Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: More Wargame Terrain by Tony Harwood

Recently my copy of "More Wargame Terrain" arrived in the post. Let's take a look!

After the excellent first volume "Building Wargame Terrain" Tony Harwood has released the follow-up book: "More Wargame Terrain" with more articles on how to create top quality terrain for the tabletop.

From the Outside: Production Value

This perfect bound, full colour soft-cover book has a total of 118 pages from front to back. The layout and production is pretty much the same as the first book so nothing new to explain here.

The table of contents for More Wargame Terrain

Inner Values: Articles and Tutorials

There are eight articles that show a wide variety of techniques and tips: Creating and painting thatched roofs, Spanish canal roofs, woodwork, stonework and lots more. They work both as tutorials for recreation and as a source of inspiration of how to use leftover stuff as well as dedicated materials to create terrain.

My personal highlight is the last article of the Large Town House: This is the kind of house that I admire from the buildings Tony did for GrandManner.

"More Wargame Terrain" is the logical next step after "Building Wargame Terrain". The buildings and techniques become more complex. From scratch-building to painting tips there is something there for every wargamer interested in creating buildings for the tabletop. With my own scratch-built buildings awaiting me for my Port of Gierburg gaming board I am happy to have this book in my tool box.

For order information about the book, visit Tony Harwood's blog.

Update: Also check out João Sousa's review of the book!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gypsy Caravans from Sarissa Precision

In this post I present my versions of the two Gypsy Caravan models from Sarissa Precision.

I first saw the two gypsy wagons by Sarissa Precision on the Lead Adventure Forum and I was instantly sold: the designs of the models looked great.

Gypsy Caravans (source: LAF)
Now before looking any deeper into the caravans I have to say that I am usually very sceptical of laser cut models. They seem to be very popular for all kinds of terrain these days - especially Wild West buildings. Often these models appear somewhat "flat" to me, lacking the details of resin models. However, there are certain structures that lend themselves to laser cut building very well. The dockside crane I assembled recently wouldn't look any better (or probably even as good) had it been scratch-built. The gypsy wagons by Sarissa immediately looked like further examples of laser cut technology done right. In fact, these models look much more interesting than the gypsy wagons I know from West Wind Productions or Old Glory. Actually, judging from the Sarissa website pretty much all of their buildings look damn good to me. Anyway, let's look at the wagons!

The Kits

There are two different versions: The Bow Top Gypsy Caravan and the Ledge Type Gypsy Caravan (see Vardo). As I write this I still cannot find them on the Sarissa website where they should be listed in the "Gaslamp Alley" range. As described in the LAF thread it is no problem to contact Sarissa directly and they will send you a PayPal invoice. That is what I did to get my wagons.

The kits comprise of no more than two sheets plus a sheet with instructions. Pretty fascinating, isn't it?

The contents of the Bow Top Type Gypsy Caravan kit
The contents of the Lodge Type Gypsy Caravan kit


Although the models look nice enough, the one thing I am not happy with is the wheels. They obviously have the problem of flatness. Therefore I chose to replace them with metal wheels from Stronghold Terrain: Each caravan got one set of small and big spokewheels to replace the laser cut ones. I think this improves the models a lot.

Small and big wheels from Stronghold Terrain
The endings of the axles were filed to fit the slots of the wheels

Another modification I did is replacing the original chimneys, which are just plain strips, with some scratch-build thingies.

The first chimney is made from a small plastic pipe and wooden pieces
The chimney of the Bow Top caravan fixed with modelling putty

The second chimney is simply made from wooden sticks of different thickness

The Ledge Type caravan has big windows on the sides so I applied short pieces of wire to represent hinges. Luckily I had this very thin wire left from the crane model. It's a small detail but - again - I think it improves the overall appearance a lot, giving it much more depth.

Small hinges made of thin wire applied to the window of the Ledge Type Caravan

Finally, the assembled caravans are ready for painting:

Painting the Caravans

Painting gypsy caravans is a fun albeit difficult task. It's a great opportunity to go all colourful and fancy. At the same time I found it very difficult to pick the right colour scheme. Most importantly the colours should match the gypsy models painted by Simon Bradley. This means the colour palette comprises of light greens, blues, pink and a bit of red. To get into it I started with brown, though.

