Wednesday 30 October 2013

Hitting the Blog Target

Just thought I’d share some exciting news...this month (October) I will hit the 10,000 hits – that is 10,000 hits in one month ! – not too sure if this is good for our hobby but I am delighted.

You might also be interested to know that I set myself the challenge of doubling the number of followers from 90 to 180 and trebling the hits from 25k (year 1) to 75k (year 2). 
 I hit both these milestones earlier this month.

....And if this rate can be sustained I’ll hit the 100k mark around Xmas.

 I’ll set myself some new targets on the blogs 2nd birthday in December.

 Thanks to all those reading and following



Monday 28 October 2013

The Hunted

This coming weekend I'll be attending BLAM, three days of gaming with like minded enthusiasts, in the heart of Surrey. Woking to be precise.

Over the three days there will a range of games on display and in time I'll post up reports of the event. However I have volunteered to run a game and I thought it be interesting to post up my plans.

The game in question is called the Hunted and is loosely based on the Predators movie - the one where a group of modern day soldiers are transported to the training fields of the Predator home world.

Starting with the board I purchased three sheets of hardboard (each approx. 2fty by 4ft) and after painting a suitable base colour I marked them up with a series of 10cm grids. The squares are grid referenced in letters and numbers thereby allowing the Hunters (the Predators) to indicate their movement secretly.

Each of these grid boxes will initially hold either ruins, jungle or impassable rocky terrain.


As the hunted soldiers progress their way through the board (they have to traverse the jungle) they recon each zone turning over a series of cards to denote what might lie in the zones ahead.

A total of over 150 cards have been made to facilitate this - a selection


Weapons Cannister

A nasty beast
Impassable Terrain
By drawing cards I can insure that each game is different. The Soldiers themselves each have a series of attributes ranging from Recon and Medic skills through to Combat skills. Stamina determines how much they can sustain from wounds.

Prior to embarking on their survival trip they are issued with equipment cards, these can either be shared freely and fairly or kept by the player who finds them. These range from guns, armour, melee weapons and other equipment. Further equipment can be found when the players encounter weapon cannisters. - a selection

To keep things on edge there is only a limited amount of ammo issued at the beginning of the game so players will need to find the cannisters if the have itchy fingers. To keep things simple there are three types of ammo - heavy, light and shotgun shells.

A Character can action two things in a round - eg move twice, recon and fire, move and give aid etc.
Of course they are going to have to watch out for these boys...

Of course what makes these guys particularly deadly is their speed (they get three actions), their chameleon powers, and their hi tech weaponry. They also get to use hidden movement until they get spotted !

Depending on the number of players (soldiers) their will be a finite number of predators.

Combat is very straightforward, if you can see your target, (not easy in the jungle) you can let rip with your automatic weapons (mindful of ammo counts) - hits deliver stamina damage unless armour is protecting the location. All of this is recorded on the characters reference sheet...

Can the players survive...

The first playtest is tonight so we will see how we get on...

Finally - the cribsheet of rules...


Tuesday 22 October 2013

Rest in Peace - Basil the Wargaming Hamster

Some sad news...Basil the Wargaming Hamster passed away last night, he'd been with us for a number of years and especially enjoyed his trips to the shed


Rest in Peace Basil..

Monday 21 October 2013

Cliffs - All Finished part (part 4)

With a few days off I decided to finish off the cliffs (yes the black had dried)

If you want to start at part 1 head here

part 1

So when I left you last I had just added the ballast and primed the units black for the ground. Once all this was dry I could begin the painting.

The flat surfaces have been dry brushed browns through to a very light cream.

Up next the cliffs were progressively painted grey - dark through to lights.

You can see the big difference the dry brushing has's just the cliffs in black !

Once all this was dry I have added the static grass - Ill get round to adding some bushes at some point but I have to stop now as I have a game for this evening to set up.

Close up of cliffs - two of these sections have ramps up to the upper levels

A giant Mesa

The Castle sits proudly on the raised ground.

A better view of one of the causeways up to the top...

If you are interested in more things rocky..head here

If you want to see how the castle was built head here...

