Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 2

Step 1: Choose a Period
If you are going to get into historical wargaming, your first step will likely be choosing a historical period to game. This may already be done for you, since your interest in a particular war or period might be what gets you into historical gaming to begin with. That was the case for me. I was interested in the American Civil War, and my friend was interested in Napoleonics. So I was searching for a set of rules that worked for both eras, or a set that had versions or supplements that covered both, so that hopefully we wouldn't have to learn two completely different sets of rules to play in the eras we were each most interested in. Later I would realized that I will probably try out many different rule sets for both periods, so trying to find one rule set that worked for us both was probably not that important. But that's what I was trying to do at the time.

Step 2: Choose a Scale
By this I mean what size of battle you want your game to represent. Do you want to play a small skirmish with a handful of individual soldiers? Do you want to refight Waterloo in the role of Napoleon or Wellington, ordering around divisions or entire corps? I skipped this step at first, not realized it was a step. But once you start trying to find a rule set, it will be important to figure this out before you can decide on one. The major factor to consider here is going to be what size formation you want an individual model or base or unit in the game to represent. This, combined with how much gaming space you have and now many miniatures you have will determine how big of a battle you can represent with your game. For example, if a unit a certain size represents a regiment of several hundred men, the number of such units you can reasonably fit on your gaming table is going to limit the size of battle you can represent. But if each unit of that same size represents a brigade of several regiments, now you can fight a much larger battle, but you have less control over the detailed movements of your army, since individual regiments are no longer represented.

This is obviously a matter of personal taste, and will depend upon what about the fighting in your chosen historical period you find most interesting. Are you most interested in the grand battle plans of an army commander positioning his corps and trying to make the best use of the attributes of his subordiates? Are you interested in the decisions facing an individual soldier in a squad? After reading reviews and descriptions of many different rulesets for horse and musket era battles, I decided that I wanted a unit in my games to represent an individual regiment. This would allow me to make decisions in the game about what formations to have my regiments in, and how they would be positioned in relation to each other in the brigade, which a brigade-level game would not allow. Also, there were many distinct noteworthy regiments in the American Civil War that I wanted to be able to specifically represent on the table. So, I would be looking for a set of rules where the smalled unit that operated on the table was the regiment.

Step 3: Choose a Set of Rules
With the scale of battle you want to fight figured out, you can start looking around for a good set of rules. There are lots of them out there for all kinds of historical periods, but it can sometimes be difficult to find good ones, good descriptions or reviews of the ones you can find, or places to order them from. One extremely helpful resource for me, which I found early on in my search, was The Miniatures Page Message Boards. They are broken up by historical period, and there are lots of helpful people there willing to share their opinions on various rule sets and miniatures. I got a lot of information from people there. It is especially handy to have some reviews or battle reports to read when you're trying to find a rule set online and you can't flip through the book to get an idea of what the rules are like. Being used to Warhammer and other games by Games Workshop, I couldn't help but notice the significantly lower production values for most of these historical rule sets. They don't really have the glossy full-color pages full of magnificently painted miniatures. And often the descriptions of the rules found online were somewhat lacking in detail. So it's definitely worth asking around at a message board, or trying to find a battle report online that uses the rules you are considering.

Aside from that, you'll just have to do searches for what you're looking for and start keeping track of companies that make rules for the period you are interested in, and eventually narrow it down to one that you want to try. Another option is to download some Free Wargames Rules. There are a lot of homegrown rule sets that people have written up and put out there for download. So you could try out some of those first to get an idea of the kinds of things you like or don't like, or even what scale of battle you prefer to fight, before you spend the money to order a set of rules. Or you may just find something you think is just right.

After reading many positive reviews and a couple of really fun sounding battle reports for it, I decided to go with a ruleset called Field of Battle by a company called Piquet. I ordered it from You can find the Field of Battle rules here. They work for the American Civil War and Napoleonic periods, among others, and I also liked how people described the uncertainty of the command and control system of the game, which keeps the players from having complete control over what happens so they have to learn to react to the unexpected vagaries of war.

