Monday, 28 June 2010

Slow weekend

Crikey, what with all the sporting action (being generous to the England footie team) and being out on Saturday night not a lot got done on the gaming front this weekend.
I did manage to make some progress in revamping a TSS board with a big corner hill on it and carved a pond into a plain board.

I won't even get a chance to get my planned game in at the club this week as I have to go to a conference in I'll have to look forward doubly to next week.

Oh, and it is too hot!

...although this does mean that stuff dries nice and fast.

Top discovery last week: B&Q sand-less filler. Ready mixed, very little shrinking/cracking and ultra light weight which really helps to take the strain off the terrain boards.


Friday, 25 June 2010

Mill board progressing

I think there is enough varnish on the river now, so I have added the flock and some clump foliage to the watermill board. I still plan to add some long, dry grass tufts and some turf ground cover over the weekend, but the board is 95% done now. There is space to put a bridge over the river or to scatter on some grave for a ford.
It turns out that the river is a little more blue than my first river board, that is more greenish, but it is a variation that I think I can live with. I'm certainly not painting either again!
Overall I am pleased with the result and I think this will be a great addition to my AWI battlefields. I'll look to getting some photos done soon using this board for a diorama.


Thursday, 24 June 2010


Not the absolute greates photos ever, but I'll do some more when these are based up properly. Here are my first five civilians from the Perry AWI Pack. Above is a haughty looking lady think that all these chaps fighting a war are really rather silly.

Below is her companion (husband, father, "uncle"...) waving his hat at something:

Then someone doing some real work:
And someone also working, but taking time out to mop his brow...

and finally for today, a worker in the filed with her child on board:


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Twiddling my thumbs

Hi all

I have an after-work meeting tonight so I'll be stuck in Lincoln until after 8. I might get some painting or writing done when I get home, but my main hope is to get some photos taken tomorrow.

Here are some random thoughts and comments.

The river finally dried out quite nicely with just a few cracks in the varnish. A second coat has patched most of these and I'll continue brushing on coats for another week or so before I get the flocking done. The watermill has been slightly amended, but painting the windows, frames and few other bits in white, but it is still largely in an untreated wood + stone finish. I'm a bit concerned that it lacks an AWI "vibe" but I'll get it in situ before making any rash decisions. The hot weather was good for drying, but a few cracks have appeared around the MDF board I polyfilla'd into place for the mill to sit on. These will need filling and blending in to the existing paintwork. That is the problem with terrain - filler and PVA continue to dry out for a long time after they look like they have finished. This is one reason why boards may start flat by slowly warp over time.

My civilian figures are coming along nicely and it is good to feel that I haven't lost the knack of painting figures despite quite a long gap since my last major burst (and than was mainly 6mm naps). I have used a mixture of layered highlighting and washes - some of us were there way before GW, but their stuff certaily helps. The hardest thing has been the eyes, which I normally leave out, but some of the civilians really need these doing. I have just about got a satisfactory result but (as is often the case) these tend to be the weakest part of the figure.

I'm holding back on buying any AWI figures at the moment, while I work on the terrain and civilians and see if any of the plastics manufacturers turn their attention to "God's Own Wargaming Period (TM)".

For Fathers' Day this year I actually got a useful present - the Perry AWI 4-wheeled munitions cart. Now the civvies are nearly done, I'll start gluing this together. With the smaller carts I assembled the cart & horse on the base along with the polyfilla & sand BEFORE undercoating and painting. Previously I have painted the carts & horses separately and then based them. The new method creates a few issues around reaching various parts of the model, but overall I think the finish is better and I have more confidence that the glue will hold everything together. I'll probably use Araldite 90-second epoxy as this will be less brittle than Superglue and seems pretty good stuff if my repair of some of the kids' toys is anything to go by. Personally I hate gluing wheels on carts so anything that does this quickly and with a strong bond gets my vote! The cart comes with two figures, one leading the horses and one sat on the pile of high explosives. I think that chap #2 may be diverted and end up sat outside the Inn talking to the two serving wenches.

Terrain projects left to do in this "batch":
1. Finish the river & watermill
2. Get round to doing three boards (might have one further river section, or a swamp and I need one or two with some craggy outcrops/hills)
3. Plan a "Breed's Hill" type of thing
4. Scratch build a meeting house and a belfry
5. Make more trees

None of these are too major apart from another river. Rivers are messy to carve out and involve a LOT of waiting for glue, filler and varnish to dry out. Then again they do look good...


