Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gloucester Minicon - 29th January 2012

Just short of a month to go before the first outing of our Zulu War Adventure and Paul from our club has produced an excellent poster for our participation game...
It really captures the feel for the period and game.
Feel free to drop by and see us on the 29th.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Matt Varnish Frosting... A solution ?

Aaaarrrgggghhh the Wargamers greatest fear, having spent several hours paintng up another unit for my Egyptian Project, I thought I would give them a coating of GW Purity Seal to protect my time and effort only to find the Matt Varnish has left a frosting effect all over them....
Reading several websites,forum boards and checking in with guy's at my local club the Evesham Wargames Club.
I am led to believe that this can be caused by high humidity, overspraying from to far way or a bad batch.



I could put it down to weeks in the Egyptian desert but I would like to find a solution to this or at least a remedy to lessen the effect.

I have tried Testors Dull Coat, GW Purity Seal and Humrol Matt Varnish and all at one time or another seem to have the same effect so this "frosting" does not seem limited to one brand and none of my research seem to have a clear answer despite many people experiencing the same issue.

Advice prior to spraying seems to come in a varienty of guises.

1. Warm the figures prior to spraying.
2. Warm the can.
3. Shake the can vigorously at least 5 minutes.
4. Spray at room temperature.
5. Spray far away
6. Spray lightly
7. Spray a few at a time

Ditch spraying and revert to Brush on Varnish.

I am tempted to try Krylon Matte Finish (if I can get hold of it in the UK?) or Army Painter Anti Shine Matt Varnish to see if they deliver a better result.
None of the above solve my issue so I set about exploring the solutions available.
1. Over coat with a second coat of Matt Varnish.
This appears to be a popular solution but in this case had little or know effect on the colouring, it did start to lose the depth of the figure. I suspect though this is due to the lack of actual casting depth in the plastic model.


2. Apply a coat of Thinner or Nail varnish remover.
This did not work, I applied it with a cotton bud and rubbed the effected area, it dried only to return the same effect as before.

3. Apply a brush coat of Matt Varnish.
This had the impact of dulling the effected area but the colour still suffered some discolouration.

4. Apply a brush coat of Gloss Varnish.
Having never been a fan of this type of finish, I need to pay a visit to the habby store for a can of this, it appears reading other blogs and forums that this has a mixed impact working for some but not for others.

5. Apply a ink wash over the figure to lessen the effect.
This did lessen the efect and was easy to apply given the type of figures effected, but I can see this being a problem for more detailed figures or where the desired effect is for bright uniforms, such as the Napoleonic Period.


6. Apply a coat of Olive Oil
Now this I dismissed out of hand as one of the those crazy ideas a kin to repainting the whole figure or dropping in paint thinner over night. But I had little to lose as none of the others seemed to be having the desired impact. But it actually worked!!!!
I applied it with a small soft paint brush and left it for several hours and it maintained it's colour depth, I rubbed the figure on the flat areas to try and wipe it away and it still retained a sheen and not trace of the frosting.
You will need to do this to also remove the excess oil.

I thought it might leave the figures a little greasy but it does not appear to, I even wiped the figure in a cotton rag to see if it picked up and traces of the oil nothing or at worse no different to the oil left on figures from your own hands after extended gaming, I even rubbed the flat areas with my fingers to try take of the coating and it still retained it's brightness.

So for me this solution seems to work and after 25 years of gaming it's the closest yet to return them to their original finish... Thay have a slight satin finish to them but blend well with other figures in my collection.

Could Olive Oil is a solution that has plagued wargamers for several years.... Try it for yourself.
Thoughts and comments welcome.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sharp Practice Zulu War Modifications.

Zulu’s Wars in Sharp Practice.
Set out below is a summary of the amendments and in house rules made for Sharp Practice and Terrible Sharp Sword Rules by the Richard Clarke and the guy’s over at Too Fat Lardies. These have been used by our club the Evesham Wargames Club to run a number of large scenarios based in the Zulu Wars of 1879.

Zulu Warriors.
Zulu infantry Units are broken down into 3 Unit Types.
Zulu Skirmish Unit.
A Zulu Skirmish unit should be 10 men strong and armed with fowling pieces. Zulu Infantry are poor shots and must spend every other action reloading.
Zulu Infantry Unit.
A Zulu Infantry unit should be 15 men strong armed with Assegai thrusting spears. The Zulu’s are aggressive in Fisticuffs and carry Big Choppers.
Zulu Regiment.
A Zulu Regiment should be between 30 – 60 men strong armed with Assegai thrusting spears. The Zulu’s are aggressive in Fisticuffs and carry Big Choppers. A regiment will be made up of between 2-4 elements. Between 3-6 men in the formation will be armed with fowling pieces.

