Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Derby World Wargames

Yet another post with no pictures I'm afraid. Still no painting done, and the painting den is still nowhere close to up and running.

So I'm going to talk about something else hobby-related. This coming weekend (1st & 2nd October) is Derby World Wargames, presented by the Derby Wargames Associates and held at the University of Derby Kedleston Road campus. The last time I went to this show was probably at least five years ago, simply because I've not been able to make it each time. Things are about to change though!

I'll be heading up to the show on the Sunday (2nd Oct), and I've already compiled my shopping list:

Coritani/Magnetic Displays ~ Basetex: Brown and Green

Ironclad Miniatures
~ Victoriana/Steampunk

~ Dr Who stuff

Magister Militum
~ Lead Adventure Steampunk

West Wind Productions
~ Saxon Archers!

Ainsty Castings
~ Pirate Ship

Coritani/Magnetic Displays is a must-visit (???) if I want to get my Napoleonics finished. You might remember how I forgot to buy the Basetex I needed at Alumwell way back in March; well, I still haven't bought any so now is the ideal opportunity (and it saves me having to mess about with buying it over the internet). It will mean I can finally finish off the bases for the Napoleonic figures I finished earlier in the year, and it will mean I have enough to use for Napoleonics I'll paint in the future.

Ironclad Miniatures and Magister Militum will be cautiously optimistic visits. I have no idea whether they'll be carrying their Victoriana/Steampunk lines and I'm not sure which, if any, I'll be buying but a few of us at the club have been toying with the idea of a Victoriana campaign. The recent articles by Tim Eagling in Wargames Illustrated discussing his 'End of Empire' rules resparked the interest among us (or me at least) so I'll be seeing what these two companies have to offer, as well as having a look round for others.

Heresy Minatures have long been a favourite of mine, but I've never actually bought any! With the interest in Victoriana/Steampunk spiking again, what better opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and introduce the Doctor and co! It means we'll be able to shake things up a little by introducing a sci-fi element to Victorian games (Cybermen in 1880s London anyone?) and it means I finally have an excuse to buy those long-coveted Dr Who miniatures!

Yet again, I'll be visiting West Wind to see if they finally have some Saxon Archers for me to buy. For two years running, they're not had any so this time, I'm going to get there early and have a look. Otherwise, I'll have to take it as a sign that I should really paint the Saxons I already have before buying more....but that can't be right, can it?

Ainsty Castings will be another optimistic visit. I've heard through the grapevine that Ainsty will have the Dixon Miniatures pirate ships for sale at Derby, but whether that will turn out to be the case is another matter. It all depends whether Ainsty can get them ready in time. Ainsty do also do a line of "Professor What" products that include a "Constabulary Communication Cabinet" (or Police Phone Box....) though, so I might pick some of those up to accompany other purchases...

Anyway, that's yer lot. I'll report back on how the show goes (with pictures! If I remember to take the camera...) after the weekend. In the meantime, I have another post planned on a completely different subject this week so keep your eyes peeled...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Has It Really Been That Long?!?!

Doesn't time fly? Already we're past the halfway mark of the month, and I've gone all that time without making a single blog post. It doesn't seem all that long ago, but maybe it's just me...

Of course, even in all the time since the last post, my hobby progress has been sadly lacking (which is happening all too often these days...). I've managed to get a fair few games in though, and this weekend was something particularly special.

Yesterday saw the opening of the new premises of Stafford Games, and to celebrate the occasion an Opening Day event was held to show off the new shop and gaming hall. What was once a crowded and rather tiny industrial unit with room for about six gaming tables and not much else (and before that, was an almost equally crowded two-floor shop in the middle of Stafford, if memory serves) has now become a large and spacious gaming hall with a very smart-looking shop area at the front, and is being styled as "The Midlands Wargames Centre". Honestly, I think it lives up to the name.

It's nothing too flashy at the moment (or at least the hall isn't), and it's not completely finished (Roland, the owner, still has plans for work to be done) but it's a huge upgrade from the previous setting (which only happens to be just round the corner, so we didn't even move very far!). But whereas the previous shop was always a struggle for space, and barely fitted half a dozen tables with all the stock tightly packed on narrow shelving around the room (which wasn't an ideal situation for either gaming, or shopping), the new premises has the shop completely seperate from the gaming area; the shop alone is about the same size as the whole previous premises, and has plenty of room to comfortably display all the available stock.

