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Tuesday 29 January 2013

Like Father, Like Son...

Here's a few pics taken by my wife on Saturday shortly before a nasty accident involving the floor and the camera...ouch!

Here is my son Cameron, at 4 years 5 months old, about to play his first 'proper' wargame!! He has been fascinated by 'Daddy's soldiers' for a while, but things have really taken off since I started painting my Lord of the Rings stuff and since I went to see 'The Hobbit' - he saw the trailer on TV and was amazed - demanded to hear the story, what happened, who the people were, etc...

So I dragged out the One Rulebook (The Hobbit is a lovely rulebook, but some of the changes aren't too great, IMHO...monsters are now stupidly hard and I hate the warbands thing from a while back too) and we had 10 Elves plus a captain against 15 Orcs plus a captain.

Cameron took the Elves... We used the Saga measuring sticks as he can't use the measuring tape yet (ok, the 4" one isn't half the 6" one but who cares) and played til the Orcs' courage ran out.

He grasped the fight mechanics really well and really loved seeing Orcs die in droves!!!

Now all Cameron wants to do is play Lord of the Rings and my wife is in  despair, as she has two 'geeks' in the house!! :-)

Tune in in the next few days to hear of the latest Dux Britanniarum game - it has all gone very wrong for Praefectus Andrucius... :-(

Friday 25 January 2013

LOTR Elves Painting Tutorial

Here's a step by step guide to the method I'm using with my LOTR models. I do use a mix of old and new GW paints and my usual Foundry stuff so apologies if it all gets a bit confusing!!

Once models have been cleaned & prepped, I undercoat them with white. Any areas of ring mail armour are then re-undercoated black to enable me to dry-brush it. Below, what the models look like once this is completed.

The next job is to drybrush the mail. This is undertaken with GW Boltgun metal, followed by GWIronbreaker. This gives the mail a darker appearance which I feel is more realistic, even for Elves.

Next, I tidy up the white undercoat where the drybrushing has affected it in readiness for the next phase. This is the application of basecoat colours to the entire model. I start with the flesh which is Foundry Flesh Light. The lower lip is painted with Foundry Flesh Shade. While it may sound daft to do the lips, actually, I find they make the face more expressive than doing eyes, as eyes can look ‘staring’ (at least, they do when I paint them!)

After the flesh, I paint the under-tunic (Foundry Arctic Grey Shade) The patterning is done with Foundry Stone and Arctic Grey. After that, the cloak is painted with Foundry Night Sky Light. Next, the hair is painted. The dark hair is painted with Foundry Peaty Brown Shade with a highlight of Peaty Brown Light. The darker blond is GW Bubonic Brown highlighted with Bleached Bone. The light blond is GW Bleached Bone highlighted with White. The highlights are applied before and after washing as I find this adds depth to the hair.

Next, the armour is done with GW Ironbreaker. After that, the black parts are painted and the  bow-grip is painted with GW Kommando Khaki. The pics below show a base-coated model. 

The key to this whole process is to be very neat and tidy. As you can see, even being neat and tidy, the model doesn’t look great, but you just have to move past that and apply the wash!

This is done by brushing on the Army Painter Strong Tone. This is done relatively sparingly. On NO account dip the model in as Army Painter recommend!! This causes hideous overkill and pooling, especially on models as fancy as these Elves!!

Once washed, they look like this…hideously glossy!!

However, that will all change at the highlight stage. IMPORTANT: Leave a full 24 hrs between the wash and the highlight, as it takes that long to fully dry.

This next stage is where the original basecoats are used to highlight up most of the colours with just a single highlight. The exceptions are the under-tunic, which also gets a second highlight of Foundry Arctic Grey and the patterning is highlighted with White. The black is highlighted with Foundry Charcoal and Charcoal Light. The armour gets an additional highlight of GW Runefang Steel (the new Mithril silver which is perfect for Elven armour as it is so shiny and bright). The hair is re-highlighted with the lightest shades above.  The cloak patterns are added at this stage. The blue pattern on rank and file is Foundry Storm Blue Light and on the Haldir model is Foundry Arctic Grey. This pattern is a lot easier to do than you’d expect. Pain the horizontal lines first. Then just add little ‘flicks’ between the lines criss-crossing over and over – keep it fairly random and you end up with what you see here…

This is what they look like now…looking better!

Next, the model needs matte laquer (the Dip is actually a gloss varnish). I use Testors Dullcote for this. In spring and summer I’d spray it on outside, but this won’t work in winter, so I brush it on. WARNING: this stuff is EXTREMELY toxic!! I do it in my office by an open window, wearing a mask and not doing any more than 6 models at a time!!

The models are nearly done now. All that remains is to re-highlight the very ends and edges of the armour with GW Runefang Steel to add a bit of ‘shine’. This is really good on Elf models as I feel they should be ‘bright and shiny’ on the armour front!!!

