Sunday 22 June 2014

Cattle and Cane

Taking a short break from my Italian Wars French (don't worry, I'll get back to them soon) with a quick Dark Ages diversion: The next game in our Dux Britanniarum campaign will be a cattle raid and for this we naturally needed some cattle – and sheep too it seems. I've had these Gripping Beast models in the lead pile for a while and now was the perfect time to finally paint them up.

This was a quick job, mostly using drybrushing and washes and for such limited amount of work they turned out pretty good I think. I have no idea if the colours are correct though, but they look fine to my untrained eyes. The sculpts are perhaps a bit rough but perfectly serviceable.

I must apologize for the bad pictures. Lately I've had some real trouble taking good pictures. They just look washed out with most of the the highlights killed, and I can't quite figure out why. I think I need to experiment some more with my setup.

Anyway, speaking of our Dux Brit campaign, I have started on an AAR from our second game (we have played three so far) but work, family obligations and computer trouble have kept me from working on it. Hopefully I'll get some time during this coming week to finish the report.

Thanks for looking! Have a great week everyone!

Sunday 8 June 2014

Italian Wars French 1 – Reisläufers 1

Finally I have some new painted miniatures to show you. These are the first 4 bases of the first pike unit of Swiss mercenaries (Reisläufers) for my French army for the Great Italians Wars. To begin with, there will be two units of Swiss pikemen, each consisting of 6 bases – 3 standing and 3 advancing. The plan is to eventually bring them up to 9 bases each with an extra 3 bases of attacking pikemen in the front rows.

The miniatures are from Pro Gloria and very nice they are too. They required very little in the way of cleaning up, which is always a big plus in my book.

In a stroke of genius (ha!) I have decided to do the units as combined Reisläufer/Landsknechts units, which means they won't be 100% correct for either faction but I'd like to keep all my options open. In line with this, the flags, when I get to them, will be removable.

The Italian Wars project have changed a bit since I talked about it last time. Originally my plan was to make a couple of French units to fight against Dalauppror's splendid Imperial Landsknechts/German mercenaries. However, since our good friend Søren, of Black Powder Games, joined us as the Imperial player the plan changed – and the project grew. After some discussion we decided to move to a slightly later period instead of the early wars, as we were keen to paint up some lovely colourful landsknechts and gendarmes in full regalia. There's really nothing quite like the spectacle of two armies for the Italian Wars on the tabletop. So instead of Fornovo, our focus will now be on the period of the battle of Pavia, ie the 1520s.

This had the added bonus of us being able to use the army lists straight out of the Pike&Shotte rules, which would give us a rough guide to our forces – always a welcome thing when you start up a new period.

My plan is still to paint up a core starter-force to get some games going, and then add to it when I have the time and inspiration. By now, I probably hade enough miniatures in the lead mountain to at least double the number of units, but first things first. If it's one thing I have learned, it's that you should start small and then add to it, rather than try to paint too much from the start. I have the "boxes of shame" (ie half-finished projects) to prove it ...

The modest starter army will consist of:
2 units of Swiss pikemen, 6 bases each
2 units of gendarmes, 3 bases each
1 medium artillery, 1 base (I might do another base of artillery if I have the time)
2–3 command bases

As you can see there are a fair number of miniatures left to paint. It's always easier to get painting when you're working to a set deadline, so Sören and I have schedueled a first game in late August. Hopefully we'll both be ready by then!

Back to the Reisläufers then. These models actually proved a bit of a challenge to paint, for several reasons. The first was it always takes me a couple of miniatures in a new army and period to get a "feel" for them, add to this models from a new manufacturer that you also have to get a "feel" for, and it was a bit of trial and error before I got the colours and details right.

Second, I made the mistake of trying to paint too big a batch at the same time. I find 6–8 is about the sweet spot for me personally, but as I knew I had quite a few of these buggers to paint up I tried to push myself and do double this amount, This proved a bit too much, at least for the level of finish I went for here, and from now on I think 10–12 will be my absolute limit in terms of what I'm comfortable with (again depending on the level of finish) and I will do the rest of the pikemen in batches of 8 (or 2 bases).

Third, I was going for a very bright finish on these models, and therefore I wanted to avoid using my regular technique that's largely built on washes. In my experience, washes can dirty up the models and the end-result can feel a little grubby. This looks great on eg Dark Ages miniatures, but this time I wanted something different. Instead I tried the Foundry three-step method. Now, I'm normally using a lot of Foundry colours as I like the triad system although I don't use it as intended. Instead I add washes and mix the shades to get the results I'm after. This time I tried the system straight out of the bottle, so to speak, and wasn't very happy with the result. The main problem was a lack of contrast, especially in the darkest recesses. So I had to go back and add washes to get the contrast I wanted. I think the root of the problem might be that I'm using brown undercoat instead of black and this obviously makes it impossible to blackline the different areas and get a good definition. Well, whatever it was that caused the problem – no time saved was saved by using the three-step method so lesson learned.

