October 24, 2016

My Dad Builds Models in 1:1 Scale

My father (red shirt) rebuilt this Farmall Cub tractor from a rusty, non-working hulk over the course of two years. He sourced as many original parts as possible (an eBay hunt that mirrors my search for 1980's era Citadel models), sanded away rust, repainted everything, and repaired the engine to working order. He asked for my modeling expertise to apply the decals as a finishing touch...

Early on when I asked why he was doing this, he asked "Why do you paint little men?" Oh... got it!

Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool!

September 1, 2016

Dark Age Village

I alluded to the fact a few weeks ago that I was scratch building a Dark Age village. There are lots of nice commercial products available for this period, but when I realized how many I wanted, I decided I'd better try to build some of my own. Besides I enjoy scratch building from time to time and decided to give it a try. These models have actually been finished for a while, but I only got the chance to take pictures last night.

They are made completely from foamcore, balsa wood, and teddy bear fur. I'm afraid I didn't take any WiP photos. I was working without templates and kind of doing everything by eye. I got so caught up in the construction process, I forgot to document any of it (hopefully when I go to add more I can remember what I did)! If you have questions, post them below and I'll try to answer them...

The fences were interesting. My first thought was to make tight waddle fences from wire (like the wattle door on the first building above), but when I turned to Google for inspiration, I found images of some very 'rough' looking fences that seemed to have much more character.

These fences are made from toothpicks and fake bamboo shoots purchased from a craft store. I stumbled on the material by accident while looking for floral wire. The wispy ends had enough flexibility to weave between the posts and I secured them with a bit of liquid superglue. I have six sections, but I easily have enough material from the fake bamboo to make 60...

I am very pleased with the results. I want to build another large house, a main hall, and a church, plus a handful of outbuildings. Besides being great for any Dark Ages era, these would be great for the Medieval period, rural areas of the Renaissance period, and the Rohirrim of Middle Earth!

More Dark Age troops on the way...

August 16, 2016

Summoning the Fyrd

The warband is growing steadily and I have now finished the first half of the fyrd.

I wanted the fyrd to appear a little less grim than the huscarls. I chose marginally brighter colors and varied the shields for a more unruly appearance. I'm very pleased with how they turned out.

Eight more to go and my initial goal is finished. I'm splitting time between painting soldiers and scratch building a Dark Age village. Pics of the settlement coming up soon...

August 14, 2016

More Saxons!

Last week I managed to paint more Saxons for my Donnybrook project!

The first model is the leader for my Huscarls. In Donnybrook the model will provide a combat bonus for the unit if he is attached. I haven't gotten around to naming my models still, but it will be a must when I go to make unit and character cards.

The next is a reeve who will lead the fyrd, again giving a bonus to a unit if attached.

More Saxons in a few days...

August 1, 2016

Saxon Huscarls

I had a productive week and managed to finish eight huscarls for my Saxon warband (models are all Footsore Miniatures).

As I mentioned in my first post on this project, these are for Donnybrook. I think it is probably unrealistic for the warriors to have the same color shields without all bearing the same device as well, but I wanted to tie the unit together visually. I also wanted the shields to be dark and brooding to emphasize the grim nature of these household troops. I decided to avoid black and opted for a dark blue (French Blue 65A-C) and a warm brown (Bay Brown 42A-C). Slashes and pock marks were carefully painted with French Blue Shade 65A and the undersides of these highlighted with Slate Grey 32B (on the blue) and Spearshaft Brown 13B (on the brown). These are all Wargames Foundry colors. By the way, the Foundry French Blue triad has worked it's way into my list of 'Paints I Can't Do Without'. It is a great alternative to black, providing contrast to your models with a richer finish.

As I also mentioned before, I'm using the 1-2-3 basing system of Dalauppror for this collection. I HATE the look of movement trays once units start accumulating casualties. This method of basing allows for easy casualty removal while allowing for quicker movement and the ability to create vignettes. The models won't be ranked as neatly as units on square bases, but I think that's inappropriate for this period anyway. Even close order troops would likely not be able to maintain precision formations advancing across uneven ground.

