Donnerstag, 27. Dezember 2012

Planning ahead

I hope you all had a very enjoyable Christmas. I also hope that you've found many hobby-related presents under the Christmas tree (or in your Christmas stockings). I for myself was very lucky indeed and have recieved an army of perry HYW figures. So together with my Samurai/Korean project these figures will be the big project for next year - and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Speaking of it, I now have finished the plan for my 100 points DUX Korean adaption. Here it is:

100 points Korean army

The last weeks I have read the "Imjin war" by Samuel Hawley - a thoroughly reserched and very, very well written account of the Japanese-Korean war in the late 16th century. Sadly the book is out of print, and I was only able to akquire a used version at a very high prize. Yet given the quality of the book it was well worth its money (or even more). I can not recommend the book highly enough.

The reading is very inspiring, and even if many of the accounts are shocking from an humanitarian perspective (to say the least), the period itself is very exciting and full of potential. By reading the text I could see the armies unfold on the hilly ground of Korea, and I'm looking forward to bring the Perry figures which I've treasured for so long to live with the DUX Britanniarum adaption. There'll be quite a bit more about this project in the near future.

For now I wish you all the best, enjoy the last days of 2012 and make the best of them. Take care,

Samstag, 22. Dezember 2012

From DUX to Duke and Daimyo

When contemplating the year 2012 (which thankfully has not ended yesterday - along with the whole earth), one of the best hobby-related things for me in the last months was the release of DUX Britanniarum. With its very accomplished synthesis of game, simulation and story-telling, it hit the bulls eye. There is only one quarrel left (which can be considered a minor one): The Arthurian era is not one of my favorites. Yes, I have figures and yes, I like them, BUT it would be so much more fun battling away in Outremer, 14th century France or Feudal Japan. There is hope for offical supplements, but I think I don't think I can wait that long.

So, my new years resolution for the hobby does include many things DUX-related. While my basic armies for the Britons and Saxons are finished (just have to take pictures which will happen soonish), they will need to be reinforced. But in addition I also want to adapt the rules to other periods. And here the big challange is to keep the balance of the game.

Therefore I have tried to deduce a point-system for DUX, which for me looks rather balanced and rates both official DUX-starter armies at the same point value of 70 points. Here's the point-system I came up with:

Point System for DUX

Let me explain how it works: The point value of each unit is calculated by the number of figures, their quality and the fact whether they are mounted and/or have ranged weapons. Thus a 6 figure unit of elites comes out at 10 points (6 for the figures, 4 for being elite). A unit of 4 bowmen counts 6 points (4 for the figures, 2 for ranged weapons). I also had to make the destinction regarding unit-size in order to adjust the quality-costs to the number of figures. A normal unit for foot is 6 figures, a small one 4 and a large one 8. For mounted troops a normal unit is 4, a small 2 and a large 6. Thus a mounted unit of 6 elite shock troops costs 14: 4 figures + 4 elite + 4 shock horse + 2 large unit size.

With this system it should be possible to adjust the game to any setting mentioned above. Flavour of the period will have to be added by the card-deck as well as by (very few) additional rules. Talking about tinkering with the rules - you will notice the term "B&M Group" in the system above. This is a group of bannermen, standards and musicians which is indispensible in every feudal army. It works as follows: The force moral level for a battle with the basic army is 6 + 1D3 (meaning on a pip of 1-2 the level will be raised 1 point, on 3-4 it will be raised 2 points and so on). Thus this can be adapted for larger games as 0,5 force morale points per levy unit, 1 per warrior unit and 1,5 per elite unit present on the table plus the additional D3. The new B&M group will count as an elite unit (thus being a very cheap addition to the force moral level - analogous to baggage in DBMM) AND allow one re-roll of the D3 when first determining the force moral level. As a downside it will fight like levies (being encoumbered with all those flags and gear) but die like elites - with a potential loss of 3 morale points. I think this might work well and will also make for a beautifull addition to the army on the field.

You may also have noticed that bowmenship is not available for levies - that is because levies trained with ranged weapons will fight as missile troops or skirmishers in feudal armies. Experts of shooting belonging to the elites shoot better (thus the higher point value). When checking for hits they treat their targets as one quality level lower then they actually are (thus elites shot at by elites use the warrior-outcome). In addition, elites don't have to shoot on the nearest target (yet they still are not allowed to target commanders).

