The Great Wargaming Survey 2020!

It’s on again. The Great Wargaming Survey, 2020 Edition.

This is a survey that has become an annual event now and one where the number of respondents have been increasing each year. It focuses exclusively on tabletop miniature wargaming.

The survey only takes about fifteen minutes to complete and the results will, when published, I am sure, provide grist for the podcast and discussion group mills for many months into the future.

This is your chance to have a say and hey, what else are you going to do in the middle of the plague?

Wargame Soldier and Strategy will publish the result of the survey when it completes.  and as a sweetener for participation, there are prizes on offer, and in addition, a 20% discount coupon and a bunch of WSS articles, free of charge, upon completion.

The survey is running from now until 31 August 2020. I do recommend you spend the 15 minutes it takes to complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T5H2LVP and add your voice to that of the wargame community at large.

Well that was the week that was — the next week!

So, we are now at the week after the week that was. The condo building has three more days quarantine to serve then should have its quarantine restrictions eased. The mega city that is Metro Manila has another week to go before the government decides on whether to ease, tighten, or leave the restrictions as they are. Some of the cities in Metro Manila are performing better in comparison to others but will the government set tighter restrictions for some cities over the others?

After watching Kesari last week I have avoided rushing off and building a Sikh force for the Pehawar project … just!

I was able to work back in the office from Tuesday which was great. I am slowly cleaning my stuff out of the office in preparation for my exit from SOFGEN at the end of next week. Four more work days, then I think I will take a couple of weeks with my feet up, then full on looking for more work … if you know anyone who wants an old fat project manager, CIO, country head or similar, I am available!

The rules and the Army blocked up for the “press shot” 🙂

On the wargaming front, I completed the Anglo-Saxon DBA Army this time last week with the varnishing. Last Monday night I took the press shots of them (on the left and see 6mm Anglo-Saxons for DBA — 701-1016 CE). They are now waiting for me to get off my fat backside and paint up an opponent.

As for the middle eastern village buildings I was working on,  let me note that I have actually managed to do nothing at all on it this week.

It still looks exactly the same as the photograph below – in fact, it hasn’t moved at all on my painting/office table area thingy.

Plan is that today, I WILL finish these buildings. Some roofs, some windows darkened, a little sepia (maybe) wash and a dry brush and they will be finished.

I will then clean up the coffee table and my painting desk so I can do a couple of things. One is prepare the 2mm army for paint. Second is to sort books that arrived in the last nine months in a read/unread stack. Then I want to lay out some board games for a few solo games. Lastly I will need some space for a new laptop. My old one (now 5 years old) is giving me problems with the power supply – but it is probably a good time to get a new one.

So, a week when not so much has happened but hopefully ready to springboard into my last week at SOFGEN, then a couple of weeks of relaxation. Of course, the prospect of spending quality time by a pool with a hollowed out pineapple, a rum based drink in it and a fruit salad hanging off the side with an umbrella to reduce evaporation, well, in the middle of a pandemic, that may be hard to arrange but we will have a little period of relaxing.

Right then, where are my brushes?


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Painting Sea Bases (and some ships)

I put together some images of setting sea bases underneath 1/3000 scale model ships. I did dry brush rather more heavily then intended on one pass but overall, the information is good for those preparing small scale model naval vessels.

I based this exercise on two French Armoured cruisers from the early 20th Century – the Ernest Renan and Jules Michelet. The models were sourced from Navwar. They are presented as images below. Click on the images for a expanded view.

The Ernest Renan – French Armoured Cruiser and the Navwar model

I should note as well that this was part of a presentation put together for the Virtual Wargames Club, one of my two connections to sense, relaxation and de-stressing in this increasingly stressful world.

The Jules Michelet – French Armoured Cruiser

Why two French cruisers from prior to World War I? I did toy with the idea of using a couple of battleships but given the choice of the excessive tumblehomes of the battleships compared with the multiple funnels of the cruisers, it was a tough choice. However, who doesn’t like all these funnels?

THe models (both sides) and the material for the masts

Clean up the models, add the masts using the TLAR (That Looks About Right) principle.

Preparing the models

Next we get down and dirty.

Getting messy fingers – making waves

For this step I keep a damp rag or some damp kitchen towel handy to wipe the fingers off. Makes it easier that way. Also, once done, the fingers wash off quite well in soap and water.

I then looked at painting just the water surface but decided to paint the vessels anyway as part of the process.

