Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 End of the Year Wrap Up

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is helping me clear out this back log of lead!

We're nearly done with 2016 (and good riddance!) but before turning to plans for the new year, I wanted to evaluate what I've accomplished this year. My painting took a slump during the summer, but I still managed to finish up:

  • 117 Foot
  • 12 Mounted
  • 5 Buildings
That's about average for me, although I'm fairly pleased I managed to make some progress on various terrain pieces that had been lingering for far too long.

My gaming over the last year was a bit spotty. I've been playing the FFG Star Wars games at a regular weekly session, but I finally gave up on getting my old game group together. While disappointing, 2017 looks extremely promising for gaming. 

Star Wars Armada

My weekly FFG group is going to start up the new Corellian Conflict Campaign. The regular Armada players are very excited and we're considering starting up a MeetUp group to make sure we have a consistent full 6 player game. We're furiously painting up the last of our squadrons in preparation. Can't wait!

Fantasy and Historicals

To get my fantasy figures out of their boxes I've been playing some Song of Blades and Heroes with another local gamer. We've also talked about giving Congo and Deus Vult a try, and I'm looking forward to teaching him some Lion/Dragon Rampant or Hail Caesar.

Rogue Trader

2017 is the 30th anniversary of Rogue Trader, the first (and only interesting) edition of Warhammer 40K. I've been on a Rogue Trader bender and I'm using the Analogue Painting Challenge to make progress on a number of figures I've picked up over the last few years.

My eight year old also had a blast playing RT and has been asking to try it again. I may be going on a tear to get some figures and terrain finished so we can have some proper battles. The rules may be a bit pants, but a wooly, sci-fi grab bag rules set really appeals to me, which the later editions lost in favor of a grim, standardized, cookie cutter universe that lost a lot of the charm I loved about the first edition. 

Blood and Plunder

We also have pirates and galleons on the way from the Blood and Plunder kickstarter, which I'm also eager to try. 

That is a ton of painting and gaming I'm hoping to do in 2017, and if I even get half of it done I should be happy. How about you? What are you looking to get done next year?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Brigade Games Spanish/Caribbean House and Stable

In preparation for our upcoming "Blood and Plunder"games, we've been gathering terrain for our tiny pirates and colonial Spanish to fight over. I built and painted a pair of resin buildings by Brigade Games and while I did run into some issues with them, but I found two life saving tools that I can't believe I've working without. Pics and thoughts after the jump.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thank the Dice Gods for New Opponents

Outside local gaming conventions, finding fellow wargamers has been pretty tricky since I entered the hobby 10 years ago. I managed to convert some of my friends, roped my family into gaming, and contacted a few other local gamers, but locating opponents is definitely the most challenging part of the hobby for me (well, except for painting pupils on the eyes of 20mm figures). I lucked out when Joe, a visitor of my blog and local resident, contacted me to set up a game. After a flurry of emails we convened at a local comic shop to roll some dice and push some figures. I don't mind painting up both sides of a game, building all the terrain, reading the rules and teaching them.... but I tell ya, it was such a relief to be able to just bring my own figures and some terrain to match my opponent's collection, sit down and play.

Some pics and thoughts on the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes game we played after the jump.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016 Wargame Holiday Deals

Each year I try to compile all of the various wargame related sales and deals for gamers to help the community find the best holiday specials. The fact that my wife invariably picks up a few items from this list to put under the Christmas tree is in no way related. Mere coincidence, I assure you. As always, if you come across any deals let me know and I'll amend the list.

Gift Ideas

The Demogorgon: This is it! THE actual Demogorgon miniature featured in the Netflix series "Stranger Things".  The mold is decades old and currently owned by the Italian manufacturer Mirilton. It's 10 Euros, and their minimum order is 15 (so pick up two I guess?) and with shipping to the US you're looking at $37 bucks for a pair, but still. Demogorgon!

The Grizzly Allied Walker: Konflikt 47 is Warlord Games expansion of Bolt Action. It thrusts the game into a pseudo-historical extension of WWII to the late 40's, finding Axis and Allies waging war with super science mecha, zombies and tesla energy cannons. I'm not sold on the milieu but I fell in love with the Grizzly Walker after seeing an early production model at Historicon. It's a solid, detailed mecha that could be employed in a variety of alt-history, steampunk or sci-fi games.

