Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sarissa's Lower Class Shop block kit

          Otherwise known as Everything wrong with Sarissa kits in general, plus new problems unseen before this kit.  Allow me to start this review by stating that I am not the high quality modeler/constructor that Anton is.  As you peruse this review any and all "quality" that the reader finds in this kit have probably come from my pathetic efforts.  This kit is GARBAGE, or as the Brits would say "a Tip". Read on at your own peril! 

     You were warned! 

     The kit itself is very simple. 

the kit contents

     There are three sheets of MDF.  Once again it is the usual 2mm stuff that is claimed as 3mm.  Really only about 2 and a half sheets are used for the kit the remaining sheet is largely wasted due to odd laser cut angles.  There is also a fourth sheet.  I will call it 'paper'.  Sarissa does not refer to it as anything.  The sheet is visible at the top of the above picture.  basically it is about as think as card stock paper or a bit thicker, but not a millimeter.  It is floppy like paper and a GRAVE disappointment.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Arthur and the Gang

     So, I finally finished the Gripping Beast Late Roman Infantry that I have been puttering away at for the last couple of weeks. I think they turned out rather well ( aside from the hand-painted shields, that is). Now all I have to do is build and paint the twenty-one cavalry  from the two boxed of Dark Ages Cavalry that I bought and round up some Welsh-looking lads to use a skirmishers and I will have my little army ready for battle.

a solid all-infantry force, but I need some cavalry and light troops 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Sunday Post ... Perfect for a little religion

Well, I finally got the Temple finished.  The painting adds considerably to the production time as each side needs to dry before the next can be painted.  However, even my wife, who has nothing to do with gaming and an art background, was impressed with how this one looks when done. 

If you have been reading along with these reviews this kit is once again made out of 2mm mdf (the manufacturer claims 3mm, but that claim does not measure up!).  However, due to the significant amount of layering that goes on in this construction it has a much more solid feel when done.  This temple feels like it will survive the rigors of ham handed gamers!   

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A visit to Menards

     Home Improvement and Builder's supply places are one of my favorite locations to find unusual accessories for wargaming. A while back I discovered Eco-Rug which makes a great table surface and I had some fun playing with that. A recent trip to Menards ( a Big-box home improvement store rapidly spreading across the upper Midwest of the USA) saw me finding several items of interest.

this delightfully textured square of high density polystyrene is intended as a base for air-conditioning condensers, to me it looked like a great base to fight the newly popular mirco-skirmish games (Frostgrave et al) on, in real,life it is a darker gray

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Some Paint on my Post-Roman Britons

     Having returned from vacation I spent a few hours getting a splash of paint on the Gripping Beast Late Roman Infantry. Slow going but they are turning out fairly well.

the white tunics are a relief from the Imperial red

Sunday, April 1, 2018

And Now we begin the Sarissa buildings

     While I await the Sarissa  storefront buildings I decided to start with some easy stuff.  So here I present the Bazaar section and the Slave market. 

      Now here is what a modern recreation of a Roman Market looked like

Monday, March 26, 2018

The last round of EAW buildings

     So here is a picture of the remains of an actual building in Pompeii.

     It was probably at least three stories tall originally.  Notice the balcony built into the face of the building above the large store front doorway.  The last building I purchased from Empires At War is their Three story building with balcony. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Continuing efforts to fill those hills.

Onwards to the first of the more flat topped buildings.  These buildings do have a slope to their roofs so I will have to puzzle over how to correct that, but herewith the Coaching Inn and Two story house with balcony.  I also tried saving these pictures as 'medium' instead of 'original' so maybe that will deal with the photo size issues. 

Here is the Coaching Inn right out of the bag.  This one has a very innovating design element, so you have something to look forward to as you read further. 

Late Roman Infantry from Gripping Beast

     Not new, I know, but new to my workbench. These have been tempting me since they first came out. I have always had a soft-spot in my heart for Late Roman/Early Byzantine troops and these hit that spot dead-on. They also stoked the smoldering coals of my interest in Post-Roman Britain, the last vestiges of Romano-Celtic culture desperately trying to stave off the dark tide of ignorant pagan Saxons (yes, I am a fan of doomed causes). So now they are on the workbench getting painted, but that is an issue for a later post, today we look at the figures themselves.

the box, the artwork is clear and provides painting ideas without 
getting too "artsy" like the boxes from Fireforge

Friday, March 23, 2018

It takes a lot of Buildings to fill seven hills!

