Monday, 31 December 2018

Welcome to....and farewell to... 2018!

"He drew a deep breath.'Well, I'm back,' he said"

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings

Thanks Samwise, for the perfectly apt quote, from one of my favourite books - and yes, I'm back. Rather apt, given that Sam says this at the end of the story, and here we are at the end of another year...

So on to 2019, new beginnings, fresh starts and all that malarkey. It's hard to believe that it's over nearly a year and a half - July 2017 (!) that I last wrote on this blog. The reasons for the absence have been varied - a lack of engagement with the day-to-day aspects of the hobby, more than occasional reluctance to pick up the brushes, burn out after finishing off projects, cat-based figure disasters (in not so many words - box of figures, top of stairs, cat, box of broken figures, bottom of stairs - insert appropriate expletives), which set back projects for some time, illness, and above all, a frustration with the technology involved in the writing of the blog itself. This last aspect can't be overstressed - basically our old family laptop and my previous phone were so slow, which meant that downloading, organising, storing and uploading photos was taking ages, and it led to the writing aspect of the blog becoming quite stressful. In essence - it was a chore, and I didn't enjoy it. It took too long to be worth it. Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies fame, nailed it on the head for me when musing on wargaming blogs, when he suggested that blogs should be written when the writer feels like it - as much or as little as one wants. It shouldn't be a chore, and should be enjoyable. In my case, it was certainly more of the former and way too little of the latter.

But new tech, and inspiration from other bloggers, as well as the turn of the new year, and ideas for fresh projects, has meant that I'm ready to kickstart things again. This time around, and in the future, it will definitely be a case of quality over quantity - posts on a more regular basis, but when I want (not less than once a month though), and showing real progress in my painting and modelling.

So have I totally stepped away from the hobby over the last 17 or so months? No, not totally - my Sudan project has been completed to a usable collection of figures, and was all ready to go for a demo game at one of our local wargaming shows. Sadly illness and the cat/figure disaster conspired against me, which meant things had to be put on hold on that front, but I've decided to add to the existing forces for a bigger game next year. I've finished off another desert scenery board. I've also discovered 'What a Tanker!', and had a few very enjoyable games of this, with family and friends.

A Hovels, with some scratch built walls by me

Scenery for my Mahdist Sudan wars game

Fuzzy-wuzzies on the loose!

Some of Queen Victoria's finest - metals this time, after the 'Cat' disaster...

Progress on the terrain boards

The start of a A9 for What a Tanker - Skytrex 15mm metal
Game night in Derby - trying out What a Tanker!

I've been inspired by 'Chain of Command' and have plans to get create some forces for this - probably for the North African Campaign, with the 8th Army pitted against the DAK. Over the next few posts I'll discuss these in more detail. It's also time for a new project, and the coming year - 2019 - will be very much the year of the Dark Ages. I've got a lot ideas swirling round my head at the moment.

In all, it's a big hello once more from me, goodbye (hopefully) to the problems of the past, and a big warm welcome to another year, and a fresh start to the hobby. I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy, peaceful and productive 2019, and watch this space - 'I'm back!'...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Feeling a bit Mahdi....

Well, less Mahdi, and a bit...., well, mardy......

For those of you who aren't aware, 'mardy' is a dialect word used (as far as I know - and I use it), in the Midlands of England, and means 'grumpy', or out of sorts, and not in the best of moods. Perfect to sum up my current mood, as far as the hobby is concerned. It's one of those times or feelings which most wargamers get, I guess, when we just have no drive for the pastime, no energy for it, or little interest. very unusual for me, but it is a feeling that creeps up occasionally. I'm not sure why- I still love the hobby, but over the last few weeks (or months), I've been a 'meh' about things.

So what better way, to feel less 'mardy', and more 'Mahdi' - or back on track with my Sudan project, than to kickstart my blog again. It's been a while - January(!) - since I last posted, so that is a good indication of how bad things have got. So, enough of that. Time to shake off the blues, and get cracking again.

With The Other Partizan Show in Newark, UK, just under 5 weeks away, and the RAWGamers putting on a game, it's a great motivation to get back into the swing of things. My Sudan project has been ticking along, with all the pace of a slow moving camel, but at least I've been doing something.

First up, the first of my base boards has been completed, bar the paint on the edges. This is made of MDF - 2' by 4', with battening strips of timber down the edges to form a frame, then a 1" thick polystyrene sheet interior, glued inside this frame using PVA. Coated over with my trusty PVA/Sand and tallus mix, with the odd larger cat-litter stones here and there, it's turned out quite nicely. I then paint it up using the sample pots of paint I use for all my basing now (more on this another post), and it's done. Lots of dry brushing to build up 3 gradually lighter shades on top of a brown basecoat, and voila! Desert!

