Monday 14 December 2009

New Peter Pig ACW cavalry

Linky to the new ACW cavalry which are jolly nice. Single piece sculpts with real dash and elan! Now should I be Buford or Forrest?

Sunday 13 December 2009


Not sure why the layout is so bad on the Rome post but despite editing it several times it still comes out looking crap. Sorry about that.

Today I went down to the 'Wargamer' show in Great Barr. This use to be held in Aston a few years ago, in September if I recall. Back then it rivalled Alumwell for number of traders and demo games. Now though it is showing its age. The number of traders is reduced with no big figure manufacturers there. The games ranged from quite nice to pretty poor efforts.

Nicest game was by the 'Cobridge Old Contemptibles', playing out a Penninsular encounter in 28mm using 'Carnage and Glory' computer moderated rules. A handful of units a side with lots of character and Spanish.

Really nice to catch up with Jon Murphy and Jeff Davies. Jeff was playing for a change as he normally organises and umpires ACW games. I hadn't seen Jeff for some time and it was nice to see him. He continues his enthusiasm for the hobby and he is probably the major reason I am a wargamer and ACW nut to this day. We had a good chat about all things wargaming and beyond.

I also spoke to Jon Murphy about

which is a small event run in Stoke on Trent every year involving numerous wargames competitions. Along with Keith, we may look at expandingay into the an 'open day' with some participation games and demos. I also discussed the possibility of putting on a Peter Pig competition, probably PBI but maybe AK47 as well, with upto 16 or so players. I'll keep you posted.

Keith was there wih Ade and Martin. Especially good to see Martyn for reasons I wont go into, but if by any chance your reading this mate, Lisa and me are thinking of you. Keep rolling those 6's old lad.


Pictures from Rome. My prediciton of good food, wine, ruins and churches came good. We walked our legs off for four days making sure we saw all we wanted to see. The crowds were somewhat off putting as were the prices but all in all a good time.

St Peters Bascillica and St Peters Square. No Pope though.

Service inside St Peters. Felt like you were on the set of 'Angels and Demons'.
The obligatory photo of the Popes body guard.

I'm fairly sure the Pope isn't a wargamer, but this table in the Vatican Museum struck me as a great example of what a wargames table ought to be.

Leonardo de Vinci's 'Last Supper'. (Vatican Museum).

A sneeky photo in the Sisitine Chapel (cameras weren't allowed).

The Colloseum.

Inside the Colloseum showing the reconstructed arena (arena being the latin for sand) floor which was wooden which was covered in sand to soak up the blood. You can also see the below ground structures. A tunnel led away from the Colloseum to the Gladiatorial training camp down which the Galdiators were taken to access the arena.

Myself with Linda and Adrian (parents in law) on the road down to the Colloseum

The Forum. A pile of rubble to Lisa, a piece of magical ancient history for me!

Piazza Campidiglio

Trevi Fountain

The Pantheon. The most intact building from Ancient Rome.

All in all a great trip with some nice memories. Plus we saw some great paintings by Caravaggio and sculptures by Bennini.

Sunday 6 December 2009


Well Christmas is a comin and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to a nice couple of days off with family and friends in front of the box with turkey and mince pies a plenty. Unfortunately, not for me as I am working nights Christmas Eve and Christmas night, which for anyone who has ever had to work Christmas is about the worst shift you can pull.

I have worked in 'public service' for 18 odd years now and worked on Christmas day probably for half of those(*). I didn't used to mind much. Its usually not too busy and the money is nice. However as I have grown older and climbed the ranks, I like the idea less and less. So this will be my last I think, requests for alternative duties next year!

Off to Rome for a few days tomorrow. I have never been to Italy so really looking forward to it. Lots of good food, churches and ruins. Pictures WILL follow!

A pertinent comment by Bob Cordery on his blog 'Wargming Miscellany' (link to the right)about the theraputic nature of blogging made me think about blogging in general. This blog has only ever been intended as a public method of motivating me to paint figures and game more. Whether or not my ramblings are of interest is a side issue. In fact I am now looking on this as a diary, much like people used to right pre microchip. Back then someone might make an entry in a journal and put it way in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen by anyone, until maybe they died and their children find it on clearing out their things. Blogging is really a public diary and if anyone finds something of interest all the better.

More soon..........

Saturday 5 December 2009

'Off to War'

Portbury Knights held their annual PBI competition at Portbury Village Hall today. A couple of hours drive found me playing three games over the day. Great amosphere with a group of people of a similar bent. Unfortunately I only realisec I had forgotten my camera once past Birmingham so again no pictures. My New Years resolution will be to put far more pictures up as pages of just text is a bit dry.

It was great to meet up with Kevan Gunn again. A gentleman and a scholar if ever there was one. He must surely be the most travelled PBI player out there, hailing from north of the border as he does. He really taught me the game at Bournemouth earlier in the year despite him being somewhat under the weather. So he is the one to blame from me now having a PBI competitive record of 0-6! Still, winnings not everything.

And so it proved as I lost all three games today using my late war US troops. First game against Mark Robinson who was a real gent throughout whilst still kicking me all over the place. Final score 135 -3 to Mark.

Next up was David Ley who attacked and my troops held onto two objectives despite heavy losses, although he did take the primary objective. A big win to David, but I did manage 30 odd points.

Finally Peter Sides with his late war Germans. I was attacking again and the dice deserted me towards the end, leaving me with 3 bases on the table, the rest having buggered off on break tests. Over 100 points to Peter, -6 to me. Mmmmm. maybe Kevan is right about a third platoon!

Now I have played in several Brixcon AK47 events, two PBI competitions as well as numerous Warhammer Fantasy tournaments. My win ratio is pretty embarassing. Not that I mind, winning has never been the be all and end all to me on the wargames table. Consequently the only prize I have ever won was at Brixcon when I took the prize for 'the Greatest Hurt' (ie I came last). Which was ok in my eyes as Peter Pig awarded a £20 voucher for doing so.

So, much to my suprise, today I won the Best Painted Army award for my US troops. Not bad for an army painted with a base colour and Army painter dip! I was dead chuffed, especially when Martin Goddard handed to me my prize which was the Farm house and barn from the Peter Pig scenary range which I had been eyeing up as a Christmas present to me from Lisa!. Not only that but there was also some high walls and other odds and ends in the box which will be put to good use for my PBI set up.

