Featured

Some more Sci-fi and Mutant 1984 stuff

Lots of things going on at the moment but getting in the occasional session and have been doing a fair few things recently.

  • A dropship for the 28mm stuff the Little One and I are doing, and also a really exciting Space Bus on its way.
  • Some clutter for Urban Sci-Fi gaming
  • A few more things for the Mutant 1984 project

Dropship

Following from our two games so far with the Stargrave rules (we showed some pictures from one of the games here), the Little One and I felt the need to get some shuttles of dropship without breaking the bank and we found a nice model from Mantic Games (model here) that seemed to fit the bill – it sells for about £25 but we managed to get one for £20 including postage from Ebay, as usually there are some re-sellers that may sell it to you cheaper than buying directly from Mantic.

I spray painted the model with Silver paint and used a series of washes to get a dark green metal with grime look. The funnies part of it was the last step which was done applying some Flory Models Grime Wash (I bought a few of these washes some time ago and I am really happy with the effect after in essence just dabbing it on with a brush (you can get them from here).

Image

Really happy how it came out – quick but effective.

Image
Image
Image

In addition we have order another flyer, a Space Bus from the 2001 movie, in 1/55 scale which hopefully will work (I will report back and let you know). It really works for me.
See the source image

Clutter for Urban Sci-Fi Gaming

I had some 3D printed terrain I bought from Sabotag3d a year ago for my Judge Dredd project.

Image

Put some paint on it this weekend trying to get a little bit of an overall cartoon feel to it all. All metallics are gold or silver base paint with contrast paint on top – I like the effect it gives.

Image

And of course with a little bit of miniatures and other terrain.

Image
Image
Image

Mutant 1984

Finally I have had some fun painting some miniatures from Fenris Games for my Mutant 1984 project, as per usual the the nobleman Guss af Edelhus in the forbidden zone in Muskö year 105 has an apperance, he is from Warlord Games.

Jageret Svin – bandit and explorer

Image
Image
Image
Image

Wolfram Varg and his fellow Hunters, some of the most sought after troubleshooters in the Pyri-Commonwealth

Image
Image
Image

A Pit Guillotine (well actually a Gug from the Cthulhu Mythons)

Image
Image
Image
Image

/ Hope that was of some interest, have a good weekend (eventually)

Further Explorations with the £3 Doormat -Yellow Fields

Last week I wrote about some fields I am doing using £3 doormats from B&Q (link to that blogpost here). The idea is to create something that look reasonable on your wargames table relatively quickly and I think cost efficiently. The approach presented in the original blogpost how to make the type of field shown below, and it is worth checking that out before you read this one.

The Field Produced last time (see here)

Now this will allow me to produce a number of Green fields, depending on what flock/scatter I am using. The brown areas between the furrows works really well.

However I have been thinking about yellow fields that typically have a different look and feel to them. the contrast between brown and yellow would not be ideal. I would not even try it. Instead a typical “yellow” field tends to be more dense, i.e. furrows can not been seen just hinted and there is sometimes a green shine through (not that you could also do a more dense green field with this approach too).

See the source image

I have used yellow pieces of fur, fleece etc but I did not really get a result I was happy with. Now with the door mat approach I realised that it would be relatively simple to do something that at least felt like the field above rather than a shit-brown surface with some strings of mustard.

I ended up with something looking like this.

Anyway here are steps from Doormat to Yellow Field

What you need is

  • A structured door mat (as described in the previous blog, ok last link here)
  • Rough brushes
  • Green paint
  • PVA glue
  • And finally a bag of scatter/flock – needs to be relatively fine like fine turf / sawdust etc. I have ordered a fair few “yellow” varieties and have found that with regards to colour and overall look the Busch 7054 is really my recommendation. You can get a bag from £2 from railway modelling companies. Just search for “Busch 7054”. A bag should last for say 2 of these fields.

The Steps (the best thing would be to do over several days – day 1 (Step 1), day 2 (step 2), day 3 (steps 3,4,5) and finally day 3 (Step 6).

  1. Brown it up – let it dry
  2. Green it up – let it dry
  3. PVA It – do it in stages half the mat 3,4,5 then the rest 3,4,5
  4. Spread
  5. Shake – after this is done for the whole mat let it dry properly overnight
  6. Seal – let it dry (as this is very wet it will take a while to dry)

Shit Brown it

First I painted the mat in a dark brown mixed with PVA and let it dry, this serves to give some strength to the structure.

Green it up

This is really a rough wet brush, you want to have a strong green here, just a little brown coming through (you might be able to skip the brown and just start here).

PVA it

Now last time we applied with finesse, I am using 2 parts PVA and 1 part water mixed and just brushing it on. I did about half the mat before I went on to the next step then covered the other part with PVA. Remember to cover all of the mat not just the furrows.

Spread

Then just cover the mat with your flock

Shake

Shake off the excess

Seal

This is really important, dilluted PVA sprayed over the mat

The finished mat, there is a little hint of green shining through and alos we can see the lines, albeit faint.

Here is one I did without allow the green paint to dry before I added the PVA and the flock, it created a more Green shinethrough (this is a little bit more experimental and tempramental and I let you explore this yourself, remember you could “repair” this with a yellow spray can if it goes too green).

And one I did using Woodland Scenics Yellow Grass

I hope this one and the last blog (see links above) gives you an idea on what you can do with this kind of mat.

I have done 5 of them so far – it should be enough to cover a normal wargames table and give that illusion of different crops and fields, with the cost of the mat, then paint, pva and scatter say a total cost of £5 per mat. That is a good deal and really not a very difficult project to do. You can then cut them into the sizes you need and perhaps add some further edge detailing etc. I will show in a later blog post how I will use the mats for my table.

/Hope that was of some interest, have fun…

£3 Door Mat or a Field for your Wargame

This is a write up of my explorations of turning some of the cheap door mats to fields for your wargame. When gaming in ground scales of 1:100, like chain of command, a foot (30 cm) equates to about 30 meter in on the table. So a field measuring say 6 by 6 inches (15cm square), is hardly more than a small garden. I have a number of field tiles that I have used for my 6mm wargaming that kind of works because the grand scales are significantly smaller and a field represents areas with cultivated land as opposed to individual fields, etc.