I'm starting on the Fyrd next week. Their shields will have much more variety in color, though I'm still going to choose muted tones - blue grey, terracotta, bone, etc.

We are going to produce an 'official' Dark Age supplement in PDF that should be available this fall, but you will still need the Donnybrook rulebook to play the game. The PDF will present rule mods and special characters to set your games in the 7th-11th centuries (and probably a bit more either way). I'll have more details on this as I have more concrete information.

In a bit of other news, sometime during Historicon I passed 500 posts (I think this makes 505)! I just wanted to thank everyone who keeps stopping by. I find blogs a great tool for myself to catalog projects and I often look up old posts to see how I painted something or verify the number of models in a collection without digging out the storage boxes (my collection has long outgrown the two large display cases I own). The fact that anyone else wants to follow my rambling is icing on the cake.

Thanks, and stay tuned!

July 29, 2016

Final Thoughts on Historicon 2016

I've just finished going through my notes preparing records for my own Glorious Obsession. It is impossible for me to do a write up on every game we ran, but I wanted to highlight some of the action.

First of all, hats off to Captain Murray who had to be the most active officer on the table. He was killed in game one by an errant shot (Event Card) that caused the rout of the Williamite center on the last turn of the game, fought a personal duel on the crest of the Pennyburn Bridge and killed General Maumont in game two, led a charge that recaptured a lost standard in game three, 'rescued' General Maumont's Mistress from the Jacobite camp and led the most decisive win of the week in game five with a victory called after eight turns (out of ten), and got caught up in a retreat and drowned in a bog in game seven. He personally led multiple cavalry charges. His first squadron was ALWAYS the first over the bridge in the assault and were routed or destroyed in every game except one. His second squadron fared slightly better and managed to survive four games, but suffered capture in game two. Bull's cavalry suffered serious casualties as well, but not in the spectacular fashion of Murray's!

Lord Grand Priors's battalion fought well. They were deployed near the bridge and had to withstand multiple cavalry charges almost every game. They managed to capture colors from both of Murray's squadrons in game two.

The Kestrel proved to be an entertaining part of the scenario. The effectiveness of the guns varied depending on the skill of the players with maneuvering in the current, but it did reduce a scratch squadron of Jacobite horse to a bloody smear at near point blank range in one game. We had a boarding action once when Jacobite troops launched a small boat to pursue the ship. Another game featured a waterborne 'sniper' duel when a lone soldier (his partner fell overboard) spent the session picking off crew men. Near the end of the game, the captain became so alarmed at the losses that they turned loose a full broadside at the little boat... by turn ten the launch was sinking, but the sniper managed to paddle to shore!

Besides all of the enthusiastic gamers at our table, I had a lot of fun hanging out 'after hours' with people I had only really conversed with online, including Dan Faulconbridge and Dave Taylor.

So how was the rest of Historicon? Well, I don't really know. I didn't get away from our table often. There was a few grumbles about registration (which I think I avoided as a GM who checked in Wednesday night), but for the most part everyone I talked to seemed to be having a good time. I've seen other negative comments that it was too hot in the main hall (which I never noticed), a funny smell (besides the great smell of hot dogs grilling near by, again I didn't notice) or there weren't as many people (several dealers I spoke with said their sales were up). I guess I was just having too much fun...

It was also great to get to hang out with my partner in crime (photo above the only proof I've seen that we were BOTH at the table - from Thomas Grove). We've only been in the same city twice in the ten years we've been working together so it was good to be able to sit down and share a beer (well. ok lots of beers). I honestly don't know if we'd get anything accomplished that didn't including toy soldiers if we lived on the same continent...

July 24, 2016

My First Saxons!

Yes, I am excited about painting these models! I normally start with a pile of rank and file and 'reward' myself with leader types once I've got a good muster of troops, but this time I wanted to assemble the leaders of the warband first.


