Monday, 7 December 2015

Dragonmeet, London 2015

This week I went to the popular (and largely RPG/Fantasy related) Dragonmeet Show in London. I always wanted to go as a kid, and never could. Plus I was inspired by the fact that Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson of Fighting Fantasy and early GW would be there.

So here's a photo of me getting my early edition of 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' signed!

As a brief overview I'd say that Dragonmeet is a very friendly event, and has the benefit of plenty of seminars and participation games throughout the day. Although I didn't get to attend any of the seminars it was interesting just chatting to members of the public and vendors. I was impressed by the continuing dedication of people to RPG's - something that has had to weather the whirlwind of console and PC gaming in the same way that Wargaming has. I had a long chat in the canteen area with two guys from the "London on Board" gaming website who directed me to some awesome new boardgames they'd played. We also had a quite in depth discussion about the current state of Fantasy Wargaming, GW etc etc. It was also interesting to hear some guys on the next table talking about their WW2 Bolt Action figures, which suggests there's still a decent overlap of people who follow both historical and fantasy gaming.

My only regret is that I couldn't stay for the full day (it goes on into the evening with some games finishing around midnight!).

Thursday, 26 November 2015

28mm Simon De Montfort and Retinue

Here's Simon and his followers hacking their way through the bloody throng. The De Montfort figure is the limited Perrys one that was given away by Wargames Illustrated at Salute 2015. It's a great model in a fantastic pose. The rest are all Black Tree Design medieval dismounted knights. There's 12 models in total (including Simon), so that makes for two units in Lion Rampant.

BTD seem to be having one sale after another these days, so their prices are truly eye-popping (especially for metal). They're currently doing 'Black Friday' deals with around 40% off. I've just ordered a ton of stuff, so look out for more blog updates very soon!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

This Happened......


Recently I got myself into a right old muddle. The "old" here being the wonderful thriving retro community that is Oldhammer. It began with a trip to my parent's house to clear out a spare room where I came across a handful of 1980's Citadel Dwarves. These were the remainder of what was a sizeable collection of Warhammer stuff from my schooldays - essentially something that led to my Historical Wargaming as an adult.

I decided that the lonesome figure from a Dwarf Cannon Crew would appreciate some mates and the original gun. It also seemed like a fun Xmas project away from Camouflage schemes or Napoleonic uniforms. Finally I came across my sought after cannon after a couple of days trawling Ebay (it was decent 'low' price so no worries there). But this also influenced me to look for other classic gems from my youthful Fantasy gaming past and I ended up chatting for a while on the Oldhammer forum.

So anyway, flush with nostalgia and inspired by some of the stunning paintwork that the Oldhammerers are displaying on these figures that are sometimes over 30 years past I ended up purchasing a WHFB Second edition ruleset, The McDeath Campaign box, some Citadel Journals and old WD's. Again, it didn't break the bank and something else that impressed was how well preserved some of these items are! The Ruleset was in Near Mint condition with all the inserts, flyers etc. A really lovely purchase.

The Second Edition was our preference back in the day and lasted us through many fun summer holidays of mass battling. I also recall us doing "Blood Bath at Orc's Drift" across my mate's living room floor. So it seems natural to begin with that.

Consequently, my partner has had to put up with me sat on the sofa for several evenings occasionally waving an advert for something like Aly Morrison's Hobgoblin's going "LOOK!! I used to have these!!". Although she does have more tolerance for Dragons, Elves and the like after she admitted the other day that my Napoleonics are "a bit boring" (outrageous!!).

I wonder what she'll say when my order of an Orc Army from Black Tree Design turns up? :)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Miniature Painting Service Sir?

So the last couple of days have been busy. I've now launched my own miniature painting service. You can find it here: or by following the link on the right of my page.

I offer very reasonable prices and a high turnaround. Anyone who has followed this blog knows that the last year or so I've been taking on more work for friends (mainly through the local club), but after some careful planning, consideration and plenty of encouragement from those close to me I've taken the steps necessary to establish myself for public consumption!

The price lists and other details can all be found on the BFD website. Plus I can do discounts on large orders. So if you've got a mountain of silver that needs to be battlefield ready, please get in touch ;)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Black Dragon Miniatures Hinckley, Leicestershire UK

My partner and I were heading into Hinckley to go through some Parish records the other week. Whilst she was busying herself with the research I was given leave to wander around the shops for a couple of hours. "What the hell is there in Hinckley?" I asked myself. Thinking I'd be restricted to a DiY store and maybe a Costa Coffee. Surprise surprise, but across the road from the town library just happened to be one of the best and biggest Wargaming stores I'd ever seen. How on earth did I not hear of this manifestation right on the doorstep?

