Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bread and Circuses - Keeping the Mob Entertained

Last weekend I took my 6mm setup for Bread and Circuses up to the Wee Gamers Bunker at Whitehead. We had six players having a go - it was the first time that I had tested the game with more than four - and I have to say, the mob seemed entertained. Each player ran a single chariot, and from turn one there was foul play and reckless driving a plenty. I was delighted to see how additional players expanded the game from a simple race into a full blown battle of wits, angst and broken axel shafts.

Here are a few endorsements posted on Friendface following the event.

"So Last night a few of us got to play test yet another game in the pipeline for Nic. This time 6mm chariot racing fun.....and it was. Plenty of straight up racing but lots of opportunity for skulduggery and larking. Not allowed to say too much about the game in detail yet, but I can say this, everyone had a good laugh!"

"Was super fun esp with a big group"

"What started off as Roman Chariot racing quickly deteriorated into a Demolition Derby. Nevertheless it was great fun!"

"Well if we can't break it no one can lol"

Only a few photos from the evening rather than a complete race report. The board and figures are for 6mm games, but the system is scale agnostic with three different sets of distances designed for figure scales from 6mm-28mm. As readers of this blog will know by now, I am a sucker for 6mm, and so that's what I have used for my own tests. Most photos taken by one of the testors, David from Backspindle Games.
The lads come to grips with the system using the single page cheat sheet.
The starting line up. Most of it. The agile Celtic chariot was far off to the left somewhere.

And they're off! The Fast chariots (Roman and flying carpet) take the lead. The Egyptian Archer controlled by Bill takes and early battering. A pattern that would continue.
Concentration as the competitiveness kicks in near the first turning point.
A riot of wrecked chariots after the leaders get around the turning point. The first mob is annoyed enough to run onto the track.
Egyptian Bill shows his standard reaction to being picked on by the other charioteers.
And that classic moment midway through the second lap when every chariot was a pile of wreckage. From this point it could have been anyone's game as crews struggled to right their vehicles and re-harness their teams. In the end, Bill's Egyptians got away first and stumble on to a very close victory.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

6mm Painting Masterclass…

Ok, let’s be honest. This will certainly not be anything even remotely resembling a ‘masterclass’. It might not even be a tutorial. What this post is intended to be, is more of a 6mm painting cheat sheet. I’ve been asked a number of times now to put a blog post up showing stage-by-stage how I paint my 6mm miniatures, so here goes. I’ll list a few general thoughts about painting 6mm (AKA the finest of scales) first, and then have a mini phot tutorial.

I’ll preface absolutely everything by saying that I am not a first class painter by any standard. I am competent, but I am also very slow. It’ll take me half a day (as in 6 hours straight) to paint three, or maybe four, 28mm figures. In the same time I could be several hundred 6mm chaps.

Start with a detailed range of figures.
I like Baccus and Rapier ancients/medieval because they are (generally) sculpted with a bit of an exaggerated style with high relief. This is going to be important. Baccus colonials are also very good – perhaps the best 6mm figures I have seen. I have found that Dark Realm do nice sci-fi stuff.

Start with a good bush.
I have only one brush that I use for 6mm figures – a size 0. You don’t need a finer one, as there is a limit to the amount of detail to paint, but a thicker brush will not really be good enough.
Admittedly I do also use a 4 for slopping brown paint on the bases.

Use a dark undercoat.
I prefer to use a dark brown undercoat. There are a couple of reasons for this.

A white undercoat means you need to be far more careful when applying the basecoat (stage 1), making sure you get into all the creases, as when you ink the model (stage 2), the white will show through the ink if not fully covered.

Black is a possibility, but I find that a black undercoat can make the application of your basecoat (stage 1) tricky, depending on your palette. Neither my yellow, nor my brighter red will cover a black undercoat and therefore need multiple coats.

Brown, however, is the king. Not only is it dark enough to allow you to me a little ‘rustic’ when applying your basecoat (stage 1), but basecoat colours tend to adhere better, generally/always allowing for only one coat.

Also, brown is just about the most common/useful ‘default’ colour. What do I mean by default colour? I mean the stuff on the figure you don’t necessarily want to spend time painting. This, for me, includes the backs of shields, trousers, pike shafts etc, and at least 50% of horses.

