This area of the website is my hobby blog, it contains articles about games that I have enjoyed playing together with paining and model making articles.
I’ve been painting miniatures and making model kits for over 40 years now and have used a lot of paints starting with Airfix enamels, then artists and Games Workshops acrylic paints, Colour Party, Coat’d Arms, Foundry before settling on Acrylic paints in bottles from Vallejo, Army Painter and Instar. During this time I’ve tried a whole host of different storage systems from show boxes, biscuit tins and file boxes to commercial storage from Games Workshop and our own Sally 4th racks.
I’ve recently been encouraged to tidy up my painting desk, and decided to take that opportunity to design and manufacture what I felt was the perfect solution (for my needs). So this is what I came up with. I thought that while I was tidying and sorting out paint storage, it would be a good opportunity to improve the lighting at my painting table. I used to use a double spot light on a stand. This was OK but tended to cast a shadow, so I've replaced it with a LED arc. The Arc it's self is 15mm plastic plumbing pipe, brought cheaply from the local builders merchant. I brought 1 10 metre length of LED's with a transformer and dimmer from Amazon for £16. I used a bit of Gaffer Tape at each end to hold the LED strip in position and then just wound it round the piping. A short length of 21mm plastic piping was attached to each leg using a cable tie. The ends of the 15mm pipe are held in the larger pipe. It took less than 15 minutes to put together and provides me with dimmable shadow free lighting.
The paint storage modules hold 15 bottles of paint and underneath the paint rack is a sturdy draw with a clear Perspex front so I can see what is inside and don’t have to label the drawer or remember what I have put where. The modules have been designed with ultra-strong rare earth magnets to hold them together into a solid group. Finally the material used is top grade 3mm MDF, rather than the flimsier 2mm as this makes the glued joints so much stronger.
The corners have been filled with a tool tidy. This also comes with rare earth magnets and there is a choice of 2 types of holder to fit on the top, one designed for paint brushes and the other designed for files and similar tools.
I've added the three products that I have designed to the website in case anyone else is interested in using the same soloution for organising their work space. Click here to take a look
Over the last few months I have been working on a pair of armies for fantasy tabletop gaming with Saga Age of Magic, Thud & Blunder and Frostgrave themed around the Redwall Abbey series of fantasy books. I the world of Redwall the forces of Evil are often a verminous hoard of rats with the occasional ferret or stout for variety and the forces of good are the Redwall Abbey mice together with woodland allies, often in the form of military hares from the 'Long Patrol'.
In my last hobby blog, we had taken a look at the start of my Redwall Mice so this time we are looking at the Rats of Gabool the Wild, notorious king of all sea rats. All of the miniatures (apart from the rat swarms that are 3D printed), are conversions of platic or metal 28mm miniatures using Albedo Critter Conversion kits
Saga Age of Magic is the ruleset that I am using for unit based battles. At the moment Gabools hoard is a 6pt Saga Army consisting of a Warlord, Lieutenant, Sorceror, 2 points of Hearthguard, 1 point of Warriors, 1 point of Levy and 2 creatures represented by the rat swarms.
The warbands characters (Gabbol the Wild Searat King, Crooked Tooth his trusty Lieutenant and Singed Fur caster of wild magic)
Gabbol is a conversion from the Crusader Miniatures Sea Dogs pack.
Singed Fur was built using pieces from the excellent Frostgrave Wizards plastic box set.
Crooked Tooth also started out as a casting from the Crusader Miniatures Sea DOgs pack.
I have choosen to represent the Hearthguard warrior elite in my warband with figures armed with two handed weapons. The bodies and arms are from Frostgrave Soldiers and Ghost Archipelago crew plastic kits. The heads are Critter Conversion Kit Rats with Conical Helms and Rats with Cloaked Hoods.
The unit of warriors are all built from Ghost Archipelago plastic crewmen as these have a real swashbuckling, seafaring feel to them.
Although in the army lists Levy are listed as being armed with bows, thematically I sa the levy as oar slaves, living in cramped conditions so the sling seemed a natural weapon choice. In the game it will 'count as' a bow. These figures are based on Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors plastic parts with the addition of rat heads from critter conversion packs.
