Friday, 10 June 2016

paper dungeon - simple doors

I bashed out these doors for D&D using an Amazon book mailer and a 1.2mm Staedtler pigment liner- one of my favourite pens! Combined with the stand bases, they work great and couldn't be much cheaper.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

MicroKoW- the first game

My opponent and I played our first game of 10mm Kings of War on Tuesday night with 1000 fully painted points apiece. The game played smoothly- the reduced size didn't feel at all fiddly, and I really enjoyed it, despite losing pretty comprehensively to Tim's orcs!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

first bits of a cereal packet dungeon

There are lots of ways to make dungeons for D&D, from gorgeous but expensive Dwarven Forge stuff to ones that cost effectively nothing. Here are some 'proof of concept' bits for a dungeon, made from everyone's first craft material: a corn flakes box. There's a bit of white-tack on the back for weight and friction. They took a few minutes with a pen and some scissors and I quite like the way they look.

The other thing that white-tack is good for is quickly knocking up some stalagmites or boulders. I like the fact that this method of creating the dungeon is just a couple of removes from a basic diagram- it's clear and simple and cheep and cheerful- all my favourite boxes ticked!

Monday, 6 June 2016

RPG Adventurers

Since reviewing those Caesar goblins, and coming to the conclusion that they would be of far more use for RPG encounters than for wargaming, I've been bitten by the D&D bug. I've been looking closely at 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons as well as a few alternatives, and have been listening to quite a few podcasts of live 5th ed. D&D play (favourite so far being Adventure Zone). I've also been taking stock of my old-school RPG minis, and wondering what needs adding. I've been trying to stick to stuff from the '70s or early '80s, and the latest addition, the Hinchliffe Dwarf on the end, fits the bill and rounds out my party of adventurers nicely. I'll thank you to ignore the fact that he is the same size as the humans, and taller than the elf- we'll put it down to sub-species variation!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

old school wood elf

had a spare half hour so I dived into the ice cream tub of shonky old 25mm lead from decades of yore and fished out this chap to paint. I've no idea who he is or who made or him or when, but he'll do very nicely as an elven archer for my collection of shiny lads for old school RPGing and skirmishing.

Review - Caesar Miniatures 1/72 Goblins

This is a kit that very nearly hits it out of the park, but a few eccentricities and shortfalls keep it from being a really excellent product in my view.

Most fantasy wargamers who exist in the 28mm ecosystem that has become the norm for the past few decades won't be looking at 1/72 scale kits, which roughly equate to 20mm. The difference between 20 and 28mm doesn't sound like much, but in an equivalently proportioned 3d figure, the difference in mass is about 2.5x, and the comparison on the tabletop is glaringly 'wrong'. If, as I do, you have lots of old 25mm stuff from distant ages, and you compare with a 1/72 kit that's more generously proportioned, you may be able to intermix the two, but not often.

However, when it comes to goblins, and fantasy races that are distinguished from humans largely by their relative size, we can be far more liberal with scale. What size, exactly, should a goblin be? In the earliest days of sword-and-sorcery wargaming, in the early '70s, when Gary Gygax was playing his fantasy version of Chainmail and there were simply no fantasy miniatures to be had, he used scale differences very creatively- a 25mm knight was his human, 1/72 was a dwarf, 15mm was a hobbit or a goblin, larger scales like 40, 54 or 90mm served as ogres and giants.

Let's see if the Caesar 1/72 goblins are any use to us 25/28mm wargamers.

The models come in a compact little cardboard box, with cheerfully silly artwork, and the slogan 'you could resist Goblins no longer!' emblazoned across the front. Let's see exactly how irresistible these little chaps are.

They are packed into a tiny little plastic bag, sprueless apart from a little tag of plastic hanging from each one, with decently sized integral oval bases.

