Monday, 24 December 2012

A Christmas Ode

As a seasonal treat I have written a poem for my followers: (helped with a small glass of wine and a mince pie)

Happy Christmas to everyone of you, thank you for taking the time to read, comment and enjoy my blog.

Wishing you and your families all the best for 2013 - Eric

These are the tales of wargamers all
Playing with soldiers, lead and small
The armies are scaled for battles of old
The victory will go to the lucky and bold

The table is set, the forces arrayed

The generals arrive, none are delayed
The tools of the trade are put to one side
players huddle, whisper and confide

The game start is earnest with a roll of a die
The units start marching, sailing or fly  
A legion of lead crawls across the table
to create the battle of History or Fable
At ranges in scale the sides open fire
Some will advance and some will retire
Imaginary noise and smoke fill the room
Dakka, Dakka, Dakka, Boom, boom & Boom

All grown men , children will be,
Pushing their lead into battle we see
Their minds will re-enact the horror of war
But divorced from the power, shock and awe

The game goes on over fields of felt
Through woods and towns all home built
The pride in their hobby is obviously clear
The speed of a horse, the range of a spear  

Across the world, gamers regale their tales
the battles they won and skirmishes failed
In blogs and letters to the forums
They share their passion with decorum

Christmas comes with new toys
For our special Wargame boys
Piled up high and under the tree
terrain, some rules ans a new lead army

Happy Christmas

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A Harbour for Pirate Island

Apart from the fort on Pirate Island I also decided to build a small harbour. This I am delighted to report is now virtually finished.

Again like all my pieces this has been based on a board 50cm x 50cm. This will allow me to develop an number of configurations for the coast line.

The harbour walls and steps were constructed from 5mm foam core and glued down on to the board. The stone outcrops came from one of my kids old playsets.

The most painstaking process was then to top the walls with crazy paving and the walls with ‘blocks of stone’ These were all card from thin card and fixed in place with PVA. This is a mindnumbing experience so I listened to all the Pink Floyd albums to pass the time.

Once the stones were fixed I turned my attention to the water. Again I used embossed wall paper and this was cut to fit the harbour. A few posts (balsa) were added around the inside walls

With everything dry it was given a solid coat of black acrylic.

The water was then painted ‘Dark Angels Green’ and will be varnished with all the coast pieces in the near future.

The walls were drybrushed in two greys (dark & light)

Overall I am pretty happy with the final piece and cannot wait to see how this will all fit together.


To carry on this journey click here: Pirate Island

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Palm Trees for Pirate Island

Palm Trees for a Tropical island

All good tropical beaches need palm trees and my coastline will be no exception.

By chance I found a great link to some Palm trees sold by Pegasus hobbies – they manufacture two styles and both stand around 7 inches tall. These are model kits and need to assembled.

I purchased four boxes through Model hobbies – each box contains enough material for three trees.

They were relatively straightforward to build but I would recommend that you put them together in the following manner.

1.       Glue the bases supplied to a wider base (otherwise they will keep falling over !) – I then smoothed the base over with filler and coated in sant and ballast. The final base was drybrushed in brown, ochre then very light sand colours.

2.       Paint the trunks black then glue into the bases. Drybrush the trunks browns.
3.       The foliage comes with small sprues separating the leaves – using a sharp pair of scissors you can clip these out really easily.
4.       Both sets of foliage were then dry brushed dark green and bright light green (in that order). I couldn’t be bnothered to prime the leaves as they were already green. Finally the edges of some of the leaves were tinged light brown.
5.       Once painted assembly is very straightforward – you push each leaf section onto the thin plastic pin on top of the trunk starting with the largest foliage piece first. Only the final piece needs to be glued in place to stop all the others from falling off.

6.       To complete the effect a few clumps of static grass were added around the base of the trees. This will help them tie into the jungle terrain and denote the edge of the beach.

Picture to follow)

In terms of cost they work out at about £3.30 each..