Painting part 1 – view from left to right

First step, undercoating and I had some brown undercoat from Vallejo I wanted to try. That was followed by covering ship and base with black, then in order:

  1. Dark Blue (Prussian Blue or similar)
  2. A middle shade of blue, applied as a kind of heavy dry-brush
  3. A light blue (in this case, something like a sky blue) also dry brushed a little less heavily
  4. A very thin wash of a light green – in this case, lime green but Citadel has some bright fluorescent greens that will work well. This wash, applied lightly and wet will give a hint of green phosphorescence when the base is finished

After painting the bases, a medium sea grey and black wash was added to the ships

Painting part 2 – view from left to right

Medium sea grey is now brushed over the vessel then the ships are painted with the various colours for the deck, corticene areas, and black in the area where the coaling occurs. Black on the funnels and masts and lastly, a light dry brushing of white on the water surface.

The final product – and two other variations on a sea base

The wakes are then painted on the final version for the two vessels (see the left most images) and voila, done! Some varnishing can be done with your favourite varnish.

The other two images are other variations of a similar process with the Dante Alighieri illustrating the lazy man version of the Sea Base.

I do trust you have enjoyed this how-to post.


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Well that was the week that was!

Well, that was the week that was. Monday was a normal day, well as normal as it can be under General Community Quarantine. Tuesday morning, however, things got interesting. There was a note on the wall of the condo elevator as I was walking to the office.  I didn’t read it until getting to the office. It noted that there was an active Covid-19 case identified in the condo. Letting my Admin Manager, know, I was instructed to:

  1. Go home
  2. Get a test to ensure I was negative, and
  3. That the office would be closed until after my test then a deep clean would be organised (I did wonder why the wait)

The specimen was collected when a doctor dropped around to the apartment and shoved a swab the length of my umbrella up each of my nostrils. Technically it does not hurt but my goodness don’t the tears half fall?

Result came back today, SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA NOT DETECTED.

Great, life can return to near normal and I can exit the Condo from time to time.

I still managed to work from home, uncomfortable as it was, finishing up a few things before my enforced retirement at the end of the month. I also worked on finishing up some wargaming things that had been hanging around. I also managed to catch a few movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

One that I really enjoyed was Kesari, a movie made in 2019 (IMDB Reference) which is based on the real story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an force of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Pathans in 1897.

The background story is based around Havildar Ishar Singh disobeying orders from his English officer and saving a Pathan woman from the local mullah and men. This was on the North-West Frontier in Tirah, about 20 miles from Chat, 40 miles from Peshawar. After that, Havilday Singh was sent to the outpost and then the Pathans decided to get restless.

Wikipedia notes about the battle:

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September, 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. On 12 September 1897, estimated 12,000 – 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk and round Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi where thousands of Afghans swarmed and surrounded the fort, preparing to assault it. The soldiers in the fort, who were all Sikhs and led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to the death, in what is considered by some military historians as one of history’s greatest last stands. The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent.

Well, according to the movie, 21 Sikhs and a Pathan cook.

The movie was brilliant, although without English dubbing. Still the subtitles were adequate for following the plot lines and once the Pathans attacked, it was not difficult to work out what was being yelled.

Best of all, the area the filming was in allowed me to get an idea of land form and colours on the North-West Frontier and therefore for my Peshawar project.

Over the rest of the week I worked on finishing the Anglo-Saxon 6mm DBA Army as well as the Middle Eastern Peshawar buildings (building progress photographed to the left).

The DBA Anglo-Saxons had the edges of the flags painted to remove the white edge and blend the flags in.

The Anglo-Saxons were then varnished with a spray matt varnish. The varnish is Liquitex Professional Matt Varnish an seems to have worked well. The army is shown on the right with the varnish drying.

The Liquitex Matt Varnish was the only spray varnish I could get from the local paint store. For gloss or satin, all I have are varnishes that require brushing on – perfect for ships, less so multiple figures on a base.

What’s next? Well tonight it is time for the Virtual Wargames Club (and tomorrow at 14:30 local time). After which, I will take some “press release” photos of the Anglo-Saxons, finish the Middle East village and then clean my painting table/office, as well as the  coffee table just over there to the right. I want to lay out a board game or two and have a play. In addition, I will also be looking for a new job more seriously as well as brushing up my COBOL skills and maybe learning ELM.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a little more of my movie recommendation (and in case you are wondering, in true Bollywood style, they did manage to weave two songs into the movie!

