Sunday 27 November 2011

Flashing Steel! Trial game

A mate of mine, DC, mentioned that he had recently painted half a dozen pirates in anticipation of Cutlass. I was inspired to finish off 20 Old Glory sailors that had been floating around for a year or two since I had become disillusioned with Legends of the High Seas. I decided to teach him the Flashing Steel basics at Good Games Newcastle that opened in town yesterday (!).

There is already an excellent review of FS here.

I didn't get enough photos to show the entire game, but in essence it was a free-for-all to teach the basic game mechanics. I knocked up rosters of about 250-300 points per side. Swashbuckling rules were left out for simplicity. Shooting from both sides was barely effective, and things devolved into three or four brawls in the centre of the town. DC's pirate captain was isolated and surrounded by two sailors and my captain, but got lucky and killed my captain (he rolled a 6, I rolled a 1) resulting in the cascading morale failures are the signature of Ganesha's end-games.
DC's pirates:

  • Captain Q3 C3 sword, pistol, Leader
  • First Mate Q3 C3 two pistols, Dual Pistol skill, Second-in-Command
  • 5 Pirates Q4 C2 with a mixture of swords, pistols and flintlocks

Bark's Royal Navy:

  • Captain Q3 C3 sword, pistol, Leader
  • Midshipman (Lord Sandford) Q3 C2 pistol, Eager, Second-in-Command
  • 6 Sailors Q4 C2 with a mixture of swords and flintlocks

DC's figures are conversions of GW's Empire Militia, with planking made from ice-cream sticks.

My sailors are Old Glory's European Sailors, and the Captain and Midshipman are from Black Cat Bases. The Black Cat figures are in the 30-32mm range rather than the OG 25-28mm, but it doesn't really show on the tabletop.

The scattered crates are from Battle Works Studios.

Friday 25 November 2011

... and your little dog, too!

Something a little different? These were painted as a gift, as a change, and as an excuse to get hold of some flying monkeys!

Witches from Reaper (02029 Princess Elena and 02682 Selmarina)

Flying Monkeys from Eureka.

Gaming-wise, I'd use Song of Blades and Heroes for these critters. I need some good guys for them to terrorise...

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Land worth fighting for?

I first wrote this article in early 2009, for a website that later went defunct. Would I do this project again? read on...


GW released their all-plastic 6x4 modular 'Realm of Battle' board in late 2008, amid plenty of web commentary about cost and effort. After long deliberation, I chose to get a board and to paint and flock it to resemble the plains of Rohan- dry grasslands with plenty of tussocks and interspersed with rocky outcrops. I wanted it to look realistic but still retain playability and be reasonably quick to complete. I was able to use some existing scenery products I already had, and got a few cheap art store items to speed things up. Of course, the steps given below could be applied to a home-made board as well.

The board in action with some GW Modular Hills

I did a practice piece first to make sure I had the look right; it turned out better than I had thought it would. I changed my technique slightly for the actual gameboard; the following report details my final technique. I have chosen to note a few of the mistakes I made and things I would change in order then anyone else who tries this may avoid making the same ones.

The inital test hill

Items list

Jo Sonja’s Burnt Umber PBr.7
FolkArt #902 Taffy
Woodland Scenics Earth Color Black C1220
Chromacryl Neutral Grey

Flat 2" wide brush
Natural sea sponge (very cheap from an art store, about half the size of my fist)
Foam packaging (as seen in blister packs etc)

Woodland Scenics Blended Turf T49 Green Blend
Woodland Scenics Blended Turf T50 Earth Blend
Noch Nr. 3363 Winterboden

PVA glue (Selleys Aquadhere)
Matt spray (Testors Dullcote)
Pollyfilla Skim Coat
Sculpting tool/ toothpick etc
Washing up liquid

Preparation before painting

First step- get rid of the skulls. I used Polyfilla Skim Coat plaster to cover the skulls. I had a sculpting tool on hand and put some cracks in to better blend with the existing sculpted groundwork. I also covered the scattered loose skulls, but left the long bones with the intention of flocking over them later.

The skull pits covered in plaster and sculpted

A skull changed to a rock with a blob of plaster


The entire terrain was basecoated with Burnt Umber using a flat brush. I used a few drops of washing-up liquid to ‘extend’ the flow of the paint and get into all the cracks. I watered the paint down as I was coming to the end of the tube and so didn’t end up with an even coat. I wasn’t concerned by this as I knew it would look fine at the end.

First dark brown coat showing patchy basecoat

An undiluted black wash was applied to the rock areas, to make the shadows a little darker.

Straight wash

Wash after drying

After the wash had dried, a heavy drybrush of Neutral Grey was applied to all the rock areas. This was applied using foam as a brush, but could be done with a brush instead. I wasn’t fussed about getting grey on the earth areas; I think it looks more realistic not to have a sharp dividing line between the rocky and earth areas.

First drybrush layer- grey

A mix of Neutral Grey and Taffy was applied as a highlight drybrush to the rocks.

Second drybrush layer- grey and cream

A final drybrush of Taffy was applied to the entire board. I found this too hard to apply evenly with the foam, and switched to the brush. I used the next step (flocking) to cover the mistakes I had made, but would rather not have had to. If you are not going to flock your board (for the wasteland or desert look) then you do not want to have any brushstrokes showing.