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Watching paint dry...

...well varnish actually. Slow progress as I am waiting for the varnish I poured into the river to dry out and go clear. So far a couple of sunny days have got rid of most of the white patches and hopefully when I get home tonight the rest will have gone too!

In the meantime I am painting up some AWI civilains from the Perry pack - pictures in a day or two once I have some finished. I have also got back to some scenario development.

I have now completed all of my Hovel's buildings. I do have a church and house lacking bases, so these might get addressed but I think I probably have enough buildings for now to cover the essentials. My current focus has moved northwards and a few years back. I am contemplating building a fortified hill in the flavour of Breed's Hill but am considering the various options (one big hill, several sections, type of fortification, etc) I have also been looking at the contemporary engravings of Lexongton and Concord and quite like to the look of the 3-storey meeting house and the square belfry building. I feel a scratch-building session coming on...where are those fly swatters?

I have some gaming planned too. I should be able to get to the club next week (30th) and the week after (7th July) so if anyone is in the Newark area and fancies a game of AWI Black Powder then give me a shout. We meet in the scout hut on Lover's Lane (really, that is its name!) from around 7 or 7.30. Postcode: NG24 1HZ. Below is a picture of what it looks like, as people may be expecting something more...wooden.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Building latest

Now around 99% finished, here is the modified Hovels building. I have opted for yeat another white finish, this time with wine-coloured doors and shutters.
The groundwork has been done in the same way as the terrain boards in the last post but with lighter drybrushing, including patches of green fence paint. This has then been enhanced with static grass. The barrels and bags have been given a wash of GW Devlan Mud.
The wooden areas are painted with a mix that starts with dark grey/olive drab/light brown and is then highlighted by adding in more light brown and then a cream colour.
The roof tiles are similar but with more grey in the mix and less brown, highlighted by adding a touch of white. Much better overall than just using greys.
The brick chimneys are painted light brown and then glazed using an acrylic rosewood colour woodstain from Cuprinol (originally purchased to paint my front step). This gives a nice brisk red finish and dries in about 30 minutes.
Below are some further shots of the house and yard:
I now need to wait for the PVA to dry before finishing off the step outside the annexe door (made from an offcut from the resin fences) and painting the apples in the barrel by the back door.
The terrain board is not forgotten. It has had 2 coats of green fence paint - but it is cold today so drying is very slow and everything is still a bit wet and shiny at the moment!


Friday, 18 June 2010

River Board Painting

I have been starting to paint up the river board today. This started asa plain flat terrain board from TSS and has been substantially modified to create a river, a flat area for a watermill and a water channel taking water from the river to the mill wheel. Above is the board with its base coat of rustic brown, followed by a coat of a lighter brown made my mixing the brown paint with a bit of white, terracotta and yellow.

Below is the board after a heavy drybrush with a lighter and yellower shade. The rocks (made from cork bark) have been painted with various shades of grey.

The following photo shows the board after most areas have been given a very heavy drybrush with a sand-coloured masonry paint:

Lastly, the first bits of green going on. I use a green fence paint as this is very thin and allows the colours underneath to show through - like a glaze does when painting figures. Eventually most of the "yellow" areas will be green, but they need to dry first! This may seem an odd process for a board that started green anyway, but it does give a very tough playing surface once finished.

The river bed has also been painted in the same green paint.

Tomorrow I'll finish the green and continue with the river using progressively darker blue and indigo. Afer that the wooden edges of the water channel can be painted and the process of varnishing the river can begin. This will involve multiple coats and possibly some varnish being poured into the river. How long this takes will depend on the river.

I now return you to England v Algeria - hope this goes OK

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rustic Brown

As you can see from the picture above, the construction, groundwork and bits & bobs are done on the house and it is time to get out the Cuprinol Rustic Brown fence paint to undercoat it. I have used this for terrain for a while. It is cheap, profides a good seal for vulnerable foam etc and dries to a useful medium brown colour - not as dark as something like Sandtex Bitter Chocolate.

Below are some shots of the undercoated building, drying off in the evening sunshine:

As well as the building I have also moved along with the next river terrain board, now it has had a good week drying slowly while weighed down with paint tins etc to limit any warping.
First is the pre-undercoat shot:
...and then after a sloppy coat of rustic brown. Some bits are still wet and you'll have to excuse the shadow of the tree!