     So my Roman (actually Spanish according to the manufacturer) buildings have arrived and I decided I better get a building.

the finished product is quite lovely

     The majority of my buildings will be from a company called Empires at War (www.empiresatwar.co.uk hence forth 'EAW').  They have a wide range of 28mm buildings.  as well as 15mm, 10mm, and even 6mm; these come from a wide range of gaming epochs, Roman to sci/fi. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Gripping Beast Dark Ages Cavalry Kit Review

     It has been simply ages since I did a kit review, this is in part due to my life being invaded by the Castillo Project, but also in part due to my resolve not to buy more minis than I was painting (this has slowed purchases to an absolute crawl). Yet here I am with a new box of Gripping Beast Dark Age Cavalry in my hands, I suppose rules exist to guide rather than dictate.......


      As I indicated in earlier posts, I have long harbored a desire to build a Romano-British dark Ages Army. I resisted this for many reasons but found my resolve slipping when GB released their Late Roman Infantry a while back. Then I walked into Michigan Toy Soldier to find this beauty on the "New Items" shelf. The last shreds of my resistance fell away in an instant. I confess that I have always liked GB's plastic figures for their clean sculpting and realistic poses, the box was mine before I could think twice. Let's look inside, I am sure that you will be as pleased as I was.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Battlefields AAR

      I was occupied all morning in running a game but Zhodani Commando has filed an excellent report covering the convention. He also has some edifying thoughts about the hobby.

    Check out his report here

Monday, March 19, 2018

I am Arthur, King of the Britons.....

     OK, I couldn't resist the Monty Python reference. Sorry.

     Having survived the weekend from Hell (working 20 hrs of overtime, taking my wife to and from a dance convention, presenting the Castillo game at Pro or Con, and fetching my daughter from across town after a traffic accident) I decided to spend last night finishing my attempt to reproduce the Angus McBride artwork from the cover of Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars from Osprey's Man At Arms series. There are things that I am still not happy with, but I believe that I have captured some of the energy of the brilliant art of McBride.

certainly no match for the Grand Master McBride, 
but he will do nicely as the commander of my Post-Roman British army

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Drivers to your stations!

So here are the Drivers in their completed chariots.  I will take this in order of fan seating positions. 

Here we have the menacing driver in the first Blue chariot as completed by Anton. 

Housemartin's Turks

     They are ready, drop by and collect them any time.

Friday, March 16, 2018

One Last Shot!

     For the near future at least, I will be taking the Castillo game to Pro or Con this weekend. If you want to play get there in the morning and sign up as I will be mothballing this for a while. The logistics of moving a game with this much terrain is a little exhausting. I may (just may) take it to the con at Fort Meigs in May, but that is still up in the air.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Housemartin, Your Turkish Delight is Almost Ready

musketeers are converted by substituting a Wargames Factory 
surplus Lace wars musket for the halberd , per your request

Curse You Angus McBride!!!!!! (UPDATED)

     I know that it is poor form to speak ill of the dead, but this goes back many years. In 1984 Angus McBride's work for Osprey's Man-At-Arms series #154 Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars featured a stunning picture of McBride's reconstruction of what Arthur probably looked like in reality. The combination of subject matter and McBride's brilliant artistry left me wanting to build a Post-Roman British army with a model of the cover as my command stand. Having no one in my wargaming group that wanted to undertake building a Saxon army the idea languished for decades, rekindled every time I happened to see the cover as I was in my library. Look at the picture below to see what I am going on about.

there is a strong likelihood that I would kill to get the original artwork

CinyCon report

     My old friend Kevin has a report on his adventures in Ohio at CinyCon posted on his blog Zhodani Commando , he has pictures of games played there. Of particular interest are his lovely Samurai figures, more of which are visible if you scroll down through his postings. Kev is quite a masterful artist.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

This Circus is No Laughing Matter (Updated)

     Having almost finished the racetrack I decided to get started on the spina; the "island" in the middle of the raceway that carried some odd temples and such. The real spine is much longer and narrower (as is the real raceway) but this had to fit on a 6'x4' table so concessions had to be made. The hardest part of all this is that every picture I found of the Circus Maximus showed a different arrangement of decorative structures arranged along the spina. In the end I gave up and just decided to add such representative decorations as I could manage in an evening.

the track with a second coat of paint, 
this was a much lighter version of my favorite color "mistint"

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Off to the Circus!