Step 4: Choose a Miniature Scale
The next step is to decide what sized miniatures you want to game with. This is usually given as a number of milimeters measured on a normal standing infantry figure from the bottom of his feet to his eye level. I suppose they don't just give the height of the figure because this would vary based on the kind of headgear the figure is wearing, and how much height that adds to the figure. The common sizes I have come across are 2mm, 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, and 28mm. Rarely miniature sizes are given as a ratio of miniature size to life size, such as 1:285 for 6mm miniatures.

You might have to choose your miniature scale before choosing a set of rules if you really have a strong preference. But I've found that most of the potential rules sets I've come across in my own search can be used with many different sizes of miniatures. If specific unit sizes are critial, they mostly rely on a certain base size, and you can put however many miniatures you want on the base. It seems uncommon, though not unheard of, for the number of models in a unit, rather than the number of bases, to be important. But for some game scales, certain miniature sizes may not be possible. For example, there probably aren't a lot of skirmish level games, where on miniature represents an individual soldier, that are designed to be played with 6mm miniatures. But still, if you altered all the distances in the rules, I'm sure you could play that way.

Aside from all that, the choice of miniature size will most likely be purely aesthetic, or possibly partially financial. I had chosen a set of rules where a unit of several bases would represent a regiment of several hundred men. I wanted to use small miniatures, so that on the table a unit would look more like a big regiment of men packed together in a line. I think this looks much better than using a handful of larger scale miniatures, which just doesn't look anything like what you're trying to represent. Of course, with units being regiments, each miniature is going to represent many actual men no matter what scale I use, but I wanted to get as close as I could to the look of a regiment while still being able to fit them on my gaming table. And I wanted the miniatures to still look good up close. I had it narrowed down to either 6mm or 10mm, and my decision would be based on the prices and quality of the miniatures that were available in those scales.

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 3

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 1

A while ago, I took my first tentative steps into the world of historical miniature wargaming. I thought I would share with you all some recollections of the beginning of that journey. For those who are not already historical wargamers, it may serve as a guide for getting started. For those who are, perhaps it will bring up fond memories of how you started out in the hobby.

Though I didn't realize it at the time, my desire to do historical wargaming actaully started a long time ago. You can kind of see its genesis in some of my other blog posts. When putting together my Warhammer Fantasy Empire army, I was drawn to having lots of cannons and lines of handgunners and units of pistol-armed cavalry. I realize now that what I was trying to do was to simulate what I really wanted to have, which was a civil war style army. I had long been fascinated by that style of warfare; maneuvering long regiments into lines of battle, blazing cannons, devastating volleys of fire, interesting personalities of the commanding officers. It just didn't occur to me at the time that I could actually play what I really wanted to play: a historical wargame set in the American Civil War.

Then came the spark that ignited the powder keg. While browsing an online gaming forum that mostly catered to Games Workshop stuff, I came across this link: Warlord Games Announces Black Powder.

It was an introduction to an upcoming rule set called Black Powder, which would contain rules for miniature wargaming in the "horse and musket" period, roughly 1700 to 1900. It was being written by Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson, who had worked on a lot of stuff for Games Workshop that I liked. And I really liked a lot of what was said in the introduction, especially the intentionally non-competative nature of the game, since I had been getting sick of the competetive nature that Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 had moved towards. It sounded like exactly the kind of thing I had been wanting to play, and had been trying to approximate with my gunpowder themed Warhammer Fantasy Empire army.

I wasn't sure if anyone else I knew would be interested in historical wargaming, but I have a friend who I have had several discussions with about the interesting style of warfare in the Civil War and Napoleonic wars (my interest being primarily in the former, his the latter). So I sent the link to him, and he also thought it sounded like fun. Unfortunately, that particular set of rules had not yet been released, nor was there any kind of expected release date listed. So we had no idea how long we'd have to wait to play this game. In the meantime, I decided to to search around on the internet for other similar rules. I figured there were probably already other rules for playing Civil War or Napoleonic battles. I had no idea. So, down the rabbit hole I went.

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 2

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mighty Empires Tiles

Here are some pictures of my painted Games Workshop Mighty Empires map tiles. They were originally posted on Saturday, August 16, 2008.

