Saturday, 14 April 2018

There's jungle all over, man!

The journey into the jungle took another leap ahead in the last two day as my trees grew to reach a conclusion.

The foliage is being glued on. This was the most worrying part as it was my plan to snip branch clusters off model trees and glue them into place. 

This process should have been practiced but i didn't. This led to drilling too many holes in the wrong places. The holes need to be at the top and the branches carefully chosen to create a continuous portrait of greenery. 

Now i need to figure out how to fill the holes. Putty? 

Having more than one tree per base was a good idea. I like the stump on the above base. 

Above you can see the holes i drilled into the mdf for the plastic plants. Thanks once more to Chinese workers for producing buckets of this stuff for almost no cost. 

Here are the branches snipped off and waiting to be matched with their trees. 

Foliage loss was an issue until i remembered a suggestion i saw on youtube - hairspray. A quick spray keeps the foliage on the tree while it is being worked on. I plan once completed to give it a dousing. 

The trees waiting for the unkindest cut. 

Next post will be the trees on the table for a game. Just a little more snipping, drilling and gluing. Now i need another storage container. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Jungle Grows Much Taller

In my ongoing quest to become satisfied with my jungle scenery bases, another landmark has been reached. 

I've had mixed success in ordering larger plastic plants from the Mystic East but yesterday my latest $20 in purchases paid off. The palm trees and taller trees (supposed to be 17cm max but a bit larger I think) arrived. Below is the first shot of the trees on my existing green bases - this photo was taken in the dim light of dusk in the jungle. 

From this point I switched to night vision for the rest. Oh, it does look green. 

The additions can be clearly seen - the palms and the trees with the tan coloured trunks. 

My jungle bases are thick card with one, two or three pieces of foamcard stacked on top in irregular shapes. The whole piece is coated with PVA and sand which is then painted and flocked. From here I simply punch holes down into the foamcard to secure the plant bases - glued into place of course. 

Adding the new larger trees was simply matter of punching some new holes in and applying glue. At the moment PVA but I suspect with general use I'll upgrade to superglue. 

I want to turn my attention to the bases next that mark the areas of jungle on the table. These are a little too regular for my liking and I've secured the use of a dremel in about two weeks to work on some new more irregular pieces. 

Above are the smaller pieces of scatter terrain using the same card, PVA and sand process. Cardboard seems plenty durable for this use. My jungle pieces now come in three different height levels and when combined I do like the new look. 

Now I just need to organise opponents for some regular colonial games - I enjoy Congo the most but IHMN and Death in a Dark Continent or Mud and the Blood are other possibilities. 

I already have some more African tribesmen on the way to expand my spearmen units and I intend to paint three small (5) units of cannibals - marked by warpaint skeletons over their bodies. Then my intention is to dip back into the Foundry miniatures to secure more dangerous animals, some villagers, African archers and Arab slavers with swords. I would dearly like to secure a suitable rudimentary African god for my cannibals to prance about in celebration or to conduct the fetid rituals of the deep forest. 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Anyone have a weedwhacker?

In an earlier Feb 2018 post ... "Jungle Trees Growing Taller" ... I began work on some new jungle trees. My couple of tests produced some good results. I am heavily indebted to Paepercuts for his techniques that I utilised ... mostly. I made some modifications that I'll describe below. 

Firstly I worried about using sticks/twigs for the branches. My storage methods are not always delicate, as are my packing away or mid-game handling. Sometimes other people pack away for me. These reasons combined in me wanting something more sturdy. I decided I'd order some quite large trees from the good folks of China and snip off the branches. 

(I've glued the above to temporary bases right now so I could spray the foliage. I was losing lots each time I handled the tree so I decided I would give it some PVA and water. At the last moment I changed my mind and went for something I have seen before on the interweb - hairspray. I only did it earlier today by it does seem to have had the desired effect. I didn't want my trees to be without leaves once I had finally affixed my branches to the trunk.)

These I'd then glue the snipped branches onto my trees. I drilled holes in the trunks of the trees to help stick them on. This seems to be a good idea thus far but it also hasn't been tested apart from me holding the branches in place with my fingers and thinking it all looked pretty good. 

Since my practice two trees and my two first tabletop intended tress I have made three more bases. I use drink coaster MDF circles. I decided to use two sticks nailed to each base ... well ... I don't know why I just thought it looked good. 

The sticks I chose are between 12cm-20cm in height - a shorted and taller one for each base. I have added a fallen log to one base. I used string for vines. These were painted with a very dark green then a lighter olive to finish. PVA holds all together with its usual reliability. 

