Saturday, 14 July 2018

"I love the smell of loot in the morning!"

Hello again.

On the basis that you cannot go to a wargames show or shop without spending some money, I thought I would again show what an acquisitive, little wargamer I really am.

Recent weeks have seen me take delivery of a couple of parcels, visit a tabletop sale, attend last weekend's Barrage Show in Stafford and visit "Questing Knight" games in Wellington, Shropshire, for the first time ever. Six weeks or so of inspiration, acquisition and contemplation, all inspired by the magnificent hobby we engage in with its plethora of figures, rules, games, kits and other paraphernalia.

So here goes the pictorial evidence of my customary purchasing excess. As I am utterly convinced I will live to be as old as Methusela, I have every confidence I will not only paint my loot as necessary but also play the various games and periods too!!!

My most expensive purchase, courtesy of Questing Knight in Wellington, Shropshire, was "GKR Heavy Hitters", a fun version of the ancient Battletech genre of giant, killer robots (hence GKR). Battletech was always too slow for my tastes, with players spending way too long calculating heat gain and not fighting, but this quick-fire affair showed a lot of promise when I played a gam at Barrage that I promptly went and bought it the following day! The fact that it can be played solo is a major plus! £100 from Questing Knight, not the £150 I have heard it is going for.

I hope you can see just how much you get for your money. I am looking forward to getting in a few sessions with this.

Going "all in" like all the best poker players, I also picked up the first expansion set, which adds extra options to the core game.

Again, I hope you can see what you get for your £75, again courtesy of Questing Knight.

A few weeks ago, I bought "Burrows & Badgers" from Asgard Games in Walsall, intrigued by the animals with swords vibe. Suitably inspired, I ordered vsome sample figures from Oathsworn and, lo and behold, was overjoyed to find them at Barrage, where I soon purchased a load more, especially those out of stock when I made my preliminary order. Check out the Oathsworn Miniatures website for something that bit different. A maximum purchase of 10 figures and the rules will see you home and hosed!

Roland Hynd, formerly Mr Stafford Games, has a new venture entitled Firepower Games. Keen on "By Fire & Sword", as well as military matters Austrian, I settled on a dainty rulebook (the original was HUGE!) and a boxed set of Imperialist cavalry and dragoons.

A little reading matter for the FIW and my growing Crimean War interests.

And the Penkridge Tabletop Sale yielded this little skirmish set, to add to "Muskets & Tomahawks" and "Sharp Practice 2" for my FIW fun. Worth a try at £5.99!

Another purchase from "Questing Knight" was this tome that took my eye in the wargames media when first advertised. I don't know why I didn't just get it from Warlord at Barrage...

Furthering my interest on Celtic myths, I bought a small warband lists booklet, a Myeri Clan box and a Fae Rade box to accompany the Spriggans I bought a while back. If you don't want the fantasy figures, just turn up with a dozen Ancient British/ Irish and you're away. This is all form Oakbound Studios.

Asgard Games of Walsall also sold me this starter set for the very interesting looking "Wold West Exodus" game. It was a purchase I made after getting a free Robodog on the cover of a recent "Miniature Wargames" issue which, together with an article inside said magazine really caught my eye.

Again, using the poker players' "all in" mantra, I took delivery of another parcel, this time from "PE2 Collectables", to widen my options somewhat.

And that is that.

I only went to Barrage to lay on a game and buy some Seven Years' War French and British cavalry!

I have a couple more units to do to expand my FIW range for the next outing of "The Relief of Fort Nummanmason", then it is skirmishes all the way I think, with some more 10mm Crimean War thrown in and no doubt a few other things (10mm Sassanids, some Dark Age skirmish action that is not SAGA, finally get my Anglo-Danes done for SAGA, etc...)

So, 36 French infantry - underway!
24 British infantry - ready and waiting.
A couple of themed warbands for "B&B" - ideas aplenty, figures bought!
Some Celtic stuff. Hm. Mists, mood and mischief!
The south will rise again with the "Confederate Rebellion". Yeehaw!!!
And some Giant Killer Robot carnage! And I do not even have to paint them, because they are already dome for me in the box!!!

Yeehaw some more!


Thursday, 12 July 2018

The "Barrage" Show, Stafford, England, 8th July, 2018

Hello again.

A full four days ago now saw those of us who call ourselves the "Wyrley Retinue" and could make the session attend the aforementioned Barrage Show in Stafford. I think it is fair to say we enjoyed ourselves and I at least spent too much...

