Saturday, 10 February 2018

Vineyard Test Piece

I've wanted to make a little vineyard for Peninsular battlefields for a while but with modelling projects I often like to make a test piece before launching a bigger effort. Anyway, here it is.

The figure is not very Napoleonic but he was very conveniently available! In the pics below you can hopefully see that I made the frame from a kebab stick held between two upright off-cuts of MDF which are glued to a strip of plasticard.

The anchor cables at each end are simply thin bits of electrical wiring.

The vines are more pieces of wire folded over the stick and twisted to look like gnarly vine stems.

The base was sanded and the whole lot painted in a dusty brown/sand/cream scheme. The vines were painted in a much darker brown. Then I glued small pieces of Woodland Scenics clump foliage along the entire stick. I aimed for a slightly irregular look. This piece is about 6 inches long. The 'full' vineyard will have 8 to 10 inch sections, probably half a dozen. I think for the next pieces I'll add a little textured paint to the vine stems to make them look less wiry and more gnarly. I reckon some of Colin's pantile walling would look good with them too :o)

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Bolt Action with Orange Dave

A change is as good as a rest - or so the saying goes... It's been all Sharp Practice here on the table recently so Orange Dave and I decided to have a big(ish) game of Bolt Action. It's 1500pts per side, so fairly busy for my little 6 x 4 table. We agreed to play the mission "Top Secret". The wrecked 251 is in the centre of the table and contains a dead senior German officer with a bundle of very interesting papers, maps, etc. Here's a couple of pics I took whilst awaiting Dave's arrival (thanks to all my FB chums for the kind words when I posted these on Saturday afternoon).

Those pics weren't too bad, but I must apologise for some of the rest of the photos as they're not as good as I'd hoped. The lighting in my lounge plays havoc with my camera.

For this scenario all troops begin the game as reserves but can deploy from turn 1, following a successful Commad check. My two platoons gave me a total of five Grenadier squads (4 regulars and 1 veteran) and the scenario states that only infantry can claim and carry the objective, so I pushed as many chaps towards the objective as I could.
There's another German squad out of shot to the left... Get the objective!
In the pic above you can see that Dave has a Churchill. Seeing this I deployed my own armour (Panzer IV and a Stug) as soon as I could.

Here are a couple of shots of Dave's line. He also has two tanks (partnered by two Bren carriers) along with plenty of infantry behind those hedges.

Turn two and first dice out of the bag is a German dice. I push my Stug around the farmhouse where it has a good line of sight to the flank of the Churchill... Bang! A lucky shot causes maximum damage and the great armoured beast brews up spectacularly!

In the centre I push my men (perhaps somewhat recklessly) forward to grab the secret papers. Dave is a little more cautious, using the the farmhouse as good cover. His shooting really hammers the lead German squad who take several casualties and accumulate 4 pins. Ouch!
The Germans are almost there!

On the British left flank, a shot from Dave's Stuart bounces off the Panzer IV's formidable front armour. In return the Panzer IV takes out the Bren which had moved up to screen the allied tank.
Tank "ping-pong"

Turn three saw the Germans get closer still to the 251, but the closest squad was just too shot up to get moving. Two other squads are now poised to jump over the orchard wall and get the secret dossier.
Dave has brought on a truck full of angry Kiwi nutters. Best try to keep them at arm's length! How many times have my poor Germans been shredded by those fearsome veteran antipodean soldiers. In this turn Dave also calls in the artillery support. Now why did I put all those chaps in one place...?

Turn four and "Boom!" in comes the allied artillery. The marker is the skull token at the base of the tree in the pic below. Mercifully Dave rolls a 1 for the D6+6" radius. The kubelwagen and the CO (my planned "snatch squad" to get the dossier off table asap) take direct hits and are obliterated whilst the squads and the tank pick up a heap of pins.
As turn four ends the situation (see pic below) is getting pretty chaotic. The Kiwis have de-bussed, the Stug blasted them (to almost no effect), the badly pinned Grenadier squad passed its morale check and reached the objective. Plus another squad has moved up the road to try to help. Across the table troops converge on the centre!

Turn five starts in fine style. As with turns 2, 3 and 4 there was quite a bit of tension as to which side's dice would be first out of the bag. I *really* needed the first dice so as to get my (still rather badly pinned) squad away safely from the wreck with a firm grip on the secret papers. To my delight it was a black dice... I grabbed 2D6 feeling confident that my chaps, with their tails up, would smartly bring the papers back to German lines... I rolled ... two sixes, FUBAR!

The next pic (with flash due to the shonky lighting in my lounge) shows that the squad decided to leg it as fast as they could - which wasn't very fast as they were in a orchard which we played as light cover and no running. Dave could sense that the squad was still within reach of his Maori-turbo-nutters.