Stepping inside it was obvious they've given a large consideration to 28mm Historical wargaming as well as the usual Warhammer Fantasy and Sci Fi selections. Therefore I was pleased to see a huge range of Warlord, Perrys and Gripping Beast to choose from. Also what bowled me over was the light and space. This is certainly not a dim forbidding hobbit hole that some others seem to be. Instead it's almost a gamers dream with plenty of nicely designed terrain tables, clean atmosphere and helpful, friendly staff.

Talking to one of the guys, he said that the store had only been open since last December (so almost a year) and had lots of regular gaming nights and tournaments.

Check out their address, opening times and other details here:

In a time when brick-and-mortar stores seem to be on the decline, it's heartening to see a few still springing up now and again. I think the key aspect is promoting these places as community gaming hubs, whilst carrying the kind of stock to still keep it viable as a business. Like the staff guy mentioned, their stock is dictated by what local gamers are interested in and the games they come into the store to play.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Converting 28mm WF Apocalypse Survivors to Modern Taliban or Insurgents

My latest 28mm Modern Afghan project is coming along nicely, but my only difficulty has been in collecting enough Taliban. I'd already bought around fifty of the excellent Empress miniatures models, but going through the Force on Force scenarios it became obvious that if I had ambitions of putting on anything larger than an average game I'd need buckets of them.

Cue me scouring the internet for the past week looking for cheap alternatives....or ideas for conversion jobs. The only one of the latter I could find was a guy on TMP who had used his Gripping Beast Arabs box with Wargames Factory plastic WW2 Russians (taking all the rifles and MGs to put on the GB figures). Pretty nifty. But I was concerned about the lack of AK47s and more up to date weaponry - even though the Taliban are notorious for using almost anything that would fire a bullet. Sebastian Junger remarked that during a weapons raid the US Infantry had found, amongst other things, a Martini Henri.

Lo and behold, more searching came up with a Wargames Factory Apocalypse Survivors - The Men box of 30 plastic figures including all the AK's M16's and even Sniper rifles you could need. Checking ebay there were a few available but I also happened to be passing through Hinckley, Leicestershire, the same day. Home to the very excellent Wargaming Store "Black Dragon Miniatures" and probably one of the best stocked and friendliest I've ever visited (more on this later). Sure enough, two minutes after coming into the shop I'd picked up the necessary figures and was on my way home to give it a shot at converting them.

So what's inside? I'll tell you. Bloody LOADS of guns!! In fact so many extras that it's given me an idea to make some weapons caches as objective markers.

Putting them together was very easy. A few fills here and there but no problem. In fact if you wanted to use these as straight up insurgents you could use at least half of them as they are or just put a Green Stuff scarf round the face. The guys with baseball hats and security type uniforms? How about using them as Private Contractors?!! Awesome.

Making them into Taliban is slightly more tricky, but not impossible if you've got some time and plenty of Green Stuff.

First I rolled a Turban and wrapped it around the head. Then I made two squares (one for front one for back) to fashion a tunic. I covered the arms too, as some of the original sculpts had short sleeved shirts.

Next came the baggy trousers for the start of the Afghan Salwar Kameez. So wrapping the lengths of Green stuff around the legs and flattening it as I went along to create folds. Then I added the bottom hem of the Salwar hanging down below the tunic.

Lastly I added a beard and some more flowing material coming off the Turban and down the back.

So in conclusion I should be able to get around 30 insurgents or Taliban for only £18. Which would cost me almost three times as much in metal. Hope that gives you some ideas! :)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Scratch Built 28mm Afghan Compound

My very first successful attempt at making a building has resulted in my knocking together this Afghan Compound. I'd been reading through Matakishi's Tea House Blog ( and was impressed by how effortless he seemed to put together his own buildings for a similar modern Afghan game. Anyway, feeling a bit "brave" (I'd tried to create my own terrain for Warhammer in my schooldays and it looked terrible) I went out and bought a load of foam card and filler.

