Bingo Master’s Breakout #2

As expected, progress has accelerated in the hobby bingo challenge in the past two months. At the end of February, five club members had claimed a total of 14 squares on their respective boards; we’re now up to 40 squares in total with two new participants.

Stephen has held onto top spot, having now claimed 12 of the 20 squares on the board already, including being the first to complete a line (in fact he has two), giving him 160 points. Jeremy has stalled, claiming just one square in the past few weeks, although it did help him become the only other person with a full line. Tony F has slipped past him into second place, although a scattergun approach means that while he claimed five squares, he has yet to finish a line. Andy and Mark K both got onto the table with their first points, and Eric and Marcus both added at least one square to their existing totals (Eric’s Chaos horsemen shown above gained him square B3).

Square A1 (play at least four different games) is the most popular and was claimed by almost everyone as we got through more club meetings. Next most common are D4, B3 and C3 which have all been claimed four times. There are still two completely unclaimed squares – D4 (write a book report) and C5 (paint any unit).

Hobby Bingo Leaderboard 2022

NameSquares (10 pts)Lines (20 pts)Total
Stephen122160
Tony F8-80
Jeremey5170
Eric6-60
Andy4-40
Mark H3-30
Marcus2-20

You can see the full grid plus everyone’s individual progress in the Bingo Hall page at any time – this gets updated weekly, usually after WIP Wednesday.

April 9th, 1940

Alan K reports on his anniversary refight of the ‘battle’ of Hokkerup, Denmark, on April 9th, 1940.

Some time in March I suddenly realised that our first club meeting would be on the 9th of April, the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1940. Having “invested” in a platoon of 28mm Danes from Great Escape Games I really didn’t want to miss the opportunity and so I put on a game based around a skirmish that took place near Hokkerup on the Jutland peninsula.

The encounter we were commemorating, the ambush of a leading German reconnaissance unit, was captured in a 1946 painting by Anna Maria Mehrn which was, in part, the inspiration for choosing this particular scenario along with a scene (likely inspired by this engagement) from the Danish movie 9. april. We’re not sure about the copyright of the painting so we’re not including it, but here’s a link to it.

The Danish army went on full alert at 13:30 on the 8th of April and were held back ready to take up positions in the event of a German invasion. A thorough reconnaissance had been made regarding defensive positions but the Danish government had given strict instructions that units were not to be deployed near the border nor was digging or other fortification to be undertaken in order to avoid provoking the Germans. Despite this the Germans crossed the border at around twenty past four on the morning of the 9th.

Our intrepid 3rd bicycle platoon of the 2nd Company, 4th Cyclist Battalion supported by the autocannon and light machine gun sections of the 2nd platoon Afværgekompagniet (Anti-tank Company) , 2nd Battalion, Fodfolkspionerkommandoet set off from their barracks at just after four thirty and took up positions just after 5am. They hastily erected a roadblock before sighting the armoured cars leading the German column at half past five.

Lieutenant H.J. Højerslev had overall command with Second Lieutenant A. Olsen commanding the anti-tank sections. The team manning the 20mm auto cannon was led by F Jensen, accompanied by Gunner Nørholt and Loader Eliasen as immortalised in the painting.

The opposition is less well documented so I had them facing two SdKfz 222 armoured cars, a motorcycle section and two more sections mounted in SdKfz 251 half-tracks supported by a Panzer II.

I used the Nuts! second edition rules from Two Hour Wargames for the game.

The encounter saw the Danish auto cannon taking out both of the armoured cars and the advancing German infantry taking heavy fire. In the end the Danes were forced to withdraw but they had delayed the Germans significantly.

In the end the game lasted almost as long as the entire Danish resistance as, despite the valiant defence put up by the Danish armed forces against overwhelming odds, the Government surrendered at just after half past eight in the morning.

Are These The Droids You’re Looking For?