I was also really pleased when Kevan took Most Sporting opponent which in my eyes is a real compliment to any gamer, win lose or draw. Well done Kev!

Had a nice chat with Kevan and Martin about the upcoming American War of Independance rules too which we are playtesting at the moment. Although we communicate via the YahooGroup with thoughts and ideas, it was good to talk face to face about a few things. Really liking how these are shaping up and Martin is clearly brimming with ideas.

More soon, a bit tired now after 5 hours of driving,...

Deleted scenes from 'Gettysburg'

As somewhat of an American Civil War nut, the film 'Gettysburg' is pure wargaming nirvana. So on hearing YouTube had some deleted scenes, I thought I would post them here. Hope you don't mind!

Thursday 3 December 2009


I have been painting more Wars of the Roses this afternoon. I have now painted over 1,500 15mm Peter Pig figures this year. Not sure I'll ever paint so much again as I did have a large back log. I have now virtually completed two projects, with them both stretching their neck for finishing line. The Samurai have the generals, 2 maku and some casualties left to do (all basecoated). The WotR have three units of retinue and 1 unit of horse to do, of which I have still to buy the last two retinue units. These are part of Norfolks command on the Yorkist right at Towton. In the scenario from Bloody Barons Norfolk comes on as reinforcements and in fact is not guaranteed to come on at all. I just now the first time I run the scenario Norfolk will be no where to be seen but it wont do to NOT have the figures just in case.

My painting was accompanied by the 'View from the Veranda' podcast which is part of Meeples and Miniatures. With the host Neil Schuck and Battlegames editor Henry Hyde discussing a hobby centric topic, I can highly recommend it to pass the time between coats of paint. This afternoon it was episode 2 discussing the morality of wargaming. Not something I have ever struggled with personally but an interesting debate all the same. There is a link in the sidebar to Neils podcasts which are informative and an excellent break from Radio 5 Live, particularly if Victoria Derbyshire is on!

So, Zombies. It seems you cant move on the Miniature Page for a new company releasing a range of Zombies. Now, I have played my fair share of Warhammer fantasy, owned a large Vampire Counts army and played Zombies!! which IS a great game. But, similar to the Cowboy fad, the Darkest Africa fad and the Pirate fad, zombies seem to be big at the minute, mixed in with the Pulp genre and Wierd War 2 type games. Never say never. Wargames Factory have some very nice zombies but they are not in my scale. I imagine in 15mm any civilian type figure could be painted as a zombie. a 'Shaun of the Dead' style game would be fun, maybe with old AK47 style mechanics or using some of Matthew Hartleys 'Riot' rules. With a wait between now and Peter Pig releasing their AWI rules and figures, maybe I could make my first foray into rules writing. Others seem to enjoy it, but most of them seem to be

a) More intelligent than me


b) More knowledgable on militairy matters than me

However, who can say they know more about fighting zombies than I do? mmmmmm........

Wednesday 2 December 2009


What is it with zombie games?

Tuesday 1 December 2009

The end is nigh

End of the year that is. Time soon to take stock of my year in wargaming, and look to the future to make plans for the coming year.

In the last month or so I have really kicked on helped by my 'Big Push'. I have nearly hit 2000 painting points, of interest to no one but me I know but it has been a very useful exercise to see how much I could paint when I put my mind to it. The target of 2000 points is just over 5 foot figures per day. With my painting style I can the paint 20 in an hour, excluding basing. But when embroiled in the day to day hassle of real life finding an hour can be tricky. Then of course you need the discipline and motivation to actually sit down and crack out the paint. So its not as easy as it sounds. But this year, despite a long hiatus over the summer months, I will hit my target easily.

I have now completed two 800 point Samurai armies, less 4 generals, 2 makus and some casualties. They will be done in the next few days after which I plan a grand review which I will photograph. The Samurai has somewhat taken over the Wars of the Roses project for which I have 5 units of Retinue troops undercoated and sitting patiently waiting for their time in the spot light. They SHOULD be done before years end, but I am in no rush.

I have a table booked for the WMMMS show in March to play Towton. I am still undecided on what to do for the scenary. I am currently leaning towards mdf/chipboard with sculpted hills all covered in snow. The other, cheaper and more practical option is a white sheet which I think I could get to look very nice with some work. I will blog my decision and run a short tutorial on which ever route I go.

I am off now to make a start on my Makus.

More soon...

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Desert Island Books

I saw this idea some time ago on another site, and never one to shy away from nicking ideas I thought I would list the ten books I would like to think I had packed in my suitcase should I ever be marooned. It is a bit like picking which of your children you like the best. There are so many that could have made the list but for one reason or another these are the ones I chose

Iain Banks is an author who isn't afraid to challenge his readers and push the limits of acceptability, whilst still telling a ripping yarn. This was (I think) his first book
and possibly his most disturbing. Banks also writes some great sci fi under the name Iain M Banks. First person narratives often struggle to grip me but this is done very well, letting you see the world through the eyes of a teenage anti hero with some odd habits.
Bond has held a facination with me from the first time I saw Goldfinger as a child on the TV. It wasn't until I was in college that I began to read the books. Other than the latest version of Casion Royale, the books are as far away from the films as it is possible to get. They are very much of their time with frightening attitudes towards women and non middle class white people. Despite this, the stories hold up today with some great fights chase sequences and cliff hanger moments . There is s definate chronology in the books which pays reading them in order. Goldfinger the film does follow the plot of the book to some extent although the laser was a Cubby Broccoli embellishment on Flemings circular saw. Not credited as Flemings best book (From Russia With Love holds that distinction), Goldfinger would be the one I would want with me.

My first historical book by a great TV historian with an eloquence and ability to narrate a story possibly unlike any other in my eyes. Several of Woods books could have made the list but Conquistadores won out purely on its story, about which I knew absolutely nothing prior to this book (and television series). A fascinating tale of greed ambition and exploration with colourful characters such as Pizarro and Cortes. Not a subject I would ever have thought would grip me, but Woods' telling of the story is first class.

