Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Mad Padre in the Header

You may have noticed that there is a second man of cloth on the header of this blog. The bellicose clergyman on the left is the Vicar from Jackboots on Whitehall, a British film of 2011 that has been described as Team America: World Police meets Inglorious Basterds. It's puppet mayhem an epic scale and filled in glorious Panzervision, not nearly as foul and malodorous as Team America though it is rather cheeky. Wargamers will enjoy the high quality of modelmaking and the endearing take on action figures. I quite enjoyed the gun toting Vicar, as you might imagine. A mad padre after my own heart.

I recommend it highly, if you can get a hold of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finished Federals

Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs have been permanently camped on my painting table of late. While there are plenty more ready to move in, and several boxes of Perry Brothers ACW cavalry in progress, I did manage to move some fellows on their way to the front this past weekend. Specifically, the Bluffsburg front, because most of the figures shown below are needed to augment the ongoing campaign I'm supposedly running (players to Mad Padre - what's going on? yes, I hear you, lads. MTF).

Here's what I got based and finished. A mix of Old Glory, almost the last of their Iron Brigade pack, a blister of Wargames Foundry Hardee Hat command figures, a few Redoubt stragglers, and the first of a pack of Perry Bros miniatures I bought some years ago. I'm not very disciplined in painting a single purchase of figures all at one time, they kind of dribble their way to the gaming table. There are more that are finished, but for one reason or other aren't yet based.

And yes, those are the flocked splitrail fences mentioned in a previous post here. Those are some gigantic fencerail sections, aren't they? They look more 54mm than 28mm. At least they will supply a LOT of wood for coffee boiling.

I am quite happy with the way these fellows turned out. With the exception of the soldier porting arms on the left, they are from the Foundry Hardee Hat Command pack. And yes, they have eyes. I resolved to give everyone eyes this time. In some cases, alarming raccoon eyes.

I'm so inordinately proud of this gentleman that I gave him two pictures. He is off to Bluffsburg to play the role of Col. Ulrich Von Daniken, an especially energetic and fierce brigade commander in that campaign. Proof that a miniature, like myself, can look handsome and dashing with (prematurely) silver hair.

Another character from the Bluffsburg campaign and another dashing brigade commander, Col. Andrew Hemmings. I really like the dynamic pose of this figure, and can see him getting a lot of use.

Sgt. Allan Boscombe, who will be a dashing Sgt. Major in many skirmish actions to come.

This fellow is a perfect picket or sentry for skirmish level games. I hope he survives. The odds aren't good for sentries in skirmish games. Especially when they've been hitting the mascara.

Sgt. Boscombe leads some Redoubt and Old Glory figures into battle.

Another Foundry command figure, the intrepid and very blond Capt. Christopher Frederiksen, leads more Old Glory figures forward. The chap on the right is in shock. "Damn, Perkins owed me money!"

Some of my first Perry Plastics get ready to fire. I used the slouch hat heads for them and gave them all black hats. They'll do either to supplement my Iron Brigade or do as Western federals - I like the Union black slouch hat look.

So I tried some new things with skin shading, eyes, and drybrushing here and overall I'm happy with the results. Some of these figures are already in battle somewhere near Bluffsburg, but as some of the players may be reading this post, I can't say more for now. One day that story will be told here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trajan: A Boardgame About Ancient Rome

I spent yesterday evening with the local boardgaming group, a very pleasant group of folks who are devotees of some very interesting and off the beaten path games. This blog is not usually about boardgames, but it was an interesting game and I thought it was worth describing.

Last night I had the chance to play the game Trajan with two other folks. Trajan is published by German publisher Ammonit Spiele, and is designed by Stefan Feld. Trajan is a development game in which players engage in construction, commerce, politics and military activity in order to score points. There are several clever mechanisms in the game, including an ancient system called a mancala to determine how a player's actions are determined each turn.

Here are some pictures I took last night:

And here's a YouTube video of the game being explained.

I found Trajan fairly easy to learn and within a few turns I felt I had the basics. I opted for a military based strategy, and while that netted me a good number of points, the other two players seemed to do better with commerce and building strategies.