Lastly we have two bases worth of creatures represented by rat swarms. These are the bilge rats from the pirate ships. I found a 3D file for a rat swarm and changed it's size so that it printed as a 40mm diameter base.
All of the other miniatures have had their bases snipped off and have been glued onto Sally 4th Clear Perspex Bases.
For many years I have been a huge fan of the 'Redwall Abbey' series of fantasy stories written by the late Brian Jacques and as a lifelong gamer it struck me that the adventures of these plucky woodland characters would make a great tabletop battle. There are of course some excellent anthropomorphic fantasy miniatures available in the marketplace such as the Oathsworn range for 'Burrows & Badgers'. Burrows & Badgers is a fantastic game, which I play and have covered in earlier blogs, however, I am also looking for a mass battle game where I can field a whole army of 'Redwall Mice' to face off against a hoard of vermin from 'Clunnies Horde'. To do this I needed to be able to model 40 - 100 mice and for them to have a wide variation of pose and armament.
I've made a short You Tube video about the conversions.
I had also made a start on converting some mice using the metal Copplestone Castings Halfling range. These had turned out really well, the height difference between the halflings and humans translates very well to mice and rats.
At the time that I was starting the project I heard on the wargames grapevine that a new miniatures company, Wargames Atlantic had announced that they were going to be developing a multipose plastic box set of Halfling Militia. I could not believe my luck, as this was exactly what I needed to build the bulk of a 'Redwall' army with the variety of weapons and poses that I was hoping for. I wrote to Wargames Atlantic and asked if they could send me a box to play around with, which a month ago they kindly did.
There are a good batch of wargames rule sets that are going to be suitable for fighting mass fantasy battles using 'Redwall' style armies including Dragon Rampart, Thud & Blunder, the soon to be released Feudal Patrol and Saga Age of Magic. I decided to start off planning the army based on Saga. The Wargames Atlantic Halfling Militia box contains 40 miniatures. The plan is to make the following units.
I've started off with the levy armed with bows. Bodies, arms and quivers are from the Halfling Militia set and the heads and tails are metal 'Critter Conversion Kits' from the Albedo ACP164 range.
The Halfing Militia set is great value at £25 for 40 miniatures.
Each sprue has 5 bodies in different poses plus a choice of arms and halfling heads. The weapon options are bow, sling, halberd, pike & sword.
In the Albedo Critter Conversion range there are 3 variations of mouse head, bare head, cloaked head and metal helmet.
The Mice conversion pack costs £8 and contains 1 Halfling Militia Sprue and a pack with a random assortment of five of the 3 types of Mice heads and tails, giving you all the pieces that you need to make five mighty mice warriors.
... and because someone always asks, the figures have all been remounted on to Sally 4th clear perspex bases so that they blend in with the terrain they are standing on.
Last night I got together with Doug and James to play 'The Arctic Rescue'. This was the Pulp Alley scenario of the month back in December 2018 and features in the Pulp Alley Scenario Book.
During a Top Secret test flight an aircraft carrying an innovative new bomb sight veers off course and crashes into the ice pack somewhere in the Arctic Circle. Several organisations and governments send teams to search the wreckage in the hope of rescuing the pilot and the inventor and recovering the bombsight and development notes.
The game was set out on a 3' square table, made up of nine 1' square Terra-Former tiles. Four of the tiles had crevasses modelled into them, these looked pretty realistic, the ability to model features below the surface is one of the big benefits of using Terra-Former tiles. The central tile had some broken ice flow modelled on and the other tiles were modelled as featureless snow and ice.. I used some WH40K crashed spacecraft terrain to represent the wreckage. As the terrain pieces were quite large a counter was placed to mark the point that you needed to be close to, to search the wreckage.
The 3 teams deployed within 6" of their selected corners. Due to a snowstorm, visibility was reduced to 12" and to make matters worse the whole table counted as dangerous terrain, so a peril had to be overcome if you moved faster than 6" in a turn. In the first turn I tried to get my Leader Andropov and his sidekick Carlos moving fast to be within 6" of the search area for turn 2. Unfortunately, they must have encountered some thin ice, as they failed to pull it off.
Eventually my Leader Andropov does get close enough to search. Instead of using the standard 5 card rewards deck, there is a special set of cards for the scenario. The scenario card deck contains cards for the plot points but also a whole stack of environmental nightmares such as the pack ice breaking up, becoming disorientated in a whiteout etc.
