Sunday, August 2, 2020

Work in Progress

An altar from Mantic's Terrain Crate

 I got a bit of painting done during lockdown, mostly aimed at knocking out some stuff for Blackstone Fortress and Rangers of Shadowdeep.  This is a Reaper altar.  It looks pretty grim. 

Another view - needs something I think

I'm probably going to add some brass to the handles and some weathering on the top.  

Conquest Plastic Norman Infantry

I've been messing around with some Robin Hood figures for a while now and sometime in the near future I hope to actually get a game on the table. But every good hero needs some baddies, hence the Norman infantry.  This chap has ten mates so I decided I would go with a super quick paint scheme of mostly contrast paints. 

Another view - mostly Contrast paints

The Conquest miniatures are plastic and are very affordable.  Twenty quid for a box of forty.  You get a good mix of axes, spears and swords and lads in different sort of armour.  I've messed around with a couple of different setups and the figures go together easily and are clean with out too much detail. 

Needs a little detailing, but mostly there

I took these pictures a while ago and I've actually finished these figures since then, but given my terrible record of blogging over the last year I thought it was better to post and be damned.  

With a bit of luck, there may be more to follow. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Wargaming Remotely in the Time of Corona Virus

Remote Wargaming Setup
(Note: the cat is vital to the enterprise and cannot be done without)

A lot of us are cooped up in our homes at the moment - which is a bit of a pain in the neck, but sure beats the alternative. But one of the drawbacks of the lockdown is the fact that a lot of us will not be getting our usual wargaming fix. 

Over the last few years, I have taken to playing games remotely by video conferencing with friends who are far away. There is absolutely no reason we can't try this with our usual opponents or why not try having a go with some our your internet pals. There is no time like the present. 

I have recorded a short podcast on the subject, summarising the lessons I've learned from the last few years of remote wargaming. 

But in brief they are; 

1. Preparation - Get everything ready (board, terrain, dice, counters, etc) before the game. 
2. Think about the camera - Remember that your opponent does not have a clear view of the table. 
3. Dice - Use a dice roller or work on trust. 
4. Start small - Double the amount of time you expect the game to take as a good rule of thumb. 
5. Brief your opponent - Send your opponent a written brief before hand. 
6. Be patient - Your opponent may have difficulty working from a small screen, be patient. 

I expand on each of these points in the Podcast and there are a couple more, but these are the basics. 

Sir Harry Flashman VC striding across the battlefield like a colossus

Backdrops are extremely useful in a play by video game, because they give your opponent a clear indication of where the edges of the table are, which is not always easy on video. I would also pick a plain backdrop if you can, so that your opponent can see your figures silhouetted against it. It can be tricky trying to make out what's happening against the visual clutter of the room. 

The British forces close in on the well

I played a game of The Men who would be Kings with my pal Nick last night. I wrote the scenario especially with remote wargaming in mind, so it had a few extra little wrinkles built in. 

The game was set after the battle of Mudki during the first Sikh War in 1845. Lord Gough's army was short of water and Captain Stern was dispatched to find a well in a nearby village. 

Brutal charge and counter charge between Sikh Akali and Bengal Irregular Horse

The game took about ninety minutes to play through, with some time after for shooting the breeze. The Sikh Akali's made short work of Bengal Native infantry, the sole survivor of their savage charge you can see fleeing to the rear. They were immediately counter attacked by the Bengal Irregular Horse under Risaldar Mir Afsar Ali, which lead to a brutal hand to hand struggle. 

"Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!"

The Akali and the Irregular Cavalry charged and counter charged several times during the game and the officers on both sides were killed. In fact, it was a brutal game for officers all round. You test to see if an leader becomes a casualty by rolling 2d6 and they only fall if you roll snake eyes. 

Both Nick and I rolled a lot of snake eyes this game with a statistically improbably number of officers dropping like flies. 

Official War Artist Nick Stern did this sketch of the battle between the Akali and 
the Bengal Irregular Cavalry

Nick is an artist and sent me this wonderful sketch of the battle between the Akaki and the Irregulars.  It strikes me as something out of Caton Woodville.  I will really cherish this and intend to print it out and frame it once this whole sorry business is over. 

