Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Miniature wargaming - the Movie

Just finished recording the latest episode of the podcast with Neil. Very interesting chat with Joe from the above project, which is exactly what it says on the tin, namely a serious documentary about gaming. Joe is incredibly passionate about the subject, he is a gamer, and I think it's safe to say that this will not be the usual "laugh at the guys with toy soldiers" effort. 

They are running a Kickstarter, with some very nice rewards, and I commend it to you. It's here:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

They're all at it...!

Me, I blame Jim Ibbotson.

Rich Clarke is busy tartimg up a set of Realm of Battle boards. :D

Me? I've been renewing the son's passport and fighting the ESTA site, which still looks like it was built by a not-very-good web developer in about 1999.

Monday, 27 June 2016


I'm off on holiday on Saturday morning. If the price of hotel Internet is what it's expected to be you probably won't get many posts for two weeks from June 2. [Yes, I mean July, thanks Steve!]

I am aiming to get another RoB board done by the end of the week as well as the new arrivals: some Total Battle System roads!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Colour Concepts 5: what colour is ... rock?

Seriously. Not this colour, or shaded
variants of it. Really. Even if it's the one
GW put in their terrain pack along with
that brown that isn't soil-coloured...
OK. Time for a rant.

Rock is not grey.

Specifically rock and stone, with a very very small set of exceptions. are not THIS grey that people always paint them.

This is our old friend RGB #708090 which a decent number of people consider 'pure grey'. The only rocks that come close to that colour are mostly slate and some granite, but in general? Most rocks are no more that shade of grey than most soil is a kid's crayon brown.

Don't believe me? Go Google for images of castles (you'll need to hit the image tab and mind out for Nathan Fillion!). See anything that colour? Thought not. Even Raglan Castle, which can look grey from a distance in some photos, surprisingly isn't from close up.

We also come back here to how light affects things - if you do a search for Raglan Castle, say, and look at the range of images on offer, see how much the colour varies depending on time of day, sun vs cloudy sky, etc. The guidebook actually describes it as 'yellow sandstone'!

So what colour is stone?

Guess what?

Those lovely folks from Munsell, not content with keeping archaeologists and soil scientists happy, do a series of rock colour charts too :D That aside, if you think a 200 buck colour chart is a bit much for your hobby, I suggest a bit of Googling, and trying to match. Be aware, though (and this is something we need to discuss in a later article), large expenses of colour in smaller scales look wrong unless you lighten them and de-saturate them a bit from their original shade.

I'm currently using my three stage drybrush over Sandtex Bitter Chocolate that I use for soil, and then knocking back the very pale final shade of cream/'magnolia' with a wash of Army Painter Soft Tone ink, which also has the advantage of restoring some of the surface detail if I've been a bit heavy-handed. But it's up to you - that's one specific rock colour/shade out of a wide spectrum from reddish to almost grey, and many points in between and outliers.

Granite, showing its crystalline mix.
Granite is an interesting crystalline mix, and if you WANT a granite keep (say), the reason it looks grey is that it's a mixture of white quartz crystals and other darker ones, not because it's actually a uniform colour! And some granite can be pink.

Ok. So. Anyone any suggestions for a water-based equivalent to Army Painter Soft Tone that I can buy in larger quantities than 15ml droppers? I may have a LOT of stone to paint.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A couple more notes about the Peninsular/RoB boards

Got the second one grassed and the third undercoated tonight. Managed to achieve a sparse grass effect in two different ways: a) by sieving the grass from about a foot higher than usual (effect visible in the right hand corner of the bottom board), or b) by just stippling the PVA onto the area in question (gives a more broken effect - see front corner of board).

Two complete, four to go.

Still-wet Sandtex Bitter Chocolate... I've intentionally been a bit sloppy
in the dark recesses of the rocks.

Finished bar sealing with a  dilute PVA spray.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Another board, another project...