Over the last 12 months or so Phil and I have been assembling a variety of figures and vehicles – mostly repurposed toys – aimed at playing Star Wars games in 15mm (many of them have turned up in WIP Wednesday posts).

The Christmas meeting seemed like the ideal time to give them their debut, so I put together a simple scenario. I’d been unsure about what rules to use – I had a copy of the classic West End Games Star Wars miniatures rules as one option and another idea was to modify Games Workshop’s Middle Earth rules since they deal with heroes very effectively (using the magic rules to represent The Force). But I had an idea when I lined up some figures during painting – all of the figures were in squads of ten, which happens to be the same size as a crew in Stargrave. We’ve played a number of games since those were released, including during lockdowns when the club was unable to meet, so everyone was familiar with them which made them the ideal choice.

Figures
All of the figures in this game were from Highlander Studios in the US. For the five players we had two squads of Rebel troopers, two of Imperial stormtroopers and one of Jawas. There were also a few figures from the hero packs, including the droids and a couple of smugglers. The Jawas’ Ronto beast was a Galoob action fleet toy.

Buildings and Scenery
All of the buildings were put together by Phil from the Brigade Models 15mm Desert and Advanced Buildings ranges. The various walls and clutter around the buildings were also by Brigade. Some of the scatter terrain came from Debris of War. The desert mat came from Tiny Wargames.

Vehicles
The vehicles are sourced from a variety of toys and model kits. The Imperial stormtroopers flew in on a Galoob shuttle while the Rebels used a Revell U-Wing. The droids’ escape pod was also from Galoob, along with the skiff. The Falcon was another toy, it’s actually the wrong version (it’s from Solo and has the square radar) but I wasn’t too fussed about that, after all it looks like what it’s supposed to be, besides being much cheaper than any alternative I could find ! Luke’s landspeeder was a diecast model sourced from eBay, unfortunately I can’t remember the brand name. All of them came pre-painted, so were just given a wash of thinned black-brown acrylic mixed with Johnson’s floor polish, followed by a coat of Army Painter spray varnish – it’s amazing how this simple technique turns a toy into a scale model.

Scenario

Click for a larger version

The game is set at the start of the original Star Wars:A New Hope movie. R2-D2 and C-3PO have been ejected in an escape pod over Tatooine to keep them out of Imperial clutches, but here the story changes slightly. The Tantive IV has somehow evaded capture and has now despatched a shuttle full of Rebel troopers in a desperate bid to recover them. The Imperial Star Destroyer also spotted the pod, and sent down their own landing party to investigate. Both craft came down a short distance apart on the outskirts of Mos Eisley.

The game was intended for five players – two Rebels, two Imperials and myself playing the Jawas while also acting as a vaguely impartial umpire.

The players needed to search the buildings to find the droids – but there were other things in the buildings besides Artoo and Threepio. Each building had a random set of inhabitants, including Rebel sympathisers, Imperial loyalists and a pair of smugglers – plus the droids of course. Although I randomly rolled each time one of the buildings was searched, things were ‘fixed’ so that the droids would be in the last building to be searched.

The Rebels came out of the traps much more quickly than the stormtroopers – their lightly armoured figures moved slightly faster – and began searching the first buildings straightaway. They uncovered a pair of Imperial loyalists in the first building but made short work of them. However, nearby firing upset the Ronto which stampeded, and one Rebel squad ended up in a firefight with some Jawas (which inevitably ended badly for the locals).

The Imperials slow-but-steady approach saw them unearthing some Rebel sympathisers, whose appearance was brief as they disappeared under a hail of fire. The two forces were by now engaging each other, and the slightly better armour and longer-ranged weapons of the Stormtroopers began to be significant. They unearthed a pair of Sabacc-playing smugglers – Han and Chewie made a dash for the Falcon (obviously wishing to avoid any ‘Imperial entanglements’) but Han was immediately gunned down as they tried to cross the square. Chewie’s bowcaster dealt out some measure of revenge, but eventually the Wookie went down too.