Dungeons and Dragons played a big part in my teenage years to the point of obsession that could easily have seen me flunk my exams. As well as playing with
my mates during every spare moment I consumed vast quantities of fantasy literature, most rubbish by some of those books have been life long friends. Magician is one of them which I reread recently and still delivered the goods, 20 years after reading it for the first time. The tale of poor boy turned good, and by that I mean turning into the most powerful magician across not one but two worlds is maybe a common, even cliched theme, but Fiest is a true master of his genre. If anyone was asking what to read as a first taste of good fantasy literature I wouldn't hesitate in pointing them to Magician.

Up there with Michael Wood is Simon Schama. Although primarily an art historian, his tellin of the History of Britian is nothing short of exemplary. Covering all aspects of the development of the nation his writing is very accesible and if you have heard him speak on television, you hear his voice in your head when reading.

My dad read this when it first came out. I must have been around 5 or 6 and I can well remember thinknig how on earth anyone ever managed to read such a thick book. I am sure there are more acclaimed accounts of the Market Garden campaign, but this one, written by a journalist, in an almostconversational style hit the spot with me when I first read it some years ago. Market Garden has always held a fascination for me despite WW2 not being a favourite period to wargame. I think it stems from when my dad took me to see the film and just as the lights went out him leaning over to me and whispering "Now rememebr, the British lose so dont get upset". Of course my enjoyment of the book carries over to the film version too. I have lost count of teh amount of times I have seen the film but it never fails to stir the emotions.

On joing Stoke Wargames Group in 1990 as a student, I became friends with a group of people with a passion fro militairy history that went beyond the massive ACW games we played. George Hughes, ex Governor of HMP Nottingham was one. His ability to tell a joke, quote some Kipling or relate some anecdote about a VC winner from the Great War was legendary. From him came my interest in the First World War and along with others I walked the Ypres Salient and the Somme with him, recounting the events that happened on the those fields so many years ago. This book is my favourite of those in my collection, mainly due to the first hand accounts of the soldiers who were there. 1914 tells of a time before the War and the loss of innocence that came with those first months.

Prior to finding role playing games and Raymond Feist I remember sitting in an English class in primary school, messing around with a friend. When challenged over what I was upto I said something like "Just getting a book, Miss". I grabbed the nearest book to hand which was this one. It is the second book in a set of five, but this one is by far the best and was my first real foray into fantasy. It tells of one little boys adventures on finding he has an ancient power and some of the strange characters he meets along the way. Not the greatest piece of literature and a bit disappointing on a recent reread but it would still have to come with for the memories it holds.

Another easy read (sensing a theme?) piece of history that I took away on holiday recently. Like World War 2, ancients has only ever been on the fringes of my wargaming interests. However Tom Hollands book, and subsequent follow up (Persian Fire?) is a great single volume account of the Roman Republic. I had never heard of Sulla prior to reading this! So, like any book, this one broadened my knowledge of a period I was some what ignorant about, which is about all you can ask of any book.

Although the first of a trilogy, a bit like picking your favourite Star Wars film (got to be the first one right?), I have to go with this book from Shelby Foote in my imaginary suitcase of doom. The American Civil War was my first wargaming love thanks to Jeff Davies and his beautiful Dixon figures on hand made terrain covering a 10x6 table at our club. The first book on the subject I read I think was the Penguin History by Bruce Caton, but Shelby Footes 'Civil War narravitve' is about the most definative coverage of the war there is, just pipping Caton himself. If you have any interest in this turbulent period of American History, get this book. Now. Go on. You'll find it on Amazon for a good price I am sure.

So what does this list say about me? Not sure really other than I like a bit of fantasy and easy reading history. Hopefully nothing that could be considered pretentious, just an honest list of books that sit on my book shelf now. Of course this list could see a few changes next month or next year, but these are the ones for now!
More soon.....

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Sorting out

I spent tonight sorting out my Peter Pig purchases, Wars of the Roses and Samurai, prepping them to go under the brush tomorrow. The Wars of the Roses will get a spray of bleached bone whilst the Samurai will be base coated in black (using black emulsion paint as per Graham Evans tip). Lisa is on nights tonight and will be in bed all day leaving me free most of the day to crack on.

Other purchases were several buildings from Terrain Warehouse including several English type structures for ECW/WotR and some Japanese dwellings for BAW. You can never have too many buildings! I like the idea of a town covering an area around 12"x8" with a few peasants and the odd wagon to populate it.

I also picked up some bits from QRF for my AK47 collection which will be getting some attention soon. A couple of T62's some trucks and a couple of Landrovers.

I also put the finishing touches to a load of rocky ground bits I have had on the go along with hills and rocky outcrops for my desert scenary. All done and looking rather nice if I do say so myself.

I was back at the Doctors yesterday and he still isn't happy with me despite some improvement. Looks like I am off for a bit longer, which helps with the lead pile but is very frustrating otherwise. I feel pretty good and despite over doing it at the weekend haven't had too much of a headache since. The tablets do knock me out somewhat though so I am still not driving any distance.

More soon...........

Monday 23 November 2009


I think I have spoken about this before but having spent the weekend in Reading for the Warfare show I thought I would add some comment.

Reading is a two and a half hour drive away, but distance has never stopped me attending a show in the past. I have yet to attend any shows in Scotland, but I have probably visited every major show in England over the last twenty years or so. Some good, some very bad, alot no longer in existence, the odd one rebranded or else moved venue. It used to be that half a dozen of us from my club would have a day out, particulalry at the old WMMMS at Alumwell (now in Wolverhampton) or Triples in Sheffield.

Now more often than not I go alone, either because I get leave at short notice or else no one else feels like going. If Peter Pig aren't in attendance my spending is greatly reduced, not because of financial constraint but more out of prudence.

Shows dont hold the same magic they used to and I dont see that changing. Take Warfare. Yes, the usual traders were there. Yes, its better known for its competition gaming. But, other than a museum piece Battle of Blenhiem (more in a moment) and the Lance and Longbows Bloody Barons game, there wasn't one other game that made me think 'ooooh thats nice'. Either I had seen it before or else it looked like a club game taken out for the day.

