Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Special Delivery!

After three weeks of waiting, the Ainsty Man-o-War has finally arrived!

I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Measurements (for Draig):

16" from bow to stern, 21" from tip of bowsprit to stern
5.5" at widest point (centre of the deck)
Main deck space 7" long, 4" wide
2.5" height to deck rail, 5" to taffrail
Main mast 12" tall
Fore- and Mizzen-masts 9" tall
Bowsprit 8" long

Any other measurements you want mate, give me a shout!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Decision, decisions

OK, I've made a bit of progress with the Vanguard Subs, but it's the Fighter tokens I might need a bit of help with:

These are just tests; as you can see, I've done one base in red and the other in Catachan Green, to try and replicate the classic RAF look. But now I can't decide which one to use. So I turn to you, good readers (of which there probably aren't that many, but it's worth a shot...). Overall painting quality aside, which one looks better - red or green? 

Comments, suggestions and whatnot gratefully received! I might even put up a poll...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Inspecting the Drydock

So in amongst the stuff I've been doing for the Sentinels of Shadows campaign (which you can read more about in this post, and which has now started!) I've been steadily working on the Dystopian Wars models.

The ships from the basic fleet are now simply waiting for me to add all the details. I'm closer to deciding on what to do with the razzle dazzle, so I'll probably get started on that on Thursday. In the meantime, here's where we are with the ships at the moment:

Meanwhile, I've broken the Vanguard Subs out of the blister and began work on them yesterday (Monday). Here they are prior to undercoating:

And at the close of play last night:

Personally, I think they look great already! I'll have to have a careful read of the rules for these and see how many I can fit into the fleet, because they're great fun to paint! Maybe it's the recent furore over Dreadfleet that's got me caught up in the whole "sea bases" thing...

Anyway, all that's left to do with the subs is to pick out the details on the subs themselves and to finish off the bases. In that regard, the Dreadfleet edition of White Dwarf has actually been quite useful in providing a painting scheme for the sea bases (not that I couldn't have worked one out for myself mind...)

Finally for Dystopian Wars - I've started work on the Fighter tokens as well:

These have just had the base painted with Regal Blue, followed by stippled Enchanted Blue. The stippling is more prominent on some than others (and the photos make it look a lot more prominent...)  so I might go back and give the 'darker' ones another go-over. I've not decided what colour to paint the planes themselves, but I'm edging towards red simply to give a complete contrast to the ships, and to provide a completely subtle British military colour....

And now for something not-all-that-completely different - the Steam Tank:

As for yesterday morning, I'd got the basic metal basecoat done. Since then I've repainted the tracks black and that's about it. From here, I'm not entirely sure where to go. Aside from picking out all the rivets in Chainmail (boring...) I'll probably be looking for spots to throw in some colour and just break up the massive chunk of silver. Suggestions most welcome!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Hello Sweetie!

And we're done! The TARDIS is all ready to show up in some far flung galaxy:

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. The hand-painted signs turned out OK, although as the pictures show they're not quite central (typically, the front sign looks the most out-of-position of all four sides...) I'll probably go back at some point and redo it, but for a gaming piece (i.e. designed to be viewed from a distance of a few feet, rather than a few inches...) I think it'll do fine.

In other news, the Steam Tank is now undercoated:

I'll likely start work on that over the weekend, along with continuing with the Dystopian Wars stuff. Talking of Dystopian Wars, I was down the club last night and, aside from a very enjoyable second game of Cutlass (where we still didn't get the rules right!), I picked up a couple of Britannia Vanguard Submarines as well. They look fun to paint, and they shouldn't be too difficult either.

More on those next week!

Monday, 10 October 2011

The TARDIS Takes Off...

...although strictly speaking, I suppose it doesn't really fly. Regardless, work on the TARDIS has begun (hence the "taking off"!)

After a quick wash in soap and warm water, followed by a scrub with my brother's toothbrush (just kidding...) it was all ready to start. I have to say, the casting is top-notch which saved on any sort of maintenance work first (although it denied me the chance to use the new Liquid Green Stuff on air bubbles...)

One black undercoat and a coat of Regal Blue later:

I let it sit like this for a day or two, just out of sheer excitement - it already looks like a Police Box!

Today, I got over my nerdy Fanboy-ism and carried on painting. A 50/50 mix of Regal Blue and Enchanted Blue provided some line highlights (there are a lot of straight lines on this thing after all) and then a 75/25 mix of Regal Blue and Chaos Black provided a bit of shading in select areas (mainly the door panels).