However I found this door mat from B&Q in the UK, they sell at £3 each. They measure 60 by 40 cm (this is about 2 foot by 1 and a quarter foot).

The idea with the mat is the hairy corduroy surface, this forms the basis of the furrows (the elevated aspect) and the base for the scatter (the hairiness). Oh, and a short note. people have used this kind of material before for their wargame fields – this is an attempt to apply a straightforward process with some additional elements to add some depth to the final result rather than claiming originality.

This is a close up of the mat

Anyway lets get started.

Step One – Shitbrown it!

The first thing I want to do it to add some colour to the mat I use a cheap acryloc burnt umber of something like (you could us an emulsion too) that I mix with a generous amount of PVA (this serves to stiffen the surface)
Just work the mess in, you could use a bigger brush than this. Then let it dry before the next step – I would wait about 24 hours.

Step 2 – Highlight it with Bailey’s

For the next step you need a light brown colour similar to the drink Bailey’s in colour. Again this is cheap hobby paint territory, the key is a light brown.
Then just drybrush it over, you do not need to be too careful and remove a lot of excess paint like if you would drybrush say a miniature etc. Do a few strokes on the top (this will be covered anyway) to get rid of excess paint then work it to look something like this, get some of the contrast into the areas between the furrows as this will be mostly visible. The whole idea is to get away from a monotone brownish area. You could leave to dry for a short while but it should not take long to be ready for the next step.

Step 3 – Slap on the PVA

For the next step you need PVA mixed with water at say 50/50 ratio (this is assuming a thick builder type of PVA) if you have more runny PVA then use a little bit less water. Mix it properly. You also need a fine top applicator – this is a typcial 18ml paint pot similar to a vallejo paint bottle. I have a fair few of these and I think I used about 7 or 8 for a mat so if you have a bigger bottle would be more efficient, just make sure you can control the amount that come out carefully.
Apply the glue to the mat on top of the “furrows”, the idea here is that the PVA will capture the scatter we apply for the next stage of the process. DO NOT do the whole mat in a go, I tend to do about a sixth of the mat before I do the next step of applying the scatter. I

Step 4 – Apply some Scatter let dry and Seal with PVA

Next we need to apply the scatter, but what do we use?. I have used two products with good success; (i) Woodland Scenics Fine Turf and (ii) Javis Scatter. In this example I have used a mixture of different Javis scatter shades of green. Too clumpy stuff (like the Yellow Coarse Turf from woodland scenics, that would be ideal for creating yellow fields is a little bit too clumpy) is more difficult to work with and I am currently avoiding it. Would be great to find a sawdust type of yellow scatter like the Javis one for making nice yellow fields. If you use a monotone mix perhaps you could add as a final thing before sealing with PVA a drybrush stage of a light colour then the one you used.

Apply the scatter and shake off, a few taps will suffice until you finished the whole mat.
Not the quickest work but the patience pays off. Now wait for it to dry (give it a day) and then give it a proper shake off, then spray some dilluted PVA on top (this is a strongly dilluted milky consistency mix with a little bit of fairly liquid, if you need to know how to do it, try this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGFmNUTfQr8) and let it dry to ensure that the scatter stays of top.
Effectful and simple to do. Looking pretty decent.

Here is another one that was done with some single colour scatter, then drybrushed with a ligther green as an example. BUT seal it with PVA before you drybrush and do it carefully so you do not loose the scatter. An additonal step. I prefer the first approach as it saves time and gives the contrast/depth in itself.

Single colour scatter with drybrush – works too.

Now of course you cut cut these into the sizes you need and that is what I will do. I intend to use these for 15mm groundscale games, making each filed 60 by 40 meters but also for some smaller scale games.

Here is a little bit of how they look versus 6mm, 15mm and 28mm miniatures (not the best light). I think they kind of work with all scales perhaps best with the 15mm.

6mm
15mm
28mm – these being from the Little One’s Crew he has designed for Stargrave and Five Parsecs From Home, but that is for another Podcast.

/ Hope that was of some interest, and if you do come across a sawdusty yellow flock or scatter let me know.

Featured

Draught Excluders and Vinyl Floor tiles, or fields for Lund 1676

As you may know I like using adhesive vinyl floor tiles that you can get cheap from Poundland as bases for my terrain projects and have used both the long plank variety as well as the square foot type (as shown in a few old posts, like this one way back (link) or this one (link).

IMG_3783
They sell at £1 for 3 in Poundland, I suppose you could use them for your floor too. I like that they rigid yet flexible. They warp but you can kind or bend them back. Store them flat.
Dalarna (Sweden) during the 1943 Invasion (What-if) – tiles, cars, a table  and a small game of Chain of Command – Roll a One
Use in practice, each farm in my Sweden 1943 project has a separate tile made from one of the vinyl floor planks.
Sweden WW2 – Roll a One
A selection of Farm Tiles giving each farm as more immersive feel.

For the Lund 1675 project I want to make a wintery mat (later post) and also add some frozen fields with bushes etc around them. These would be stand alone fields and I wanted to make a test section to see how it would work out using some tiles and well as draught excluders. I got some of ebay, and the smallest one 9X6mm or something like that, they are handy in that they are adhesive. I think they are sent in container from China.

The ones I bought

The steps in the captions

First I cut out a piece of nylon plan, and attached some of the draught excluder. Both the tile is adhesive as is the excluder. Easy and quick.
Added some glue and then sprinkled some sand (bird cage sand) on the non-hedge parts.
I tried to use the brush to go in one direction when spreading out the sand. Let Dry.
Paint it shit brown, Let Dry
Dry brush the base with white
Mix 1 part PVA glue and 2 parts of Snow Flock with a little bit of white.
Add it to the top of the draught excluders and the ground that is not fields (try to do a 80-90% cover) you want some dark to shine through.
Water down some of the mix (pva, snow and white) say 1 part to 2 parts water and spread over the fields and sprinkle some snow flock all over.
Good to go…
Add some miniatures (you may want to add some more snow flock, I like it when it is not totally white)
Looks the part…

Hope that was of some use, these tiles will enhance the table and I will make them bespoke to the scenario and then a few generic ones. They are really easy to make and relatively cheap.

