At last – a wargames table of my own!

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Ever since I started in this hobby, I’ve been hindered by having to rely on moving my troops to someone else’s place if I wanted to play a game.

But today I came up with an idea, after I realised I hadn’t used the desk in my small study for a desktop computer ever since we got a laptop. So I pushed our filing cabinet into the leg space, and pulled the whole desk out from the wall by about a metre.

This allowed me to lay a 4′ x 4′ table on top. Small – but it should enable skirmish games. It even gives me some hidden storage space in the gap behind the pulled-out desk.

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And I’m going to figure out a way that a 6′ x 4′ could be laid on top temporarily for slightly larger games – perhaps with some sort of trestle legs to support the 2′ overhang.

Now I can host (skirmish) games at my place, or even play solo games over several days without having to pack up. Why I never though of doing this before, I don’t know!

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‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ colonial rules

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I bought this set of colonial wargaming rules today from my mate Scott Bowman’s excellent Hobby Corner in his pharmacy at Paraparaumu Beach, New Zealand (probably the only pharmacy in the world that sells wargaming supplies for stress relief!).

My first reaction to the rules? Wow – I think this just might be the set of rules I have always been looking for!!! OK, this still has to be proven or disproved by an actual play-test. But from my first read-through, the design philosophy matches what I’ve always liked:

  • simple rules (which is my most important criteria)
  • elegant mechanisms that are intuitive rather than gamey
  • neither too few nor too many troops on the table
  • scenario-driven
  • a level of unpredictability
  • Hollywood rather than strictly historical
  • a sense of fun
  • an attractively illustrated and motivating book.

Plus I would have to say these are the most readable set of rules I have ever read. It has nice touches of period-appropriate humour dotted throughout – not too much, just enough to make it an entertaining read rather than a dry set of rules.

There’s a particularly clever device for solo-gaming, called ‘Playing Against Mr Babbage’. Apparently your regular gaming opponent, Mr Babbage, hasn’t been able to make it to the game tonight, but he has sent you a set of instructions to follow. It sounds sort of like playing against the AI in a computer game. Ingenious!

As for this set of rules’ appropriateness for my particular colonial gaming preference, the New Zealand Wars? Well, although Maori are mentioned a couple of times, and there is a lavish full-page picture of the NZ Wars, there aren’t any lists provided for this period. However, it should be dead easy to concoct some, so I think there is indeed real potential that these rules will suit well. Let’s wait and see till after I’ve had a chance to play a game or two.

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Home improvements to 4Ground’s Japanese shogunate houses

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A couple of novels I’ve been reading over the Christmas break have inspired me to do some home improvements to my 4Ground shogunate houses. You can see the result in the above photo, as some 28mm Perry Miniatures samurai warriors battle it out in the garden (click on the photo for a closer view).

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The novels responsible for this burst of enthusaism are David Kirk’s pair of bold and vivid historical epics of feudal Japan, based on the real-life exploits of the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto.

In Child of Vengeance, Miyamoto is a high-born but lonely teenager living in his ancestral village. He takes the samurai’s path awash with blood, bravery, and vengeance, culminating in the epochal battle of Sekigahara.

Sword of Honour depicts the feud between Miyamoto and the esteemed Yoshioka Sword School in Japan’s former capital of Kyoto.

Now, I can’t say how accurate or not these novels are, as I am not too knowledgeable about samurai. However, what I can say is that they definitely provide the feel of the place and period. The characters aren’t just western heroes transposed to an oriental setting, but instead act and talk as thought they really are Japanese – helped no doubt by the fact that the author himself lives in Japan.

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After reading the novels, I decided to pull out my existing samurai scenery. I’ve got several 4Ground buildings, which I’ve been very pleased with (see my 2014 review of these kits). But seeing them out of storage for the first time in a while, I’ve realised that the teddy-bear fur thatched roofs look like … er … teddy-bear fur. You can see this in the above picture that I took a few years ago (with a couple of Kingsford miniature figures in the foreground).

I recall in shows where I’ve used these buildings that several little children seemed to take inordinate interest in the roofs of my houses, more than anything else on the table. Now that I think about it, I even heard one of them whispering to her parents that it looked like my roofs were made out of a teddy – can’t fool kids!

So, some home improvements were in order.

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This morning I took a big brush and sloshed a watery burnt umber artists’ acrylic paint all over the thatch. Once this was completely dry, I dry-brushed the roof with a range of ochres, yellows and even white. The results now look a lot more realistic (and certainly a lot less teddy-like!).

Whilst I was at it, I thought the original wooden verandah roofs and ridge decorations were a bit too stark. So they all received a watered-down burnt umber wash as well.

