Friday, November 09, 2007

Design of a Gamesroom

When the chance came for my wife and I to design and plan our own home, one of the things I had always wanted, was a purpose built games room.

Most of us have to make do with setting up battles on the dining room table, and then having to clear everything away after each game. Others are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom which can be made to fit the bill, although unless its an especially spacious bedroom, will still be a little cramped to fit all the gaming paraphernalia into it; table and space to move around it, painting area, storage for models and terrain, seating, bookshelves for reference literature and rules, the list goes on and on. Some can utilize the garage or shed, but these may be cold and damp in winter.

Through my gaming "career" I have worked my way through these different levels, monopolizing the dining room table while at home with my parents, to finding a small spare bedroom in my first home.

Our house was designed (and subsequently built) with our input, by Homecreators here on the Kapiti Coast. Dave Smithson was great to deal with in the initial planning stages and made the whole process very easy. As the build progressed, our main contact switched to Daves brother Ben, who helped work through all the "nitty gritty" of the build itself, and loose ends that needed tidying up afterwards. If you are on the Kapiti Coast, and want a house built, I cannot recommend them enough.

The gamesroom itself, started out as an addition to the garage. It then went through a couple of design changes including being made into an "attic-truss" type configuration, where the games room would have been above the garage. However, this would actually have cost more to do, and given me less space. So the plan reverted to being on the ground floor, located to the side of the garage. This worked out simply because we had the ground space to do it on the section of land we had.

The gamesroom is accessible through the ranch-sliders at the front of the house to left side of garage doors. This means the gents can call to the house and enter the gamesroom without disturbing the rest of the house. An internal door connects to the garage, through which you come to the utility/laundry, and then on into the main house hallway for access to the the toilet.

We thought about having a separate toilet for the gamesroom, but this reduced space in gamesroom and increased costs, so the idea was scrapped.

The gamesroom measures 4.5m in width and 6m in length. It comfortably contains my 12' x 6' games table, and all its space underneath for storage, and also space to move around all sides of the table. There is space for book shelves and a work area and importantly a beer fridge ;-).

Our home, the sliding doors to left of garage door allow access to the gamesroom from the front driveway.

A shot of the gamesroom from open front sliding doors, showing table, with space underneath for storage, and shelves, work area and beer fridge on left wall.

Another shot of same. Since this shot was taken I have "temporarily" added two wallpaper pasting tables to allow a bit more space for terrain making (always a messy process that requires a fair bit of space to spread yourself out!) I hope eventually to include a sofa for those tired out from gaming and in need of liquid refreshment, and comfy spot upon which to recline and mull over the tactical implications before them! ;-)

My inaugural games night; a Napoleonic battle using General de Brigade rules. Pictures show myself to left, then Roly Hermans (our clubs esteemed "General"), and Brian Smaller, Steve Sands and Greg Simmonds, some of the founding members of the Kapiti Fusiliers. If I recall correctly, the game was a win for the French over Russians holding a village who were awaiting reinforcements.

One final point about the chosen position of the gamesroom means that, God forbid!, should I every have to sell up and move on, this extra room to the property has many uses that would appeal to many prospective purchases; a rumpus room, extra workshop, home office, or extra garage...

...but I ain't movin'!!!!! ;-)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Kapiti Fusiliers Napoleonic Battalion

Our local gaming club, the Kapiti Fusiliers, are very keen on their historical wargaming, and in particular, the Napoleonic era. They also have a high reputation for the standard of their painting and the quality of their terrain and display games, and have won prizes at local wargames conventions over the years.

At the time, a lot of recent gaming had involved a number of Napoleonic battles, as part of a greater campaign, using the General De Brigade rule-set. This had seen several exciting games.

During this time our "General" of the club; Roly Hermans, put into action the idea of having a club battalion as initially proposed by Fusilier Mike McGillivray, which would be painted up by volunteer members of the club. Then when games were played, the club battalion could also participate and win some battle honours.