   And not the Barnum & Bailey sort either! 

      Housemartin has pulled one last con on me; he needs a place for those chariots (with the "oh-so-lovely" charioteers) to run their races. He sort of left that lying there and, being the twit that I am, I said that it would be dead easy to make a spina and then paint a track based on the board that he showed me. Thus I find myself painting a terrain mat to match the track that his boardgame came with. For all my complaining it is a simple matter as you can see below.

a 6" by 30" space in the center for the spina and a series of 4" wide pathways around it,
the first layer is in a darker shade, a lighter shade will highlight the track

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Housemartin's Arabs

   I started this project a long while back and was determined to complete it before moving on to other subjects. It took a fair bit of time but I have completed the Cavalry and the Arab Commander and his cohorts. Nothing great but they are off the workbench finally (all that remains are a couple of dozen Jannisaries).

the whole lot so far

Friday, February 23, 2018

No Biga deal

Time for the Quadriga ... Lets get this Circus underway. 

A Person of Significant Power

     Actually just a darned fine figure that I tried to paint well enough to honor the ultra-talented sculptor that made it. Brother Vinny makes a range of (rather pricey) resin models in 28mm. I don't know if they are intended for gaming or just display but I sure wish that I had the cash and painting-talent to have an army of these to call my own. Housemartin had this figure in with a few others that he had left lying about, it didn't look like much until I hit it with a coat of white primer; then it left me a bit stunned. Simply superb. Like I said I did my best but I'm not sure my brush is up to this level of sculpting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Charioteers completed

     Having a few moments to myself I threw a quick wash on the charioteers. I think it helps the look a fair bit. Now they are finished and I can get back to the Arab Cavalry that were so rudely interrupted by this little side job.


Monday, February 19, 2018

The Housemartin Speaks, Chariot Racing

     Well, since Anton got all excited and started cranking off the drivers, I decided I should get my act together and get the rest of the circus under way. 

     The company 4Ground makes all manner of interesting things out of laser cut MDF in various scales.  In what they call 28mm (it might be 20mm) they happen to have a series of Chariots.  There is no particular rhyme or reason to the range as far as I can see consisting of Egyptian and Celtic, although both can be use for other groups with a little conversion work. 

     So in looking around I could only find the Egyptian chariots on offer from a company in Italy and they only had three sets (2 chariots to a pack) in stock so I ordered all three and picked up a pack of Celtic chariots from a U.S. Supplier.  Both were companies on Ebay and each pack came in for around 6 dollars including postage.  So 24$ total bought me the collection.  Herewith the assembly. 

       This is the Egyptian package out of the bag.  Plus my friend Elmer.  With a little patience it goes together easily enough. 

A Spot of Paint

      I had intended to make The Housemartin paint the charioteers that I had assembled for him. They looked so sad, sitting there on the workbench all naked and everything. I figured that I would just prime them when this happened.........at least they are finished now.

the Housemartin tells me that the "teams" were color-coded 
and fans went so far as to paint themselves to match, much like modern football fans 
thus you see the colors of the famous Crayola "basic eight" 
three primary colors, three secondary colors, plus black and white

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum...

     The Housemartin has long played upon my gadfly attention span to goad me into projects for him. His latest triumph was to talk up a set of Roman Chariot Racing rules and get me interested. I should have seen the other shoe waiting to drop........ nobody makes 28mm charioteers (or so I've been told). Could I be so kind as to suggest a source? He knows very well my enthusiasm for plastic figures and is also well aware of the vast pile of the same in my "toy room". Of course I suggested that it would be a simple thing to build some out of the many Classical period figures that I have, and he only needed eight of them (all different; if you can).

   Well I spent an hour after work knocking these little fellows together out of some Wargame Factory boxes I had lying about.

the lead, umm, plastic pile

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Second Look at Flintcon

     My Co-Editor Justice&Rule acted as a roving reporter during Flintcon. As such he captured pictures of many more games than I did. He has uploaded them to the blog. Unfortunately I cannot provide commentary as I was busy running a game myself. This is very picture-intensive, it might take a minute to load. If anyone who was running a game, or played in one, would like to provide info please do so in the Comments section and I will attach their note to the corresponding photos.

 while the much-vaunted snowstorm failed to materialize
the media hysteria surrounding the non-event probably depressed attendance