By now the Rebels were searching the last building, and found the two droids. All they had to do was return them to their U-Wing and get off planet. However, they had taken more losses than the Imperials in getting to this point and numbers began to tell. One by one the Rebels were picked off by the steadily advancing line of Stormtroopers, until there was one Rebel trooper left. He got the droids virtually to the U-Wing’s ramp but fell at the final hurdle, allowing the Empire to snatch victory at the last.

“Upping The Ante” – A Hammers Slammers Battle Report

Peter dives into the si-fi universe of David Drake.

“…And so, Major Kovacs, PRA Intelligence has confirmed that the rebel fanatics have used their mineral wealth to hire what looks like the whole Ariete Division (some 15,000 men) to back their ludicrous independence claims and rescue their faltering defence. It seems likely that they will try to strike at some of the outlying abandoned mine-workings before heading to the coastal plains, in part to get some more income but also to give our troops a ‘bloody nose’ in the hope that it’ll make the govt sue for peace. It is your mission, therefore, to buy some time whilst we organise a major push – and to show those ‘Arietes’ that Paley is not such an easy proposition!”

Saturday 12th March saw another game set in the SF universe of ‘Hammers Slammers’. The scenario this time was taken from the ‘Paley Campaign’, with rebel forces aided later on by the Mercenary ‘Ariete’ Division to try and turn the civil war in their favour.

The game represented a reinforced probe as ‘Ariete’ began their drive in a pincer aimed at the mining settlement of Smiricky VII, defended by elements of the PRA 7th Armoured Regt. Only short-range recce was available, as the PRA had not inconsiderable AA assets… The forces used were as follows:

Ariete Division, ‘Trieste’ Armoured Regt

2x ‘veteran’ armoured detachments, each of 10x TUs (Tactical Units)

  • Tank platoon = 2x ‘Cougar’ heavy MBTs, +1x ‘King Cougar’ super-heavy MBT
  • Mech infantry platoon = 3x ‘Lynx’ heavy APCs (one with large-calibre ‘close-support’ HE cannon), carrying 1x TU of heavy infantry
  • 1x medium ‘Puma’ tank (with upgraded main weapon and light ATGM)

Commanders

  • Captain Christopher Sime
  • Lt ‘Juan Cornetto’ Treadaway

PRA 7th Cavalry Regiment – ‘The Iron Fist in the Iron Glove’

2x ‘trained’ detachments, each of 15x TUs

  • Tank platoon = 4x F6 ‘Hellcat’ medium MBTs
  • Mechanised infantry platoon = 4x light F20 ‘Tigercat’ APCs, each with 1x TU of assault infantry
  • Support platoon with 2x F4 ‘Wildcat’ (AAA version), and 1x new F35 ‘Sabrecat’ mounting a large ex-naval cone-bore weapon as enhanced anti-tank
  • All vehicles, whilst lighter than their opponents, had decent frontal armour and plenty of anti-tank light ATGMs….

1‘Company HQ’ F100 ‘Top-cat’ which allowed for the redistribution of ‘action points’ between the two sub-commands (the other ‘guard’ vehicles and bridgelayer were just for show – this time).

Neither side had any off-table artillery assets (the PRA has an abundance of multiple-launch semi-guided rocket artillery, like WW2 ‘Katyushas’ or MLRS)

The ‘company HQ’, whilst certainly handy, was also an excuse to put some more nice models out. All of the vehicles were (sort-of) scratch built from other ranges – more of which anon. Meanwhile, what happened….?

Unfortunately, the main PRA player (your erstwhile webmaster, as it happens…) had caught COVID just before the game, and so yours truly had to sub. As the task was a fairly static one, however, with a purely reactive defence, it was not too bad. So, after initial briefings and extremely useful reminders of the key rules by JT, the PRA were deployed in hasty defensive positions across a wide general arc covering the four main roads in to the site. The undoubted qualitative advantage of the Mercenary Arietes – command/control as well as equipment – was offset to an extent by the close terrain and the PRA being in defence.

