Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!

My wife and I would like to wish everyone who reads my blog a Happy Halloween! Thank you for your support, comments and advice in improving my miniatures.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Late 19th Cent. Prussians & Basing Test

A while ago I had started on a Franco-Prussian War project that I never completed sadly due to a waning interest when I realized nobody else really gamed it nor had interest in it (at least in my area). So, my OG Prussians sat patiently in a box waiting to be based for a future game. Recently, a friend has come up with an interesting idea for a game and now I get to use my Prussians for this super secret project! Not only was it a great moment to break them out but also a chance for me to test some new basing techniques.

Basing has always been a last concern for me really and a step that I rush through to field a quick army. I had made a mix of two different static flocks as well as some random stones which, after my base was covered with glue, my figures would be dipped into overnight. In the morning, I'd tap the excess off and blow on it to get the grass standing and I was done.

A typical base for me. Rock & Flock!
After doing some careful research, I decided to go with a basing method utilizing DryDex (something no homeowner is short of). The first step is to apply your painted figure (I just used super glue) and then after the glue is dry, apply the DryDex. Spread the DryDex around and don't be afraid of getting some on the figures or the edges of the base (I'll explain later). When the DryDex is on the base, it will be a pink color until it dries and then it will be white. WAIT! It isn't fully dry yet! If you don't give it adequate time to fully dry, you could end up leaving indents of finger prints or flaking off pieces. Once it is fully dry, go ahead and chip off any spikes or weird, unnatural formations with a plastic knife or other tool.

DryDex + Stones
Once the DryDex is set, put on any color stones you want. They will get painted over anyway. In my case, I used some really cheap craft store stones that come in all sizes and shapes. (I don't even remember where I bought them so don't ask.) Use a 50/50 mix of water and PVA glue over the stones and let the glue dry fully. Once the glue is dry, go ahead and apply whatever color you want for the soil. In my case, I used DecoArt Americana Mississippi Mud for my first layer. I then dry brushed a khaki over that.

Mississippi Mud, Khaki dry brush, and black stones.
I then highlighted the more interesting rock formations using some Reaper Dragon Black. Once that dried, I went over the stones with a coating of Reaper Armor Grey paint before hitting them with a dry brush of Reaper Granite Grey. From there, it was just some minor touch-ups and the flocking. For the flocking, I just put on some 50/50 watery glue and let it make some odd shapes before blowing on static grass made by Gale Force 9.

The final product.
Close up.

The cavalry.
The DryDex method proved to be a nice looking one but it is also extremely time consuming! No joke, I spent my entire weekend doing 20 infantry bases, 10 cavalry bases, and 3 artillery bases. Only tonight (Monday) was I able to really finish them by doing the black trim on the bases and adding in things like bushes and flowers. I still have another ~15 infantry bases before I am done with the beginning of the project. I will likely expand the army as the project goes on.

What do you think? Was the new basing method worth the time?

*UPDATE* I later realized I never explained why it is okay to get DryDex on the figures. It is easily removed with a damp q-tip. No mess, no fuss.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Longstreet Campaign AAR (1861 - 1st Battle)

At our last club meeting in September, we played a very fun game of Sam Mustafa's Longstreet and decided that we would all like to do a campaign game. Starting yesterday, we put our forces into action with the first battle in 1861 pitting myself, Lord Ashram, and Rob (who commanded 2 brigades) against 4 formidable Union foes. When we rolled for the scenario, it came to the River Crossing.

After the terrain was placed, we had reduced their 4 easy river fords down to only one with terrain obstructions (forests, rocks, and hills) which was my brigade's task to defend on the far right flank. The Union forgot that they were able to place a river crossing rather than other pieces of terrain and only remembered after they had already placed 2 pieces so they added another ford which we promptly obstructed.

My Force Roster at the start of the battle.
My forces and Ashram's cavalry on the right flank guarding the objective and open ford.

Ashram's forces in the center and Rob's 2 brigades on the far left.
The battle was mostly focused on Rob's side where our friend John's union forces quickly engaged him from across the river in an attempt to weaken the Confederates for a crossing. It was a 4 hour long slug fest for them that resulted in big casualties for each side. In the center and on the right, Lord Ashram and I mostly bombarded the Union approach and chewed their forces up a bit. Not a single Union regiment would ever even get onto a river ford.

Slug fest on the left flank.
Rob and John's forces battling it out.
Where my forces did see action was in a cavalry engagement that did not go my way at all. It was the original intention of myself and Ashram to get in the rear of our enemy and then dismount for a flanking attack. The Union CiC came to the rescue of that flank though and played a card that allowed them to throw a swamp in front of our maneuvers.

