Monday, 22 February 2016

Pendraken Painting Competition 2016

Unbelievably, if is nearing the end of February already! Every year, one of my favourite manufacturer, Pendraken, host a painting competition in February which is supported by very generous prizes and generally attracts tons of high quality entries.

I've been mostly distracted by 6mm projects and Galleys & Galleons over the last last year, so the amount of Pendraken lead that I have managed to paint since the last competition is minimal. However, I do have a couple of Pendraken sculpts, painted up for the G&G fantasy expansion that I'll pop in - but not hold my breath.

Daughters of Ægir – Norse personifications of the waves, the nine sisters were the daughters of the giant, Ægir, and the sea goddess, Rán. (Pendraken code FAN-MON3 Water elementals)
Q3 C3
Creature, Magical: Hydromancer, Shallow draft, Spectral, Submersible

Triton – A Greek sea deity, the son and herald of Poseidon, lord of all the Seas, Triton conveyed his father’s wishes to all those creatures who swam in his domain. (Pendraken code FF1 Neptune)
Q3 C4
Alpha creature, Ramming, Submersible

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The 3rd Northern Irish Song of Blades and Heroes Competition

Ganesha Games, in association with Wee Gamers, presents
the Cú Chulainn Cup
The 3rd Northern Irish Song of Blades and Heroes Competition

When? Sunday 31st July 2016, 10.00 for a 10.30am kickoff.
Where? Whitehead Primary School, 3 Islandmagee Road, Whitehead, Co. Antrim BT38 9NE.
The competition, consisting of five rounds, will be run over a single day.
Each round will be completed in 45 minutes plus the current turn. Victory points will still be awarded for uncompleted games, but neither player will be awarded the win.
Players will be ranked during and at the end of the competition by their number of wins. In the event of tied results, the cumulative number of victory points will be used to decide ranking.
Players will be matched in each round according to a modified Swiss system. After the first round, players will be paired according to ranking – i.e. the two highest ranked players will meet, as will the two lowest ranked players etc. Special consideration will be taken to ensure no two players meet more than once in the day.
Tables will be provided  to each pair with predetermined terrain and victory  conditions.  If possible, no player will fight on the same table twice.
Players must use the same painted 25-28mm scale warbands in each round – a player’s warband roster should be submitted to the organisers at least one week before the competition (24th July) and may not be changed thereafter. Email warband rosters to
·         Warbands may be no larger than 300 points and must be legal – i.e. no more than 33.3% of the points value of the warband may be spent on models with special rules which define them as ‘personalities’.
·         Profiles for warband members may be taken the rosters within the Song of Blades and Heroes core rule book or any or its official supplements, or may be customised using the online warband builder software found on the Ganesha Games website.
·         Special rules from any of the following Ganesha Games rules are permitted: Song of Blades and Heroes, Song of Wind and Water, Song of Gold and Darkness, Song of Deeds and Glory, Song of Arthur and Merlin, Song of Splintered Lands.
·         Note that only the following forms of the Lethal special rule will be permitted: Lethal against Animals, Lethal against Artificial, Lethal against Magic Users (all varieties), Lethal against Undead or Lethal against a specified race (other than humans).
·         Characters with the Assassin special rule may only be used if their combat factor is 3 or less.
Entry will cost £5.00. 

Various prizes will be provided by Ganesha Games and will be awarded to the Cú Chulainn Cup Champion, the most sporting player and the ‘best’ warband.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Pleasant feedback

I receive my fair share of emails - many of them offering me shares in Guatemalan railways, or pleas from Nigerian ex-presidents with millions that they would like me to store for them. Never-the-less, what a pleasant surprise it was, this morning, to get this bit of feedback! Note that certain words have been redacted to avoid those with a litigious bent.

I just wanted to give some kudos to you on your Irreglar Wars and Galleys and Galleons rules.

I picked them up off Wargame Vault a few weeks ago and was instantly drawn to the innovative army generation the scale of the battles and the small space requirements.

I pulled out some 30mm steel bases and pushed them around on the table to try the mechanics, Again clean and refreshing. No offence to the man is intended but I've just grown sick to death of the ######## mechanics that everyone I game with loves. ######### to ##### ###### to #### ######. It's all the same to me.

I also appreciate the simple old school format without the Playboy style lead porn that is the trend today in the spendy rulebooks and endless supplements, You certainly won't get rich with your marketing approach but you do have my gratitude for your labours.

