Saturday 31 December 2016

A return to the AWI campaign

It seems to have been quite a while since I played a game from my solo American War of Independence (AWI) campaign. My last post was back at the end of November. The campaign does not have a set number of battles, but has the possibility of 24 battles dependent upon the weather and ability forces coming into contact (both decided by dice rolls). The winner will be the side with the most victories.

Campaign map tracking the battles. Red crossed swords a British victory and Blue an American victory
A quick recap:
  • British land at New York to make it their base of operation.
  • May 12th - Battle of Flattop Hill - British victory
  • May 24th - Battle of Smith;s Creek - American victory
  • June 16th - Battle of Barwon Hill - British victory
  • West Point is secured by the British
  • July 29th - Battle of Blake's Farm - American victory
  • August 12th - Battle at Lightman's Wood - British victory
  • August 16th - Battle of Reynold's Farm - British victory
  • New Brunswick and surround area in British hands. They now start their move towards Philadelphia.
  • September 28th - Battle of Rosston - American victory
A closer look at the theatre of operations
During the campaign I have been refining my AWI house rules (which are based on One Hour Wargame rules). Over the Christmas period I have been able to gather up my notes and write them up. They can be found on the pages tab at the top.

I now have my board setup ready for the next game and plan to get a game in this weekend.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Medievals and Dark Ages

Having returned home from visiting the kids, I have finally been able to finish painting a small Norman style church I constructed pre-Christmas to add to my medieval buildings. As with most of my terrain and buildings it is simply made with balsa wood and with most details painted on.

A small church either being defended or about to be looted
I will be able to use this type of building in a number of periods
I now need to complete a small bridge for my Hundred Years War games, as I cannot always rely upon fords for crossings.

My next project involves building some Saxon and Norman armies. A few months back I purchased one of the Battle or Britain series by artist Peter Dennis, which provides the source illustrations for printing paper soldiers and some rules. Many years ago I picked up Osprey's Campaign Series  "Hastings 1066 - The fall of Saxon England" and while I have no desire to invest in and paint up the forces, the opportunity to use paper soldiers seemed very intriguing.

The Battle of Britain - Wargame 1066 Saxons-Vikings-Normans
I have been to the local printing shop and had all the required source pages copied on the recommended weight paper. I am now trying to make up a few stands as a test to see how they look and handle. From a look point of view they copied well and I do like the style of the illustrations. Cutting out the blocks of figures is tricky, but not too time consuming. Once cut out they are quite flimsy which will present a future storage problem and questions on their longevity with handling and packing up. As I have a few spare sheets I am going to investigate some different options for constructing them to be more robust.

Trialling construction approaches

The figures themselves are 30mm and are designed for a stand of 40mm width and 30mm depth. My initial thoughts are to use two sets of figures per stand to create an 80mm by 30mm stand. I do like stands of 3 to 4 inches so they are easy to handle, but having small stands may be better for how they look laid out on the table. Anyway, I suspect there will be quite a bit of trial and error with this project.

Friday 23 December 2016

A lack of time to focus on wargaming

A few days ago I took a break from both my Hundred Year War (HYW) and American War of Independence (AWI) tabletop gaming. It has actually been quite a while since I played a game from the AWI campaign. This is mainly due to switching most of my efforts to completing my HYW models and terrain before Christmas. I will be returning to the AWI campaign after all the festivities are over and life settles back to normality again.

I am looking forward to some more of this after Christmas
That being said I did get a couple of quick SciFi games last weekend. I have been tinkering with the rules (again) trying to get a quicker game which will last for only 30-45 minutes. The rules are geared towards units and ideally I would like to have all the figures based on larger bases rather than based individually. So for the moment I just clump the figures closely together, terrain permitting, and I may try and create some bases to slot the figures into should my rules ever become settled. It will also speed up the movement part of the game, which is something I am really liking about the other periods I play which all have biggish bases.

A quick encounter SciFi game using my W40K

During the Christmas holiday any free time I get will be used to update my AWI rules. There are a multitude of notes and changes I have made during the course of the campaign so far. So here is an excuse for another AWI photo taken from a game about a month ago.

American forces line up for battle

Saturday 17 December 2016

Medieval Scratch Built Buildings

One of the final items I wanted to add to my Hundred Years War (HYW) collection was a couple of buildings to represent a town. They had to have a limited footprint as I use a 6 inch gridded tabletop when wargaming and my HYW unit base size is 4 x 3 inches. With this constraint in mind the buildings would be built on a base size of 2 x 5 inches.

When making scratch built items I generally use balsa wood which is 1.5mm thick. Almost like a think card, but I find it easier to cut, light weight and easy to stick. The following pictures show the construction of the buildings.

I went with a simple design to fit the 2x5 inch base

Added the roof 
With the second story another sheet of balsa was added to help  differentiate levels (it helps with painting later)

A second building was to have a thatched roof of PVA glue and fine flock

These are buildings for wargaming and I find less detail equals less damage later when stored. Or shoved into a box. So most of the detail will be painted on. Where there are rough areas I use fine flock to create a textured surface which can get washed or highlighted with dry brushing during the painting process. The painting does not need to be too refined, just good enough to look ok at a distance.

A completed building on the table and in a square with troops
The following pictures show some of the painting process. The roof was painted a mid-brown then a wash of a lighter yellow-brown was applied. Finally a few flicks of watered down dark brown we applied using a fine brush, mainly on the edges and ridge, to indicate a thatched roof.

