19 October 2019

Making a Wargames mat

I wasn't happy with my array of gaming mats for use with Mortal Gods - they are all too woody, green and more like Northern Europe.  So I decided to experiment and try making my own. The parameters were to be: looks Mediterranean and is easily portable for use on club nights.
The finished product - WIP pics below
I went with a 3 x 4 size, using a cotton based material as a base which was pinned into place with drawing pins (to stop curling) with a few feet extra on each side.  The first step was to make the base layer using caulk which I scraped thinly across the whole surface. Once this was done a few small patches of gravel were made, as was a small track sized road from one side to the other - I used some ballast as the road surface and some kitty litter along the edges. These were all pressed into the soft caulk and left to dry overnight.

I chose a dark coffee coloured caulk to use, so it would be a good base colour
The next day another, thinner, layer of caulk was applied - as it dried and got tacky, I applied a range of cloths and material to try and raise areas and provide a rough surface that would be suitable for drybrushing. In this way I would avoid having to use sand or other materials which are both abrasive to figures and which are prone to falling off when the mat is rolled.  Once dry, I started drybrushing and mat began to take shape.

Detail of the road
After giving the paint an hour to dry I began flocking, initially using yellow, light green and brown and a little bit of clump foliage

In going for a drier climate look, the darker/green colours are at the centre, surrounded by the lighter patches where the vegetation is struggling.

Trying out with some olive trees

The mat was then left for a week to thoroughly dry, slightly lightening in colour as it did.  I then did another layer of drybrushing, including a little over the patches of flock to help blend them in.  I then started adding some Woodlands light green and medium green coarse turf.  This added in additional texture, as well as helping avoid a spotty look by adding clumps in the areas between large flock patches.

I also applied a thinned out brown artists ink along the road edge to define it better.

With the turf laid down, two light layers of watered down PVA were applied with a spray gun to help seal them in place.

Of course, all Greek themed boards look better with a temple and some Spartans in position.

Finally, it was trimmed down to size using a stanley knife and a long straight edge. I just have some drybrushing to do on the road surface, otherwise its ready for battle!  I'm very happy with the outcome and picked up some good techniques during this project. Overall costs were similar to buying a commercial product, but I think I have achieved a better outcome and enjoyed myself along the way.

Thanks to club mates Mac and Gav for their invaluable assistance and advice along the way.

28 September 2019

September Hobby Update

Well, that was a quick month and no mistake: a holiday in Norway and a stack of gaming has left little time for hobby progress. Not an entirely horrible state of affairs I must admit!  I'm slowly getting my painting mojo back though with a return to some favourites.
First up: Noway was fantastic with 2 weeks spent with friend in both Bergen and Oslo.  A great time touring the fjords, climbing mountain and catching up with great friends.  I really enjoyed the museums of Oslo too, with the Viking Ships museum being a particular highlight.

I coudn't resist!
Gaming wise we have played a bit more Mortal Gods which has been great. Reilly has now requested an army of his own and we are ready to start playing bigger games with some different scenarios.
Aled's first game, discovering how fragile slingers can be!
I caught up with Comrade James and the Canberra lads recently, and played my first game of Kill Team against Patch using Reilly's old Salamander Space Marines. Quick, thematic and lots of fun. Not sure why it took a year to get around to playing it, but there will definitely be more!
My plasma gunner and medic take up a flanking position in the ruins
While a Heavy Bolter and auspex fitted marine take Overwatch positions!
Another example of Patch's lovely painting
Comrade James and Adam enjoying some Blood Red Skies action!
Reilly has also ben continuing his weekly D&D campaign, playing weekly with his friends.  He designed his own character figure using HeroForge, which was excellent. He plays a Turtle Warrior (of mature years, neither Teenager or Ninja!) named "Sir Reggie" and it was all there on the site for him to build and arrived quickly.  I enjoyed painting it with him and together we finished it in a day to wreak havoc on the table in style.

Our Hero victorious over an evil denizen!

I'm also getting back into my FIW army, expanding it so that I can use it for bigger games and also on the continent for broader SYW engagements.  I have a friend with French Armies for the period so it will be good to get double duty from it next year. It could be triple, if I can find someone with a Jacobite Army for the '45!

I started with a Mounted Grenadier Officer (Front Rank model) to get me in the groove, and am now doing the first of two more Grenadier units for him to Command.  Once they are done, a Highlander Regiment looks at me expectantly but the tartan and striped sox have me concerned...

In the meantime, I have been moderating a Napoleonics campaign using Sharp Practice set during the Peninsula Campaign and it has been a hoot!
We are 3 battles in now, but that deserves its own post soon.