Now I just need to get some more vinyl floor tiles,

/ See you next time.

Making some Birch Trees

You may recall this picture from some of the previous blog postings,

IMG_4449

It shows some Birch trees I bought from NOCH and comes in a box of 7 for about £20 (if you shop around). The are ok, but I wanted to make another 30 of them, this would cost me another £80 and frankly I did not really thing it was worth it and thought that maybe I could do some cheaper.  In a online interchange with Adam Bengtsson (@paganfury on twitter) he suggested using some poly fibre to make trees – I bought some and made a few trial trees, here is what I did.

I had a bundle of these tree armatures I had bought for another project some time ago.

IMG_5774
Tree armatures – I bought these from a seller in china a long time ago, there are some non-Chinese based sellers who sell the same kind of trees (slightly higher price).  Search for Bare Trunk Trees on ebay, the ones I got were about £8 for 30 armatures.

I pruned them a little bit and painted them black, with a cheap acrylic paint.

IMG_5776
I guess I could have used a spray paint, but not sure how it would react to the plastic the trees are made of.  I takes a minute or some to do a tree, so I used a brush with generous about of paint.

Let dry and then a coat of white, do not paint the branches white.

IMG_5777

Then some decorating with grey and black and some more white here an there, trying to make the illusion that it is a birch tree, there is no right or wrong here as the look varies. Leave the crown black as shown.

IMG_5781

When the tree is dry take some green poly fibre (I got mine from Woodland Scenics) and carefully cover the tree with it, do not use too much (I probably will reduce the amount I use for my next batch).

IMG_5782IMG_5783IMG_5784IMG_5786

Time to go outside and use some spray mount/adhesive – I did about 6-8 quick sprays (press and release, hold the trunk and avoid spraying on the trunk mainly hit the fibres) on each tree and after this covered them with some Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf (Light Green). I suggest you spray one tree then add the turf immediately.  Do it with the bowl or a box under so you can re-use anything that does not stick to the tree.

IMG_5792

I think they look great! (Currently based on some Washers but will think about what I do moving forward).

IMG_5793

IMG_5791

Ok there are a few issues to consider, so at least I can say I told you so.

  •  Birch trees tend to have an overall thinner appearance than this method gives (the Noch Trees gives this illusion form a distance) – but for me these work.
  •  They are a little bit fragile so I intend to buy some cheap hair spray and spray them a few times to seal them, this should make them more durable.

Anyway let me know what you think, nothing new really but this will allow a quick production of a lot of trees for, Say at a cost of less than £1 per tree compared to the £3 from the ones from Noch.  I think they look better too.

No need to bend steel wires!

/ Hope that was of some interest

 

 

 

 

Featured

Grognard Files, Swedish Radio and Dalarna 1943 – More Progress

IMG_5432

Writing this after another day working from home during the Corona lock-down in Greater London – I am happy to report that my immediate and extended family are all ok. It all feels very surreal, and I hope as always that this blog will give you a few moments of being away from it all in a safe place.

Today,

  • More pictures from the Dalarna 1943 Project and being contacted by Swedish Radio
  • A note on my appearance on the Grognard Files

Dalarna 1943

I was contacted by the Swedish Radio last week, their regional Dalarna branch, about this project and recorded a short thing for their morning show today. It made me happy, I hope I did not come across as too much of an idiot whenever it is being aired.

Here is a sound file containing the segment (in Swedish, aired 03 Apr 2020)

A lot of recent progress on this project as I have finished the third batch of Prints from Sabotag3d (link here).  I am really happy to see that Paul has been shipping some round pole fences (gärdsgård) over to Sweden and consequently me not being the only one fascinated by this type of Fence. So if this appeals to someone get in contact with Paul and see what he can do for you, he makes these fences in 1/100 scale (15mm size miniatures) as well as for 28mm miniatures. But I suppose you can get them in any scale you like – it really takes us straight into the Dalarna landscape of old (and new) without to much leap of faith. We should also add that Paul also did a few damaged sections for me, to be used to illustrate the impact of an explosion or that a tank has driven through them.

IMG_4845
A similar piece to that used in the picture above as delivered by Sabota3d

Last time around we had done the basic village tiles and the round pole fences and it allowed to create something like this (there is a link here to an earlier blog that covers this is some detail and talks about the Falu Red colour used for the houses, etc).

IMG_4449IMG_4446

For further detailing I wanted to have some mail boxes, typical of the Swedish country side. So I sent Paul the idea and as always he returned a fantastic little print (truth is that the state post box may not have had the colour scheme and the symbol at that time, but I felt it just needed to look that way).

IMG_4844

IMG_5080
I miniaturized some documents to represent some kind of messages having been posted up (perhaps about what to do in case or war, or the latest football results!), a Proganda Poster and an old Film Poster (this one a homage to my Dad, as it was the first movie he remembered seing on the big screen at a matinee viewing sometime in the 1950ies, it is the Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn – Slaghöken in Swedish), these were just printed small on a normal laser colour printer on normal print paper and cut out and glued in place.  The label on the yellow post box was made using a lable paper for a laser printer (Model by Sabotag3d)

Milk of course was collected differently in those days and milk churns would be standing on tables alongside the road, ready for collection on the morning.

IMG_4842

IMG_4915
(Model by Sabotag3d)

The centre of the village is the Lanthandel that would sell you the supplies you needed.

IMG_4950
Ready for business (Model by Sabotag3d)

IMG_4998
Again some posters from the time used to add some immersion to it all. Some of the brands are still popular today.

IMG_4999

And finally a little petrol station, probably not that operational due to rationing, but again a not to uncommon feature in the Sweden of 1943.