Don't get me wrong, everyone seemed to be having a good time but a couple of the games really weren't any better than any Friday night game down at my club. Now that comment is open for dissection and yes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But if I think of shows like Partizan and York which have numerous games of interest and aesthetic appeal, I just think the efforts at Warfare were in the main sub par.

The one stand out game was Blenhiem. 28 feet by 6 feet with several thousand nicely painted 28mm figures on decent terrain with a display board discussing the battle. But was it a WARGAME? Hmmmm. I think one or two players did move some of the units around and there was the obligatory kapok to indicate musketry along the line. But a a wargame? Dont think so. One of the players told a passer by that there was £20,000 worth of figures on the table. Out of reach of most of the punters on the day I suspect.

Now Warfare is a Wargames show. For wargames, by wargamers to show off wargaming in its best light, hopefully recruiting the odd new wargamer who on seeing something that peeks his or her interest goes on to spend a few quid with a trader.

There are two thoughts on this. I have seen numerous large scale games at shows over the years. I think its the Mosborough and District club that often put on a large Seven Years War or ACW game at Sheffield and Partizan. Unattainable for the individual but as a club project not so. And they play out the game. You know, rolling dice, waving tape measures around and move troops over the table. The Perry twins often put on big games at Partizan and Salute and play out their games with gusto, still leaving time to chat and shoot the breeze. Again the sheer volume of figures may be unattainable (at least in the short term) for the individual, but as a group project not so.

On the other hand I have seen numerous displays at shows where the players set up and then sit back to admire their work. Undoubtedly beautifully painted figures with the obligatory number of vignettes (camp fires, soldiers at ease, wounded and inevitably an execution scene) on superb terrain that wouldn't look out of place on a model railway. But are they WARGAMING or creating a display that would be more suited to a museum?

I would argue that although they use WARGAMES figures, the display they create has little to do with wargaming. I would even go onto say that using card counters cut from a cereal packet that has dots painted on them that I use for playtesting rules is far closer to wargaming than setting up thousands of ponds worth of figures. What are the people who do these displays trying to achieve? Is it a bit like a peacock showing its plume, telling passers by just how much money they have spent? What has it got to do with WARGAMING? Sorry to bang on and yes its their money, their time and this hobby is a broad church. If I had seen any dice rolling with the odd cavalry melee going on it would have grabbed my attention more. But despite my interest in Blenhiem, it left me underwhelmed and disinterested. I doubt any newcomer, at his or her first show looked at the display and thought, I'll have a go at that. £20,000? Blimey.

Sorry, rant over.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Game with John B

John came over for a game on Thursday night. Its a good while since we have played and it was great to get back going again. Hopefully the first of many encounters in the near future.

We have a long history of gaming together. Napoleonics would probably Johns first period but I would guess ACW comes a close second. He has a collection of figures that defies belief. Alot of his collection came from me when I would spend months painting figures, game a couple of times with them before my 'butterfly' tendency took over and I needed to fund the next project. His largest collection is 28mm Napoleonics, of which he has thousands, all of which are professionally painted.

Anyway when John said he was free for a game there was only one period I could chose and so somewhere in Northern Virginia my Rebs prepared to defend their homes from the Yankee invaders. This farm was one of Johns objectives, here defended by a much depleted unit of Lousiana Zouaves and two batterys of artillery. Unfortunately for John he struggled to get anywhere near it.

Here we see what we christened the 'Bloody Angle' (clever eh?). My veteran boys held this position, very nearly to the last man. Just in the background can be seen the 'rocky little round hill' that was Johns main objective.
On my right flank this unit of raw Rebs held this wood against repeated attack, despite the odds stacked against them. I promoted the officer in the field and this particular unit, depicted as a unit that has just taken some hard pounding will now be classed as trained/average troops from now on!

Here John contemplates his next move, eyes fixed on the farm that may as well of been on the moon!

A dramatic shot of Johns Zouaves (veterans) in a protracted firefight with my veteran Rebs lining the fence. John was unlucky with his rolls for Action Points for 3 successive turns and just couldn't get enough points to push home the attack. If he had, he may have gone onto take the rocky little hill.

Here we have the rocky little hill, lined with Reb guns that for the majority of the game were low on ammunition. I just couldn't afford a turn of not shooting to replenish the caissons. In Civil War Battles, artillery can seem quite ineffective at long range, but any hits take their toll when it comes to the morale effects.

This is Johns flank division tasked with taking the hill. His artillery, shooting at long range throughout the game struggled to make any impact.

It all ended with a good win for the Rebs, which meant a win for me! How unusual! I like to think I was gracious in victory.

John, on the other hand blamed the orange Peter Pig dice. But then who care what a loser thinks! Only joking John.

A good game that was accompanied by some period music throughout (Glory and Ken Burns Civil War soundtrack in the main). John was gracious in defeat and took his poor dice rolling very well. It was nice to see someone else roll so many ones.
I'm just back from Warfare in Reading where I played in Peter Pigs demo WW1 game using PBI and true to form I lost. Picked up lots of bits as well as my preorder from PP. Some lovely 'vignette' pieces from Donnington Miniatures medieval range, actually designed for their beautiful Hundred Years war range but eminently suitable for WotR. It was nice to see Bloody Barons being played on the Lance and Longbow stand. I didn't get the name of the chap running it but we had a nice chat about the game and proposed ammendments. He was fighting out the Battle of Barnet which looked lovely and has spurred me on to get my Towton game up and running.
More soon.......

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Back from the wilderness

Well the computer is fixed. I'm now wireless so can go anywhere with my computer, even upstairs!

Its amazing how much time you can find when The Miniatures Page isn't calling you or you can't check Amazon for books on Samurai Heraldry. Its sort of liberating in a way and sort of like you feel your missing out on something in another.

Although I am proud to tell people I dont play computer games and hence haven't been caught up in the Call of Duty furore, I can and do spend several hours a week surfing around t'internet, often at nothing of any special interest. It beats Eastenders but takes up valuable painting time.

