Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Pirate Island Part 1

A couple of weeks ago the gauntlet was thrown down on the Lead Adventure Forum to construct a terrain feature title ‘water’....rather foolishly I have accepted this challenge and rather brazenly stated that I would build the coastline for my Pirate island. I have plenty of ideas of what needs to be constructed but the biggest issue is going to be one of time. It needs to be completed by the first week of January.

With work, Christmas and a holiday abroad starting on boxing day I need to complete this in the next four weeks !

With a fair wind and perhaps cutting some corners I might be able to just pull this off.

In summary I need to build along the shore (with of course associated water elements)

·         the cliff and the lighthouse
·         the harbour walls
·         the rocky promontory complete with pirate fort
·         the sandy shore & palm trees
·         the estuary (this will connect to my river)

OK  my first job is already  complete - the table is now covered in blue vinyl floor tiles so this will form the basis of the sea, my static grass ‘land’ boards sit on top of this allowing me to alter the coastline as I see fit, or I can just remove them all and play naval battles.

Blue Vinyl Sea

The Land meets the Sea

 If time permits I will also construct some features for the sea (eg waves, denizens of the deep, whirlpools etc). The picture of the board below illustrates the ground I need to cover. It’s about 3 metres in total.

Whilast I had the land up and running I thought I would buiild the hinterland of crags, mesas, jungles and waterfalls...please indulge me as I got carried away

Some rocky hills

So you can see above I need to make a marshy estuary....

The river and falls

jungle appears

river in the jungle

The good news is that I started at the weekend and the rocky outcrop for the Pirate fort is underway. This will be constructed from foamcard.
The trick to building this fort will make it dominant and functional as a playing piece whilst at the same time ensure that it is small enough to both store and enable other terrain to play their part in table top action.

The Fort

I decided that each of the features would be based on one of my standard 50cm x 50cm Mdf tiles.

A full blog page will be deveoted to the development of  each of these features as they come along.

The Ship for scale purpose

Close up View

Given that no coastline would be complete without a lighthouse heres one we rescued from my sons old toy pile.

The Lighthouse

The harbour wall

And of course a harbour is required...again the walls come from the toy cupboard.

All together now (great song by the Farm)

Given that we are talking about water it would be unfair not to include its denizens...of course these will be dressed with waves etc


As progress develops I will update the blog as frequently as I am able...


To follow this journey please click here:
Pirate Fort Construction

Friday, 23 November 2012

More Pirates - Yo ho ho

This week I have been able to crack on with the Pirates - another 30 have joined the crew (over half way there !)
These are all from the 28mm Foundry range

Thanks for dropping by


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Post Apocalypse using Bolt Action Rules

Monday night saw a change of scene in the shed – we moved from the verdant forests of North East America to the bombed out remains of a city in the near future.

A few months ago I purchased Warlords Games Bolt Action ruleset, not that I have any interest in setting up a WW2 project, but rather a view of seeing if they could be used for my near future skirmish games.

As a quick summary the Bolt Action ruleset allows for a small scale skirmish game fought between squads, support weapons and a few vehicles. The rule book itself is over 200 pages long, full of eye candy and copious lists on the chief protagonists in the European theatre. The rules themselves are very simplistic but in the game we played they seemed to work quite well.

Each squad, support weapon etc counts as a unit. The unit has a designation of whether it is green(8), experienced (9) or veteran (10). These determine morale dice (roll less than score on 2d6). Morale is modified by the number of pins a unit has accumulated and/or whether an officer is nearby. A unit takes a pin every time it is hit, regardless of whether it suffers casualties. If a unit is pinned it must make a successful morale check and the number of pins influence the ability to fire, move and the subsequent checks (typically -1 for each pin counter).

At the beginning of each turn all units are allocated a special dice (colour denoting the sides). These dice are popped into a cup and drawn randomly. Each die shows six actions,

·         Run (unit can double move)
·         Advance( unit can advance 6 inches and fire)
·         Fire (no penalties for movement)
·         Ambush (effectively puts unit into vigilance mode)
·         Rally (the opportunity to remove pins)
·         Down (hitting the dirt and taking cover)

As and when a die is drawn the player decides which of his units will activate and what they will do. This does of course mean that players will not necessarily move in turn. Tactical and strategic success can be determined by the order in which you move your units and recognising when/how many of your opponents troops have activated.

Combat is very straightforward – each model has a weapon with a number of shots, range etc. To hit you need 3+ on a d6 this is modified by cover, movement etc.  If a hit is achieved the target is deemed pinned, a subsequent roll for each hit is then made to determine casualties. This save is dependent on the quality of troop with veterans getting killed on a 5+. Although we had no vehicles in this game they work much the same way with armour denoting a save, AT weapons get a penetration modifier. 

Our first game was an envelopment action – in principle the attackers have to drive across the table and by the end of the game (seven turns) have either exited the opponents edge or are residing in their deployment zone.

Both forces were given the same number of units – 3 squads of experienced regulars (assault rifles), 3 squads of veterans (assault rifles), 1 officer (assault rifle), two medium machine guns and a sniper team.

The defenders could deploy 50% of forces on the board, with reserves appearing from turn 2 if they successfully made a morale check. The attackers deployed along their starting line.

To spice things up the attackers were able to bombard the area up front with all defenders on table coming under fire. As a result most defending units started pinned but a spectacular hit on the sniper team caused this unit to disintegrate in a cloud of HE and Smoke.

So the scene was set and by the end of turn one the Green Forces (attackers) had advanced across the board with a focus to attack the left flank and centre. The Defenders jostled for position in the windows of the ruined building with many opting for Ambush fire in the next turn.