Frostgrave: Expeditions to the ice locked necropolis show no signs of letting up, and no doubt the wargamer you are shopping for would be eager to launch their own venture to it. I've been reluctant to jump into another game with so many on my plate already, but even I've been eyeing the Cultists, Gnolls and Undead for use in some of the fantasy games I already play. Nick at Northstar just released a pack of sci-fi upgrades to mix and match these into a host of customized space weirdos too. Perfect! Figures also available from Warlord and even Amazon.

Star Wars Rebellion: Everything I've read about Star Wars Rebellion makes it sound like a tense, asymmetric board game that captures the struggle of the Rebels to overthrow the Empire before the might of their Death Star extinguishes the rebellion forever. A bit too long to play at our weekly game nights, but perfect for those lazy holiday and snow days when weather keeps the family cooped up indoors.

Imperial Assault: We've been playing Imperial Assault campaigns pretty regularly at our weekly game nights. Tense, sometimes frustrating but always mentally challenging, the intricate rule mechanics and gorgeous miniatures have won me over.

Author Marc Morris: I recently finished A Great and Terrible King about Edward I by Marc Morris and enthusiastically recommend it. I'm looking forward to picking up his earlier work about King John and I'm sure his book on the Norman Conquest is equally as thorough and engaging.

Tabletop Wargames: I've had this book on my watchlist for ages, and it's finally gone into print. Rick Priestly, gaming luminary, has penned a volume covering his theory behind game design. I love getting into the nitty gritty behind game mechanics and would love to peek into the mindset of Rick's obsession with d6s.

Rogue Stars: Cutting it close to the wire, Rogue Stars (Osprey's latest blue book wargame rules) releases December 20. I enjoy Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant and I'm looking for a new set of rules to cover sci-fi skirmishes. This looks like the ticket!

Best Holiday Wargame Deals

Brexit: Sorry Brits, I know this likely stings, but the pound has dropped in value to near parity with the US dollar. For those of us in the colonies, this is a golden opportunity to take advantage of the increased buying power of the dollar in the UK. And with our own economic situation becoming a bit unpredictable in January, this shopping season offers a window to finally place some big orders with North Star, Foundry and other vendors across the sea.

Black Tree Miniatures: Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday sale. 50% off WWII, Ancient, Roman, Feudal, Dark Ages, HYW, Zulu Wars Infantry, Fantasy Infantry and Cavalry. 25% off Doctor Who.

Foundry: Currently running their Christmas special (buy 8 packs, get 2 free or buy 16 packs get 6 free). Coupled with the increased buying power of the dollar, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for American customers to get their hands on some beautiful Foundry lead. I'm partial to the unreleased Rogue Trader "Liquidation Squad", Ancient Farmers and Townsfolk, Pirates (for the upcoming Blood and Plunder), and Old West (Westworld on HBO has fanned the flames of interest in doing some Western gaming in my game group).

Mantic: Typically offers some great holiday deals (including their Crazy Boxes packed full of a variety of their figures). This year they're also running an event on Black Friday with hourly deals. Who knows what lies in store!

Fantasy Flight: Each year they run a sale on their board, card and miniature games and 2016 is no different. Check this out, our family's favorite Lord of the Rings board game on sale for 20 bucks, Talisman for $20, lots of Game of Thrones and Hobbit games for cheap. And that's just FFG's own games. Plenty more from other publishers available as well. Or try their new Star Wars Destiny card + dice game, my favorite Star Wars Armada (extra dice and new Rebel squadrons make great stocking stuffers), or the ever popular X-Wing.

The War Store: Through Cyber Monday, 5% off with code BF16. Free shipping on Privateer Press orders over $60 (with code PIPSHIP) or $100 of Battlefront (with code BATTLESHIP), FREE STUFF with orders over $50, sales on Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Army Painter, Infinity, random drawings, plus more! Madness!

Warlord Games: 25% off plastic tanks, 20% of resin tanks (looks like they are clearing out stock, supplies are limited), Terminator sets on deep discount, 10% off Pegasus Bridge, La Haye Sainte, Rorke's Drift, Liberty or Death! Armored Fury boxed set at $48 off!

Wargames Illustrated: FREE issue of Wargames Illustrated Prime and an entry to win a Band of Brothers boxed set, 50p off their Giants in Miniature figures with code blackfriday.