Thanks for following this


Sunday 20 October 2013

Paint it Black...(cliffs part 3)

If you want to start this project from the beginning head here... links to all the stages follow at the end of each post

Welcome back...
Next up the whole surface is covered in pre mixed filler.....

Then I covered the rest of the flat surfaces with PVA and then liberally coated them with medium ballast and sand. This will form the ground surface.



Once all this was dry I liberally painted the whole thing black. Three days later the paint still hasn't dried...

Its taking an age to dry...

These cliffs will be great for the 10mm games

Some brightspark suggested that my Norman Keep should be on a raised hill - well here we are.

The castle board it self is sitting on some polystyrene blocks...


Next step...drybrushing and ground work. Almost there
Part 4 is here


Saturday 19 October 2013

How big is the Wargames Industry?

Over the last couple of days I have been thinking about the size of our hobby, its opportunities and its future. The following is my tuppence worth on this subject and I really would be interested to get peoples views.

Interestingly the TMP forum carry some statistics that reveal that they have over 28,000 members, of these 10,000 are based in the US and 5000 are based in the UK. The sum of all the countries does not equate to the overall total so I suspect that many members have not completed the section on where they reside. If we took membership as a broad brush would seem to suggest that the US is twice the size of the UK market. Of course not everybody in the hobby is signed up to these forums (the Lead Adventure Forum only has 4000 members) – a ratio of 1 in 7 compared to TMP. This is also born out in my own page stats for every hit I have from the LAF links I get at least 6-8 from TMP.

So how many hobbyists are actually online ?

Lets see if we can work this out?

I read somewhere recently that Salute the UKs largest show attracted 10,000 visitors during the day (2500 advanced tickets sold). Although the Show is based in London it is the UK & Europe’s biggest so let us assume from a convenience perspective that 75% of these visitors came from the greater London catchment ie 7,500. Again if we assume that 75% of the potential London catchment attended then we could say that there are 10,000 wargamers of some form in Greater London. So If we further surmise that wargamers in the UK are dispersed evenly across the population and by geography and that greater London accounts for 20% of the UK population then the total number of Wargamers in the UK would count 50,000 individuals. (as a reference this is about 2 gamers per 1000 homes)

This means that 1 in 10 UK wargamers are registered to TMP ( somehow this seems about right so lets stick with this number)

With 50,000 in mind we could therefore surmise that the North American market is at least 100,000 players strong (using the TMP ratio of membership) and that there are possibly a further 50,000 players elsewhere in the world. A total of 150,000 gamers.

Now to try an calculate spend...I personally spend about £100/month on the hobby. I am told by my friends that this is probably at the high end. So taking the law of averages into play lets assume the average gamer will spend £50/month or £600/year. This gives a notional global market of £90million and makes the UK hobby worth about £30million.

Lets bring up the thorny issue of Games Workshop – in their last annual report they published sales of £120million globally (40% revenues came from North America, 30% UK and the remainder from the rest of the world). If my assumptions of the UK Wargames market is correct it must exclude Games Workshop. They are a very different market aiming squarely at the teen market where interest is shortlived. I doubt that less than in 1 in 20 GW teenagers carries on the hobby into adulthood. If this assumption is correct it starts to balance books. Combining the two markets we begin to see a global industry worth around £230million.

To further reinforce my hypothesis It is interesting to note that the Financial times ( suggested the worlds Model railway industry was worth around £1.1billion in 2005. Given the larger number of hobby magazines operating in this sector it must be reasonable to assume that as a market it is bigger.

So we are not really a big market – we are very niche. To put it into context the UK sells around £700m worth of bananas a year (I know this because I was once the UK Marketing Director for one of the largest importers).

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Attacking the Cliffs with a carving Knife (Part 2)

If you are coming here fresh you might want to pick up the trail from part 1
When I left you last I had glued down the cut bark and had created the bulk of the infill using block polystyrene. The following step was all completely new. It could work or it would go horribly goes.

The gap between the polystyrene block at cork bark cliff faces needed to be filled.

