Monday, 22 April 2019

The Miller's Tale - Episode 6

Episode 6: In which Mike talks about responsibility.... (ooo! scary!)
Links to things mentioned in the podcast
If there's anything I missed, please let me know. I'm keen for any feedback, obviously enough - you can comment here, or if you'd rather it wasn't public, by email to

[Apologies - I do appear, on editing this episode, to have had more of the tail end of a cold than I remember - I've done my best to edit out the heavy breathing where I can :D]

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Beach boards 6 - more rock experiments

A happy Easter those of my friends who celebrate. Been a bit of a fragmented day today, largely due to two visits to church and sorting out a parental crisis (Mum's Kindle - 7 years old - died, and she's pretty lost without stuff to read (has eyesight worse than mine, so the ability to essentially make any book large print is a huge win for her, and Amazon in their wisdom only have one Kindle with page turn buttons any more), so there was much sorting out of how to get her a new Kindle Oasis ASAP)...

I managed to pop in and out and do some more rock tests, and negotiate a free morning with the Domestic Goddess tomorrow to edit and post the podcast. Re the former...

Another spare bit of pink foam. This time I hacked it about a bit with a long-bladed craft knife.
Note: for this you really need XPS foam (extruded, not expanded) variously available in grey, pink and blue these days. The white expanded stuff used for packing won't take the detail. 
Texture applied with foil rollers as before.
And then hacked about a bit with the blunt serrated knife, then undercoated with an equal parts mix of mid grey emulsion, white acrylic, PVA and water. Slightly runnier, so it got into the cracks a bit better.
I can't remember *exaclty* what we have here, but I think it's (L-R in the seven bands):
- Dilute yellow ochre
- not sure
- Vallejo wash over dilute yellow ochre
- not sure
- rather lightly applied Vallejo wash
- AP Dark Tone
- Vallejo wash and a dry brush of pale cream acrylic

Yes, I should have taken notes.
I think on the whole, the first test from yesterday is the winner. maybe with a much gentler dry brush of pale cream.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Beach boards 5 - rocks part 2 - OMG! WOW!

Holy freaking.....

Anne is wondering why I'm dancing around and cheering, having just got back from the parents at 10pm, popped in to the workshop to .... ok.


Step back, Mike.  Upload the pictures and add captions:

Take some cheap white acrylic, semi-drybrush on the rocks (the Terrain Tutor calls this 'overbrushing') just to lighten up the base coat.
And this is still grey, which is not a good limestone colour. So.... Allow to dry while spending Easter Saturday with parents (mmm, fresh baked hot cross buns by my friend Piers in Doncaster - if you're anywhere near, just BUY the man's bread!)...
Next step. Take a big brush, and a pot of Vallejo's Game Colour Wash.... apply fairly liberally. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Beach board 4 - experimenting with rocks

Only just got back from church band rehearsal after a busy day, so didn't really have time to edit the podcast as have to be off to parents early.

Did have time to do a little on the beach boards, specifically seeing if I can figure out a way to do the limestone rocks on a tester piece. This gallery is a combination of Mal the Terrain Tutor and Ballan Parkway's methods - follow the captions.

Here's a left over piece of pink foam from the
promontory/bay build the other day.  If I could have been bothered I'd
have roughly carved the surface with a craft knife to be less flat, but
for the purposes of this test piece it doesn't matter.

And this is just a piece of freshly screwed up baking foil.
All you do is roll it, pressing quite hard, on the surface of the foam... 
And presto! instant texture.
Same again, but this is the lid from a Gü cheesecake pot,
so it's noticeably stiffer foil. This I more pressed than rolled,
almost using it as a stamp.
...and even more texture. If you just wanted some random
rock, this would do fine. However, I want limestone...
Ideally what I wanted was the double-toothed saw blade off
my previous Swiss Army knife, but in the absence of that, this
old kid's safety knife from our kitchen drawer will do
(with Anne's blessing! 
(Slight focus issue, sorry)
Just use it to gouge horizontal strata in the rock face. The reason for the wider,
blunter blade is it leaves wide gouges and it also tends to rip bits from
the edges, which makes it look less even.
Final stage for tonight, paint with some neutral coloured emulsion and
leave to dry, With hindsight I might recoat with a paint/water/PVA
mix to seal it even better. Yes, I know rocks aren't grey.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Dux on a budget

Apropos of a question on the Facebook group, I've been doing the maths to see what the minimum investment is in figures to play Dux Britanniarum.