IMG_4941
Petrol Station (model by Sabotag3d)

On top of this I have spent some time doing further features to add to the landscape and increase the immersion factor on the table.

IMG_4947
Made from various stuff tt scale benches (railway stuff), MC from HQ Pack, some cycles from Peter Pig, the wood piles are just cut matchsticks and looks great, and some other stuff.

IMG_4918
The table from a Peter Pig command set and the tools from some railways set I bought ages ago.

IMG_4917
Bikes from Peter Pig

IMG_4914
The wagon wheels and wall from Peter Pig the other stuff from the kit box

IMG_4912

IMG_4910
That drawer has some Kurbits – a popular art form in my home county (Dalarna)

We laid out another table and had a game with the Little One last weekend (using the Chain of Command rules by Too Fat Lardies, link here) and then we did a lot of shots of vehicles because we could.

A Little Game

IMG_5430IMG_5433IMG_5434IMG_5437IMG_5440IMG_5442IMG_5443IMG_5454IMG_5463IMG_5464IMG_5467IMG_8563IMG_8610

Some random shots of Swedish WW2 Vehicles

IMG_8572
First out the L-series of armoured cars developed in the 1930s (1/100 model from shapeways).

IMG_8580
The Pansarbil M/39/M/40 was a better solution for the need of the Swedes, with improved off-road cability and maneuverability and double drive. I find it beautiful (1/100 model from Shapeways).

IMG_8548
Perhaps the most iconic Swedish vehicle the Terrängbil m/42 KP. It was a domestic development and allowed the infantry to keep up with the tanks and provide protection from artillery and small arms fire. You can read more about this vehicle and how this 1/100 Shapeways model was modified slightly and the riders added in an old blog post (link here). Still in trials in 1943 and sent back due to inadequate armour plating but if the Germans invade we take what we got.

IMG_8626
Finally we will look at the Swedish Tanks available in 1943. First the Tankette Stridsvagn m/37. There is a previous blog here that shows the how this conversion was made from and the details for the other tanks below (link here).

IMG_8627
Next “beast” is the M/40 Light tank Stridsvagn M/40 – many models and versions. I used this as the Generic one – an early print by Paul Edwards.
I love them. (Formed the backbone of the Irish Armoured force in 1937 and developed into the Hungarian Toldi)

IMG_8617
And in the medium tank class we have the M/41. These were licence built TNH Tanks (perhaps more known as the 38(t) and used by the German army in the early War Period. Later a lot of them were rebuilt for other roles)

IMG_8568
Finally, In the almost heavy weight class (well big medium) we have the M/42 – My favourite with – like the M/40 a domestic development.

The Grognard Files – First, Last and Everything

See the source image

For you not familiar with the Grognard files here is Dirk’s own summary what it is all about (stolen from his webpage).

I’m Dirk the Dice and this is the GROGNARD files podcast, talking bobbins about table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.  The Armchair Adventurers are small FRPG group that meet monthly in Bolton. We first got together thanks to a ‘small ad’ in WHITE DWARF in 1983.  We got back together in 2010 to play Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep monthly for 3 years. Playing again reignited our passion for RPGs, so we returned to some more classic campaigns from our teenage years: RuneQuest BORDERLANDS, Traveller ADVENTURE, RuneQuest GRIFFIN MOUNTAIN and Call of Cthulhu FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH. Our interest began to shift towards what had happened to RPGs during our period away from the hobby.

See the source imageI have been, in a friendly way, been pestering Dirk to do a podcast about the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game for a long time (check out #grogmerp on twitter if you do not believe me).  Last month he released part 1 of the MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying) show and he asked me to do a “First, Last and Everything” segment for Part 2 – that is a presentation of my first, last and overall favourite RPG games.  I went for (because it is true) the first being the old Swedish RPG game Mutant (from 1984) that I have written about here on a few occasions (link some of it here, here, here and here), MERP as it is the last one I played and you can find out more about it in the two Episodes below, my everything is the classic Call of Cthulhu Rpg.

See the source imageHere are the links to the two parts of Episode 36 – Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP) with Liz Danforth:

I did write a script for my part and it is appended below would you be interested, it may be cool to listen to it first though. In the text there is a mention about some scenarios I prepared back in the day, here is a link to those (in Swedish mind you) https://alexandria.dk/en/data?scenarie=8040 and https://alexandria.dk/en/data?scenarie=8041

/ As always I do hope that this was of some interest, stay safe during these and any other times

First, Last and Everything

Hi, My name is Per and I am delighted to deliver my first, last and everything. You can find me on Twitter as Per at RollaOne or on my blog rollaone.com.

It was 1984 and I was 12 and my slightly older cousin Mika was visiting us in our little provincial town in the heartlands of Sweden, Dalarna, where if you take the wrong fork you may come upon a lonely and curious country, in areas that remind you of some Lovecraftian environment – desolate, quiet and with the occasional character sneaking around, or looking through the windows with empty stares and some doors hanging on rusty and consequently noisy hinges blowing in the wind. These are places where they say shoot-dig-keep quiet – that kind of thing. I mean all that Nordic Noir crime stuff must have come from somewhere? But most of it are quaint red houses with white trimmings, surrounded by, wait for it, round pole fences.

He, my cousin, cajoled me into buying this new game that he had played called Mutant, a game set after the catastrophe in a future Scandinavia. You could play as mutated humans & animals or be a robot from the old time (but with a messed up memory bank, with a tendency to obey orders from pure humans or those who had not too obvious mutations – later I learned they were programmed to follow Asimov’s 3 robotic Laws). You could also be a PSI-mutant with mental powers, shunned by most people with or without fur. They were like magic users but very often with defects like madness or confusion triggered by failing to use a mental ability – making it very frustrating at times, or pure (non-mutated) humans considerable sturdier and more clever than we are today and with a patronising at best to a disrespectful view on mutants. The society that had risen was roughly at the technology level of the early 19th century – you could arm yourself with a musket if you had the cash but equally common were a baseball bat and an old bin lid, or traffic sign with a moose, as a shield. It was a more organised society than in movies like Mad Max – things had calmed down. There were forbidden zones to adventure in and the dungeon equivalent were old research labs or other underground facilities with the chance of finding old tech, crazy cyber computers, frozen people from the old times or mutated beasts – sometimes all at once. The dragon equivalent were giant beetles and land sharks that swam through the earth It was my fist role-playing game and we had never heard about anything like it and it also came with some funny looking dice, but no gaming board. Just a little cardboard sheet that was used to resolve whether the character understood what the old tech item he has just found was. My cousin had never GM:ed before and actually as it turned out he had never played the game – however he spent a day reading it and the following evening a few friends and I made some characters – mine a mutated moose, a hunter, with a big club and a musket – then he very ably played us through the introductionary scenario “Mission in Mos Mosel” until the small hours ….it was love at first play….

