Sunday, April 28, 2013

Viking Warlord...4 pt Warband complete!

O.K., a four point SAGA warband is small but it should be perfect for teaching the rules to the gaming club.  I finally finished up my Gripping Beast plastic Viking warlord to complete my small warband.  I have blisters of Viking berserkers and archers to grow the group in the near future....but at least what I have can be thrown down for a small game.  On this model I made heavy of Reaper Model Color triads on this particular figure(for the hair, flesh, white tunic and green cape).  
To spice him up a little but I added a custom strap to his shield and added some arrows to his base(made from sewing pins and green stuff). 
And here he is with a unit of hearthguard as escorts...
I am now nine figures away from having my 4 pts Anglo-Dane warband done...having painted a total of 33 figures in about five weeks(not bad all things considered).  Now if I can just remain disciplined enough to complete this project before my Infinity rulebook arrives and I get excited about the next game system....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

More Anglo-Dane Hearthguard Painted...

In my trek towards completing two SAGA warbands to roll out to my club I made another stride today...finishing up four more Hearthguard figures.
Three of the figures are from the Gripping Beast plastic thegns box set and one(second figure from the right) is from a GB metal Anglo-Danish command blister pack.  I probably won't start out playing with the war banners rule as I get the basic rules down but I wanted the pageantry of some standard bearers on the field(thus the two shown above). 
For the banner-bearer I intended to make a custom flag, but after I painted the figure and his shield I couldn't pass on using one of the two designs that came in the Thegn box becayse the colors were a great fit for the shield.  For the longer poles(middle two figures) I used pikes made by GB that I cut down to size. 

Here are a few singleton shots...
And a close-up of the Dragon standard...
While I wait for the new Gripping Beast "Dark Ages Warriors" set to arrive in the mail, who will serve as my Anglo-Dane warriors to round out my units, I am working on the two warlords(one Viking, one Dane). 
Since I am on the topic of "Danes", time for a rant...
Though the phrase "Anglo-Dane" is historically accepted, and a somewhat apt descriptor for the civilization in Eastern England in the late Dark Ages, I can't help but lament the lack of "Saxon" in the nomenclature.  There's likely more Saxon than either Danish or Angle blood in the "Anglo-Danes" but "Saxon" just doesn't make the hyphenated cut...COME ON!  I suppose if we called them Saxon-Anglo-Danes that would give us an acronym of "SAD". However, we should really save S.A.D. to stand for "SAGA Addiction Disorder".  O.K. rant completed...

Thanks for viewing,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Anglo-Danish Huscarls

Just completed these Anglo-Dane Huscarls for my SAGA games which means I have one half of my small warband ready and by mid May I will have enough Vikings and Anglo-Danes to hit the table with. 
I tried to tie the unit together with whites, reds and yellows while remaining a bit random by using different hues of those three core colors and putting some other colors into the mix. 
I  probably left the Dane axe a little long(the four in the blister pack need to be clipped down...they are about 9 scale feet in length)...but  I took the creative liberty of modeling a longer axe just for visual appeal.  The figures of from Gripping Beast and are metal.  I am not new to metal by any means, but these are my first ones for SAGA after doing a bunch of GB plastic figures.  The only letdown was in the faces as the plastic sculpts better have more defined facial features. 
I have really been struggling with my painting lately.  My main issue is that when I ever I see someone else's figures I like their painting style much more than my own.  I have waffled forever between the photo-realistc blending tecnhiques of American and Eastern European pro painters and what I call the of broad strokes and super highlights(see Kevin Dallimore's stuff at Wargames Foundry).  I usually end up somewhere in between, with a mix of the two styles as I waffle on approach...and I am often, appropriately, displeased with the final result.  I think I am finally leaning towards the "British" style...there is something refreshing about the "impressionist" approach that many Brits take to painting wargames figures.  This batch of figures is still an "in between" style, but I am resolved to change with my next group of figures.
Still too much on deck to be painted...more Anglo-Danes, specifically more hearthguard and slingers.  I also have Viking archers to do as well as more warriors.  Additionally, I preordered the Gripping Beast plastic Dark Ages warriors set...not sure when we'll see those arrive over here in the United States but hopefully pretty soon.

Wish I could attend Salute in England...that looks like a blast!

Thanks for viewing,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Military History Class Wargaming...