Its not often I find anything new but there are certain sites I will check out almost daily. The Miniatures Page is one. It seems to be THE place to catch up on whats going on in the hobby. The TMP forum is interesting at times but can turn into a bit of a witch hunt at times. Various Yahoo Groups are also a regular destination followed by the (relatively) new trend of blogs.

On the subject of computer games, I gave up playing them aorund the time of the Sega Megadrive, in the early nineties I think. They have just never held my attention for long. I do like the look of some of the trailers you see for these games, with almost Hollywood style production but they just aren't my bag.

I spoke to a work colleague the other day about computer gaming. He had jut got hold of Call of Duty and admitted to playing it into the early hours which accounted for the bags under his eyes and constant yawning. Best game ever in his opinion. He plays computer games for hours on end much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife and he feels more than comfortable discussing his latest game down the pub or at the dinner table. People listen and take in what he says and show some degree of interest. There is no questioning of this mans decision to sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end. It is an acceptable way of a grown man passing his time in most peoples eyes. It takes no great effort on the players part other than to develop the necessary skills to co-ordinate his fingers and hands to hit the right buttons at the right time.

Now, although I am not embarrassed in any way about my chosen hobby and most if not all of my family and friends know about it, I never feel right talking about it in the pub or as an after dinner topic of conversation. On the od occasion I have done so the reaction is typically one of mirth at besr and ridicule at worst.

Toy soldiers, little men, do you go 'bang bang', do you dress up and 'oh I used to play with toy soldiers as a kid' are all phrases and comments I am sure any wargamer of any standing in the hobby has encountered many times. Nobody seems to take the hobby seriously or gives the wargamer any credit above the fact you aren't at least spending your money on booze and loose women. Not that I mind. I dont give two hoots to be honest. My line of defence was that the hobby is so much more than playing with toy soldiers. In fact that is only a small part of the hobby. I talked about the research and interest in militairy history with a collection of relevant books that shames the local library. I talked about the creative side, learning how to paint the figures and make the scenary and the time and effort these things take. I talked about the rules writing process and the analytical skills used in the design and interpretation of ideas and mechanics. I talked about the social interaction with others with a similar interest, friends you make the length and breadth of the country and further afield that you actually meet face to face. I talked about the industry and how the people who make the figures and the skills they have and how they very often interact with their consumers, not just on a retail basis but a social basis too, afterall most of them are wargamers as well.

But alas my diatribe would fall on deaf ears. People it seems are far more interested in the bloke who sits on his own in a dark room bashing hell out of his computer killing computer zombies or whatever. Each to their own I guess.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Off line

Due to some cumputer problems that need sorting I will be off line for around a week.

Back soon!

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Painting points

Church from Peter Pig. Based on 6" square of cork tile for PBI

Pair of Normandy houses with rear yards again on 6" square of cork.

Pair of Normandy shops.

Of interest only to myself is the fact that I passed points total for last year a couple of days ago. Not bad considering i had fallen so far behind schedule. I guess a knock on the head has its benefits after all! Can I push onto 2000 points by years end? No reason why not. I have on the go at the moment 5 large buildings from Peter Pigs Normandy range. I painted some of these a couple of years ago and sold them for a very good price on Ebay. I may base them up on the cork tiles again but undecided as yet. Each of these will earn me 10 painting points. Possibly under selling myself as I would say they take longer to paint than 10 figures but I'll stick to my system of 5 points per building. Each of the Peter Pig models is actually two buildings joined together.
I finished my early war Russians for PBI too, but still undecided whether to go with snowy bases on them. I have 4 T34's and 2 self propelled guns (possibly SU100's but I'm not much of a tanky) on the go. Again I'm undecided whether to do them in a white wash scheme or not. There was a nice article in Wargames Illustrated a couple of months ago where you paint the tanks green then put toothpaste onto areas of the tank where paint would wear off through general use. Then spray the tank white, let it dry before rubbing off the toothpaste creating an effect of paint chipping. Sounds a bit too much like Military Modelling to me and I'm a wargamer so I may just go down the 'paint it green and weather it with some brown paint' route.
I'll let you know and put up some pictures.
I am now going to Warfare ( as Lisa is visiting friends just outside Reading. Due to doctors orders I can't drive any distance at the moment hence missing Stewart Meechams Bloody Barons day in a couple of weeks. So an order will be going into Peter Pig later tonight or tomorrow to replenish the reduced lead pile.
Looking forward to it as although I went to September Partizan I went from a night shift and was knackered and at Derby I only went for a couple of hours due to work in the afternoon. Its a good show that I went to a couple of years ago (maybe 5?) at which I bought Patrols in the Sudan. I'll also be looking for an impulse buy or two!
Oh, and following advice from the great and the good at Wargames Developments (see link), I have decided to go to the Conference of Wargamers next year. More on this soon.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Random musings

I think I have mentioned before that my first book on wargaming was from the old 'Know the Game' series, with input from WRG. I must have been around 10-11 years when my dad bought it for me and one section in particular fascinated me endlessly. Half way through the book is a battle report between Sassanids and Romans I think. All black and white and the pictures are quite small. There is only the briefest of summaries of what was going on with no real mention of rules mechanics but I studied those pictures over and over again to imagine what it was like to play a real wargame.
Having picked it up again at Alumwell back in March, it was definitely a case of 'rose tinted spectacles' as the book now is obviously dated and I doubt would be of much help to anyone looking at getting into the hobby. But I'm glad its back in my collection
I have a small collection of 'classic' wargaming books, including Featherstone, Wesencraft, Sanders and Quarrie titles. My absolute favourite though is 'Wargames Tactics' by Charles Grant. I first came across this book at the local library in my early teens and picked it up at a show several years ago. Unlike the 'Know the Game' book, this one does stand the test of time. Despite a lack of photographs the book conveys a great sense of what the hobby is all about. It describes battle reports from various periods of history beginning with an early Ancients clash upto the American Civil War with the fictional battle of Seminole Ridge. The Napoleonic report of French versus Prussians at the (ficitonal) Battle of Edelweiss was a firm favourite as was the Seven Years Wars clash with I think Croats carrying out a flanking manoeuvre to fall upon the Prussian guns. Amongst the 'Old School' types this title is considered a classic and is a constant bedside companion for me.
Which brings me to Neil Thomas' Ancient an Medieval Wargaming. Now I haven't had a chance to play using the rules therein as yet, but I did spend last night reading through it and taking a look at the battle reports. I have to say I am a tad disappointed with what I have seen so far. The rules themselves seem only a small step away from those Featherstone wrote 40 years ago. Nothing particularly innovative or exciting. Figure recommendations for the army lists seem to fall into two camps either 'no plastics yet but some ranges in metal' or else 'plastics available as well as metal'. Some pointers to manufacturers (other than the odd one or two you get) would have been nice.
Also, as a book seemingly intended to be available in the high street for casual browsers to have their attention grabbed, the book assumes some prior knowledge of the hobby and in a couple of cases refers back to Neils first book on the hobby 'Wargaming an Introduction' again seeming to assume some familiarity with that title. Not at all a particularly bad thing, but if it is intended to grab newcomers and show them the joys of this hobby I feel too many assumptions are made.
I am not condemning the book just yet and will certainly give the rules a go (particularly if I can find that article in Slingshot by Graham Evans). The battle reports are ok, but in todays day and age, photographic representations of the battles at various stages would have been nice rather than the maps provided. Cost of course may have been a factor, but I could certainly have done without so many pictures of ancient figures that are in the main old ones from Miniature Wargaming magazine.
6/10 from me.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Oh my..........