The board - with some scenery - an old GW hill!

Detail of the baseboard - and the cat litter clumps.

I've added the litter in small clumps, so as to not get in the way of the hills and other scenery too much, and I have a plan to create some 'rough' terrain or scrubland bases any way. This leads me nicely on to...

The hills... Many years ago, I picked up an old Games Workshop plastic hill kit, from a hobby store. It was on offer in a sale, and far below a sensible price, even for a clearance item! Safe to say, I snatched it up, and even when I questioned the low price, the assistant didn't bat an eyelid, so I was able to bag a bargain! Sadly GW don't make these hills any more, as far as I can tell, and unless I see some more on E-bay or in a car boot or bring and buy sale, I'm unlikely to get any more. Painted up with my paint combinations, and desert foliage added.

I've painted the ends, so probably won't join them together unless I need to.

Painted up and together, but not linked.

Some of the detail of the foliage - sparse and scorched.

As for figures, well, some of them have appeared on the blog before, but I've done another small group of 8 figures since then. These are once again Perry Miniatures, from their plastic Mahdists box set. They form the second group of 8 figures for my 'Skirmish Kings' project, using The Men who would be Kings rules.

The next unit for my game.

Two 'skirmish Kings' units together, or one full group of figures for the rules

I've also made some markers for the game in August - Gone to ground, Pinned and Leaderless markers. These all show the state that the units are in, and I'm making some for all the units of the table.

I've also put together some movement trays for my British infantry. These are from Warbases, and each tray represents one unit for Skirmish Kings. A bit short of figures to fill these yet, but I'm working on that, and they're all assembled and primed, so watch this space.

Close up of the first base.
Soooo, hopefully this refreshes my mind concerning the hobby, and gets me back on track. The plan over the next five weeks, is to try and update the blog on a more regular basis, and go into more detail about various aspects of the project. That will get us together nicely for late August, and The Other Partizan! See you soon!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Welcome to 2017! More Mahdists, British, and an adobe building...

It's hard to believe it's been so long since the last post, but a belated Happy Christmas and New Year, to all my followers and casual 'droppers-by'! Apologies, too, for the rather slack behaviour, when it comes to posts on this blog. Hopefully, 2017 will be different!

Slightly outnumbered!...

It seems customary on many of the wargaming blogs that I visit, to review the year's progress or to chart out the plans for the new year, and in the past I've joined in with this. At some stage in the future, I might get round to a review of the last 365 days, but not yet; although in summary, with two visits to the Partizan show in Newark, two display games featuring my ECW skirmish project, 38 figures and other bits and bobs made and painted up, and lots of laughs had by the RAWGamers, 2016 was something of a successful year.

2017 already looks exciting, with things slowly gearing up for the Partizan Show towards the end of May, where the RAWGamers are planning to put on a Sudan skirmish game, and it is to this we now turn!

Progress has been a little bit slow, but ongoing - I managed to complete my next lot of 4 figures, for my first Mahdist unit, for my 'The Men who would be Kings' colonial project, so I've now got 8 of these chaps done. Following on from some advice on the Lead Adventure Forum, I tried to darken the skin tones down on these chaps, and I think it's worked. The only problem is that this tone is normally mixed, rather than being 'out of the bottle', so with main coats and highlights simply being a bit more brown added to the base coat each time, it means that I have to paint each figure at one sitting, which does slow things down slightly. Maybe we'll experiment with other tones, but as long as I keep going with this on a consistent path, then figures will still get painted in a steady manner.

The next four Mahdists

As a Christmas treat for myself, I managed to get hold of another box of Perry Mahdists, and also a box of the plastic Sudan era British. I've painted up a couple of these as test figures, and when I complete the first unit of these, I'll post a more detailed blog about paint tones, techniques etc, with these chaps. Until then, hope you enjoy the pics! Frustratingly, It started spitting with rain, just as I got outside to photograph these chaps, hence the dodgy quality of the images, so apologies for that too! Taking pictures inside doesn't quite cut it, but hopefully people will get the idea.

A stout-hearted servant of Her Majesty!

'Give Fire!'

Finally, a few pictures of one of my Christmas presents from 'the other half'. I have a very tolerant and understanding wife, when it comes to this hobby, and she doesn't mind buying me wargaming related stuff - so here's a before and after of the first bit of real estate for this project, a rural adobe building, from Hovels. I've tried to paint it up using the same colours that I use for my bases - after all, the mud would be from the same ground that people would be walking on - rather than the seemingly immaculate whitewashed buildings that one often sees on the wargaming table. I hope you like it! There are more buildings to come.