Captain Sime got off to a good start with his tank platoon crashing through the woods astride the NE track, whilst the armoured infantry skirted to come in from the north. Certainly his three tanks had a good view of the defenders – it’s just that it also worked the other way, as he found to his cost when one of the new self-propelled AT guns sent a (very lucky) round crashing through the side of the lead giant ‘King Cougar’, which promptly exploded!

Whilst this unfortunate set-back had more effect on the player’s morale than overall result, it did lead to a more cautious probing and longer-range ‘softening-up’ of defending infantry bunkers, other PRA vehicles etc (especially the SP/AT!), which in the end was more to the Ariete’s advantage. The PRA main weapons only had a decent chance if they could get some side-armour shots, and so were hoping to ‘mix-it’ when the enemy got closer.

As the Ariete gradually eroded the PRA armour, a late probe by the Heavy APCs almost came to grief when they were caught in a close-range cross-fire from one of the multi-barrelled SP/AAA and hidden PRA tank-hunter infantry in the mine buildings. Sadly by this time the PRA was running short of command points due to earlier losses, so could not afford the luxury of using said CP to enhance shooting, aiming etc, and the ambush came to naught. Well, other than generating lots of – fortunately small calibre – return fire from Chris into the buildings, until ‘Ariete HQ’ tactfully reminded him that they were supposed to not blow the bloody doors off the valuable mine workings……

On the NE flank, again the Ariete got off to a less than sparkling start when Lt Treadaway used a fistful of his command points in an attempt to execute a massed ‘Follow me!’ option, which would have seen half his force roll together as one in an unstoppable steel tide….. However, seems the tide was out that day as John failed the key roll and no-one else followed his lead! Not only that, but a probe down the road by a scout vehicle with an APC as backup came to grief when, having blown up some armoured trucks near the mine workings, they were ‘set-upon’ by another crossfire from the PRA tanks and SPs, from which only the infantry inside the APC survived.

As with the other flank, however, gradually the Ariete worked their way forward through the wooded terrain, taking out first the truly terrifying F35 SP/AT, then each of the PRA heavy armour in turn. There were some close shaves during return fire, and the sky was full of – fortunately – light ATGMs, for a while. In the end, the Ariete was simply too powerful and commanders good for the PRA engaged, and as they loss level tipped over the key 50% level, the PRA decided that their delaying mission had been achieved. It must also be said that the Ariete had gained a new respect as well as insight into the mettle of their PRA opponents, and much thought would need to go in to the next encounters.

Part 2 of this article will outline more about the terrain and especially vehicle models, together with all the scratch-building mania which went into this project. Until then, it’s a case of a geeky ‘spot the bits’ competition. Oh, and very big plus points for anyone who IDs the dark brown roads…

My thanks to my fellow MWS members for hosting the game, and both Chris and John for playing.

LINKS:
Hammers Slammers official website: http://www.hammers-slammers.com/

Bingo Master’s Breakout #1

Welcome to the first bi-monthly roundup of the club’s Hobby Bingo challenge for 2022.

Club members have taken a while to get up and running – the challenge only rewards completed tasks so I’d imagine that there are a number of partially completed projects out there which will be claiming various squares soon. So far five members have claimed one or more squares.

Jeremey took an early lead, getting to 40 points very quickly with a number of Vikings that he rapidly painted for the first meeting of the year (claiming squares B1 and C1). However, Stephen has since overhauled him, reaching 50 with his Capt Selwyn Froggit character figure that claimed square B3. Tony F is mid-table, getting to 30 points with two squares in the last week – D3 for his A Billion Suns Krakens (above), and D1 for a recent blog post on his 6mm SF village. Marcus and Eric have also claimed their first squares.