Zulu's appear on the ridge

Zulu Experience.
Zulu Troops are categorised as per Terrible Sharp Sword (page 7) however Greenhorns are able to skirmish and none of the Zulu Troops receive the pluses for musketry. Zulu’s from the first invasion are Determined; troops from the 2nd invasion are Downcast.

Zulu Blinds.
A Zulu unit that enters a terrain item can revert to Blind in the next turn. When moving out from the terrain piece they can split into two blinds, one representing a fake and one the genuine unit.
Zulu’s move at 1d6 + 3 per action.
They may spend one action Hunkering Down which improves there cover class by one grade. i.e. None becomes light and Light becomes medium.

British Regulars.
All infantry Groups should be eight men strong. They are in the main Acceptable Shots and are armed with Superior Rifles. British Troops are classed as Triumphant in terms of belief.


Random Event Cards.
A set of random event Cards are available on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo Group.

Hand to Hand
When in Close Comabt all rules apply as per the TSS rule book, however we have limited the number of figures fighting, so for examaple British Troops in Open or Skirmish order will be out numbered by a maximum of 4:1, whilst a British Infantry Section in Close order can only be out numbered by a maximum of 2:1 per figure.

Big Man Allocation.
8 Man Section – Status I/II Big Man
Status III/IV Big Men range from Colour Sergeants to Senior Officers.
Zulu Big Men are allocated on a ration of 2 Big Men for every 3 Units fielded. Typically each force will also be allocated a senior commander or induna this commander will typically be one grade higher than the most experienced Big Man.

British Right Flank and Supporting NNC

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pike & Shot & Zombies

This is what happens when you don't have a game for a few weeks and you don't have the time to paint the backlog slowing building up in the garage. Your head gets turned by other things..... Now I have a reputation at our local club for always doing some strange periods well this one looks no different....


Any rule book that's opening line is.
"Do you have a bunch of ECW figures hanging around not doing much? Do you have a gang of undead eaqually underused??" Has my attention.
Several months ago I painted up a couple of boxes of Mantic Zombies and Ghouls but I have yet to play them in anger, I also have a couple of blisters of Foundry's Elizabethan Sailors which have been tucked away in a draw since at least 2007....
The rules call for a small number of miniatures, about half a dozen survivors and two to three times as many zombies, I figured I could get the Sailors finished as a short distraction from the on going Ottoman army.... where purchases are once agina out stripping painting.....
PSZ struck me as a bit of a change from the usual Zombie fests that we have at the club and gives me a chance to play out some smaller evening games with a few figures and some nice terrain.
The thought of a land filled with the plague and the belief in witchcraft seemed appealing.

The game is set in the Thirty Years War era were the world is pitched into darkness where a 'New Plague' has resulted in the dead rising.
Each player controls one or two characters each, with an umpire handling the zombies.
As well as the usual walkers there are a number of special types you can include such as friends and family members that your character might hesitate in attacking.

Having read through the rules there looks to be some nice mechanisms, characters have actions per turn, which reminds me of the old Combat Zone rules, where you have to decide to spend your points on moving, firing or other actions....

A random desk of cards is included which results in characters tripping, misfiring or seeing Zombies around ever corner, a nother nice touch is accusations from other players. As a result accusations of; cowardice, theft, murder or infection you might be forced to separate yourself from the rest of the group or face trial after the game.

Firing is split between damage and impact, characters are required to roll over the distance in order to hit, characters have to decide to spend actions on ensuring they hit vs the damage they might do if hit..

I have been playing ATZ for a number of years where the Z's appear to be slighty tough to fight off once in combat, in PSZ they appear to be a little weaker, unless they "grab" and hold you when their numbers start to tell..... However if you spend all your actions you could simply out pace them and run away....

Movement for characters with little armour and weapons is very fast.. however each item you carry/wear carries a weight score which slows you down, Plate Armour and a Broadsword for example can have a serious impact on your speed each turn although the ability of a single Zombie doing you harm is very slight.

The rules have an RPG feel to them with each character holding a number of stats, Lifepoints, Endurance, Strength, an interesting stat is 'Geist' - the zest for life. This factor goes up and down in relation to events on the table. A high score allows you to re-roll certain failed actions where a very low score indicates your character has given up his will to live and my offer himself to the Z's... 
Geist can be transferred from one character to another to gee them up, put the Geist of one can pull the whole group down...

You are encouraged to hunt around on the table top looking for stuff as resources are limited and with under 20 rounds for your musket you need to make every shot count.