Hopefully the occupants of my little houses are happy with the renovations. Sayonara!

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Filed under 4Ground, Perry Miniatures, Samurai, Terrain, Uncategorized

Some special Xmas videos in miniature

Here’s a special video I found with which to wish my readers a very merry Christmas. No soldiers, but definitely plenty of miniatures!

The video is from Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany (which is well and truly on my bucket-list).

As a kind of Christmas gift, here are a couple of other videos of Miniatur Wunderland that will absolutely inspire anyone with even the slightest interest in miniatures.

Firstly, a description of the building of the latest section of the diorama, Italy in Wunderland:

And here is Wunderland’s unbelievably spectacular airport:

Anyway, as we say here in New Zealand, ‘Meri Kirihimete – Merry Christmas’!

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May ’40 Miniatures release new pics of ww2 Dutch

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May ’40 Miniatures have released some new pictures on their FaceBook page, depicting painted examples of their 28mm range of WW2 Dutch soldiers, marines and sailors.

I hasten to add these beautifully painted examples weren’t done by me – the figures I’ve bought won’t be here in New Zealand till next year. But seeing them in all their glory certainly has me keen to get painting …

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Filed under May 40, Uncategorized, WW2

WW2 Dutch in 28mm by May ’40 Miniatures

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May ’40 Miniatures are now really up and running.  This new company from the Netherlands makes 28mm Dutch infantry from early WW2.

I really like their publicity photo, shown above, with some of their figures posed against real Dutch WW2 uniform items and equipment.

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I’ve ordered a batch of these figures, but I’ve asked May ’40 Miniatures to hold off sending them to me until they can also add in their promised Landsverk armoured car (thus combining postage).  This may be some way off, but I am patient …

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May ’40 Miniatures are currently on FaceBook, and also have a new website being designed for them. You can also order their figures from Sally 4th in the UK.

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Colonial New Zealand Wars of the 1860s

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The main campaigns of the colonial New Zealand Wars took place from the 1840s to the 1870s. Over those 30 or more years, uniforms and weapons changed. My NZ Wars wargaming armies have so far primarily  represented the early campaigns of the 1840s, when the British still wore red coats. But I’ve recently painted some Perry Miniatures ‘British Intervention Force’ figures to complete a small  British and colonial army of the 1860s.

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My army consists of two sections of British regular infantry, a group of colonial cavalry, and an artillery piece, along with some officers on foot and on horseback.

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Overall command of my army is given over to these three mounted officers (probably of much too high a rank for such a small force!). The photo makes the blue of these rather plain uniforms look lighter than it actually is – in fact, my paint job is almost black, which I’ve achieved by washing the finished figures with black ink.

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There are also a range of officers on foot, including these three doughty chaps. I don’t think such a dandy as the cavalryman in the middle every fought in New Zealand, but I like him as a figure anyway!

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On the left is an officer busy writing notes, whilst a Maori scout waits patiently. The latter Perry Miniatures figure is actually a Canadian native figure, but I think he works well as a ‘friendly’ Maori as well.

Standards weren’t carried as a rule in the colonial NZ Wars. But there is some evidence that occasionally a plain Union Jack was used. You also probably wouldn’t have seen too many drummers during the bush fighting – but he is a nice figure, isn’t he!

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I’ve painted these cavalry so they can either be used as colonial horse; or as mounted men from the Military Train used as cavalry (as there weren’t any formal British cavalry units in New Zealand).

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Here’s one of the British regular infantry units. During the 1860s campaigns, the British soldier wore a blue serge ‘jumper’ instead of his traditional red coat.

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Don’t ask me what rules I’ve based these figures for. I don’t base to any particular set of rules, but rather to ‘my eye’ – what looks good to me! Actually, with my busy life, my wargames armies seldom get to see action on the tabletop anyway!

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If I ever need to reinforce my small army, these Empress Miniatures sailors from my 1840s army will fit the bill.  Their weapons might not be exactly right for the period, but they give the right look.

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Likewise, my 1840s militia will probably do for a colonial unit of the 1860s.

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The most obviously missing figures for my army, however, are colonial militia wearing the famous ‘shawl-order’. Neither Perry nor Empress make any suitable figures to represent these men. At one stage it looked like Eureka might produce them, but they couldn’t gather enough pre-interest to make it worthwhile. This also seemed to scare off Empress, who had also said at one time they might produce such figures.

My only hope now is the Perry twins, who of course have a good connection with New Zealand through the work they’ve done for Sir Peter Jackson, and who sometimes go out onto a limb that other manufacturers would deem as unfeasible!

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Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Empress Miniatures, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized