19 December 2022

What a Tanker! Monday Knights Christmas Break Up

The Monday Knights' Christmas party was a quiet one, with only about 10 able to make it (in part people away on holidays, others not well, etc). The TooFatLardies' WWII tank combat game What a Tanker! was chosen for its simplicity and allowing us to bring a 15mm tank model of our choice. I brought my United Nations T-72, simply as it doesn't get much table time. This was just representative, as each of us had 12 points to allocate between armour and strike (the tank's gun). I went with a 5 / 7 configuration. Most other were this or 4/8. Tyler went with 6/6.

Games were of four, with the two winners of game one playing each other, and the same for the two losers (based on kills). I quickly got to grips with the rules, but my luck was not with me tonight. After two games I only managed to kill Paul.

A pretty bad year, looking forward to 2023.

13 December 2022

Eureka Miniatures 18mm Sci-Fi Mayans

A fun mini project to complete were these Eureka Miniatures' 18mm Sci Fi Mayans in the style of Jack Kirby (Marvel comics). They were a gift from Nic, and I planned to use these for post apocalyptic car war games, but they're a little small compared to 1/72 / 20mm toy cars. So I'm currently writing so skirmish rules for them.

They were fun to paint, a little flash that was easily cleaned up. I also added magnets to the 20mm washer bases, to see if this is a viable storage solution (Mike has convinced me to start a 20mm Soviet Battlegroup army...). Apart from Kirby, their style also reminds me of Pierre Christin's Valerian comics (particularly Empire of a Thousand Planets).

In addition in the same painting session I also painted these 28mm Victorian lamp posts (all from Eureka) for my ongoing botanic gardens terrain project.

02 November 2022

Battletech Mechs and 28mm Stargate Team

Just finished off some Battletech mechs from the most recent version box set (link), painting them as Lyran Guards. I used Vallejo dark blue (70.930) and off white (70.820) that allowed me to edge highlight with white (new found love for this technique). Canopies were painted in a bronze/gold to compliment the blue. I also used an oil wash and home made pigment powders (using non-oil pastels), finishing off with some suitable decals.

I also used the powders on these 28mm US Marine Recon miniatures from Eureka Miniatures, that I painted as a generic Stargate team. The greens are a mix of Vallejo German Camouflage Dark Green (70.979) and German Fieldgrey WWII (70.830).

They will soon be joined by some Jaffa and suitable terrain.

31 December 2021

NYE 2021 Battletech

New Year's Eve meant birthday celebrations at Phil's home again.

Like last year he ran a couple of games of Battletech, with each player playing one game over two map boards (non-scrolling) with players randomly assigned to one of two teams.

We were able to choose our mech, limited to 2000 BV, with a 200 BV bonus for mechs armed with less than three PPCs. Tech was limited to 3070 or earlier. Pilot and Gunnery skills were not allowed to be more than 2 points apart (e.g. 3/5, 2/4, 7/5, etc). I elected to go with my unplayed Marauder MAD-3R (two PPCs, autocannon/5, and two medium lasers) that I painted earlier this year with a Pilot skill of 4 and Gunnery skill of 2 (4/2).

Scoring would be 1 point per point of damage caused (both armour + internal structure), a bonus 50 points if your mech survives the game, and a bonus 20 points if the mech was operational and on the table at the end of the game. Game ends when all the mechs from one side have been destroyed, have left the table or after three hours.

With 12 players taking part we rolled off to see whether we'd be in game 1 or 2 and what team we'd be in. I was teamed up with Andreas (Marauder) and Andrew O (Rifleman IIC) in the first game. Our opponents were Paul G (Marauder), Tyler (Thunderbolt) and Lachlan (Awesome).

It's been a while since I played, and it showed. Young Lachlan made a game of it by deploying on a flank and turning the central axis of battle diagonally along the two maps. I strayed too far from a forest to lose the cover bonus and was shooting with weapons that didn't match the heat sinks I had. I forgot to keep track of my heat (funny as it hit 38 degrees during the day), but considering there was a few turns I didn't shoot and I only caused 35 points of damage I don't think it was an issue. I did however with my first shot manage to destroy Tyler's Thunderbolt with a head shot (again, not great tactics).

 (Ignore the blue hue, that's from the plastic sun shade overhead. Or the natural light on the planet we were battling on.)