This game has evolved to what today is known as Mutant Year 0, and a number of the modern products has given more than a nod to the old modules and adventures.

However we quickly advanced to non-Swedish rpgs – it was not as cool to play the Swedish games – at least not in those days.

We went on a School trip to London in Year 9, this was 1987, and the trip was funded to not a small part of us selling loaves of home baked breads outside a local shopping centre and we also set up a school show and invited all the parents and students – I and yet another cousin and fellow gamer Sebastian played two drunk characters and we made some crap jokes pretending to be pissed and we had a grand finale with the song “Shut uppa you face”, by Joe Dolce. In London we, equipped with a Summer of earnings from working for the local council’s real estate department cutting lawns, bushes and collecting rubbish, delivering leaflets at weekends or selling the Sunday issues of a broadsheet newspaper, bought a lot of RPG games and modules from Orcs Nest (still on Earlham Street today), Games Workshop and The Virgin shop on Oxford Street. We got Judge Dredd, MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying Game), Call of Cthulhu, and “who ya gonna call” Ghostbusters, Top Secret, Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying and god only knows what else, I remember the only non-rpg stuff I bought was the God Save the Queen single by Sex Pistols and Bob Marley’s Exodus (movement of Jah people).

But also a shout out to the Amazing swedish shop Hobby Huset in Uppsala – they had an amazing selection of RPGs in their catalogue and excellent shipping service. We sometimes even took the 1.5 hour train trip and visited the cellar it was located in and got some strange stuff from the bargain bucket. It was this shop that really opened up the hobby for us country boys.

We played so much RPG games in our youth, in people’s houses but eventually in a shed with a heater that made it bearable. We hated splitting up the group as we had to stand outside in the bloody cold freezing our Dirks off (remember this was Sweden when we had proper seasons). Later we asked our school if we could use one of the class rooms in the evening and weekends and the head teacher gave us a key and we had a hell of a good time. We had a good group with a few changes along the way, but then playing in death metal bands, national service, university education, and moving abroad split the old gang. We had our ups and downs but now 30 years or so later I can only recall the positive aspects, so to my old Grogsquad Jonas, Petri, Sebastian, Tommy, Thomas, Magnus, Micke, Reidar, Erik, Petter, Christer, Anton, Fredrik and the guy who only came once and played Pendragon with us and anyone else I forgot, but also to my new Grogsquad the Adventurers Club led by Dirk, Blythy, Ed, and the Daily Dwarf, I raise my glass of vodka to you all!

Although there was a lot of fear mongering around the Rpg hobby in the mainstream media at the time, thinking we would become too introvert, turn into extremists or jump from buildings imagining we could fly, I think our parents were grateful for the fact that instead of being out drinking moonshine vodka, a speciality of the region, and making the town unsafe, we instead sat in the shed telling each other stories and rolling dice. I think we all turned out ok in the end.

In the day we shared the burden of Game Mastering in our Little but Merry band, but the longer campaigns were usually game mastered by myself or Jonas and one of the first games he ran was MERP – Middle Earth Roleplaying. Jonas was amazing with regards to preparing for campaigns and game sessions and his knowledge of Middle Earth was very deep – he had even read the Silmarillion and the Lost Tales! Later Jonas were to run a very long AD&D campaign (2nd Edition) and although I never really liked the system, his overall campaign with a mixture of shorter episodes, long running plots and reappearing protagonists was probably the best one I ever played. However back to MERP. The rules today feels old-fashioned, being a Lite version of the bigger Rolemaster System but at the time offered us some kind of balance between the always fragile characters in the basic Roleplaying system kind of game and rise of your AD&D characters toward immortality – with MERPs open-ended rolls there was always a chance that an opponent could score critical hits and do some substantial damage whatever the differences in character levels, armour class etc. You had to be careful and not every encounter would be a question of drawing a sword. And the magic system was definitely not Tolkienesque but then Jonas did not allow us to be wizards. But what was more on top of this and perhaps the real legacy of MERP was the many fantastic modules and not the rules. The modules had some fantastic drawings and amazing covers that shaped our vision of this amazing world. There were many talented artists contributing to these modules but for me there are two I would like to mention especially – first the legend Angus McBride who did some exceptional cover art for many of the MERP modules. The second artist is of course Liz Danforth who created an outstanding visual presentation of the various characters, races and creatures of this wonderful world, and by the way a big thanks to you Liz for your support to the #grogmerp campaign on Twitter. But there was more, the modules contained information about the people and lands and it felt like it stayed true to the lore but expanded where there were white spots. Herbs, requires a special mention, and were like modern mobile phone apps – there was an app, sorry I meant a herb for that. It is actually my last RPG, I played and a big part of my recent interest in the hobby.