Mighty Empires Mighty Empires Mighty Empires Mighty Empires

Painting these map tiles was definitely different than anything else I have painted before. As you can see, I tried a lot of different colors and styles, but I never really found a method of painting them that I was happy with. So I don't have much advice for painting map tiles.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Space Marine Chapter

I'm starting to paint my chapter of Chaos Space Marines. They're going to be mostly black, with bone colored helmets and trim. The intention is for them to look intimidating when they attack an enemy in the darkness, with only their bone colored helmets/trim and the white skull icons on their shoulder pads showing. There is a whole long backstory to my renegade Space Marine chapter, but I'll get into that more in the future as I get more of them painted and develop the story more.

For now, I'm trying to come up with a good look for them, and a good method for achieving what I'm going for. But I need some opinions. I've tried four different methods of getting somewhat bone colored helmets. But I don't want them to be straight white, since I think completely black and white models would look pretty boring. Anyway, here's a of picture of what I've tried so far.

Chaos Space Marines

So, which do you think looks the best? Anyone have thoughts on how to improve the look?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Space Marine Vehicles

Here are some pictures of a Rhino and a Predator I painted for my Chaos Space Marine chapter. These are the first vehicles I've ever painted. The pictures were originally posted on Sunday, May 18, 2008.

Predator and Rhino Predator and Rhino Predator and Rhino Predator and Rhino

The color scheme I decided on for my Chaos Space Marine chapter is mostly black with bone colored highlights, so those are the colors on the vehicles. Painting vehicles is interesting. It took a few coats to cover those big, flat spaces completely without having streaks. And it took a few coats to paint the bone color over the black.

There are a lot of boring flat areas, so I used some decals to make it more interesting. The icon of my chapter is a white skull, so I put some skulls on the front. I also used transfers to add numbers and some writing. The twin-linked bolter on the Predator is attached by magnet, so I can take it off and replace it with a havok launcher if needed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warhammer 40,000 Thousand Sons

Here are some pictures of a unit of Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines I painted. The pictures were originally posted on my previous blog on Friday, December 21, 2007.

Thousand Sons Thousand Sons Thousand Sons Thousand Sons Thousand Sons Thousand Sons

The gold parts were painted using metallic gold paint, and they turned out really nice. The icons on the shoulder pads are transfers. They were pretty difficult to get on, because I was trying to apply them to a curved surface. So I had to put some slices in the transfers and overlap the edges a little while wrapping them around the curved part of the shoulder pad. It worked out okay.

The skulls on the sorcerer's shoulder pad and bolt pistol were just painted a tan color, and then had a brown or possibly chestnut ink applied. I wanted the force weapon he is carrying to look like it was glowing purple with psychic energy, but I don't really know how to paint something so that it looks like it is glowing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Warhammer Fantasy Terrain

Here's a terrain piece I made for Warhammer Fantasy of out of some random stuff I had. I use at as either an Ancient Idol or a Fell Ruin, or just a decorative piece of terrain. These pictures were originally posted on Friday, August 17, 2007.

Ancient Idol/Fell Ruins Ancient Idol/Fell Ruins Ancient Idol/Fell Ruins Ancient Idol/Fell Ruins

I like how the marble look of the stone turned out. The base is just made out of cardboard. I painted it black, and then blotted dark grey on it with a thick brush to get the mottled look. Then I painted the veins on with thinned black paint.

I also really like how the book looks. Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Warhammer Vampire Counts Ghouls

Here is a unit of Ghouls I painted for my Vampire Counts. This was back when they were still a skirmishing unit. The pictures were originally posted on Friday, August 17, 2007.

Ghouls Ghouls Ghouls Ghouls

With these, I started using static grass on the bases instead of flock. I like how it looks, but I never got the hang of making really nice looking bases. I've seen some bases that look really great, but I'm not sure how they get that way. I usually just paint the bases brown or green and then apply flock. So, does anyone else have any tips or interesting methods for basing miniatures?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Warhammer Vampire Counts Fell Bats

Here are some pictures of my painted Fell Bats for the Warhammer Vampire Counts army. These were originally posted on Monday, July 30, 2007.