1 minute ago there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a lady thrusting into my hand a box.....inside which was Neil Thomas' Ancient and Medieval Wargaming. Guess I know what I am doing for the next hour or so!

Best game in ages!

Last night Keith and I had a great game of Civil War Battles. It was an unusal club night in that we were the only attendees from our room which is unusual as we normally turn out 5 or 6 regulars. The rest of the club was well attended and throughout the evening several popped in to have a look at what was going on.

This was the first time Keith had played CWB using the pre-game sequence and we had a real blast with it. We rolled off for who played Union or Reb with Keith taking the blue bellies. It was also the first time either of us had used cavalry (rude not too having painted them up this week). Keith had two units of raw cavalry and I had 1 unit of veteran.

Despite me putting more dice into being the attacker, Keith won out beating me by 1. I coped well with the lates/lost sequence only losing half a dozen bases and two units out aside as reinforcements. On the events section there were a few swings in fortune. Most interesting was Keith winning the cavalry event meaning he could put one of his cavalry units in any scenary piece of the table. Which he promptly did, placing one of his units in a wood behind my lines and very close to the farm objective. This had dire consequences for my Corps general who was now the closest target. First turn of the game the dismounted cavalry opened up and popped my general between the eyes.

The performance of the dismounted cavalry was a theme as both sides units performed very well. Maybe too well, with them being able to ignore the first hits against them and moving through scenary without penalty.

The game swung backwards and forwards with Keiths inital attack against the farm objective being beaten back and then coming on again to take the farm by games end. The 'far' objective was the rocky hill which I managed to hold up until the game end when a brave veteran brigade finally succumbed to concentrated artillery fire and the Union infantry advance that ground onwards.

We played from around 8pm finishing at about 12.30am, mainly due to chatting and shooting the breeze. The game countdown after 8 turns was still on 7 which was a result of me rolling lots of 1's and 2's, meaning that my boys were always going to struggle to hold the objectives. The final result was 120 points to Keith 25 points to me. Which is a 'War won' result for Keith.

So a sound thrashing for the rebs and a defeat that would take some time to recover from. Fortunatley the Union are reknowned for tardiness in following up success so the Confederacy will live to fight another day!

John B came into to watch the final turns and was unsuprised to see my lack of battlefield success. I think he was intrigued enough to want a game so I will sort one out as soon as possible. I had to leave my stuff at the club due to the late hour though so it wont be this week.

No photos as I forgot to take the box brownie. I used a new cloth that I painted on roads and sprayed in various greens and browns. Looked very nice. The cloth itself was the green felt sold buy S&A Scenics

with templates for the woods made out of the left overs from cutting the cloth down to 6'x3'.

No painting yesterday. I may try and get some done today but in all likelihood tomorrow will be the next brush time as Lisa is out at a health spa.

More soon....

Thursday 5 November 2009

Day 7

This is my last post for the big push. Seven days of intense painting have seen me score a grand total of 309 points. Today I got through the unfinished Ashigaru plus a unit of 18 Samurai and 18 Ronin. I have painted 6 units for Battles in the Age of War which considering I had been worrying about isn't too bad in my book. If I had another week like this one I could be playing a 500 point game the week after!

The Samurai by Peter Pig really are very nice and for a novice painter of Sengoku period miniatures they have proven remarkably easy with one or too bits of artistic licence here and there. From three feet away they really do look the business. I may do a group shot of all of the figures painted in the last seven days tomorrow or else over the weekend.

Still waiting on Neil Thomas' Ancient and Medieval Wargaming which is no bad thing as it will surely distract me somewhat when it does come. Should find out tonight whether or not I can make Warfare at the end of the month to place my pre Christmas Peter Pig order.

Today: 60 Total for the Week: 309

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Day 6

Nearly finished another unit of Armoured Ashigaru today but spent some time organising the figures into units ot see what I had. I have prepped a unit of Samurai and a unit of Ronin. I am missing a couple of bits but basically have everything I need for the moment. I would really like an Ikko Ikki army but that may be a new year purchase possibly at Vapnartak in York.

I have been web trawling for some info on Samurai. I am unsure how uniform armys and clans were. Was there massed uniformity throughout an army or just within a clan? I said before that I am aiming for historically inspired as opposed to historically accurate so I guess in the end it doesn't really matter but I would like to know for my own peace of mind. I have drawn a blank so far.

So nothing added to the total today, but I anticipated a good 40-50 points tomorrow!

More soon....


Something has been gnawing away at me for some time and that is plastic figures. I am not talking about the super dooper, new fangled, latest wargames craze totake over the known world releases by the Perry twins or Warlord. I am on about Airfix, Hat and the like.