With Flash
And without
You'll also notice I've started on the details, like the windows. The handles and keyhole were recoated black, ready to add metal. The windows and light have been give a basecoat of Skull White with a touch of blue (it occurred to me afterwards that I probably could have just used straight Ice Blue for this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...). I originally tried to be neat and just paint the little boxes, but I quickly gave up and went for the "all over" approach. The Ice Blue-esque coat will get a highlight of pure Skull White, leaving the blue-white around the edges, and then I'll go back and repaint the window frames with Regal Blue.

You might be able to tell that I've also painted a box of the really dark blue on the door lintel (and the other three sides). That will be where the "Police Public Call Box" signs go, of course. Then it will be a simple case of adding the Police Notice on the left-hand door (or the right, depending on your point of view...) and we'll be done!

In other news, I've assembled the Steam Tank into sub-assemblies ready for painting:

These have all been thoroughly washed and scrubbed as well, and I'll probably get round to undercoating them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've finally managed to continue with the Dystopian Wars fleet:

Excuse the dodgy photo angle, but you can hopefully see that there's just one Cruiser left to undercoat. The Battleship (the big one of the right of the picture) and the painted Cruiser (top-left) are both on hold until I can figure out what sort of camoflage/razzle dazzle I want to do on the fleet, if any.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sentinels of Shadows - Crossing Paths Campaign

Today I'm going to take a bit of time out to talk about a subject that's a little bit different - online campaigns.

Some of you will be familiar with the concept of online campaigns; some may never have heard of "normal" campaigns, let alone online ones, so for those of you in the latter category I'm going to start at the beginning...

What is a campaign?

Well, in the most general sense, a campaign is defined as "an operation or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose." The word can be applied to anything, from advertising to politics. Of course, where one most often hears of it being used though is in regard to military operations, where a campaign is described as "a large scale, long duration, significant military strategy plan incorporating a series of inter-related military operations or battles forming a distinct part of a larger conflict often called a war." It is this latter definition that is most applicable to what I'm talking about today.

Naturally, we have the Romans to thank for giving us the word "campaign", derived as it is from the plain of Campania, a place of annual wartime operations by the armies of the Roman Republic. But how does this apply to wargaming?

Military in Miniature

Wargaming obviously has a connection to military matters. After all, wargames are strategy games that attempt to deal with military operations of various types, whether real or fictional. Most historical wargamers will have taken part in a refight of a famous battle at some point; Kadesh, Cannae, Hastings, Agincourt, Blenheim, Waterloo, Gettysburg, Stalingrad - there are plenty to choose from. But in the bigger picture, each of these battles is part of a wider conflict, just one action in a war that may have lasted for years. It is this "bigger picture" that campaigns aim to encapsulate. The famous battles are obviously the most well-known and 'popular' (otherwise they wouldn't be famous...) but there are plenty of lesser known but just as important (if not moreso) engagements that either preceded or followed. At it's most basic level, a campaign attempts to present a conflict on a wider scale that demonstrates the action over a series of engagements, rather than on the outcome of a single battle.

Of course, just as with the wargames themselves, campaigns can come in many shapes and forms. Historical refights are one area that certain players may want to extend to cover a series of historical engagements; perhaps a set of battles refighting the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy for WWII gamers. In it's most basic form, a wargames campaign is a series of linked battles connected by some sort of continuing narrative. The most basic ones may follow a tree diagram between two players, where the outcome of the first battle determines what the second game is, and so on. Perhaps your army is trying to reinforce your main force and your opponents army is trying to stop you. You fight a Pitched Battle. If your army wins, they reinforce the main army and the next game is a siege while they trap your opponent. If your opponent wins, the next game is an ambush, as your main army is overwhelmed without its reinforcements as backup.

More complex campaigns may involve half a dozen players each with their own army, fighting over a map to control towns, cities, territories or what have you. There may be rules for supply lines, reinforcements, seasonal effects to try and reflect the logistics of a long-term conflict. There may be neutral forces, indigenous natives or packs of dangerous animals that the players have to contend with. All of these things can be added to increase the flavour and "realism" of the campaign, whichever game it is you're playing.

Taking it online

Now that's the basics of a wargames campaign established, but where does the "online" part come into it, I hear you ask? Well, some of you who are familiar with Games Workshop (which I would imagine is most of us...) will likely also remember (or at least be aware of) the worldwide campaigns that they used to organise and run every couple of years in the summer: Storm of Chaos, Nemesis Crown, Eye of Terror, the Fall of Medusa V. These were all online campaigns - players played games, and used the results to influence the results of the campaign and determine a winner, and a campaign story. The players fight for a team (called a faction) in an effort to triumph over the other teams involved in the campaign. Usually these factions are organized roughly by race, by forum or by traditional alliances. Each faction is trying to take as much territory as they can from the others while defending their own. A map is used to represent the area of the world (or worlds) that is being contested. Each faction starts with a small amount of territory and must use points gained by fighting games to capture more.

