Saturday, August 31, 2013

Green Wargaming on a Budget: Making Trees from Repurposed Junk

Burgundian handgunners take cover in the treeline.
      When you're a kid, table-top gaming can be cost prohibitive...let's face it.  As an adult its still cost prohibitive.  Spending $20-40 dollars to get a pack of ten dubious-looking railroad scenic trees is something I don't really want to do.  Rather spend my doubloons on lead.  Thankfully, trees are an easy project with some time, household junk, and a few bucks from the local craft store.

You will need:

Painters or masking tape
White glue
Floral Moss (1 bag is $5)
Blue insulation foam (4x8 sheet is about $16 at a DIY store)

Bases are ready for priming and sanding.
      To start:  Cut your bases and about thirty lengths of coathangers.  Sections of 3-8 inches are good for our scales.  Bind dissimilar wire lengths together with tape, leaving two inches exposed at each end.  The exposed areas will be your branches and roots.  Bend the branches and roots in various directions to achieve a natural look and tape down to the cardboard base.  Now you can sculpt that blue foam into rocks or other terrain features (knolls) under or around your tree.

Primed and ready for painting,
 Cover the base with white school glue and sand.  Add in pebbles or other debris as desired.  The whole must be painted.  I have a 5 gal bucket of nasty oyster latex I found in the basement of my house when I bought it.  Two years later, I'm still using it as a primer for my trees, buildings, and other terrain.

With a base coat, highlights and an ink wash, the trees are ready for foliage.
       Once primed, you can add your base colors, highlights, and inking.  I use acrylic paints from a craft store.  I get similar results to more pricey modelling paints and on this amount of area, thrift is a must.  I used a dark brown for the tree, clay color for the earth.  these were touched up with grey and dry brushed with a flesh base color (light khaki).  The whole was ink-washed with a mixture of brown and black.

Moss on the branches, coarse turf on the ground.
       For adding the foliage, a dab on small amounts of superglue and then thread the moss onto the branches.  Hold the moss in place as the glue dries.  If you use the glue sparingly, the moss will hold, but your fingers won't.

The last piece of moss.
       The moss is on and I will complete the forest floor with white glue and coarse turf (ground up foam).

The Burgundian infantry emerge from the completed "budget"  forest.

The completed forest.  The trees are based in groups of one, two, or three.  Three evenings of work, while watching baseball makes me a forest of fourteen trees.  Easy day-and I still have enough materials to make 140, should the scenario require.  In any event, I think these look a lot more realistic than whats on the market.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Saxon Fyrd: Complete...and waiting for Danes

Saxon shieldwall:  Axes, swords, and the saxe-knife.
I originally bought these Hammer of the Gods:  Wargames Factory models during a business trip to Hawaii, but never painted them.  I build them for a Saga game at Historicon, but never got around to playing them...oh well.  I suppose I'll have to give my Viking Huscarls to my son to paint an opposing army.

Based and ready for priming.

Spearmen on the painting table.

Archers among the paint pots.
Completed Command unit, armored, unlike their poorer comrades.
 My commands unit includes a noble, axeman, Saxon banner and musician.  The mail-shirted figures are actually from the Huscarl box, but I thought it would look good to have the command unit (nobles and retainers) armored, as they are the wealthier leaders of the fyrd warband.

Fyrd archers:  Basically farmers straight from the fields.

Some of the spearmen boast helms and leather armor, but most simply wore what
they had on to work the fields or fishing boats.

    The Wargames Factory models were very detailed and the sprues gave you many choices for poses, weapons, and heads.  I would come them to the quality of Perry Bros.  They went together easily, with some pinning required.  Now, I just need to make some dark ages houses and a knarr or two!

Historicon: Bargain Basement Longbowmen, or how to improve on horrible Bretonnian models.

English Longbowmen in Burgundian livery

    My brother passed away a few months ago, unexpectedly and his wife gave my son all his minis.  Mostly old Gamesworkshop Bretonnians from when we were kids.  I had sold all mine, but since my son won Most Valuable Gamer at Historicon Cog Wars (and consequently an Old Glory Cog)...we are delving back into late medieval gaming.  On to the Bargain basement and the vendors!  I picked up about thirty of the old plastic Bretonnian archers (two poses) and a box of Perry Bros. European Infantry.

