Saturday, 31 January 2015

Trees, and time for close ups!

As I continue with my Donnybrook project, along side this I'm also working on building and painting/modelling wargaming terrain and scenery - playing catch up after butterflying between projects for the last 20 years, and not really getting anywhere in all that time! Last summer, I built my terrain boards, I've been working on some buildings, and 'fluff' (see the last post), and finally, I've got round to making and basing up some trees, items which  are just about essential on many wargaming  tables, in one form or another.

Somewhere in Spain.....this is more a 'Birch' type tree, with lighter foliage and bark.
Inspired by an excellent article in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, I bought some plastic tree frames made by Woodland Scenics, and some of their foliage clump packs - Medium green and light green shades. The tree frames were cleaned up, and flash scraped off, then the tree limbs and branches were twisted into place. I then painted the tree sprues up using the Wargames Foundry Granite No.31 triad, or WF Granite No 31 c shade, which were then drybrushed with pale grey up to white, for a more 'silver birch' type tree.   The trees were glued to 60mm circular bases, from Warbases, and based up in my usual manner, leaving off the static grass and foliage, and given a coat of matt varnish.

The first of the two trees, with a Foundry Rifleman painted up as a bugler of the 5/6oth Royal American Rifles for scale

Next came the fun bit! Gluing on the foliage took a while - selecting clumps, and sticking them on with super glue, but the process is worth it! These clumps were 'sealed' with diluted PVA, to prevent the loosest of pieces from falling off, and when the glue was dry, I then applied the final grass and base foliage. The ultimate question is, is it worth it? Well, each tree (and so far I've made 3 of these out of a pack of twelve) has taken about 3 hours to make. But they have cost just over £2 each to make, and for unique trees, I don't think this is too bad.

Frenchies lurking somewhere in the trees!
Along side these bits of timber, there's also a Games Workshop 'style' tree, that I bought at the Derby show last autumn. This has been based up in the same manner, and adds a bit of variety. I've also had a try at making my own trees, out of twisted wire, but these aren't finished yet, and are for a future post.
My 'Silver Birch' type tree, and the GW tree.

I've also been messing about with lighting and my camera phone, trying out close-ups and so forth. I think some of these have worked, so watch this space for future pics of Donnybrook stuff! I'm now at the point where I can finish off my NMA faction Musketeers, so see you soon!

I think the fusilier on the right realised the camera was pointing at him! French infantry advance.... a future project....

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Wagons and wildlife....from Warbases!

My Donnybrook ECW project is slowly progressing - more work on my New Model Army musketeers over the last few days - but this post is connected to the 'fluff' that I'm adding to the table.

'Fluff' is the (if we're being honest) unnecessary stuff that is placed on the battlefield,  to add to the atmosphere of the game and to set the scene. In bigger games, it's arguably the case that things such as wagons, camps, wells, livestock, civilians and other such bits and bobs are really not needed; just the figures who fight are all that are needed for the purist! But in my opinion, these kind of things really complete a wargaming table - indeed, exponents of the convention circuit display games often spend a significant amount of time on the 'incidentals', and they certainly contribute to the spectacle of the game overall.

In a skirmish game like Donnybrook, certain items, such as barricades, piles of barrels and lumber, wells, fountains, wagons, even cattle and other livestock, that might be ignored on a grander scale, even take on a whole new importance. A stack of powder kegs might not be cover for a battalion of Napoleonic French Infantry in a large game -  at a smaller 'scale' skirmish however, they can shelter a few figures. They even might come into play with event cards being drawn - ignited by accident and blowing unfortunate figures that are close by sky-high!  So, along side my factions, I'm also making some 'fluff'; time-consuming it may be, but it all adds to the game, and the spectacle.

As a start, I bought this wagon from Warbases, at the Derby Show in 2014. Listed on their website as a 'haycart', it only cost £3.50, and is made out of laser cut mdf. I topped it up with a resin hay bale, which was £2.50. The product is really well produced, good value, and the resin hay takes paint well, and is cast nice and crisply. There aren't any assembly instructions with the cart, but a quick reference to the website gives some clear images on how it's put together ( I used superglue), and it fits in perfectly with setting a rural scene. This will get plenty of use from the 17th to the 20th century. A quick paint job, with basecoats, washes and dry-brushed hi-lights worked well, and then it was based up.

I also bought some Highland cattle from the same company, when I went to the Warlord Games 'Games day', also last year. These beasties would set the scene instantly in Scotland, and the pack of two adult cows and a calf are perfect I really enjoyed painting these animals, in a mix of colours - Foundry Spearshaft 'a' shade to start off with, then gradual highlights with the Foundry Butter Fudge triad. Lots of consultation of Google images' Highland Cows pics to start off with! I've even tried to make a cowpat out of greenstuff - it looks alright, but I think I would have preferred more 'splat' or 'smear!' Fluff it maybe, but I think these cows may have a role to play at some stage in the future, causing chaos for my ECW and other factions, somewhere in Scotland! Cue the 'wandering cattle' event card! Until next time, happy painting!
Wha' you lookin' a'?!!!!
Greenstuff cowpat - needs more 'splatter' I think......

View of the rear of the cart - I've tried to splay the wheels out slightly, in a more accurate manner
The cart without the hay bale, bravely defended by men of the Covenant!


Friday, 16 January 2015

My first Donnybrook Hero - and the naming of Bobby 'the Bob'!

 The next entry for the 2015 Donnybrook Diaries, introduces the Hero character for my English Civil War project New Model Army Faction.