Managed to cross several things off the list today:
  • the next tranche of Meeples and Miniatures recording sessions have been planned, which barring unforeseen events should keep you all in episodes till Christmas
  • The next Realm of Battle board has been dry brushed, ready for flocking tomorrow....
  • A little work has been done on Sekret Projekt P, just to see what else I need to acquire...
Eye's a bit sore of late, so that's your lot, terse though may be. Back to the doc on Friday, so...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Gladius Publications


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Peninsular rocks - final touches

General consensus on the Citadel hill (which I brought down the club yesterday) agreed with mine - rocks needed to be not so pale/white.


..and after an Army Painter Soft Tone ink wash.
Sorted, I think.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Colour Concepts 4: what colour is... soil?

Every kid knows, soil is brown. Give a five year old a set of crayons, and the one he picks for mud, soil, earth will be brown.

Right. Sure.

Go do a Google image search for 'soil texture'. Now sure, some of those you would fairly call brown, but I'd lay odds that most of them aren't the shade of brown a kid would pick.

I don't know about you, but the soil in my garden at present looks like the image on the right here. It's not rained in the last couple of days, and if I pass Apple's colour picker over it, the colour turns out to range somewhere along this gradient:

The RGB values for both ends of that gradient are actually, as near as makes no nevermind, grey, very very slightly tinged towards red. I'm not suggesting all soils are that colour, of course - far from it. If it's been raining, our soil's much darker, for a start. And yes, soil can be brown, especially if it's got more clay in it: in fact it can even end up distinctly reddish.

In fact... there's a very nice tool the real soil experts use for soil colour. You probably have to be a complete soil nerd to care to the extent the Munsell Soil Colour scale cares, especially since the official chart book is about 200 bucks, but there are a few online versions that show you some of the (many) ranges of colour that soil can be. While I can get detail obsessed about things like horses and heraldry, I'm not entirely sure I can get sufficiently worked up about soil to buy a copy.

Where does that leave us?

Fundamentally, not a lot better off :D There's a huge range of soil colours, and about the only thing we can say is that that hideous milk-chocolate brown GW supplied in their terrain set is nowhere near as common as your inner 5 year old (or someone at GW) thinks. As you've probably noticed, I've been using a series of dry brushes over a base coat to represent soil: the base colour is Sandtex Bitter Chocolate, which is a dark brown that dries a lot greyer than it looks when wet, and then successive layers of progressively lighter creamish/greyish browns to a final drybrush with good old 'magnolia' (basically pale cream).

To a degree, though, it really is 'your mileage may vary'. If I was doing NW Europe rather than sun-dried Iberian Peninsula, I'd use the same base coat but my final drybrush would be a bit less cream, more a light neutral (i.e. not bluish) grey. That said, if you look at the stuff I've done from a distance? it looks grey :D

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Back from hiatus!

No, not me, the Meeples podcast!

I'm delighted to report that not only did we record the usual excessive amount of chatter and banter on Wednesday night (with FIVE presenters, no less), Neil had it all edited by the weekend, and it's up as Meeples episode 172, in which Neil and Rich went to UK Games Expo, the two Mikes, Neil and Dave went to OML4, and I somehow end up actually defending "Tanks" (the new Flames Of War Lite game from GF9) against Neil and Hobbsy.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

WIP Realm of Battle board

After a busy morning (watching James get a cricket bat made), I finally got  domestic permission to use the kitchen table (as our only bigger than 2' square, easy clean surface) to carry on with the first of the Realm of Battle board sections. As before, it's a mix of War World dead, winter and autumn grass, although this time I had some 4mm autumn grass which I applied with a real live static grass applicator - will try and get a close up of how it sits once the PVA is dry.

Grass tufts to follow, and possibly a bit more static grass in some of the bare spots. Also considering an AP Soft Tone ink wash on the the rocks...