A mate of mine has been collecting plastic armies (filled out with the very occasional metal 20mm figure) for years. Thats Martyn by the way who you can see in previous posts. He gave up on mainstream metal years ago when a 25mm figure reached 80p. Then there was a very nice website years ago by I think a bloke called Steve Burt. Lots of interesting content on ACW, WW2 and other bits all played out using vast hordes of plastic. Thats not to mention

which if ever anyone needed inspiration to have a go at plastic then this is it.

Oh and an article in a Slingshot last year (maybe the year before) by Graham Evans on trying out the rules in Neil Thomas' Ancient and Medeival Wargaming book using 20mm plastic figures.

Now I have played and painted with 15mm Peter Pig for several years almost exclusively. Call me a fanboy but the RFCM rules and PP figures have covered everything I have needed or wanted for some time. But I have had a festering thought that a bit of diversity keeps the mind and soul fresh. So I have ordered Neils book. I have had a look for Grahams article but I think it may have been thrown out (heresy I know). I have perused

I will speak to Martyn to see if he has any spares. I seem to remember on the Society of Ancients website something about a show demo using plastics letting you have a go at being Alexander or Hannibal. More investigation required there. Maybe Graham will help me?

To be honest I have always been put off by Ancients. Full of literate bookish gaming snobs. Not my words but I partially agree. DBM and the like have always seemed like too much hard work. So this maybe the thing I am looking for to break me in gently.

Then maybe, just maybe I will by a couple of boxes and have at it. Probably go for Macedonians or some such. I have a large unpainted mound of Peter Pig Romans and Germans that I got very cheap off Ebay last year. Maybe Punic Wars. I wil have to see once I've got the book. From research it looks a bit like DBA where there are near set army lists of a certain number of units so hopefully if I do dive in it wont be much of an outlay. Plus there is a greta model shop close by in Stoke on Trent that sell lots of figures.

No promises or deadlines. But it may be a nice little sideline.

Anyway back to the big push!


Can anyone help? Why is it that some pictures I upload can be clicked on to enlarge whilst others can't.? Very frustrating because some of the pictures aren't too clear unless blown up.

Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

And another thing...COW

I am a member of Wargames Developments and thoroughly enjoy The Nuggett detailing their activities particularly at COW (Conference of Wargamers for those in hte know). I am seriousley contemplating going to COW next year. Been meaning to for some time to be honest. Expensive at over £200 but it does sound the place to be if you want cutting edge gaming and thought provoking discussion. As a somewhat shy type though, I am told all of the single rooms are already allocated and I would have to share with a stranger. Now I've got nothing to hide you understand but not since my backpacking trips as a teenager have I shared a room with a complete stranger and I have some reservations about inflicitng my ablutions with anyone but my wife and closest of muckers.

Pretty sure I will bite the bullet. I could always take a tent I suppose!

Forgot to do my running total. I have not included the fencing I made in my weekly total but have added it onto my yearly figure.

Today: 24 Total for the Week: 249

Day 5

Day 5 and a bit of a slow down on figure output. Only 24 Armoured Ashigaru today, but htey do have considerably more detail on them and I think I went a bit around the houses to get them done. I decided to spray them white to start as I wanted as bright a red on them as possible. I then painted the whole figure red before blacking in the armour and scabbards and the like. By the time I had done it did dawn on me that black would have been a good starting point as there was very little red left .

My Samurai armies are intended to be generic representative of the period as opposed to historically tied to any particular faction. As a result I will have an army with a red theme and an army with a blue theme. A bit simplistic but hey its my ball and I'll play how want ok? My initial aim is to have two 500 point armies as per the Battles in the Age of War Rulebook. Then I will look to build these up to 800 point armies and eventually finishing by having enough figures to play all of the scenarios in the book.

Here is todays effort. Still on the sticks and waiting for the dip.

The unit based but still awaiting dip. That will have to be tomorrow now. I think they look rather nice.

Some shots of the Confederate cavakry now in various stages. Here we see them on their bases with either a light grey or kommando khaki painted straight onto metal.

A bit of detailing follows with some given light blue trousers, various shades of brown for hats belts and the like and some metal for the carbines or swords.

Finally they get some Army Painter Strong tone painted on. This is a dark brown varnish as opposed to my normal dark tone which is very dark brown, nearly black. I think it gives the Rebs more of a subtle look. Nice!

A random picture of my favourite colour paint at the moment. Coat d'Arms can be a bit hit and miss with some of the colours somewhat weak in their coverage. This Barbarian leather however is fantastic, particularly when washed with army painter. Get wont regret it! On another related point I have lost count of the number of different shades of brown I have in my considerable paint collection.

Here are the Bloody Barons markers that I finished the basing on today. I think there is a unit of Household troops in there as well. On the shelf in the background are the AWI troops I posted a couple of days ago and behind them some of the 17 feet of snake fencing I have been building over the last few days. Matchsticks glued on top of one another ad infinitum. Been meaning to do some for ages with a bag of a thousand matchsticks I bought years ago. Sorted out now for CWB and Washingtons Army games.
The above picture shows my Bloody Barons basing which is just a mixture of various shades of green and brown flock with some budgie grit for good measure sprinkled over PVA glue. No messing around with polyfilla or the like. Looks very nice for very little effort. Samurai, Civil War Battles and Washington army are getting my usual brown flock followed by patches of static grass. Simples.
More soon!

Monday 2 November 2009

Day 4

As stated yesterday, the Confederate cavalry were under the brush today. I took a few 'in progress' photos which will be up tomorrow or the day after.

Ironic that I bought these figures at Salute and then forgot about them until the grand tidy up the other day. 6 months later I paint them up and what do you know? Peter Pig release new sculpts! So the troopers painted today will have some reinforcements coming sonn, possibly from Warfare if I cna get down there.

I have so far painted 225 pts in 4 days which is alot in anyones book. My painting method is quick and dirty, getting alot of figrues onto the table in as short a space of time as possible.

A quick 101 on my method (I've stated this before but sometime ago)

1. Stick your unpaiinted figures to something to hold whilst under the brush. This can be the whatever you will be basing them on such as the plasticard bases I use from Peter Pig or else lollipop sticks or even bits of cardboard, old paint pots or corks from wine bottles. Anything so that you dont have to get your greasy fingers on the paint job before varnishing the figure.

