Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stumbled Across the Line

That's the end of January then! I honestly can't say that I've done as well as I would have liked, but I didn't get a lot of time to do painting this month (excuses excuses).

I did manage to complete my target - the two buildings are painted! Unfortunately I can't be bothered to get them out of the box and photograph them tonight, so I'm hoping to get photos of them from a game I'm playing on Thursday night. That'll be quite good, it's the first time they'll appear in a game. There's still work to do on them, but for the VBCW game we're playing on Thursday I don't think there'll be much going on inside them and I'll get away with it.

To keep up with my resolutions for the year, I need to do an extra to go with the target of the buildings. The problem has been that I've fallen prey to the wargamer's constant enemy, a lack of focus. I started painting an extra warlord for my Anglo Danes...

Then, before I finished painting that, I put together my new Norman Knights...

Before getting sidetracked once more by my Very British Civil War force, the Handsworth Volunteers.

The end result is that none of the extras were finished, but at least I didn't feel like I was breaking my own rules by working on them. Working on some "wildcards" each month is still a good idea, I think, but maybe the original target wasn't enough, or maybe since I've not played any Flashbang this month I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Anyway, it's another month gone, so I need another target. Looking to the wildcards seems the obvious thing to do, so...

My targets for February are to finish off the Handsworth Volunteers in the photo above, and to paint the first unit for my Normans. Again, I'll be aiming to do a wildcard as well.

I need to get cracking with the Normans as there's a campaign starting at the club in March, and I'll need 4 points for the start. I can, if need be, use units from my Anglo Danes to fill the gaps, but it means giving up the tactical advantage of the Norman cavalry, so getting those painted helps my chances of doing well!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Normans and Buildings

I tried to come up with a pun or something for the title of this post, but nothing would come to me...

Anyway. A bit of progress to report on. First off, I've finished (more or less) the exterior of my buildings, so I've started on the inside. I'm working on the "bank" first (I keep thinking of it as a bank even though it'll probably start off as nondescript offices). I bought some tester pots of matt emulsion from Wilkinsons, reasoning that the best way to get the colours of interior wall paint would be to use interior wall paint. I needed two coats to get the right level of coverage, just like painting a real wall, and the end effect is pretty much exactly the bland office interior that i was after.

Then, moving on to the floors - for the upper floors, which I imagine will be the offices of the bank, I wanted carpet so I went to Hobbycraft and bought some doll's house carpet. This was self adhesive, so it was a simple matter to cut it to size and stick it in.

On the ground floor I want a tiled floor, so I'm using some textured plasticard. I think I'm going to try to get a wood effect there, but I'm not sure yet, I might still change my mind. We'll see.

Having worked on the buildings for a while I fancied doing something else, so I've assembled some plastic Norman knights. These are the Conquest models which I think have been very popular.

Notice that there are 15 complete knights here, from a box that supposedly makes 12! A fine bit of Cheaphammering if I do say so myself. Basically the pack comes with 3 spare knights to make command figures, but there are only 12 horses, and 12 kite shields in the box. There are round shields as well, but that just doesn't say "Norman" to me, so I've raided the bits left over from my Anglo Danes and found enough shields and arms to give everyone the kite shield. To provide the horses I did a bit of begging and Aneurin kindly gave me four Lord of the Rings horses which are basically the right size.

So now I have 15 knights ready... 16 would make two units of warriors for Saga, and 17 would allow me to use a model as a warlord too. I still have the metal models I won to put together as well, and I've got a set of Norman dice for the playtesting we did before the game was released. Which means that, if I can find a couple of spare knights from someone else's Conquest pack (I have two more spare horses), I can field a complete Saga force which has cost me £2 - for the two packs of bases the knights will stand on. Not bad that! I do want to get some crossbowmen for these too, so I'll be keeping an eye out for anything appropriate.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Building the city of the future (or past, or present...)

To keep up with the resolutions I listed in my last blog post, I need to keep blogging, make more terrain, and work towards a "Triples ready" version of Flashbang, amongst other things. So, to that end, my target for January is to paint my two Sarissa Precision buildings. I'll still have more work to do on them after this, but getting them painted is the first stage.

As we're almost halfway through January already I've got these underway, so let's have a look at what I've done so far.

I started by laying out all of the interior walls, then I used the paints that Andy had mixed for me to paint them and add two layers of drybrushed highlights. This took a long time but was very easy, so I was able to watch a couple of films while doing it...

The walls laid out

Walls with a basecoat

This picture shows the levels of highlight I used - the basecoat is at the front, with the two layers of highlight behind.

Having done the external walls, I moved onto the windows - using a basecoat of grey followed by a white drybrush.
Grey basecoated windows

Windows with white drybrushing

The internal walls with the windows painted were then glued into place on the external walls, and the overall effect looks pretty nice (even though it's ruined here by me lazily using my phone to take the pictures).

The residential building
Since I'm lazy, and i wanted a textured but even effect for the flat roofs, I used black sandpaper cut to size and then glued down. I'll need to go around the edges to fill those in, but I like the look of these. I've also begun painting the outsides of the floors to finish off the wall exteriors - for some reason two coats of paint are needed on the cut edges, even though a single layer seems to work ok on the flat sides.