I will save some pictures of our inaugural outing with "The Relief of Fort Nummanmason" for another time, but would like to herein show a few samples of the sort of thing on offer of gamers of all tribes. I do not necessarily know who put on what, because I did not get a program for the show as a demo-er, but hope you see something here that might inspire, intrigue or simply make the effort to see for yourself next year.

Two shots (one with free flash!) of a Star Wars game put on, I think, by the Leicester Phat Cats

Automotive carnage in the form of a "Gaslands" participation game, gamers unknown.

"Gangs of Rome", which is certainly getting a fair amount of air time in the wargames media. A very effective looking set up though.

I think this was called "Xeno-force" or "Xenohunt" or something like that. I think it was a sci-fi bug hunt sort of affair...

Me262's eye view of a Typhoon over Normandy. Again, I do not know who put on this game

Gettysburg, gamers unknown

The STAGS club of Telford put on this WW3 affair

Aha! A personal favourite, which drew me in, got me to play and subsequently convinced me to purchase. "GKR Heavy Hitters" from the WETA Workshop people. Big robots in a corporation-dominated world, all vying to promote their corporate sponsors to the detriment of their business rivals.

Austerlitz, I think by the Telford club/ a Telford club. Nice use of "blinds" for some fog of war, this game developed nicely.

Tunisia, 1943.

A "Gates of Antares" game

The "Wings of Glory" people were there with their WW1 aerial combat participation game. I have not seen this plane before, so took a photo to show it off. Would suit a female ace nicely methinks!

Apart from the games, there was the "usual" selection of traders of numerous hues.
  • I was massively impressed with the fact that Oathsworn were present with their "Burrows &Badgers" range, especially as they had some new stuff I had not seen before.
  • Oakbound Studio was also present with their Celtic mythological and other ranges.
  • My old acquaintance Roland Hynd, formerly Mr Stafford Games, was there with his new venture, "Firepower Games".
  • Ian McCulloch brought along his Eagle Figures - I was eager to get hold of some French and British cavalry to move my SYW collection eastwards and back to Europe, but they are still with the sculptor, alas!
  • Warlord, PE2, Rapier, Rubicon, Sleeping Dragon Hobby Shop, Dave Lanchester and numerous others filled the walls with tempting products designed to empty my wallet, and many of them were successful in their attempts to purloin my finances!!!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my day. I will cover our own gaming affair next time out and show a few glimpses into the latest purchases that threaten financial ruin, divorce or a house collapse under the weight of lead and plastic!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Needs must

Hello again.

With the Barrage Show in Stafford fast approaching, being as it is to be held this coming Sunday, 8th July, at Blessed William Howard High School in Stafford, England, and coupled to the fact that we were to play a game based on the relief of a fort (aka "The Relief of Fort Nummanmason"), I needed a few bits and pieces in a bit of a hurry.

I needed a fort, or at least part of it, and that fort had to show a bit of battle damage to indicate that it was in need of the aforementioned relief. I did that one a couple of weeks back, so check out that post if you will.

But you cannot have a siege/ bombardment/ assault of a fort and just have the attackers standing around waiting for the occupiers to surrender, can you? Not in my world. So, I needed some trenchworks, some fieldworks, some indication that the attackers knew they would be in for a bit of a wait and some reciprocal pain. I also needed some North America specific buildings I felt, to better show that we were in America and not Northern Germany with Ferdinand of Brunswick and the Comtes de Broglie/ Contades.

So, I built a few bits and pieces, in a hurry, to give me what I reckon I need to kick the game off on its inaugural outing. We in the "Wyrley Retinue" always add to or somehow change a game between outings, so this is a one-time only offer to get yourselves to Stafford to see this in the flesh. If the game emerges again, and I very much hope it does, some thing or other will be different - more troops, an altered layout, more buildings or terrain, different victory conditions, etc.

So remember:
  1. 8th July 2018 at Blessed William Howard School, Rowley Avenue, Stafford.
  2. 1000hrs start.
  3. Barrage Show.
  4. Wyrley Retinue.
  5. "The Relief of Fort Nummanmason".
  6. Come and see us and say "Hello". (I'll be the tall, middle-aged chap looking bemused at my lack of success with command rolls...)

The approach trenches for the French. MDF base, polystyrene, lollipop sticks and card to build up the sides, mounting card for the duckboards, Renedra gabions courtesy of Nephew Nick at The Sleeping Dragon Hobby Shop and paint to suit. This is a three piece set up.