Most horses are browns, bays and chestnuts, that means you can get away with a undercoated brown body, just adding different colour to the manes, tails, a star or blaze on the head, and socks.

Unfortunatley, the only unit I had ready prepped to paint were my Baccus Maddhist camelry which I use/substitute as pre-Islamic Arabs. And that means they are all on camels. Which are not brown. So I kind of missed the ball there. Anyway...

Unless I am painting a very open-order unit, I usually stick most or all of the figures to some form of strip before undercoating. I might still glue some to the base, normally one rank or a loose scatter. So long as I have room to get my brush around I am happy enough. If the unit is only going to be a loose scatter of figures I will generally glue all figures straight to the base before undercoating.

You are painting a unit, not a figure.
It may surprise some people, but it is possible to spend a lot of time adding great detail to a 6mm figure. But you don’t have to. The beauty of the scale is that players and passers-by focus on the mass effect of the unit, not on individual figures. It is the mass effect, not the fine detail that is important.

Stage 1 – the base coat.
This is the stage where the main colour theme of the unit is decided. Try to keep the colours to a minimum. Try to keep to two, maybe three primary colours. You want these to contrast is possible to really make the figures ‘pop’ when finished. You should try to leave a tiny bit of the dark undercoat showing where the primary colours meet if possible.

If you want a more irregular look to your unit, use different shades of the same colour – it the colour theme is blue and yellow, use blue and yellow on 1/3 of the figures, and sky blue and yellow on the last 1/3.

I tend to start with torso and work my way out. That way, I find it easier to be a little rustic and much faster in the application of the paint without having to go back later and fix mistakes. Skin is normally left to last as skin is usually at the extremities – faces and hands, sometimes legs.

Stage 2 – the ink wash.

Ink is your best friend. All of the mistakes and messy bits from the base coat will now be cured. The ink washes over the figure, gathering in the incisions/creases and pooling in corners. It obviously adds shading and obscures the joints.

While the ink dries, I take a moment to paint the edges of the unit’s bases.

Stage 3 – return of the base coat.

Up to this point, I find painting a chore. But once the ink has dried (or mostly dried), I start to enjoy myself. The ink will have dulled all of your stage 1 base colours. Using the same colours, return and just lightly apply it to the most exposed areas: the centre of the torso, the tops of sleeves, the upper half of the face of the shield, the top of the helmet.

Stage 4 – highlight.
This stage is generally obsolete, although sometimes large areas such as a face of a shield, it can sometimes help to have a lighter shade of colour just along to top edge.

Stage 5 – basing.
My approach to basing is quick and easy, but relatively effective. I start with 3mm magnetised mdf bases. I know that some people prefer thin bases. Aesthetically I can understand why, but after spending time, effort, and a little bit of love, to paint my unit, I want them to survive being handled on the gaming table. Remember, even if you are the most careful, fine fingered gamer in the world, accidents still happen, and your gaming partners/passing child might not be as delicate. A thicker base allows the unit to be manhandled by the base and the figures don’t need to be touched.

After gluing down the figures, either in a scatter or in formation, I apply a coating of wood glue and cover the entire thing in paving sand. This is the fine-grained brown sand with regular inclusions of larger, irregular shaped grains used for brushing between pavers. Larger tiny stones can also be added now, usually just before pouring on the sand. They give more of an impression of rough ground.

It is important that the paint on the figures is completely dry before this point, or else you’ll find the sand sticks to the paint. When the glue dries, you’ll have 1) a good base ground cover, 2) your figures will be double stuck to the base (no chance of rebasing now… mwahahahaha), and 3) the ground level will be slightly raised helping to obscure the face 6mm figures tend to be cast on thick strips.

When the sand is stuck firm, I then put on smaller or larger patched of glue which are then covered in static grass. I use standard sized static grass, same as the stuff I use for 10mm, 15mm and 28mm figures. I have three different pots. A green, a dried yellow and a blend of the two. I usually use the patches of the green and the blend for lusher style bases, and the yellow and the blend for more arid bases.

Stage 6 – get gaming!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The quest for 6mm mounted crossbowmen...

My newly completed 6mm 15th century project has prompted me to start thinking about the next step. I have some other bits and pieces that need doing first, but I've a mind to build a 15th century Low Countries, Scandinavian or German army.