Anyways thanks and curses to you both.... First for the fresh air in rules but curses as I've now gone and bought a couple of hundred miniatures to build four armies to do Mesoamercan gaming and about 20 Valiant Spanish Main ships for
Galleys and Galleons as well.


Tim #########
###### #####, ## ######

Thank you Tim. Thank you. :)

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Galleys & Galleons - Carried on a warm breeze

Flying carpet – Skimming over the waves in support of Arabian fleets, these small, delicate but manoeuverable, flying rugs are enchanted by powerful sorcerers with the sole purpose of allowing them to cast spells from the most effective position.

Q2 C0

Gyrocopter, Magical (player chooses school)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bread and Circuses - Keeping the Mob Entertained

Last weekend I took my 6mm setup for Bread and Circuses up to the Wee Gamers Bunker at Whitehead. We had six players having a go - it was the first time that I had tested the game with more than four - and I have to say, the mob seemed entertained. Each player ran a single chariot, and from turn one there was foul play and reckless driving a plenty. I was delighted to see how additional players expanded the game from a simple race into a full blown battle of wits, angst and broken axel shafts.

Here are a few endorsements posted on Friendface following the event.

"So Last night a few of us got to play test yet another game in the pipeline for Nic. This time 6mm chariot racing fun.....and it was. Plenty of straight up racing but lots of opportunity for skulduggery and larking. Not allowed to say too much about the game in detail yet, but I can say this, everyone had a good laugh!"

"Was super fun esp with a big group"

"What started off as Roman Chariot racing quickly deteriorated into a Demolition Derby. Nevertheless it was great fun!"

"Well if we can't break it no one can lol"

Only a few photos from the evening rather than a complete race report. The board and figures are for 6mm games, but the system is scale agnostic with three different sets of distances designed for figure scales from 6mm-28mm. As readers of this blog will know by now, I am a sucker for 6mm, and so that's what I have used for my own tests. Most photos taken by one of the testors, David from Backspindle Games.
The lads come to grips with the system using the single page cheat sheet.
The starting line up. Most of it. The agile Celtic chariot was far off to the left somewhere.

And they're off! The Fast chariots (Roman and flying carpet) take the lead. The Egyptian Archer controlled by Bill takes and early battering. A pattern that would continue.
Concentration as the competitiveness kicks in near the first turning point.
A riot of wrecked chariots after the leaders get around the turning point. The first mob is annoyed enough to run onto the track.
Egyptian Bill shows his standard reaction to being picked on by the other charioteers.
And that classic moment midway through the second lap when every chariot was a pile of wreckage. From this point it could have been anyone's game as crews struggled to right their vehicles and re-harness their teams. In the end, Bill's Egyptians got away first and stumble on to a very close victory.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

6mm Painting Masterclass…

Ok, let’s be honest. This will certainly not be anything even remotely resembling a ‘masterclass’. It might not even be a tutorial. What this post is intended to be, is more of a 6mm painting cheat sheet. I’ve been asked a number of times now to put a blog post up showing stage-by-stage how I paint my 6mm miniatures, so here goes. I’ll list a few general thoughts about painting 6mm (AKA the finest of scales) first, and then have a mini phot tutorial.

I’ll preface absolutely everything by saying that I am not a first class painter by any standard. I am competent, but I am also very slow. It’ll take me half a day (as in 6 hours straight) to paint three, or maybe four, 28mm figures. In the same time I could be several hundred 6mm chaps.

Start with a detailed range of figures.
I like Baccus and Rapier ancients/medieval because they are (generally) sculpted with a bit of an exaggerated style with high relief. This is going to be important. Baccus colonials are also very good – perhaps the best 6mm figures I have seen. I have found that Dark Realm do nice sci-fi stuff.

Start with a good bush.
I have only one brush that I use for 6mm figures – a size 0. You don’t need a finer one, as there is a limit to the amount of detail to paint, but a thicker brush will not really be good enough.
Admittedly I do also use a 4 for slopping brown paint on the bases.

Use a dark undercoat.
I prefer to use a dark brown undercoat. There are a couple of reasons for this.

A white undercoat means you need to be far more careful when applying the basecoat (stage 1), making sure you get into all the creases, as when you ink the model (stage 2), the white will show through the ink if not fully covered.

Black is a possibility, but I find that a black undercoat can make the application of your basecoat (stage 1) tricky, depending on your palette. Neither my yellow, nor my brighter red will cover a black undercoat and therefore need multiple coats.