British lancers run the gauntlet of the Sikh musketry to spear the gunners and capture the gun

The game ended after a tightly fought engagement with my Fauj-i-Khas penned in some buildings but undaunted.  They would have proved a hard nut to crack, but unfortunately they couldn't counter attack without being hammered.  Stuck where they were they were unable prevent the British taking the well or our heavy gun, which was being evacuated by a rather splendid elephant from HAT. 

This was a thrilling game that was in the balance right up until the last turn.   It was a pleasure to play against Nick and I will treasure his sketch. 

If you would like to know more about setting up your own remote wargaming games, please tune into the latest episode of Send Three & Fourpence. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mind Bullets

Being a psychic demands skill, talent and an interest in amateur dramatics

I've been neglecting proper toy soldiers of late and doing nothing with my Stalingrad project which is pricking my conscience. I had intended to pick up some Winter Russians in the recent Elheim sale, but didn't get around to it. Work and family has just been so busy that I catch myself running both ways.  

I really must clean up that base

The little bit of painting I have been doing has been for Blackstone Fortress.  I've been tipping away at the figures for this, a little bit at a time - I've found that I can get one colour done sometimes in the mornings. The most recent effort have been some rogue Psykers - chaps that we haven't seen much of in the game as of yet, but they have a certain something. 

I was quite pleased with how the glowing eyes turned out

"Dramatic? MOI??!?!?!"

I am quite pleased with how the glowing eyes turned out.  I followed a tutorial from Guy at Midwinter Minis  which I heartily recommend.  It was a bit tricky at first, but I cracked it in the end. 

Fur accents to ones frock coat are so this season. 

This picture did not do it justice, but I am pleased with the depth of colour on the coat. 

That's it for Joy & Forgetfulness at the moment, though I am looking forward to a game of Napoleonics at the weekend.  Probably going to be Waterloo, because well, it's Waterloo and we have the pleasure of a visiting Mad Padre to entertain.  Mike and Joy visited in what I hope will be the first of many trips.  It was a real pleasure to make their acquaintance and they demonstrated admirable fortitude and patience in the face of a disgruntled Kinchlet.  

I did discover, sadly, that our visiting clergyman is a raving Bonapartist.   I hope we shall be able to teach him the error of his ways.  

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Space Germans

So I finally got cracking on those Traitor Guard.  The grey uniform naturally lent itself to some Second World War style stuff, but I wasn’t quite happy with it exactly.

As you can tell I didn’t go with grey or dark green in the end.  Stormtroopers of the Imperial German army during the Great War uses a sort of geometric camouflage on their helmets and I went with something like that.

I’m not sure if this is a replica or an original, but I regardless I think we can agree it is “pretty metal”.

One of the crazy things about this chap is that he’s the squad sniper.  He will also stab you with a trench knife!

I found various types of painted helmet on line. I can’t remember where exactly I found this one - but it looks postwar rather than Great War.  I know the Freikorps used to paint stuff like this on their helmets.

The helmets used during the war itself were a bit more restrained.

On the whole, I’m very pleased with it.  I had to repaint the brown section as it was a bit too light, but it looks rather well now.  There is one squad of seven with black helmets and one squad of seven with the stormtrooper specials. It’s very handy from a gameplay perspective, being able to tell one from the other.

For me?

Life is bit manic at the moment as the Bear is not sleeping and it’s rather wearing.  One can economize on food and drink, but sleep is the one necessity.

Fortunately,  it is a life that has many other advantages.  Gentlemen, I don’t know if you’ve ever brought your toddler daughter a flower (tactfully removed from the bunch bought for her mother before I came in the door),  but I can assure you that you will feel ten feet tall as a result. She was absolutely delighted.

Fatherhood also means you also get invited to a better class
of tea party.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Beastie Boys - #Squaduary2019

The Boys are all here

So Squaduary is over and I’m half pleased with how I did.  I got the Nega Volt Cultists done and the beastmen, but completely failed to tackle the two 1/32 scale dioramas.  This was due to a combination of factors - a change at work, some Kinchlet illness and the discovery that both sets had problems that I had completely missed while assembling and undercoating them.  They can be fixed with green stuff,  but I didn’t take the time. 