I hope to have a small batch of Sailors finished in a couple of weeks and perhaps a test game before Christmas.

Starship Troopers - Bugs!!!!

Updating the blog and I found this entry stuck in draft...

Sunday Night saw the first outing for the Mobile Infantry and the Arachnids, for me Starship Troopers falls into the category of Zulu, Private Ryan & Last of the Mohican's, at one stage in the life of your wargaming hobby you just have to try and game it....
Mark had been finishing off his Pig Iron's Armoured Infantry, whilst I spent the last couple of weeks putting together a bunch of Plastic Arachnids....
Would you like to know more?

The Scenario.
During the Battle of Klendathu a platoon of Mobile Infantry are sent forward to hunt for a missing walker and for evidence of Bug activity in the area, the unit consists of two sections of Infantry and a command elements within an APC.


The table.... The Mobile Infantry will be moving on from Right to Left, they decide on a wide frontage to provide them with the best opportunity to spot the powered down walker.

Moving with Caution through the bush, the MI look for signs of bug activity....

First Section feels the ground tremble as a bug hole opens up just off table and a stream of bugs burst forth heading straight for them. The MI are out numbered 2:1

The bugs up close....

The MI duck back and seek a defensive position in the high ground hoping to thin the charging horde before they get to close.

In the centre of the table a second bug hole opens up right in front of the commanders APC just has he and his command debus, caught in the open the HQ section is able to fight off the lead bugs before diving back into the APC. It was going to be one of those nights for the bugs.

1st Section begins to run low on ammo but have reduced the horde of bugs to one or two, the supporting fire from 2nd Section really helped to stop the wave of bugs (together with some really bad dice by the bug player...)
The retreating APC can be seen in the background with a bug still clinging to the armour plating.

2nd Squad take cover behind a cluster of rocks and throw everything they have at the approching horde despite a couple of bugs closing with the MI they are able to defeat the assault by the bugs without a single casaulty. A job well done by 2nd Squad.

A supporting platoon are ambushed by a further wave of bugs bursting from a bug hole to the right of the MI.

A number of the Squad are killed but their sacrifice buys time for the other squad members to form up and pour fire into their attackers...

With supporting fire from the high ground out of shot the last of the bugs are defeated.

A great nights gaming completed in under 2 hours using the THW rules 5150.

With a further 20 Warrior bugs to paint and a unit of fliers I expect a tougher battle next time for the MI....

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Creating a participation game Part 2

Sunday night saw the first trial game for The Death of Louis, Crown Prince of France, the Evesham Wargames club first venture into participation gaming at a Wargaming show.

I felt it was important to play through the scenario to iron out any issues and to tweak any rules that may be needed, 3 players put their hand up for a game two of which had limited exposure to the Too Fat Lardies Rule Set, which made it far easier to replicate a show enviroment.

I had earlier posted a couple of question on the Colonial Wars Yahoo group which unfortunately prompted a response from Tim at the Staines Club.

Tim reminded me of a game I had read in one of the wargames magazines several years before, that they had put on and helpfully explained some of the mechanisms that they had used in their participation game, where each player completed to escape from the Zulu hordes, a nice mechanism where by the Zulu's only go after the closest figure.... brillant and just what I was looking for.
It would give the game a competitive edge.... Thanks Tim perfect inspiration...


We played two test games each one lasting under an hour.

Game 1
The British walked on mass to the donga, an ordered fighting retreat with only for one groups of three to be left behind and swamped  by the Zulu's.


Game 2
A more competitive edge with one of the players spending the first turn saddling their horses before racing for the donga leaving the other 2 players to fend for themselves.


The feed back from the guy's was that the game had the right tension and lasted just long enough to keep people interested, the closest figure target was a great way of the using the initiative cards so key to the fun of the Too Fat Lardies Rules.

There were some key learns to tweaks to make before the next outing.

1. Add a couple of additional breaks in the Kraal would stop the British and the Zulu's being funnelled to the same spot on each game.

2. Perhaps even turning the enterance to the rear of the table would provoke a different feel as player break out?

3. We decided on not telling the players it's a competitive game until they have deployed their forces...

4. It might be benefical to have some clear factions, FrontierJackets, Scarlet Jackets to allow players to remember who they were?

In terms of tweaks to the table and required painting a number of extra's are still needed.
Single dismounted horses.
Who on earth makes 25mm saddles?
A camp fire.
More Rocks need for the Donga.
Change the Lichen terrain to Coconut fibre the Lichen gave it to much of a jungle feel rather than veldt.

Handouts and rule summaries will be needed together with some spare measurement tapes.

Plenty to do before the show date of the Sunday 29th January.