Luckily the instructions on the Matakishi Blog are really straightforward and it gave me great confidence that I could make some useful at least. I cut almost everything out in the pattern apart from a set of stairs which looked a bit difficult, and then used pva glue and cocktail sticks to hold it all in place. My only problem was by using foamcard (instead of corkboard) the material did tend to warp very slightly once painted. This led to slight gaps between joins etc. However I did manage to hide these with some more pva glue and extra filler. I also used small amounts of filler lightly spread across the walls to give a textured effect. When it was dry I then painted it with Colour Party Dry Earth and highlighted it with a block brush of 50% Earth and 50% white.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Derby World Wargames 3rd October 2015

I've always enjoyed going to the Derby World Wargames Show, and this year was no exception. One difference however was meeting up with a non-wargaming mate Martin and his son Edward. I'd been regaling him with tales of our jaunts to places like Salute (and of course the Evesham Festival) and he was at a loose end for what to do last Saturday, so we made our arrangements.

The first thing we did was peruse the many games going on to see what may take their fancy. Edward, who is only nine, had expressed a big interest in trying out some Fantasy games. However, after a brief wander he was adamant on having a go on a 6mm WW1 game that some fellow had set up on a small 2x2 tile! The man in charge was a lovely chap who was very patient with him despite an absolute barrage of questions. I then left father and son to get on with it for a while and roll some dice in their first ever Wargame together.

After picking up a pre-order from Timecast for (yet more) 15mm Dervishes and AWI artillery, I spotted Ian Hinds selling a few boxes of books and rules. Snatching a bargain in the shape of the Force on Force "Enduring Freedom" supplement for 8 quid, I then did a turn past the Bring n Buy and new Flea Market addition. This year didn't produce much in the way of secondhand stuff and I only came away with a couple of Osprey books. The thing that did get me reaching for my wallet was Britannia Miniatures/Grubby Tanks 28mm Humvees and Mogadishu Technicals (with gun crews). Great models at excellent prices. After that it was on to Empress Miniatures for more 28mm moderns. Here I bought some extra US Infantry, a SEAL team and some Taliban on motorcycles.

By the time I returned to Martin and Edward they'd resoundingly defeated their opponent and were full of smiles. Being an avid fan of history Martin admitted to the appeal Wargaming had in this respect. Indeed after a quick tea and further discussion about the hobby Edward dashed off again to play 'The Lighthorseman' game I'd checked out at Salute earlier this year. A really cool game with amazing figures and terrain. For some reason I took this moment to go and buy some Frostgrave 28mm plastic soldiers. Now I'm definitely not big into Fantasy gaming, but the conversion some chap had done to these for the WI Lion Rampant Day (going from Fantasy Dungeoneer types into a ferocious unit of Fierce Foot) left me wanting to try something similar.

During this shopping spree I met up with my friend Mark who'd had an unreasonably early start and had to drive all the way up from the London area. He showed me some impressive MDF cut 6mm Napoleonics he'd bought. I'd heard of these previously and on his suggestion I later wandered over to where they were selling these chaps and was bowled over by the painted examples they had on display. Check them out here:

After this Martin and Edward decided they were going to buy some resin Dragons and paints. So after buying the figures we went over to Colour Party Paints (a growing favourite of mine) to get some. By this time the crowds were thinning and the weight of lead in my backpack was starting to kill my shoulders, so we began the journey home. Just before we parted, Edward talked animatedly about how much he'd enjoyed his first Wargaming Show and Martin laughed about how he originally thought the venue would consist of a small church hall type place full of sullen old men - I was glad to prove him wrong!

Anyway, to finish, here's some pictures of our day :)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lion Rampant Day 2 - Wargames Illustrated

It's never advisable to throw yourself into a full day of Wargaming on very little sleep and a night shift looming later that evening. Nevertheless my first experience of the original Lion Rampant Day organised by WI a few months ago was so enjoyable I decided that it was going to be well worth the effort. So myself and Simon (Breen) from the Sons of Simon De Montfort Wargaming Club made our way over to the Wargames Illustrated HQ last Saturday morning for their 'War of the Twelve Bastards'.

The first half hour was spent introducing ourselves to the other eager gamers and downing the much needed and abundant free tea and coffee. I'd noticed in describing the narrative of the game Dan the Editor had used a rather lovely board of the medieval British Isles. This was apparently borrowed from the boardgame 'Britannia' - and served it's alternative purpose quite nicely.