That's enough of special rules at the moment, now let's have a look at the 100p Samurai army I'm planning to field 2013:

100point Samurai army for DAIMYO (aka DUX)

In the same way I'm going to build up a Korean force. I will report on the progress. Enough of planning ahead, now let's enjoy the last remaining days of 2012. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!

Very best regards,

Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2012

Napo-event and Liebster Award

The year's end comes alway very surprising - or so it seems. Suddenly all people come to notice what should long have been finished by now, and if those people are in charge, you can be sure you have your hands full of work. That's why I've managed to paint 2 (!) figures in the last four weeks, and my blog was in quiet tranquillity (as it befits the nearing holiday season).

Now it's about time for an update, and there are two important developments to report on: First I have the honour to be nominated for the famous "Liebster award" by the equally famous Christopher aka Axebreaker, to whom I'd like to express my gratidute for this great honour. Christopher is the same "wargame butterfly" as me with so many projects and hobby-objectives that reality often has a hard time to catch up. We're planning to organize a game together at next years AttritiCon in Ulm, but what it will be is a matter of discussion (and subject to change) yet. Rest assured it will be great - what ever we will finally decide on :-)

Back to the Liebster Award. As you all know by now, it has five rules, namely: 1) "Copy and paste" the award on your blog, and talk about it a bit. 2) Post a link back to the blogger who gave you the award. 3) Select for the award your five favourite blogs with less than 200 followers, leaving a comment on one of their post to notify them that they have won the award. You need also to list them in your own blog. 4)  Enjoy the moment, knowing that you have just made someone's day. 5) Of course, there is no obligation to pass the award, but it is a good deed really.

Now with that beautiful golden figure on my blog, it is time to nominate my own list of great blogs I like and visit. Well, first there's Simons' burgundian blog "Je Lay Emprins", dedicated to the development of his fantastic Burgundian Amry (mainly Perry figures). Fantastic work and very inspirational.

Also, I highly recommend "The Leutnants Diary" - it seems this blog was already nominated a few times for the award, but as it is so good I think it can handle another nomination.

Next on my list of recommendees is Jimbibbly's blog. James, the owner of the fantastic Oshiro range of Japanese buildings who always crowns the Salute in London with his fantastic Perry Samurai display, is a very nice person and so productive it puts shame on my meagre hobby-efforts... 

Then there is the sensational - if German speaking - blog "Figuren und Geschichten" ("figures and stories") of Frank, presenting beautifully painted figures in fantastic backgrounds with well-researched or simply inspirational stories around them. Highly recommended to all German speakers and readers.

Last but not least I'd like to nominate the "Lair of the Uber Geek". It may have more thean 200 followers and thus does not qualify for the award, but I'd like to interpret this rule as a mere  guideline and thus ignore it. It is with great joy and amusement that I read Miles stories about figures, robots and his wifes parties, and more often than not I call my own wife over to the Laptop in order to enjoy together the fantastic stories of this very nice and sympathetic person - I hope I'll meet him in person someday.

There are many more blogs I'd like to nominate, but five is the rule - and if I would ignore all rules then where would we be? At your average wargame tournament obviously, but this is another matter.

Thus onto our next topic, the Napoleonic Wargames Event in Ulm. The idea was to have a themed gaming weekend, and to top it up with a little bit of history - namely a tour to the battlefield of Ulm/ Elchingen.

As Marios (in the middle) presents, the event was really great fun

15 wargamers arrived from all over Germany, and whe played all things Napoleonic - especially with Age of Eagles (here our good friend Bodo has put up two great scenarios, you can read more about them (in German) here) and Lasalle. Personally, I hosted a big 28mm Lasalle Game...

28mm Lasalle with Perry Figures

and also played some 15mm Lasalle games with my Russians:

Lasalle in 15mm: Not as visually pleasing as 28mm but still a great game

It was fantastic and I think we'll repead the event next year. Well, that's it for now, I hope there'll be another blog entry before Christmas. Have a good time, buy nice presents and enjoy the snow (I just came back from showelling some snow drifts in our yard, there is something to be said for "green Christmas"...)