For 28mm wargaming, the scale of these Caesar goblins is absolutely spot on to my eye. They look large enough to be 'proper' infantry rather than a swarming, ankle-high horde of vermin, and they won't be lost in empty space if placed on individual 20mm bases. Also, compared to just about all other goblins on the market at anything like this scale, these are a huge bargain at about £8.99 for 35. Historical 1/72 figures are usually a little cheaper for a few more figures though- so even these suffer from the 'fantasy tax' a little.

The plastic is less 'greasy' than some 1/72 toy soldiers, but the general bendiness won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's laid hands on an airfix figure. I would recommend the standard precautions when painting these- wash thoroughly with Fairy and warm water, optionally soak overnight in a vinegar solution for more of a 'key' to the surface (though I've never bothered). Start with a coat of PVA (thicker than you think- it'll shrink a great deal), paint with acrylics and end with a good coat of varnish. Painting should be nice and quick- these fellows are very simply attired in little loincloths and bare skin. Two colours plus brown and'or silver for weaponry should be sufficient. Detail is as good as it needs to be, and the figures do not lack character- though I slightly suspect the hand of CAD design here- limbs are a little stiff and proportions a little too consistent perhaps, but maybe I'm wrong. Colour varies quite a bit across the selection I received, from bright silver to dark grey, but the feel of the plastic seems consistent.

The glaring weakness for me is in the choice of weaponry. In the pack of 35 goblins, only four are armed with bows. eight or ten would have been nicer, and more useful for most fantasy gamers I would think, though I can't speak for RPG players. Eight of them have a spear/javelin, but the four who are armed with a sort of double handed stone axe could easily be converted to spears. Then we have another eight who are holding stones to throw, or cartoon spherical bombs, with a litte fuse coming out! All but useless, especially in those quantities. Four have a wooden club- perfectly fine. There is a single standard bearer- perfectly cromulent, plus easily convertable to another spearman if preferred. The remaining seven wield either one or two ornate daggers with exotic undulating blades, giving the set as a whole a rather discordant selection of weaponry spanning the stone age to the age of black powder, stopping off at the renaissance on the way. If the bomb-throwers, rock-chuckers and dagger-brandishers were replaced with more bows, clubs and spears, this kit would be superbly useful. Indeed, if the selection were more representative of the box artwork, I think it would be no bad thing at all.

I bought this box with the idea of perhaps knocking out a quick, cheap and dirty goblin army for Kings of War, but to be honest the bum-ache and wastage involved in getting my money's worth from that odd weapon selection and the inherent difficulties of the material have made me think twice. These will come in handy for dungeoncrawls and the like though- I keep threatening to run a spot of D&D or something similar, and this box should amply fulfill that purpose, even without paint.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Micro-KoW progress

Have added a bit more to the 10mm Kings of War army. Nearly at 1000 points, which is the minimum required for a decent game I think.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Minifigs Knight Hospitaller

one of those old Minifigs knights, dehorned, re-lanced and repainted. I wasn't too precious about the freehand- I think a certain quickness about the whole thing is better when painting in this simple style, or you risk it looking overcooked. Or perhaps i'm overthinking it, as is my wont! I have to say I think this horse is one of the finest sculpts I can think of - I love it!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Turcopoles (or maybe Saracens) in the post

While daydreaming about yesterday's post, and the idea to do a 25mm shiny old school crusades army, I found myself browsing eBay. Before I had quite snapped out of my reverie the pictured regiment of lads fell into my basket an is now en route to me. The seller isn't sure if they're Essex or Hinchliffe, and I wouldn't presume to know better myself, but I love the look of them. They'll either be Turcopoles fighting as allies to my Milites Christi or they might do double duty as Saracens at some point. I'm looking forward to a nice bright colour scheme of pink, yellow and bright blue I think, with dark chestnut horses and white accents. Lovely stuff!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Minifigs knights to strip and repaint