The game components and artwork are beautifully designed and quite attractive. The game went by fairly quickly - we finished it in two hours. As a strategy game it is simple and challenging. As a teaching tool, I am not sure it offers a lot of education about ancient Rome. If you know about the period you will appreciate the atmosphere of the game, but you could play it as a strategy game without knowing the first thing about who Trajan was. Still it is a fun and clever game, and I would certainly play it again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Price Scenery?

I've been having a debate with myself (I recommend this practice, as one is always guaranteed an excellent and stimulating opponent) as to the merits of splashing out large sums on scenery for the wargames table.

A case in point are these river sections I bought myself as a birthday present last year. I bought a large bag of JR Miniatures 28mm rubber river sections from the local hobby store in Calgary, Sentry Box West. I think the price tag was about $70 Cdn and I thought it seemed a good price to get a decent sized water feature on the wargames table. I believe it's item 3224 in the JR Miniatures catalogue if you're interested.

Previously I had experimented with making my own river sections using some sort of clear polymer caulking material that I had bought from a building supply store, Home Depot, for one tenth of the cost of the JR product. The results of that effort can be seen here. I was somewhat satisfied with that experiment at the time, but was never sure how to paint it (green? blue?) so it didn't look like shiny plastic sitting on the table.

I think what swayed my thinking at Sentry Box West was that I have precious little time and would rather devote it to painting figures than to creating scenery. Besides, buying the river sections gave me an incentive to finish painting this bridge, also a JR Miniatures product, which I had bought on a previous trip to Calgary. The bridge is 15mm scale, intended for my WW2 collection. In that spirit, I grabbed two half-finished Staghounds from my painting table to illustrate the scale.

Around New Year's I took Mrs. Padre back to Calgary to shop at her favourite camera store, which, conveniently, is a few blocks from Sentry Box West. Leaving her to browse the tripods and filters, I dashed back to SBW and saw a JRM river section with a ford which I bought to expand my river system. A ford is always useful, and my get me to drag out my LOTR kit for a Fords of Isen scenario, with heroic Rohirrim holding the ford against the hordes of Sauron. Here are some LOTR stand ins.

So I was doing fine with my purchases and looking forward to getting them into a battle when I came across this post on Ross Mac's wonderful and well-visited blog, Battle Game of the Month. Yes, you guessed it, the "Bluegene River" is made of exactly that, old torn denim jean pant legs. Seeing Ross' pictures made me second-guess myself. Had I opted for an expensive and unnecessary purchas when, with a little audacity and imagination, I could have put down some old denim and said "voila, there's a river?"

I suppose it comes down to what we want to achieve. For me, after years of graduate school and clerical penury, I have some spare cash and the desire to make the wargaming table look pretty, something closer to the colour pictures one sees in the hobby magazines. Beung able to do something like that makes me happy. The table for the Plasterville Mills skirmish I blogged here in November is one of the nicest I've ever done. But that's me. A gamer like Ross, who I respect more than I can say, has his own style, something more consciously old school, perhaps, and that's the charm of his blog, because he achives that look consistently and does it well.

So perhaps the debate is settled for now. I will continue to do some scratch-built scenery (trees and hills, particularly), and buy some when it's pretty, and try not to feel too guily about it one way or the other. What about you, gentle reader? Do you have this debate with yourself? And if so, how do you resolve it?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Forks vs Feet - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Ed's note - I'm going to let his post remain here because it amuses me. It was intended for my other blog, what Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies once called "The God Blog". That blog is where I follow my other interests, including running. The post below got sent here because it was my first time experimenting with a blogging app for my iphone. During that experiment I discovered that trying to copy and paste links on an iphone is rubbish. - MP+

This archived piece from the Globe and Mail website on the "Forks vs Feet" debate conducted at the U of Ottawa last May just spurred my resolve to run more in 2012. Executive summary: the more you run, the more calories you burn. Diet alone won't make you thinner. This may not be news, but I found it helpful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just Finished: SS Mortar Platoon

Over Christmas break, in between painting ACW guys, I found the time to finish a project that has been languishing half finished for over a year. These chaps are from the Battlefront Miniatures 15mm late war German mortar platoon blister. There were several other fellows, riflemen and leaders, that will get based later. For now, these four bases will go to strengthen my 12th SS troopers, worthy opponents for my Canadians. They will also make a great incentive for me to break out my copy of Too Fat Lardies' I Ain't Been Shot Mum, Third Edition.

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