Do Wargames Rules Writers have a Eurocentric View of Terrain?

In a post on Twitter, @GodsOwnScale noted:

And one more thing. The trend to base figures with a half earth, half grass look. Where did that come from. Standing in the middle of the field yesterday, I didn’t see how that style of basing reflects anything in reality.

The Parthian General

What GOS is describing is the current trend in basing Wargame figures with a mix of soil, gravel and static grass, as illustrated with the picture to the left.

When I first started wargaming, bases were simply painted in green, one of two shades. There was a dark chalkboard green used and another was the what became the somewhat ubiquitous Citadel’s Goblin Green. Gobbo Green was a colour slightly lighter than the shade of the grass mat to the left.

Many wargamers creating Armies based around the 18th century armies still use plain, green bases, paying homage to the armies of some of the grandfathers of wargaming like Brigadier Peter Young, Colonel J. P. Lawford, Don Featherstone and Charles Grant among them.

We then started flocking bases. Initially this was with model railway flock, sawdust and the like and was a universal green shade. For variation, some brown acrylic paint could be mixed with the PVA glue prior to basing to create a kind of green lamington. Now, many of us base figures on textured bases and using static grass.

A hawk’s eye view of the Nubians

Bases were made to look more and more like the terrain the Army being painted was used to operate in (and yes, those Nubians to the right are 15mm – I do sometimes paint giant figures).

Given a dry environment, more sandy gravelly stuff was on  the base with the odd tuft a dry grass.

GOS lives in England and there is a reason that William Blake, when protesting those “dark satanic mills” built during the Industrial Revolution wrote:

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

England is indeed a green and pleasant land. There is (mostly) constant water available to ensure the grass grows thick and green. The forests and woods are thick with trees that prevent light reaching the ground so underbrush really only appears at the edge of the forest, and that combined with the absence of light in the wood itself means that it is almost impossible to see anything actually in the wood from the outside.

A countryside ger from Sukhbaatar Aimag, south-east of Ulaanbaatar

However, outside of England, the land is somewhat different. The photo to the left is a ger (yurt) in Mongolia. This area is between the steppes of Dornod Aimag and the Gobi. The grass has a taste similar to chives, so the mutton herded here comes pre-seasoned.

The point is, that this is neither a green and pleasant land, although it is very pleasant, nor is it a desert, well leastwise, not this part of it anyway.

This segues nicely into the other part of this discussion, and what I really started to think about after GOS’s comment on Twitter. Wargame rules writers I was exposed to in my early days of wargaming were inevitably English or American, and the Americans tended to concentrate on the American Civil War, much of which was in the Eastern Theatre and therefore in green grassy lands presumably with forests similar to England.

It was always confusing for me to read about ambushes being laid at the edge of woods when with every wood/forest/bush land I had seen, I could see at least 100 metres into it. It was the same in many other locations I visited around the world. It was only after my first visit to the English countryside that I realised woods in England were such that you could ambush from within. Famous ambushes such as Teutoburger Wald and those of the French and Indian Wars now made sense to me.

When basing naval miniatures, I base them on a blue base because, after all, we all know the sea is blue. But on those trips to England and Scotland, the North Sea was far from blue, more a miserable grey colour. Surely, if I am painting and basing my World War I ships, I should put them on a grey sea base. Given that the sea colour is a reflection of the sky, and as I come from sunny Sydney originally, to me the colour of the sea is that nice deep blue of the Pacific.

Gravelly, grassy terrain on the base

As wargamers, we tend to see terrain through familiar eyes. I see forests through Australian eyes and therefore thin, and sea through the same eyes (blue). As for grass, well it may be green, or gold (OK, yellow) or brown but again, where I am from, it is thin and seeing gravel around it, or the grass patchy, is quite normal.

And as we have deserts in Australia (the well named Great Sandy Desert for one), deserts are sandy and more a pale brown than yellow or white.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is the terrain basing underneath figures.


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A New Period – American Civil War

I have had an abiding interest in the American Civil War (ACW) since my very first wargame which I lost to friend Jeffrey. It was a USA vs CSA battle in Airfix 1/76 plastic with the Airfix Cowboy set used to provide cavalry. Masonite table surface, hills from plasticine so the game also had that plasticine smell about it. I can’t remember which side I was playing but I do recall it was a loss for me. Rules were the Don Featherstone ones present in War Games and for the record, I won the second game as the Ancient Britons taking on the might of Rome, again using Airfix plastic figures – the charge of the Roman chariots was something to behold.