Friday, February 9, 2018

And finally; Something different

    The Housemartin long ago learned that if you leave things on my workbench they might just catch my eye and end up painted. Exactly such a thing happened last night. Long ago I assembled some Gripping Beast plastic Arab Cavalry for T.H. and (despite repeated reminders) he has failed to take them home and paint them. I had spent an hour or so cleaning up my newly aquired western town buildings when I got the itch to pick up a paintbrush (mind you, this doesn't happen often so I never let the urge pass). I cast around for something primed and ready to go and my eye caught on the cavalry. They are delightful figures so I did some quick research and got started. A couple of hours later I had this:

a few infantry crept into the process as well

        They have another couple of hours to go before they are ready for the tabletop. It was fun painting something that wasn't uniform for a change. Combined with the Arab foot that I did a while back T.H. has the basis for a Saga or Pikeman's Lament force.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A First Look at Flintcon

     I just returned from Flintcon, despite dire warnings of an approaching Snowmageddon R.U.P. drove and we made the trip in record time (BTW weathermen.......3" of snow is just another day here in Michigan, stop blowing things out of proportion!). I ran the Siege of Saint Augustine again and had a jolly time doing so, the players seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

     Between arriving and setting up my game I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of games in progress and blow my entire budget on two purchases. Apologies to anyone  running a game that I missed. J&R was roving the hall throughout the convention and will certainty be posting a more comprehensive report soon. But, for now, here are the photos.

anybody that knows me is aware that I'm a sucker for any game with jungles and/or steamboats, 
this one had BOTH, and some very nice water effects as well

Friday, February 2, 2018

Differences and Distinctions

     Despite being quite happy with my model starfort which I refer to as the Castillo de San Marcos I must confess that it is not a proper scale model.  Concessions to playability have been forced on me by the dimensions of the thing and the reach of the human arm. This is combined with the fact that, over the centuries, the fort itself has changed appearance. I must also confess that certain mistakes have crept in as well.

     In the spirit of full-disclosure I will now enumerate the differences that I am aware of between the model and the real thing.

the source of all this trouble; the real thing, courtesy GoogleEarth

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pictures from Spartacon

      While I was busy playing a game in the first round and running a game in the second J&R had a chance to prowl the hall at the Lansing Center, he took the opportunity to record many of the games on display there. Although I had but a cursory glance at the tables my impression was that the quality of the visual impact of the games was impressive. All games were participation games and everybody seemed to be having a jolly time. I am trying to attribute the games to the presenter and identify the rules used, please correct me if I am wrong!

Paul Makoski gave us the simply stunning Samurai Skirmish game

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Note For The Housemartin

   As you are considering ways to spend your twenty bonus points this year in Nuelandia take a look at this gem (you have to check in the left-hand side bar and click on "Alexander Bondar, it the the bottom entry in his list of paper models) on the Landships II page. A lovely paper model that is also a free download; what could be better?

     Everybody else should take a look as well, this site is truly a labor of love by the people that put it together, and a fountain of information on the early days of armored warfare.

And Now For Something Completely Different.....

    I know that for the last few months I have been rather fixated on a certain project. That is done now and there will be few further references to it. I pledge myself to get back to basics, like wasting time on the internet looking for cool stuff! It didn't take me long to find this little gem; Michas Figuren. It is in German so I haven't a clue what he is writing but I know a pretty picture when I see one, and his blog is filled with things like this;

I just love pretty flags!

    So, once you are done saying "Wow! That is lovely", take a little stroll over to his blog, it is time well spent

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Castillo Besieged! Part II

With the scene set and the players briefed we began play.

the day broke to the sounds of musketry and shouting as the Pirates had found and looted the farmer's cottages south of the town, with this short warning the Governor roused his men and prepared for a desperate defense, to his dismay the gunners were overrun before they could fire the cannon (Tom from Texas was the Spanish Governor and he was plagued all day by the most horrific Command dice in the history of wargaming)

Castillo Besieged ! Part I

     After all the drama and effort it was finally time to actually play a game using the Castillo. The fine folks at Spartacon had been kind enough to allow me to take up a large chunk of their space and set up the scenario. Beneath it all were four 30"x96" banquet tables arranged as you see below;

Friday, January 19, 2018

Castillo in a Crate

     It turns out that the warping (and attendant framing that was required to straighten it) was a blessing in disguise. I had originally devised a complicated  way of stacking the parts of the model for transport. With the presence of the wooden frame at the edge of each panel a far simpler (and sturdier) method presented itself. Make the baseboards into the sides of their own crate! see below:

with the simple addition of  a small sheet of thin plywood on each side
 the baseboard become part of their own crate
yes, I think that I am a genius!