Friday, 17 June 2016

Saxon Miniatures vs GB Late Roman size comparison

Per request from Richard Crawley, herewith a size comparison photo: apologies for the quality but the only working camera without a flat battery here tonight is my iPad mini :D

Saxon Miniatures on the left, GB Late Roman on the right. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Too Fat Lardies demo offer

OK, so, as I now a) have both forces for Dux Brit without having to borrow Andy's (which makes me nervous!) and b) am recovering to the point where I can drive distances on an evening again, here's the deal.

If your club is within a sensible distance of Peterborough (90 min drive - including London) and you'd like a demo of Dux Britanniarum or Sharpe Practice 2

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Hereward Wargames Show Bolt Action tournament...

In the luxury of our upstairs tournament area at Hereward, our dedicated team of tournament-putter-onners have arranged that there will be a Bolt Action tournament, "Operation Watchtower"

Details are available here. Admission is the usual £10, including entrance to the show.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Back from the painter

Two leaders and a priest
As my eyes aren't up to detail painting (let's be honest here, folks, my painting is a fair way short of Andy's on a good day!), I elected to get a Romano-British force for Dux Britanniarum painted by a friend of a friend so I have both sides for play testing.

Just got them back today - worth every penny.

Lord, champion and standard bearer
The leaders and elites are from the Saxon Miniatures Winter King set, and the rest are GB plastics from a mix of the Late Roman and Dark Ages sets (as is the standard bearer). Shield transfers and banner are LBM.

I didn't ask for them to be based, as I wanted there to be something of me in the figures.

The block of eight are the elites, the levy are bare-headed.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Peninsular hills 5

And that's it. A few assorted grass tufts and some clump foliage.

Next up, the first two Citadel Realm Of Battle boards. Same approach, just MORE.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

WIP - Peninsular hills 4

Time for the grass. This owes quite a bit to a recent video by The Terrain Tutor on YouTube on how he flocks boards, although I'm using static grass rather than flock.

The key things to be aware of is that grass in the shade or where water pools will tend to be greener than the norm, and grass in shallow ground (for example where there's rock underneath) or where there's direct sun will fade a bit. In fact, it's very like three colour painting with static grass!

So let's go:

The board as it was after a base coat of Bitter Chocolate
and three successively lighter layers of drybrushing.

EvoStik PVA applied - note that I haven't painted the rocks, and
I have left several sparse or even bare spots.

The first layer - War Worlds 'Dead Gress' 2mm grass, and
a cheap and cheerful tea strainer. Applied to the top of the
hill, and around the top of the rocks.
I forgot to take a picture after this stage!

Next stage, War World "Winter Mix', pretty much everywhere
except under the edges of the rocks. Unfortunately, this isn't as
different a shade to the Dead Grass as I expected.
Next stage then - War World "Autumn Mix" applied in all
the little dark recesses under the rocks etc, and also over
the top of some of the 'Winter Mix' - as the PVA's still wet,
some of this will stick, and have a twofold effect. First off
it'll make those areas a bit greener, second it'll make them
a bit more lush, both of which are desirable.

Note that for the bits under the rocks, I applied it by rolling
pinches between my fingers, rather than the sieve.

Next stage - wait 10 mins, invert, tap off the loose stuff. As the
PVA's still wet, the colour won't look right yet, but you should
get the idea.
And here's one I prepared earlier...
Mostly dry now - stage the 5th and last will be to add some
clump foliage etc.

Friday, 10 June 2016

WIP - Peninsular hills 3

 Back from another eye visit (short summary: looking good, swap out the contact lens for another, see me in 3 weeks), with time to drybrush the hills again.

Two more layers, progressively gentler each time. First layer, a sort of beigeish shade that B&Q's 'Colours' range calls 'Mary Jane' (really?) and I call 'beigeish'. 

Second, that staple of decorators everywhere, 'Warm Magnolia'.
I should note for all of these I've been using a 2", cheap and cheerful, decorator's brush - nothing fancy. Also, again, these were taken under fluorescent light so the colour isn't quite what it looks like to the camera. It is, however, starting to look like rocks and somewhat sun-dried earth, which is what I was aiming for.