One of the great pleasures of being the instructor of my Military History elective course at the high school where I teach is that I get to bring my wargaming hobby into the classroom.  Once to twice every unit my students assume the role of "general" as they replay key battles in history...
Persians(Red) and Greeks(Blue) square off at Marathon...
It is fun to run five to six simulations of the battle at the same time and to see how the different groups of students choose to play the scenarios uniquely.  I use my homebrewed rules system called "BattleSim"(Battle Simulation) which is fairly accomodating of variety of unit types and eras.
French(Blue) square off against Russians(Green) and AustriansWhite) at Austerlitz. 

Today, for example, as we are in our Napoleonic Wars unit, my students simulated The Battle of Austerlitz(my favorite battle in history!).  We had six groups recreating the battle with four victories for the Coalition and two for the French.  I like testing the students' knowledge of the battle by throwing historical elements into the scenario. For example, in the Austerlitz BattleSim(shown above), the French players receive Davout's reinforcements from the southeast later into the game. 

These weekly wargames compliment the regular class instruction and serve to aslo act as a "gateway" for my students into wargaming.  Many students from class join my Military History Club where every year we have a campaign based on some era where students custom build their is a lot of fun.  we have done campaigns for Ancient Europe, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Revolution(this year's campaign) and Modern Warfare(2042). 

Here are the battles we simulate during the class:
-Battle of Britain
-Operation Cobra

Anwyays, back to painting minis because my students need to be able to see that ther's more to wargaming than just cardboard counters and maps(although I like oldschool wargaming too, mind you!).

Thanks for viewing,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Custom Fatigue Token for SAGA

I have seen some pretty nice custom fatigue tokens for SAGA(thankfully the only needed accessory for the game save a measuring stick).  I love the idea of using extra shields for these but I wanted to dress it up with some extra kit.  I was thinking that I'd throw some other things on there that warriors might abandon to "lighten their load". 
The shield is an extra from Gripping Beast(plastics) while the helmet is from a Wargames Factory Viking Bondi head(I just clipped/cut away the head in the helmet!).  The small bag(does it hold coin or rations?) and the cloak are made from Lumina air drying polymer clay.  I put the bits on an extra Renedra base I have and textured it.

Here you can see what the token looks like while used in a game....
I have some other bits I plan to use or make to put on other such markers such as horns and broken shields.  I am open to suggestions as to what else I would accessorize them logically!  Feel free to comment...
Thanks for viewing,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anglo-Dane Hearthguard Table Ready

In my quest to complete two warbands for SAGA, I have begun painting my Anglo-Danes.  I hope to have the core of both(Viking and Anglo-Danes) done before the end of the school year to roll out to my club. 

The four below are from Gripping Beast's plastic "Saxon Thegns" set...
I have decided to make the Warband base lip colors vary for each faction to match the color of their SAGA dice.  Of course, some factions share dice, so I'll have to be creative down the line.  The main reason I am doing this because the kit is so similar for Dark Ages warriors for many of the factions, I wanted a quick way for new players to tell "who is who". 
I didn't like how the "magic wash" was blunting the hues of my Vikings figures so for these guys I am only apply the wash to target areas where I want some shadings(mainly metal and wood surfaces as well as the shields). Here are some individual pics...
Next up  on my painting table are some Huscarls for the Anglo-Danes as well as my Viking warlord. I purchased an Anglo-Danish command pack from Architects of War which, with four figures for under $10, is a nice deal.

Thanks for viewing everyone.
Comments are always welcome and appreciated....

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Viking Warband(-1): Spring Break Painting!

My goal during this Spring Break vacation(today is the last day) was to paint a 4 Point Viking Warband for SAGA in 8 days...but I was a Warlord short!  That being said, for about a week's worth of effort, I did get 20 figures painted which is a nice start. 

First, here are the last four Viking Hearthguard(Gripping Beast Plastics) I did to complete my (warlord-less) warband...
Here is a close up of one of the men...
I used green stuff to give these guys appropriately longer locks this time around...
Here are another four Hearthguard I did the other day...
So that brings up my force to 20 strong...
On Left: 3 Viking Hearthguard Units(3 x 4 men), On Right: 1 Viking Warrior Unit(8 men)

Painting the shields is definitely the most challenging, but most rewarding, part of the process. 

So what's next?  The following:
-prime and paint Viking warlord
-begin assembling and painting Anglo-Danish Hearthguard(bought the Saxon GP plastics)
-begin assembling and painting Anglo-Danish slinger levy unit
-awaiting Viking Berserkers and Anglo-Danish Huscarls in the mail
-continue to knock off some more Dark Ages terrain

I am also helping my 15 and 9 year olds with their painting...they are painting up some Super Dungeon Explore minis.  Once I have two small SAGA warbands ready, I'll put them to work helping me try out the rules!