The next dice was also German so I moved the remains of the other squad in the orchard forward to try to hold off the Kiwis but, with their blood boiling, they tore over the wall and slaughtered my Grenadiers, consolidating to a point just behind the fleeing Germans carrying the papers. I cannot tell you how much drama and fun this was creating for us as players!

Turn five ends with the Stug chasing the the Kiwis through the orchard but again barely doing any damage with its MG42, and the Kiwis hot on the heels of the fleeing Germans.

Turn six ... more "first dice" drama and again the Germans get the first dice so I manage to activate the still pinned squad to carry the papers just a little further to safety. The Kiwis have to charge the Officer who has bravely (madly?) stepped forward to try to save his men.

As expected there is another one-sided slaughter and again those angry Maoris consolidated right on to the heels of the Germans.

At the end of turn six we rolled for turn seven and the dice decreed it was game over. Officially a draw then.

But we couldn't stop there!

Turn seven and yet another German dice comes out first! Another morale check and only two pins this time ... but that was it for the Germans as they failed and went to ground. The Maoris closed in and tore them to shreds.

What a game! Full of drama, tension, comedy, heroism and some really cinematic moments. Dave is always a first class gentleman-wargamer, so it was a pleasure to set this game up and play. Thanks matey!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sharp Practice Morale Tracker

In Sharp Practice it's vital to track the morale of your force and that of your opponent's. Thankfully Charlie Foxtrot Models make an excellent little item that's perfect for the job.

It starts out as plain laser-cut MDF but I decided to give it a bit of a makeover. I sprayed it white and picked out the letters and numbers with black. I used the same recipe as the basing for my AWI models. The flag tokens are just 25mm bases on to which I've glued some printed and trimmed flags.

Get yours here! That's a £1 well spent I reckon :o)

You can also see my interim deployment points. These are just slightly larger versions of the morale tokens. I'll eventually make some nice little dioramas with spare models or scenic items but they'll do for now whilst I concentrate on getting the troops painted.

BTW, these were (shamelessly) copied from an ACW example I saw on the FB group by David Robotham. Thanks mate!

In other news... Chum Colin got these splendid little resin items (Grand Manner) for Chum Paul.

Guess who Paul asked to paint them? Look out for them in a future blog post.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Scenery for Sharp Practice

I've been busily painting a couple of items for chums Colin and Paul. Both kits are from Grand Manner and whilst they needed quite a bit of trimming and cleaning, I'd still thoroughly recommend them. Colin has Bavarians and Russians for Sharp Practice so GM's Eastern European Covered Well seemed ideal. Sources of water on the table are sometimes quite handy in SP, for example troops might get fouled barrels.

The dog is from Colonel Bill's Caught Short pack. The barrels are from Bad Squiddo Games.

Paul has the traditional British and French for the Peninsular theatre. Regular readers (thank you!) will have already seen the church and grain store, so I thought GM's Olive Press would come in handy.

I've really enjoyed painting these kits and look forward to many games with them. Thanks for the superb weekend chaps! :o)

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Scenic Tokens for Sharp Practice

I like my gaming tokens to match the units. Shiny pieces of plastic are all well and good but I do find that they rather spoil the look of a good table. So I made these Present!, Uncontrolled and Reload! tokens for Sharp Practice.

They are simply Charlie Foxtrot mdf bases (40mm x 20mm) on to which I've glued the printed words. I've roughly torn the edges of the paper as I thought an irregular edge would look better.

Next, just apply your usual basing methods.

Here, it's sand and grit painted with Americana Honey Brown followed by highlights of VMC Dark Sand (847) then Foundry Boneyard light. Then out comes the box of grass and foliage, etc.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

First Painted Figures for Sharp Practice

The Redcoats are marching to war!

Yes, I've pulled my finger out and painted some figures for Sharp Practice. Award winners they ain't, because I've made the conscious decision to paint them up "fairly quickly". As long as they look good at three feet then that's good enough for me. One of the big stumbling blocks for me back in my "Napoleonic days" was getting to caught up with the details on each individual figure which slowed painting to a crawl. Plus it just made things hard work.

Here's the painting recipe if you're interested. I started with a light-to-mid grey primer. The flesh is Foundry Flesh mid, the red is Foundry Bright Red shade, the musket is GW Scorched Brown. Next, give these areas a wash of slightly thinned Agrax Earthshade wash. When that's dry highlight the flesh with the mid and light colours from the triad. The red gets the base colour again, leaving some shaded areas. The musket is highlighted with Foundry Conker Brown shade. Here's the result so far.

The white areas, trousers, waistcoat, straps, etc are the key to getting these looking right so a bit of layering is worth the effort I reckon. A grey primer helps here as the next layer is Foundry Slate Grey light, but try to leave a little of the primer showing.

Next comes Foundry Austrian Grey mid. I don't worry too much about any splodges of paint that escape the edges (particularly the straps) as I'll tidy it all up with black later.

And finally the white.