I'm hoping in the next week or so to get my 10mm KoW army finished to 1000 points. After that's done, I've an urge to start a new army in the usual Kings of War scale. I do have ideas for a Nightstalkers army of scratchbuilt weirdness, but I'm also feeling an itch to do something medieval that I can use in other systems too perhaps a Milites Christi army of Templars and Hospitallers and Kingdom of Jerusalem with Turcopole allies and whatnot. They'll be usable in KoW Historical, Saga C+C, Lion Rampant, Hail Caesar and just about anything else. Add in a pegasus or two, a griffin maybe and some other weirdness and then I can use it in KoW, Dragon Rampant, etc. as well .- One possibility is to build on the test mini from a few days ago and use mainly Fireforge plastics. This is not a bad idea- I have lots of Fireforge ready and waiting on the sprue, as well as bits of an old army that would be easily rebased and touched up. They're nice models and I know I can get them looking good reasonably quickly. However, I've a real hankering to expand the 'shiny retro toy soldier' look I've used for Frostgrave and skirmish stuff into a whole army, and the old 25mm Minifigs stuff (still mostly available from is just beautiful- to my eye at least. It's true 25mm scale though, quite a bit smaller than modern 28s, but as result it looks much better on the 'standard' wargaming base sizes: 20mm square for infantry and 25x50mm for cavalry. The Fireforge plastics require quite a bit of planning and nudging to sit happily on those sizes without tails being rammed against the muzzles of the next rank.

As it happens, I have a regiment of old minifigs Nevskiy knights bought cheaply that I can have a play with to see how they'll look before buying new ones. They'll need their horns snipping off so they look a little less Teutonic, and I'd like to replace those lances with wire ones- do lead lances ever look properly straight? First things first- into the Biostrip20 to get the paint off.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Fireforge Knight Hospitaller

Not sure if this is a one-off or a test mini for something bigger (Lion Rampant, Saga Crescent & Cross, KoW, or the imminent KoW Historical maybe?). I've been reading a little about the Knights Hospitaller and knocked one up quickly, represnting a brother knight from around the start of the 13thC. Love the Fireforge plastics.  

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

MicroKoW - Beast of War

One of the great things I'm finding about 10mm is how quickly individual things can be done. If I'm very disciplined and I know exactly what I'm doing I can get a 28mm regiment done in an evening, but more often the task will spread across two or three evenings. With 10mm, just about any unit you can think of can be thrown together in an hour or two. If it doesn't work, you haven't wasted much time, and as like as not you've wasted very little money also.

Today I took a tiny plastic dinosaur, chopped a lump out of his back, scratched off his mouldlines, glued a tiny wooden 'house' boardgame piece to his back as a sort of roofed howdah, added cardboard straps and a couple of tiny card shields, and then painted him up. Cost nothing, more or less, and is a pleasingly retro addition to my army. My heart is always warmed by the sight of a reappropriated toy dinosaur on a wargames table.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Review- MDF Wizard's Tower from Supreme Littleness

About a week and a half ago I ordered an MDF kit from Supreme Littleness, and it arrived today. The kit I ordered is the Wizard's Tower from the 10mm fantasy range. It arrived in a decently compact little package like this, in a jiffy bag. I only have two (very minor) complaints about the kit, and the first is the packaging. the MDF sheet is quite fragile and was very slightly broken in transit. Luckily it snapped through an area of 'spare' MDF, not through an actual part of the kit, but an extra piece of corrugated card in the envelope would have been welcome. Bonus points for the big Ziploc bag- those things are super useful!

The second (again, minor) complaint about the kit was the lack of instructions. I am a bear of little brain, and it took me a little while to figure out how things were supposed to go together, but once I'd cracked it it was pretty simple. Again, a quick line drawing packaged with the kit would have been appreciated for dimbos like me.