The final drybrush to the whole board- overly patch using the foam

The final drybrush with a brush- less streaky results


The next steps were to apply flock. I wanted to cover the area quickly, but not to look uniform. I used a piece of natural sponge liberally smeared in PVA and applied that to all the earth areas, taking care to avoid the rocks as much as possible. I wanted to leave about a third of the earth areas exposed. My turf mix (3:2 Green Blend: Earth Blend) was then sprinkled on and tipped off onto newspaper. I did about 8x8” at a time like this. Finally, I used an old brush to put more PVA around any areas that I had avoided due to the imprecision of the sponge and especially onto flat surfaces amongst the rocks.

Four boards with just the green flock

The next step was similar, except using static grass and only covering about a third of the area. I was trying to get the flock onto the green turf, and not the bare earth, in order to get the grassland look right.

Static grass going onto a small segment at a time, showing the irregular way to apply the PVA with the natural sea sponge

The final step was to coat the boards in spray matt varnish to hide the shine of the PVA, especially on the rocks or where turf had not stuck to it.

The completed board

Finally, I got a roll of 75cm wide bubble wrap which I interweave between each board for transport in its bag- it fits very well and isn't a struggle to get closed at all. The bubblewrap prevents the boards from rubbing and losing flock.

The board in action again!

Summary and closing thoughts- if I had to do it again, or had more time

I spent plenty of time deliberating about whether or not I was going to get this product, and so when I did I already had a clear plan in my mind of how to approach it. A few practice runs on other pieces of scenery taught me some tricks and things to avoid as well.

This project took me a few hours to prepare and paint on a warm afternoon, then each board took maybe an hour to flock.

The flocking is messy- use plenty of newspaper- strongly consider a desert board! Don't flock outdoors as you'll have flock everywhere. Don't do it indoors either for the same reason!

I would have like to have some longer grasses, especially around the bases of the rocky areas. I would also consider adding some small gravel/ sand areas to give a bit more definition to the bases of the cliffs and add more texture (textures = interesting).

It's expensive, and not as flexible as separate boards and hills, but it is good quality and at the end of the day I have six nice boards that conform nicely to GWs modular hills. They get positive comments on the all-too-rare opportunities I game on them. They're lightweight (compared to MDF) and come with a nifty bag for storage and transport. Ultimately, if I had to plan the cheap way to do this, I'd still be planning.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Black Lambs

Blood Bowl! I love this game. It's a light-hearted diversion from the angst of much gaming, but at the same time so tense and exciting. It doesn't require many figures or any investment in scenery, and the lack of support from GW encourages inventive use of other companies' miniatures. The rules are well-polished by its fans, and tournaments are significant social events.

I've set myself a personal goal of using a new team for every tournament, and I've got a lot of painting to do! Luckily, I don't get to many tournaments...

Meanwhile, I present my Dark Elf team, 'The Black Lambs'. Miniatures are the Shadowforge Wicked Elves (when I saw them, I knew I had found my Dark Elf proxies).

Witch Elves 



Line Elves


Assistant Coach and Head Coach (referee model actually, but perfect for a coach)

No pictures of the runners, strangely.

These were a labour to paint, but I enjoyed going away from the more common blacks and purples. I was very happy with the skin and hair. The latex/ leather was highlighted up to a bright orange then glazed with a few remaining drops of Citadel Red Ink, which hid a lot of the work but looks very nice (IMHO) close up.

Hopefully these will be clickable, but I still have to clear up the blue picture issue. I'll work with more light and a white background.

NB: Shadowforge customer service was excellent- I got two duplicates of one of the poses- I offered to send it back for the correct pose, but they just sent me the replacement straight away.

'A new life awaits you in the Off-World Colonies'

Some pictures of packs of GZG 15mm civilians. They've got that classic well-fed look, but are full of character.

Pack SG15 V01 Colonists A. 

 Pack SG15 V02 Colonists B.- a more space-western look.

Pack SG15 V03. Young colonists.

Pack SG15 V04. Technicians.

I enjoyed painting these. They were my first effort at 15mm SF, and I used them to practice with achieving effects and highlights before embarking on 'more serious' projects. I like civilians in my games to add colour and flavour. 

On a technical note, I'm going to try to standardise new photos so they are clearer and not so blue-hued. Also, I'll work on making them 'clickable' so you can see them closer.

Characters of Rohan 1

Old photos of my favourite LotR 'side'.

Eomer, mounted. and on foot. He really needs a shield.

Theoden King, on Snowmane.

Theoden King on foot, with and without shield.

Eowyn. I think she turned out a little tanned. I would like to see a non-combat pose for her, to act as an objective of some description.

Deploy Blog and secure the perimeter.

I'm finally dipping my toe into the wargaming blog world. There are many excellent blogs out there, and they have given me great inspiration in my gaming adventures. I hope I can repay the debt I owe to the hobby community through this blog.

I haven't blogged before; I anticipate chopping and changing things as we go; please bear with me. One of the first things I will do is fill in a bit of profile on me and my gaming appetites.

What do I hope this blog will do?

  • Inspire other gamers
  • Keep track of my hobby progress, whether that is gaming, painting or modelling
  • Allow me to occasionally offer my thoughts on an aspect of gaming

My first posts will be most likely to reflect previous interests and completed projects. As time goes by it will become more up-to-date.

Thank you for reading my blog, I welcome feedback and your thoughts. Please enjoy... Wargaming with Barks!