Those are the very basics of fighting a campaign online, but over the years there have been several online campaigns run by online communities independently to Games Workshop. There are several Warhammer forums out there than organise and run their own campaigns set in the Warhammer world. Over the years, these have gradually built in complexity to become far more immersive and involved than any of the Games Workshop worldwide campaigns ever were. Sites such as Animosity Campaigns, Warhammer-Empire and The UnderEmpire have each run very successful campaigns, with Animosity now building up to their sixth (!!!) online campaign.

Get to the point already...

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, because there is now a new kid on the block in the world of online campaigning. Some of you may know that I'm an Admin on, a Warhammer forum devoted to Wood Elves and Wood Elf players, and in about April 2010 I got together a team to work on an online campaign for to follow in the vein established by other Warhammer sites. Now, after eighteen months of hard work (not to mention blood, sweat and tears...), that campaign is finally ready and waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses!

Sentinels of Shadows ~ Crossing Paths

It is the year IC 2527, five years after the coming of the Storm of Chaos and the ravaging of the Empire. Five long years in which the Empire has struggled to recover its lost strength and the forces of darkness have begun to regroup.

Yet the suffering of the Empire is not yet over. In the province of Nordland, the elves of the Laurelorn forest assemble. Provoked by the trespassing of villagers in their hunt for timber to rebuild and concerned by the dark forces advancing on the forest, the elves of the Laurelorn gather to remind their foes why they once feared to enter the woods.

The land is further troubled by news from the east of a greenskin horde rampaging across Ostland and heading west. The remnants of the Waaagh of Grimgor Ironhide, the horde has ravaged Ostland almost to the brink of utter destruction; the armies of the Empire must now march north to face this foe and put a stop to the woe it brings before it can cripple the Empire's bulwark against the north.

This threat could not have come at a worse time for the Empire. In Middenland, the people mourn for the loss of their Elector Boris Todbringer, slain at the hand of his arch nemesis Khazrak the One-Eye. This tragedy has left the province desperately weakened and facing invasion on two fronts; not only the Orc Waaagh to the north-east, but more immediately threatening is the coalition of forces gathering to the south of Middenheim. Dark rumours talk of a shadowy figure known only as the Dagger of Shadows, a warrior who commands the loyalty not only of the beasts but also of foul rat-men, vampires, servants of the Dark Gods and foul daemons of the aethyr.

While the Empire faces two known foes in the open, others move in the shadows to corrupt and subvert. Brigands and outlaws, mercenaries, petty necromancers and warlords all flock to the banner of the one they call the Cockatrice. Little is known of this mysterious figure, or what those who follow him hope to accomplish. Gold? Glory and honour? Or something altogether more sinister? To the nobles of the Empire, these forces appear disorganised and unconnected and thus present no threat but little do they know that each ambush, each robbery, each raid is but one thread in the giant net woven by the Cockatrice. What he hopes to ensnare with this net is unknown, but with the forces that descend on the lands of the Empire it will not be long before the Cockatrice reveals his hand.

Boris Todbringer’s son Hanil is now Elector but although capable, he is untried and untested. Under the advice of his spymaster Rilhert, the new Elector has established a temporary base at Carroburg rather than risk travelling through the Drakwald to reach Middenheim. Guided by the prophecies and premonitions of the captive witch-child Ikena, Rilhert follows the movements of the Empire’s enemies and seeks to find a future in which the Empire can survive these troubled times.

As I mentioned above, this is the culmination of eighteen months' hard work and determination. It's been a long journey, but we've got there in the end! The campaign opens tomorrow 10th October for registration, and begins in a week's time, on Monday 17th October. If you're even the slightest bit interested in campaigns or Warhammer (preferably both!) then it would be great to see you join in. Head to to get involved!

And just to finish off

Campaigns, for me, are the epitome of what this hobby is all about. They combine all aspects of the hobby - gaming, roleplaying and modelling/painting - into one glorious bundle. Games take on new meaning as they actually become something more than just a bunch of figures on a table, because the fortunes of your army/warband/crew/whatever depend on the outcome. You can invest time and energy giving your figures a background and a history that makes them more than just lumps of lead, and you have the drive to invest more time and energy into the physical appearance of your models when they mean something to you. That perhaps sounds more than a little corny, but it's true nonetheless. Knowing that a bunch of figures are telling a story and perhaps, in some cases, literally changing the world makes me want to invest the time in them to get them painted, write fluff for them and play more and more games with them! For me, campaigns are a self-perpetuating source of motivation in all aspects of the hobby, and being able to share that with people all over the world via the internet makes it all the more inspiring for me.