After that it was a matter of time for Paul to go down, Andreas get killed by a head shot (that's his thing), and Lachan shot up by the Rifleman IIC and my Marauder. Game two was slightly more brutal - head shots also being a feature.

It was good to end the year with a game, and see me paint a fair few miniatures. Hope 2022 is better for all.

08 September 2021

Naval Wargaming Splash Markers

During the Battle of the Denmark Strait anniversary game I realised I really wanted better looking splash / blast markers for naval wargaming. Nic suggested Irregular Miniatures' 'Two explosions and two shell craters' (code GWV14) which are also available from Eureka Miniatures (code IRR-GWV14).

Designed for 6mm WWI wargaming, these are perfect for naval games and were very easy to paint up (black undercoat, heavy grey dry brush, light white dry brush, white highlights).

I have another 10 (in both sizes) that I'll paint up black to use for land warfare. Really happy how easy these were to create. With the current lock down due to Covid restrictions, I have no idea when I'll get to use them.

12 July 2021

First Try of the New Blood Bowl Rules

I've played Blood Bowl, Games Workshop's fantasy football game, a lot from the third edition with my brother in the mid-nineties to around 2015 with Living Rulebook 6. However, I stopped playing it when the revised version was published in 2016, but have watched some games and been tempted by the new miniatures (even though I own orc, human, Skaven, High Elves and goblin teams already).

Liam and Jack had got into the latest version publish in 2020, and Ara revealed he had bought the box set too. We decided to have a night to get everyone familiar with the rules (Mike hadn't played, and Nic hadn't run his Elvis team for a few decades!) in preparation for a mini league later in the year.

I ran my goblins with Jack, while Nic, Mike and Ara coached the humans. Liam came later and helped with the rules.

We only played a half, stepping everyone through the rules. I like the changes (the main one being the skill stat for throwing and general agility being split). While I ran the goblins with a chainsaw and ball & chain, I think drafting a troll is better than eight re-rolls (!). I have two fantasy trolls that are not fully painted that I will rebase on round bases. Games (depending on lockdowns, etc) will be played over a couple of nights in August / September.

24 May 2021

Battle of the Denmark Strait 80th Anniversary

I had finished basing my first War at Sea 1/1800 ships (see here) and it was time to use them in a game. A few months ago I realised it would be the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Denmark Strait that occurred on 24 May 1941 (during the Second World War) between ships of the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine. The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack Allied merchant shipping (codenamed Operation Rheinübung).

Ara, Jack, Liam, Mike and Nic all were keen for some naval wargaming and I set about in organising the game. The rules were Mongoose Publishing's Victory at Sea, which Warlord Games has recently updated and re-released. They're a simple set of rules, but I like them as they're easy to pick up, have some historical flavour and are able to deal with large fleet actions (Ara, Liam and I have played the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay without issue).

To make things interesting, I also designed a set of 'Captain Cards', for each captain and fleet commander. They would award additional victory point if certain actions were performed during the battle (detailed blog post pending). They are based on historical commanders, and how they behaved during battle or orders they were given. Based on what happened during this battle, e.g. the victory conditions for Lütjens and Lindemann are not compatible.

 The cards were allocated randomly and the players commands were:

  • Admiral Lütjens (Bismarck) - Nic
  • Kapitän zur See Lindemann (Bismarck) - Mike
  • Kapitän zur See Brinkmann (Prinz Eugen) - Jack
  • Vice Admiral Holland (HMS Hood) - Ara
  • Captain Kerr (HMS Hood) - Ara
  • Captain Leach (HMS Prince of Wales) - myself, but later Liam

The ships were set up per the scenario in the rulebook, with the German commander having the option to choose the order the ships were deployed, Mike (Lütjens had deferred decisions to his subordinates at this stage still) electing to keep the faster Prinz Eugen in the front of the line.

I included the optional rules for the guns on the Prince of Wales (i.e. the guns not being fully operational and in part being manned by non-navy technicians), mainly as it added historical flavour. To get into the theme, I also drank an English beer (something I rarely do!).

Opening move had the British ships split to try and envelop the Germans to stop them escaping, while the Prinz Eugen went as fast as she could down the gap that had been created (torpedoes anyone?). After a few rounds of firing (and missing - Victory at Sea doesn't allow pre-measuring), the Prince of Wales already had one barrel out of action.

At this point the battle was paused as all commanders got together for blue cake (it had recently been Ara's birthday), I just love that maniacal look on Liam's face.