Obviously, your best bet at least for starters is going to be Gripping Beast plastics, namely one box of Late Romans, one box of Saxon Thegns, one box of Dark Ages Warriors. Lets have a look:

Dark Ages Warriors: 40 figures
  • 40 with spears (you end up using 18)
  • 16 with javelins 
  • 8 with swords
  • 32! with slings (you will use 8)
Saxon Thegns: 44 figures
  • 32 with spears (you end up using 30)
  • 36 with swords or axes (you end up using 2)
  • 2 officers, 2 standard bearers (you use the officers)
Late Romans: 44 figures
  • 16 with bow (find someone with a late Roman or Byzantine army to sell them to :D)
  • 24 with spear (you end up using 18)
  • 16 with sword - same body as spearmen (you end up using 2)
  • 2 officers, 2 musician/standard bearers (you use the officers)

Currently, GB will sell you this for £60 as a three box deal. You'll probably then need about 6 or 7 sheets of shield transfers if you don't want to hand paint them, at £3 a sheet.

For a starter Dux force, you will need

  • 12 elite
    • 12 from the Thegns box
  • 18 warriors
    • 18 from the Thegns box, or mix in some unarmored and/or bareheaded spearmen in each group from the Dark Age Warriors box so you can distinguish them from the elites
  • 4 slingers
    • from the Dark Age Warriors box
  • 3 Lords and a champion
    • two Lords, plus two figures with axe or sword from the Thegns box.

  • 6 elite
    • 6 from the Late Romans box
  • 12 warriors
    • 12 from the Late Romans box (I'd distinguish these and the elites by using different shield designs - I have these on my elites, for example, and these on my warriors and levy, giving the levy the ones with white backgrounds)
  • 18 levy
    • 18 spearmen from the Dark Age Warriors box, but use heads and oval shields from the Late Romans box (or leave them bare-headed)
  • 4 slingers
    • from the Dark Age Warriors box
  • 3 Lords and a champion
    • use the two Lords, plus a couple with swords from the Late Roman box
This usefully leaves you enough figures to produce:
  • 2 Saxon warrior reinforcements (more if you used some of the Dark Ages Warriors)
  • 4 British warrior reinforcements 
  • 12 mercenary javelinmen
And yes, I know, the Thegns aren't perfect, being a bit late for the era, but it hasn't bothered me or my opponents (or apparently anyone reading this blog) in 5 years of playing Dux :D The other downside is that your missile troops are slingers, not archers (as the late Roman archers are armoured and thus not really right), but this isn't a huge problem IMO.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019


In fact, done recording the Miller's Tale episode 6 take... um... 3. Complete, and has had its first pass at editing and tidy up done. I am however, told by the Domestic Goddess that I am Done For The Evening, so the assemble edit and final tidy will have to wait till tomorrow. 

Posh Lard 2019

Yesterday's hobby activity was mostly planning Posh Lard 2019.

Provisionally, then (subject to enough interest) it'll be Sunday 2nd June at the club's premises in Peterborough. Entry £5 to cover the room rental. On site free parking, handy Wetherspoons/McD's/Subway/Waitrose for lunch. Handy very nice Thai restaiurant/real ale pub about 5 mins walk away for post-game meal, two hotels within walking distance for those who've come a long way, 3 mins walk from the station, 10 mins from the A1.

Assuming it goes ahead, there will be at least:
- Bloody Omaha - 15mm IABSM game run by the club: you can dip in for a morning or afternoon or both if you're mad enough
- 82nd @ St Mére Église - 28mm CoC courtesy of the Gravesend folks
- possibly a second IABSM game if there are enough folks and I can get one of the other club members to run Omaha. :D

I'd be ideally looking for another game or two - we *might* have Brecourt Manor as a CoC scenario if Gary from our club is free.

Rich has said he'll try and make it up for part of the day.

Need really a minimum of 10 folks to make this viable. If you could express an interest on here or anywhere else its mentioned before the end of April, then I can give it the nod or not.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Sally 4th Terra-formers, hobby shopping..

One completed tile with one set of magnets glued in
the right way round!
 Yesterday was a bit fragmented, but I did manage a couple of useful things.

First off, being inspired by some thoughts about terrain (and watching some Mal the Terrain Tutor and Luke's APS videos while sneezing), I dug out the rather heavy box of MDF that's sitting on my bottom shelf that contains the result of a KS pledge for the Sally 4th Terra-formers terrain tiles. They've been on the 'been meaning to do something with this for a while' pile, and as I'm kind of on a terrain-building roll when not writing Dux stuff at present, I figured I should at least check out what I pledged :D

Answer: 33 assorted 1' square terrain frames (one 6'x4' board plus 9 extra). Essentially, for those who missed the KS, they're MDF modular frames into which you insert a 12' square of expanded or extruded polystyrene, and they're held together by magnets. Ash and Pippa down the club have some as well, so I assembled one enough to take it down the club and check we both had the magnets round the right way - now we do.