However, there was only one game that I really really immersed myself into in the day and it was the Call of Cthulhu rpg – I guess it does not need any deeper introduction. The first time I played it was at the RPG club in my hometown that some of us used to go to and play as well as playing with the core group, the club was founded by Magnus Seter and Dan Algstrand who today are well known characters in the RPG Industry. It was an excellent way in getting to know likeminded and try out a wider array of games. The club even run a few conventions and I wrote the Call of Cthulhu Scenario for the first two – with the imaginary titles of – the Shadow in Darkness and the Dweller in the Shadow (You can actually find these on the net, but mind you they are written in Swedish). Our little band played some of the epic campaigns like the Fungi form Yuggoth (later more adequately renamed the Day of the Beast), the Spawn of Azathoth and even the Horror on the Orient Express – although our campaign derailed after a few stops. But for me it was the Arkham county series of books that really made the game come alive – we played scenarios in the Miskatonic Valley – in places straight from the Lovecraft stories like Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. The players included Professors working at the Miskatonic University, a PE teacher who could throw a javelin like no other, a retired Major from the British Army (yes he was a hell of a Marksman with his Webley Revolver), Private Investigators, a daredevil pilot and a Medical Doctor at the Arkham Asylym. The scenarios both readymade and homebrewed focused on local events – it made it more scary and intense when reoccurring NPCs asked for help, suddenly disappeared, ended up at the Asylum, or were found dead. When you could weave in characters family trees into the scenarios with the realisation that great grandfather Elijah Waitrose was a Cthulhu cultist or that Great Aunt Tess Collie was an adventurer lost in Dreamlands. As For anyone who may not be familiar with the literature I really recommend that you read the wonderful but not for the faint hearted stories like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “Escape from Innsmouth”, “The Whisperer in Darkness” and “The Colour out of Space” to name some of my favourites. Yes, having moved on more than 30 years from that initial fascination, I know that H.P. Lovecraft probably was a man I would end up arguing with in the pub – he was a racist, homophobe etc, revealed by studying his letter and analysing some of the stories – I get it! But I was never in it for that, I was in it for the chill, sense of hopelessness in a world full of unknown things that humanity at best had a very limited understanding of, the desperate fight against overwhelming odds of getting either permanently insane or ending up dead. The sheer joy of game mastering a group of seasoned investigators in gathering clues from libraries, local newspapers, speakeasies, weird locals, etc. They, the characters, were never flashing heroes with shiny armour and glimmering swords or caped crusaders flying the flag , they were mostly normal people who endlessly fought on. Call of Cthulhu is my everything!

IMG_8610

Featured

Dalarna (Sweden) during the 1943 Invasion (What-if) – tiles, cars, a table and a small game of Chain of Command

If you have followed this blog you may recall that I have been working on a project relating to a “What-if” German invasion of Sweden in 1943 through the Dalarna County – where I “incidentally” was born and grew up. There is a good summary of where I got to with this project to date in a previous blog post (link here).

IMG_4449

Dalarna, Sweden in 1943 does not look like Normandy or the Eastern Front and one of the challenges to create the immersion is to create an overall look that feels right. A lot of the existing wargames buildings and terrain are not suitable for this theatre – the Normandy buildings looks totally out of place whilst the typical eastern European houses, whilst in wood, does not neccesarily have the right look (the common thatched roof on many of these houses are not really suitable). However I have found a few houses, barns etc that will fit.

  • The house on the left in the picture and the excellent round pole fences are made by Paul Edwards. Paul does some amazing work (Sabotag3d.com) and future blogposts will show more of the stuff he has been doing for me once I have painted them up.
  • The other houses shown in the pictures above and below are from Timecast (Eastern European 15mm buildings, link here) and Ironclad Miniatures (link here).

I have also, previously, talked about the typical red colour that was predominant, and still is, in the area – The Falu Red Colour (Falu Rödfärg).

Although the paint fell out of favour in the Urban areas during the 18th century the paint still survived and in the countryside, even today, is still the dominant type of colour.

Image result for vykort dalarna 1940

The origins of the pigments used for this paint was a rest product from the process of calcination of copper ore at the Mines in Falun, in the Dalarna county.  In the 16th century it was found that these pigments mixed with lineseed oil and rye flour worked as an excellent anti-weathering and preservative when applied to wood.

The Falu mine itself deserves a mention as it operated for 2000 years and at its most productive phase in the 16-17th century it produced more than 60% of the copper in Europe.  It even had its own regiment (with some infantry and cavalry units) during the Scanian War and Great Northern War era.

Every School child in the county visits the mine to learn about its glorious past – today it is not longer a working mine but a fantastic museum with a permanent exhibition as well as the opportunity to travel down to the depths of the mine.

77ddb8e1-579a-468d-818b-d94ca462723aIMG_3422IMG_3444IMG_3446

 

Farm tiles and Gas Wood Cars

As easy way to integrate your built up sections is to make tiles for a building or a set of buildings.  This allows a more defined look on the table and makes the buildings blend in better in your layout. I made mine from adhesive floor tiles from Poundland (they are made from vinyl) some acrylic paste (caulk) and sand.

IMG_3783

Start by marking up where you want your buildings to go. I also consider the size of the fencing around the farm.

IMG_3780

Then it is time to start the messy bits, with acrylics, sand and paint.

IMG_4344
Leave some space for the buildings but otherwise do whatever seems to fit – make sure there are paths and roads, etc.

IMG_4348
Paint it all brown

IMG_4354
Start drybrushing the surfaces. I work from a pale brown, the terracotta and then finally a pale yellow. The same as I use for all my non-desert and witner bases.

IMG_4356
Add some static grass and tufts

 

IMG_4357
With a little bit of clutter it creates small dioramas instead of putting the houses directly on the mat. it took two short evening session to make them.

IMG_4358IMG_4359IMG_4360IMG_4361IMG_4362

But what about these strange cars? Well if you study cars during this era, not just in Sweden you will notice the strange burners on other arrangements attached to the cars. These are utilising wood gas to power the vehicle due rationing of fossil fuels. I have rarely seen these on WW2 tables but very often in pictures so I made a few (based on some Kinder Egg vehicles I bought off ebay).

 

A game of Chain of Command

A few weeks ago the Little One and I had a small CoC (Chain of Command) infantry vs infantry game (with a tank each) mainly to test out the terrain and how it all looked together, we have a blast and we were really happy with the overall look.

I will let the picture talk for themselves.