The thing is - and there is always a 'thing' - Baccus don't do mounted crossbowmen who will certainly feature in the next project. I know that both Irregular and Heroics and Ros do produce them, but I'm not really convinced that I want to mix the styles in the one army and I already have lots of unpainted Baccus stuff to get me going.

As a trial run, I've begun playing around with the first of several conversion ideas to see how they work. These four chaps are Baccus light cavalry with their spears cut off at the hand. The off-cut was then reduced in length again by almost a half, bent slightly, and glued back on the hand as the arms of the crossbow. 

Once I order a pack of foot crossbowmen I will also play around with cutting off the rider at the waist and sticking on half a regular crossbowman, but the effect of this quick and easy fix is not so bad I think. We'll know more once they are painted.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Late Medievals in 6mm

Part way through last year, a regular gaming mate of mine got himself a Medieval itch. Now, this was not the sort of itch that you can get creams for these days from any high street apothecary, but something a bit more.... 6mm and made of lead.

He burst ahead and ordered his weight in figures from Baccus. With an impending sense of uncertainty - and a pinch of doom, I followed him into a folly of bill and bow. Totally out of my comfort zone, I also bought and read my first book on the Wars of the Roses (Dan Jones' The Hollow Crown), which at least gave me a very readable context in which to wage wars across the table top.

After a slow and much stalled start, I finally finished my first ever late Medieval army/ies early this month. We started with the intention of playing Bloody Barons from Peter Pig (hence the use of 30x30mm bases). The pre-battle skulduggery in that game is fantastic and very flavourful but in the end, we decided that L'Art de la Guerre gave us a more enjoyable game for the battle itself. Some of the treachery the abounds in BB's pre-game phase can be easily abstracted with the 'unreliable' commander trait in ADG, and we might end up trying to adapt the other aspects once we are more familiar with what we're doing. 

We played a great game over the weekend where all sub-commanders were unreliable. My rear ward commander decided to be hesitant about the battle (result of rolling a natural 1 in the first turn), but was soon reminded that his beloved nephew was locked away somewhere as a hostage by the C-in-C and he quickly decided that joining battle was the best course of action. Brett's rear ward lord did exactly the same thing, but sat tight for four or five turns before committing himself, effectively losing Brett the game. 

ADG uses significantly less bases to paint than BB, so with my current forces, I can run them as either War of the Roses Yorkists, or Anglo-Irish.

Here are my three lords, all sufficiently generic - from left to right, milord Black-on-Yellow, milord Blue-on-Red (the lord commander), and milord Yellow-on-Blue.

My little camp. The tent is a little resin job from Leven Miniatures. The figures are from a range of Baccus packs including a Crusader personalities (to get the bishop with cross and kneeling knight).

A bombard (heavy artillery) from Irregular Miniatures with Baccus crew.

A scratch built organ gun (light artillery) made from a couple of spare chariot wheels, some 15mm copper spears and a cut up old credit card.

Hand gunners (light infantry) in red and green livery.

Gallowglaich (heavy swordsmen). I used early Medieval Saxon Huscarls for these. One each strip of four wee chaps, two of them have kite shields on their backs so were practically unusable for this project, but the other two worked wonderfully for axe-wielding Islesmen.
Irish kern - another substitution. These figures are actually Baccus Moors/Numidians. However, they are lightly clad javelinmen with small round shields, so they work fine for kern.

Less-than-heavy knights, used as Anglo-Irish nobles with their retainers, or WotR currours. The front rank of each base are Baccus knights, the rear rank are Baccus light horse. Liveries are red and white, red and yellow and green and white.

English foot knights and retinue bowmen. Liveries are blue and red, and white and black.

Anglo-Irish (or less well equipped English) retinue bill and bow, liveried in yellow and green.

 Militia bow, themes (rather than liveried) in blue.

Here is the full 200 point army fr the Anglo-Irish. From the rear, mounted nobles and camp, militia bow, English retinue, Anglo-Irish retinue, gallowglaich, bombad and kern.

And here they are again presented as Yorkists - no galloglaich or kern, less cavalry, but another retunue of foot knights and bow, some hand gunners and the light artillery.