The quality of the cutting and the design are absolutely excellent- the pieces fit together beautifully. Part of the kit is supplied as laser cut card which I was initially sceptical about, but the design ensures that these areas are unlikely to risk being bent or buckled, and the texture is wonderfully stonelike, and drybrushes beautifully. The card parts are also much thinner, which mitigates the 'I'M MADE FROM MDF' look that so many MDF kits have. The construction is concealed in a way that I think hides the fact that it's made from MDF very well. 

I heartily recommend this kit, especially for the price of £5. I may well be taking a closer look at their castle in the future...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Micro-KoW first units

Having been very busy this week I've only made a small dent in the pile of lovely tiny metal chaps that landed on my doormat his week. here are what I've painted up so far. They aren't particularly attractive up close, but they're not designed to be- They'll look best when there are lots of them , and are viewed at gaming distance. The sculpts are really great. Here are a regiment of spears (Kessian City guard in my army- their heraldry indicates them to be the third regiment of Kessian Houseguard, one rung below the King's personal bodyguard) and a mounted Wizard- who looks more than a little familiar. I've yet to name him, but some sort of reference to the fellow in grey seems in order. Stormcrow perhaps? The trebuchet is a plastic component from a Dungeons and Dragons boardgame- I bought 6 from a chap on eBay for £3 posted. The scale was advertised as 10mm, but I think it would do admirably for anywhere from 2mm to 6mm, and just strains believability a little at 10mm. Small field pieces of this size did exist in history, but I feel the wheels would be larger, if such a small piece had wheels at all. I'm considering adding a small abutting base with a couple of crew and ammunition on it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

10mm Kings of War- board and scenery

Kings of War is probably my favourite wargame- it's certainly the one I play the most. I and a few friends are going to experiment with an idea lots of people have had over the years- converting KoW to a smaller scale. There are lots of reasons to do this: portability; cost; ease of doing really BIG battles. As KoW is element based, it's eminently suited to the idea.

We're going to scale everything down by a division of 2.54, which sounds arbitrary, but it means that inches become centimetres, and movement and range stats stay as they are with no mental arithmetic- you just have to remember to look at the other side of the tape measure!

I've ordered some miniatures (more of which when they arrive) but in the meantime I've knocked up a little set of terrain and scenery, and a board to put them on. The board is the scaled down equivalent of a standard 6'x4' table, so it's 72x48cm. I used 18mm MDF. The hills are 12mm MDF, which means a 'height 1' hill is near-as-dammit the same height as 'height 1' infantry. All were painted with a single £1.49 tester pot of Homebase 'Village Green' emulsion. Very happy with the shade.

I've gone for a clean and simple look- clarity is paramount at such a small scale, and it's a look I like.

The trees are scrunched paper towels, soaked in dilute PVA and stuck to 8mm dowels, mounted on pennies. The 'forest' floor is Efco green felt sheet. The river and lake are also Efco felt sheet- it's thick, lies flat and has an agreeably mottled colour.

The tower was made from an empty salt pot, part of a broken toy mirror and part of a biro lid. You can see I've sanded the salt pot prior to painting.

All in all a satisfactory set with minimal outlay of time, money or effort.

Now I just need an army...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Warhammer 40,000 Tyranids

 About once a year a friend and I get together for a day and play a game of Warhammer 40,000. We're still playing the last edition, and Chris is still playing an old codex for his Eldar, but there's no real need for us to keep up with GW's bewildering release schedule.

I've recently added some bits to my Tyranids. I love the Tyranids, and they're a joy to paint. Being entirely organic, you can roughly divide each model into 'sticky fleshy bits' and 'hard bony bits'. No rivets, no gun barrels, no bits and pieces dangling from belts- you can really bash through them quite quickly with the aid of drybrushing, washes and glazes.