The only bits left still to paint (hat, boots, ammo pouch, etc) are now covered in GW Black followed by highlights of Foundry Charcoal mid. The cuffs and lapels get a few dots of white for the lacing. Give the edge of the hat a little white too. The barrel and bayonet are painted with GW Leadbelcher.

The result is little untidy in places but I'm happy with them. Three groups of eight all ranked up on the table will look good I think.
The bases are UK 1p as they'll go in Charlie Foxtrot movement trays. They've been given a coat of fine sand then painted with Americana Honey Brown, VMC 847 Dark Sand then Foundry Boneyard light. I'll add some static grass, etc at a later point, probably when I do the trays.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Spanish Church and Grain Store (Charlie Foxtrot Models)

These Charlie Foxtrot Pantile models are, in my humble opinion, truly superb scenery kits and really evoke the feel of a Peninsular battlefield.

A while back chum Paul showed me some lovely Grand Manner resin buildings suitable for the Napoleonic Peninsular era. As I love painting scenery (and Paul's not so keen) I offered to paint them for him. He was so pleased with the result that he asked me if I'd also do a couple of Colin's kits for him :-D  They're such lovely buildings, how could I say no? I thought I'd share the fun in a blog article. I hope you find it interesting. Before I get started here's a few more pics of the completed models.

The Church. Astonishingly similar to the one featured in Sharpe's Rifles ... ;o)

The Grain Store.

I've blogged several times about building MDF kits so I'll skip that part. Here they are built and ready to go! Note the superb resin roof sections - the casting was pretty much perfect.

One point worth noting about the church kit is that the bell needs to attached during the build - you cannot easily add the supporting post after building the top section. So... I painted the bell first. Black undercoat, followed by a heavy dry-brush of GW Tin Bitz (any dark Bronze/Copper would do) then a very light dry-brush of a GW Gehenna's Gold.

The next step is to give the buildings a good base texture using some general purpose filler. You might need to add a tiny bit of water. I applied this liberally using my finger. The aim is a rough, irregular look. Also, I added few bricks using some rectangles of thin card just to hint at the bricks and blocks that would be used for buildings like this. Keep the filler away from the finer laser-etched brickwork around the doors etc.

Next, a finer layer of texturing is added using fine texture masonry paint. It's light brown so you can easily see where I've applied it. This is also used to texture the brickwork around the doors.

The last bit of texturing is done using some basing sand. Add a few patches here and there. Don't forget to texture the gable ends of the resin roof too.

You may to want use a little bit of masonry paint to blend the edges of the sand, it's up to you, but I thought it gave a better looking result.

For the Grain Store kit I decided to only use the masonry paint for texture as the lines in the stonework are quite fine. The kit also includes some resin 'mushrooms' that the building sits atop. These were glued together using Araldite.

Here are the paints I'll be using for this project.
* GW Primer Spray
* Americana Honey Brown
* Americana Fawn
* VMC 847 Dark Sand
* Foundry Boneyard Light 9C

Give the buildings a good coat of Honey Brown followed by a heavy dry-brush of Fawn.

Next, highlight with the Dark Sand (if you can find a suitable alternative in a tester pot from your DIY store then that will save you a bit of money). In the pic below I've only highlighted the upper floor of the church so you can more easily see the contrast.

On to the final highlight, Boneyard light. Again the pic shows just the upper floor for contrast.

Here's the grain store following the same recipe.

Here's the base for the grain store. The mushroom discs have yet to be glued in place. Everything has been textured and painted as described before. The base is painted using Honey Brown, then Harvest Field tester and finally Beach Resort tester (from B&Q).

After looking at the church in daylight I decided to add a few darker areas using GW Agrax Earthshade wash.

Whilst I was pleased with the result of the wash, I felt it needed blending in a bit. So I used Dark Sand and then Boneyard light to feather the edges of the washed areas.

The various items of woodwork, doors, etc were painted as follows. Prime with GW Black Spray, tidy up with GW Black paint then Americana Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Honey Brown. Pick out the metal details with black.

The grain store base needs a little decoration. The flock is Colonel Bill's Late Summer static grass, this has a slightly dried out look so it's ideal for arid bases. Add a few light brown tufts and a bit of clump foliage. It's worth taking the time to pick out any larger rocks and stones in Foundry Boneyard light or even pure white.

The roof sections are next. Prime the surface with your favourite light coloured primer then apply a couple of coats of terracotta. Here I've used Dulux tester pot mix "Sumatran Melody 2" very kindly given to me by Colin :o)

Next, apply a wash of thinned GW Agrax Earthshade and allow to dry completely. Give the roof a good dry-brush of the original base colour followed by another highlight of a very light terracotta. I used Dulux "Sumatran Melody 3".

Here are the completed models! I'm really pleased with them, and more importantly, so is Paul.

The full collection including the small resin house and resin windmill, both from Grand Manner.

I'm looking forward to many hours of happy gaming with Paul and friends using this scenery.