Having painted the roof the walls were painted with a wash. When dry the detail is roughly added
To get break up surfaces, such as walls, I paint one flat colour then dab on a second watered down colour. This reduces the flatness of the colour and suggests a texture on a flat surface. If I am not happy with the result, a dry brush of a lighter colour will often be sufficient.

A second colour is added to the beams to break up the colour and reduce the flat colour
With windows I paint them a dark grey or brown to keep them in line with the building colour tone. As with most of the painting I water them down a fraction when painting. This also helps when you get something wrong, a quick wipe and the mistake is gone. Once dry I used a fine brush with a black to indicate a window frame.

Finally shadows or accentuation of details with watered down black
Finally, before applying an acrylic sealer, I use a fine brush to add flicks of lines to indicate shadows and brick work as in the picture above.

The buildings with troops and a recently completed Keep

The cost of the houses was about $1.50 for the sheet of balsa wood. In terms of time, one building can be constructed in an evening including drying time. Painting takes just over an hour allowing for drying time.

I get a lot of satisfaction from scratch building terrain. I remember reading all those early wargaming books where there was always a chapter detailing how to make your own terrain. Introduction to Battlegaming by Terry Wise was the most memorable for me.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Medieval Accessories

Now that have played a couple of enjoyable Lion Rampant games and added a Keep. I thought I should get creating a few more mundane accessories such as stakes and pavises to add a bit more interest and variety when playing a game.

A game in progress using the recently completed accessories
As with all my terrain they must be easy and cheap to make. The stakes were matchsticks cut in half and stuck into a fast drying filler spread onto a base. Once dry they were painted and flocked. While matchsticks being square may not be totally ideal as stakes (which would generally be roundish) it is not noticeable except upon closer inspection.

Some archer units behind stakes
A closer look - all figures are Minifigs HYW range
The pavises were cut from 1.5mm balsa wood sheet and a triangle of balsa wood added at the back. Then undercoated in dark grey and brushed quickly on the back with a light brown. Once dry the fronts were painted to tie in with the crossbow unit colours.

Pavises with a recently completed tent in the background
Nothing complicated at the back - just a triangle of balsa painted dark grey and highlighted with light brown.

I still plan to add some buildings and a bridge in the coming week, or weeks.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Medieval Keep

I am planning to expand the terrain available for my Hundred Years War collection. The additions are: a Keep, some houses and a few stakes for archers.

The following pictures show the building of a Keep. It is small enough to fit into a 6 inch square, which I use with my gridded wargaming tabletop, and large enough for one of my large bases to fit into the top.

Using an old spare piece of timber cut in to 5 inch lengths to for a square
Nail the pieces together and add a ramp from some of the off cuts. Use wood fillers to cover nail holes and spread around a bit to create an uneven surface
Create and add a top from some MDF board.
Add strips of MDF board to the top of the keep. Use wood filler to cover nail holes and create uneven surface just like the walls.
Lightly sand, saw some slits on the battlements and seal with acrylic varnish.
I widened the slits with a standby knife then painted with mid-grey
Brush on a lighter grey and paint on details.
Flock the Keep and a unit can be placed on top
My next job is to complete the stakes which can be seen in the above picture.

In the meantime I am continuing to play a game or two using Lion Rampant in a gridded tabletop.

Game in progress

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Hundred Years War with Lion Rampant on a grid

Having finished off the last couple of Minifigs HYW commander models - it was time to try them out with the Lion Rampant rules. As I generally game on a tabletop with 6 inch grid there were a few modifications to the rules mainly to do with movement. This meant there were only two movement ranges - foot at one square and mounted at two squares. When units attack they must able to move into the square of the unit they are attacking.

Game in progress
I chose not to use the leadership rules while I was getting used to the other rule mechanisms. I quickly played one game and was pretty much comfortable with most of the rules by the end of it. These rules have had many positive rules and I can understand why. After playing through them I enjoyed the game mechanisms and rolling a handful of dice for combat.

A couple of stands to represent camps
There are a few additions I need to now complete the HYW. These include a couple of camps, some medieval buildings, some stakes, and possibly a castle.

The first additions have been completed. A couple of tents used to represent a camp. They were made with modelling clay and a cut up toilet roll tube. A toothpick was stick in the middle to finish them off and to mount a flag. Nothing flash but they do the job providing you don't look too close.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Hundred Years War units finished

I have finally finished painting the last of my medieval units which are all from the Hundred Years War 25mm Minifigs range. All units are on 3" by 2" bases, infantry with 10-12 figures and mounted 4 figures. I have chosen to paint the figures fairly simply and without a specific army in mind to provide a level of flexibility when choosing forces.

All the units together
Using the definitions from Lion Rampant there are in total:

4 Mounted Men at Arms
8 Mounted Sergeants
7 Foot Men at Arms
4 Foot Sergeants
3 Crossbows
4 Longbows

Mounted Men at Arms and Sergeants
Foot Men at Arms and Bowmen

Crossbow men and Foot Sergeants

Additionally, I have two commanders mounted singly which I can attach to a unit when playing Lion Rampant. I will be using dice to track the casualties, and each stand has sufficient space at the back to place two dice which will move with the stand for convienience.

Just in case I am tempted to try out a game of DBA using a gridded tabletop. I am making a couple of tents and use up the last of my leftover models to represent a camp. In terms of rules I expect to play mostly with Lion Rampant and One Hour Wargames medieval rules.

Next project

And that should be the last of my painting for this year. My next project is Saxons, Vikings and Normans using printed 2D figures from the Battle of Britain series by Peter Dennis. I have visited a nearby Officeworks store here in Melbourne and had printed the pictures ready for cutting out an assembly.