*POOF* God damn magical felt swamp!
We were able to maneuver around the magical swamp with my 5th Texas Rangers going left and Ashram's cavalry going right. After a little horse dancing show, I had just drawn a card that would have extended the reach of my cavalry for a charge. As soon as it was my turn I was going to throw that bad boy down, make contact and win the day....that is until it was my foe's turn first and he played the same card.

See explanation below.
(1) I was hemmed in against the river, beaten in combat and forced into position 2. (2) The Union opened fire with a volley and, thankfully, they were terrible shots and missed. I was then forced back into position 1 in an attempt to retreat but was again charged. There, I lost 6 out of my 8 bases of cavalry before I was able to pull away to position 3.

The game was extremely fun and ended with the left flank having seen the majority of the action but a major Confederate victory as they neither took our position nor did we suffer too many casualties in comparison. Longstreet remains one of my favorite games to play and I look forward to my next engagement against my friend Phil which will take place in 1862. At the end of the battle, we had to do the Post Battle Process. I was promoted to II Eagles (Longstreet uses Eagles in replacement for the Union/Confederate ranks) and awarded 3 Epic Points. Drawing campaign cards proved to be a major coup for me as I received a new unit of infantry, cavalry, and artillery!

My new units: 2nd Texas Partisans, 3rd Alabama Lt. Horse & Southern Guard Artillery
The typhoid outbreak did hit all of us though and even though I recovered some units through rolling, I only later lost them to typhus. As Sam explains in the rules, while Civil War casualties are staggering, the vast majority of losses were caused by disease. I look forward to engaging my next opponent in a 1 on 1 game and updating everyone on what happens in 1862.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Great Emhar Controversy

Over at The Miniatures Page, there has been a discussion regarding the use of the grenadier Emhar figure in my show of scale as they said it was a bit of an unfair comparison because that figure was larger than the others. So, I pulled off a few more figures and went ahead and put them up against my highly sophisticated comparison chart.

L-R: Emhar, Emhar, Pegasus, Revell, HaT, Emhar
As you can see, the other figures in the box are also just as tall. While this does not discourage me from painting and using them, they have certainly fallen in my list of priorities. If someone ends up releasing a better, helmeted Brit line in 1/72, I will likely buy those and give the Emhar box to my nephew as a toy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Trench Bug

As most people can tell, the trench bug has bit me. I plan to do a 20mm WWI set of rules based on large scale operations so I ordered boxes of 1/72 figures in plastic. For just $50, I got 2 boxes of Revell WWI German Infantry, a box of Pegasus French Infantry, Emhar British Artillery, Emhar British Infantry, HaT British Highlanders and HaT German Artillery. They all seemed to have good reviews over at Plastic Soldier Review but I wish I paid more attention to the size difference.

After removing the figures from the boxes, the size difference became quickly apparent. As you can see below, the Emhar British are 1" tall (second line) while the HaT Highlanders only reach just above a half inch. On the far right I put a Caesar Modern US Marine just for comparison as I know Caesar makes a line of WWI German infantry as well but I didn't purchase them as I was told they were too small.
L-R: Emhar, Pegasus, Revell, HaT, Caesar
I fear it will be an awkward looking battlefield with the gigantic Brits so I may try to remove them from their base and see if that evens things up a bit. Some good news is that I have already started painting my 28mm Belgians by Brigade Models.

Starting to look sharp!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brave Little Belgium (28mm Figure Review)

World War I (or the Great War for my overseas readers) has always fascinated me as it was a useless and completely preventable blood bath with interesting personalities and heroes that get lost in the far more examined World War II. Belgium has particularly caught my interest as of late because they do not get the credit they should. They had a population of only 7.5 million at the beginning of the war and a standing army of no more than 123,000. In order to avoid the French fortifications along the Franco-German border, the neutrality of Belgium was violated as 750,000 German soldiers poured across its borders. Belgium did not lay down as Germany assumed it would (and had asked it too) but rather put up a brave fight that gave the French long enough to mobilize a force to counter attack.