The annoying thing is they're not *quite* compatible with the Omaha Beach boards, which would be really cool as we have a lot of those boards which are essentially big flat 2' (ish) squares. The Omaha boards are blue craft foam, which ships in 600mm square sheets (hence the 'ish'!). Sally 4th chose to go imperial, and the outside dimensions of the tiles are 305mm (i.e. 1'), hence two Terra-former tiles are about 1cm longer than one of mine. They are the same height as near as makes no mind, though (as they're essentially 2"/50mm foam on 3mm board).

I had a cunning plan to rebate a strip of MDF into the sides of the Omaha tiles to fit Terra-former compatible magnets, but it seems to do this properly and make all the tiles accurate multiples of 1' square we'd need to box in the Omaha tiles in 5mm MDF and fill and flock the resulting edges. Since I have a plan afoot to do some more grass work the boards (yes, again: I'm not happy with the rather 'patchy' look), I may consider this - also, they currently have no edge protection and are getting a bit battered (and as a result you can see the board joins a lot more than I'd like).

Side note: There would be an alternative option to drop most of the Omaha tiles into Terra-formers' own 24" square frames, but they're 20 quid EACH (ouch) and I have 17 tiles (ok, 10 complete and 7 partial, not counting the actual beaches) that would need doing, and some would need cutting about to match our modular hill geometry! Getting a whole bunch (64) of 610mm x 50 mm strips of 5mm MDF cut off a sheet or two would be far cheaper, in the absence of a Sally 4th sponsorship deal, or a lottery win, or a bonus (fat chance of the latter with my employer) :D

And then I went shopping, for a bunch of hobby supplies. Some cheap acrylics for touching up terrain (AP Desert Yellow pots get awfully pricy for large scale terrain work), a fresh can of Rustoleum stone texture spray, a decent amount of my favourite PVA, some impact glue (B&Q own brand No More Nails) for sticking foam to boards...

...oh, and my WarWorld Scenics flock order arrives today.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

More Compendium!

Can't tell you what yet, as I'm unsure if it'll make it into the final book or be held over for a downloadable 10 or so page PDF. Still, it needed to out of my head before I sneezed it out :D

Off to supper and a large Lemsip.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Starting on a watchtower

Been a bit of a busy day today, what with getting James down to London for a BMus degree audition. I also have the bunged-up and sneezing stage of something which may or may not be yet another bloody cold, so the plan to record the last 20 mins of the podcast has been shelved, hopefully only till tomorrow, as I'm trying to reduce my *atchoo* editing *sniff* work*snuffle*load. Besides, I soud bubged up. :D

I did though make a start on the Warbases watchtower: after all you have to have something to put on the promontory. It's one of their fairly early kits, IIRC, and they've got better at making things fit without needing multiple elastic bands and clamps now :D Still. Nice simple design, which I will tart up with filler, coffee stirrers and paint as part of the process.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Another CoC QRS Update

Blame Allan Doran on Facebook for this update, as he pointed out a fix from the Errata, which led me to realise I hadn't actually scanned it for things to fix :D

Pages 2 and 6 will need reprinting for this change.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

CoC QRS update

Rich, bless him, assures me there are no updates from the theatre handbook(s) that apply universally to the master rules, so I don't have to add stuff to the QRS. Note that I will not be creating theatre-specific QRS's. Buy the books :D
In fact, buy the books anyway: the QRS is only a play aid, and it is not a substitute for having the book handy. Besides, TFL deserve your money!

One change in this update, thanks to me actually using the QRS for the first time in a while at Crisis Point! Page 2 has a small clarification re defensive MGs in Close Combat, so if you're printing and laminating you'll only need to print the first two pages double-sided.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Beach boards part 3

Andy (aka "the man who turns my crazy ideas into 3D reality") dropped round today for a while, and we set to on adding terrain to the new beach boards.

(The way Andy and I work is he's much better with large-scale tools than I am, and I have a better knack for visualising and describing what I want in 3D... it's a good team.)