Tomorrow, grass!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

WIP - Peninsular hills 2

Managed to find an hour (not that I needed all of it) between close of play in the Test match and going out to a band rehearsal for the next stage of work on the hills, namely the first drybrush.

Nothing complicated, really. I went hunting in the workshop for various tester pots etc that we'd used in the past for the Omaha Beach and Dead\s Army boards, and some MDF scenery painting, before I found the original, about 2/3 empty can of 'warm tan', which had been the preferred base colour for boards before I saw the light of Bitter Chocolate. On its own, it's way too light, but as a first fairly heavy drybrush coat...

As you can see from the slight yellow cast, this
was taken under fluorescent light. It looks
subtly different to the naked eye!
The process is pretty simple. Grab some kitchen roll or newspaper, just barely dip the brush in the paint and dab a couple of times on the paper to take the 'wet' off. What I then do is quite aggressively drybrush the rocky areas (which I want a lighter brown anyway) - it's pretty much "paint everywhere except where the brush skips over the recessed detail". Then, with the last of the paint on the bristles, do a more gentle drybrush on the textured bits of the hill, which is more a "paint only on the high spots" approach.

I know a lot of this will be covered by grass, but there are places where I want the grass pretty sparse, so having a convincing earth tone to show through is part of the plan.

 Next stage, once this dries, is another paler, less heavy, drybrush of something around about Bleached Bone, which I'm pretty sure I have a big can of some DIY equivalent to hand. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

WIP - Peninsular hills

...never to be seen again in that colour.
I figured before I go to town on 6 2' square Realm of Battle tiles, I should try a test piece, so I dunked my Citadel 'large hill' (veteran of a number of Dux Brit battles) into a sink full of hot water to strip the current (green) static grass off it. Evidently whatever PVA I used (probably Woodland Scenics) isn't that tough, as it came off in about 10 mins mostly of its own accord.

Duly stripped...
Stage one tonight - a coat of (smooth) Santex Bitter Chocolate, and allow to dry thoroughly.

I wonder how much manning I'll get,
given these are drying in the laundry,
not outside in my workshop :D
Stage two tomorrow will be a dry brush or two with lighter shades of dusty brown, and then the just-arrived box of various War Worlds static grasses will be wielded.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Game of Thrones card game at Hereward

And I quote:
We’re delighted to announce that tickets for our Game of Thrones card game tournament are now on sale. Tickets include show admission, and the event will be held (like the others) upstairs in our spacious tournament area. We’ll make sure you get a chance to check out the show, too! 
The tournament is brought to you by two sponsors:ShirePostLogo2Shire Post Mint have been making beautiful fantasy coins using traditional methods for many years. Tom Maringer started off as a knife and sword maker before turning his hand to official coins for The Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barabarian and of course A Game of Thrones amongst others. Check out their website for more information.File 06-06-2016, 18 04 50 
Banter Behind the Throne is the UKs premier (only) Game of Thrones Card Game podcast. You can find them on Soundcloud or Facebook.

Also note we have our trader list up, as well as signups for other tournaments (with more to come!).

Monday, 6 June 2016

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands ranty-review-thing

Just had this show on the Sky box and finally watched the last episode.


Yes. Well.

It wanted to be Game of Thrones. This much was obvious from the computer animated title sequence and the theme music, which took the Game of Thrones "dum dum dada dum dum dada" rhythm (in 3 to the bar) and replaced it with a "dum dum dada dada dum dum dada dada" four to the bar, but left everything else very familiar. That and there's a certain degree of Lord of the Rings, as Beowulf could pass for Aragorn...

Lots (yay) of female characters who weren't just window dressing, including Joanne Walley as Hrothgar's widow (that's really not a spoiler, he dies in pretty much Act 1 Scene 1). Lots (man, oh man lots) of SHOUTING! I'm sure there were a few characters whose only emotional level consisted of SHOUTING AT PEOPLE A LOT. (One of whom gets beautifully silenced by the title character).