Well, that's it for now...

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Basing With Lumina Air Drying Clay

Now that I've been modeling miniatures on various types of bases across multiple game systems over the last few years I've finally found a basic basing solution that I am really happpy with.  I've used all of the following with success over time:
1.Vallejo Pumice and Stucco
2.Spackle(filler for those in the U.K.)
3.Green Stuff
6.Wet Modeling Clay
However, the last few months I have been using Lumina Air Drying Clay which, to me, has become the ideal basing material. 
I chose to base my Saga miniatures on Privateer Press 30mm slotted bases rather than the Renedra ones because I wanted a lip around the mini's base that I could paint a slightly different color for each faction so on the gaming table one could quickly tell "who is who".  Of course, as with most bases, this brings about a situation where one has to add material to the base to disguise the original plastic base of the mini(the block beneath his feet).  Also, as the PP bases are slotted, that has to be covered as well. Please keep in mind, this technique will work with any bases you place your minis on...not just round or slotted ones.  Lastly, yes you can do this type of basing detail before priming and painting...I just prefer to do it at the end. 
Start by pinching on a very small(and I mean small) bit of clay and working it into a small snake with your fingers...this will do most of the work in sculpting up the base.
Lay the clay around original base of the mini where it meets your new base(my 30mm one in this case) and use your fingers to smooth it out creating a gradual rise from the new base to the miniature's block.  If your figures are a little too clumsy or there are some tight spots, use the flat of an x-acto knife blade to flatten out the clay.
Uh snake didn't cover all of the slot....what do I do?  Easy, just roll a little ball of clay to place on that part of the base and...
boom! problem!(sounds like an infomerical, sorry). Now here is one of the real advantages of this particular clay(Lumina).  In under 10 minutes it is dry enough for me to base my grit(sand/kitty litter) over; with putties and filler I have to wait a lot longer!
After I paint a little Mod Podge(watered down PVA essentially) on the base I dip him in my basing material.  In just a matter of minutes(from no clay to fully textured) my figures look like this...
Now I just have to paint up the base texture(for a tutorial head to this post) and the base lips and these four guys can join the rest of their unit...
Let me conclude with all the reasons I love this air drying clay for basing and why it is my new norm for finishing a figure.
1. It is very easy to work with.  Unlike two party putty(Green Stuff/Milliput) it is not the least bit tackey so you needn't worry about keeping fingers or sculpting tools wet.
2. It is entirely sculptable.  You can carve bricks, patterns, etc. into the clay with such ease!  You can do this while it sets or after it dries. 
3.  It is inexpensive.  The block of clay I purchased off Amazon for $10 will last me for hundreds of figures.  I used about 1/50th of the block for the four figures shown in the example. 
4. The stuff dries like hard IS NOT going to flake or chip.  It feels like the original plastic of the mini once it dries.
5. It paints well.  The Lumina clay, once primed will take hold paint as well as any other plastic.

I assume there are other air drying polymer clays out there that will work as well as the Lumina...if you know of some feel free to post them in the comments section.  Here are some other non-Saga figures I have based with the same material...
Soviet 20mm Plastic Soldier Company Minis

15mm Elves modded for BattleLore boardgame with Lumina Clay bases(the
hole to hold the banner was easily made with the clay as well!).

Well that's it for now...I hope you found this tutorial helpful.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Vikings Warrior Unit Completed...

My quest to complete a warband before Spring Break ends continues...
I finished four more Wargames Factory Viking Bondi figures to complete a unit of warriors for Saga.

Wargames Factory Viking Bondi...Father Comstock is on the right!(Bioshock Infinite reference).
Before purchasing these guys most reviews I read(and watched) suggested that they were fairly lowe on assessment with which I must concurr.  That being said, I did the best I could to paint them up.  I am still glad I made the purchase because the pricepoint is very fair and the extreme variety of possible poses is great.  Furthermore, they will allow me to quickly roll out an inexpensive force(coupled with the Gripping Beast plastic Vikings) that I could later upgrade with nicer sculpts if I so desire.   I have decided to use the Gripping Beast shields with these warriors and the Wargames Factory ones with the Gripping Beast Hearthguard. The Wargames Factory ones are actually more detailed and I like them better for the better equipped warriors...whereas the simpler ones in the GB plastic set seem better suited to these warriors.  

