Varnish trouble!

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Having finished my Lion Rampant retinue, I moved onto the next project on the work bench, the 40th Somersetshires. With just the six figures in the command group to finish, I will have another Battalion for my Waterloo army. The photo shows the nearly complete group. I just need to add static grass and some army painter highland tufts to finish them off completely – Oh! and there is the small matter of adding the flags…

All did not go well with this batch of figures though. I had problems with the final stage of varnishing them. Normally, once the figures have been coated with Army Painter Quick Shade and allowed to dry, I give them a quick spray of Anti Shine matt varnish, re-highlight and all is done. However, with the weather so cold and windy, I was unable to spray the models outside ( I’m banned from spraying indoors!), so I thought that the easy solution was to give the figures a coat of Vallejo Matt Varnish by hand. I’ve used this varnish before to touch up any excess glossy bits on my models that the spray has missed, so I wasn’t expecting any problems.

I just gave them a quick coat of varnish and waited for this to dry. Arrgh! I was obviously a bit heavy handed with the varnish and when it had dried it had gathered in all the creases, blotting out the shading. Even worse, it had ‘bloomed’ ruining the main black and red areas! Arrgh! again, this isn’t supposed to happen with brushed varnish, only sprays do this don’t they?…Apparently not. So the lesson is only use a very thin coat and paint it on, not slap it on!

I repainted the worst affected areas on the figures and they don’t look too bad, certainly good enough for the gaming table. On the positive side, the brighter finish certainly makes the command group stand out from the rank & file. So another unit takes to the field and I am a little bit more wiser regarding using varnish – even water based brushed on varnish will bloom if you don’t use it carefully!

The retinue is ready!

Let battle commence!

Let battle commence!

Last Thursday I went to Battlefront HQ to play in a Lion Rampant rehearsal day. The ”rehearsal’ was to see if a big multi-player game of Lion Rampant would work and also to check out some ‘house rules’ for the big Lion Rampant day being held on 31st January. It was of course a good opportunity to see how my retinue played against the competition and to hone my tactics for the day. Well the evening went reasonably well and lesson were learnt by both the organisers and players!

The big battle suffered from the usual problems of keeping 12 noisy war gamers in order and somehow coordinating the turn system so that players at one end of the table knew when it was their turn to go. The other issue was that although I knew what was happening either side of me, it was very difficult to know what was happening elsewhere. In a way, this final problem isn’t so much a problem as a reflection as to what really happened in a battle in the middle ages. With no radio or mobile phone you would have no idea how your allies were doing until a messenger managed to find you and even then, the information would be out of date. So as a commander you could be winning your part of the battle, only to find elsewhere things hadn’t gone so well and a large force of very angry enemies were charging into a flank that you had previously thought secure.

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I’ll leave Dan & Wayne, the organisers, to figure out how and if to sort out these complications and focus on the lessons learnt from my own battle. My retinue, now complete, consists of  a Unit of foot knights ( including the leader), two units of expert archers, a unit of foot sergeants and a unit of Bidowers. It’s a typical English skirmishing force circa Agincourt to the Wars of the Roses ( if there is such a thing) & very much a defensive retinue. With no mounted units, I’m not going to be swiftly maneuvering around the battlefield, picking off the opposition. The expert archers are the killing units but they are fragile if caught in the open. Mounted knights will just ride them down. So the trick is to protect them whilst drawing the enemy into range.

So my tactics will be to keep the two units of archers in a central position as close together as possible. Any unit that comes with in range will have to face an onslaught of archery! I’ll protect the flanks and the front by positioning the Foot knights ( with the leader) to one side and the foot sergeants ( forming Schiltron) to the other side. My leader, Harry (Kane) Hotspur, should be close enough to add a point of courage to the archers in any morale test. Of course, I will use any rough ground to help protect the archers without compromising line of sight. The last of my units, the bidowers are there for two reasons. At worst ( for them!) they will be bait to draw the enemy into bow range. If all goes well, I will use them to skirmish and either add strength to a flank or wear the enemy down by fighting from cover.

Now all of that sounds great. I have a plan, what could possible go wrong…?

Well, on Thursday there were two problems. Firstly, I couldn’t roll the dice to get my units to move! It must have been six moves before I actually got within bow range of my opponent. By which time he had given up attacking me ( he wasn’t going to risk the archers even with my terrible dice rolling) and was attacking my ally on the right. By the time I started to move it was too late, my ally had been out numbered and slaughtered. The only good news was that because my troops had stood around impersonating the Stanleys at the Battle of Bosworth, the army was still intact. My ally on the left had suffered the same fate and had been all but wiped out, so I now had to fight three damaged enemies on my own.

The dice gods now intervened and at last things started to move and I was able to close with the opposition. The problem being that I was now trying to fight an offensive battle with a defensive force and all thought of a cohesive attack had disappeared, along with my allies.  The battle ended in a sort of a victory. I had killed the opposition leaders and reduced their forces to a few half units but it did not feel like a victory, more an avoidance of defeat. The other issue was that on this occasion, the terrain was as much of a problem to me as it was a help. There’s nothing like a battle with the whim of the dice throw to remind you that war gaming is not chess! Ah well, I still have a plan and I’ll stick with it for now. Despite the set backs, I dont think that I could fight with this army in any other way and it’s too late now to change.

The final parting shot from Dan was ‘whats all that stuff on your bases?’ ‘Well it is a War of the Roses force Dan….’