Well, as I said, a bit of trial and error, and hopefully the rest of them will prove easier to finish.

Thanks for reading – have a great week everyone!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Liebster Blog Award 2014, 100+ followers, 25 000+ hits

There certainly seems to be no shortage of things to celebrate lately as the blog has passed 100 followers and 25 000 hits a while back. I have lost track of all you new followers so I just want to take the opportunity to thank all who have signed up – old ones as well as new ones! 

Over the last couple of weeks or so, I've also received no less than five nominations for a Liebster Award. I'd like to offer a heartfelt thanks to CLAM (who was the first one I believe) from Clamshells&Seahorses, Rodger from Rebel Barracks,  Søren from Black Powder Games, Mattias from Northern Wargaming and Christopher from Bunker Hill. They all have excellent, excellent blogs of their own so if you haven't checked them out already I urge you to do this right now.

I'm greatly honored and humbled by all this attention, so thank you guys!

Now, originally there were quite a lot of rules concerning this Liebster Award thingy – questions to be answered, other blogs to be nominated and whatnot – but as time went on, people started to ignore most of them so I'll do this my own way.

First off, the questions and answers. Originally, there were 11 questions to answer and then you had to write 11 new ones yourself but I'm a lazy bastard so I've just picked a few I thought would be interesting (?) for most of you.

How did you first get into the miniature/war-gaming hobby?
I got into the hobby through fantasy roleplaying in the mid 80s. Although I was aware of model soldiers before (mainly thanks to the old Prince August moulds you could cast yourself) I didn't know you could actually play games with them.

Why did you start blogging?
Primarily it was to track my projects and by showing them to others a way to inspire myself to actually finish the projects I had started. In 2011 had a period of waning inspiration and too many projects half-completed, so I wanted to force myself to finish them. Perhaps subconsciously I was also looking to get into contact with some local gamers, as I was the only one in my then-current group of friends who was into the hobby part of the hobby (that is, the painting and modeling).

Would you say you are more a collector, painter or gamer and why?
I guess I'm a little bit of everything, but I see myself as more of a gamer. Although looking at the time spent on the different activities I'm definitely a painter, and looking at the money spent (and asking my fiancee!) I'm most definitely a collector – or maybe more of a hoarder ...

Gripping Beast Saxon commanders.

Could you limit your gaming and collection to one period and one size? If so, what?
No, I probably couldn't as there are far too many interesting periods and conflicts to game. However, if for some reason I had to limit myself I would unsurprisingly choose the so called Dark Ages in 28 mm, as this is my absolute favourite period and scale.

If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which one would it be?
Well, looking at the answer above it would have to Gripping Beast as they have by far the most diverse range for my period of choice.

Who is your all time favourite miniatures producing company?
There's obviously some great companies out there, producing some truly excellent miniatures for all imaginable (and unimaginable) periods and scales – the afore mentioned Gripping Beast, Perry Miniatures and Pro Gloria to name but a few. But for sheer personality, whimsical charm and well yes, nostalgia, the mid to late 80s Citadel will always have a special place in my heart. Comparing those fantastic old models with the technically superior, but utterly overworked and devoid of any trace of personality, crap Games Workshop is peddling today makes me so so sad.

Do you read Battle Reports and what makes them inviting to read?
I do sometimes, especially if it's a game or a period I'm interested in. I'm looking for a combination of clear graphics, pretty pictures and a well written text. The text should preferably be short and to the point, but not dry. I don't want a detailed report of every turn but rather a summary of the action, and some key event highlighted in more detail. If it's a system I'm not familiar with I'd also like to know how the rules affected what happened on the table, while if it's a game I'm familiar with the text should be more of a summary. Finally, there should be a paragraph or two discussing what happened in the game, the reasoning behind the tactics and decisions made and also some thoughts on the rules and scenario. Quite a lot to live up to and the reason I've not posted more AARs on this blog!

Right, that's the Q&A out of the way. On to my personal nominations. Well, most of my favourite blogs have already received a nomination, but apart from those linked above, I'd like to mention a few that I find really inspiring and a great read:

A Light in the Dark
Lots of pictures of impressive 10 mm Dark Ages armies with some excellent conversions to boot.

Realm of Chaos 80s
Great blog with some serious 80s nostalgia stuff.

This blog is mainly about the early 16th century, with a focus on the Italian Wars. Lots of lovely landsknechts, reislaufers and gendarmes and a great inspiration for my own project for this period.

Well, that's all for now. Thank you again to all readers, followers and those of you who take the time to comment – it wouldn't be as fun without you!

PS: I had planned to do a prize draw to celebrate all this, but it will have to wait a while as Dalauppror just launched his giveaway in celebration of achieving an impressive 400 followers and 300 000 hits – certainly numbers to be inspired by! There are some very nice stuff up for grabs, so pop on over to his blog and sign up before it's too late.