One of James’s Ally’s, Barker was the first to search the wreckage, rather than finding a clue however he drew the 'Disorientated' card. At the time this felt like a nuisance as the random D8 move moved him 8" towards the centre of the table, however it was to prove a blessing in disguise.
Doug’s leader, Captain Hendry was the second to search the wreckage, he also did not discover a clue. His scenario card announced that the Ice Pack was breaking up (must be first onset of global warming) and that anywhere within 12" of the table edge was now perilous terrain, meaning that a perilous challenge needed to be overcome every time you moved into or activated within 12" of the table edge. Barker was now rather pleased that he had moved randomly to the centre of the table.
As leagues attempted to move towards safe ground various exchanges of gunfire broke out as characters came into visibility range in the central area.
Captain Hendry continues searching the wreckage and eventually finds a clue about the location of the Pilot.
The pilot is placed on the table D6 inches in a random direction from the wreckage marker.
In this scenario, the environment was certainly proving to be more dangerous than opposing leagues. Suggestions were made that co-operation might be in the best interests of all as more and more team members lapsed into hypothermia induced unconsciousness. However, the co-operative approach was not popular, so constant sniping added to the perils of being out on the Icepack.
Captain Hendrie’s team had the most success and were declared the winners having recovered the Journal and the Pilot...
...but in truth the real winner was the cold and the shifting ice pack. By the end of the game the majority of characters had suffered either permanent or temporary damage from the environment.
This was another great game of Pulp Alley and the first game for James. It was definitely one of the hardest scenarios we have tried, although we were very unlucky to draw the card that made the ice pack start breaking up so early in the game.
We are all looking forward to more Pulp Alley adventure very soon.
Links for further details:
Over the Christmas break, I had some fun building four anthropomorphic female mages for use in my Frostgrave, Saga and Thud and Blunder Warbands
Pictures above is Freda (a Dachshund and 'The Mouse'
The figures are made using parts from the excellent Frostgrave Plastic Wizards 2 box set combined with metal anthropomorphic heads and tails from Albedo Critter Conversion Kits.
Pictures on the bridge are Gwaynor the Fox and Matilda the Badger (I do love that pupeteer arm from the Frostgrave plastic wizard set)
The figures are all mounted on Sally 4th clear plastic bases, so prior to assembly I clipped the plastic bases off using Games Workshop side clippers.
Arms were glued to bodies first using plastic glue.
A small hole was then drilled in neck and back to take the locating pins for the animal heads and tails.
Pictured Below Albedo Critter Conversion Kits. Each pack contains 5 x animal heads and tails for conversions.
The figures were then primed, painted with acrlics and glued onto the clear bases.
Links for further details.
We've been meaning to try Thud and Blunder, the fantasy skirmish rules by the 'Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare' ever since they were published which must have been a good four or five months ago. Last Friday, my son, Lewis came over to visit for a couple of days, and it seemed like a great opportunity to give them a go.
We had both read through the rules when they had been published, and they seemed pretty intuitive and sensible, but as it was a first game we limited it to 300 points a side, which is a pretty small skirmish.
I had my 'Blackstone Heath' terrain set up on the big games table, so we decided it would be fun to play a game set on that (it also meant we could get stuck straight in as the terrain was already set up on the table, down to furniture in the buildings!). A 300 point game plays well on a 3' or 4' square table, so we decided to use the Inn and a single tile around it, which gave us a 4' square gaming area. Lewis choose the scenario, which was an attack and defence style game and choose sides. He chose to play the verminous horde of 'Red Claw' the notorious sea rat captain, which meant I got to play the Redwall mice and woodland allies led by 'Mathew the Warrior'
The defenders got to set up first. It was rather a large area to try to defend with so few. We had taken to Hares from the Long Patrol, Major Whitetail and Harriet, both pretty handy with a bow. They were positioned on the first-floor veranda, as that covered a number of approaches. The mice set up in the Inn the best they could, knowing that they would probably have to redeploy when we saw which approach the rats took.
Red Claw got an extra 150 points to spend on his attacking force, (as if Sea Rats were not a tough enough opponent already), and he got to choose 3 deployment zones.