Similar to the sample paint jobs from LAF (see above) I chose to go with green for the Bow Top Caravan.

Lastly, I applied some of my Gierburg posters I created years ago.

The Ledge Type Caravan received a matching green-heavy paint job with red details. The main difference is the use of yellow for the decorative colour instead of white.

Just when I thought I was done I realized that lanterns would look great on the wagons. I couldn't find any proper models so I built one myself and added it to the Bow Top Caravan.


I cannot stress enough how impressed I am by these models. The laser cut technology works perfectly for the caravans. In fact, some parts of the models - e.g. the curved roof of the Bow Top wagon - could not have been done any better with a resin or metal model.  For once the scale is satisfactory as well - I have a lot of wagons and coaches and most of them are... well, saying they are 25mm instaed of heroic 28 would be putting it nicely. Lastly, the price is very good too! So all in all I am absolutely happy with the models and highly recommend them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Building a little Lantern

In this short tutorial I describe an easy way of making a lantern using remains from the bits box.

Lamps and lanterns add a lot to the atmosphere of the gaming table. Unfortunately though, while lamp posts are available from a number of producers (e.g. Yeoman Models, Grand Manner, Thomarillion, GeBoom) I could not find a supplier for humble lanterns. So I decided to build one...

After going through my spare materials I went with a round plastic piece for the main body. My simple design idea was to then attach thin round pieces of just a little more width to the ends of the rod. Unfortunately I had no suitable plastic pieces at hand so I just took a hole puncher and made two pieces from cardboard. This is definately not a "best practice" as the cardboard gets heavily damaged by the puncher and the edges turn out somewhat "fringy". For my proof of concept this had to suffice though.

To give the lantern some structure and detail I cut two thin stripes of plastic card with an exacto blade and glued them to the body. I would have liked to do some kind of rhomb pattern - maybe with a piece of fly screen or something. Again, I went with the simple design and just left it as that.

The last touch was a handle made of thin wire. I have this wire left from the dockside crane and it's super useful in many situations. I drilled the wire around a needle to get it into shape, then glued it onto the lantern.

A small stick of balsa wood with a tiny recess will serve as a mounting for the lantern.

The lantern ready to be painted

Painting the lantern was pretty straight forward. First, a drybrush with metal (GW's Boltgun Metal and Tin Bitz), then yellow and mixes with increasing amounts of white to let this light shine brightly.

So now what to do with this little lantern? More soon...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gierburg Gypsies

The travelling people arrive in the City of Gierburg!

Another batch of beautiful paint jobs by Simon Bradley: Gypsies from West Wind Productions' Vampire Wars range roam the dirty streets of Gierburg.

But where are their iconic moving houses...?

Update: Gypsy Caravans

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Liebster award

This little blog of mine recently received a Liebster award nomination from Simon Bradley of Stone Cold Lead so here it goes.

The idea of this award is to promote other blogs and get to know the people behind them. The exact rules seem to be changing constantly so this is the rules set I got from Simon's post.

11 Truths

First off is a list of eleven truths about myself. Let's see...
  1. I find spelling and grammar errors horribly annoying. Even as a non-native English speaker I hate it when people don't get they're shit together.
  2. I am a rabid collector. When I get to know something new that I really like, then I have this urge for completeness. E.g. I always check for special and limited editions before buying CDs.
  3. I am a huge fan of the art of Carl Barks and Don Rosa. Consequently, a childhood dream come true was acquiring the complete Carl Barks Library.
  4. In 6th grade I used to sell felt pen drawings of the Disney ducks for about 1 DM a piece (ca. 0.50 EUR nowadays). 
  5. As a child when asked about my favourite colour I would say "colourful".
  6. The only two alternatives to studying computer science that I could imagine were art and psychology.
  7. My mother forced me to get my first computer as a Christmas present when I was 13 years old. I didn't want it but she said I would need to learn using one. I demanded I at least got a cool game along with it and chose Atlantis: The Lost Tales.
  8. I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock's films and have 41 of his 53 films on DVD. Did I mention I am a rabid collector?
  9. I don't have a Facebook account but I enjoy keeping up to date via Twitter.
  10. My favourite author is Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
  11. Game of Thrones seems to be all the craze but I gave up during episode 2 because I find the entire cast totally dislikable.