My first reaction after getting my figures arranged and set up for the first encounter, is to usually check out other people's retinues. As regards painting quality it was obvious that there was an incredibly high standard on display. I was also in admiration of some of the conversion jobs. One guy I gamed against had chopped and mixed a Fireforge Foot Sergeant boxed set with a Frostgrave one and come up with some really impressive Lion Rampant 'Fierce Foot' units. Just the right balance of hairy lunatics with big axes and swords that reflects the attributes of such a force.

The game itself was an extension of the original Lion Rampant Day, but this time with the King dead and twelve of his illegitimate offspring scrapping over who should rule. To this end there were a number of Houses representing the different heirs. Dan and Wayne deserve credit for developing not only the intriguing storyline, but also the additional rules such as winning gold coins for achieving certain conditions (like killing an enemy leader, destroying six points worth of enemy units etc etc). These could then be either saved, adding to overall victory points, or spent on added units or skills as the games progressed.

No idea who owns these figures, but the painting is very nice!

The first two battles were simply one on one. With an individual player facing off a single opponent. Scenario one was 'Bloodbath' from the LR Rulebook. The second was 'Kill the Messenger' where an attacker had to escort a messenger figure across one side of the table to the other whilst the defender had to block him. The last one was a large battle of four players going two against two.

Dinner break didn't stop the Wargaming, and whilst we got stuck into the substantial fayre on offer outside we used the now notorious huge pink foam dice to do duels between individual leader figures (one of which was a berzerk looking court jester!!).

I'll not go into huge detail over each of the main games I played, but just to say I lost the first encounter and won the other two. A huge success for one so used to getting thoroughly trounced - and something I put down to my home made lucky Gargoyle battered markers.

In conclusion both myself and Simon came away with hugely positive feelings about the day. Personally I feel that it's a fantastic contribution to Wargaming as a community. It was fun, we met people from all over, chatted about the hobby, admired each others figures and both offered and gained advice on painting, tactics and countless other things. Absolutely brilliant!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My First Gaming Table

When I started wargaming (early GW that is) I was still at school, and whatever space I had was extremely limited. In fairness my parents attempted to accommodate my interest with my dad bringing home a couple of plywood boards from work one day. Unfortunately the only place to put them was across my bed and whenever I leaned on them most of my figures would slide and fall about or be fired off into the air.

This restricted me to using friends' houses, and thankfully one of my mate's had a huge bedroom that we could easily place four 6x4ft boards and literally get out every figure we had in enormous summer long 'Good vs Evil' battles. Despite this it never stopped me wishing for enough room to at least have a decent sized board where I could run through a few games either with a few friends or on my own.

Fast forward approximately thirty years and my ever understanding and considerate partner suggested that I utilize our back room for my painting, and possible gaming endeavours.

So today we finally (literally) dragged, pushed, pulled and heaved a medium size table from the summer house up to its rightful place amongst all my figures and gaming stuff. Although this also involved the frustrating removal of one internal door, the efforts were worthwhile. I then laid two plywood sheets over it and got my Kallistra Hexon terrain out of its box (flocked and scattered and unused until now). Andrea suggested getting some trees and buildings out to "take a photo for my blog". Although I debated her decision to put my WotR archers in trees and on rooftops ("they can shoot better up there") and endured some of her jibes about 'Robin Hood Men in Tights', I think it looks great. I know many of you with gaming rooms that could double as second holiday homes (note: my mate Paul actually turned up at someone's home and knocked on it only to be told that he was calling at the bloke's games room - and he and his family lived in the house next door!!) but I'm actually really happy with it :)

Monday, 14 September 2015

28mm Modern Afghans - Empress Miniatures

This is my first personal foray into moderns and it was influenced by Sebastian Junger's incredible book "War" which details his experiences in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter. It's probably some of the finest war reporting since reading Michael Herr's "Dispatches" back in the 1980's.

For a ruleset I've chosen Skirmish Sangin by Radio Dishdash publishing ( The reason for this is that the conflict lends itself excellently to low level skirmish gaming, with small squads and irregular forces etc. Also I liked the narrative role playing aspect that Skirmish Sangin promotes. At the time I was not aware that Too Fat Lardies were bringing out a modern day expansion rulebook for Chain of Command called  Fighting Season. So I'll be checking that out at some point too.