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Whats on the workbench 15 January 2015

Too much! Well, it’s the start of a New Year and the time when New Years resolutions are made. As usual, weight is involved, only in my case as well as trying to shed a few pounds from the usual over indulgence during the Christmas break, I have resolved to shed a few pounds of lead from my hobby stash this year… I suspect that this may be as successful as my attempts at dieting, as I cant help but binge on new models as they are released! But to try and keep me on the straight and narrow, I’ve developed a few themes from last year that I intend to try to stick to and to be fair, the current back log on my work bench does reflect this!

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my Lion Rampant Retinue. The following two pictures show progress on my Expert Archers.

Expert Archers - Perry Plastics

Expert Archers – Perry Plastics

The first unit is complete and ready to go into battle! I’ve chosen the blue and white colour scheme as a nod towards my favourite football team, Tottenham Hotspurs! It’s a shame that it doesn’t coincide with the original Hotspur’s colours, the Percy family’s Harry Hotspur, who used red & yellow. Blue and white are also the colours of Richard, Duke of York, so they wont be out of place when I use them to build my War Of The Roses Army. I guess that means I am committed to the Yorkist cause, but as Richard III was found in a car park just down the road in Leicester, I’m happy to represent his family on the War games field.

Expert Archers - Work in progress

Expert Archers – Work in progress

The second picture shows my second unit of Expert Archers. As you can see they are not quite finished. The picture does give you an idea of the painting & basing process that I use. The archers to the left with the dark brown bases are nearly finished. I just need to highlight the blue leggings and to brighten up the helmets and they will be there. The final stage is to dry brush the base with a couple of highlights of chocolate brown & Iraqui sand mixed. Then I’ll just add my usual assortment of grass & bushes. The archers to the right with the lighter bases have just been block painted and the bases sanded. They’ll need  a coat of quick shade and then the same treatment of highlighting and basing. All being well, the units will be done for this weekend.

40th Battalion Somersetshires Work in progress.

40th Battalion Somersetshires Work in progress.

Next on the work bench, the 40th Battalion is just missing it’s command group. I’ve got as far as painting the flesh & black and they are on their Renedra bases. My Napoleonic army will continue to grow this year. I plan to paint a further 5 battalions of infantry, 3 cavalry regiments and at least two more artillery batteries. Getting these done before June is a bit of a push, given my painting speed and other interests but so long as I keep pushing on, I will have a decent force to fight our planned Waterloo re-enactment!

DeeZee Lion standing

DeeZee Lion standing

DeeZee Glyptodon

DeeZee Glyptodon

DeeZee Pterodactyls

DeeZee Pterodactyls

The next project on the work bench is painting my DeeZee range. We have just released the standing lion and the pterodactyls so it makes sense to paint up some for display at Salute! The Glyptodon is an older model but the painted version that I have is showing signs of wear and tear, so I could do with another one to replace it.  I like to paint a variety of subjects and I also think that it’s good to paint my own products so that I can understand how best to go about it! However, the truth is that I just like the models, which is why I have the range in the first place. I’ll prepare a blog article explaining in depth what is happening with the DeeZee range and our plans for the future. As well as the Deezee range, I am also working my way through the Lucid Eye range of cavemen, lost tribes and explorers. Next up are the Cro-magnon, but I am just waiting for the new pack of hunters to be cast before I start on these!

So that brings me to my final project. Muskets and Machetes in the Caribbean. This is a bit of a ‘sleeper’ but I add the odd model in now and then in the vain hope that we will sort ourselves out and adapt the Muskets and tomahawks rules set to allow our gaming group to explore the battles that took place out in the Caribbean. There is plenty of scope for Jungle skirmishes, beach assaults, small sieges as well as full battles. Well Duncan from Trent Miniatures has just commissioned this superb Chasseur Pioneer of the St Dominique Regt and let me have one of the first castings! The figure will eventually form part of a Command group  but in the meantime I had to have one to add to my Caribbean force!

Trent Miniatures Chasseur Pioneer

Trent Miniatures Chasseur Pioneer

So that’s it for now, on with the painting!

More tales from the Jungle!


I mentioned that I had been distracted by the new releases from Lucid eye. Here’s one of the reasons! This figure is Simian Alpha. Although he has a passing resemblance to a certain character from a  monkey film genre, he is actually the leader of the much feared Simian tribe that inhabit the Savage Core. He is the first of a small range of Simian warriors that will terrorize and hunt down those careless enough to stray into their Jungle territory.

As you can see, he is beautifully sculpted and was a real pleasure to paint. After undercoating the figure in black. I dry brushed him in various shades of grey for the fur, and used vallejo rose brown for the chest & nose. The face was done with off white, with the marking added in red.

As well as the various tribes that will inhabit the Savage Core, there will be a variety of ‘Lost Explorers’ or Characters. The first of these to be sculpted is ‘Annalisse’, an intrepid female explorer ready to take on the perils of the jungle. This figure couldn’t be further from my current obsessions but sometimes a change is as good as a rest! So I took time out from my Napoleonic army and Lion Rampant retinue to paint her.Analise

Once again, the quality of the sculpt means that it is very straight forward to paint Annalisse. I just went for fairly muted safari colours – off white for the shirt, Green Ochre trousers & leather accessories. She’s based with a few Jungle plants & flowers ready to take her place in the Jungle. I’m not quite sure what I will be doing with these figures yet – at some stage a rules set for the Savage core will be available but in the meantime, I’m dusting off my copy of tooth & claw to see if I can adapt them for some Jungle Action!

With my range of DeeZee jungle beasts, I should have the basis for an interesting game. Of course it will also give me an excuse to keep painting the rest of the Lucid Eye range!