And from the front. They stand around 50mm high from the terrain board to the tops of the gabions, to give the French room to shelter from the fire of the fort's defenders.

Renedra gabions again on MDF bases.

I had a mortar so had to have a mortar emplacement. Details as previously.

And with the aforementioned mortar. This piece is lower than the trench pieces by around 10mm.

I went with a Perry kit for my church.

And a Perry kit again for my house.

This scratchbuilt affair sits inside the fort, having been hit and burned out by the French artillery and mortar fire. I had to have something inside the fort and not just empty space.

And finally, some idea of how the defences will fit together on the tabletop this Sunday. The mortar emplacement will occupy the bottom left corner, artillery the right foreground and centre right positions.

Friday, 29 June 2018

The Chevalier Gaillardhomme, Sieur de Grand-Werly

Hello again.

Another week at work over and time for another post!

Last time out, I introduced you to my fictional British hero, Major-General Sir Cheslyn Hay, who will, on Sunday 8th July, be leading his forces into battle against those dastardly Frenchies in the Relief of Fort Nummanmason at the Barrage Show in Stafford. The venue is Blessed William Howard High School, which will be masquerading as somewhere in New France for the purposes of our game!

Well, every hero needs an (anti-) hero, so I present for you the Chevalier Gaillardhomme, Sieur de Grand-Werly. This worthy will be leading the aforementioned dastardly Frenchies in the encounter outside the walls of Fort Nummanmason, and keen to give the upstart Roastbeefs a good lesson in humiliation.

Now, no history or other book will enlighten you on the careers or activities of either of these men, as they are both created by yours truly, but a brief scan f a map of South Staffordshire will yield the adjacent villages of Cheslyn Hay (boo!) and Great Wyrley (hurrah!). Curiously, Occasional Wargamer Brother Kev lives in Cheslyn Hay (boo!), along with his family, which includes Occasional Wargamer Nephew Ben. Guess which role one of these two will be getting!

Your worthy scribe lives in Great Wyrley (hurrah!) and "Gaillardhomme" just happens to be a direct translation into French of his surname. Hm. Guess which role I have bagsed!

Anyway, the Chevalier is an Eagle Figures product painted, as always, by yours truly, and the forthcoming affair at Fort Nummanmason will also be his first outing as he aims to uphold local village honour (not to mention staving off eventual French defeat in and loss of Canada).

Every great man needs an aide, however, so a Dixon Miniatures French officer will masquerade as that aide, his name as yet to be confirmed, but it will be something vaguely humorous along the lines of General de Brigade du Bious, Colonel Sacre-Bleu, Major Zut-Alors, Colonel de la Catessen, General de Meanor or similar.

Hope to see at least some of you at Barrage. Come over and say "Hello!"


Three shots of "le Grand Fromage" himself, directing his forces as befits a French nobleman, however minor. The texturing on the base began by gluing on a small strip of doormat as coarse, long grass and adding the twig, then coating with a coat of Basetex Dark Earth textured paint, topped with static grass of mixed hue. The areas I left as earth were then drybrushed up through earth to sand to light sand using matchpots and grass tufts were added of varying lengths to complete the look. I did paint the doormat sliver before gluing it down.
The aide. As Dixon Miniatures are smaller than most of my FIW stock, this diminutive fellow got to stand on a rock, similar to some of his British counterparts from the same stable.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Major-General Sir Cheslyn Hay and colleagues

Hello again.

Hot on the heels of Fort Nummanmason comes the command for the relief force.

Now, you may well try and research the aforementioned Major-General in your various books and articles on the Seven Years' War, the French & Indian Wars or the British Army of the Eighteenth Century, but let me hereby warn you against such folly. You see, the fellow never existed...

...except in my head, at any rate.

I live in a village called Great Wyrley. It adjoins another village which goes by the name of Cheslyn Hay. The villages have a tiny rivalry, with their respective High Schools trying to outdo each other in terms of level of mediocracy at any number of events both academic and otherwise and, being a fan of the Charles Grant school of thought, of the imaginations idea in general and similar schemes, I thought I would use that "local" knowledge and rivalry for the forthcoming show game set in the FIW. IN due course, I will present for you the Chevalier Gaillardhomme, Sieur de Grand-Werly. This particular outing, however, is to enable me to present the commander of my British and allied forces, Major-General Sir Cheslyn Hay.