The Empress Miniatures figures are absolutely lovely. Very well proportioned and excellently sculpted. When it came to a painting scheme I watched a couple of highly informative documentaries on Youtube that followed the Taliban side of the fighting one of which is called "Behind the Taliban Mask - The Other Side of Afghanistan's Front Line". You can find it here:

I was surprised that the so-called Taliban uniform isn't the stereotypical black turbans, black eyeliner etc etc. Instead it was a mixture of many styles and colours which included both civilian wear and military clothing. This is great from a painter's perspective because you can make each figure unique.

I started with a black undercoat and then applied the base coat with a brown inkwash over the top. Once dry I highlighted in the same colours. I'd considered foregoing the inkwash completely and doing layers of highlights, but once I'd tried this on a sample figure I felt it was way too bright and lacked a certain earthy, realistic feel that I wanted from my fighters.

I've currently got a few more packs on order, including some US, British and Australian forces. So watch this space for more updates!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

28mm Chain of Command Normandy Fight

This game was put on at the club a few weeks ago, but I just came across the photos and thought they were worth reproducing here. Apologies for not remembering too much of the details of how it unfolded. What I do recall is how I'd initially pushed my Germans to the edge of the town forming a defensive perimeter against the advancing Brits. There were shell holes providing cover for an MG team on the right, and a small ruined farmhouse on my left. Running between these was a line of barbed wire. I'd also got a sniper covering from the building in the town.

Pretty solid I thought. My plan actually worked for about three turns. I'd covered a gap in the hedge where the Brits were coming through, and they'd lost a full squad in the process. However, as soon as their mortars came into play it was obvious my men could only take it for so long. This gave the British time to recover and move their men forward. The first problems happened around the ruined farmhouse and I had to pull the Germans back into a second defensive position. Despite spirited resistance I had the feeling they weren't going to last, as the mortars began to shake them once more. One lucky event happened when German reinforcements arrived in half tracks and started to bolster those who had by now fallen back into the buildings.

Whilst I had my doubts that even this would save us, I was reassured by news from the other end of the table that Dave's several tanks had successfully defended the Chateau (a major objective) and I glanced over to see plenty of burning Shermans and Dave looking rather pleased with himself!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Battle of Evesham Festival 2015 and Participation Game

Thanks to Dan at Wargames Illustrated, our Club (The Sons of Simon De Montfort - ) was invited to run our participation game at The Battle of Evesham Festival last weekend. It was an early start on Saturday morning for myself, Chris and Rich as we headed down in the cars from Loughborough, although special mention has to be made of Dan and his family's huge efforts in not only successfully transporting all the terrain boards, figures and display items to the site before us, but making sure we were well looked after while we were there.

The organisers had arranged for our game to be put on in a very large 'Yurt'. So we were a bit intrigued as to what that may entail. As it happens it was a miracle of olde tyme engineering, as the owner proudly showed us its impressive design and structure. At one point he described it as "the cadillac of Yurts" which I for one couldn't disagree with.

As anyone who saw us with the participation game at salute 2015 will attest, it consists of a representation of the battlefield of Evesham (a large sloped hill with De Montforts charge starting at the bottom and crashing its way into the Royal Army assembled at the crest). This whole thing was created by the master craftsman himself Mr Ron Ringrose. The rules had been written by Dan and called 'De Monfort Must Die' where a player took the role of one of the twelve assassins that were tasked to hunt down De Montfort on the battlefield and slay him in personal combat. Very simple and fun. As it happens Dan also decided on including a sort of side game for the very young children in attendance called "Spot the..." where they had to try and identify tiny details such as a wandering monk, some ducks, a cat. a lady on a horse etc. So successful was this, I made the joking suggestion that we should print the 'rules' as a hard back deluxe leather bound tome and charge fifty quid a pop for it.

As for the older children (along with a few of their parents) they took to the proper game with absolute gusto. At a few points during the weekend there were people lined up waiting to take their turn, and we were really bowled over by the response. Sometimes the kids were coming back two or three times throughout the day trying to beat their previous score or those of their mates. We even got a local Senior Councilwoman and her husband asking for a go!

It was a brilliant chance to introduce Wargaming to people who had perhaps never experienced it before, and whilst packing away on Sunday I smiled and expressed the idea that there would probably be people years from now saying "I played my first Wargame at the Battle of Evesham Festival!"

The Festival itself was indeed great. Very well arranged with loads of different stalls and dozens of tents for the reenactors as well as a large field for the latter when they recreated the battle. Everyone had the benefit of glorious weather and to see something really educational and inspiring.