Three members have claimed square D1 (write a blog post) – this is the most of any single square, and unsurprising since the three in question are regular blog contributors anyway. Squares A4 and B3 have been claimed twice each.

Hobby Bingo Leaderboard 2022

NameSquares (10 pts)Lines (20 pts)Total
Stephen122160
Tony F8-80
Jeremey5170
Eric6-60
Andy4-40
Mark H3-30
Marcus2-20

You can see the full grid plus everyone’s individual progress in the Bingo Hall page at any time – this gets updated weekly, usually after WIP Wednesday.

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Tony F moves into real estate development.

Last year, as a bit of a lock-down#2 project, I decided to make a small desert village for 6mm sci-fi games. All of the components come from Brigade Models (quick disclaimer here – I’m one of the owners of said company) but the techniques would work with any other manufacturer’s buildings. The wall pieces were taken from the Town Walls range, while the buildings are mostly from the Desert Outlands set. The photos in this post are all thumbnails – click on them for larger versions.

The first decision to make was how large it was going to be; I decided that it would have to fit in a 4l Really Useful Box, which gave me a maximum of a 348x220mm footprint and a height limit of 68mm. I based it on a sheet of Foamex, which is great for terrain projects as it doesn’t warp like MDF or hardboard when you apply paint. This came in 300x200mm sheets, so one of those did the job nicely.

I spent a while laying out wall pieces until I had a configuration that I liked – I wanted to avoid a simple rectangular wall. I positioned a gateway and sanded down the base at that point so it sloped away, and added a pair of watchtower pieces to the walls. Once I was happy with this I glued them down with a clear glue (Uhu). I smeared some wall filler around the joins to fill in the odd gap, this has a similar texture to the wall pieces so blends in better. I then laid out the buildings – I wanted enough space around them to be able to position figures and vehicles, so didn’t cram them in too tightly. In the end there were nine altogether. Again I fixed them in place with clear glue.

Now that the main components were in place, I was able to texture the ground. Inside the walls I simply glued a layer of sand using PVA, with the odd small stone around the edges. Outside the walls I mixed up a batch of emulsion paint, sand and PVA and applied this with an old paintbrush. I mixed in some larger grades of sand and small stones (sold in homeware shops for basing candles) so that I achieved a much rougher texture than the inner area.

The next stage was to add lots of small details to the buildings. I used a few parts from the Brigade 2mm scenery range, there are bits of girder bridges, barns, support frames from an airship hangar, a Roman lighthouse (makes a good chimney) and an obelisk in the main square. There’s the odd roof-mounted water tank and aerial from the 15mm range. There’s also a radio antenna which is the broken off top of a much larger 3D (mis)printed mast. This part proved to be a nightmare as I kept knocking it off – in hindsight it would have been better to paint it separately and attached when everything else was finished, but I kept supergluing it back on.

I also fitted some supports for fabric canopies made from paperclips and wire staples – I drilled into the buildings, walls and base with a 1mm bit and superglued them in. I didn’t add the canopies themselves yet to make it easier to paint around them.

Everything was then sprayed in Halfords white primer, followed by a coat of Army Painter Skeleton Bone. The walls and buildings were them washed with GW Agrax Earthshade, while the ground was washed with Seraphim Sepia. This gave the buildings a distinctly different shade from the ground, even though they were painted with the same base colour. Walls, buildings are ground were all heavily drybrushed with bone or stone paints from the Citadel Dry range.

Other details were painted in – doors and windows, various roof accessories and so on, mostly using Citadel contrast paints which worked well over the pale bone base colour. With this done I was now able to make the canopies from small pieces of paper towel – the type of nasty, non-absorbent cheap towels that we used to get in school toilets! I soaked the pieces in dilute PVA and draped them across the supports, making sure that they drooped as naturally as possible in between. Once the glue dried they were pretty solid. I painted them in either dark red or dark brown using GW contrast paints.