Plastic Soldier Company: 25% off tons of PSC, Minairons, Vallejo, and more until midnight Nov 27.

Minairons: Use code TMPR2016 when you order €50 or more to receive 30% off your order through Black Friday Nov 25.  The sales only extends to items on stock, so grab those Renault tanks and biplanes while they're still available!

Northumbrian Tin Soldier: Not specifically a Black Friday sale, but 50% OFF Otherworld Miniatures! Wow! Awesome figs at prices that are at a steal! Supplies limited, so don't buy them all because I want some!

Splintered Light: 20% off from Nov 24 until the end of the year with code XMAS16.

Alternative Armies,, and The Ion Age: Free shipping on orders over £12, free gift on orders over £20 through Cyber Monday.

Victoria Miniatures: Every order, regardless of size, between Nov 23 and Dec 3 receives a free miniature! The free miniature changes each day, check the list here.

Miniature Building Authority: Bucking the trend, MBA has been running a sale that ENDS BEFORE Black Friday. 15mm items are 15% off, some 28mm are between 10 and 25% off.

Osprey: Their Black Friday Sale offers 30% all Osprey books ordered directly from them

Brigade Games: Now through Dec 16, receive 15% off all orders.

Miniature Market: Tons of stuff on sale through Monday Nov 28, including Guild Ball, Warmachine, Infinity plus tons of board, card and role playing games

Critical Mass: 20% off everything in the store until Friday, Dec 2. and free shipping on orders over £50.00 GBP.

Hardwood Games: 20% off everything with code BF20 .

Hydra Miniatures: 20% off everything in the store!

ACW Gamer E-Magazine: 20% off miniatures, subscriptions and back issues.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Medieval Flags and Norman Foot

I finished up some Conquest Games Norman foot (with the addition of some Norman command figures by Crusader Miniatures to give me three full elements of 16 figures) recently, but couldn't consider them completely finished until I figured out how to handle their command banner.

I've got a lot in store for these Normans. I'm hoping to use them for dark age battles against vikings in Saga, big crusades era battles against muslim enemies or in their Italian holdings with Hail Caesar or Too the Strongest, and I'm even hoping to use them as Starks for some Lion Rampant "Game of Thrones" battles.  Sticking with just one banner that would be appropriate for all those theaters wasn't going to cut it, so I cribbed an idea from James Roach and created an interchangeable flag.

I experimented with a variety of different brass tubes, pins and plastic tubes before settling on a system that worked for me. The portion held in the figure's hand is 1/16 brass tube. I cut another length the height of the flag, and then glued a metal wire spear length inside it.

I removed the spear's point and glued it on the other end of this 'upper' portion. After painting both halves spear shaft wood tones I wrapped and glued the flag itself around the upper portion.

I used a crusades era flag from Little Big Man to test the idea out. It's ok, but I also picked up some sample flags at Historicon from Rick O'Brien, "The Flag Dude". I replaced a medieval banner that I had printed out myself with a Flag Dude version, and it blows my humble effort away.

My home printed paper flag is on the left, The Flag Dude's version is on the right

The colors are richer, the animation more pronounced and overall it simply "pops" in a way that my homemade version doesn't. I had some specific sizing requests for this banner and Rick was highly accommodating too. I'm planning on picking up several flags from him just for my Norman foot, plus all my other medievals because they just look so slick. Looking forward to getting these guys on the table. With fancy flags like these, they can't lose! (right?)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Historicon 2016

I hit Historicon again this year and had a blast. Pics after the jump!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Lion Rampant: Feel the Burn

We got a chance to play some Lion Rampant recently. I ran an historically accurate refight of the famous battle of the Red Guys vs. the Yellow Guys this time.

Check out some pics and battle report after the jump.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tabletop World Fantasy Medieval Buildings

Tabletop World produces fantastic terrain: 28mm resin buildings rendered with exquisite detail, both inside and out and chock full of charm and character. They are works of art, and honestly a bit intimidating.

After receiving them for Christmas a few years ago they lingered on my "to-do" list until I had the time and materials to do them properly. I finally carved out a break from my figure painting to give them the attention they deserved.