It sort of... moseyed its way along, with a lot of shouting, a lot of dubious fighting... OK. So, you're defending a narrow high-sided bridge and massively outnumbered. Why in Odin's name are you standing out in FRONT of your wide-as-the-bridge shield wall? Also, a lot of 'why is this anything to do with Beowulf'?... Right up until the last episode, which suddenly threw in a name and a relationship and sort of made me want to go back and re-watch all the rest with the benefit of hindsight - only not enough to re-download them. It was kinda fun, and the scenery (NE England) was pretty, though.

And all the factions were, to quote TV Tropes, colour-coded for our convenience in variously blue, red and yellow - shades of all three that were perhaps a bit bright for Dark Ages dyestuffs. But...

(sounds of Mike banging head against wall)

Aside from those conveniently colour-coded cloaks etc, it was all shades of grey just like the Vikings series.

FFS, people. The Dark Ages wasn't called dark because of the colour of people's clothing! And grey's a really HARD colour to make with natural dyes.


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Back from OML4

Home sweet home.

A very pleasant day with Lard-dom assembled in Evesham, organised by the stellar Ade Deacon, in which many games were played, a very large curry and beer bill willingly incurred, and much cheerful bollocks talked :D

I took a couple of scenarios from the Dux Britanniarum for play testing - the White Hart (as it seems to now be be titled), and the Pilgrimage, which Andy's written up from our playtest on Thursday but I haven't yet.

The White Hart (thinks): "oh shhh..."
So. In the interests of preparation, I read through the Dux B combat rules on Saturday morning before the hotel opened for breakfast. Now, you have to understand that normally, Andy kind of manages combat when we run games, so I figured it would be a good idea to make sure I understood what he was doing before I had to run it. Imagine my horror when I read through the post-combat results table and realised that we'd apparently been doing it wrong for the past gods know how long! Time for a double-check with Rich!

Stag at bay...
The fun thing about Dux B raid scenarios is that there's no pre-setup required, as the players set up the scenery. My first lot were Pingu, Bob, Matt and Stephen, who got to quest for the White Hart. It worked, I think, really well. The deliberately chaotic setup (where it's, for example, possible for a leader to turn up half the table away from any units he might choose to command...) made for some i interesting initial moves.

One high spot was a massive sheildwall meat grinder of a scrap that lasted EIGHT rounds between 3 inits of British levy and a group of Saxon hearthguard backed by some warriors, before the levy finally broke.

"If you go down to the woods
The other was a brilliant flash of tactical genius by the British, who'd basically managed to hold up the entire Saxon force with the aforementioned levy and one group of elites, leaving two groups of warriors to head off and kill the stag. They then very deviously split off one group with the stag's carcass, leaving the other (with a noble) to act as a roadblock while the stag was carted off through the woods. Brilliant and a victory for the British.

British warriors get seriously
thumped by the Saxons.
In the second scenario, played by Paul, Jason and Andy, the Saxon vanguard got two moves jump on the British with four groups, and proceeded to smack HARD into two units of warriors in shieldwall and, by dint of some preposterous dice rolling, break them in the first turn.
The British try and rescue the

It was all a bit of a struggle for the British from there on, but they very nearly pulled it off with an incredibly cheeky use of an Audacia plus a Hero of the Age card to turn a British noble into a one man killing machine.

Ade's WW2 snow table
I was understandably a bit busy to check out everyone else's games, but two I did noticed were Ade's fantastic snow table for CoC, and Jim's paint and grassing job on a Citadel Realm of Batle board, which has inspired me afresh.

See, no skulls!
All in all a fabulous day amid great company - thanks to Ade for running it and everyone else for coming and making it awesome.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Operation: Market Larden 4

Two playtests of different Dux B scenarios today - good fun was had by all. And now? Curry and beer...
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