After a belly full of the raspberry cake it was back to the sea. Things started getting serious with the Hood receiving a few critical hits, one on her engine slowing her down and a fire breaking out.

Mike, as Captain Lindemann, confidently declared the Bismarck still had a fair bit of armour in response to the Hood's situation. The Prinz Eugen was one hit away from being crippled, while the Prince of Wales was almost undamaged.

Moments later all this changed, Ara scored a critical hit (4+ on a D6), vital systems (12 on 2D6) and a catastrophic explosion (6 on a D6); sinking the Bismarck in spectacular fashion in much the same way the Hood was historically sunk.

If that isn’t a belated birthday present I don’t know what is. Victory points wise it was a clear British victory (the Germans also had very weak overall command with Lindemann shooting before it was optimal for Lütjens' victory conditions to do so. It also made the follow on battle, recreating the last battle of the Bismarck on 26-27 May 1941, redundant. However, I plan on basing these additional ships, as the two battles are a good scenario to introduce people to WWII naval wargaming.

Finally I also picked up a few sets of Irregular Miniatures' 'GWV14 Two explosions and two shell craters' sets, that I will paint as water explosions (so mainly white). They are definitely a candidate for obscure miniature of the week.

23 May 2021

Basing War at Sea Ships

So I have over 100 (probably closer to 200) of Wizards of the Coast's 1/1800 Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War At Sea ships that I've wanted to base for years but I've been daunted by the size of the task.

I had purchased the 3mm thick basing material (45mm wide MDF for battleships and aircraft carriers and 25mm wide masonite hardboard packer for cruisers and destroyers) during 2020. Now is was just a matter of actually settling on a method that was cheap, easy to replicate and looked good. Not easy.

The first step was cutting the bases into the right lengths, adding an extra 10mm on the front and 20mm to the back, which would accommodate a 10mm long label with ship name, class and nationality, etc. As i was planning to host the Battle of the Denmark Strait in a few weeks I tested the basing solution on the HMS Hood, HMS Prince of Wales, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen miniatures in my collection.

After gluing the ships down with PVA (so if I change my mind in the future they're easily removable) I proceeded to cover the base in pre-mixed plaster (Uni-Pro's multi-purpose interior filler) and move it around while still quite wet with a smooth flat needle file to create waves, bow and propeller wakes.

Once this was completely dry (i.e. leaving it overnight), I painted the whole base (leaving about a 1mm unpainted next to the ship) in Kaisercraft's navy blue craft paint. I did two coats to ensure an even coverage.

This was followed by a heavy dry brush of 3 parts navy blue to 1 part cool grey (a mid grey tone) and then followed by a slightly lighter dry brush of 1 part navy blue to 1 part cool grey.

I was following Yarkshire Gamer's YouTube guide on basing, and so I painted the tips of the wakes in a 1 part white to 1 part cool grey mix to take the brightness down a little. Problem was it looked too fake.

So I dappled a 1 part navy blue to 1 part white to try to blend them in with the rest of the base. That looked even worse in my opinion.

After searching for images of battleships during WWII online, and noting that ships aren't usually moving at their full speed (even during a battle), I went back a few steps (leaving the light grey on the propeller wakes). Much better.

The final step involved sealing the bases with a gloss varnish (also from Kaisercraft) and designing labels for every ship. The ones on the rear of the base were mounted on card and had their edge painted in grey. They're kept in place with Blutac so I can swap out for other ships in the same class. The label underneath is the ship that War at Sea states the ship is and was glued in place with PVA.

I am happy with the outcome - cheap, will be easy to replicate and looks good. In the first instance I will do the other historical battle sets I have all the ships for, namely the Battle of the River Plate and the Battle of the Java Sea. I still imagine it will take years to complete the whole collection.

22 March 2021

Luftwaffe 1946 Baby Mobile

With a little one on the way I decided to do something a little different. With some 1/72 late WWII / Luftwaffe 1946 model kits unfinished from a fair few years ago (pre-wargaming life) I decide repurposing them into a baby mobile made perfect sense.

Using what I had I only bought Dragon's Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet for its size (to balance the weight of the Messerschmitt P.1101). Below follows the aircraft, a source photograph and its Wikipedia page.