The biggest improvement though is most definitely the gaming area. Until turning up yesterday, we had no real idea of just how big it was going to be, but it's more than big enough now to comfortably meet all of the club's needs. Just to give you an idea:

Three shots taken from the back of the hall, looking back towards the shop (through the door) and the front of the Centre. As you can tell, there was plenty of space yesterday - on the left side (left on the photos, that is) there were three rows of three 6'x4' tables and on the right there were four rows of two 6'x4' tables - seventeen full size tables in all, and plenty of space for them all (plus plenty of open space left over; you could easily fit in another three or four tables comfortably). What isn't shown in the photos above (because they were behind the camera) are the two painting stations along the back wall, the toilet facilities and the all-important vending machine!

You can see the balcony above the shop as well (with the wooden barrier where the flags are hanging); that's the planned development for the future. At the moment, the only way to access the top is by ladder, but Roland has plans to add in stairs, build a sturdier barrier ("because some of us are big chaps!" he said...) and then get another three or four tables up there; either to add extra tables for tournaments, or to allow us to plan big ongoing games without having to pack everything up each week.

So those are the new premises, but what did we all get up to?

Well, as you can see, there were plenty of games going on. Here are just a few of them:

A WAB game between Greeks and Persians (I think)

John's Border Reivers participation game, which attracted a lot of interest

A Regimental Fire & Fury ACW game by Mike, Andy, Glenn and Stuart
Jeff (left) and BMW John (right) and their tank-mad FoW game

Of course, there were several more games going on that I didn't get chance to take pics of - after all, I had my own game to play!

Gary, Paul, Daz and myself were playing a Thirty Years' War game between the forces of Gustavus Adolphus' Swedes, and Imperialists under the joint command of Wallenstein and Tilly. Myself and Gary took command of the Imperialists; our mission was to secure a river crossing, which was at the far end of the table. Daz and Paul took command of the Swedes in defence.

I didn't keep a record of the whole game to write up, but although the Swedes put up stiff opposition, we eventually managed to secure the bridgehead. The second photo above shows the Imperial advance early on (after two units of Swedish cavalry had been revealed behind the hills). I had command of the left flank (a unit of Arquebusiers, a unit of Curassiers, a saker, and three infantry regiments; Jung Tilly, Munich-Ebersberg and Lorrainers) which remained the most intact throughout the game (losing the cavalry, but with three full-strength infantry units taking the bridge by the end of the game) while Gary's forces got pretty heavily battered by the end. Of course, Gary will claim that this is because he did most of the fighting, but I know the truth - obviously, it's because of my better generalship!

My Curassiers engage a squadron of much-depleted Swedish cavalry

A view of the Imperial line from the Swedish perspective, after the initial cavalry charges by the Swedes

My three infantry regiments advance early on. From left to right: Munich-Ebersberg, Lorrainers, Jung-Tilly

Another early shot of the Swedish cavalry charge, after my Curassiers have been pushed back initially.

The Imperial advance continues towards the Swedish line

Another shot of the Imperial advance

A close up of the Curassiers caracoling more Swedish cavalry

The Imperials within touching distance of the bridge!
The rules we were using were entitled Pike & Musket and were actually written by Roland, and play very well (although there are bits that still need work of course). After the game, we had a good chat about the rules, the game and the possibility of running a TYW game at upcoming shows, ultimately targetting Salute in April next year. We have Wargamer and Alumwell, in December and March respectively, before Salute in April (unfortunately, we were too late to run a game at Derby in a fortnight but in hindsight it might have been a good thing - I don't think we'd have managed to get anything good enough ready in time...).

Anyway, things are all still up in the air but there are four of us at least who are prepared to put in the work and get things ready. The unfortunate thing is that not many other people at the club seem to be interested; as I may have mentioned before, the club is very Flames of War-centric, and unfortunately not many of the members seem keen to branch out into other eras, other games or other ranges. Each to their own I suppose, but with a club of our size (and now, with our facilities) it would be a crying shame if we couldn't up the level of our involvement in the wargaming community, especially after successful showings at Wargamer and Alumwell this year (which were the first games we've ever put on at shows). But I digress....

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete with some good old trade. The Opening Day had a bring-and-buy sale for people to bring along their unwanted figures; I took along my old Blood Angels army to get rid of (as we've not played 40K for years, my Blood Angels are more a collection of figures than an army, and I have Eldar if I do ever get back into playing 40K anyway). I took all the stuff I had and sold them by unit, at very good prices (if I do say so myself!). If it had all sold, I'd have made £122 but in the end I only managed to get rid of some Assault Marines and a Command Squad for a total of £21. Still, I didn't expect to sell much because I knew most people would be preoccupied with playing. They attracted a lot of interest, but sadly only a couple of buyers!
Naturally, I also did some buying of my own (I really should learn to leave my wallet at home...). Jeff was selling a bunch of Empire figures (the guy's a chronic collector of just about everything - he's just got rid of 16000pts worth of Space Marines...) so I picked up 12 Empire Knights for £20 to use with my Tileans. Not a bad price all in all (although, after comparing RRPs last night, a lot smaller discount than I was selling my Space Marines for!)