Best regards and take care,

Sonntag, 11. November 2012

Battles in Persia, the Peninsula - and in Space

When considering the three basic elements of our hobby - painting, collecting and gaming - normally I have a strong bias towards the first two. It's not that I do not enjoy gaming as much as the others, but due to several reasons "real live" is very busy at the moment and it takes much less planning to sit down and paint than to arrange a quiet evening at the gaming table. Yet after several months of not-gaming it really was great that I had the oppertunity for three very different but really great games in the last two weeks.

First was a game of DBMM 240 with my good friend Norbert. We've had several different settings of DBMM 240 with 28mm figures during this year, all of them including Romans but from different periods. So far I was lucky and kept winning - which is quite surprising fiven both the facts that Norbert is the much more experienced DBMM-player AND my dice-luck is normally much less then average.

This time we had Sassanids against Imperial Romans - not exactly a historical match, but close enough. The Sassanids had a lot of Levies and some Elephants in the center, knights and superior cavalry on the right flank and also some cavalry and light horse on their left. Opposing them were the Romans with some cavalry and light horse on their right, a double line of legionaries supported by artillery on ox carts (which can fire over their own troops and are especially deadly for Elephants) in the center and some Auxilia on their left.

The Roman General plans ahead - and I'm so glad that Roman armies are so much smaller than my "barbarian hordes"

 My plan was simple: Advance and smash them. It worked. An advance of my knights on the rigth drew the artillery away, and although my levies were killed at a shocking rate my elephants finally broke through and were able to trample the Roman general who felt safe in the second rank. His last thought after a stampeeding pachyderme ran over him: I should have commanded from the rear...

A really great game, but to be honest I probably would have lost it if the Roman general would have been less audacious. This way alas my series hold, and I'm looking forward to the next game against Norbert.

One final word regarding this game: DBMM 240 works really fine for 28mm figures. I don't enjoy 15mm gaming of this ruleset as much as I once did, but in 28mm it is just great.

Next: My good friend Marios came over for a game of Lasalle - by far my favorite ruleset for non-skirmish games at the moment. We used the generic scenario generator for a game of French vs. British (both my own 28mm armies of Perry miniatures) and got "the valley" - a narrow valley between two large hills. The british were defending, the French went for the attack. Both armies were waiting for an off-table reserve of heavy cavalry.

The British (front) await the French attack - all figures are Perry Miniatures from their fantastic Napoleonic range

 My plan as French commander was simple and elegant: Advance and smash them. It, errr, did not work.

At first it looked good: My center advanced in force and my heavy cavalry - commanded by a commander with high vigor - arrived quite soon. A barrage of rifle volleys and roundshot from my guns reduced the British guns to firewood and then - everything went wrong.

The British psoition looks rather frail - sadly it was indeed implacable

Despite several audacious tries to storm the hill with both infantry and heavy cavalry...

My carabiners attack, but the British are able to form a square in the nick of time - all this valor for nothing...

...I suddenly was restricted to the lower numbers a dice has to offer, and this in a tremendous continuity. In fact after the initial rout of the British guns I was not able to kill a single batallion, while my own batallions grumbled away under British rifle volleys. When the British heavy horse finally arrived and my left flank wavered...

British heavy horse (on the far left) arrive and my left flank turns tail and runs

... not even my own heavy horse (moved there in a hurry) was able to stop them. We run out of time around turn 16, but already over a third of my army was gone - forcing me to make tests for the army moral now every turn. Thus I left the field, swearing to return to those hills sometime in the future and to bring better dice next time.

The game was great, and again I really enjoyed not only Marios' company, the great rules and the beautiful figures, but also the many advantages of the gaming mat - it was so easy to create a realistic looking valley by simply butting small parcels under the mat. How much better this is than the contour-lined pieces of carton or plastic that I've used for hills so often before...

The third game was yesterday with my dear nephew Jan, who with his 16 years already is a cunning strategist. We've played a game of X-Wing, and it was tremendous good fun - although the emperor will not be pleased with my efforts to wipe the rebel scum from the galaxy I have to admit.

