Thursday, 14 July 2011

All in all you're just a.....

Work continues apace on the Big Birthday Game project. On the figure painting front I've hit something of an impasse with the Ironclad Miniatures guardsmen. For some reason I'm finding them horrendously fiddly to paint, even to my crude "tabletop dipped" standard. What didn't help was the pretty horrendous blocking in the gap between the rifle, arm and body of the Ironclad soldiers. It's not just a thin film of flashing, it's quite a solid chunk of metal between there that took quite a bit of drilling and filing, which didn't do the surrounding detail much good. I'd not noticed it before, it's so rare to see it in white metal figures these days that you don't tend to look for it. (As an aside, the long awaited Ironclad steam tanks turned up last Friday. They look a lot smaller when compared to the Atlantis steam tanks, which ought to make them a more even match.

Having primed all the cavalry horses for both sides in Army Painter Leather Brown, I've made a start on preparing the cavalry riders for painting. I'd been puzzling how best to prime them - spraying them lying flat on a surface means they have a nasty tendency to stick to the surface and pulling them away leaves gaps in the priming. I've seen horsemen temporarily glued to bases, but that would leave the points of contact with the base unpainted. A quick google followed by a search around the flat for parts produced this uncomfortable looking solution.

The push-pins are secured to the plastic bottle caps with a large blob of hot glue gun glue. This elevates them enough to keep the figure's feet in the air. The round flat tops of the pins are cut off leaving the slightly narrower shaft, and a smaller blob of glue fixes it to the figure's... well let's just say "nether side". Hot glue gun glue is easily removed, and the unpainted area will be hidden when the rider is mounted on the horse (in fact I'm thinking of keeping the riders & horses separate for storage and transport and attaching them with blobs of blu-tack during play.

We now have a firmer idea of how many players to expect for the game. Barring the inevitable last minute cancellation, we should be looking at 6-8 players, not massive but big enough to make a party of it. This also means that I can scale down what troops I need to get ready for the game. The recommendation for GASLIGHT participation games is that players should each run one units of extras, one vehicle and one unattached Main Character. I'm going to stretch this a little bit, aiming for two units of extras, two vehicles/walkers and one unattached Main Character. The field guns are going to be axed unfortunately, and we'll wind up not using half of the vehicles I've got, but there'll be enough to keep everyone busy.

The work on the terrain continues. I've been painting all of the old Britains walls I've converted, along with all the straight wall sections bought from Total System Scenic. They've been sprayed with grey primer, then given a coat of Army Painter Quickshade to pick out all the detail. This tinted the walls a lot browner than I'd wanted, so I followed up with an ash-grey drybrushing over the top. I was afraid the glossy Quickshade finish wouldn't take paint well, but the results were really quite good. I've now got the corner and T-sections to do, followed by the detailing and wooden gateposts and finally flocking the bases.

I've also done a bit more work on the river sections, which are coming together nicely. Yesterday I painted the banks and the basic water area, so they're actually starting to look a bit more riverish. Today added sand and loose stones to the rivers edge and started painting & flocking the polystyrene hills.

As an aside, yesterday I received another parcelpalooza from the nice man in the red van. Along with another selection of Army Painter colour primers, I received the second batch of zombies from MegaMinis in the US. The sculpts are incredibly varied in both style and quality, some of the figures looking more like very bad miscasts than deliberate zombies. But they're very reasonably priced and some of the figures have tons of character, which is what you want to break up the generic horde of Wargames Factory & GW plastics and the fairly bland Victory Force metal figures. I've ordered the final batch from MegaMinis - packs 5 and 6, and that'll be it for the zombie collection. All told that should be just shy of 200 zeds to be assembled and painted.

The other big parcel yesterday was from Transport Models containing a bulk order of 1/72 plastic Napoleonic figures. Turnaround was very fast, the boxes were very well packed and I thoroughly recommend them for mail order. The dozen or so boxes of figures will be more than enough to make enough units for the Portable Wargame to refight any of the battles from Programmed Wargames Scenarios (and although I haven't checked, I suspect they'll be able to handle anything from Scenarios For Wargames or Scenarios For All Ages too). There'll be enough figures left over to be based singly for skirmish gaming using Song of Drum and Shakos as well, something I've been meaning to try for ages.

I decided to try to put together the Napoleonic armies for the Portable Wargame for several reasons. Firstly, it's a period that I've never played. Apart from knowing some basics of the history and elementary tactics, I'm far from an expert on the period. This means I get the joy of learning bits and pieces from a new period, as well as being able to focus on the games as games rather than exercises in historical recreation. Secondly, the troop types involved are relatively straightforward translations from the army lists in the scenario book. Finally at 9p-14p each for infantry and 35p for cavalry, it's ridiculously cheap to put together a respectable Portable Wargame force - one pack of infantry, one of cavalry and one of artillery could be had for under £15, which is less than I paid for one unit of 28mm cavalry from Irregular Miniatures (and they're at the bottom end of the price scale - other manufacturers could easily set you back over £30 for ten horse.) I've paid a bit more than that, since I wanted to represent a wider variety of troop types (Heavy and Light cavalry, light infantry) and because a couple of troop types that were only available in the more expensive Italeri packs. But as mentioned, those packs represent more figures than I'm ever going to need for The Portable Wargame, even if I double the number of units required in all but the largest scenarios.

Now I just have to force myself to put them to one side while the GASLIGHT stuff gets finished first!

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