After playing Black Scorpion's Cutlass rules at the last couple of club sessions (written by a certain Gav Thorpe...), we're also toying with the idea of running another Pirates campaign (myself, Paul and Gary ran a small Pirates campaign using the LotHS rules last summer, but I think we already prefer Cutlass) so I've picked up another couple of minis for a crew

The first figure I picked up mainly because he looks like a character from a Three Musketeers film; the second because he has a parrot! You can't get more piratey than that!

In other news, the complete lack of hobby progress may soon be at an end - I'm getting my painting den back! After being turfed out of there I don't know how long ago (probably Christmas?) to make room for visitors, it was turned back into a spare bedroom. Now, I'm getting it back it will hopefully make it much easier for me to work on stuff - as things are, I've been working out of the bedroom, with everything (paints, tools, miniatures) packed away or tidied under the bed. Not the easiest situation to work with, and not helped by the fact that I often come home and the last thing I want to do at night is fetch everything out for an hour or two only to have to put it away again. With the painting den back up and running, I'll be able to just leave everything out and ready, and just pop in when I have half-an-hour free to work on bits at a time. Much easier to work with, and hopefully much more productive!

Anyway, it will probably be at least another week or so until I get the den back (we're in the middle of a big move-around, and I have to decorate another bedroom before I can move furniture around and reclaim the den...) but once I have my personal space back, I can hopefully get churning out a few more figures before the year is out and all my resolutions go out of the window!

Until next time!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Finally, some progress!

Time for an update on the WiP stuff then.

First up, Dystopian Wars.

I bought a Britannia fleet a while ago and after leaving them neglected for a few weeks after a few undercoating-related issues, I've slowly started working on them again. The Cruisers and Battleship all have various seperate turret pieces with them (Shield Generators and Gun Turrets in the set). There are loads of turret options in the DW rulebook so in a rare case of forward thinking, I thought it might pay dividends to make the turrets detachable, so that I could easily interchange any of the available options if Spartan Games make further turret options available in the future (as far as I know, only a few of the turret options detailed in the rulebook are actually available in miniature form). With that in mind, I set about magnetising the turrets.

Here you can see two of the Cruisers with the turret spaces magnetised. After a bit of thought about how to put my brilliant plan into action, I figured the best and easiest way was simply to fill the whole with Green Stuff and then press a tiny little neodymium magnet into the putty while it was curing. These magnets really are tiny - 1mm x 1mm! They are incredibly strong for their size though. I've had them for years, as I bought them originally so that I could magnetise all the weapon options for my fledgling Eldar force (which has now fallen by the wayside, as I've not played 40K for about 5 years!) On a side note, I've been looking into buying some more neodymium magnets (bigger ones) for magnetising bases, so we'll see how that pans out...

Anyway, with the magnets now firmly in place on the ships, the final stage was to do the same with the turrets. A quick snip with the cutters to remove the peg, a good filing to ensure a flat base and then a hole drilled into the base of the turret was all it look. Pop a bit of superglue in the hole, followed by the magnet (after getting the polarity right!) and voilĂ ...

With the magnetising done, the painting has now begun. I started off with a dark-metal basecoat (Chainmail and Black mix), and the wooden decking on the Cruisers and Battleship has now been painted with Scorched Brown and given a wash of Brown Ink (to get that glossy finish I like!). So far, the Frigates have only received the coat of dark-metal as there's no real decking area to speak of.

So a bit of progress with the fleet. I've still not decided on any sort of detail work, whether I'm going to do some 'Razzle Dazzle' on them or not, so we'll have to see.

In the meantime, I picked up some Tileans again last night and did a bit of work on them as well, just for fun and as something a bit different (given that I've not touched them for a few months now...)

I've gone through the whole unit and repainted the faces (pretty much the only flesh on the models) and started painting the red helmet plumes as well; I've got about halfway through the unit so far. I decided after a bit of consideration to go with Blood Red as the plume colour rather than Red Gore as originally planned. As I intend to "dip" these figures (or rather, paint them with a wash) the Red Gore would probably have come out darker than I'd intended, so hopefully the Blood Red will be a little better.

In other news, I've played a very enjoyable game of LotR this morning with my brother and I'm off to play more Uncharted Seas in about an hour. This week, we're running a four player game. Not sure whether it's going to be a free-for-all, a 2v2, a 3v1 or whatever, but we're looking at introducing an interesting mechanic for deployment involving a pack of playing cards, just to spice things up a little. Should be fun!