Thursday, 25 August 2016

Painting a Hill

Painting terrain is a nice break from the usual grind of soldiers. It's possible to blast through in a couple of hours, especially on a nice sunny day when you can dry each of the stages in the garden. I dug out a plastic hill to see just how fast it could be done.

Primed white, then Army Painter English Uniform

Shaded various browns, Woodland Scenics Earth and Windsor and Newton Raw Umber

Rocks painted grey/buff with cheap craft paints

Rocks shaded with grey, stippled blue/grey, final shade with umber gouache

The gouache I picked up in an art shop specifically to use on terrain projects. It's almost solid in the jar, a little goes a long way. Dilute it with water, mix with other paints and apply with a big old brush. The theory is that after it's dry you can wet a brush and remove it, but I just use it as a wet pigment or shader.

In total the hill took me around two hours, some of which was me relaxing on a bench in the garden soaking up vitamin D while the washes dried in the sun. It was a really enjoyable change of pace from the usual stuff.

Desert outcrop?


My original idea was to paint up the groundwork in this way, then add some turf and grass to make it a backdrop for my photography (and use in games of course). However, I realise it almost perfectly matches my desert terrain mat. So I could just stop here and use it in desert battles.

Some of my figures actually don't mind this barren feature and look quite at home on the hill terrain, but most would prefer a bit more foliage. I think I will sleep on it, maybe get a few desert games out of it before I cover it with flock and turf. My next batch of figures to be painted will take me a few weeks so I have plenty of time to decide. At least this dwarf is happy at the moment, no doubt there will be grumbling when the grass starts to grow.


Monday, 22 August 2016

More Anglo-Danes

The second half of the Anglo-Dane starter force is complete. Though just half the size of the first contingent, these are the elite warriors of the force. They have the best equipment and best armour. These are the highly trained, professional soldiers of their era, often blood relatives of the warlord. Some of them are armed with double handed dane axes, which it is said can cleave a man in two (I heard this tale at a re-enactor camp, not sure if he was being serious or not, I would imagine it would be nigh impossible to cut through armour, flesh and bone with just one stroke).

They are led into battle by Aelfric, Lord of the Northern Marches. I should really make his clothing more elaborate so that he stands out on the battlefield, but for the time being his horse design shield will have to do. I had problems with this transfer, which I had to hide with a bit of weathering and scratches along the top border.

That's the Saxon Miniatures starter warband completed. This gives a four point Saga force, which is a reasonable sized skirmish force. Standard games are played using six points, so I need a couple more units before I can call the Danes truly complete. I can use some of my other dark age troops as proxies for a while, but I would like to add some levie archers and another unit or two of warriors, to be decided after a few test games. Hopefully they will see action soon.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Return of the Dwarfs

After a break from the short bearded ones, I am keen to get back to my dwarf army. Back in April I made a tentative start on a gunner unit, but then switched to slayers. Now that I am returning to the project I want to complete the gunner unit. Every unit needs a leader, so this classic metal model is next on my painting list.

This figure was released at about the time I first became interested in collecting dwarfs, so it represents for me a golden era of sculpts. I have quite a few from this period and will be incorporating them into the army in one way or another.

I also have a few examples from the early 1990's, when I first started playing Warhammer. At that time I was more interested in Undead and High Elves, so I didn't buy many dwarfs, though I do remember picking up blister packs at a £1 each in a Games Workshop store, with four figures to a blister there was easily enough for a couple of regiments. I'm not sure what happened to those dwarfs, I might have given them to my brother, but they would be have increased in value somewhat. I have managed to find the original Anvil of Doom on ebay and will be painting that as a centrepiece for the army, some time down the line. My immediate conundrum is what to use as dwarf warriors - these should form the backbone of the army and yet I find the plastic warriors lacking. A major kitbashing exercise could well be on the cards. But that's looking ahead, my first task is to finish my Anglo Danes and then crack on with the dwarf gunners.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Escape from Colditz Castle

Every couple of months I get a mailing from Osprey containing details of their new releases. This one caught my eye - the 75th anniversary editon of a classic game. I was transported back through rosy tinted mists of time. I played this game with my brothers and mates when we were schoolkids -  if we could persuade somebody to be the Germans. In later years I played with my own family, every xmas we dragged out a few board games like this (along with Talisman, Risk, Cluedo). Happy memories of a great game. The new artwork looks really nice and the updated rules sound intriguing. I still have my copy of the game, but I might just have to put this on my xmas list.


Monday, 8 August 2016

English Civil War Camp

Another sunny weekend, another trip to a re-enactment. This time it was English Civil War, at Sizergh Castle in Cumbria - not that far from where I live. It's not a period I have ever gamed but I love history so wanted to have a look around. The reenactors were very approachable and knowledgeable, their clothing and equipment looks very authentic too. In the picture the little covered wagon contained a baby!

This was a mercenary, he set up just outside the camp and was offering his service training the local militia in firearm use. One interesting thing was that he also had a crossbow (you can see it leaning against his equipment rack in the background) and he told me that they were still used in the early part of the wars, as they were almost as effective as a musket and a lot quicker to reload. Later on we would find out that this was probably true. He was a real character. Imagine a mini like this, I would buy it in a heartbeat!

In the picture below are some of the regular troops, they have uniforms with coloured jackets. The image I have always had, of brown or cream with a coloured sash, is apparently a fallacy put about by the Victorians (who seem to have adapted a lot of history for who knows what purpose).





This was another great character, he was the camp surgeon. He gave a fascinating and gruesome account of how they dealt with common injuries on the battlefield, which included bullet wounds of course, but also damaged finger tips from musket mishap, and smoke inhalation. The methods used for bullet extraction and amputation are essentially unchanged today, just the tools are made from more modern materials, and of course there was little in the way of anaesthetic back in the 1650's.

The picture below shows the tools of the trade used, implements to cut flesh, hold open skin, saw bones, a chisel like implement to remove finger tips, etc. The pipe he was smoking  was so small because tobacco was very expensive. Another real life inspiration that would make a fascinating mini!



And now for something a little bit exciting and loud, we were advised to cup our ears and keep our mouths open, to avoid noise and shock waves. Plenty of toddlers and babes did not like this bit! You can just see a tiny recoil from the shot. This is a field gun, not a huge siege cannon. It was used as anti-personnel, loaded with grape shot. For this demo they were firing grass sods.


Finally, a few snaps of the troops on parade. I was surprised at how colourful they were, they always seem to be very drab in all the artwork. I would love to game this period but there's no way I would ever paint up large armies. If I could find some rules it would be interesting to play some of the actions that took place in the north of England - small scale skirmishes concerned mainly with keeping roads and supply lines open. Or maybe mix it up with some fantasy elements, witches, daemons and such like always seem to spring to mind when I see hats like these. 









Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Norman Fury

Over the weekend I visited Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire to see a dark ages re-enactment event - Norman fury, featuring, well, Normans (with a few Saxons as fodder). It was a nice day out, I took a few snaps which fellow toy soldier nerds might find useful or inspirational.

The very impressive Keep

Normans approach!

And assemble for battle

Archers - Loose!
Apparently they would only shout Fire! if the arrows
were flaming - makes sense though not sure how they know this?

Saxon response to the hail of arrows

Saxons ready for combat

Normans obligingly charge in

Norman commander  watches from afar

Commander's shield

Norman mounted knights

One for the true nerds this shot, some garment colours

Salmon is the new black

Fatigue marker

A very enjoyable afternoon in an impressive setting. I got to swing a poleaxe, a few ideas for colours and shield designs, and a ricotta and fig flavoured ice cream into the bargain. 
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