Getting the Stone Right

After a good scrub in soapy water and a vain search for non-existent mold lines or bubbles I primed them black and gave them a good drybrush of gray, picking out a few stones in blue or tan, which turned out to be wholly unsatisfying. The stones looked "okay", but for such fine terrain pieces I was determined to get them right. It took two more full repaints before I was happy with the stone work.

Here's what worked for me:

  • Gray base coat (even down into the cracks and crevices)
  • While the gray paint is still wet work in a number of other colors: browns, tans, blues, blacks, and GREENS. Mix and splotch it in so the other colors are haphazard and mixed with the gray. I found green essential , serving as both color within the stone or replicating moss, algae or other weathered discoloration.
  • Drybrush gray, pick out a few stones in tans, blue-gray or dark gray, drybrush some more with gray, lightening up subsequent dry brushing to near ivory. Pretty standard stuff at this stage.

Getting the Roofs Right

After finishing the stone work I was stuck on the shingles for quite some time. There's a whimsical character to these buildings, and some of my favorite examples of them use blue for their shingles. I'd seen such things in World of Warcraft and Warhammer, and would happily paint them so for use in a fantasy game, but I was hoping to sneak them into some straight historical games. I just couldn't bring myself to paint them blue. Digging a bit on TMP I was reassured that, historically, after a batch of woad was used to dye clothing blue, the excess was used to dye shingles. The woad served as an anti fungal to preserve the wooden shingles.

Satisfied I got to work with various shades of blue before a differing opinion was posted on the message board. I gave the cottage an additional drybrush of gray so that all three buildings didn't appear too cookie cutter.

I Love These Buildings

I'm quite happy with the result. These are great terrain pieces, each features fully detailed interiors, there are plenty of ledges and stairs for figures to climb on, and there's a cohesive look to the entire collection. Hoping to add more Tabletop World buildings to my burgeoning village in the future!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Taking Lion Rampant for a spin

I've been painting up medieval figures since since Christmas in the hopes of getting to try Lion Rampant. I finally finished enough figures to try out a 20 point game and told my son he could get out of chores by rolling some dice with Dad. Check out my trial game after the jump!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Crusader Miniatures Foot Knights

I just finished up some foot knights by Crusader Miniatures, ready to go for some Lion Rampant. When I was painting my mounted knights I replicated the heraldry and colors of knights I could use for a variety of battles during the late 13th and early 14th century. For this batch I played it a little looser, looking to create three groups of knights fielding similar colors for use in Lion Rampant.

The red knights

The yellow knights

The black knights

I also took the opportunity to sneak in a little "local color." I live in the state of Maryland, the only U.S. state to feature a heraldic device on its state flag (don't be jealous. Also we have delicious blue crabs. I think that's the sum total of facts you need to know about Maryland!)

I thought the quartered flag on a single shield would be a little busy, so I split the individual devices across two different knights. The contemporary state flag features the devices of the Calvert and Crossland families (which were combined into the heraldry of Cecil Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore), so perhaps these knights are ancient members of those families.

I really dig Crusader's figures. I'll be trying out some other manufacturers soon but I think these miniatures will be tough to beat for sculpting, heft and price.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cold Wars 2016

Didn't make it to Cold Wars this year? I did and snapped a few pics while I was there. Check them out after the jump.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dick Winters

This is it! My last miniature for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge! This is my first year, and I'm a little fuzzy on the requirements for the miniature donated to Curt. I believe the theme is "Daredevils, Gamblers and Risk Takers", though I may have missed the deadline for that particular bonus round.

No matter, the figure I picked to donate to Curt is "Dick Winters", the U.S paratrooper featured in the HBO series "Band of Brothers".  If jumping out of an airplane, behind enemy lines into Nazi occupied France doesn't make him a daredevil AND risk taker I'm not sure what does! He received a variety of Olive Drab, Khaki and Dark Green paint, but I've left his base with only a simple brown coat, ready for basing material to match the collection he eventually settles into.

This was a Historicon exclusive figure I've bee saving for a special occasion and completing my first Painting Challenge fits the bill. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, painted up a bunch of figures that have been lingering on my lead pile for ages, and been re-energized to tackle some new projects. Big thanks to Curt, my reviewer Dave, and all the other assistants who made the Challenge possible!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Gripping Beast Monks

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is winding down and while I beat my personal goal of 400 points I'm trying to push through to an even 500. I've wracked up a few more points last week and I'm currently sitting at 477. Searching my lead pile I found a pack of Gripping Beast monks that I've been putting off painting for a while. They aren't the most exciting miniatures but will certainly get me closer to my goal.