11 Answers to 11 Questions

These following questions were asked by Simon as part of the nomination.

Q: Do you have a model or group of models that hold a particular sentimental value to you, and if so why is that?
I started the hobby with a Beastman army when the Warhammer Chaos army was first separated into three individual army lists for Daemons, Warriors of Chaos and Beastmen back in 1997. When a friend showed me the advertisements in White Dwarf I immediately fell in love with the style, character and colours of the Gors and Minotaurs. Because of that Beastmen still have a special place in my nerd heart and if I ever where to return to Warhammer it would be as a Gor chieftain.

Ghortor leading my Beastmen army into battle

Q: If you could have your likeness sculpted in miniature what type of model would you choose?
I would definately choose a pirate outfit with tricorne and a bunch of braces of pistols. Sculpted by Tom Meier if I get to choose that also - his Captain Tom sculpt is amazing!

Captain Tom, painted by Thomas List

Q: What video game would you most like to see a range of miniatures based upon?
Very recently I completed Thief 4 on the Playstation. The architecture of the city is a beautiful mix of medieval and victorian style with a bit of steam punk. The pipes aside it is how I would love my Gierburg table to look like. The characters also fit nicely into my setting so I would love to see a range of Thief miniatures. I have actually thought about sculpting a similar thief model myself.

Garret, the master thief

Q: Would you like to see Games Workshop go under and disappear from the industry completely?
Absolutely not! What I would want Games Workshop to do is produce games and miniatures that appeal to me. Since I am not the army type but the skirmish type this means they had to resurrect Mordheim in some way. But that is just my personal wish and I understand that this is not profitable. I have long learned to enjoy other companies' products or just do my own stuff. I think what a lot of people have to accept is that Games Workshop is a big company nowadays and it is the responsibility of its managers to make that company earn money. Yeah, I know that they are also failing on that front these days. But why should we even care really? The people who complain about GW usually have already turned to other companies and games anyways. To me it often seems like they are bitter boys who cannot accept that their first love is now happy with another guy. Just get over it and move on. Maybe in a few years you can be friends again.

Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure when it comes to miniatures? A particular model or range that kind of sucks but you love it anyway.
I really can't think of anything. I mean, we're talking wargaming miniatures here. I know a lot of people who would say this all sucks if I asked them. So I don't.

Q: Slotta bases, love 'em or hate 'em?
I think the concept of slotta bases is awesome. For years my miniatures are based on resin bases by Fenris Games, which requires pinning the figures on the bases. This is easy with figures that come ready for slotta. What I hate are integral bases! Removing them from the feet is a lot of boring work - depending on how solid the metal is. Removing integral bases from resin figures is even worse because the legs/feet easily break off.

I know many people prefer thin bases: Pennies or thin plywood discs so that the bases better integrate with the gaming board. For those bases and if you only have simple earth/mud on your bases then integral is the better choice, of course.

Highwaymen painted by Simon Bradley. The figures from Outpost Wargames originally came with
integral bases and Simon had to remove them so they could be placed on the resin cobblestone bases.

Q: What was the most disappointing miniature or game you've ever purchased?
I don't quite remember the company or range but I remember buying figures that I thought looked cool and would fit nicely but then found out they were some weird 35mm scale or something. That was the first experience that made me aware of the differences in scale in the world of 25mm to, let's say, 32mm, where - in a perfect world - everything should be compatible instead of everybody doing whatever they feel like or just to stand out (pun intended).

Q: Have you ever seriously considered selling off all your models and games and just packing the whole hobby in?
No and yes. First, I cannot imagine selling all of my models, ever. I have a lot of great memories associated to most of them. I don't think I would make enough money to outweigh the loss. Considering how painting a single building can easily take up to 40 hours and more, there is just no way that selling it for under 100 EUR (because no one would pay what it is "worth") would make any sense to me.
Second, I have already often silently "quit" the hobby. I have a few hobbies that keep asking for time and attention and it is usually in phases that I tend to them. These phases can be weeks, months or even years. But ultimately I return to them sooner or later. I have been enjoying tabletop wargaming - the collecting, building & painting and gaming aspects - for long enough by now to be sure that I will be enjoying it for many years to come. No matter what breaks there may be in between.