Red Claw concentrated his forces against the closest side wall of the Inn, with a few diversionary troops approaching from the other directions to keep the defenders spread thin.
In the first few turns the Rats ran to get into position, and particularly to reach the dead ground where they would be safe from missile fire from the veranda. The Long Patrol, proved pretty handy, taking a good handful of rats down as they approached. Harriet was armed with a war bow, and this was really a better weapon than Major Whitetails Crossbow as it did not need to take alternate turns reloading.
Red Claw and his cronies soon made it to the window of the back room of the Inn, sending a couple of scurvy sea rats round to the staircase to silence the aggravating Harriet the Hare. Two Oar Slaves with slings were left to provide covering fire while the assault party moved into position.
The rats make it into the backroom of the Inn. Mathew and Raymond his trusty Lieutenant fight back to back while the mice defending the main area rush to their assistance.
Red Claw directs the combat and urges his crew on from his position on top of the bed, while even more reinforcements come in through the far window.
Lewis moves his troops up and as the fights break up into a handful of smaller conflicts focuses on maximising his advantage.
One of the mice slingers makes it into the fray, and pluckily gets stuck in with her shortsword.
Meanwhile, on the veranda, Harriet the Hare is holding her own. The second rat on the staircase elects to climb the last bit of wall in order to bypass the melee and challenge Major Whitetail.
In the main area of the Inn things are not going well for the mice, but they pluckily go down fighting the tough veteran 'Old Hands' with their cruel two handed weapons.
At the end of six turns, the Redwall mice had notched up a respectable body count, dispatching the two Oar Slaves and all of the regular 'Sea Rat' crew for the loss of three of their own, however victory conditions for the scenario were measured mainly by the number of attackers inside the defended area at the end of turn six. This gave Red Claw a decisive victory of 45 victory points against the defenders 15.
Well done Lewis and the verminous horde!
Rules Used - Thud and Blunder
Figures are converted from various manufactuers using Albedo Critter Conversion Kits
Figures are all mounted on Sally 4th Clear Perspex Bases
Last Friday Doug, Nick, John & I got together for another exciting game of Pulp Alley. Although we all had 'Western' leagues as we are in the middle of playing Vice Alley in an Old West setting as I had recently added a new add on set to our Exotic Location Terra-Former range we decided to base the scenario, around that. The new set is a stage which can be used to extend 'Ricks Palce by 30cm x 40cm adding a stage, wings and a backstage area with dressing rooms, storage and rest rooms. We decided that for the sake of the campaign the scenario would be set across the border in Mexico! The Stage and the other Exotic Location Terrain is curruntly available at a pre-order discount on KickStarter, click here for details.
The scenario that we played was 'The Serpents Eye'. This was a scenario that DAve Phipps had written several years ago for Wargames Illustrated that featured our Exotic Location scenery. If you missed it in Wargames Illustrated, you can down load the PDF for the scenario by clicking on the link below.
The scenario involves leagues searching for a recently stolen relic. The police are also searching for it, which adds a great complication. In the photo above, the policeman represents the police searching and interviewing witnesses. All characters had to set up within 12" of the police marker and any characters that are 'Wanted' treat an area with a 6" radius of the policeman as 'perilous'. A character became wanted if they shot or brawled and either they or their target was within 6" of the policeman, or if they were unlucky with their draw from the rewards stack!
Four NPC characters were set up around the board as plot point clues. These were 'The Fat Man', 'The American', 'The Inspector' and the 'Rat'. Each character had a specefic plot point challenge associated with them. If this was passed a potential 'Thief' was placed on the table. This was the major plot point. Resolving this gave you a chance to draw from the Rewards stack which contained a 'Red Herring' card that relocated the thief, a 'Framed' card that made your character wanted, and a reward card that represented recovering the relic..
The game was very much a 'game of two halves'. The first half of the game saw our leagues that were deployed as individuals across the whole table making a bee line to the witnesses to either talk to them or intefere with other polayers characters talking to them.
In the photo above, some information has been gained and the character in the white jacket has been placed as a potential 'thief marker'. You can also see a snake under the arch, to make things even more interesting, each player got to place a perilous area at the start of the game.