The finished conurbation was christened Mos Arun; ‘Mos’ from the Star Wars Tatooine naming convention, and ‘Arun’ taken from the road name where I live. I’m planning a series of other small building bases to accompany it in the near future, which will also appear on this blog in due course. All being well, they should appear at the club’s Open Day later in the year.

Bingo!

We promised something new to replace the To-do lists, which have been a source of inspiration and entertainment for quite a few years, but have probably reached a natural end point.

So instead we have … Hobby Bingo. The idea isn’t new, it’s been shamelessly adapted it from the pages of White Dwarf. Their versions are very much tailored towards Games Workshop rulesets, so the tasks have been modified to make them as generic as possible and not tied to particular scales or periods, that way everyone can take part. It’s more flexible than the old To-do lists because you don’t need to commit to anything in advance – if you happen to paint something on a whim one weekend, or start a new army halfway through the year, it all counts.

Everyone gets a 5×4 Bingo Card (below), and on each square of the card is a task – some are straightforward ones like painting a unit of infantry or cavalry, or a piece of terrain. Some are a bit more involved, like converting or scratchbuilding a model. Others require you to play a game, write a blog post or take a photo or two.

We won’t be all that strict about things, it’s only meant to be a bit of fun. The definition of a ‘unit’ would depend on the scale of the figures – maybe 6-10 28mm figures, a platoon of 15mm figures or a company of 6mm figures (or vehicles). It should constitute a complete unit for whichever sets of rules they’re intended. An ‘army’ is a complete force for a game of your choice, but it should be a proper army, not just a skirmish force – again, this might be scale dependent (a 15mm Hammer’s Slammers detachment might be an army, but their 6mm equivalent would only be a unit).

Cavalry could be horse mounted (or some other beast – camels, elephants or giant lizards would all qualify), or armoured vehicles – after all, many regiments of horse converted to tank or armoured car units. Likewise, artillery could be towed guns, self-propelled howitzers, ballistae, catapults or even rocket batteries mounted on landing craft! Anything that vaguely fits the bill will qualify – in the event of disputes, you’ll be judged by a jury of your peers (ie we’ll see what the consensus is on the email list).

The rules, such as they are, can be summarised as follows…

– entries should be submitted on WIP Wednesdays, with proof – pictures or it didn’t happen. The ‘read a book’ task would include your brief book report and preferably a photo of the book cover (we’ll work out something for those of us that use Kindles…).
– each entry can only be used for one square – the exception is complete armies which can be made up of previously finished units (although they should contain at least one new unit that hasn’t been used for another square).
– each square is worth 10 points, each complete line 20 points, so a complete card is worth 380 points. If you finish all 20 squares, you can start a second card if you want to. If someone gets as far as a third card we’ll be mightily impressed!

So that’s it – once again, to your brushes, gents!

Click on the image for a larger version

Signs o’ the Times (2)

Tony F gives a further look through his garage archive.

Lager Louts in the 25th Century
This game was a sci-fi bar-room brawl based on a board game (we’re trying to find out what that was – we’re hoping someone still has it) that we’d played at the club quite a bit, especially at Christmas meetings as it was great fun. I built a bar (named The Blazing Shuttle) on a 3×2 board complete with flashing and strobing LED lighting, Phil made some furniture from plasticard and Brian provided the denizens of the bar in the shape of some toy figures – we’re not sure what they were. We even had an audio track – the Star Wars Cantina theme. Nowadays we’d probably try concealing a small bluetooth speaker in the scenery, but this was 1989, so the technology was simply a portable cassette player under the table. It began to get a little wearing by the end of the day…

Given the amount of work we put in, it’s surprising that it only had a single outing – Salute 1989. Sadly there are no photos of the day – it was pre- digital cameras, let alone smartphones. We can’t even recreate any photos now, since the bar ended up in the tip when I moved house 🙁 But it was quite a memorable event. It started with one club member changing from his jeans and T-shirt into a full dinner suit since he had designated himself as the bouncer – no dressing room was provided, so he simply dropped his trousers where he stood! Fortunately we were in one of the upstairs committee rooms at the Kensington Town Hall venue, rather than the main hall, so there weren’t too many witnesses. His wearing of a DJ and bow tie all day launched the club’s tradition of wearing shirts and ties to shows, which lasted for many years.