A poll was conducted to choose a scale, figure manufacturer, and paint scheme for the battalion. This resulted in a choice of 28mm figures from Front Rank, with an appropriate historical french uniform, for our battalion of Napoleonic French fusiliers.

The nice thing about this idea was that not only could local club members take part, but so could the many "virtual" club members who join us online from around the world.

I volunteered to paint some figures and was designated 4 voltigeurs and their command figure. For those not "in the know", the voltigeurs are a type of light troop type that would protect the flank of a battalion. The idea also of doing a command figure would allow those who wished, to do a little conversion work, and add their own character (portrait-wise) to the miniature figure!

I must confess at this point I am an absolute "newbie" to this period of wargaming, and other than knowing that Wellington won at Waterloo, I do not know a lot about the period.

This resulted in a great many pleading emails to Roly, for accurate information of the correct colour scheme and uniform details for these figures. Those "in the know" would be able to tell if a collar or cuff were the wrong colour, and I didn't want to make a mistake. For this information, and help, I am most grateful to Roly.

The figures were all painted up and varnished by the individual painters, then sent to Roly, from around the world, to be based in a uniform manner so the battalion would look right on the table top.

The figures I painted were done using GW & Foundry acrylic paints, starting from a black undercoat. Varnish was brushed-on polyurethane gloss, followed by a spray coat of GW satin spray.

The pictures below show the figures I finished before being submitted for basing. So I hope you will forgive the fact that they are still perched on their painting stands.

First up, the command figure. This guy is supposed to look like me. OK so he's got brown hair, and if you look closely a slighty malformed lip, which I left on the model, as I always seemed plagued by dry lips despite almost eating lipsalves! That was enough "characterisation" for me

Next up was the cornet, or musician. This chap caused a bit of difficulty, as they typically have a more flamboyant tunic top than the regular soldiers, I guess to make them stand out on the battlefield. However, checking this model closely, the tunic seemed fairly normal, apart from large epaullettes. After a couple of paint schemes, the model was finished as you see him.

The remainder of the figures are presented in various types of dress, as I wished to present them in a "on-campaign" appearance rather than a dress parade uniform. Consequently there are mixtures of colours for trousers and greatcoats being worn, and also Shakos (hats) both covered and uncovered, and of course, scuffed and dirty shoes and trousers.

After I had completed these figures, a second batch of figures were sent for my attention. These would represent the "Tete de Colonne" (head of the column, or command group) of the second regiment. Unfortunately I didn't get round to photographing these figures before hand, but more can be seen following the link below.

You can see more of the Kapiti Fusiliers Battalion here.

Painting Plastics - Zvezda 1/72 Greeks

A little while ago, whilst awaiting my house build to be completed, and being a little restless at not having anywhere proper to wargame in the rental property we had at the time, my mind went back to role playing games (D&D) of my youth. You don't need a huge table and space for roleplaying, afterall, and with the right game and group of people, its great fun.

I joined an online forum and found some local players. A guy was about to start an ancient Greek setting, and when it turned out he had some figures for it, I volunteered to paint them.

There I was looking forward to some nice Foundry sculpts, (or something similar), but lo and behold I was presented with plastic toy soldiers. Not really my cup of tea, I really consider them children's toys, not really wargames / rpg figures, especially when you consider the quality of metal figures available nowadays.

But I had promised to paint them so off I went. I cleaned the figs up; trimmed off excess mould lines with sharp knife, (filing just leaves an annoying burr - a reason I don't like plastics ), washed the figs in mild detergent, rinsed and dried.

I then tried to find a glue that would stick the spears and shields on. Super-glue didn't work, plastic cement didn't work, bostick was too thick. In the end I used PVA. It seemed to hold OK but not sure if I would trust a lot of handing. (another reason I don't like plastics).

I decided to try painting them in my regular method - acrylics, and undercoated black to start.
I then dry bushed on a bronze colour for the armour, and inked this with a dark brown ink. I then did the usual two layer paint job. Obviously at this scale I didn't bother with the eyes!

