Thursday, 30 June 2016

"Goblins. Fahsends of 'em"

Hello to you all on this last day of June.

In about three and a half months, I have brought my little (no pun intended) fantasy project to a state where I can successfully call something "finished". Well, strictly speaking, I may well add more figures in due course, but I have more than enough painted, based, varnished and ready to go to play some games of "Warband" if ever I can get the Nephews or sundry other associates in the same place at the same time sometime soon...

So, here for your delectation/ mild amusement/ distaste (set your own level to suit), I give you the "Burning Skulls" and their various hangers on. I don't normally paint Orcs green, but they looked right after I had painted the first few, so I stuck with it. Technically, in the rules, they are classed as "goblins" anyway, which I do paint green...

I am over-thinking this...

I was concerned about how I would base them (and was right to be), but settled on Basetex. This has caused a tiny bit of base warping as it has dried and contracted, but I hope to be able to sort that out by magnetising the ends of the bases only, rather than the middle. I trust this will cause the base to be pulled into shape better during storage, but I must admit there is no science behind this. I also stuck the figures down in stages on those bases with 20+ figures, then did a bit of texturing, then added more figures, etc. I am happy with the end result though.

They are not all I have been doing during this past three+ months, as I have also painted their High Elf opponents, but they are neither varnished nor based so you will not see them yet. Maybe by the end of July. And then there are the proposed reinforcements. And then I want some 10mm Balrogs. And something akin to some Haradrim would not go amiss...

Talk about project creep.

All the figures are Pendraken. I am impressed with them, especially given their size. They also cover lots of historical stuff for those not inclined towards fantasy, so do check them out at shows or their website.


The Bossmen - a command unit and another of shamen/ shamans. The little boxes at the rear corner of each base hold little dice used to mark unit strength in the "Warband" rules.

The boss and his entourage. The basic command pack only comes with five figures, so I added some spare warriors. Can you spot the theme for these bodyguard-types?

Mighty Magic-men of Mordor! Or hapless dupes if truth be told...I have a habit in fantasy games of seeing my wizards blow themselves up. I deliberately left other figures off this base: 1) See the first part of this caption and, 2) I doubt anyone would really want to stand by the average Orc shaman because they would probably expect some pain in my book!

Artillery (small scale). Reinforcements will include some bigger stuff...These will do for now.

Blokes on dogs. Erm, Wolf Riders, I mean.

What is the Black Speech word for "Charge!!!"

Blokes with bent sticks. The rearmost unit is one of Scouts, who have suitable special rules in the "Warband" book to do with something called "scouting". No, I don't know what that is either...

A close up of some of the blokes with bent sticks.

Ah, the Mirkwood Leichte Panzer Division.


And a close up of some general cannon fodder/ warriors.

And some others who wanted the publicity...

BIG STUFF, in the form of some Trolls. I don't know why I did three units. In the "Warband" rules, you can only have 200pts of these "Special" types, and these bases are 90pts each! Oh yes, I remember now. I don't just want to play basic games! (And I am a megalomaniac with a passion for big gribblies!)

Bill, Tom and the other one. With three of their friends.

And a few more. Where is Turin Turambar when you need him? (Go and read "The Silmarillion" if you don't get the reference you heathen).

Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Great DIY Land Grab Concludes

Hello again.

When we left our plot to expand the empire by acquiring extra terrain, we had four tiles painted brown...

Dodging the weather has been a bit troublesome this week, but the four brown tiles are now complete. If you recall, I very much follow the method outlined by Paul Darnell in his various terrain books in the "Touching History" series, specifically his ECW volume, but it is at this brown stage that I diverge a little from Paul's original. He recommends a heavy drybrush of a mid-brown over his chocolate brown, but I can see no real reason for this as most of the brown is then covered in green. So, my method follows the following course once the chocolate brown is dry.

  1. Paint dark green over as much of the chocolate brown as you want to cover. I use Woodland Fern 1, as specified by Paul Darnell in the aforementioned work, which is mixed specially at the local DIY store. I like to leave odd patches of the brown showing through to provide some added texture to the terrain.
  2. Once this is dry, I use a colour called "Warm Yellow" from Homebase in the UK and drybrush that over the green.
  3. Once that is dry, a final drybrush of Homebases' "Yellow Submarine" (with or without suitable musical accompaniment) concludes the painting part of the greenery.
  4. For the roads and brown bits, a drybrush of Homebase "Mid Stone" masonry paint comes first.
  5. This is then followed, especially for the roads, by a light dusting of "Ivory", to really bring out the texture and give the impression of a bone-dry track after a hot summer. You can leave this one out for something darker. A lot of people, Mr Darnell included, like their roads darker and he uses a totally different set of colours for his. I like the lighter colour, but, as always, you decide because it's your terrain!
  6. My final job is detailing. Having the touch of a bull elephant (you should see me play golf...) means my drybrushing can be rather heavy, so I knock back any streaky bits with some flock or other texture applied with PVA glue. I also plan my boards up front to a fair degree (I should probably have mentioned this first!) and one of my boards shows a distinct curve in a road you would expect to be straight, so there had to be a reason for it not to be. I toyed with the idea of a patch of boggy ground, but have done this on an earlier board, so settled on a patch of rough, rocky, scrubland instead, around which the road curves. It all adds to the impression, gives different tactical options and allows for better variety in the terrain whilst still keeping utility to a high level.
The photos should explain all of this.

Apart from the Bitter Chocolate masonry paint and the Woodland Fern 1 dark green, which are litre pots, if not bigger, I use matchpots for the other colours. Their only disadvantage is that you can only get a small brush into the pot, which makes getting streaks more common. They are very cheap, however and easily stored.