Thanks to Matt for providing Green Forces his excellently painted Snow troopers & Pig Iron Multi Cam fellows.

In turn 2 the leading elements of green forces had come under fire from the medium machine gun positioned in the ruins of the left flank, four dice rolled and two hits scored with two kills. Not the start the attackers wanted. Further exchanges of fire flashed across the city district.

By turn 3 our defending forces had established a strong defensive perimeter and were freely shooting the advancing green forces. Casualties started to rack up and units were becoming pinned under heavy fire. The Green forces enjoyed some success with a squad taking out the deadly support weapon.

Turn 4 saw the game enter an attrition phase, with all the defenders reserves now in position and telling fire counting heavily on the green forces it was looking like objectives would not be achieved.

Turn 5 began with some desperate advances by green, could he seize back the initiative. Sadly his early losses and the defenders fortunate rolls had determined the fate of the game.

Turn 6 Green forces were able to charge one unit of Greys and were successful in the ensuing and very devastating melee.

Turn 7 – With Green suffering 40% casualties the objectives were never going to be achieved and a halt was called to proceedings.

So what did we learn...

1.       The ruleset is easily translated into other periods of play. There is no reason why the rules could not encompass all squad based skirmishes.
2.       The activation of units is clever – but a high degree of luck can come into play
3.       Ranges (a max of 24 inches) seemed to be somewhat limiting – maybe better to have no range maximum on a small table but count long range over a certain distance for all weapons – exception maybe handguns etc
4.       We probably had too much terrain on the table
5.       Using more than 10 units per side not recommended – nine just about worked.

Hope this is of interest?


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

First Pirates come ashore...

When I start out on a new project my first priority is getting the figures painted this is before I start with the fun bit of building the terrain.

This is always the most time consuming aspect of any activity and to be frank I am not the best painter in the world. My style can be best described as rapid.

To begin with I base (on 25mm washers from B&Q), grit the bases with sand and then prime. Because I want the colours to be quite vibrant on these pirates my choice of primer this time will be grey.

Rather than paint one figure at a time I typically paint in blocks of a dozen figures at a time and go through the set one colour at a time.

First up will be the base. With the pirates I have deviated from my standard scorched brown and light drybrush, I have plumped for a lighter base colour. Because these boys will be shipboard and in the town it’s unlikely that they will get a treatment of static grass.

Working by the numbers the flesh will get painted first followed in this order shoes & boots, trousers, shirts, jackets, hats. Once all the clothes are painted I turn my attention to hair (I hate this bit). Only once all the core elements of the figure are painted do I turn my attention to guns, swords and other accoutrements. To keep the time down I do very little shading – unless it is a big area (eg a cloak). Once dry the figure gets a wash of Army Painter dip and allowed to dry/cure for 24 hours.

I estimate that the 13 Pirates (A baker’s dozen) shown below took about 3 solid hours to paint. This works out around 15 mins per figure. By working in blocks you can churn through quite quick. The more detailed characters remaining will probably take much longer.

Not to self - sort out lighting on camera shots

So the first part of the crew are finished – I have set them off against some buildings recently purchased from Matakashi...



Monday, 12 November 2012

More Trees - Big Trees

As you have probably gathered from previous postings on this blog I have had a bit of a run on tree building this year and this last post quite possibly is the last...after all there are only so many trees a wargamer can use !

I am sure like many of you have wondered about using (or maybe you have) the Woodland Scenic tree armatures. The problem I have had in the past is that they tend to be very fragile, a pain to construct and can be quite expensive once you have bought the armatures, foliage etc etc. Hopefully the following will try and dispel those myths.

A few weeks back I bought some Pirates from foundry, they came all nicely packed and arrived very promptly. I was struck by the nature of the foam packaging (like sponge) and thought there must be a use for this. A thought occurred to me that if I cut it into small irregular blocks and covered the result in flock foliage might appear.

So out came a few armatures from a purchase made some time ago.

Sharp scissors and PVA glue soon had me jamming these bits of foam onto the tree’s boughs. At the moment the foliage looks a bit blocky but once dry the magic will start to happen. Note – I found that dipping the foam into the PVA was the best way to get this stuck onto the tree rather than painting the tree in PVA. It is messy but it seems to work.

Once dry I took my trusty scissors and started to reshape the blocks into a more pleasing shape.

Spray the whole tree, foliage sponge and all black.

Now is the time to paint the tree itself – drybrushed greys and lighter browns.


Once all this is done, paint pva glue onto the sponge foliage and dip in a big box of flock. Shake off the excess and allow to dry.

Fix the flock with scenic cement (Sprayed) – hey presto job done. All I need to do now is base them.

I am quite pleased with the result.

The armaturesw were about £1 per tree and the flock was about £4 for the bag - still loads left - so I reckon each tree cost about £1.25 each - oh they stand around 6" to 8" tall..

Now if you are interested in palm trees head here

Palm Trees



Sunday, 11 November 2012

My First Photo Shoot

Hi Folks

A bit off piste here folks but we will be back to the 18th Century very soon....but... 

A few weeks back the good guys at Amera Plastics (http://www.amera.co.uk) wrote to me and asked if I could send them some more pictures of their ruined buildings in play.

Always happy to support the guys who produce our toys I set up my first photo shoot !

The buildings in the shots are all from Amera, and the figures and tank are from the excellent Pig Iron range.

The ruined cars , rubble and other bits and bobs are either scratchbuilt or have been collected along the way.

If you are looking for a ruined city check out their site its a quick and easy way of putting a lot of buildings out in one go.



A very few of the pictures sent to Amera