Standing on one leg is so on trend 

These turned out rather well I thought. The only thing that I found a bit peculiar was painting their eyes.  Cows, sheep and goats have black eyes which I copied by running some black ink into their eye sockets.  That seemed to do the trick, but it looked odd.  I may try one with human eyes before I varnish them. 

Quite pleased with how these turned out 

The chap in the middle is a little unsteady on his base.  I’ll have to see if I can fix that. 

My high tech photo studio 

I decided to focus on Blackstone Fortress figures because it’s the game we’re actually playing at the moment. 

Really excellent stuff 

I’ve been relying on these videos for painting instructions.  This chap is painting all the models in the game with only fourteen paints, two washes and three brushes. It’s an ideal way for a beginner to learn, but myself I just enjoy following along.   It’s the very thing to clear the mind after a days work. 

This is actually really handy

While previously I had just chucked all the figures in the box and away we went,  I found that things were getting bashed and there were some breakages. This was frustrating as they’re nice figures and I was painting them.  I came across this solution on the Blackstone Fortress Facebook group - it’s a custom insert for the game box made by Feldherr.  It fits in the box very snuggly and I haven’t had a breakage since.  Each figure has its own particular billet cut to size so it keeps everything straight. I’m not sure it’s a great solution for most figure storage problems, but it’s just the ticket for this.

In the pale floral blue of space no-one can hear you set someone on fire 

Work continues 

The current output is a collection of fourteen baddies and they are taking a while to be honest.  I’m not sure if it’s because painting fourteen figures at the same time is too many or if I just don’t get very much time these days. 

The latest addition to the War Room

The latest addition to the War Room is from Mrs Kinchs sister.  She was clearing out an old store room and found this chest.  It’s surprisingly light and quite strong. I’m not sure what will live in it just yet - terrain perhaps? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Decisions, decisions.

I’m torn about these two.  I’ve got two sections of seven lads each and I need some way of distinguishing them.  I was thinking about helmet colour, but I’ve seen them in white and didn’t care for it. 

Red maybe? Any thoughts gentlemen? 

Of course I should be doing something with my #Squaduary2019 pledge and therefore I should be working on my 1/32 scale diorama. However, we’re actually playing this game at the moment and I’d like to be able to play with a fully painted set before we finish. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Latest update - #Squaduary2019

Games Workshop Negavolt Cultists

I finished these guys on Friday and they were a complete pain in the neck. Awkward, fiddly and completely unsatisfying to paint. However, they are finished and that is the main thing. I really like Blackstone Fortress and I love the idea of being able to play with a complete set of painted figures, so they just had to be done. These were painted as part of #Squaduary2019, which is a month long project by some wargamers to get some stuff done. There's actually been quite a bit of work done and you can see the results here.

I think I might have to paint a proper 1/32 scale toy soldier next though, just to get the taste out of my mouth.


Savage and I have been discussing what our wargaming project will be this year and we've settled on Stalingrad.  Having looked at the available scenarios,  it has come to my attention that there are about half a dozen Overlord* Stalingrad scenarios that are roughly balanced (i.e. have a win/loss ratio of no more than 60/40). 

What we’re proposing is an ambitious plan to play the battle of Stalingrad in its entirety, over 5-6 overlord games over two days. This would be two days of three games each, probably two successive Saturdays during the summer.

Savage has volunteered to create bespoke terrain covering key Stalingrad landmarks like Pavlov’s house, the Grain Silo and the Tractor Factory. We would build two boards, one for the battles in Autumn and a second one covering Winter battles. Savage hopes to be able to produce specific winter terrain for the later battles, so the whole thing should look pretty impressive.

For figures we’ll be using my existing collection of 1/72 figures with some new stuff for the winter battles.

Barmaley Fountain

This is the Barmaley Fountain in Stalingrad and I've been trying to find someone who makes it in something like 15mm or 20mm.  Any ideas? It's such an iconic image of the city that it would be odd to leave it out of the game. Also, click on the link above to read the story of Barmaley, which is a bit peculiar. 

Does anyone know of a commercially produced one? 

*6-8 player team games.