I had a large collection of 15mm American Civil War figures, where the Union was painted and I left them in Singapore with friend Anthony. I am still hankering for an ACW set however. I have toyed with the Baccus 6mm ACW boxed set, containing lots of figures (well over 800) for £82.50 for those of us overseas, more if you live in the UK or Europe. Also included are bases, flags and Polemos rules. I also considered Heroics and Ros as well as Rapier Miniatures (Rapier still appear to be off the air at the moment but the link is to their Facebook page where there should be updates when everything returns to normal).

However, much as I like Baccus figures (and H&R and Rapier for that matter as well), what has caught my eye is Commission Figurines. Their website is a single page only but it links to their catalogue.

Why do I like Commission Figurines so much for my future ACW project? I think the thought of trying these figures appealing, especially as they are wood (or more correctly, MDF). Apart from the novelty of MDF wargame figures, they are considerably less expensive than the current metal ranges with 88 ACW infantry costing about £2.00. It would be possible to build two reasonable forces for about £20.00. Very tempting.

I guess I could also argue that as they are wooden, I am not being affected by something new, bright and shiny  😉

Yes, one more for the list of projects so I think tonight I will plan a post Pandemic purchase of these.


#6mm #acw #wargames

Finished and in Progress

Soviet bombers protected by fighters are faced by Finnish fighters – November 1939 to March 1940

So, after settling into what should be my “New Normal”* I extracted digit and got stuck into clearing my painting table. I considered the option of simply packing them all away in a drawer but slapped myself in the face with a wet salmon, and decided to HTFU and as Nike says, Just F****** Do It! I did it!

The Soviet bombers are now painted, decalled (is that even a word) and varnished so my Winter War air wargaming set is complete. Complete, except for the rules. I have Raiden Miniatures Thunderbolt and Lightning set here and a copy of Mustangs but I am really waiting for my copy of Too Fat Lardies “Bag the Hun” to arrive. It is held up somewhere in the PhilPost system here due to the COVID-19 Enhanced Community Quarantine of Manila for the past 10 weeks. Now we are under a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or hopefully soon a Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), PhilPost may deliver them, or at least a card telling me to pick them up from the Makati Central Post Office. Also waiting at the Post Office (I hope) is more aircraft from Heroics and Ros and Scotia (late war US and Japanese – think B-29 Superfortresses, P-51s and various late war Japanese aircraft. There are books waiting there as well so I am hoping for Christmas in June … or July.

The 6mm Anglo-Saxons – next on the paint queue – finger for size reference

So, what’s on the workbench now? I decided to finish the 6mm Anglo-Saxons and base them for DBA. Later I will do a couple of extra bases so that they are a valid force for Basic Impetus. The reason for the Basic Impetus is to get used to that ruleset for the Baroque ruleset, which I am planning on using for the English Civil War forces (or maybe 30 Year War) that I have sitting in the Lead Pile^.

For these I had decided on a brown undercoat as the top colours dull too much on a black undercoat. I have used brown in a couple of areas now and it seems to work well. Maybe the next army I paint I may try back to a white undercoat. In 6mm, undercoat, then block paint the figure, then wash. This may work well enough.

The back of the Anglo-Saxons – this is the side I hope to see in games and not their shields as they run away

Once I have painted these guys, then it will be a choice:

  1. Napoleonic Prussians (there are a lot of them) – already prepared for painting
  2. Coastal forces (1/1200 scale) – already prepared for painting
  3. Modern Naval air support for painted modern fleets
  4. Some 2mm Imagi-nations
  5. Buildings

These are the thoughts uppermost in my mind for next project however, if I know me (and I sort of do) then I am more likely to start something not on the list.

Stay tuned for more exciting indecision!


* My New Normal consists of adjusting to being required to retire, and the stress that follows from finding new work in the middle of a pandemic. Timing was absolutely perfect.
^ The Lead Pile is the number of unpainted model/toy soldiers or wargaming figures that are sitting in boxes and drawers. It is an increasingly misnamed term as modern wargame figures are made from lead-free pertwer, plastic, resin or MDF … but the term “lead pile” has been around for many years so lead pile it is!