The Major-General is a former liaison with the Prussians, hence his propensity for sporting a moustache, but is latterly commanding the forces sent to relieve Fort Nummanmason against the dastardly French besiegers under the aforementioned Chevalier. He is an Eagle Figures casting on one of their horses, painted, as usual, by me with as much gold lace as I could safely muster. Given that he represents the "other village" in my story, and Occasional Wargamer Brother Kev lives in said "other village", guess who is commanding the British in our forthcoming "Wyrley Retinue" outing to the Barrage Show in Stafford on 8th July!


Next up is Colonel Wyle E. Fox, of one of His Majesty's Light Infantry regiments, who prefers to go around largely unadorned with the sort of lacey accoutrements so beloved of enemy snipers. This figure is by Dixon Miniatures and, being a tad smaller than the likes of Eagle Figures and Redoubt, was raised up on his base to make him look like he is standing on a rock. Visibility past the troops was a problem for commanders in this era and more than a couple were wounded or worse getting a better look at events. General Wolfe is the classic case in point!

Last up is Major Benjamin. I have yet to decide if he will join the relief or be cooped up in the fort. He is another Dixon figure mounted on a suitable piece of slightly higher terrain.

And that is my British command so far.

The Chevalier will make an appearance soon!


Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Founding of Fort Nummanmason, Part 2

Hello again.

Fort Nummanmason (don't bother looking for it on a map or researching it in a history book...) started to take shape in my previous post, ready to form part of the forthcoming "Wyrley Retinue" demo game at the Barrage Show in Stafford on 8th July at Blessed William Howard Catholic High School. If you recall, we left the building of that edifice, and the posts describing the construction, at the stage where the basic pieces were built but lacked detailing and painting.

So, what did I do next?

1) Add your details before you start to texture the relevant surfaces. The gabions are from Renedra, who market a lot of plastic bits and pieces for wargamers from bases to fences and also make stuff for others, such as the Perry's. I also added bits of twig and other detritus to show the sort of attempts the defenders would have made to shore up their cannon=battered defences.

2) The two photos above also show the beginning of the paintwork required above and beyond the fences. The battening for the walkways was painted a medium brown (GW Steel Legion Drab), then drybrushed in various greys and knocked back with the odd brown wash until I got the wethered wood look I was after.

3) Once these bits are done, it is time to texture all the relevant earth bits, using wood filler. I used a cheap, brown version for this, but any type is suitable, as you will be painting it extensively once it has dried. Make sure you get into all the various nooks and crannies! I used textured paint ("Basetex" or similar) to fill the tops of the gabions as its finer texture made it more controllable in such small areas. Once painted, it all ties in.

4) I have missed out a few stages of paintwork to get to the above pictures! Starting with a chocolate brown (Wilko's "Java Bean" in this case, but any dark, chocolate brown colour will do), I painted all the earth areas on the pieces. They were then heavily drybrushed with an earthy colour (Humbrol Dark Earth), then again with a sand/ light earth colour (Wilko's Safari Sand) and finally with a pale, creamy colour (Wilko's masonry paint, colour unknown because the label has fallen off!). Once this is complete, you have a dried earth base on which to add grass and other textures as desired.

5) I cheated a little and used "Basetex" for the grassy areas, but flock or painted grit/ sand/ ballast would do. Once the "Basetex" was dry, I drybrushed it first with Wilko "Warm Yellow" and finally with Wilko "Yellow Submarine". I still have the option of adding bits of foliage and other material to enhance the pieces, but they are basically finished and ready as they stand.

And here they are arranged as they will appear on the tabletop for the aforementioned demo game, together with a little, burnt out storage hut I have built to show the extent of the British position as they defend the fort under heavy bombardment whilst awaiting relief, which is the basis for the whole game, "The Relief of Fort Nummanmason".

Apart from perhaps adding some extra foliage detail, I think I will certainly tone down the glacis on the fort to blend it in better with my terrain boards!

I am pretty happy with the pieces, but there are a couple of things I would do differently with hindsight.

  • Tone down that light green on the glacis.
  • Make the corner as one piece to avoid the gap which is still visible.
But, there you have it. The total make took several days overall, but only several hours across those days. Waiting for paint to dry allowed me to crack on with other things, such as the burnt-out hut, and the whole project was a welcome distraction. There is absolutely nothing to stop me building the rest of the fort either!