IMG_4445IMG_4446IMG_4447IMG_4449IMG_4450IMG_4451IMG_4452IMG_4453IMG_4455IMG_4456IMG_4457IMG_4462IMG_4463IMG_4464IMG_4465IMG_4467IMG_4471IMG_4472IMG_4473IMG_4474IMG_4475IMG_4476IMG_4477IMG_4478IMG_4479IMG_4480IMG_4481IMG_4482IMG_4484IMG_4485IMG_4486IMG_4489

Whilst I love playing in Normandy or the Eastern Front I have to admit that there is something special for me with this project in terms of passion and immersion.  For this table all it really took was a type or Fence and the colour of the houses to transport us straight to Dalarna 1943.

Yes the whole thing is made up but I am trying to make the rest of it justice. As you may have figured out by now immersion is very important for all the projects I do.  It takes an extra effort, but an effort I am more than happy to make.

If you have a what-if idea or a project based on some obscure location spend some time reflecting on how things looked – study photos and find those key elements that immediately gives it away – that is your primary focus for your wargames table. If these items do not exist – consider making them yourself or contact someone like Paul who has the talent to design something in 3d for your, make it printable, print and send it to you! (Sabotag3d.com).

I hope that was of some interest, toysoldier on!

 

Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six 2019 – the Grand Finale of the Towards Moscow Trilogy (TMT)

IMG_7963

This is a quick report back from Joy of Six focusing on the table Nick, Andrew, Neil (from the Wyre Foresters, thanks to all of you!) and I put up on the day. there are some additional reflections and pictures of the show overall that I will issue sometime this coming weekend. Thanks to everyone who came by we really enjoyed the feedback!

The Towards Moscow Trilogy

More than three years ago I decided to have a go at doing a few battles of the ill-fated Russian campaign (1707-1709) of the Great Northern War 1700-1721.  I set out the plan in a blog post (link here) and the three battles we would cover were:

Lesnaya 1708 – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2017:

IMG_4080
Battle of Lesnaya 1708 (8 foot table)

Horka 1708 (a what-if battle that would allow us to field a more balance army composition and linear battle that would be the case for the battles of the Campaign) – link to more pictures here in the blogpost from Joy of Six 2018:

six2
Battle of Horka 1708 (12 foot table)

This year it was a 16 foot table and the disastrous (from a Swedish perspective) Battle of Poltava. Here are a number of pictures from the day with the occasional comments and some link on how some elements of the tables was being made – we were far to busy talking to people to even have a go at actually trying to play it! I think the vision of a grand spectacle was achieved, hope you enjoy  (if you have any comments do get it touch through the blog and ask away):

IMG_7856
Initial disposition the Russian Infantry in the Camp on the left, the redoubts filled with Russian Infantry and the line of Dragoons behind the redoubts.

IMG_7857
Close up of the Redoubts, we can see the Swedes in the far right corner starting their march. More about the redoubts here and he colourful fields here.

IMG_7858

IMG_7860
More detail of the Yakovetski forest, the Monastery, Poltava itself and the Swedish Camp.

IMG_7861IMG_7862

IMG_7866
The Swedes quickly overrun the first redoubt and set about taking care of the other one.

IMG_7868IMG_7869

IMG_7870
Poltava with the Siege Lines in the upper left corner. Buildings mainly from Total Battle miniatures with a Scratch built Fortress (walls and towers).  More on the Poltava here, the ruined villages here and the Siege Lines here.

IMG_7872IMG_7874IMG_7875IMG_7876IMG_7878IMG_7879IMG_7881IMG_7882IMG_7883IMG_7884IMG_7885IMG_7886IMG_7887IMG_7888IMG_7890IMG_7891

IMG_7893
The Swedes are through

IMG_7894
Some battalions being lost in the forest

IMG_7896IMG_7897IMG_7899IMG_7900IMG_7923IMG_7924

IMG_7925
The Swedes organising themselves for the main battle

IMG_7926IMG_7927IMG_7928IMG_7929

IMG_7930
Some immense firing

IMG_7931IMG_7932

IMG_7933
Swedish Artillery being left behind!

IMG_7934

IMG_7935
Detail of the Swedish Camp, more about the camp here.

IMG_7936

IMG_7937
Siege works

IMG_7938IMG_7939IMG_7941IMG_7961

/ Hope that was of some interest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress on the Poltava 1709 Project – Siege Lines and the King (TMT)

IMG_3878

In writing this there is about 10 days to the Joy of Six show 2019, the best 6mm wargames show in the world and a damn good show overall.  I am now just polishing off some old stuff I need to take with me and doing some play aids for the day – a little presentation handout for visitors, some cards for the commanders and a list of the forces we will use.

If you do come to the show, please come and say hello. I will appreciate it ,but do forgive me if I seem distracted and do not give you the attention you deserve – it is normally a tiring day and I tend to be a little bit emotional as very often it is the first time I see the fruits of my labour  – I tend to see the things I could have done better rather the positive things I hope others do! I had a vision on how it would look and the story I wanted it to tell and I hope it will come through.

Peter has invited me to some kind of panel during the day that I am looking forward to.

You can read more about who will be there on this link (Baccus homepage).

 

In summary Nick Dorrell, the Wyre Foresters and I will put on Poltava 1709, it will be 4,500 miniatures on the table and although it only at about 1/20 to the real number on the day I do hope it will give the illusion of a grand battle taking place – I will do a further posting on the battle mat that is now complete later this week as well as some files with the hand-outs, this is a short update showing some of the elements that will figure on the day, (i) the Siege lines and (ii) King.

Siege Lines

To provoke the Battle the King (Charles XII) laid siege to Poltava (and I have presented the rather large model of it before – link here) and there is a more elaborate story about this than the scope of the current battle. The Russian had counter redoubts and the Siege lines were more complicated.

To achieve some kind of stylised and re-cyclable solution I decided to use the coving strips I had used for doing the redoubts to create bases of trenches (link to those here) – taking this further one could make many of these and perhaps even do a little Siege game using tiles moving towards the besieged city/fort/town.  I used some engineers from Baccus to show the men working with the digging – these were mainly Cossacks. The basic idea can be seen below.