The basic scheme here is achieved by priming the whole model with Citadel Zandri Dust spray, washing it with Reikland Fleshshade, drybrushing up through Ushabti Bone, Pallid Wych Flesh and white (Just Pallid Wych is sufficient on the hordes of unimportant smaller models) and then painting everything that isn't bony carapace with Tamiya Clear Red, which is a transparent red paint that dries with a wet look. Quick, effective, striking and disgusting!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


I umpired a WWII platoon-level game this evening with two friends using the FUBAR one page ruleset from Craig Cartmell. What a superb little game it is- very simple, very intuitive and very clever, and more than adaptable enough to accommodate any house-ruling you might want to do. I did see that there is a specific WWII supplement for FUBAR, but I was content to bash my own slightly simpler version together for tonight. I can already see how I might add smoke rules and the like. The master stroke is the suppression system which simultaneously eliminates book-keeping or 'counter-clutter' and efficiently models the effects of pinning and morale. I heartily recommend checking them out.

We played with shiny-toy-soldier style Airfix figures and some other bits from Armourfast, Zvezda and the like- with improvised, toylike scenery to match,. These included a hastily rigged up couple of woods made from a chopped up old Christmas wreath, a doormat 'ploughed field' and roads made from cut-up mousemats from the poundshop. The classic old Airfix cottage, Inn and Church are now being sold by Dapol at a very reasonable price.  You may recognise them from all sorts of classic wargaming titles from the '60s onwards.

we played an imaginary German invasion of the sleepy 
Sussex village of Ample Parking.

Fritz has holed up in St. Mandy's, the bounder! Hope he
keeps his jackboots off the hassocks.

Plucky Brits rush to the rescue. 

A Cromwell ruins the vicarage lawn, but it's for a good cause. 

They don't like it up 'em, as a wise man once

All in defence of next year's carrot crop.

Just this PAK 40 to sort out and we can send the Nazi Sealion
back into the channel.

Sunday, 24 April 2016


In a couple of days I'll be giving my old-fashioned shiny Airfix WW2 lads a run out for a game of FUBAR, the one page ruleset produced by Craig Cartmell, of IHMN and Blood Eagle fame. There is a one-page supplement available specifically for WW2, as the core rules can be adapted to any platoon-level skirmish from WW2 into the far-future (even 40,000 years into the future I suspect), but I'm having a little tinker to try and make it as simple and quick as possible, and adapting it to my own figure collection.

The rules look simple, straightforward and fun, with a bare minimum of book keeping (none, really), and a very simple and intuitive morale/effectiveness/suppression system. I'm also rather interested in the 'generic sci-fi' variant- almost too many ideas for how best to use those!

It occurs to me that this may well be the first time I've played a points-free, 'unbalanced' game as a matter of choice. The two forces won't be hugely assymetrical- I'll be balancing a slight meteriel advantage on the German side with a higher experience rating on the British side- but nor will they be obsessively costed to a rigid points system. The spirit of the game will mean that this isn't a problem, and I'm wondering whether I will come to embrace the old-school aesthetic in this regard, and be more ready to dispense with points in other games too?

Friday, 22 April 2016

Emhar Saxons

Yesterday I took delivery of a box of Emhar Saxons for playing Blood Eagle in 1/72 scale. They were about £8 for a box of 50, so they work out at 16 pence each. Once I've based them on a penny, that goes up to 17p!

Rather good box art

The two linked sprues that come in the box

A close-up view of the detail

Size comparison with an Airfix German, and an old Space Marine

Emhar have their own formula of plastic which they boast is easier to glue and paint than regular 1:72 stuff. That may be true, but it seemed very much like Airfix stuff in the hand- a little bit bendy with that familiar greasy surface, so I gave my test figure the treatment that Henry Hyde advises in his Wargaming Compendium- I washed him with washing-up liquid and painted him with a decent coat of PVA glue before painting as normal. As I'm going for the 'toy-soldier' look,  I just gave him a bright and clean basecoat and a coat of Humbrol Glosscote. In the photos the varnish hasn't even begun to dry, so he looks even more shiny and gloopy than he will do.

Lovely figures- I shall probably get some of the Emhar Vikings as well soon.