2. Basecoat your figure in the predominant colour. Thats right no black or white undercoat. So Union troops get something similar to Ultramarine blue painted directly onto the bare metal.Get into all the nooks and crannys. Leave to dry or if in a hurry use a hairdryer on cool setting to speed up the drying process.

3. Detail next. The Confederate cavalry I have painted today had various bits picked out in browns and greys. I'm talking about belts ammo pouches and straps. Also because I like my rebs looking 'reb like' I give them different coloured hats and trousers. In fact I base coated half in a light grey and the other half in 'Kommando Khaki'. The trick is to use colours lighter than you might otherwise using more traditional painting methods. Also one of the advantages of my style is that you dont have to be too precise. The odd slip when painting straps or belts will be covered up in the next stage.

4. Dip! I use Army Painter strong or dark tone which I paint on using an old brush. Others advocate various woodstains like Ronseal or else 'Future' or 'Kleer' acrylic floor varnish with ink or paint mixed into it. The GW washes such as Devlan Mud and Ogryn Flesh also have a similar effect. Black Hat Miniatures have a product called 'Super Shader' which I think is acrylic based although I have not had good results using it so far. Which ever suits your eye or your pocket cover the figure and leave to dry.

5. Varnish using a spray sealant such as GW's Purity seal or a polyurethene varnish that you paint on.

Prior to discovering this method of painting I would undercoat black and then build up each colour in a couple of layers highlighting as I went. Yes the figures looked nice when held close up but boy was slow! I might paint one unit of 20 odd figures in a week. And the benefits of those highlights that were evident when held under your nose were somewhat lost when seen from gaming distance of 3 feet or more once on the tabletop.

I am a gamer very much first. If I could afford to have the amount of figures I want painted done by a professional I wouldn't hesitate in getting them done. I often wonder what I would have done first should my numbers ever come up on a Satruday night! Painting and modelling come a distant second in my hobby priority and yet its what I seem to do more than anything else. At least with my quick and dirty painting style I get through hundreds of figures rather than tens. Since starting painting like this last year I have painted more than ever before (despite a couple of long periods of absence for one reason or another.)

So I am a happy bunny. My figures will never win any competitions or plaudits for style but they are a good wargaming standard and beats having them sitting in a dark drawer never ot see the light of day.

Total today: 56 Total for the Week: 225

More soon.............

Sunday 1 November 2009

Day 3

Things continue a pace. I will do a photographic post at the end of the week to show you what I have managed to get done, but judging by the first three days I am going to smash my target.

Today I have been painting all of the various markers for Bloody Barons as well as the Generals. That is a total of 76 foot figures and 4 cavalry for a total of 80 points! That was in two sessions today morning and afternoon. I prepped the Confederate cavalry so they are ready to go tomorrow. That will be another 50-60 points.

To pass the time I listened to a couple of podcasts. Firstly 'D6 Generation' which is a real hoot run by Russ Wakelin, Craig Gallant and Ray 'Hollywood Grainger. Russ used to run the 'Dakka Dakka' website dealing with mainly 40K. The podcasts deals with a whole host of gaming subjects from GW games to board games and everything in between. Although the subject matter isn't always relevant to my interests I find their discussions very entertaining and almost want me to take a look at board gaming a bit more closely.

The other podcast was Worlds End Radio, an Australian GW centric podcast covering all aspects of the GW hobby in a freindly and informative style. Not everyones cup of cha but it certianly helps to fill in the gaps when Radio 5 is slacking.

Music or else background noise has always been important to me when painting. Generally soundtracks like 'Civil War' from the Ken Burns documentary, 'Glory' or 'Cold Mountain' for Civil War inspiration, 'Gladiator' for pretty much anything, 'Saving Privat Ryan' always hits the spot as does 'Platoon'. If not one of these, then Radio 5, 4 or 7 are good for topical discussion, sports commentary or comedy. I rarely paint in silence and when something grabs your attention it does seem to make the painting fly by.

Total today: 80 Total for the Week: 169

Saturday 31 October 2009

Day 2

Good day today. 24 Armoured Ashigaru in light blue and black, 24 Household foot for the Bloody Barons and 16 Union Dismounted cavalry for CWB making 64 figures. Not bad for a few hours whilst listening to Radio 5. Fortunately Keith rang giving me a break as my eyes were ready to go!

Organised a game of CWB at the club with Keith for next Friday which I am looking forawrd to. We will use the pre game sequence and have at it! Some new scenary in the shape of a load of snake fencing which I started yesterday. I may have some cavalry on the table if I can paint the Reb cavalry I prepped yesterday. The Union cavalry is now done, just in time for Peter Pigs resculpts.

I need to finish the bits and bobs for Bloody Barons so they will be first under the brush tomorrow. I may try and prep some more Samurai tonight but I seem to be missing command packs. Either I forgot to order them or else I already have them but don't know where they are! I will have a scrounge around tonight but after my clean up a couple of days ago I am not hopefull.

More soon.........

Total for day: 64 Total for the week: 89

Friday 30 October 2009

Day 1

Day 1 of the big push. I painted my first unit of Levy Ashigaru. 24 figures in browns and creams. They look quite nice for my first effort. For some reason I photographed other bits but not them! They only took an hour to do but I was short of time due to other bits and pieces.
The following pictures were all done over the last couple of days and all have been basecoated and then army painter brushed on. All require a coat of matt varnish hence the shine.
A unit of American troops for Washingtons army. These are all from pack 26 'Militia firing'. Need the command figures which I will order shortly.

Not the greatest photo as still getting used to the camera. Lovely figures though with lots of character and variation of kit within the pack.

They are actually paintd as 6th Maryland with grey coats with green trim. They have blue stockings and trousers in a variety of colours.

A bit shiny that will be sorted with a coat of purity seal.

These are the Essex minis in cloak coats. Again a bit shiny and the base needs static grass applying. Nominally they will represent Irish troops hence the green flag.

A regt of Union cavalry actually painted a few months ago but only based today. Again they will be matt varnished with the other bits sometime tomorrow. Peter Pig are redoing their ACW cavalry so a few additions coming soon.
Hopefully a lot more painting tomorrow.
Total Day 1 - 24pts