added, “Currently painting a company of panzer grenadiers, panzer III company next.”

picture of miniature vehicles
Selection of completed 6mm German vehicles

Marcus has been busy on a number of miniatures, firstly after a bit of repair work he presents a Dreadball miniature. Apparently the lower arm needed pinning back in place. I knew of Dreadball but I’d not seen these miniatures before.

picture of miniature
A miniature from the Dreadball Kalimarin Ancients Nameless team

Next up from Marcus we have a Tiger shark and another reptile from HLBS for Pulp Alley games. I k now Marcus has a collection of scuba miniatures these would look great next to.

picture of marine miniatures
Two more Marine animals to go along with those in our header image

And last but not least Andy has made a start on a selection of terrain pieces from Ainsty Castings. 

picture of miniature terrain
Andy says you can never have enough things to hide behind

That rounds off another WIP Wednesday from the club members, next up I believe we have some WW2 ships and Tudor buildings to look forward to.

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.

picture of model buildings
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.

picture of model buildings
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.

picture of model building
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.

picture of model building
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.

picture of model building
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.

picture of miniatures
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.

pictures of spider miniatures
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.

picture of miniature tanks
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.

picture of a bunker
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).

picture of 10mm armies
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.

Building A 15mm ACW Ironclad

Stephen is inspired by a piece of balsa…

I had a spare bit of balsa planking I’d used for a previous project where a piece had been cut out of it that left the remainder with a prow-like curve at one end.

I just happened to see it and then a thought popped into my head: ‘that looks like the prow of an ironclad.’

And that’s how this project came to be.

The first decision I had to make was size. It was going to be a gaming model not a scale model. Assuming that 15mm is 1/110 scale that would mean a scale model would need to be about 2 feet long.

That wouldn’t be practical since this would be used in big battle games and ground scale comes in to play.

But it had to ‘look right’ next to a 15mm figure, as if a crew could actually get in it. So it couldn’t be too small either.

The bit of balsa I had was 25cm long. I got out a 15mm figure, put it next to it and…it looked about right.

The starting point and tools.

So that’s the scale I went with – the gamer’s favourite ‘looks right’ scale.

This proved to be a simple model to make, though some processes were repetitive.

I used Wills Scenics embossed plasticard for the wooden decking. With that done I then sanded the sides to make sure it was all nice and smooth.

Hull planking added

Next came the superstructure. This was built in thick card and then clad in plasticard.

Superstructure added.

The plasticard was incised using a compass to represent the iron cladding. This got really dull! It was only after I had stuck it all together that I suddenly realised I had forgot to add any rivet details. I thought about doing it retroactively, but then I thought about the amount of rivets I would need to do and thought, ‘sod that – this is a gaming model.’

Broadside gunports and more tools.

The funnels were made from styrene tubing with a bit of styrene wrapped around the top for where the stabilising wires were attached. Guide holes were drilled and they were glued in place.

Funnels added

The wheelhouse went through two versions. Some pictures show it with sloped sides, some with slab sides. The first version I did was sloped. But when it was glued in place it gave the whole model a modern ‘sports boat’ look with all those slopes. It just didn’t look right. So I took that off and made a new, square, one. The rest of the hull furniture was made from bits of styrene and chain from an old necklace.

Second attempt at the wheelhouse and deck furniture added

Then on to the paintjob.

I got this wrong as well.

I’ll confess I don’t know too much about ACW river ironclads. I remember from ages ago seeing an ironclad game where the hulls had been painted silver (presumably to represent the iron). If I’m honest, that always seemed wrong to me, but I just respected other’s knowledge.

So I painted my model with metallic sides.

It just looked wrong and too shiny. I thought the matt varnish would dull it down, which it did. But it still looked wrong.

Time for a quick bit of research. Sure enough, my instincts were correct – they weren’t left bare metal! Black, dark grey, and light grey seem to have been the preferred colours. Even sky blue!

I prepared myself that I might have to do a re-paint.

Before that, though, I thought I’d do an experiment – an all over black wash. That seems to have worked and saved me a re-paint. It now has a darker finish, the black wash has taken off the metallic look but left it with just enough to suggest wear and tear.

The finished model

No re-paint needed.

On the river

A Dark Ages Miscellany

After the scenery pieces Andy finds his inner animal.

I decided to do some figures that had come out of my painting pile but hadn’t been started yet.