The presence of the police search area did not keep the piece for very long. The interior of 'Ricks Place' soon became a 'Free Fire Zone'. Doug had anticipated this right from the start and had positioned a couple of guys with rifles in the prime position behind the bar.
This was the turning point in the game. Johns Sidekick has a run of great luck and easily passes the peril and plot challenge and drew the relic card.
The second half of the game became very shooty. Initially all guns were trained on the character that had recovered the relic. He did not las so long and the relic marker was dropped. Not surprisingly, characters were a little hesitant about picking it up and becoming the next target.
In the end the game was a draw, due to where the plot point had been dropped and the position of the other leagues picking it up and surviving was just not going to happen!
However the game was a lot of fun, and all the leagues benefited by gaining a resource point and a reputation point.
The new Exotic Location stage is available to pre-order together with all of the other Exotic Location terrain, furniture and miniatures via our mini'That's Entertainment' at a pre-order discount until 6th December. Click here to take a look.
Perilous Dark is a new supplement for Frostgrave that introduces rules for and scenarios using Solo and Co-operative play modes.
In this video we look at an overview of the contents of the Perilous Dark Frostgrave supplement and then play through the first scenario: Writhing Fumes.
As the supplement has only just been released, and the new miniatures are not yet available, I have used some proxies from my existing collection. The scenario features a pair of Ballista II Constructs which I have represented with some old MageKnight miniatures and lots and lots of large and small vapour snakes which I have used various snake and snake like creatures as stand ins including D&D Naga, the giant snake from Conan boardgame and lots of snakes from Great Escape Games Dead Man’s Hand range.
The scenario calls for a 2.5’ square game board. As all my modular terrain boards are built on Sally 4th 1’ square Terra-Former Tiles, I played on a 2’ x 3’ playing area, which seemed to work OK.
My warband is anthropomorphic. The miniatures are converted from Frostgrave plastic Parts (apart from the Crossbowman who is a metal Wargames Foundry casting) using ‘Critter Conversion Kits’ from the Albedo ACP164 range. The miniatures are based on 25mm clear Perspex bases.
This week I have started working on a new Hobbit Hole model.
The Hobbit Hole will be set into a 1' square Terra-Former corner hill modular terrain tile, although the same technique can be used to set into a piece of polystyrene for a free standing model.
The first thing that I did after assembling the Terra-Former modular tile kit was to shape a piece of 2" deep ploystyrene into a hill shape. This was very easy using a cheap £1 utility knife using the hillside profile of the tile as a shaping guide.
The Hobbit Hole kit is easily assembled using PVA wood glue from the 2mm and 3mm MDF components in the kit.
Once the glue had dried, I drew around it, cut out an indentation and used its profile to shape the hill around it.
Here is another Hobbit Hole kit that I made and fitted into a straight hill section a couple of years ago.
I've used it as a handy terrain feature within a 2' square games table for the Battle Companies variant of Games Workshops Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
My plan over the next couple of weeks is to finish off the two Hobbit Holes to match the landscaping that I have done around this model Inn that I have made for my Blackstone Heath fantasy village project. The two Hobbit Hole tiles are going to go to the left hand side of the Inn to make an annex for Hobbit travelers, like the Prancing Pony in Bree as described in the Fellowship of the Ring.
I've made a couple of YouTube videos about my Blackstone Heath Fantasy Village build. I've included a link in the link section below:
Over the last few months we have had the opportunity to participate in playtesting of Feudal Patrol. This is a ruleset, currently in development with a planned release date of March/April 2020. The rules are written by Buck Surdu retired US Army Colonel and prolific rules author whose works include Gaslight, Combat Patrol and the Look Sarge No Charts range. Feudal Patrol covers historical periods dominated by melee, so from iron age up to around 1500, plus swords and sorcery fantasy genres. The system is great for small unit actions such as raids, ambushes, escalades etc. Figures are based on single bases. Units are typically made up of between 4 and 6 figures, although it is also possible, as in this game to treat each miniature as a unit in its own right.
Last week, my son Lewis came over from university for a couple of days and we got some terrain and miniatures out to play another game of Feudal Patrol using the excellent set of scenarios that were published for the medieval skirmish board game, Cry Havoc. The scenario that we choose was 'Foraging Party'.