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Virtual Wargames Club

Last Saturday night (or rather Sunday morning for me) I joined the Virtual Wargames Club’s second meeting. I heard about them from friend Doug so contacted the organiser, Phil Olley, and asked to join. He enrolled me and sent an invitation for 9 May meeting on Zoom. After seven weeks in Enhanced Community Quarantine with between one and three weeks likely to go, I was hanging out for some wargaming company.

I really enjoyed the time, talking with wargamers from England, Scotland, and the USA.

It’s always fun looking at other boys toys, and particularly impressive was Chris’s Stalingrad table. Turns out Martin lives just down the road from Doug (small world moment) and the main topic of discussion, apart from the odd ribbing and teasing, was which was preferred, metal, plastic or resin figures with the consensus being metal over plastic over resin. I am guessing if there is a discussion on the best scale, that could turn into the never ending story.

Doug’s Indian takeaway lunch looked delicious and beverages ranged from coffee (for the Americans it was breakfast time) through to the odd beer or two for those of us at the leading end of the time zones.

I have been thinking about/toying with starting another project (yeah, I know) and was thinking of using Commission Figurines 6mm MDF American Civil War figures. Paul kindly let me know that the quality is as good as in the photos so once I get my job sorted out, I will look to getting enough figures for the two sides.

Lastly Martin liked the name of this blog, “Thomo’s Hole”. I must point out that the name for this came about when I first had a presence on the Internet, around 1996 so now Thomo’s Hole has been around for 23 years. I noted this in a post here in 2012, Thomo’s Hole is 15 Years Old.

It was around 2001/2002 that I moved the blog into my eldest son’s domain, coldie.net, hence the URL of thomo.coldie.net.

Back then, 1996-1997 when the Hole started, a time before Google, the main search engine was Yahoo, and searching Thomo’s Hole at the time brought up early gay websites more often than my homepage. Now I have enough relevance apparently to appear at the top of the search results.

I digress (again!).

I am looking forward to the next meeting.

Day 49 passing, 13 days to go (hopefully)

It’s grown some more!  Tom Hanks and Castaway definitely comes to mind. There are two photos side-by-side showing the increase in hair length due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

25 days into ECQ 49 days into ECQ

Allegedly hair and beard grows at about 12mm (1/2 inch) per month although my heads current position seems to suggest that statistically, my head is an outlier! It is larger than average head size, one reason I do not often wear a hat as it is difficult to find one that fits.

This weekend is another holiday weekend but it comes on top of a stressful period at work. More on that latter when matters are clearer. Inertia, at least in my non-work life, has been the battle this past two weeks. Most of what I planned to do last long weekend, I never got around to doing. Of the planned items, I started to get my eBook collection in some order and located in one area on my hard drive and in two clouds. I have not loaded the complete library to my tablet yet, but I have started getting it in one place. I have also been looking at eReaders but I still have not finally settled on one. I think what I would like is a hybrid of about three of them. 

I also had a look at multi-platform Apps for cataloging my physical book collection. I have two possible favourites at the moment, just trying to decide which one provides the best multi-platform support – or at least Android, Windows and Linux.  

Last month I listed possible tasks for the near future. They were:

  • build more little ships
  • finish the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s
  • paint the 1/300 scale Tupolev SB-2s
  • read a book
  • paint some 6mm ancient Anglo-Saxons
  • build a large kit
  • start of new wargaming project?

Of those tasks, I have been reading a book (which is pushing me more and more towards a new project) and working on the 1/300 scale Polikarpov I-16s – these are almost finished, requiring just a few more decals (see to the left).

I am determined this weekend to finish setting up Linux on one laptop here and using either IBM or gnucobol, work on brushing up my COBOL skills. I will also clear a table so I can at least game a little over the next week or two.

If all goes well, the ECQ will be raised to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Makati (Metro Manila too maybe) on 15 May, although this is by no means guaranteed, given that Quezon City is a local epicenter and the largest of the 16 cities comprising Metro Manila. There has not really been a significant period of falling new cases in the National Capital Region although some the provinces around the NCR are doing my better (Local figures can be seen here https://covidstats.ph/cases). The only downside I can see of the GCQ those under 21 and over 60 (or pregnant for that matter) are required to stay in the home unless absolutely necessary to be out (food, medicine, permitted industries) 😦

Be safe, relax, keep your distance and wash your hands! I leave you with my Cousin Itt look!