The trees have been given a coat of dark brown and black as a base (paint from local cheap shop) then a dry brush of a lighter brown, a first highlight of a even lighter brown then a final highlight of this last brown mixed with some creamy coloured paint. I used good old Vallejo paints for these other coats. 

Here are my original test tree (right) which worked out so well I'm scheming to pry it somehow from its base to use it on the tabletop. One of my first trees (left) I now consider to be just too chunky. Wish I could swap them as Mr Chunky is on a perfectly good base - that I'm now out of. 

The final painting touch is the shading - here with a Sepia wash (damn I love that paint - millions of uses.) It's usefulness is here shown well around the vines and the buttress roots that run from the base up the sides of the tree. The image also shows well the texture achieved with toilet paper. My stippling technique became better with each attempt. 

The bases are complete. Three layers of brown, cork brown and scrofulous brown (then last two were just in randomn patches) then a final dabbing a very dark brown again in patches. I also washed these three bases as I initially thought it was too bright for the moldering rainforest floor. I still think I made the right call. 

(Above and below also display the far better stippling effect achieved with toilet paper and PVA and water.) 

I use an old ball of string I've had around the house for ages for the vines. Its a perfect size. I'm thinking about adding a little flock here and there to simulate vine foliage. 

Three bases ready for the next stage. This will happen later in the week when my plastic plants from the mystic and bargain basement East arrive for ground foliage. Once these are in place I'll add the canopy. At the moment I am very happy with the results but I've been using the technques of Mr Paepaercut. I'm about to delve into my own inventiveness which - it must be said - has often consigned large amounts of terrain work to the bin more than once before. 

More than anything else in wargames, I find terrain work to require the most practice runs and is very hit and miss. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Lion Rampant Wargame

This week's game saw Lion Rampant return to the table but with a Dark Age variant. This is something I've been wanting to do again for some time. It was Saxons trying to eject the Vikings - as usual in such a setting. 

For those of you that don't know "Lion Rampant" is one of Osprey's many wargame rule sets. Although brief and inexpensive it is an excellent set of medieval skirmish rules that not only delivers a fun evening but also interesting choices for the player. This set of rules certainly proves it doesn't need a $80-$100 price tag to be a quality wargame. 

The armies were both 24 pts (a normal sized army) for the Bloodfeud scenario. This is scenario L in the book - showing what a range of different encounters this wargame offers. 

The Vikings had a bodyguard unit (men at arms), 3 huscarls (foot serjeants with one upgraded to expert representing bearded axe men) and one beserker unit (fierce foot.) 

The Saxons also had a bodyguard but 2 thegn units (foot serjeants), 2 fyrd (foot yeomen with javelin upgrade) and one skirmisher unit (bidower.) 

(Note the anachronistic use of 'hyperspace' by the Viking player above. Ruined my immersion.) 

We played the scenario twice just to get my opponent more used to the rules. Both ended the same way - the Viking warlord ran for the hills once the thegns had killed his bodyguard. No Viking will be foolish enough again to follow this coward. 

We used 1d3 +1 pieces of terrain each. Players alternated placing but with the proviso that each quarter needed a terrain piece before any addition could be place. If all quarters had a piece then a player could elect to move a piece by up to 6" but it could not be moved a second time. 

Players roll to activate units until one fails then the opposing player has their turn. This system works well but I keep stuffing up by adding the leaders courage bonus to activations. I am thinking about a pip system per turn that would allow the leader the ability to aid activations or rally a warrior back to action. 

In the first game the Saxon skirmishers peppered the beserker foot with javelins, stones and arrows. These troops had a low armour value of 2 (between 1-4) meaning for each 2 hits in shooting or combat one casualty would be suffered. Once battered these troops stopped their advance leading to even more disastrous shooting losses. The Saxons then weathered the storm of Viking charges, gradually inflicting casualties which drained their opponents of strength. 

This is one of the neat aspects of this extremely engaging rule system. When a unit looses a model to shooting or combat a courage test is taken. The dice result is modified by the number of models lost thus far. With each loss units become more fragile. This leads to courage test failure and becoming battered - when units refuse orders making completion of a battle plan difficult. 

Combat and shooting is equally uncluttered as units roll 12 dice if above half strength and 6 when equal or below. 

Above shows the isolated Viking leader seconds before he legged it. 

The lesson of the evening was to use the powerful bodyguard units later in the battle as all those spear armed units in shieldwall are chillingly effective at soaking up damage and dishing it out in defence. That 4+ hit when defending is really good. They are not as effective in attack but setting on one unit multiple times and chipping off a model or two each attack will soon see it in jeopardy of loosing a courage test. 