These weren't the most challenging figures to paint up, but they'll make good bystanders or objectives for a variety of dark ages or medieval battles.

These four monks should give me an additional 20 points, putting me at 497, just one Curtgeld short of 500!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Another Batch of Fireforge Medieval Knights

This post originally appeared on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is swiftly approaching its deadline, and I'm trying to cram a few more figures in to boost my point total (gotta set a bar to hurdle next year!)

I finished up another set of Fireforge Medieval Knights, this time painted in largely yellow heraldry. Most of these are knights who served in the Scottish Wars, so I've cribbed a few helmets from a set of Teutonic Knights (snipping off some of the more fanciful horns) to represent gear from the latter half of the 13th century.

I selected what I hoped were easier heraldic devices to paint. Little did I realize that "straight lines" are pretty tricky to pull off.

Gilbert de Clare and Thomas de Clare

This is the leader of our merry band, Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester. Gilbert de Clare "the Red" (so named for his red hair) fought in the 2nd Baron's War and pledged service to Edward I on crusade. His son (also named Gilbert, and conveniently bearing the same heraldry) also fought in the Scottish Wars. Here he is joined by Thomas de Clare, bearing a banner bearing the de Clare arms.

Piers Mauley and Robert Mauley

Next up is Sir Robert Mauley and Piers Mauley, veterans of the Scottish Wars. Yellow with a black stripe was fairly simple to pull off, but the tiny birds decorating that stripe were pretty fiddly. Props to those who can pull those off!

Robert de Vere and John/William de Vescy

Finally a pair of knights, Robert de Vere and John (or William, they used identical arms) de Vescy. I put off de Vere until last, hesitant to paint the star that adorns his arms. I even tried to find a decal I could borrow from a 15mm WWII Sherman, but without luck. I finally bit the bullet and attempted those daunting stars only to find they were dead simple. Easy! I was worried for nuthin'.

That completes this set of "yellow knights", ready for some skirmish battles.

And also fills out a complete 12 base cavalry unit for mass battles.

That should give me another 60 points. Here's hoping I can squeeze in a few more before the deadline to hit 500!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Basing Tutorial: How I Base My Wargame Figures

One of the visitors to my blog left a comment asking for an explanation of my basing technique. I don't think I do anything special regarding basing, but I'm happy to oblige in case it helps!


  • White (PVA) Glue
  • Sand (I picked up a lifetime supply of playground sand from the hardware store. I'm considering sifting out the largest grains or finding a finer grain source)
  • Cheap Paint. I use three shades of Americana craft paint: Raw Sienna, Spicy Mustard and Sand. 


After gluing the figure to its base and waiting for it to dry, I start by coating the base liberally with white glue.

To level out the difference in height between the figures cast base and the wood base I put a lot of glue around the edge of the cast base and spread a thinner layer around the figure's feet.

While the glue is wet shove it in a box of sand. Shake off the excess.

Check to make sure no extra bits of sand are glued to the figures feet.

Let the glue dry overnight.


Paint the sand base with Raw Sienna/Medium Brown. The paint helps affix the sand to the base, so coat it thoroughly.

After the base dries, I drybrush with a 50/50 mix of Raw Sienna and Spicy Mustard. For bases depicting arid regions I use more Spicy Mustard, or add a second light drybrush of Spicy Mustard.

I add a final light drybrush of 50/50 Raw Sienna and Sand, just trying to pick out the sharp edges of stones and give the base a general dusting of light color.

I also start working in some of the basing colors into the parts of the figure close to the grown. Here I drybrushed the bottom of the horse covering with the mix of Sand and Raw Sienna to represent dried mud or dust.

Ground Cover

The drybrush coat isn't wet for long, so after I finish painting a batch of bases I quickly move into ground cover. I spread a few lines of white/PVA glue onto the base, and use a toothpick to work it into cracks and crevices. I aim to leave about 50% of the ground untouched by glue (I like the contrast between ground cover and bare earth). For arid regions I'd cover 25% or so.

Next I choose a few Tufts and place them in the biggest patches of glue.

Finally I dab pinches of static grass onto the base.

And that's it! I final coat of matte overcoat and the figure is ready for battle!