Between the evening sun and tonight in the garage, these should be ready for some more paint tomorrow evening when I get in from work.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

More work on the house

More progress tonight as I was to knackered after work to take my stuff to the club. The house has had the following work done:
1. More foam has been used to enlarge the brick foundation of the annexe and this has been sealed with acrylic paint to protect it if I use a spray undercoat
2. The roof has been tiled with thin card and attched to the annexe
3. Smooth polyfilla has been used to blend the new roof into the existing one
4. I have abandoned the covered store concept and it just wasn't looking right
5. The resin fences left over from the Hovels livery stable have been cannibalised to add some edging to the base

More views below:

Tomorrow I'll finish the groundwork with sand, add some barrels etc and get the whole thing ready for its undercoat. The boards used to edge the new gable end will have their ends trimmed so the finish horizontaly rather than vertically.

I have also titivated some old vignettes with the same static grass as I have used on the AWI scenery.
First is the French "military advisors" - these are SYW Prussian officers from the old foundry range sculpted by Mark Copplesone, with a cunningly painted Perry/Foundry uniformed militia figure doing double time as a french infantryman.

Next are a couple of fine wenches to staff the inn. The left hand figure is from the WestWinf gothic horror range (Headless Horseman villagers) and the other is from the very old Foundry French Revolution range.

And lastly a cart (always useful). In this case a redoubt cart and a horse & holder from an AWI butterfly gun.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Converting the next house

This is the next house on the workbench. It is the Hovels model of the house from Guiney Station (where Stonewall Jackson passed away). I am adding a small workshop annexe to this, leading to a covered outdoor store which will be filled with barrels, etc. Ignore the colours, the whole shebang will be repainted after construction is complete.

I started by gluing the model to a base of 4mm MDF of about 20cm x 24cm,
enough to accomodate the structures but without too much excess space left hanging around.

The annexe is constructed from 5mm thick foamcore, the wall height being 5cm, the length of the annexe is 5cm and the width is 5.5 cm. The apex of the annexe roof is 8cm, giving a gable end of about 45 degrees.

The photo below shows the construction of the workshop annexe. Windows are made from chopped up fly-swatter, framed with matchsticks and the overlapping boards made from thin card. The windows, card, etc were stuck to each wall BEFORE assembly. This allows any bits of card that "stick out" to be trimmed with scissors before putting the building together. The bottom 7-8 mm of each wall has had the top layer of card cut from the foamcore to expose the foam, into which a brick/stone texture has been embossed with a biro to match the resin model.

The next stage will be to tidy up the corners of the building with more matchsticks - including where the annexe joins the main building. After this I'll make a roof to cover the annexe and reach out to the two posts to form the covered store area. The roof over the annexe will be covered in "tiles" of thin card, but the part over the store will be treated to look like a tar roof.

Gaming tomorrow night - Charlotte scenario again.


Sunday, 13 June 2010

AWI Camp

Before emabarking on the next round of tree and fence construction I set up a little diorama today, using the newly finished camp (Renedra tents), home-made trees and a few other bits and bobs I have recently finished. The scene is of a British camp somewhere in the Carolinas circa 1780. A patrol of 17th light dragoons ride off to scout the local woodland, while Cornwallis and his officers look on.
Above is the whole scene. The good weather let me set up in the garden. I think the trees look quite effective. The fences help to frame the scene and make more difference than you might think.

Here is Cornwallis's map table. The maps were made by reducing imaged of real maps of the period (thanks, Google) down to a suitable size - approx 2x3cm using a 1000 pixels per inch resolution.
Above, the 17th LD gallop out, past the commissary tent at the back and the surgeon's tent in the foreground - note the stretchers, these come as part of the bell-tent pack from Renedra along with the camp fire that you can see next to the map table.
Another shot of the gallop above, the trees making an effective background.

The generals look on above. Major hanger seems to be trying to tell them something...
I have used plenty of sacks and barrels from Hovels with extra barrels from Renedra to add some atmosphere to the camp, while keeping it quite generic so it can be used for either side, or even in other periods.
Panoramic shots of the camp and house.