I had three choices:

I could have packed this with smaller blocks of foam but it would have been longwinded and fiddly

I could have filled the gap direct with filler, expensive, messy, too long to dry and potentially made the units too heavy

Or I could use expandable foam.



I wasn’t too sure how this would react to the polystyrene (would it melt?) so I tested a piece and after 20 minutes no adverse reaction could be seen.

So off I went merrily filling in the gaps. I hadn’t however expected what happens next, although there is a clue in the name of the product...expandable. I happily filled the gaps and left the pieces to try when I returned an hour later the shock of seeing the foam setting in large blobs over the top of the cliffs was interesting. In deed some of the effects look like lava (bank that Idea for another project). The good news is that the foam has filled the gap


And perhaps more importantly taken on an adhesive quality helping to strengthen the bark to the base. The instructions on the can suggest that the foam needs 24 hours to set..

 So I waiting patiently for 24 hours...

Tonight - get home from work and attack the cliffs with a carving knife cuts beautifully - the picture below shows the after cut...

and this was cut off..

Although light it is very strong...there must be a terrain subject here...I wonder if you can fill moulds with this stuff?

So the foam has worked so next up cover the top with filler and let dry...

Part 3 here:

Part 3


Sunday 13 October 2013

Cork Blimey he's started the Cliffs -

As regular readers will know a few weeks back I started a trial using cork bark to build a raised hill complete with a cliff.. Well I bought quite a lot of cork bark on my shopping trip to the pet store and thought I had better get started on the cliffs I had intended to build.

Starting off with four 25cm x 50cm boards I played around with some configurations - one long stretch, a big hill etc

Taking the cork I rough cut this using a handsaw so the sections were 10cm high. These were then laid out on the board. Once happy with the final shape I glued them to the base using hard as nails glue.

Next up was to create the infill. I have a large amount of thick polystyrene left from other projects. This is 10 cm high. It comes in slabs 4ft x 8ft and usually retails around £14 at B&Q. Again using an eye to draw out the infill shape I pulled out my trusty foam cutter and produced the bulk infill.

This was then glued onto the base.

The picture below illustrates one of the many configurations possible - I'll need to cut a square block to go in the middle but you can see the possibilities.

The gap between the reverse of the cork and the polystyrene is going to be filled with expanding foam. This will be sourced later today on my return from SELWG.

Have a happy sunday

If you want to go to part 2 - click here

Part 2

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Peasants, Knights and Civilians for the Tales of Shedwood

Just a quick update on the Tales of Shedwood project.....

I now have all the figures required to make this happen and a few photos of these are here...

In total I have accumulated

Fireforge Crusader Infantry – 48 men at arms
Fireforge Mounted Seargents – 12 mounted seargeants
Fireforge Mounted Templar Knights – 12 mounted knights
Fireforge Templar Infantry/Knights – 24 men at arms/knights

The Crusaders (Fireforge)
Some Foundry Foot Knights

Foundry Dismounted Knights – 10 figures
Foundry Civilians – 75 Figures
Foundry/Black Tree Design – Peasants – 30 Figures
Clergy (mix of figures from Redoubt, Foundry & Blacktree) – 12 Figures

Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck – secured the special Bretonnian pack off ebay
Robin Hood, Friar Tuck & Little John (still to be finished)
The Merry Men – 30 archers from a variety of sources and periods including Foundry, Black Tree Design

The Merry Men
All in all a total of around – 260 Figures

Of these I have now painted around 75% of the figures – the finished product should be done by the end of the year (hopefully)

I am planning to use the Saga rules for this game (some boards have been identified) with a four player based game.


Robin Hood, his merry men, local villagers
The Sheriff of Nottingham and town militia
Guy of Gisbourne and his mercenary knights
King Richard, and his royal retinue

All looking good

Sunday 6 October 2013

Inspiration in Local Woodland

Whilst walking the over day through My local woods we came across a really old Oak tree, the bark had peeled off and a sudden moment of inspiration hit me..

Why buy Cork Bark when good old English Oak might work just as well.