We've played with 100 points, giving me the best five TIE-fighter I could muster against Luke and two of his pals. I have to say the asteroid-belt we placed in the middle of the playing field (which I had speed-painted the evening before on the backside of a 90x90 MDF board) did more damage to my ships than his lasers. I should not have taken Vaders laconic view of "asteroids do not concern me" at face value. Later I realised it is easier to neglect those flying mountains if you pace in the bridge of an executor star destroyer, than sitting in the tight cabin of a minute spot of dust that is a TIE-fighter. Well, I'll have to go back to the acadamy and repeat those navigational-eaxams...

End game - three TIEs are already destroyed by the combined force of stone and laser

 I like this new game very much, and I think it is a worthy adaption of those space dog-fights I've loved so well in my youth.

Next week I hope to squeeze in another game-night at my club, then I'll return to my painting table and finally get thos DUX Saxons done...

Have a nice evening and thanks for your visit,

Samstag, 20. Oktober 2012


No, I'm not talking about the TV-series of that name (although it is reasonably entertaining) but about a small medieval town that I have bought at Ebay. You have certainly seen it before as I have myself many times - it is from PMC games and at first I was very reluctand to buy it. The pictures on ebay are not the best, and I have never seen them in reality, so...

Well, After months of thought-wrestling I've finally re-invested the revenue of an ebay sale, and I was really surprised when the parcel arrived. The buidlings are of very good quality, look the part and are, especially at this price, more than a bargain. I've aired them a few nights in the garage, thought, as they obviously were packed right after painting. Now the smell seems to be gone, but the looks remains. Enough said, now see for yourself:

PMC-games medieval town - laid out on my new gaming mat. The river is from litko (painted by me)

Here is the same view with some background added...

... a detail-picture of the mill (I'll probably add some water-effects on the wheel later)...

...and a panorama-view:

All roofs can be lifted off to place miniatures within the buildings, although there are no interior details (I for my part really don't miss them). Some more pictures of the scenery:

Perry Miniatures Knights preparing to defend Smallville

As you can see from the pictures, the buildings are a little bit on large side for the Perry figures. But they are just fine for Fireforge, which perfectly fits my new project planned for 2013 (more about that some other time).

I couldn't fight the urge to do a little photoshop with the pictures, but I have not altered any of the buildings. In my opinnion, they are really good. Now I'm looking forward for the first game of medieval street-fight.

Have a nice weekend, thanks for visiting,

Freitag, 12. Oktober 2012

Dux Britanniarum 1: The British

As you can see from the title, this fantastic new rulesystem from TFL has really hit home with me. I was no fan of their rulesets before as I'm not gaming modern warfare, and while I am interested in the Napoleonic era which they cover with Sharp Practice, the low production quality of this ruleset has prevented me from buying it (yes, I am that boring coffeetable-type of wargamer, sorry).

But with Dux Brit, not only the production quality is very appealing, but the rules work quite well and are really a very pleasant change from your usual "line up and fight" - game. I like the idea that you rather withdraw to be able to fight another day instead of storming the impossible hill or a bridge too far because its either that or quitting the game. A continuing background flow without the need of a real campaign is an idea that I really like to try.

So, I need figures. Now. And so I went into rebasing - using the flexible system I have written about in my last post. And my British army is already finished:

A birdseye-view of the complete British army
From left to right: The Dux and his household troops, a few skirmishers and two units of soldiers with their captain (all Gripping Beast Miniatures except for the DUX which is a Foundry figure - and signed by the Perries on its base :-)

The levies and their leader (all Gripping Beast figures)
A close up shot of the levies - fighting poorly does not mean you cannot dress the part...

 Still missing is a suitable Champion figure. Also, I'm going to paint and use the official Dux-figure. The hairy barbarians are also coming along nicely, but here I not only have to rebase them but also paint many of them anew- so give me just a few more days. Here is a little teaser:

The Saxons attack the British shieldwall (figures by Gripping Beast and Musketeer Miniatures)

Have a nice evening, take care,

Freitag, 5. Oktober 2012

Back to Bases

As the workload of 'real life' increases, I'm becoming a very unproductive painter. Ten painting points (1 figure = 1 point, 1 rider or warmachine = 2 points) per month is nowadays the only quota that I can achieve as an average. At the same time, the number of rulesystems I'm interested in has increased - and while I usually could apply my DBx-basing standard to every rulesystem, with SAGA or DUX Britanniarum there are now skirmish systems in my portfolio that require single based figures!