Below are a couple of more close-up shots taken from between the terrain features for a more "realistic" feel.
Hope you like these, please leave comments if you like.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Terrain workshop - finished trees

Well, more or less finished. The bases need to be drybrushed but the basic trees are finished. Overall I'm pleased; they look like trees at least.

I'll get some better photos once I have a games set up and they can been seen in context.

Busy making more armatures now, and finishing the painting on the camp. The PVA has dried in the river and has now been skimmed with some diluted polyfilla.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Terrain workshop - trees

Hi all, progress on those trees today. Above is a shot of the basic tree with the addition of some rubberised horsehair to fill out the shape. This was guled on with PVA.

Below is the same tree after the additon of sisal "moss" from a hanging basket liner (thanks "Battlegames"). This was glued on with spray glue after first trimming the horsehair with scissors. Once this is dry (may have to seal the tacky glue with varnish/sealer) I will trim the sisal before adding Woodland Scenics turf to give the foliage effect.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Terrain workshop - tents, etc.

Above, little bases that will make up a camp for one side or the other. The dog tents ar largely divided into groups of 2 or 3. The larger bases are "themed" into a command base of 2 bell-tents and a table, a medic base with 1 bell tent, a dog tent and some stretchers and a commissary base with 1 bell tent, 1 dog tent and lots of bags, boxes and barrels.
The trees have had some texture and strengthening added with a mix of PVA and filler (above).
Below is a picture of the river board. I have poured in a dilute PVA mixture to seal and level the river bed. Note the heavy items holding the board flat while this dries - to prevent undue warping.

Lastly, a close up of the canal section that will hold the wheel of the water mill. This has been lines with a couple of laers of matchsticks before pouring in the PVA.

Back to work

Here I am, eating lunch at my desk. Yes I am back at work after a lovely week off spending time with the family, squeezing in Partizan and getting lots of terrain finished.

It is now a year since I put a counter on the blog site, and this has now registered nearly 29,000 hits - not too shabby. The post count now totals over 200, so if you haven't done so already, check out the archives. This time last year I was basing for Impetus (a project temporarily on hold) and gaming some Back of Beyond stuff (also taking a back seat to the AWI).

Time to reflect on the game at the club last week. This proved in my head that the smaller battles of the AWI can be handled by the "big battle" rules of Blackpowder by dividing battalions into sub units (companies, grand divisions or whatever) to ensure that a suitable number of manoevre units are on the table. In the Charlotte scenario last week, I split the first wave of each army into "small" units of 6 figures, while leaving the militia as "standard" 12 figure units and the British line battalions as "large" 30 figure units. While this does give the multiple small units an advantage in number of dice when firing etc, the larger units are more robust as individual companies can be picked off more easily and those 2 hits acrue really quickly and are harder to rally off by the commander who is managing four company sized units rather than a single battalion. So basically, it all balances out!

The wagons worked well as a scenario timer/objective - much better than counting turns and they present an extra tactical element ans the american player can opt to slow them down and hence delay the British reinforcements; although in the game I sent them a hell for leather as possible to the exit. A 6" move gave us about 12 turns until they escaped but the scenario could be tweaked by a 5" or 7" or even a randomised move.

I'll run the same (or similar) game next week before looking at some other small scenarios such as Spencer's Ordinary and a variety of skirmishes along the Santee River. It might also be possible ti use a similar approach to game parts of the Boston campaign. I'd like to game Lexington/Concord in ways other than the long "battle road" scenario - a series of smaller skirmishes like a linked campaign might work well.

Plans for tonight:
1. Get into the garage and texture the trunks of the trees
2. If the polyfilla has dried on the river terrain, get it sanded down and start to line the canal leading to the mill wheen with matchstick "planking"
3. Get some scenario writing done at long last - I have put off committing things to paper for the last few weeks while I let ideas settle in my head.
4. Maybe begin to plan how to base up my tents into a camp. I think small groups of 2-3 tents each would offer the best compromise between diorama quality and flexibility between scenarios.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Terrain Workshop 6th June

A quick update on progress.

First, I have added a picket fence to the brick house I painted up last week. This sets the model off nicely and will help it to sit in its landscape.Here is the next terrain board in progress, a "straight" river with an inset area for the watermill to sit on:
...and lastly, some pictures of some very experimental trees. These are made from both real twigs AND florists wire for a combination effect. These will get a coat of PVA/Polfilla tomorrow and we'll see how they look.