This is Major Robert Hawkins, a fictional name I plucked out of nowhere, yet one that sounds suitably virtuous and inspirational! Every Donnybrook 'faction' or force has a 'Hero', who acts as the leader or commander - your personification on the table. He also acts as a 'character' for your faction, but is cost free when it comes to working out the amount of points you have to spend on your faction. Heroes use a d12 die to determine their ability to carry out actions such as firing, or landing a blow in close combat, and succeed in both on a 6 +. They therefore have a 7 in 12 chance of managing this, only right for such fine upstanding fellows......or evil, dastardly rapscallions - take your choice!

They can also act as the final checking point for faction morale when forces reach 50% of their original strength, a trigger point to see if the game is coming to an end. A die is thrown that matches that of the highest surviving characters' ability die. 7+ means that the force is able to carry on. So if your Hero is unhurt and still fighting, then he uses his d12 die to test against. Pretty useful!

Robert Hawkins comes from Perry Miniatures pack ECW2 Foot Command, and I knew straight away  that he would be a good Hero figure. I've decided to base all my character figures for Donnybrook on hexagonal bases (from Warbases). My heroes are based on 30mm diameter ones, as opposed to 25mm for my other characters, just to make them slightly easier to pick out on the table. He's painted up in the usual manner from a black undercoat, using GW/Foundry paints. Madder red trousers (again!), with green piping, and a Slate grey doublet. His sash is painted up using the Wargames Foundry No.23 Tomb Blue triad; ECW re-enactors tend to portray New Model Army officers and sergeants wearing this pale bluey-grey coloured sash, and I like the contrast with the other more earthy colours.

Major Hawkins has had a dramatic life already in our Donnybrook 'test' games, and is starting to develop something of a character. Whilst he always seems to be one of the first to have his activation card turned up - meaning he gets into action pretty quickly - he has so far swung between being foremost in the action, to vacillating nervously at the rear! In our first game, he was shot, and eventually dragged from the field by his own retreating pikemen as his faction crumbled around him. He subsequently recovered, only to spend a subsequent game keeping out of harm's way behind a rather substantial stone Celtic Cross. Some might say he was seeking Divine inspiration, muttering psalms and prayers to inspire him and his men. However, the image of him bobbing back and forth nervously from behind the cross to see what was happening,  was one that stuck slightly firmer in the mind, and it wasn't a gigantic leap to get from Robert Hawkins to Rob the Bobber, to Bobby 'The Bob!' Not quite 'Seamus an chaca', but a nickname that could have slightly less favourable connotations than just ducking and diving! We'll have to see what the future holds for Major Hawkins!

Out from behind his cross.....but for how long?......

Major Hawkins'  Activation card.

Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year........old project!

 Happy New Year! This blog has suffered of late, due to a dearth of posts - the last one was back in October - but I'm determined to get it back on track. Although my Donnybrook ECW project is crawling along slower than I'd wished for, it's definitely not finished, and I've been doing bits and bobs for it over the last few weeks. New Year, new impetus, more determination, and all that....... so here's the (fingers crossed) start of a new phase of Civil War Donnybrook madness!

First off the starting blocks for 2015, are my New Model Army Faction 'Shaken' markers. When units in Donnybrook suffer casualties that reduces the unit to 50% of their original strength, or when they lose a round of close combat, they have to check their morale. Depending on the result of their test, a certain throw will leave the unit having to fall back the equivalent of 2d6 inches, and leaves them 'shaken'.
Now, it's possible to use markers, counters, even scraps of paper, to indicate which of your units on the table are shaken......however, I thought it would be nice to make some purpose-built shaken markers. The marker bases are from Warbases - 2mm thick 4cm diameter bases in this case. Then I typed up the 'Shaken!' text and placed it onto a suitably aged parchment-style background I found on the Internet. This was printed off, cut out, stuck on to the base with sellotape acting as a 'film' over the top, and then the base was covered in my usual PVA and sand mix - taking care not to cover the text!
When the sand was dry, and sealed over with a second coat of thinned PVA, they were painted up. For all my bases now, I use Games Workshop's Steel Legion Drab as a base coat, then use Wargames Foundry's No. 10 Sand triad, to dry brush the sand, gradually getting lighter, through the A, B and C tones.
 The figures are from two manufacturers - Perry Miniatures' ECW12 Dead and Wounded pack, and Wargames Foundry's ECW49 Casualties pack. They're fairly comparable in size - being sculpted by the same people, though at slightly different stages of their careers!

The downed cavalry trooper and the pikeman wearing armour are Perry Miniatures' sculpts, the poor chap with his hat knocked off from Foundry. All were painted up using a mix of Foundry and GW paints. I've given the cavalry trooper madder red breeches, having read somewhere that red breeches were popular amongst cavalry during the Civil Wars - suitably martial! After they were glued on to their bases, I added my usual mix of static grass, and reeds and bushes etc from various manufacturers. I've kept the figures fairly neutral - the cavalry man could be used for either Royalists , Parliament or Covenanters. The infantry have the yellow facings - and linings inside their coats as well - of the NMA unit that I am painting up; however they could be used for any yellow faced unit, Royalist or Parliamentarian, from the conflict.

Finally, I've included a group shot - a small unit of 4 'Elite' musketeers, worth one point in a Donnybrook faction. They have their shaken marker - and a reload marker to indicate that they've just fired, and now need to wait for the 'Reload!' card to be turned over, before they can take any more firing actions.

See you soon, with more goodies! And apologies for the layout of the page - it bears no resemblance to how it looks before being published! ( I'll have to get my head round Blogger tutorials!)