The green painted on. It does not have to give maximum coverage even on the entirely green areas. It is texture we are after, so having some of the brown show through very faintly helps with this. The more obvious brown areas are the reason the road curves - I settled on a patch of rocky scrubland (see below)

The drybrushing of both yellows and the mid stone is done. The area top left is deliberately left blank - I can add a piece of cultivated land, plant trees on it, have a small industrial area, etc. Even just adding some hedges around it to make it a ploughed area changes the dynamic of a game. Variety and maximum utility are key to getting the most of your terrain, methinks.

Detailing underway, with the aforementioned scrubland.

I used a mix of Javis Cork Bark rocks and Penduke Models Hedgerow Grass fro my scrubland, together with some flock. The area is defined by the brown area I left and the rocks etc are dotted in purely for effect but, I think, look the part.

A close up of the crossroads showing the added oomph a touch of Ivory as a final highlight gives. Note also the numerous ruts - absolutely essential for any pre-metalled road.

Mid Stone and Ivory highlight to the parched area.

And another shot of the crossroads...

My heavy drybrushing leaves some areas too yellow for my tastes, so I simply add further texture with a mix of flock, static grass, etc.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lebensraum (Or, "The Great DIY Land Grab")

Hello again!

The Barrage Show in Stafford (Blessed William Howard Catholic School to be precise) is just a couple of weeks away on 10th July and the Wyrley Retinue will be there with our "The Battle of Canny, c.1476" game.

This is a small show but deserves support and last year turned up some surprisingly big trader names, with the likes of Ainsty, Eagle Miniatures, Warlord and numerous others braving the wet weather. These traders and more besides are set to be there this year too, so put 10th July in your diary and come along. Most of the games are to be participation ones, I believe, so "stay and play" seems to be the motto for the day.

Our affair, however, is a demo and, with a 10x6ft table to fill, I decided some more terrain tiles were in order. Here is my progress so far, with three of the four tiles I have so far built at the basecoat stage.

Various people have asked me over the years how I made the tiles for the games we have put on (though the "Malta" terrain was not mine, but rather the work of Nephews Paul and Nick, with my artwork later on). I hope this little step by step photo montage helps, but I basically lifted everything from Paul Darnell's books on terrain building, which I believe are still around at shows and second hand (I got my copies from Dave Thomas a few years back now). His edition on making terrain for the English Civil War era is spot on for my main interests, but his books on Peninsular War and Sudan terrain are also well worth a look.

  1. The base is 6mm MDF, cut to 600mm square.
  2. The polystyrene is 50mm thick insulation material (the loose stuff, which is easier to work with than the dense pink or blue stuff but not as strong in its raw state.
  3. I use artists' mounting board, foamcore board and masking tape to square off and protect edges as necessary. This also acts as a filler against my less than straight cutting!
  4. Any roads are marked on with filler (I use ready-coloured brown but any make will do). For maximum usage potential, ensure all roads/ rivers/ streams/ etc leave the board in the middle of the relevant edge so they all match up regardless of where you put them on your table. It is a little artificial, because real roads do not do that, but is a small compromise for the layout possibilities it allows.
  5. Once the roads are dry, use PVA glue liberally across the whole remaining surface of the tile and add model railway ballast, sharp sand and other rough, gritty material to taste to texture the board. The colour is irrelevant, but I would probably shy away from some of the gaudy grains you get for fish tanks, however cheap they are! If you want hills or other elevations or depressions on the tile, ensure these are added BEFORE the grit!
  6. Then paint the whole tile dark brown with a cheap masonry paint.
The rest of the stages will follow with the next part of this post when I have finished the tiles!

I hope the photos explain better than my instructions...


Detail shot showing the edging, for both protection and general squareness after my dodgy cutting...

A nice, square tile

My crossroads, showing the brown filler used to mark the roads and the grit glued everywhere else for texture. As this is supposed to be a dirt track, useable from ancient times up to even the present day, some ruts in the track are essential, hence how rough it is.

Other boards are completely plain and flat, so I can charge cavalry across them unhindered or add a wood or other feature as desired.

Three of the four boards, exactly at the point where I ran out of brown paint (D'oh!) Still, one litre pot of brown paint has done me in the region of 90 square feet of terrain tiles since I bought it several years ago, so I cannot complain.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Pure indulgence (again)...

Some time ago, I bought a copy of the "Normandy Firefight" ultra-low level skirmish rules for World War 2, written by Warwick Kinrade and published in 2012 by Artorus Games.

I had seen a magazine article about the rules, including a scenario involving about seven figures in total on bespoke terrain, and I loved my old Airfix 1/32nd scale figures when I was a child, probably more so than my far more numerous 1/72nd's. So, I bought a copy of the rules and it ended there.

Until this morning!

I was in a local model railway and radio-control model shop looking for some ballast to texture the new terrain boards I have started to make and what do I spy but a couple of boxes of 1/32nd scale, hard plastic, multi-pose figures! Six figures per box for £20 total and I was in!!!

I had thought of going large for future Napoleonic games, using Victrix 54mm figures and heading to the Peninsula for games, but could not find any during recent show visits and my magpie-mind has flown off into 10mm since then. I may well go there still...

The only thing that puts me off World War 2 in this large scale is vehicle availability, but I do not really need them for half a dozen figures a side. Making my own buildings and terrain is something I enjoy when the mood takes me, so we will see how far I get with this.

So much for starting to shy away from larger figures based on cost, storage and space grounds...

(But this can be played on 4ft square tables).


The rules that grabbed me a few years back...they include stats for various weapons, including Japanese Arisaka rifles etc, so there is no need to stay in Normandy.

The figures. And the bonus is that I get the paint, glue and brushes too! And there is a painting guide on the back of each box!!!