All that remains now is to base them. I do this by PVA-ing sand to the base. Once dry it is highlighted with Foundry Peaty Brown Shade and drybrushed with GW Bleached Bone. Then clump foliage and tufts are added. The clump foliage has flowers dotted on. On these models I have used Foundry Winestain Red Shade and Winestain Red Light, Yellow Shade and Yellow Light and Arctic Grey Shade and White. The base edge is done with GW Graveyard Earth.
The results are below…

Here is the full group in a scenic setting…

And that’s the method and colours I’ll use for my Elves. The method will be the same for the Orcs, but obviously they’ll be much less ‘prettified’ and will be darker in colour. If you like, I’ll do a similar step-by-step for a group of those at some point… 

I hope that this has been a useful tutorial in terms of seeing how I get to the finished article with the aid of the dreaded Dip!! Even with that, these models took ages...they are so hard to paint!!!! They do look cool though!!! 

Sunday 13 January 2013

The Annals of Linnius - Chapter 5: The Raid on Stalling by Humbre

It is now early Summer in the 473rd year after the birth of our Lord and Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. I, Publicus Librarius, scribe to his Royal Majesty King Mascuidius of Linnius do chronicle the days of kingdom and the coming of the dread Saex.

"His Majesty King Mascuidius is not in good temper. I write this entry into the annals of the kingdom with an unquiet mind, for when the king is in this temper, who knows what may befall?

Following the Great Victory, the rout of the Seax and the impalement of their dead along the River Humbre, the kingdom had peace for three long months. Border patrols could spot no activity and even those in the coastal villages could sleep soundly in their beds for a time. The Praefectus Andrucius was in favour with the king and all seemed well - better, in fact, than in any time since the Heathen first despoiled our fair lands.

However, all is now changed. The Saex have returned and have seemingly come with new purpose. The patrols spotted them crossing the great river and heading for the village of Stalling by Humbre, a small hamlet nestling below the slopes of the hills nearby. It is not a wealthy place, but the villagers do make pottery and there is a metal-worker there of some repute. 

The Saex moved at great pace and the Praefectus' forces were clearly caught unawares, failing to intercept the raiders before their entry into the village.

In past encounters, the Praefectus has noted that the Heathen are often easily drawn away from their looting and into combat, as was the case in the Great Victory. However on this occasion, it seems that their leaders had greater control, as the Praefectus was quite unable to bring more than one of their warbands to battle before the brutes had looted the village and departed with their ill-gotten gains. Although some limited pursuit was offered, the Praefectus' men were unable to catch the enemy. 

Although our own losses were trifling in the affray and despite the fact that the enemy lost at least twice as many men, his Majesty King Mascuidius was furious that the Great Victory had not been repeated and that the Saex were able to escape with plunder. However, while publicly acknowledging his failure to deal with the raiders, the Praefectus is a wise man and understands full well the fact that the Saex lord has come into the war with renewed purpose. The way in which the Saex did taunt and goad our troops, withdrawing from the assault and coming on again after doth demonsrate military knowledge greater than many would give them credit for. In fact, the Praefectus was heard to report that their tactics resembled those of the Heathen Huns, against whom his father fought in the wars over the Saxon Sea in Gaul in years gone by under the great Magister Aetius....

The Praefectus also knows that the Saex lord is fully aware that, if he can loot and pillage at will, the popularity of the Praefectus with both our king and the people will wane and that this may go in the favour of the Heathen - lesser men than the Praefectus commanding the armies may well give cause for the Saex to gain more than simply a few wagons full of loot... 

What will happen now? None knows for certain. The Praefectus needs to re-think his tactics and find some way of ensuring that the Saex dance to his tune and not he to their own!"

A very interesting battle, this one. We once again rolled the village raid scenario and once again, by virtue of terrain placement, the village ended up right on the table edge, although this time much closer to the Saxon entry point. Mike rolled well for pre-game moves and I rolled badly for my force entry, which meant that he was in the village before I'd had a chance to do anything useful. In addition, I played badly, focusing too much attention too early on getting formations set up and thereby slowing my advance down. Once I got to the village, I did manage to trap a unit of Gedriht and slaughter it, but this was the only combat of the game.

Mike played it very well. Much better than me! He kept his eye on the prize and got everyone in looting early. Despite dreadful looting rolls (two rolls of '1' indicating no loot to be found among the 4 houses) early on, he managed to gain one set of loot midway through and then led me a merry dance until his Gedriht looted the final building. As he was on the edge of the table, escape was very easy...

Game over... I really should have raced my elites and warriors in and should assaulted the houses earlier. Over-caution and poor deployment of the levy therefore contributed to what amounted to a very minor defeat. Also, I should point out again that Mike played this one very well indeed, which meant that he genuinely won it, rather than me just losing it due to being a bit shite....if you see what I mean. Still, it was great fun! A most enjoyable way to spend an evening!!

Here are some pics...

The table at the end of Mike's pre-game moves...

The table at the end of turn 1. Mike is about to start looting  and I have nothing there...