These comprise a Viking warlord obtained from Colonel Bill (original manufacturer unknown), a Saxon Noble from Gripping Beast Plastics Saxon Thegn set and a couple of ladies from Belt Fed Miniatures, Gwendoline the Welsh Princess and Freyir the Norse Witch with her wolf companions. I also had another half dozen other wolves so decided to do these together.

In the picture above the two wolves on the right are those that came with Freyir. The three smaller wolves in the front rank are old Ral Partha figures; I don’t know who made the three larger wolves in the second rank.

All of the figures were started the same way, Halfords Grey primer undercoat, the humans then had skin base coated Brown Sand, as was Freyir’s hair. The skin was then painted with Medium Flesh Tone

First up is Freyir and her wolves. Her hair was Dry-brushed with Dark Sand, loin cloth and boots matt painted black, and then the loincloth dry-brushed London Grey.  The tunic and panels on the belt were painted Chocolate Brown and her staff Beige Brown. The boot tops and wrist bands were painted Khaki Grey and the staff skull and claws Pale Sand. Earrings and hair band (not visible in picture) were Silver.

The wolves were dry-brushed with Dark Grey and then Black Grey. Mouths were painted black, tongues Red and teeth Desk Tan.

The armour on the other three figures was painted black and dry-brushed Gun Metal Grey

Gwendoline has Black hair and Dark Sand tunic. Boots are Chocolate Brown and she has a Silver necklace, wrist bangles, belt and pommel.

The Saxon has a Black Red tunic, Flat Brown trousers and Buff leggings. Belts, beard and hair  are Chocolate Brown, and clock is German Camouflage Green.

The Viking has a Dark Grey tunic, Chocolate Brown belts and scabbard, Khaki Grey trousers and Flat Brown hair and beard. The figure didn’t have a weapon when I bought it, so I added an axe from the spares box, and a sword hilt from the GBP Plastic Saxons box to the empty scabbard.

All figures had appropriate coloured Army Painter washes.

Shields backs were painted black then dry-brushed Beige Brown, the faces were painted White. Gwendoline’s shield had a simple cross pattern in Flat Yellow and Red, while the other two had shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios. Shield rims were painted Japanese Uniform.

Finally all were given a matt spray varnish.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s Wednesday again and we have a round up of club members latest work and projects.

First up Marcus has been painting up some treasure piles. I forgot to ask him what these were for but they are for 28mm scale gaming, Marcus still needs to put the finishing touches to these, but they are looking good.

picture showing piles of treasure
Some very tempting piles of treasure

Next up Andy has been making progress on his Wolves and Freyir to accompany them.

picture of miniature wolves
Freyir and Wolves

Change of scale now with some 6mm WW2 vehicles from Mark J. But I’ll let Mark describe this project in his own words “Bit of a late one, back on the Panzers, this is my mechanised infantry battalion, minus engineers and Sdkfz251/9s which are arriving in the post. Most have been shaded and are ready for tracks and wheels to be painted before highlights are applied, also have a motorised battalion (same as picture but using trucks) and 6th Panzer Regiment (90 tanks in all) to get through. Part of my 3rd Panzer Division army as they were pre Citadel, June 1943.”

picture of miniature ww2 vehicles
Mechanised Infantry Battalion

And lastly Steve has manage to put together his scratch built medieval Cog.

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28mm Scratch built Medieval Cog

I think for next week I better start making progress on my own projects!

The Aftermath

Tony F tells the tale of a game that not even Phil could lose … or could he? Photos by Tony and Andy.

As the club is still unable to meet formally, a few of us met for some outdoor gaming in Phil’s back garden to throw a few dice for the first time since lockdown began. The chosen game was Games Workshop’s Middle Earth rules, The scenario, suggested by our host (and provider of tea and ice-creams), took place between the assault on Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Black Gate.

The Battle of Pelennor Fields is over; the armies of Mordor have been vanquished, defeated by the combined intervention of the Grey Company and the Rohirrim, and finally by the death of the Witch King. In the aftermath, the remnants of the Dark Lord’s forces were pursued from the scene by the combined armies of Men; Gondor, Rohan and the various fiefdoms of Dol Amroth, Lossarnach, Llamedon and others.

View from the western edge.