This will be Lord Aeth-something... I haven't decided exactly, but there are a pile of good Saxon nobles that begin with that syllable! There are a lot of great shield transfers out there, but I decided to paint all of my shields by hand. To some degree that will limit the level of detail that I can add, but I think they will blend in better with my style of painting.

The Lord's most trust retainer carries the holy Christian banner of his house into battle. Of course the flag is Quindia Studios and made in the same style of the Grand Alliance, GNW, and AWI collections offered at the LoA store. No, there are no plans to offer Dark Ages flags in the shop at this time - this one was just for me!

The paints used are Wargames Foundry, except for the metallics which are Games Workshop. Both models were given a dusty campaign appearance with weathering powders.

Quick review - The Footsore Miniatures are a joy to paint. There was virtually no flash on these models, which is important on chainmail as you can never quite get rid of mould lines without ruining some of the armour. The models are crisp and even tiny details like the button on the pouches are easy to pick out with a brush. These compare well with any other brand I buy and if you are thinking about starting a Dark Age project, they are well worth considering.

The rest of the armoured lads are up next!

July 22, 2016

Donnybrook Dark Ages

I spent very little time in the dealer hall at Historicon. In fact I really only took one tour through on Saturday, mostly to visit a few folks I know like Rob Walters of Eureka and our own Bob Miller of Le Roi Soleil, the dealer for Warfare Miniatures in the US. I also stopped to visit a new friend, Bill Thornhill of Footsore Miniatures. We met for the first time at Historicon. I knew Bill had placed an ad in BLB a few years ago for his Musketeer Miniature line... what I didn't know was that Bill has a wonderful and growing range of Dark Age models under the banner of Footsore Miniatures. Ok, I know this isn't news, but it was news to me.

After preparing for six months to run BLB at the con, I was spoiling for something different and the Footsore minis came at the same time I had just finished watching this season of Vikings and I started rereading The Last Kingdom series (yes, I know there's a TV show for that too - not quite the same, but I will check it out when I've finished the books again). Bill had some 4-point Saga warband deals available at Historicon (and on his website) and I picked up the Anglo-Saxon set and an extra character pack. I spent the last few days assembling the fyrd and managed to basecoat them this afternoon!

I should have snapped a few pics before basecoating, but if you head over to Footsore Miniatures you can see lovely examples of the painted models to get an idea of what I'm working with.

After getting home and taking stock of what I wanted to do, I realized I need more (and they are on the way)! The plan is to build two Saxon warbands, rival earls or eldermen of Northumbria and Mercia. These groups could then be pitted against each other or combined into a larger force to face the painted Foundry Vikings I already own (and have lots of unpainted lead for as well). I have a wonderful pair of Viking longships from Adrian's Walls and I'm planning to scratch build a small village to go with my Historicon boards (and others. of course, but the Historicon set up is the only coastline I have at the moment).

I am also using Dalauppror's 1-2-3 basing method for this collection. I've been looking for an excuse to try this and Dark Age skirmishing seems perfect. It gives the flexibility for skirmishing, the convenience of quicker movement, and the coolness of mini-vignettes. Yes, I glued them all down before painting them and it will make it a little harder to paint, but it will be a little faster as I won't waste a bunch of time painting details that are covered by by the shields or other models. If I can't reach it with a brush, you won't be able to see it! I will probably rebase the Vikings as well to match the new collection.

So what's with the title of the post? As I've said many times, I've used Donnybrook from everything from Warhammer to Darkest Africa. I have a handful of amendments to drag the published version back to the eighth or ninth century and we may even publish them as a PDF later this year, but for now suffice to say I'm planning on using my own rules rather than Saga. The Saga dice and charts are a cool idea, but seem a bit tedious to me - I am finding I very much prefer simple and straightforward mechanics these days, especially for skirmishing. Not that there is anything complicated about Saga and the charts really seem to add a lot of character to the encounters, but I KNOW Donnybrook without the need to usually look at any charts at all. This project is mainly for my table so I'll stick with that (besides, the force building rules are similar and I can always use Saga too).

Lots more to come as I expect this to my main focus for as long as it takes! I still have final thoughts on Historicon as well as I post those sometime next week...