Before....wooden base, and cat litter (unused!) stones...

...and after...all painted up!

Can I finish this first post of 2017, by saying a massive thanks to my followers and those who add comments, or drop by. I hope you enjoy what you see, and that you'll continue to be inspired by the offerings that I dish up. It's even better to see you in person, so please come and find us at Partizan, in just over 100 days, if you can......  just over100 days?! get painting! See you soon!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

One nineteenth of the way there!...

Hi all

Quick post this time - and apologies for the poor quality of the pictures! The next two figures for my Sudan project have rolled off the production line - more Bija tribe warriors. This time there's a fellow with spear and throwing stick, then he's followed by a more well-to-do chap in a triangle pattern hemmed jibbeh.

As usual (so far for this project!), they are Perry plastics, completed yesterday and today. Next time, I'll have a more detailed post about my force compositions for my two 'Field Forces' for TMWWBK, and the next figures for the project. Hopefully the pics will be better as well!

The warrior with the throwing stick was the first one done...

...followed by the chap with the rather dashing jibbeh!

As for the title of the post - well, with these first four done, then that's 1/19th of the way to getting my Mahdist army done!

Just keep painting, just keep painting....

'Til next time!


Thursday, 20 October 2016

All of a Sudan...'the sun's gorn to 'is 'ead!'

Sooooo...... it's been a while! But with the nights drawing in, and more painting time, comes a whiff of a new project. My ECW Donnybrook project has come to a natural break (although I'll post more about it over the coming months), and thoughts turn to (wargaming) pastures new.

Over the last month, I've meandered around with a few ideas and rules sets clunking about in the old grey matter - anything from Dark Ages and Dux Bellorum, to AWI using the new Sharp Practice rules, to a Crecy-era game using Lion Rampant. However, the release of Dan Mersey's The Men who would be Kings (TMWWBK) has proved to be the catalyst I needed, and I'm heading off to sunnier climes and The Sudan!

So to start off with, a little light reading - a copy of TMWWBK picked up from the Derby World Wargames show at the start of the month - a bargain from Wargames Foundry at £9! Then a copy of Go Strong into the Desert by Lt. Col. Mike Snook - well worth a read! Finally (for now), Blood on the Nile, the Warlord Games Black Powder supplement for the Mahdist Wars in the Sudan.

In terms of figures, then the Perry Miniatures range for the period 1881-1885 seems to be the best one around at the moment, and will have everything I'll require. A few months ago, I picked up a box of their plastic Mahdist infantry, more out of curiosity than need, and painted a test figure up. Anyway, now that I plan to build up two 'field forces' for TMWWBK, then these will do very nicely. TMWWBK allows figures to be based up in small groups or individually, but I quite like the look of the single figure bases I created for my ECW Donnybrook project, so that's going to be the way forward. The release of the Perry Plastic British infantry for this period will also help out.

The first chap I painted is on the right...

...with the second chap in his plainly decorated jibbeh on the left.
So, what's the plan? Well, two forces worth 24 points for TMWWBK - one Mahdist and one British. Along with this, I'll be making some new terrain - I don't have any desert-like terrain boards at all, so I'll be starting from scratch with these, and getting hold of some Middle Eastern real estate (ie. buildings!) No doubt I'll throw in some other bits and bobs, like civilians, and 'fluff' (market stalls, trees and vegetation, vignettes, and so forth), and do a whole load of play testing. I want to try and get this all done by the start of the spring, so I've a proper job on. However, I do like a challenge! Oh, yes, and try and blog about it as well....... now that will  be something to marvel at!

See you soon, as I 'go strong into the desert'!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Summer days...

Well, the post-Partizan ‘slump’ in production and engagement with the hobby predictably happened – all the energy that one throws into a project, the big day, and then a lull – and the blog and painting took a back seat over June. However, July has proved to be quietly productive, and after a short write-up, I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
The completed 4 point Scots Covenanter Faction - Hero, characters and shaken markers included

The end of June and the early part of July saw a bit of a watershed moment – I managed to finish off the last two figures of my planned Scots Covenanter Musket, which gave me my completed 4 point basic Covenanter Faction. I could now put 2 points worth of ‘trained’ shot, 1 point of ‘trained’ pike, and 1 point of ‘elite’ dragoons onto the table, with their Faction Leader ‘Hero’ character. This was the original plan of some (?)2 years ago, and on the 7th of July I breathed a massive sigh of relief when I added the static grass and scenic materials to the last musketeer’s base. Job done!