We shared the room with a bunch of ECW re-enactors from The Sealed Knot, dressed up in their period finery. They had a TV and video recorder which showed films of their events on a loop throughout the day to help with their recruiting. But before and after the show was open they were running Kate Bush videos, which kept everyone entertained (Babooshka was a particular favourite). At the end of the day they insisted that we ran an extra game for them after closing time, so we were late getting away.

Anyway, onto the signs. At the time I worked at GEC Marconi with a fellow programmer who also happened to be a talented cartoonist. I gave him £20 and a selection of my sci-fi art books to come up with a couple of display boards for the game. He did a fantastic job, as you can see; I’ve blown up parts of the logo so you can get a good look at some of the details.

The Price of Neutrality
My final walk down memory lane is another 20mm WW2 game, depicting a what-if scenario that had the Germans attempting to force a landing in Norway in 1940 against concerted British and Norwegian opposition (rather than the unopposed landings which really occurred).

The game ran in 1993 and ’94 at three shows. By this time technology had moved onto colour printers rather than typewriters and letraset – we had a very expensive wax thermal one at work that I used to create some display materials. I came across yet another club name banner and a couple of different ones for the game (although that Union Flag looks a bit suspect). I’m not sure why there is more than one game name, they may have been for different shows.

We also have a two page handout covering the game, and another one about the club from the same period.

Signs o’ the Times (1)

Tony F shares some finds from the past.

I was digging in the garage the other day, ostensibly hunting for an old book (Kenneth Macksey’s First Clash, in case you really wanted to know). Besides dust and cobwebs, I managed to unearth a very old Burton’s plastic bag containing a treasure trove of vintage club display material (but no book – although it turned up elsewhere, you’ll be delighted to hear). These relate to some of our very first show games, dating from the second half of the eighties and early nineties.

The Vire Incident
This was a 54mm World War 2 skirmish game, featuring scratchbuilt terrain and Tamiya figures. It was a collaborative effort between half a dozen members, and saw service at four shows in 1986 and 1987. Secretary Brian arranged for a couple of display boards (painted by a bloke he met in the pub apparently !) with the club (above) and game names. You can click on all the thumbnails in this post for bigger versions.

For its fourth outing we had an extra sign made up – unfortunately I have no memory of where this came from or who made it.

Berlin or Bust
This game was our project for 1988’s shows. Again it was set in WW2, but this time in 20mm. It was a participation game which had members of the public playing an advancing US force against the defending Germans, run by the club. The participants had 45 minutes to get from one end of the table to the other. The format was obviously successful as we revived it a few years later, with Drive to Dunkirk taking the basic scenario and applying it to the French campaign in 1940.

I’ve unearthed a copy of the handout we made for the game (a first, I don’t think we’d had handouts previously). This was carefully written out on a typewriter (no word processors in 1988 !) with wonky letraset headlines.

We had a new club logo, drawn by me (well, it has my initials at the bottom) – hand drawn with letraset type. I also found the original which has big blobs of correction fluid all round the Tiger tank, but they don’t come through on the photocopy fortunately.

The sign for the game was made from letters cut out of red card mounted on art board – this must have taken me a while to do, as I drew out letters by hand.

There was also another display board, similar to the later Vire one – so again, I don’t remember where this came from.

And finally, a sign imploring the public to join in – I think at busier shows we did have a sign-up sheet with timed slots for games.

That’s it for now – part two will cover a sci-fi game that we only ran once, but which had some fabulous display artwork.

Driftin’ Along

Tony F builds a shuttle craft…

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…

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