Here's a gallery of what went on today - next up we start texturing the rock faces, a bit more work with the sander and maybe start painting.
A jigsaw to cut the basic outline of the promontory. 
Which sits like so on the board... 
Cutting the edges of the bay out of the excess. 
Annoyingly the sheet of foam we had isn't 600mm wide...
Last bit of spare on that sheet of foam makes the upper layer. 
Andy using the Japanese saw (no spine on the blade) to
do some broad shaping of the access paths to the
...and after some finer work with a long-bladed
craft knife, here we are...
....and a path up the other side as well.
Some Loctite Power Grab to hold the two
halves together
And a little bit of work with the Japanese saw, craft
knife and electric sander to smooth the beach off.
Experimenting with one of the old beach
boards to see how I can do waves... any
guesses how this was done?

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Beach boards part 2

Not much to show today - just finished off the spray on the promontory board, and sprayed another to make a bay.

Managed to persuade the stone texture spray to cough up some texture again, as well, which helped.

Andy's here tomorrow with power tools to add some land masses :D

As you may or may not have figured, the edges are semi-modular, so we can link up multiple boards. The idea for the promontory is to have a flat area about a foot square on the headland that I can swap in various based buildings, such as a Dark Ages watchtower, church or palisaded keep, a Moorish fort, a coastal defence battery etc etc.

Battle Report - 8-Apr-2019 - Pikeman's Lament

As we have another club campaign this year, I figured I'd get a refresher game in against Carl at the club.

Royalist-on-Royalist, as he had the same idea of a refresher as I did, but he had a raiding party (dragoons, no shot or pike) and I had a garrison force (pike AND shot).

It started off like a typical ECW battle - the cavalry had a big dustup on one flank, which I sort of won, at considerable cost, until a bunch of his dragoons waltzed up and broke my gallopers. Was pretty downhill from there, actually: I was having awful luck with activation dice. Carl kept going through all his units without failing, and I kept failing after moving 1 or two. It didn't help that one of my veteran shot broke and ran, on an abysmal morale role, leaving me with one wavering unit of pike, one, likewise, of shot, and a unit of commanded shot that wasn't long for the world.

Good game, though :D Still think it's one of the best of that core ruleset, although the activation rules and my inability to roll dice still bug me.

BTW the unit cards are from here.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

The beach boards

A board. Handily cut
to size by the nice man
at B&Q.
Everyone seemed very taken with the actual beach boards for Salute, so I shall explain. Nay, even demonstrate, as I have a spare bit of MDF and I want to do a promontory as a beach for Dux Britanniarum or similar.

You will need:
  • A board - in my case 9mm MDF, 600mm square
  • Paint
    • Sea blue
    • Sea green
    • Brown/green
    • Brown
    • Textured stone/sand
    • Sand-yellow
  • PVA
  • shingle mix (several shades of basing grit, ballast)
Cheap craft enamel...
And spray...
Start with the blue, and spray a line along the top edge, for about 10cm. I do this in a couple of passes, with the lowest one a bit further away so the edge feathers a bit.

Repeat with green. Again, the art is to make the two colours feather into one another a bit. As I'm leaving space for a promontory, I haven't gone the full width on this one.

More cheap craft enamel...
And spray...
These two sprays were enamel, so I left the result to dry for about 20 minutes, as the next two paints were acrylic.

In fact, they're PSC Army sprays, which turn out to be the perfect colours for nearing-the-shore water: specifically, British tank green and what Valejo would call English Uniform.

Take your pick....

And spray..
Again, spray in horizontal bands, trying to feather in between the colours.

Next step, allow to dry a bit again, then hit with the textured paint. 

Good old Rustoleum...
And spray, predictably
Again we've switched medium back to enamel, but the PSC paints dry pretty fast, so...

Of course, you could do this with PVA and a dusting of basing sand, but I'm really only about suggesting texture here. Also, my can of the Rustoleum decided to sputter and die part way through :D

AP Desert Yellow
All together now...!
Finally, a spray of a suitable sand shade over the stone texture - possibly leaving the odd gap so the paler stone colour shows through in patches. 

I haven't done the shingle because I need somehow to magic up some more shingle mix, which given how random its ingredients are, could be... interesting. Also I need to match up the edges with the other beach boards, which are still in the car at the bottom of the pile. The last step is some gloss varnish to add some reflections - I'm out, sadly. so that'll have to wait as well :D

I'm only really using what I have in the studio - Hobbycraft or similar probably could have provided a range of colour sprays that were cheaper than using up AP and PSC sprays, but the colours were right.

I don't claim to be Mal, the Terrain Tutor (subliminal message: pledge for his book), but frankly, this was so easy... if you wanted (and I might) you could add some incoming waves by texturing with PVA or one of the Woodland Scenics water compounds.

Next time AndyM is around, we'll dig this out, match it up with the other boards and cut some foam for the peninsula.

Till then, enjoy!
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