This brings me back to a point where I have been before, as I already had experimented with single based figures years ago - then with metal-singlebases and multibases with inlayed magnets. It had not worked and resulted in some really nasty accidents with miniatures falling down and all that, so I went ahead and have based everything the DBx-way since then. Now I'm willing to give the thought it another try.

The thing I have changed now is that the (quite strong) magnet is not in the multibase, but in the base of the figure itself. And suddenly it works like a charm! So I'm now able to use this unit of Normans both for SAGA...

Crusader Miniatures Normans single based for SAGA

... and for systems requiring larger units like Impetus or Hail Caesar.

The same Crusader Miniatures Normans on Multibases for Hail Caesar or Impetus

The Multibase has sabots that I make myself with a saddlers stamping-tool. The base can be styrodur or any strong material, it is glued to a metal surface in order to give the magnets in the figure-bases something to hold on to.

The Multibase without the figures

A not finished multibase together with the saddlers stamping-tool

The figures blend well into the Multibase

The sabots can only be seen from directly above

Due to the strong magnet in the base, the figures hold on to the Multibase very well and have not yet fallen off - even when turned around:

No miniatures were harmed in the making of this picture -
but don't do this without magnets!!!

They also can be fixed on smaller bases DBx-size - yet since here there is not enough room to make sabots, the visual effect clearly suffers.

Admitted - it would look better with color on the base - but only slightly so...

The same method works for mounted figures. Here I use oval single bases from warbases (with a 5mm magnet in a drilling-hole) amd fitting sabot-bases from warbases as well.

Crusader Miniatures Normans charging as a unit for Hail Ceasar or two units for Impetus
The same figures as they would be used in a SAGA-game
I'm quite happy with the result. The making of the Multibase takes some time, but much less then the painting of another unit for a new gaming systems would require. The same goes for the price: The Multibases and the magnets are not for free, but they are way cheaper then new figures would be.

Now I'm going to give the same treatment to all my figures that I would like to use for several systems, especially my Dark-Age figures for Dux Britanniarum and my Perry Samurai and Koreans (I have not yet found a suitable skirmish system for them, but Samurai skirmish is much to tempting to glue them all onto one large base...).

But I'll certainly draw the line at the year 400 AD - my Ancients collection before that date is all neatly based on DBx-bases and much to extensive to be rebased. Also I don't see the point of skirmish gaming in an era that really relied very much upon large bodies of troops, and since DBx-basing is compatible to all non-skirmish systems anyway, there really is no point changing it.

Best regards and have a nice evening,

Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2012

A new horizon - tutorial for a flexible gaming mat

Sometimes our hobby with all its focus on neat detail needs a counterweight - that is big, messy work. With my new army for DUX Britanniarum nearly finished, I felt the strong urge to create some new terrain for it. The rigth moment came when my wife had decided it was time to spent a weekend at her parents together with our little doughter. I had the house for myself - and I used it. The result looks like this:

The new gaming mat

Well, not all of it was done in two days of course, only the gaming mat. It is not my first one, you can see other mats I have made at our clubs homepage (here). But since I never have written a tutorial in English, I'll use the oppertunity to write one this time.

The first thing you'll need is a large piece of canvas. I know mats can be done with other, cheaper materials, too, but I have found canvas to be both durable and solid - which it needs to be when you place something under it later on to create hills. I buy the canvas direct from the wholesale trader in a large roll. This gives me near unlimited material to do some more mats in the future - much to the distress of my sweet wife.

Lay out the canvas flat on your table and fix it with something - it will later constrict and you'll need to keep it in place. I have some holes in my gaming table for this purpose to which the canvas is fixed with large screws.

Step 1: Lay out the canvas and fix it with something - in my example with screws
I have reinforced the anchoring point with a slice of metal

At this point it is important that the canvas should be bigger than your mat will be later on - it will be easy to cut off excess material, but if you cut the material to size to early, the constricting will cause size-problemes later on.

