Saturday, 26 November 2016

Shout it loud!!!

Hello again.


That is very near Birmingham, England, NOT Birmingham, Alabama. This Birmingham has probably never had a Governor, and, if they ever did, he was probably never robbed and we certainly never "did what we had to do", unlike Lynyrd Skynyrd with their Birmingham as celebrated in "Sweet Home Alabama".

So, you have the date, you have the address and, having picked up "MINIATURE WARGAMES" issue 404 for December, you have an advert for the show courtesy of that journal's "DIARY DATES" column on page 7!!!

I even joined Facebook this evening to add a comment to say the "Wyrley Retinue" will be there with our Dark Age Ireland game, "Storri's Trek 2: The Rath of Cahan".

This is a decent, little show and deserves support, but does seem to suffer from the simple fact that most people (in my small circle at any rate) do not even know it is on, because it is not generally well advertised.

The blurb on Facebook and on the web (wargamer.tripod. something or other) lists some eclectic traders and a fair number of clubs attending from the local area. Traders are set to include (according to the aforementioned blurb):

Warlord Games
Magic Geek
Black Pyramid
Tiger Miniatures
Dave Lanchester
Commission Figurines
PE2 Collectables
and numerous others to whom I can only apologise for my declining memory or they would have got a mention too!

The website and Facebook also have directions to the show, but typing the postcode into your satnav is probably a lot easier. You really have no reason not to be there!

So folks, let's see you there!


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Rath of Cahan

Hello again.

Apart from a few Dark Age Hibernian des res roundhouses, the forthcoming "Wyrley Retinue" demo game for 2017 required something a bit more substantial - a Rath, or Irish ring fort.

I first encountered one of these in an article on building one in "Wargames World" magazine, issue 5, about 30 years ago. That was also when I made a mental note to forego Ellendun, Ashdown and Maldon if I ever got into Dark Ages wargaming and head west instead to the Emerald Isle. An even better model than my original inspiration turned up in the "Shieldwall" (glimpses) and "Age of Arthur" (full on PHWOAR!!!) supplements for Warhammer Ancient Battles. So, with our theme decided earlier this year, we were heading off to Ireland in the 9th Century (-ish) and we were having a Rath.

Step 1 - take a piece of 3mm MDF and add concentric rings of polystyrene to achieve the desired height. Four rings in my case. Leave space for a gateway to access your primitive fortification.
Step 2 - take lengths of bamboo skewer, twig, cocktail stick, thin dowel and similar wooden materials and glue them into your ring of polystyrene using PVA glue or similar stuff that won't melt your rings of gleaming whiteness! A palisade may be a bit of artistic licence in this era, but I like it. The Ancient British stopped using palisades in their hillforts before the Romans arrived according to archaeology.
Step 3 - use wood filler to cover all the polystyrene.
Step 4 - build your gatehouse.
Step 5 - paint everything to taste.
Step 6 - remember to either build in some steps up to the ramparts and gatehouse platform for your figures to access them. Alternatively, build ladders afterwards like I did!
Step 7 - add scenic materials to blend it into your normal terrain boards/ cloth/ whatever.
Step 8 - remember to take it to the "Wargamer" show on 4th December for its first outing!!!

The very basic structure as in Step 1. The octagonal base is intentional to try and prevent warping. A circle would also suffice, but Nephew Nick wants to sink the base into his boards to make it all more seamless so the octagon is easier in this regard. The whole thing is about twelve inches across.

Not wishing to bore you unduly with yet more constructional photos, I have jumped straight to Step 6. I was keen not to have it all look like Sir Christopher Wren designed and built it, so the uneven and jagged palisade is intentional. I have tried to paint the woodwork as aged, weathered timber. This involved taking the basic wood colour and staining it with paint washes of grey and brown, followed by drybrushing with lighter greys and browns.

I have painted the whole thing largely to represent earth banks, but patches of rock are also visible for some variety in the finished article.

The gates are made from two 50x25mm plastic cavalry bases, heavily scored to represent wood and painted. The hinges are made from lengths of wire and a plastic sleeve from a ballpoint pen inner. After adding the sleeve, bend the wire ends and mark your holes in the dowel uprights. Drill small holes with a pin vice and do this BEFORE you build the gatehouse. The whole thing is stuck down piece by piece with my hot glue gun. More filler was then worked around the area to blend it all in. I added the hut for effect. It will be glued in later and blended in with more filler and paint. The gates even open and shut without breaking them IF you don't get paint in the mechanism!!!

Access ladders were made from matchsticks with artists' card runners glued on.

For scale, I have added one of my newly-painted reinforcements for my Dark ages collection, complete with suitable grisly trophy. The battlements are pieces of coffee stirrer and the base on which the figure stands is a 60x40mm MDF figure base.

I will glue in the most fancy of the three roundhouses and cover off some basic scenic work in the largely inaccessible bit behind the roundhouse and then hand the whole thing over to Nephew Nick to blend in to the boards he is making for the game, covering off Step 7. Finally, as in Step 8, I trust he will actually turn up at Wargamer with it!


Sunday, 6 November 2016


Hello again.

What do you get if you cross a cardboard tube, some fake fur and a pot of cheap wood filler?

Some Iron or Dark Age roundhouses, of course!
I am a rare builder of terrain at best, preferring to spend my time acquiring and painting figures, but every now and then, the urge takes me or I am forced into it. This is a mix of both urge and coercion.
Sunday 4th December, marks the next "Wargamer" Show at the Leasowes Leisure Centre in Halesowen, near Birmingham, England, and the "Wyrley Retinue" will be there as usual with the first outing for our next demo game. This year's offering (i.e. 2017's) is a large-scale skirmish affair set in Dark Age Ireland, an idea borne of our collecting for and playing of "SAGA". All three founder members of the Retinue started with a Viking force, so we have figures already, and I took the plunge to branch out into something different to the usual Saxons/ Anglo-Danes by collecting Irish, amassing quite a few, to which I have busily been adding reinforcements over the past few weeks. Nephew Nick is building some bespoke boards for our outing and I, apart from figures, agreed to do some other items, a couple of which you can see here.
The other major item I have built for this project will be posted later, so watch this space. (CLUE: I have wanted one ever since I saw an article on building one in "Wargames World" magazine issue 5 about 30 years ago! And it is very Dark Age Irish!!!)

This is the four bed detached executive residence, complete with cardboard porch clad in coffee stirrer. I got to use my limited knowledge of Pi to work out circumferences and heights of cones and the like to do the roof, which is covered in a layer of the fur. I also added some air-drying clay to the card roof former for this one to bulk it up a little, but it was not really necessary. A skim of wood filler on the tube, after the tube had been scored, and a paint job and "job done". The fur is dirtied up with a gloop of PVA glue, dark green paint (a few drops only) and some black and brown wash.

I also made two of these smaller huts. Actually, they are only smaller because: a) I did not bulk out the roves with clay prior to adding the fur and b) I did not add a porch. All three huts are made from a section of tube surmounted by a cone of card and some fur. They are deliberately basic in their execution as I wanted a grungy look rather than something rather more civilised.