the whole shooting match crated up and ready for deployment

Frantic Last Minute Stuff

     Having effectively lost two days I found myself scurrying to get things in order for Spartacon. I realized that I had not painted the blue board paves on the inside of the castle, nor had I double-checked the supply of buildings to represent Old Saint Augustine......and I still needed to round up dice, rulers and other game impedimentia. Then I noticed that the sloping ground I had started yesterday had not finished flocking itself.

but, before flocking, they needed to be drybrushed  an hilariously named (Cream in My Coffee,
 who names paint anyways?) tester pot from Lowe's provided a nice light beige color

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just When I Thought It Was Safe To Go To The Convention..

     I was haunted by a dark thought as I finished the last post; it all seemed to easy, things were going too well. I dismissed it as paranoia. How wrong I was!  Somewhere along the line, as I was applying additional groundwork to the bases it seems as if I overdid it. Yesterday I awoke to find the bases had warped like potato chips, the thin plywood allowing the moisture to penetrate too deeply and, as it dried, shrink and deform the bases. There was nothing for it but to run to the builder's supply and grab a bunch of lumber and build frames to attach the bases to. This, of course, meant that the model now sat well above the surface of the game table and thus necessitated sloping terrain to help blend the joint. So, instead of having time to fine tune the scenario I find myself rushing to finish terrain. I type this as paint dries....

the worst part is that the framing has doubled the weight 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Last Minute Details

     Having finished the vast bulk of the fortress I got to work on the myriad of details that are still outstanding. First I made sure that my supply of cannon were painted and ready for action, then I began taking care of the little details on the fortress, such as the paved walkway around the interior; this proved to be far more work than I had anticipated (of course).

I was going to make some of them iron, but I like the bronze thing too much

oh look, hundreds of tiny blue-board bricks,
 I should have just used some embossed paper 
live and learn, they say

     Next on the list is a drawbridge from the ravelin to the ramp, followed by organizing the troops and packing everything up for transport.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

So Close I Can Almost Taste It!

     I got the first few stages of groundwork done, all the base colors and the the first round of flocking are finished. I am almost finished with the model. This is the part of the project that brings into focus all of the little things that still need to be completed; cannons, game support items, pre-packing the minis, rules, dice, information cards....

..........but I couldn't resist putting it all together to see what it looks like.  So here it is in all its glory!

just for safety's sake I think that I will trim back the inside corner of the bastion bases

Monday, January 8, 2018

One fourth of the Castillo completed!

    I have been pounding away at the Castillo model. Hours of intensive work have rewarded me with the completion of one fourth of the model; a wall, a bastion and assorted outworks. With these I have all of the complicated stuff done (and thus hope that things will move along a bit quicker). The whole doors and windows thing is a time-sink but there is no going back now. With that out of the way behold the noble fortress! (or a quarter of it anyways)

the moat will be painted a different color from the rest of the ground-work 
as a reminder to players that it is there and poses an obstacle

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Paint At Last!!! (Updated)

   After an almost-all-nighter I have finished priming and detailing the Castillo. I got the sand set on the base=boards and am finally ready to start the job of drybrushing the white stucco that covered the real fortress. I did a few test-cases; comment, suggestions and ideas are all welcome.

the test group; the stairway, a wall section, the ramp up to the ravelin and two garitas

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Gates and Drawbridges

   The ravelin simply looked too plain, I had to add detail (even if means losing sleep to be ready in time for Spartacon). I dug out my photo-survey of the real Castillo and noticed that the gateway/drawbridge of the Castillo are done in a fancy style. I decided to up my game and add some nifty details to really engage the eye.

this all started because I get bored watching paint dry 
that is just a primer coat, the Castillo will not be baby-puke brown!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Ravelin (Updated)

    Now that the hustle and bustle of the Holidays have passed I am working feverishly on the Castillo with one eye on the clock. Less than three weeks remain before the unveiling at Spartacon and I realized that I had not yet built the ravelin. For those not conversant with Vauban's method of fortification the ravelin was a smaller bastion-shaped out work that guarded the approach to the main gate. Ir was also often used as an additional layer of defense in front of the other sections of wall too. Happily for me the Castillo has but one and it stands on the south side of the fortress facing the town and covering the main gateway of the fortress.

 a photo of the actual Castillo de San Marcos