Want to see more Palm Trees and they are cheaper head here...

Palm Trees - More

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Pirate Island - On the Beach

Finally got round to starting the beach.

First up I cut some hardboard sections that would match up along a 2 metres front. With some nice wavy lines for the shore they were soon ready for action.

Next up I starting cutting some thinner polystyrene for the dunes. These were stuck down onto the hardboard base with Hard as Nails glue.

Allowing these to set for at least 24 hours I then turned my attention to the points were the dunes meet the static grass green boards. Using the hot foam cutter the lip was trimmed back so there will be a smooth transition from board to dune section.

The dunes themselves are then covered in filler sloping down to the sea shore.

You will notice the tops of the dunes are quite flat. This will allow for these to be ‘planted’ with palm trees.

The next stage did cause a touch of anxiety as I wanted to represent the gentle lapping of water onto the beach. By chance I was wondering the wallpaper aisle of Homebase and came across some heavy embossed paper. The moment of inspiration had arrived.  Most of these DIY shops allow you to tear of a sample so I duly obliged and a half metres roll went into my trolley – this should be sufficient for my needs   

The wall paper is then gut and trimmed to fit the remaining bare area of hardboard.Once the filler was dry the majority of the board is then coated in PVA and covered in fine train ballast...what else for a beach?

Every Pirate beach needs palm trees - these were ordered a few weeks ago from the hobby store and got broken out this weekend.

Three trees in each box - two different types of boxes - I bought four boxes - 12 trees

The plams were then based on hardboard...and then coated in filler. Next post will see the finished article..

Back to the beach - covered in black acrylic to strengthen the top surface.

A suitable coat of glossy green & blue paint for the seas edge

A heavy dry brushing of white to bring out the gentle waves. The water sections will be coated in clear varnish to give the watery affect.

There is not a big finished picture at the moment because I am keeping my powder dry...
Come back soon for the next instalment

To carry on this journey click here: Pirate Harbour

Friday, 7 December 2012

Happy Birthday to Shed Wars

Today my blog, Shed Wars, celebrates its first birthday. It was 12 months ago that I decided to launch the blog with a few objectives in mind. These were chiefly:

1.       To catalogue the games and figures in my collection
2.       To share with the wider wargames community the activities my small group get involved in
3.       To determine if I could use this blog to identify and meet fellow gamers in my vicinity
4.       To learn more about the power of social networking.

So what has been achieved?

In the last 12 months I find myself regularly communicating on two key Wargames forums, The Lead Adventure Forum and TMP. In addition I have been posting the focus of 2012’s activity – the French & Indian Wars on the Studio Tomahawk site. These posts have helped to generate in one year 90+ followers and over 24,000 page hits. The recent addition opf a flag counter in November shows that the blog has reached as far as Peru, India and Japan.

During the year I have tried to post weekly with some form of update, game review or small tutorial and have recorded 54 posts in the year. My followers have kindly posted over 200 messages with the vast majority of these being complimentary, positive and sharing interesting feedback.

The most positive posts seem to relate to those surrounding terrain tutorials, and clearly the focus on the French & Indian Wars in the latter half of this year.

I am not too sure if these are good stats in the grand scheme of things but with a fair wind I have set myself the target to double the number of followers in the next 12 months and to treble the number of page views. Why do I want to ‘measure progress?’ Some might call it a challenge, others may see this as my need to massage an ego, others may see this as a sinister side step into advertising. If the truth be told I am not entirely sure why I have set these goals other than a simple fact that I like to measure progress and to learn from my actions. As the son of a former news editor I do know that if I don’t publish what people want to read and advertise its presence then nobody will come back for more.

As far as the original objectives are concerned I think have achieved a few in some small way. 2011 saw a breakup of the group I was gaming with but thanks to some resilient folks we have been able to maintain the shed spirit on most Monday nights. Indeed the blog has opened up new opportunities and I am fortunate to have met others in the Surrey/SW London area who share my passion. Who knows maybe in 2013 a wider and more diverse group of ‘shed’ gamers will emerge.