The history aside, I ordered a few 28mm Belgians from Brigade Models in the UK after seeing an impressive painting job over at Analogue Hobbies. Right off the bat, I knew I would have nobody in my gaming club to play my adversary but to have these superior figures in my collection was all I cared about. Though I am currently trying to whittle away at my friend Sam's iron will so he will paint up some Germans for a skirmish game set in Diksmuide (1914). Without further ado, here is my review of the figures:

Top: BM's Carabiniers (GW28-1103 & GW28-1104)
Bottom: 1914 Belgian Carabiniers
Brigade Model's castings are fantastic and for the price, you really can't beat them. They are approximately $1.72 (USD) per figure and shipping came to $15.32. Compared to my other 28mm figures, these are a little heavier, bulkier and just a hair taller (though that may just be their awesome top hats). Historical accuracy on the figures is excellent as they seem to have every bit of kit though I am the kind of person that likes a little change and would like to see a few guys missing pieces of equipment here and there. That's just me though.

For once, an officer (GW28-1129) figure telling his men to
stop/shut up instead of waving them on to their deaths!
 The Carabiniers ( are my favorite because, face it, you have to be a bit of a bad ass to wear a top hat into battle. Though the Belgians eventually adopted the French style uniforms and Adrian helmets, their early war uniforms will be enough for me to game any period as I find them so unique.

Top: BM Line Infantry (GW28-1101 & GW28-1102)
Bottom: 1914 Belgian Line Infantryman

The worst part of receiving these figures today is that I am starting to come down with a cold. Being sick and painting are not two things I like to mix or my figures might end up with random streaks at every sneeze. To steal a page out of the book of one of my favorite sites, Plastic Soldier Review, I'll give you an easy guide with these miniatures.

  • Historical Accuracy: 10/10
  • Pose Quality: 10/10
  • Pose Number: 8/10
  • Sculpting: 9/10
  • Mould: 9/10
Officer with Kepi (GW28-1107a)
I gave the pose quality high marks because the poses are believable and don't include anything overly dramatic or heroic except maybe the above Officer. Then again, I am sure gentleman of this period loved to point with their swords during a charge. One of my favorite poses is just a simple Carabinier racking the bolt of his Mauser M1889. The pose number could always be better to me as I like a wide variety of poses (not just 5) but for me to give an 8 out of 10 is a high mark. As for the mould, I subtracted just one point because you do have some standard flash to clean off. Let me be clear, a 10 would be absolutely no flash to clean as the manufacturer did it for you. I used to work for a pewtersmith who made us do this and our customers also paid a higher price for it. Brigade Models did a pretty good job cleaning these off but I still needed about 45 minutes to clean them all.

“A people that defends its existence cannot die.” - King Albert I of Belgium
Next time I will be reviewing the Infantry MG Dogcart (GW28-1131) and Carabinier Maxim Machine Gun Team (GW28-1110). I should also be reviewing Renegade's French Fusiliers-Marin when they arrive shortly.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A 2nd Very American Civil War!

I recently stumbled across a Kickstarter Project called "1933: A Nation Divided" over at The Miniatures Page. As a huge fan of alternate history, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to help fund this very interesting story. Personally, I can't wait to paint up some Constitutional Militia and Marines.


If you are interested, stop over at their Kickstarter to help fund it or their Facebook to show support.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Miniatures in Progress

I've always wanted to make a miniatures blog but only recently have I felt my painting has gotten decent enough (and I say that lightly) to even want to show off my work. I hope to do as many of my other favorite wargaming blogs do and make this site one with reviews, tips, and uniform discussion.

For now, here are some of the projects I currently have on my work bench. The first army I am currently painting is an early ACW Confederate army in 10mm based on 1x1 inch MDF for Sam Mustafa's fantastically written Longstreet rules. I've played many of Sam's games and there have been many I liked and only really one I did not (Maurice). But Longstreet has captured me like none of his other rules as I feel it has truly captured the feel of the Civil War in miniature. This is also my first time painting 10mm figures and while I have found it extremely frustrating at times on my eyes, it has also been a lot faster. For my figures, I went with Pendraken's ACW line which are, in my opinion, the best 10mm out there.

10mm Confederates by Pendraken
The second project I am working on is a 15mm Tudor Army of Henry VIII. Whereas I only just started the Confederates above, my Tudor Army is almost complete. I have only a single unit of Landsknechte to paint but I have just been trying to find a little more inspiration to finish those colorful fellows. I've based my figures for use in both DBA and Impetus but Impetus will likely end up being my primary rules. When I finish those Landsknechte, I'll be sure to post more pictures.

15mm Border Reivers by Freikorp15
I hope you enjoyed the preview of what is on my painting table and will hang around for more. Like most wargamers, I have a closet full of lead but little time to finish it all. My future projects include 28mm WW1 Belgians and a 15mm zombie horde.