An addition I did make was to allow units in shieldwall (schlitron is the rules) could move at half speed. Both players agreed this gave the right "feel" for the Dark Ages with units moving into position then locking shields for the fray. 

I will be back in the Rampantly Dark Ages soon as these two games did nothing but encourage both players to return. My opponent has already indicated the Viking warlord was given a "special welcome" on his return to the fortification at Repton and a new face may be in an executive position for the new raiding season. 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

French Napoleonic Army Done ... Almost

The title says it all. Almost. 16 infantry battalions, 12 cannon and 4 cavalry regiments. Also 14 skirmisher bases and 8 officers (including brigade, divisional  and Napoleon himself!)

20 skirmisher figures and I am entirely done. Well, there could always be more but I'm prepared to call 14 months of painting one project to a halt.

There are the cannon. A mixture of 6, 8 and 12 pdr guns. Foot and horse artillery. 

My army represents the 8th Infantry Division of Ney's III Corps in 1813. Souham orignally commanded but after he was promoted Michel-Sylvestre Brayer commanded. 

As the brigades in III Corps were quite large I haven't painted the entire division. I'm three battalions short of that. But given the beating III Corps took throughout 1813 it's no surprise all battalions were not present at all times. And that's what I wanted. I like painting the guys who do the bulk of the fighting. Not the elites but the conscripts. 

Here is Francois Bony's brigade - 6 battalions. How can you not love that name in this period? This mostly consists of line battalions. I gave the senior battalion of the regiment a tricolour (so if the third and fourth are present I gave the tricolour to the third rather than a fanion.) Due to the army being in a rebuilding stage at this time the tricolour could easily pass to the most senior or complete battalion in the regiment at that time. The tricolour looks good so I wanted them in the field - and 1st brigade has only one 1st battalion among its numbers. 

Above is Jean-Louis Charriere's brigade. This has four battalions of light infantry and two of line. I followed the same rules for lights and line in terms of figures. Only two of my battalions have "normal" uniforms. Most are a mix of greatcoat and uniforms - 50/50 - to show the nature of the French army in 1813. About a third have just greatcoat representing the "Marie Louise" conscripts. 

This is my heavy brigade of cavalry - my armoured fist. Commanded by Etienne de Pommeroux - these were not attached to III Corps but could have easily been in ordered to that part of the field of battle. And again ... what a French name! 

A little off centre but here are the latest painted. The Young Guard. I just had to have some for an 1813 army. Their numbers swelled and were used as a battering ram by Napoleon. This suits my style and my reasoning. Although Guard, these were not the pampered and little used Old and Middle Guard. These enthusiastic young men were repeatedly thrown into the most difficult and deadly situations time and again. A great reserve for my III Corps who stood in the thick of the action in a half dozen battles. 

My Young Guard are all in their post Bardin reform uniforms. I know they should have some shabby uniforms and greatcoats too but I wanted my Guardsmen to just "pop." I'm not disappointed. As a block these guys look great. Ready to march into canister fire as the drums pound for the glory of empire and emperor. 

Fanions provided some problems as sources state voltigeurs had red fanions but figure companies sell a range of other colours for Young Guard. I figured the first battalion should have red then I just chose something nice from there. I imagined Guard flags to be very colourful and gaudy. 

As you can see Lacoste is in command of four battalions of Voltigeurs - a whole brigade of Young Guard - eager for the fray. I'd run these as more trained rather than veteran troops - but highly motivated.  

And my lighter cavalry. I don't really have enough of these. Chasseurs and Dragoons. The III were supported by the Baden Dragoons and the 8th (or 9th?) Hussars. I didn't paint these as I wanted some cavalry more representative of the bulk of Napoleon's cavalry at the time - and there were large numbers of both dragoon and chasseur regiments - while allied cavalry and hussar numbers were falling due to attrition and cost. They fill in very well. 

Here are some other pictures to mark the completion (mostly) of my French. What a relief! At times it was nothing but a chore while at other times a pleasure. I'm thrilled with the result - I was uncertain on the name tags at one stage but now I love the concept once more. I've done it with my other armies and it gives real character to your force (EG: Ha! You'll never stand up the the 1st battalion of the 22nd, you cad. Take this! - cried across the table as you send them in.)

The division commander (could be Corps commander like at Katzbach or Leipzig.)

Again, what a name! 

 Wonder if I'll ever put all on the table at once? 

Vive France!