The Infantry, with the Saltire leading the way, sergeants marshalling the rear

A bird's-eye view

Captain Drummond's Company - these chaps have had their final two figures added this month

Close up of the unit - worth 1 point in Donnybrook  - a unit of regular musket

The rear of the unit - the tartan's been a real pain, but worth the effort

Mcleod's Company - the next 'point'. These chaps have slightly different coloured coats to distinguish them from Drummond's company

Hodden coats of the Scots Government troops
A rear view. The movement trays are from Warbases, and help moving the figures around. If the shot are on these trays this means that they are operating in close order, and gain an advantage in shooting. The edges also define the 'shooting corridor'

Mackintosh's pike - a mixture of coat colours here, reflecting the musket unit coats as well. These are the third point. I could theoretically split this unit in half so that I have two small Scottish regiments of 12 figures each when combined with the musketeers, when using different rules.

The pike about to charge.... I love the chap second from the left in the front rank, shouting battle cries...

Gordon's Dragoons - only 3 figures strong, these are worth 1 point in Donnybrook, as they are 'Elite'. Here are the mounted and dismounted versions, horse holder 'marker' and shaken marker.

Close up of the Dragoons

The dismounted marker

Peeping over the top...

Since then, I’ve steadily added to the faction, in terms of characters. I already had an ensign for my Scots, but I’d planned to have four characters for my factions (alongside my heroes), one for each ‘points worth’ of troops. So, with two units of shot, two sergeants seemed appropriate, to help them reload quicker, and I also had a rather lovely Perry Miniatures piper to paint up as well, who will help out with morale checks. I’ve now got these completed as well – the last sergeant was done on the 27th of July, and the whole faction has now been completed to its original plan! There are moves afoot to add another 2 points worth of troops and characters to bring it up to a 6 point faction, but for now I’m concentrating on getting my New Model Army faction finished off.
Tam McLeod and his 'boys'... Hero and characters of the faction

Gordon Blair..... dour but slippery...... a real mixture of inspiration in his name...
Close up of Sergeant Blair - a Perry Miniature figure. He will sergeant for Drummond's company of shot.

Roy Armstrong - sergeant of McLeod's company of shot.

Another Perry figure - his plaid is more greenish than shown in the daylight.

Hamish McLeod the piper.... who's just ...loud...

Another Perry figure - I imagine him to be a relative of Tam, and part of the McLeod clan

I've not really done any particular tartans - just 'homespun' patterns with muted colours. I tried something a little different here, and It's worked out well.

Jamie the Ensign. A hand painted flag that was based on real examples.
Another Perry Figure, one of many drawn from their English Civil War range/Scottish line.
On that front – there’s success as well. Last night saw me complete my NMA Ensign, Nehemiah Cotton. His colours have been finished off for a while, and it was just him that needed some work doing to get him done, but the holidays and fine weather have helped. Just two more character figures for the NMA faction now, and then they will also be completed.
Nehemiah Cotton, with his activation card.

A close-up of Ensign Cotton. This flag, with one 'wavy 'pile' on it, represents the Major's colours.

A view from the rear - realistically he could portray an ensign from many regiments of the era.

The fine weather has also allowed me to get outside and take some pics of the completed Scots faction, and some battle action. I’m staggered at how much more detail one can pick out in real daylight – a no-brainer really – but as it’s the first time I’ve done it, it’s really blown me away! The hedge next to the front lawn really adds to the backdrop of a foreboding Scottish wood, so I’m really pleased with how these photos have come out. More of this I think in the future, weather depending!

'Forward!!! For Christ, Crown and the Covenant!!'

Hodden grey and Venice red clash somewhere in Scotland

A view along the battle lines..

Thomas Playwell the fifer keeps spirits up...

'Cast about and make ready!...'

In the background and throughout these pictures are my new dry-stone walls, another product of a rather positive July. I’ve followed the pattern of my previous efforts in creating and enhancing commercially bought walls – stripping off the static grass and glue by soaking them in water, spraying them black, drybrushing up the stonework, adding sand and PVA texture to the bases, painting this basework, and adding more static grass and scenic materials to the bases and walls. Rather a faff perhaps, and time-intensive, but definitely worthwhile. I’ve now got 15 wall lengths which should be enough…..for now.

The next few days should see me complete my other NMA characters, then I’ll add to my civilians. The Other Partizan is in three weeks, on the 21st of August, and the RAWGamers are putting on ‘A Donnybrook near Dunbar’ as a participation game. All these chaps (and hopefully more) will get a run out – for the last time! After that show, I’ll be starting on a new game and era – and hopefully there’ll be no ‘Post-Partizan Slump’!

As always, thanks for looking and the continued support and kind comments here and elsewhere on other forums. ‘Til next time! Ka-boom!!!!
'At the scum to the fore....Give...your...... fire!'