As you see below the Bark has a fabulous texture and once cut should make for some imposing cliffs. I'll leave it to dry for a few weeks before I start to cut it up and once cut I'll blast the pieces in the microwave to kill off any nasties....

We managed to secure quite a few pieces...much to the amusement of my wife.

If interested in seeing how these might turn out head over to this link where I built a small rocky outcrop using cork bark

Cork Cliff Outcrop

Thursday 3 October 2013

A trip to Vienna

Hi Folks

Just wanted to share a recent experience that although not Wargames based might prove interesting. Earlier this week I had the fortune to visit Vienna, capital of Austria. Given its rich historical military past I thought there might be a museum that could be of interest. I was not disappointed.

Sited in a green and verdant park just outside the city centre the old Vienna Arsenal houses a fairly impressive collection spanning the history of the old Hapsburg empire through to the Second World War and beyond. The building itself is beautiful and somewhat reminiscent of a church/palace inside with it pillars, statues and painted ceilings. Unfortunately I only had 40 minutes to whip round and take in the various exhibits. The following photos are a snapshot of this trip and if I ever return much more time will be spent in this place.

Front Facade of Museum at the Vienna Arsenal

First up on my quick tour was the section devoted to the Great War. Pride of place in this exhibit was the car that the Archduke Ferdinand was riding in when he was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. This of course is seen as the kick off for events between 1914 – 1918. Of particular interest is the bullet entry point in the rear passenger bay. Next door to the car is the uniform the Archduke was wearing still bearing the stains of bllod. I was struck quite cold by the site of these two exhibits realising the enormity of events that were to follow.

There was no sense in the museum to glamorise the great war but at the same time I felt there was no sense of waste as you might do in an equivalent museum here in the UK. It was just a bit sterile.

The Archdukes Car - Austrian Built

The offending bullet hole

The Archdukes Uniform

Next door to the great war exhibit was a hall talking about the second world war and the incorporation of Austria into the third Reich. There were a few interesting exhibits but the highlight of this section and perhaps the whole trip was come face to face with the beast of the 88mm Flak gun. Since being a young kid I have always marvelled at this piece of kit and to see one in the flesh was brilliant.

German Reconaissance Plane

the 88mm Flak Gun !!!

V2 Rocket Engine

It was interesting that there were plenty of bits of memorabilia from the Nazi period but again very sterile. Stop Press: Just looked at the above picture and I have to say to see the V2 engine sited next to the Jewish Concentration Camp uniform just seems wrong....

Rather strangely there was a massive section on the Austrian Navy’s prowess (news to me) and there were plenty of models and cut away battleships. Centre piece to this exhibition was the conning tower of U20, an Austrian U boat sunk in 1916 in the Adriatic and then salvaged in 1962.   

U20 Conning Tower

A door to the outside lead to the tank park. This is clearly unloved with just these metal behemoths standing and rusting their lives away. Interesting to note that all the tanks on display were either Russian, British or American and the majority post war.

Self Propelled Gun

Patton ?

US Tank

Russian Tank Killer

British Centurion


Entrance Hall

Fantastic Ceiling Frescos

Venturing back inside I headed off to the hall that covered the thirty tears war and the wars with the Turks. There was a stark difference here when compared to the earlier halls. More pictures, flags and perhaps more sensed of National pride. The highlight here being a really early ‘hell blaster style’ weapon mounted on a gun carriage.

Early Hand cannons

Armour and Halberds

Multi Nut Cracker....

30 year war uniforms

Multi Musket Cannon thingy

Turkish Rifles

Nice display of Turkish weaponry

A Mortar - 1790's

Moving across I headed into the halls dedicated to the Napoleonic Wars and the Wars with Prussia/Italy in the 1830-40’s. The highlight here being the first aerial reconnaissance vehicle. A balloon captured in 1996 from the French.

French Balloon - original gondola
Austrian General - really nice bronze

Austrian Grenadier

As I left I caught site of a jet plane – a Saab Drakken hidden beyond the entrance.

So in summary an interesting flying visit, some great displays, and some great history. However there was nobody there...perhaps twenty visitors in total (mostly American).