My vanguard...note the newly increased size of the unit of warriors following 'The Great Victory'...

My reinforcements arrive...Mike is now unsuccessfully looting...

Now THAT'S a formation of Romano-Brits!!!! Get that in shieldwall  and we can take on all-comers!!

Mike's Gedriht (left cente) have abandoned the empty house and are about to be taught a bit of a lesson!!

Another view of the same. Note the Saxons with loot at the bottom. We elected to allow them to depart voluntarily at this point (a 'house-rule', if you like, as, by the letter of the rules, they should have stayed on table til the end. We thought that, if the orders were to loot and run, that's what they should do...)

Take that, Saxon scum...Oooh look...thine amphora doth breaketh...Cheerio!!

The Britons close in, but  surely Mike will roll a '6' soon...???

Yup...he did...look, see the loot barrel on the Gedriht base at the bottom? Game over...Saxon win...

Mike and I are reconvening next week for the next game...Watch this space!!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Quick Review of 2012...and plans for 2013.

So, what were the standout gaming moments of 2012 at Geetarhero Towerz?

Well, standing proud at number one is...(drum roll...)

DUX BRITANNIARUM, the fabulous Arthurian wargame and campaign rules from Too Fat Lardies. I truly haven't had this much fun wargaming since WAB's Age of Arthur supplement came out!! Hats off to Rich Clarke and co for a set of rules that is at once both simple yet tactically interesting and that has never-ending 'replay' value. For example, Mike and I have played the 'Village Raid' scenario 3 times now and each game has been completely and utterly different. Brilliant set of rules that I will be playing a LOT more of, as the campaign for Linnius continues. We hope to do a club campaign once the multi-player version is out and we are also eagerly awaiting the Northern supplement with Picts, etc, in it!!. Watch this space for some ideas for migrating it to Middle Earth as well...

Standing a (very) short distance behind at number two is...

The Battle of Catraeth!! This was the Hail Caesar mega game designed by James Morris and including 'the Dark Age crew' from across the country (but primarily Nottingham way...) Playing this game was a joy and a pleasure both when we originally did it for the Wargames Illustrated 300 article and when we re-ran it Partizan in September! Great bunch of guys, great fun all round and a grand job with the article, Mr Morris (and Mr Faulconbridge on the photos!)

Following up behind in no particular order...

The Age of Arthur and El Cid days in Mansfield organised by Scrivs and Tom. Top days out with top chaps..grand stuff all round!

Our own Age of Arthur day in Peterborough. As co-organiser and MC for the day, it was a pleasure to see people enjoying themselves so much with something I'd had a hand in organising. More of the same sort of thing coming in 2013 I hope...

Getting my models on the cover of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy magazine along with an accompanying article. I really enjoyed that whole experience and would certainly have another bash at some point if they wanted me to do it! Also, my models getting into Deus Vult and Dux Bellorum was VERY nice, plus of course, War and Conquest (or was that 2011? Memory going now!!)

ECW campaign and BIG battle at the club. A new period for me. I quite enjoyed it and the big battle was a hoot...Pike and Shotte is a good rule set!

Saga...continues to be very enjoyable, although my brief foray into a Norman warband sucked...I'm better with Welsh!!

Just getting down to the wargames club regularly!!! After a few years of 'on-off' attendance, I have really enjoyed playing regularly. A lot of that is finding great games to play with great people and I would particularly like to thank Mike, Grahame and Carl for being regular and always splendid opponents across a variety of rule sets this year, plus thanks to Reuben our club chairman, who does a bloody great job organising an... erm... 'interesting' bunch of gamers such as we are. I think we have a great club with a good range of different games going on. It has gone from strength to strength recently and I'm very pleased and proud to be part of it!

Coming up in 2013...

Lots and lots more Arthurian Dux Brit...Mike and I hope to take a game to The Other Partizan, so that'll need some thought and some work...luckily Mike seems to be becoming a bit of a terrain builder expert, so that'll be helpful!!
Dux Bellorum (finally!)
Painting Tolkien stuff....Elves initially (using the silver colour scheme (thanks to all who responded to my recent post!!), then Orcs if I can manage it. I may play LOTR SBG and am going to have a go at using Dux Brit mechanisms to create army profiles and some scenarios set around the part of the 3rd Age pre-the Hobbit, so raids from Angmar into Arnor, Rivendell and Lindon, plus raids from the Misty Mountains, Mordor and East the into Rohan, Gondor, the Dwarf Realms and Lorien/Mirkwood. I reckon that'll be fun to try and hopefully a few folk can be encouraged to give it a whirl at the club...
Maybe painting some more Late Roman/Arthurian era models
Maybe painting Colonials and French Indian War models...maybe actually play a bit of Muskets and Tomahawks...
Hopefully a bit of Hail Caesar.
Organising another WAB day, possibly with a different period/theme...

We'll see how that lot goes this time next year then!!!!! :-)