Cataloguing the shed collection has just not happened, I have boxes of terrain and figures that have not seen the light of day, let alone pictures, One of my new year’s objectives will be revisit some of the old games we used to play, get the boards set up and take the photos. It is my hope that the diversity of my collection will broaden the appeal of this blog and subsequently help me to meet my challenge.

One of the highlights of this year was to attend BLAM, a group of likeminded gamers who convened in Woking for three days of gaming. I was fortunate to be able to attend for just one day (other social/work commitments got in the way to allow me a full pass) and to run four games of Muskets & Tomahawks. Great fun was had by all. BLAM also showed that the standard of some games are incredibly high and a bar to which I aspire to in terms of both scenery and figures. This will be a target for next year.

The wider wargames community is diverse, enthusiastic, incredibly talented and proactive. My singular regret is that I hadn’t taken the opportunity to tell my blog earlier.

So what can I promise my readers and followers in the months to come?

·         Lots of big pictures ! I know that these go down well.
·         Continuous postings on a weekly basis (more frequently is just not possible)
·         A wider array of content – ranging from prehistory to the future
·         Battle reports on the games being played
·         More simple tutorials on what I call ‘generic terrain’ – stuff you can re-use in lots of periods
·         An invitation to catch up and watch ‘Shed Wars’ develop.

Thanks for reading


Monday, 3 December 2012

Pirate Fort Construction

One of the centre pieces of my coastline will be the pirate fort overlooking the harbour.
This will be mounted on the standard 50cm x 50cm boards I use on my table.

To get the height on the fort I decided to mount this on 75mm Jablite ( a thicker polystyrene). I did consider raising the fort higher but it would then become too dominant.

First up I cut to two sides of the mdf board with some gentle curves for the coastline. By only cutting two sides I can now butt the fort board on an edge or corner of the board.

Several holes were then drilled into the board and bamboo skewers fixed in. These will be used to strengthen the bond between the Jablite and the MDF base. Once this was done I painted the board in PVA to stop it warping.

A square of Jablite was then pressed onto the board (through the skewers) and glued in place with more white glue. The whole block was then left to dry for 24 hours.

Once dry I took my trusty foam cutter and cut the edges of the cliffs to match the board underneath. Sculpting of the cliffs proper will then come later.

A rough plan of the fort was then drawn onto the top of the jablite board.

At this point in time I started the fort itself. The basic construction (from 5mm foamcore) consists of a square tower and walls. The walls and towers will be topped with battlements and embrasures. Using a really sharp Stanley knife and a steel rule the basics of the fort took a night to construct.

The tower stands around 15cm in height, the walls 10cm in height. The tower itself gently slope inwards to the top.

Once the walls were glued I allowed the whole thing to dry for another 24 hours.

The ramparts themselves would have embrasures for cannons. These again were cut from foamcore and glued in place. This took the best part of an evening to cut and glue all the pieces.

Next up I needed to make sure the fort sat flush on the jablite base. You can see in the pictures that the top of the cliff is no longer flat but stepped. The walls themselves will fit into these steps giving the image that the fort follows the contours of the high ground. Again the foam cutter helped to cut out these contours.

With walls sitting flush I started to fill all of the gaps and edges of the fort with fine filler. To keep on time with this project I have decided that the walls will be smooth plaster rather than stone. If time permits I may come back to ‘clad’ the fort in stone.

With the basic construction of the fort now finished it can be glued down onto the jablite base. To help ‘fix’ the walls to the base I drove thin cocktail sticks into the underside of the foam core walls and then pushed the unit down into the jablite.

The remainder of the cliffs were then sculpted into the fort.

Before I turned my attention to the finer details of the fort the whole thing was given a coat of black acrylic paint

The cliffs drybrushed in grey...first coat

To carry on this journey click here:On the Beach