Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Woods and Rough Ground

I've put together a couple of quick woods for my terrain collection.
They are made from a base of 3mm MDF cut to shape and sanded, they are base coated in the same matt brown emulsion/Klear mix as used for the hills and also flocked using scatter grip glue and static grass. For the wooded areas I used an autumn mix of grass, instead of summer mix so that it is darker under the trees.

The trees themselves were bought from ebay. They are n-gauge railway trees and were 99p for 10, so a decent bargain. Once the base was flocked I drilled holes into the base with a pin vice and put a dab of glue onto the base of the 'trunk' and glued them to the base. Finally a bit of clump foliage from woodland scenics was glued to the base for a bit of variety.

I also made a slightly more spare heathland piece which infantry bases and skirmishers will be able to enter, this should make for a fun piece in the game (note the wood above is deliberately too dense to get a base in)

It's made in exactly the same way, just with more clump foliage for bushes and less trees.

I'm so pleased with these pieces that I think I'm going to invest in a few more packs of these trees. A bit like a £3 t-shirt with a 'made in Bangaladesh" label inside, you are probably best not thinking about how something that is almost certainly hand-made can possibly be so cheap...

Some Hills

I've been busy making some terrain for the game.

First up I knocked out some quick hills from "pink foam". For those of you not in the know this is a fantastic material which is extruded polystyrene. In the spectrum of polystyrene it lies between expanded polystyrene and the dense grey styrene used to make wargames figures. You can buy it from (some) model shops, but you can also buy it in large packs from DIY shops. The stuff I got is Knauff Space Board insulating foam; about £15 for 4 sheets of ~4'x2' and 2" thick.

It is hard, tough and rigid. You can cut it with hot-wire tools, but also it can be sawn with a wood saw, carved with craft knifes and even sanded with sand paper. I cut the rough shape of my hills with a saw, trimmed them with a box-cutter type knife extended to the full blade length (the ones where you extend and snap off the blades), giving me a ~ 4-5" craft knife blade.

I then finally sand down the edges to make it more smoothly contoured. The best tip for these last 2 stages is to have some figures to hand and test out a) whether they actually balance on the slope, b) whether they look plausible doing it! Anything steeper than 30 degrees is probably a non-starter.

I then give my hills (or any of my foam terrain) a coat of Johnson's Klear floor varnish to harden and protect them. An undercoat of dark brown matt emulsion (from a tester pot from a DIY shop - ~£1 each), thinned with Klear. The coat(s) of Klear will prevent the foam from melting if you want to spray it (if you do it properly!), but I find the matt emulsion method quicker and cheaper.

You can then flock straight over the brown undercoat. I use some specialised terrain making supplies for this, but there is no reason why you can't do it cheaper. I sponge on "Scatter Grip" glue - a glue that dries incredibly tacky and instead of contracting as it dries and binding flock (al la PVA), it remains sticky, thus continuing to grip the flock and stopping it from becoming brittle. I firstly scatter a fine sprinkling of mixed flock over the hill and then use a "Streugras" dispenser from Noch to "puff" static grass onto the hill. This only costs about £3 and makes the grass sit up more.

Finally you can apply a coat of spray matt varnish over the top (thanks to the earlier sealing coat of Klear).

Some Pretty Pictures

I thought I'd put up some basic pictures of the finished Imperial Roman Army.

This is the Pendraken Imperial Western Roman army deal, along with a handful of other packs I got second hand from a friend. Comes out to about 1500pts at the moment.

2 Tribunes
1 Veteran Legion
5 Legion
4 Auxiliaries
2 Archers
2 Skirmishers
2 Cavalry
1 Scorpion
1 Onager

I've got 3 Scorpion models spare as well, so I may stick them onto 2 bases to have a second unit of them, and I have 2 more Legion units that are unpainted.

The two main reasons for not painting up the last 2 legion unit are that, although in his design notes Rick Preistley says that a unit is representative of a cohort (about 400 men), I quite like the idea of each unit being a century (80 men), I guess because there is slightly less abstraction involved. That being the case there are 6 centuries in a cohort, so I have currently painted a roman formation. So that I'd probably want to paint the next units in a slightly different way, different coloured tunics or shields for example, and at the moment I can't decide on colours!

The other reason is that I have hand painted the shield designs on. That's 6x3x10 = 180 shields give or take. And that takes it out of you, so a break from roman shields is called for!

I'm pretty happy with the way the shields came out though. All have the diagonal "eagle wings", the first century have 1 vertical line, 2nd - 2 lines, 3rd - 3 lines, 4th - 1 wavy (lightning) vertical line, 5th - 2 wavy lines and the 6th (pictured right), have two wavy lines and a single wavy horizontal line.

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Crisis of Scale

Welcome to my new blog. I'm going to be posting up progress of my collections of 10mm Ancients as well as some other stuff as and when the fancy takes me. I collect 10mm Ancients (based for Warmaster Ancients), Infinity, a 28mm Sci-Fi Skirmish game, as well as the staples of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. However you'll mainly be seeing the ancients stuff here.

I have recently finished an Imperial Roman army made up from Pendraken figures (pictures to follow), and I have just bought some new figures to start making up a Carthage force.

I've tried to do this cheaply, but also to make a nice looking force (one of my primary aims!), and with that in mind I thought I'd go for Pendraken figures for the allied Gallic Warbands (as they're cheap) and Magister Millitum figures for the rest.

These are my first Magister figures and whilst I think the quality of the detail is probably a little better than the Pendraken ones the differences in scale are causing some problems.
Comparison in scale between Pendraken and Magister Millitum Ancients Figures:

The shots below show the size differences between the two manufacturers. The left hand picture has 3 troop type comparisons, (Magister figures are all on the left of the pairs).

1) Carthage spearman and Roman Auxillary

2) Carthage spearman and Roman Legionary

3) Rhodian Slinger and Roman Archer.

The right hand picture shows a Carthage Cavalry and Roman Cavalry

At face value they appear pretty similar, and height wise there is not a lot in it (less than 1mm), however the Magister figures are significantly more "bulky" and have larger heads. The heads aren't really a problem, I personally think that a proper "head size" is somewhere in between the two manufacturers and its not really noticeable when ranked up.

However the bulk could cause more of an issue in mixed forces, it most noticeable in archer/slinger comparison in the left-hand photo. You can see the slinger's legs and torso are quite a bit broader than the archer.

Where this causes problems is in the ranking up of troops on a 20x40mm base. There is just far less "fresh air" between the troops with the Magister models and I personally think that it makes basing 10 models to a base undesirable.

In the picture opposite I have placed 5 Carthage spearmen from Magister and 5 Roman Auxiliaries from Pendraken "shoulder to shoulder" on my cutting mat. A warmaster base is 4 yellow squares wide, so you can see that the Magister figures would be stood almost touching on a base, whereas with the Pendraken ones you have a little bit of room between them (maybe 1mm). It's not much, but it does make a difference.

I've mocked up some bases to demonstrate as well, the left hand base is 10 Magister Carthaginians the middle is 10 Pendraken Romans, and the right is 8 Magister Carthaginians. To my eye the base of 8 seems more practical.

The only problem this creates is that my Roman Legions are 10 to a base, and so it might look odd that 10 figures are fighting 8. Ho hum.