When finished I varnished in brushed-on polyurethane gloss, then sprayed over this with GW spray satin finish. Finally I sanded and flocked the bases.

I know people talk of painting them first with thinned PVA, and doing the same again once painted (to try and get paint to adhere to the plastic figure, then try and stop the paint from peeling off afterwards as the plastic flexes - another reason I don't like plastics), but i thought this would clog the detail of the figures, and I figured they wouldn't be getting a lot of handling.

They turned out OK I guess, but I wouldn't rush to paint them again...

1/72 scale Zvezda plastic Greeks...

... and with a little background terrain to make it nice!

PS the role-play session wasn't my style in the end, too much "acting and accents" for my liking, I am more the "knock down the door, kill the monster, steal the treasure" kinda guy :-). Simple but fun and effective.
In a similar, humorous vein, if you like(d) "knock down the door, kill the monster, steal the treasure", then you've gotta try Steve Jackson's card game; Munchkin. Its an absolute scream! :-)

PPS just in case you hadn't noticed - I don't like plastics! ;-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Warhammer Ancient Battles - Germanic Barbarians

This was a long project from the outset. I wanted an army that I would be able to use against in-period ancient opponents (as my medieval army didn't really look right lined up against Romans!). I also wanted an army that could realistically go up against several armies of the ancient period and that could be "morphable" into a few varieties. Lets face it barbarians are barbarians, and with a few subtle tweaks, could be made to cover tribes from all over ancient europe.

I chose figures from the Foundry collections, and picked up many through their horde deals, and some from E-bay. In the end I went with the germans (as opposed to celts) as I liked the greater "hairyness" of the figures which matched the image I had of barbarians in my minds eye.

The one downside to this range is that for some reason, Foundry didn't offer a musician model for the germans. I considered using their "wailing women" models as an interesting substitute, but in the end couldn't face a unit with civilian type women in the front rank. It just wouldn't look right now would it. So out came the greenstuff and I sculpted a load of simple animal horns tied around the necks of suitable figures with a length of cord. I think they worked quite well.

Well back to the daunting task of painting them. Pointswise, barbarians are cheap, so that means big units and painting loads of the little buggers ;-). When I started this army, I was actually half way through painting the first regiments of my ECW army, and had got a little bored painting all the same uniforms. I was relishing starting the germans. However I have to say it was quite a hard slog, the reason being trying not to do two models alike. This meant constantly checking I hadn't selected two paint schemes the same, and individualising all their shield designs. This took a lot more time and thought than I imagined.

Balanced against this was the "easy part" of ploughing through acres of flesh... Flesh is the one colour I always do as three shades (as opposed to the two I normally
do for most other clothing colours). So this was therefore more work for me.

However, I have to say after roughly a years painting time, I am pleased with the result. The army got its first proper outing at the Wellington Warlords Call to Arms tournament in August of 2007, and gave me some fun games.

The army can still be added to later as I choose to tweak it. We'll see what happens. Current project is to go back to my ECW army and try and finish that.

The whole army arrayed for battle as they emerge from the forest. Skirmishing and light troops armed with javelins to the front. Centrally the main warbands with shield and throwing spears. To the flanks, noble and light cavalry units.

A main warband led by barbarian chieftan. Big warband units mean you can keep rank bonus for longer during attritional fighting and also gives you the chance of warband auto-break if you charge the enemy and win in the first round of combat. Loading the front rank with "beefy" characters can help this.

Noble cavalry to drive off weaker enemy cavalry and hopefully co-ordinate a flank attack with the warbands to smash into the enemies main infantry units.

Fanatic warbands, subject to frenzy, truely wild barbarians that build themselves up into a frothing frenzy. Very colourful for the barbarian army, but quite pricey pointswise and can be led round by the nose by a wiley opponent due to their requirement to charge any enemy in range.

And finally the Generals main warband, accompanied by army standard bearer (another hard case character) and the Shaman - a terrifying figure causing fear in his opponents and hatred for the enemy in units he accompanies. A real killer unit and if you can get it in the right place at the right time, a pleasure to behold! :-)
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