So if that sounds like something you might be interested in, why not give it a shot and see what you can get out of it?

P.S On an altogether different note, I now have two new followers (doubling the total to 4!). Many thanks to Sylvos and Hoodling! I hope you enjoy my ramblings.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Derby World Wargames Part Deux!

So as I mentioned earlier in the week, this weekend was the weekend of the Derby World Wargames show. I went, I saw, I came back with a melted debit card and a big bag of goodies!

We set off early and arrived about half an hour after the doors opened. The venue is a fair size, but the show didn't seem all that busy. There were the usual demo and participation games, although the majority were fairly sub-standard (if I may say so myself). Considering they were supposed to be demonstration games, there didn't seem to be a lot of demonstrating actually going on - whenever we (Stafford Games) have run a game in the past (although that admittedly isn't all that many times), we've always made a point of having someone just standing around the table ready to talk to spectators, explain what's going on, what the game is, how it's played etc. Today, out of all the games there (the entry leaflet said there were 25+ Display and Participation games...), only one person noticed that he had spectators and came up to tell me about the game and what was going on (and invite me to join in). All of the other games were engrossed in their own game, and seemed to have simply turned up to play in an "exotic" venue. Now, I'll bring this rant to a close shortly and get to the good stuff, but surely the point of a demonstration game is to demonstrate what the game is, how it's played and what's going on, and surely the point of a participation game is to invite people to participate in the game? Maybe it's just me, but that was my biggest bugbear of the show and really a bit of a let-down, considering that the display games are usually my favourite part of wargames shows.

With the rather disappointing array of games on display (excuse the pun...), I didn't bother taking any pictures as I'd planned. But I was soon cheered up by the prospect of spending some hard-earned pennies and getting myself some new toys. And in that respect, Derby didn't disappoint.

You can see the shopping list I wrote in the previous post, and surprisingly I actually managed to get most of the stuff I wanted!

First up, a visit to Heresy Miniatures yielded the long-coveted Doctor Who figures. In order of excitement, we have:

"Not-K9" The D-06 (read it carefully...) General Duty Robot

"Dr Hugh"...

"Emily Lake"

Who fans among you will hopefully forgive me for rating Amy Pond (sorry, I mean "Emily Lake"...) above David Tennant in the excitement stakes!

Of course, no Doctor would be complete without his constant companion:

The "Constabulary Communication Cabinet"
I picked this up from Ainsty - after all, how else is the Doctor supposed to show up in 1880s London?!

I did pick up one other thing from Heresy:

Van Halfling! Mucho potential for the next campaign character I think!!

Moving on then, the next port of call was the Steampunk/Victoriana stuff. After a bit of discussion with Gary, my partner-in-crime in this particular venture, we decided to take the plunge into a sort of Deepest Darkest Africa setting rather than start off in the traditional Victorian London environs. We'll get to that eventually, but we're both quite keen to experiment with Lost World scenarios, complete with angry natives and dinosaurs, to get us going. With that in mind, Gary now has a varied selection of potential savage natives in the form of Wargames Factory Zulus and Perry Miniatures Mahdists, plus a box of Wargames Factory Zulu Wars British Infantry. I, meanwhile, have these:

Desert Guides - quite handy when wandering around the Sahara

'Renegade Legionaries' - to be supplemented with more French Foreign Legion types...

Technically, a British Tank Commander in overseas dress...
Allan Quatermain!

And the crowning glory:

Yes, a Steam Tank! I can't wait to get this baby painted up and onto the table...

But the real crowning glory of today's purchases is the only one I can't show pictures of - because I don't have it yet. The one thing I wanted to come away with today was a pirate ship, and boy did I get one! Ainsty Castings were quite near the entrance and as soon as I saw the stand, I saw the pirate ships sitting there. Thankfully, Ainsty had managed to get them cast and ready for Derby and I wasted no time in ordering the biggest and best of them - the Man-o-war. To be honest, the Merchantman would probably have done the job perfectly well, but the Man-o-war was absolutely bristling with cannons and covered in detail, and it was too good to resist. The downside is that I have to wait roughly two weeks before I'll get the ship - Ainsty only just managed to get the first casts done in time, and spent the few hours before the show actually gluing everything together! But it will definitely be worth the wait, and I will have pictures up the minute it arrives...

So all in all, a very successful day of spending! You'll notice of course that I didn't actually end up with that many figures; hopefully this means I'll actually get this lot painted!