Hope you are all well out there in the blogosphere!
I hope to catch up with some Aussie bloggers at MOAB early next month in Sydney

19 August 2019

August Hobby Update

The last few weeks have been good hobby wise.  I came home to find Alan had painted us up matching forces for Mortal Gods so we have been enjoying that a great deal, pitting his forces from Megara against my polis of Melos:
Naturally, all the hoplons are hand painted

Alan laments are rare setback on the battlefield
Reilly and I rediscovered our Blood Bowl treasures and had a few games. 1 win to him and 1 tie but lots of fun all round. Now considering playing in the upcoming MOAB tourney...

A painted a couple of fun things from 1st Corps:

There is a black sheep in every family!
I just had to have this priest for an Objective marker in Mortal Gods

And I found out there will be 2nd edition Frostgrave released in June next year, which is very exciting! https://therenaissancetroll.blogspot.com/2019/06/frostgrave-second-edition.html

And now I'm off on a holiday to Norway for a few weeks - cant wait!

29 July 2019

Home Again

Many adventures were had on the seas and over the beaches during the last two months.
All very exciting but its always wonderful to get back to hearth and home.

08 June 2019

Zeppelin Raider

A few years ago I came across a U-Boat board game series which I loved : The Hunters.

Indeed, it captured my imagination so much that I had long email exchanges with the author Greg. I subsequently assisted the development of a Pacific theatre version (Silent Victory), and contributed to the research for a potential future Italian Navy expansion in the Med.  We also met up at Fall-In one year as well which was brilliant (https://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2016/04/silent-victory.html)

Subsequently, I suggested to Greg that his game system would work well with minor adjustment for simulating WW1 Imperial Navy Luftschiff operations: the concept for Zeppelin Raider was born!

So now after a few years of research and playtesting, the game has now been published by Compass Games.  Always great to see you name on a game box and I cant wait to get my copy delivered.

You can read more about the game at BGG, where there are a number of reviews, AARs and errata:

Thats it for me blogwise for awhile - away again with work for a few months.
A small pile of hobby books will keep me company in the interim.

30 May 2019

Outremer: Encounter at al-Hindar

Keen to use my new Outremer figs and terrain, this week we played Scenario 3: Capture the Flag.

My newly finished Mud brick house was the key terrain of the hamlet of al-Hindar, with my Templar Warband facing off against Saracens under Alan’s command.

Our forces entered from opposite directions with the Templars rushing towards the cover that the ramshackle house offered from Saracen arrows. Brother Michael provided covering fire with his crossbow, dropping one of the Arab bowmen, but was taken  down in turn by an enemy archer.  However, he had bought enough time for the Templars, weighed down as they were by their arms and armour, to get to the structure and take cover.  

The Saracen swordsmen approached from the other side and the combat got up close and personal. 

The first to cross blades with the enemy was Brother d'Avesnes, storming around to engage the closest enemy.  The enemy Arif ran to join the fray and Brother d'Avesnes was sorely pressed to Defend himself against both attackers. Some enemy strikes cut through his guard but he was armoured with the True faith and his protection held strong.

With the sun glinting brightly from his menacing two handed Sword, Serjeant Albrecht rushed to join the fray but was intercepted by a Saracen en route (actually the Serjeant failed the faith test for the charge and was then intercepted). They clashed blades briefly before the Albrecht struck him down and then moved to attack the Arif, the large blade slicing through the enemy commander’s armour to wound him.  Taking advantage of this distraction, Brother d'Avesnes rallied, striking down his opponent and then turning to finish off the Arif with righteous fury.  The remaining Saracen archer scuttled away rather than continue to face the wrath of the Templars.

(Those wondering what part Templar Commander Wulfred van Gistel played in the battle, will be bemused to know that he failed 3 faith tests in a row (despite his the Loner rerolls) and spend the entire battle either observing his team or fleeing as Saracens arrows pinged off his armour without penetrating)

In the aftermath of the battle, Serjeant Michael was found dead with a Saracen shaft sunk deep in his chest - another martyr in the cause of keeping the Holy Land safe for pilgrims (he rolled a 1 on a d20 for effects of being Taken Down!) It was a sorrowful conclusion to what had otherwise been a strong Templar victory, and his remains were recovered for a proper Christian burial on sanctified ground.

Game notes: 

·         Shield bash as a second attack – second roll made at the same time? If conducted as a second attack with opposed die rolls, then the defender has another chance to hit in return. We played that the Attacker rolls the two attack die at the same time, to the defender’s single defence dice.

·         Multiple Combats: a 2 v 1 matchup is well documented in the rules, but what happens when a reinforcement joins to make it a 2 v 2 combat? We just split the engagement into two separate 1 v1 melee actions.