The basic material from which the mat is made is acrylic paste, which can be bought cheap at your local DIY (use the cheapest/ white one), paint and sand. The paint is as well from the DIY - the cheapest and biggest pots of acrilyc paint you can buy in all colors associated with earth, mud and groundwork. Mix a large pot with paint and some water, and add first sand and than acrylic paste. You will at least need four tubes of acrylic paste for a mat 180x120cm.

Step 2: Arrange what you will need and prepare a large amount of paint in a container. This will get messy, so best use something as a container that you can throw away later - like the bottom of a water conatiner I have used here.
Put in the acrylic paste and birdsand and mix them thoroughly - medical gloves that can easily discarded come in handy

Best not to show the result in too big a picture - I know what it looks like, but it smells better...

Now the fun begins - spread out the mixtures on your canvas. Use your hands here - I have experimented with all sorts of brushes, scrapers and spatula, but the material will stick to your tools instead of the canvas. So use your hands wrapped up in medical gloves. It is really messy, so you best enjoy it.

For my mat I wanted a road, some fields and a village, so I first I blocked in these areas with the dark mixture...

Step 3: Bring the acryl-sand-paint - mixture to the canvas (I really don't know why the scraper lies there - it has not been used during the process)

... and then I put the other material around it. Obviously if you want a more generic mat without fixed geographic features you don't need to mix several shades, just use one big container. But I'm not a fan of superimposed flexible roads, and this mat is especially made for 28mm skirmish games (well, for DUX Britanniarum, to be honest).

Use your hands (best in gloves) while spreading the material, and be careful not to spread it on the floor and your clothes - I know it will happen anyway but don't say I have not warned you ;-)

Now you want to be fast, because the next step has to be done while the mixture is still wet. Apply now static grass in different shades, little rocks and bushes, colored sand - everything you have at hand. If you do large areas it works good to throw the material up in the air - it will rain down evenly and give a more natural effect. In my case I had to be more careful, because I did not want too much flocking material on the road. Note that you don't need glue - just cover the whole surface as quickly as possible für the mixture to be sufficently moist and sticky.

Step 4: Use every flocking material you can lay your hands on. If you are just a little bit like me, you will have an ample supply of it.

At this point you should have noticed why it is a wise move to wait with this project until you have the house for yourself. Should you still think your partner is tolerant enough to try it anyway, you'll break the limit at the next step of the process. But before that, put in a few hours of movies and/or sleep. The acrylic paste has to dry, and it best does this with an open window.

Now if everything has had time to dry up thoroughly, you can see why it was important to leave some excess-canvas all around the surface and especially why it is important to fix the canvas to the table. The drying acryl will constrict and has quite a force in doing so - if you forgot to fix the canvas, you will by now probably have a little shrunken ball in the middle of your table instead of a flat canvas.

Anyway, the material is dry now and you can use a very sharp stanley knive to cut away the borders which will leave you with a neat mat in the required size.

Then comes an interesting part from which depends whether you can spent the rest of the day gaming or cleaning the house. The excess-material has to be shaken off the mat. What I do is lift first one half of the mat and jiggle it, than the other half, and then I pour everything that has accumulated in the middle in a container. It is good to get as much of the material back as possible, as you can use it the next time. Afterwards I roll up the mat (yes, you can do that), carry it outside and give it the treatment of an old carpet.

Step 5: Shake off the excess-flocking material and repair a few parts with paint and glue + flock, then your are done

Well, that was it. Know you can use your mat, and you can roll it up for storage. For rolling up I propose using mantling material for pipes - this is soft and durable.

The good thing about gaming mats is not only that they look beautiful and are easy to store and transport, but that you can simply put books or similar under it to get naturally looking soft hills - like I did here underneath the wood in the background. Now the thick material of the cancvas comes into play - it is so durable that it will carry your miniatures even if it is stretched between table and book and has nothing but air underneath.

Some books under the trees make for a soft hill

Some parting shots of the landscpae - I really like how this has turned out.

I hope you like the result, too. Next will be more pictures with some miniatures in it. Thanks for your visit and have a nice day,