Republic-Ford JB-2 Loon


Bachem Ba 349 Natter

It's also worth reading an account of the first (and last) manned flight of the Natter by Lothar Sieber:



Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg


Captured British Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet



Messerschmitt P.1101


And putting them all together:

A few month in, the little one is loving them. The finish on them is a little rough, but I was working with some that were half painted, and or horrible to put together in the flight mode (I'm looking at you P.1101). But I'm very happy with the overall result.

American Civil War Union Skirmishers and Walking Dead Zombies

A quick painting session as I had recently placed a large order with Perry Miniatures, including a box of their plastic Confederate infantry and I hadn't finished their first box set I had bought years ago. In addition to them I also had some of Sash & Sabre's Federal Infantry Skirmish or Firing Line (also bought around 2010) that I started painting a few years ago and then put on the back burner.

The photos below show my typical undercoat technique of raw umber craft paint (over a black spray painted undercoat followed by a ~5/1 highlight dry brush of raw umber/white. Then paint as normal (also with highlights, etc).

A simple job, but I wanted these done. There will be a whole lot of Confederates that they will face (an army for Rebels and Patriots) and some of them can be seen in the background of that photo above.

While I finished painting these, I also completed the Walking Dead zombies I had got from Jack at Christmas.

These will be used for a Flag of Our Zombies game I plan to have in the near future.

16 March 2021

Another Season of The Football Game

Another boardgame night last night with Ara, Jack, Liam, Mike and Nic giving The Football Game another run. I think the game works better now with having learnt to have a diverse colour (ideally two of each) and positional (again at least two, though your midfielders can cover shortfalls) squad with plenty in reserve (2-3 players). When its your turn also thinking about a B squad playing to ensure your star players don't get injured (that last lesson I didn't learn as last time we played injuries were almost non-existent).

I think there's a still a high degree of luck so you can’t take it too seriously (Liam nearly won when he took over Nic's team half way through the night so maybe that’s not true). Well done Jack on holding him off and winning the season.

We were discussing how this game could be made into a fun wargame, and by having it set in Nazi-occupied Europe with each player recruiting / managing a cell of resistance fighters competing against each other to fight ze Germans. A bit like ‘Allo ‘Allo. Trading fighters amongst cells and drawing missions with a set colour combinations (instead of the dice) would add some randomness. This would also eliminate the double black dice twice in a row situation that we had in last night's game. Event and injury cards effect the person who’s turn it is.

In addition I also worked out the probability on the dice as it was annoying me that I knew each combination wasn't equally possible. The first die is yellow, yellow, red, red, blue, black and the second die is yellow, red, blue, blue, black, black (I'm not 100% sure on the pairings here, but the spread is right).

While getting a certain colour on at least one of the dice (44.44%) and a double (5.56%) is the same for all four colours, it’s the pairs of colours that aren’t the same. And getting any same colour pair (e.g. black and black) is higher than I thought at 22.22%.

If you’re looking for yellow AND red (or blue AND black) there’s a 11.11% probability, but looking for a pair that aren’t dominate on the same die (e.g. yellow AND blue) gives 13.89% odds. Very slight advantage but with 20 rolls in a 5 player game it could make the difference.

Still love the subtlety in this game and the stress of not peaking too early, but not peaking too late in case you have injuries!

28 February 2021

15mm WWII German 12cm Mortars, PaK 43/41 AT Guns and Command Stand

A small 15mm WWII German painting commission of four 8.8cm PaK 43/41 AT guns (GE530), four 12cm mortars (GE799) and a command stand. All Battlefront miniatures and painted over 10 days.

While the PaKs and command stand were metal and what most of my Flames of War collection is produced in, the mortar stands are in Battlefront’s bendy ABS plastic (introduced after I stopped playing the game seriously), and it's the first time I’ve worked with it. In short it's terrible, mainly as it was hard to clean up and some of the detail was rough.

All and all I’m happy how this turned out - it’s been a while since I painted 15mm WWII and I tried splinter camo on the mortar teams (one smock and every helmet cover on each base), which I think came out pretty well (using Battlefront's painting guide in the back on one of the Late War army books). This was because that particular mortar pack is for SS, but I wanted them to be Heer. An easy soltution as nearly everyone in the German army in World War Two used splinter camo:


The unicorn, dolphin and rainbow flag is (obviously) not historical and was requested by the client (Andrew O). Apparently Flames of War version 4 doesn’t have command teams (as version 3 did), but you still need a marker or similar to indicate which gun team, etc is the platoon commander. Makes no sense to me either.