Brown, however, is the king. Not only is it dark enough to allow you to me a little ‘rustic’ when applying your basecoat (stage 1), but basecoat colours tend to adhere better, generally/always allowing for only one coat.

Also, brown is just about the most common/useful ‘default’ colour. What do I mean by default colour? I mean the stuff on the figure you don’t necessarily want to spend time painting. This, for me, includes the backs of shields, trousers, pike shafts etc, and at least 50% of horses.

Most horses are browns, bays and chestnuts, that means you can get away with a undercoated brown body, just adding different colour to the manes, tails, a star or blaze on the head, and socks.

Unfortunatley, the only unit I had ready prepped to paint were my Baccus Maddhist camelry which I use/substitute as pre-Islamic Arabs. And that means they are all on camels. Which are not brown. So I kind of missed the ball there. Anyway...

Unless I am painting a very open-order unit, I usually stick most or all of the figures to some form of strip before undercoating. I might still glue some to the base, normally one rank or a loose scatter. So long as I have room to get my brush around I am happy enough. If the unit is only going to be a loose scatter of figures I will generally glue all figures straight to the base before undercoating.

You are painting a unit, not a figure.
It may surprise some people, but it is possible to spend a lot of time adding great detail to a 6mm figure. But you don’t have to. The beauty of the scale is that players and passers-by focus on the mass effect of the unit, not on individual figures. It is the mass effect, not the fine detail that is important.

Stage 1 – the base coat.
This is the stage where the main colour theme of the unit is decided. Try to keep the colours to a minimum. Try to keep to two, maybe three primary colours. You want these to contrast is possible to really make the figures ‘pop’ when finished. You should try to leave a tiny bit of the dark undercoat showing where the primary colours meet if possible.

If you want a more irregular look to your unit, use different shades of the same colour – it the colour theme is blue and yellow, use blue and yellow on 1/3 of the figures, and sky blue and yellow on the last 1/3.

I tend to start with torso and work my way out. That way, I find it easier to be a little rustic and much faster in the application of the paint without having to go back later and fix mistakes. Skin is normally left to last as skin is usually at the extremities – faces and hands, sometimes legs.

Stage 2 – the ink wash.

Ink is your best friend. All of the mistakes and messy bits from the base coat will now be cured. The ink washes over the figure, gathering in the incisions/creases and pooling in corners. It obviously adds shading and obscures the joints.

While the ink dries, I take a moment to paint the edges of the unit’s bases.

Stage 3 – return of the base coat.

Up to this point, I find painting a chore. But once the ink has dried (or mostly dried), I start to enjoy myself. The ink will have dulled all of your stage 1 base colours. Using the same colours, return and just lightly apply it to the most exposed areas: the centre of the torso, the tops of sleeves, the upper half of the face of the shield, the top of the helmet.

Stage 4 – highlight.
This stage is generally obsolete, although sometimes large areas such as a face of a shield, it can sometimes help to have a lighter shade of colour just along to top edge.

Stage 5 – basing.
My approach to basing is quick and easy, but relatively effective. I start with 3mm magnetised mdf bases. I know that some people prefer thin bases. Aesthetically I can understand why, but after spending time, effort, and a little bit of love, to paint my unit, I want them to survive being handled on the gaming table. Remember, even if you are the most careful, fine fingered gamer in the world, accidents still happen, and your gaming partners/passing child might not be as delicate. A thicker base allows the unit to be manhandled by the base and the figures don’t need to be touched.

After gluing down the figures, either in a scatter or in formation, I apply a coating of wood glue and cover the entire thing in paving sand. This is the fine-grained brown sand with regular inclusions of larger, irregular shaped grains used for brushing between pavers. Larger tiny stones can also be added now, usually just before pouring on the sand. They give more of an impression of rough ground.

It is important that the paint on the figures is completely dry before this point, or else you’ll find the sand sticks to the paint. When the glue dries, you’ll have 1) a good base ground cover, 2) your figures will be double stuck to the base (no chance of rebasing now… mwahahahaha), and 3) the ground level will be slightly raised helping to obscure the face 6mm figures tend to be cast on thick strips.

When the sand is stuck firm, I then put on smaller or larger patched of glue which are then covered in static grass. I use standard sized static grass, same as the stuff I use for 10mm, 15mm and 28mm figures. I have three different pots. A green, a dried yellow and a blend of the two. I usually use the patches of the green and the blend for lusher style bases, and the yellow and the blend for more arid bases.

Stage 6 – get gaming!