Q: Will zombies ever lose their appeal amongst painters and gamers?
Of course not! Who would want to miss zombies? Granted, I don't think I need to see another zombie survival kickstarter within the next ten years. But zombies are cool. They make for great troops in Fantasy armies and for perfect enemies to kill in the dozens in modern settings. As a painter it is satisfying to paint zombies because you can get away with a lot. As a gamer it is satisfying to have your hero plow through hordes of zombies.
With that being said, I have to admit that I am not an overly huge zombie enthusiast. I think they make for great and cool quick game concepts but are not particularly useful for deeper concepts. As a skirmish gamer I appreciate them as a good NPC choice to pose a danger to the relevant characters. It is the fate of the zombie to be the nameless bad guy. But sometimes that is just what it takes to entertain us.

Q: What's the best bargain you've got off Ebay (miniatures/gaming related)?
I have never bought many miniatures from Ebay. I usually shop directly at the manufacturers - thanks to PayPal and the EU for making this very easy.
I think the best gaming related deal I made was years ago: a set of four Tarmogoyf cards for Magic: The Gathering directly after the card was released. The set was 8 EUR and soon after the card went up to 30 EUR each.
Not neccessarily a bargain but I bought the first building I ever got and painted via Ebay: The Coaching Inn, sculpted by DIMA and never really on sale somewhere I could have bought it. So I appreciate Ebay not as a source for bargains but as a source for rare items.

Q: Gem or opaque dice?
Gem dice are for girls. Everybody knows that.

11 Blogs

I suggest the following eleven blogs for a Liebster Award. I think they didn't get one before - or at least don't have an according post - and they have less than 200 followers from what I could see.
  1. A Fistful of Minis
  2. Miniature Warfare
  3. Liber Malefic
  4. The Nuton Cave
  5. Fantasy-Gelände-Modelle
  6. Diorama de Trafalgar
  7. Fist Full of Seamen
  8. Tabletop-Fantasywelten
  9. Back of Beyond
  10. From the Knife's Edge
  11. Zaboobadidoo

11 Questions

Finally, these are the questions I would like to see the nominees answer.

  1. What was your first miniature and when did you get it?
  2. Fantasy or Science Fiction (or something else)?
  3. A battle of armies or a skirmish with warbands?
  4. One-off games or campaigns?
  5. As a gamer, do you spend more money on figures or on terrain? Why?
  6. What was your greatest annoyance in the context of the hobby? A beautiful figure that got ruined when varnishing it? A fellow gamer that always cheated? Figures that were stolen?
  7. If you had to give away all of your miniatures, terrain, rules, etc. except for one single game including its ascociated figures, what would that be?
  8. What is your favourite non-miniature game (board game, video/computer game, etc.)?
  9. What is your favourite film/director/genre?
  10. What is your favourite book/author/genre?
  11. What is the miniatures project of your dream that you may tackle some day?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Painting the Coaching Inn

Following up on my review of the Coaching Inn from Tabletop World I now present the finished piece and a detailed painting guide.

As I mentioned in my review the Coaching Inn does not require assembling: other than cleaning up the piece all you need to do is glue the two chimneys to the roof and glue the fence/balustrade on the balcony.

The Scratch-built Balustrade

Speaking of the balustrade: I am not too keen on the fence that comes with the building. It looks too gothic/fantasy for my taste - I prefer a slightly more conservative/low-key style. Because of that I chose to build a new balustrade from wooden sticks.

Comparison of the original balustrade and my scratch-built one

Painting the Inn

The painting process was pretty much the same as with my previous Gierburg buildings. And it was a long one! With all the details the building has, tending to each shingle of the roof and each stone of the walls and - the most tedious work of all - painting all the windows with their grating, I can't count the many hours that went into this building. But it makes it only all the more satisfying once you are finished with the piece, lean back and look at it...

The finished Coaching Inn

Finally, this is what the completed Coaching Inn looks like:

Gangs fighting it out in the streets of Gierburg

A firebrand speaking to a mob of Gierburg peasants
from the balcony of the coaching inn