"Turn around, I heard something!"...nah, master just wants to show our paintjob from behind!
With the above four figures I now have a unit of warriors(8 strong) to add to my warband.  I should mention that in an effort to speed paint the figures I used my "magic wash" of Pledge/Water/Brown Ink/Black Ink to bring out the details.  Here is the group shot of the full unit..

"By the might of Thor, charge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Thanks for viewing and happpy wargaming everybody!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Wattle Fencing for Wargames

Dark Ages England, World War II's Eastern Front...and Trollbloods?  What do they have in common?...they could all use some wattle fencing!  In my effort to create some more "do it yourself" terrain for Saga(Dark Ages Skirmish Game), I have played around with making some crude, wattle fencing scenery pieces for my gaming table.  These could be used for just about any era of historical wargaming or fantasy wargaming.

Since my experiment met with (at least what seemed to me to be) success, I thought I'd share a complete terrain tutorial on the method and materials that I used.  I actually built the fences using two different materials, so I will share both methods....

Method #1: Wattle Fencing from Twigs...
As I was walkign around in my yard, I noticed a lot of post-Winter debris including twigs of various sizes...these would be the basic material for my wattle fences. If you don't have access to natural material, scroll down to Method #2 below for an alternative.
First let me list the materials that I used for the "twig" variety.  As shown above:
1)wooden dowels(from a craft store...round tooth picks could suffice)
2)the dowels cut into small pieces
3)small twigs
4)cardboard("card" to my European friends)
5)a pin vice(an x-acto knife could be used instead)
6)white glue(a.k.a. PVA glue)
The first thing I did was drill some small holes in the cardboard base that the cut dowel pieces(acting as our fence posts) would be glued into.  Below you can see them glued into place...
It is very important that you let the glue holding the dowels/posts in place thoroughly dry before going on to the next step, as threading the twigs between the dowels will place some stain on them, and if the glue isn't drying they will "lean" or even pop out of their hole. 
Now comes the fun part(as shown above).  Start to thread your twigs in between the posts.  I add a little dab of glue where the twigs make contact with the posts.  As far as the length of the twigs goes, I precut them down to the size I needed for the particular base I was using.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure they extend beyond the outer posts to the edge of the base.  That way, when you connect various fencing pieces together, you get a contiguous wall. 
Above you can see the completed piece with all of the twigs in place.  You could easily adapt this approach for longer or shorter(see below) sections of fencing.  Finally, here is the painted and based wattle fencing section:
Note that some wattle fences have more posts and a tighter weave.  These are well modeled by kits such as the Renedra one, but I wanted something more rustic looking(if you search the web for "wattle fencing", you'll find images of both types.  You could easily use the same method I did above for the tighter weave...just add more posts and used more pliable floral or soldering wire as your horizontal weave. 

Method #2: Wattle Fencing from Leather Cord...
So let's you say you don't live in a wooded area as I do or have access to twigs...what do you do?  Another option is to use leather cording available in craft stores(sometimes even the craft section of discount stores).  Let me go over the materials for this alternative approach:
For this method I used...
1)leather cording
2)leather cording(cut to length)
3)a ready to go base of cardboard & dowels(see above)
5)super glue

This method is a little more labor intensive but still pretty easy.  You start by making a base just as with the twig method...
...then you weave the leather cord pieces in between the posts.  Now there are a couple of nuiances to this procedure.  First, because the cord comes wrapped around it's cardboard packaging it tends to curl.  After cutting the bits, I curled the cording around a pencil in different directions and flexed it between my fingers to straighten it out somewhat.  When I placed it between the posts(as shown above), I superglued the cord(generously!) to the posts where it made contact.  Because the cord isn't as rigid as the twigs, I used pins to hold it next to the dowels while the superglue dried.
As I added additional leather cording, I added pins on the reverse sides to hold these new bits in place as the glue dried.  This became an easy path for me thread addtitional pieces into.  Finally, when all the pieces were in place and the glue was dry, I removed the pins and had this...
Once the piece was given base texture and paint it came out like...
One advantage of the cord option could be that you could thread longer sections and corner pieces without worrying about the length limitations of the twigs.  Now if you're thining the twig version looks a little better, I concurr.  However, when we compare the two pieces side by sid, after using the same basing and painting technique, the difference is fairly negligable...
Two of the above pieces are the leather variety(upper left and upper right) while two are the twig type(lower left and lower right).  Can they be used together? You be the judge...
Now that I have a method for these fences that I like plan to churn them out in good number.  They're easy and cheap to make, that is for sure.  If you find this helpful or have any insights of your own, feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for viewing and reading....