Notice the hoods made of blue/yellow modelling putty.
       I dislike the Gamesworkshop figures in general because they are so chunky, but 30 figs for $3.50...not complaining.  I hacked off the heads and replaced with various heads from Perry, Games Workshop Empire (Mordheim) Militia, and Hammer of the Gods.  Adding a few recycled swords and such from my bits box, as well as modelling some hoods out of blue/yellow putty makes them seem less like Bretonnians.

A little work with a knife, pin vise, leftover parts, and putty...
      I am painting these as English Archers in the service of Charles the Bold.  Most Burgundian troops were crossbowmen and hand gunners, but the English did support Charles against his European foes (the enemy of my enemy...).
Finished hoods add variety to the once bland Bretonnians.
Matte sealer by Testors and flocking finish them off.  By the way, I've started using small wooden disks from the craft store for my bases.  I get about 50 for $3.00...a lot better that the plastic bases or laser cut bases on the market!  Just need to put the flags on my Burgundian Infantry (hand gunners, halberdiers) and the army is complete.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Historicon Day 2, Mein Panzer Jr., Buccaneer Wars

Game board for Devil's Den Scenario at Gettysburg: 1863...amazing!

So, day two started off with a kid's version of Mein Panzer.  Well run and a good, simple WWII armor game for kids.  My 11-year-old was bored with it (he started off with watered down versions of Axis and Allies and Muskets and Tomahawks at age 5), even my seven year old was beyond the level of play.  The good thing:  kids are doing math without knowing it.  It's also good to get your kid hooked into analog wargaming, which is so much better for the mind that mere thumb exercise on the 3DS.

Shermans vs. Tigers...decidedly one-sided.

...burning Shermans and Tigers, oh my.
So my one son's platoon of Shermans was knocked out in the first half-hour of gameplay.  This caused me to go to the bargain basement to get him some 28mm ninjas.  That cheered him up.  They were actually free. Everyone was giving free minis to my kids.  I guess I'm not as cute as I used to be...on to Buccaneer Wars.

Everybody wants to be the pirates, so I was the greedy governor, recalled to London to answer for his mismanagement of the Crown colonies.  My four three ships of the line and one frigate had to escape the pirates (who have heard that the Governor is trying to absconde with the treasury).  We had the weather gauge ,which meant that most of the larger pirate ships would not be able to bring their guns to bear one they sailed past my bows.

Waist of the frigate DOLPHIN

The pirates fire broadsides into my bows, but their gunnery is poor.  My frigate will
grapple as the goveror's ship passed through the melee.

Will the Governor squeeze through without fouling his yards?

The answer was no.  I got fouled.  I was boarded on three sides and met a grisly demise, keelhauled along theribs of my own ship.  Great game and another great day at HISTORICON.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Historicon Day 1: Waiting for a game, Cog Wars

Our game for Day 1:  Cog Wars, Normans vs. Turks in the Med.

Mexican Fusileros assault a Texian blockhouse.

So, I haven't posted anything since before Historicon...guess I need to get back on the stick.  We went early Thursday morning to kill some time before our first game.  My eldest son painted while I played a Texas Revolution skirmish with my younger son. 

The Mexicans overrun the Texian skirmishers.  
 The game is a simple d6 game for the boys.  The playing cards are to determine damage after a roll to hit:  Red card=kill, black card=wound.

Light casualties are taken and the skirmishers are swept aside.

Mexicans breach the blockhouse door and fight their way to the second floor.

Last man standing.  The blockhouse is taken.

The best part of playing with your seven-year-old?  Hearing,  "Dad, can we play again?"  We did, and then headed over to Cog Wars.

The setup:  Fifteen cogs on a table, Normans vs. Turks.
The infidel approacheth.  (Both sides hurled insults against their respective faiths...
it was an ugly fight so typical of the medieval Med.)
My large Norman Cog and my son's smaller-but faster cog grapple and
board the infidel. 

Boarders Away!

The fight borke down into three separate engagements...and the Turks won.
Chance gave the Turks higher quality troops on their competency rolls...oh well.  We had a great time despite being sent to the salt mines of Tangiers.