 

Adding some filler, sand and a little bit of paint and we got something like this.

IMG_3893IMG_3894IMG_3897

…then combining them with some artillery positions I created earlier (Baccus miniatures) creates that little point I want to make about some Siege lines and artillery being present on the day.

IMG_3909IMG_3910IMG_3911

The clutter (Barrels, sacks and boxes) are from Perfect Six miniatures (link here) who do a nice range of stuff for your battle fields to add that little flair that makes the immersion greater – they also do a range of 6mm fantasy figures that is fantastic. Below some of the fantastic stuff you can get from Perfect Six.

IMG_3890IMG_3891

The Swedish King

Charles XII was shot in the foot before the battle and was carried around on a litter during the battle – some accounts states it was carried by horses, but I chose to make is a man carried version – perhaps it was carried like this too?

IMG_3877.jpg

I then added some soldiers and officers to the base and used my non-trademarked method to take shots with some backgrounds (link here).

IMG_3908

IMG_3906IMG_3907

/That was all for this time, hope it was of some interest

Progress on the Poltava 1709 Project – Trees, tree Bases and small rocks (TMT)

IMG_3283

I have a lot of trees for my wargames tables and I love the effect they give, sometimes (if suitable) I just add some of them on the fringes whether it has any practical use in the scenario or not. I do think they enhance the overall experience, compared to say a dark green piece of felt (or even worse some 2D wood tiles).

As some of you may be aware, I tend to put on large tables for my games at Joy of Six. I have slowly increased my collection of trees and probably reached what I thought was a peak for my 2107 table showing the Battle of Lesnaya 1708 (more about it here).

IMG_4074
Lesnaya 1708 at the star of the battle before all the Russians come marching in. “Oh when Russians come marchin’ in, Oh when the Russians come marchin’ in, I do not want to be part of that Supply line, oh when the Russians come marchin’ in”

However, for this years Poltava table I needed more.

Even at the smaller scale I working with, the cost of buying some wargames specific trees quickly gets costly at the quantities I am looking for. So for my no-pine-tree trees I have gone for the ones you in bulk from china on ebay. This is a typical set of 60 trees at about 15p a tree.

IMG_3276
As sold on ebay 12/06/19

You could then base them individually on bases, I tend to use washers, with small stickers underneath to cover the hole , cut the tree trunk and then glue it in the middle with some 2 part epoxy glue, before basing decoration. Do not forget to spray them with hairspray, scenic cement or clear matt varnish to seal the tree cover as this otherwise easily falls off over time.

IMG_4077

There is a clear benefit in doing this as the trees individually stores very easily in a box or something like that.

Another issue is that some of the colours are a little bit more unnatural looking than others.  You can rectify this at a very low cost by adding some additional colour to the tree.  I tend to use some Dark Green Coarse Grass from Javis as well as some of the Mid-Green variety and did a mix – but you may have some other suitable flock in your collection (perhaps avoiding the static grass type).

IMG_3078
Not a good picture, but this is it.

I then apply some PVA glue on the tree trying to cover most of it and dip it in the mix.

IMG_3074

Let it dry, then apply hairspray/varnish/scenic cement because this will fall off very quickly otherwise.

IMG_3081
A few dipped and ready!

This is a comparative shot, before and after (I think it is worth it).

In addition I wanted to make some forest tiles using CDs – most of us have tons of old CDs, or DVDs, and you could perhaps save a few from going to landfill. Make sure they are not your back-ups of old photos or something like that.

IMG_3263
Give it a little scratch in the name of adhesion

I made a fair few and although they are not as practical to store as the individual trees they allow a quicker deployment on the table and you can decorate the overall area (e.g. the CD) nicely.

img_3266.jpg
That is about 40 bases with 5 to 6 trees per base, say 220 trees in total.  Covering an area of 2 by 4 feet.  The trees will knock you back about £30 (based on the prices above) the filler, paint, epoxy glue and sand adds a little bit more. Then adding the cost of the Javis scatter and the spray adhesive, etc – call it a total cost of materials between £40 to £50 for this project depending on what you use. That is £1.20 per base and probably what you would pay for an individual based tree! So if you have no problem doing a little bit of work there are some savings to be made with the added advantage that you can finish them in a way so they work together with your other terrain.

They work well with both my 6mm and 15mm stuff — perhaps not as good for 28mm.

IMG_3283
Swedish tanker trying to spot a target (15mm)

IMG_3282
Great Northern Era Swedish Cavalry Units taking their horses for a spin (6mm) – perhaps more suitable given the title.

IMG_3281
Swedish WW2 era infantry (15mm)

 

In addition I bought some N Gauge rock / mountain / outcrop scenery pieces to use for the Poltava battlefield to break down he overall flatness of the kind of mat I will be using.  I bought the set shown in the picture below and another slightly more expensive.

Capture.JPG
As sold on ebay 12/06/19

The work really well in the scales I am using (most of them can just be laid flat on the table). I think it will work wonders in creating that look of a battle field that is not completely flat and saved me some time.  They are made from plaster – I guess dental plaster – and painted and decorated as shown in the pictures below.

rock5
The full set (2 packs)

rock6
A few of them had some flat sides – I will make hills sections and incorporate these into them.

rock4
Full set laid out, I think they blend in nicely on my little 2 by 2 game board that is similar to the colours and look of the Poltava battle mat.

rock3
Some 28mm miniatures taking cover (yes they are from the Perry Miniatures Chosen Men – 95th Rifles set – and painted in strange colours and that hardly look like the typically Napoleonic Rifle – but in this shape they are part of my Mutant 1984 Post Apocalyptic campaign and soldiers of the Pyri-Commonwealth)

S

rock2
Some Cavalry out on a spin (6mm GNW, Baccus)

rock
Swedish WW2 era AT team behind some rocks (15mm, flames of war)

Both the trees and the rocks will allow me to create that little extra flair to the battle board that allows that magic immersion to set in.

Hope that was of some interest!