In our scenario, 500 points of Mordor forces (orcs, Uruks and a troll) are retreating through a small hamlet (in the book, the Pelennor is a fertile area of fields and farms, not the barren plain seen in the films). An equal size force from Dol Amroth are in hot pursuit and have begun to encircle the fleeing orcs. The orcs set up 1/3rd of the way from the Western edge, while the Dol Amroth forces deployed into three separate groups; a group of Knights led by Prince Imrahil on the northern edge, a group of Warriors and Men at Arms on foot on the southern edge and a small group of archers provided harassing fire from the west. The evil forces, being greater in number than the Dol Amroth troops, were split into three forces led by Andy (mostly a covering force of archers), Stephen (Uruk Hai and the troll) and Phil (Mordor orcs). Jeremey handled the Dol Amroth warriors, while Tony took the small group of archers and the knights (“you’ve played this before, you should know what to do with them…”). The Mordor forces were required to get 1/3rd of their troops off the table.

The battle naturally split into three combats; the covering force of orc archers spent much of the game exchanging remarkably ineffective bow fire with their Dol Amroth counterparts who slowly advanced on their barricade.

Jeremey’s main force of Dol Amroth warriors closed on Andy’s Mordor orcs in a small fenced-off area, and between them they spent most of the game performing what became known as the ‘Pelennor Two-Step’, inching forwards and backwards for most of the game.

In the centre, Stephen’s crack Uruk Hai seemed to be the ones selected to lead the retreat. They were engaged by a smaller group of warriors including some foot knights, which slowed their progress somewhat.

Andy offered to give some fire support – in the GW Middle Earth rules, only evil figures are permitted to fire into combats (the good side won’t risk hitting their own figures). Andy checked with his fellow orc that this was OK, but it seems that Stephen didn’t read the small print and realise that there was a chance that he could be hit! One dead Uruk later, it was decided that the experiment was was not to be repeated.

In the meantime, the formation dance teams carried on their pas des deux on the southern flank, with much two-ing and fro-ing and “After you, Claude”. It involved lots of jockeying for position with supporting spears and pikes in the second rank, much bluff and bluster and very little blood.

The archers slowly kept up their advance, pushing forward in bounds with three moving and three firing (until one got shot, then the numbers went all to pot).

The Knights meanwhile had sped down the northern flank, hoping to cut off the Uruks as they headed for the table edge – and it worked. Although the orcs tried to disperse, the Knights hit them hard – and with foot figures charged by cavalry being automatically knocked over, even those who survived an attack were delayed by a further turn as they got to their feet again.

Although the troll took a toll of several knights, the Prince himself took a hand and, with the aid of the horn blower (who led a charmed life), made sure that not enough orcs reached safety. By this time the dance had broken up, and the Dol Amroth archers reached their Mordor counterparts and their heavier armour proved decisive.

Phil’s evil minions don’t have a great record in our Middle Earth games. But this one involved retreating, so he should be good at that. But after five hours of hard fought combat, he still found himself on the wrong end of the stick…

A Change of Scenery

Andy tackles some inanimate objects…

Having just finished my Lord of the Rings Dwarves and Fellowship of the Ring collection (around 100 figures) I needed to do something completely different.

I had some scenery pieces in my “to be painted” pile, so out they came.

First up a ruined chapel from Debris of War, (above) which may also serve as the chambers and passages of Moria. These are mounted on some 1″ wide balsa strips for added stability.

Secondly a set of dry-stone walls. The walls are from War World Gaming; at the time I purchased these they didn’t have any corner posts, so I got some from Debris of War. These were mounted on 150mm x 18mm lollipop sticks. I originally stuck them down with a hot glue gun, but that didn’t work. The walls soon came loose, so I had to remove the walls and glue them for a second time with a Bostick style glue. I used some 4ground base render to build up the base around the gate and in a few other patches.

Yorkshire drystone walls

Finally, a set of cake pillars bought at a bring and buy ages ago. I mounted these on some 50mm square Renedra cavalry bases that were surplus to requirements (yes, one is taller than the others).

Pillars of Society

All were painted in the same way: they were given a couple of coats of Halfords grey primer. Where required any missed spots were painted Vallejo London Grey, which is a very close match to the grey primer.

I would normally have the used an AP Dark tone wash, but I had a large surface area to cover and not much of that left, so I made up a black wash by diluting some Matt Black with water, about a 1:9 ratio and used that to wash the chapel, walls and pillars. Finally, I gave them all a drybrush with Light Grey.

The gate in the drystone wall was painted Beige Brown and then washed with Army Painter Soft tone.

The bases were painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and patches of flock added, followed by a matt varnish spray.

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