Foraging Party represents an army living off the land, foraging for supplies for men and horses. The horses particularly, require a significant volume of stores to keep them in fighting condition. Sir Richards forces are feeding their horses while he attempts to protect them from Sir Williams force who are intent on stealing the horses and making away with them.
Sir Richards force consists off Sir Richard (a superior knight), a standard knight, 6 peasant horse holders with horses and six spearmen led by a Sergeant. The raiders led by Sir William consists of two superior knights and four standard knights (all mounted). In Feudal Patrol figures are rated for Guts (morale), Accuracy (ranged combat), Melee (hand to hand combat ability), Endurance and Reaction. There are three categories for Guts; Elite, Regular & Green. Accuracy and Melee values range from 1-9 with lower numbers being better. We defined the units for this game as follows:
Superior Knights: Elite, Melee 2, 1 point or armour all over, armed with lance, sword and shield.
Knights: Elite, Melee 3, 1 point or armour all over, armed with lance, sword and shield.
Sergeant: Regular, Melee 4, 1 point of armour head, chest & abdomen, armed with sword and shield.
Spearmen: Regular, Melee 5, 1 point of armour head, chest & abdomen, armed with spear and shield.
Peasants / Horse Holders: Green, Melee 6, Unarmoured, armed with club
Victory Points were awarded:
Each horse captured: 10 points
Each horse killed: 5 points
Each enemy knight killed: 15 points
Each peasant killed: 1 point
Other enemy killed: 4 points
Each attackers horse killed or captured: 10 points
Each enemy knight killed: 15 points
Lewis played the Foragers and set up the horses and horse holders in and around the Inns courtyard and gardens.
The attackers deployed onto the table, from a chosen table edge as they were activated. In Feudal Patrol, at the start of each turn, an activation dice is rolled for each unit. An activation deck is uses that has two sets of numbered cards 1-6 in black and red and an end of turn card. When an activation card is turned, all the units who share that activation number get to move, so depending where the end of turn is, units will activate 0, 1 or 2 times. If a unit gets pinned, through a morale result or being out of command, it only gets to activate on the black numbers, reducing its effectiveness by 50%.
My attackers went for a two-pronged assault. Half made their way around the side of the building and through the kitchen garden to get to the courtyard, with the intent of stealing some horses before they could be moved off table, while the rest of my force charged down the main road to engage the covering force.
Seeing events unfold, Sir Richard rearranged his defenders to form a solid wall across the road.
Lewis decided from the start, that the best way to ensure victory was to save the horses. As a scenario rule, a unit on foot can use its activation to add a horse or mule to a train. This is what he is doing now to free up some horse holders to assist with the defence.
Sir Jacques, the other knight in the foragers force organises the defence of the courtyard to buy time for the horses to be withdrawn.
Here we see the first of the foragers horses making it to the safety of the tables edge.
…while the main raiding force still has a way to go to make contact with the defenders.
First blood goes to the raiders, with Sir John incapacitating Sir Jaques for 15 victory points.
Sir William takes a diversion to attempt to engage the defenders in the flank.
Here’s an overview of the whole gaming table. Terrain construction is covered in my Blackstone Heath series of articles and videos.Click here to take a look. The scenery is built on 1' and 2' square terra-former modular terrain tiles. The buildings are 3D printed. Full details of what has been used and where to get it from in the Blackstone Heath article, linked above.
Sir William and Sir Richard fight with chivalry. Eventually Sir Richard prevails, and Sir William is incapacitated.
The foragers manage to get the rest off there horses off table...
While the defenders fight a brave rear guard action.
At the end of the game, the foragers had well and truly won having incapacitated 3 enemy knights for 45 victory points, while the raiders had not managed to steal any horses and had only collected 20 victory points for incapacitating one knight, one spearmen and a peasant. So well done Lewis. In hindsight, I would have done a lot better if I had deployed from the opposite table edge, as I had to far to move and it was too easy for the foragers to exit their horses.
However, the game was a lot of fun, the scenario was a lot more fun than a line up and advance to contact game and I would certainly play the scenario again and hope to do better by learning from the experience.
The miniatures are mainly from 1st Corp and have been mounted onto Sally 4th clear Perspex bases.
Click here for Blackstone Heath articles and videos about building this gaming table.