The "bank"

I still need to do the interiors - I'm not sure what colours to use, because I want to keep the buildings appropriate for as many time periods as possible. This is actually going to cause a problem with flooring - a modern carpet will look out of place in the interwar period! Worrying about this too much is going to lead to madness though, so I think I'll just go for a modern look (to suit Flashbang) and pretend it isn't a problem for other times (which will probably be focused outside the buildings anyway).

I've got some ideas on how to make the outside looks of the buildings fit different games, but I'm saving those for another day...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

New Year's Hobby Resolutions

It's that time of year, gyms are packed, Nicorette flies off the shelves, and people furiously try to convince themselves that they don't want another drink as their New Year's resolutions kick in and they spend January sticking to them, before giving up and returning to their old habits on about the 6th of February.

I don't see why I should be any different, so let's go through my wargaming plans for 2012. Read on for a thrilling tale of high minded ambition and unrealistic goals!

1) I will get Flashbang to "Triples Standard"
If you've been reading this blog at all, or have been anywhere near me in the last few months, you'll be aware that I've written a skirmish game called Flashbang, and I've been industriously putting models and terrain together for it. The impossible dream is to one day see it published, but this year I'd like to get to the stage where it would "fit in" at a show like Triples. That means having terrain, rules and models that could stand out on a table at a show and draw people in - in the way that we did for last year's Triples with the Vikings vs Saxons Saga board. I don't intend to actually demo Flashbang at a show (this year at least!), but the resolution for 2012 is to reach the point where it would be possible.

2) I will only buy models and books when I need them (or when faced with an offer I can't refuse!)
This is probably the first resolution that will fall by the wayside, but as with all resolutions I'll try to abide by it and see how I get on. In the past, like most wargamers, I've tended to buy things that I like the look of or am interested in at the time, with no real thought to getting them painted. Since Wargamer's Free Company has started up, with a "no unpainted models" rule, I've been forced to be a bit more sensible - there's not really any point in buying scores of models that I can't get painted, as I won't be able to use them at the club, and that's where I do at least 90% of my gaming anyway. Knowing that my opponent will be bringing a fully painted force encourages me to try and bring something that looks pretty good myself, and I've found that playing with painted armies on the very nice tables and terrain at the club really enhances the games.
So, given that I prefer to use only painted models, there's no point in buying models long before I'm likely to be able to paint them, and my resolution is to not do that! However, I'm giving myself the opt-out clause of still being able to buy models that are an exceptionally good deal. This would apply to the 2 M18 Hellcats, copy of Hell's Highway and copy of Fortress Europe that I bought for Flames of War at the weekend! This was after a tipoff from Andrew that Hobbycraft were selling off their Flames of War stock - I bought everything I could find there and got £50 worth of books and models for £30, not bad going at all. This resolution is eminently sensible, so I'm going to counteract it with...

3) I won't be afraid to spend money on wargaming
This one might be a bit controversial! What I mean by this resolution is that I won't be afraid of buying the things I want, provided I can use them in a reasonable time. In the past I've tended to shy away from things like the lovely Warehouse from Sarissa Precision because it seems like a lot of money to spend, even though I know I'd get a lot of use out of it once I painted it up. From now on, I'm planning to get these things when I think they'll get enough use to justify the cost, provided I'll have time to get them ready.

4) I will get my Napoleonics started!
When I first took out a subscription to Wargames Illustrated, I got a box of Victrix Highlanders as a free gift. Since then, I've bought some more bits and pieces, and the Black Powder rules, but painted precisely one highlander and had something like three games of Black Powder. I actually think it's a very good game, and 28mm Napoleonics look extremely nice on the tabletop, so this is a pretty poor show for 2 1/2 years and I intend to finally do something about it! Also, if I do get this army painted, I could finally return Kieron's book of Napoleonic uniforms...

5) I will prepare at least two armies for each of the games I play
There are two reasons for this idea. The first is just to give me some variety in the armies I can use, but the more interesting reason is so I can try to lure more people into playing these games against me! This will mean preparing another army for Saga, Impetus, VBCW and Black Powder, so watch this space.
I'm even hopeful (although perhaps not very) that I can convince one or two "normal" people to start playing wargames if I can provide everything that's needed to get them started. Which leads me into...

6) I will build up a collection of terrain
Since I have limited space at home, and WFC owns some very nice terrain, there's not a great need to have my own terrain, but I have a few pieces already. I need some specifically for Flashbang, and have a few pieces for Flames of War that I haven't yet painted. I want to build these up so that I can add something a bit more unusual to games at the club, and also have some terrain available for games outside the club should they come up.

7) I will keep blogging and setting targets
Maintaining this blog, and having my work marked out of ten every month, has given me a massive productivity boost! I'll definitely carry on with that, but I've decided to slightly alter the format of it. Over December I had a big list of targets because I didn't know quite what I would work on, and I enjoyed having a bit of freedom (even though I mostly worked on the same thing, on which more in a future post), but the targets are a big motivatory. So, I'm going to keep setting targets, but I'll make them slightly easier to allow myself time to include a "wildcard" of some sort so I can vary what I'm doing. So from now on, my target for each month is whatever I say I'm going to do, plus something else...

There we are then - a list of 7 wargaming resolutions that I'll be trying to keep in 2012. Come back on the 6th of February to see which I failed with!