Fell Bats Fell Bats Fell Bats

I think they turned out really well. Especially the blending I did on the wings to get that leathery look. To achieve that look, I first painted the wings a dark brown color. Then I used a thick brush to drybrush on a lighter brown color, with very little paint on the brush. Actually, there was pratcitally no detectable paint on the brush. But I used a sort of circular motion, almost like I was polishing the raised areas. Where I wanted it to be the lightest, like in the very middle, the most raised parts of the wings, I pressed a little harder and did many more passes of circles. Where I only wanted it to be a little lighter than the base color, I just did one quick pass of little circular motions. I think the result is really nice. The look even better in person than the do in the pictures.

Also for these Fell Bats, I started making use of magnets to attach them to their bases. I have often had problems with flying based that are glued on breaking off when I try to transport the models somewhere. To solve this problem, here I have glued a small circular magnet to the bottom of each Fell Bat (which I painted over black to make it less conspicuous), and another small circular magnet to the top of the stem of the base. So when storing and transporting the models, I simply take them off their bases so there is no chance of them breaking. Let me know what you think of the idea, or if you have any other interesting uses for magnets on your miniatures.

The magnets I used in the bases were ordered from the Amazing Magnets website. They have a great selection of all different sizes and shapes of magnets, so you should be able to find whatever you might need for your miniature projects.

Finally, here is a picture of all my painted Vampire Counts miniatures, to show my progress up to this point.

Vampire Counts army

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wargames Factory Liberty and Union League

There's a relatively new company called Wargames Factory that makes a couple of 28mm plastic multi-part miniature boxed sets. I have no experience with the company of their miniatures, but they have something going on that I think is pretty cool, called the Liberty and Union League.

Basically, you can submit an idea for a plastic sprue that you want them to make, along with a pre-order of how many of them you would buy. They post your idea up on their website so that other people can browse them and place pre-orders. Once a sprue has gotten enough pre-orders, they will produce it. You can see the details of the Liberty and Union League program here.

They need to have pre-orders from at least 100 different people for 1000 of the sprues. And once they reach those numbers, they ask for solid pre-orders with a down payment of $1 per sprue to make sure the interest is really there. But still, it's a cool idea, a good way for them to judge demand for something, and a way for interesting plastic miniatures to get produced that nobody else is doing. Already they've had a sprue of multi-part zombies reach the required threshold, and they're starting to sculpt them. We'll have to wait and see how long it takes them to get from this point to actual production of the miniatures.

You can browse all of the current suggestions and place your preorders here. The American Civil War suggestions, which are of particular interest to me, can be found here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Warhammer Empire Handgunners

Here are some pictures of my Warhammer Fantasy Empire Handgunners of the 54th Nuln Gunnery Regiment, 2nd Battalion. The Handgunner unit also has a detachment of Hangunners, and a detachment of Free Company. These pictures were originally posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007.

Empire Handgunners Empire Handgunners Empire Handgunners Empire Handgunners

They turned out okay. Those old plastic handgunner miniatures aren't particularly good. They don't have much detail in the face and some other places. They are painted in the same red and black colors as the rest of my Empire stuff, to represent a detachment from Nuln. I tried to make the skin tones on these figures a little darker than I normally would. I figure all the smoke from firing those blackpowder weapons would make them very dirty.

As part of my color scheme for my Nuln detachment, I came up with a way to distinguish what branch of service a soldier belongs to. This can be determined by the color of the headgear they wear. So the regular infantry, such as this unit of Handgunners, are the "black hats". The militia, like the free company detachment, are "brown hats". Though, since they aren't as strictly regulated as the professional soldiers, they often wear don't wear a hat or just wear whatever they happen to own. The artillery are "red hats". As you can see a few posts back, the artillery crewmen are all wearing red hats. The cavalry will be the "grey hats", which will likely just be their metal helmets. I thought it was a good way to distinguish different types of units, and also add a little visual variety to the army.

As you can see, all of the members of the Free Company detachment have been converted to be carrying some sort of blackpowder weapon. I did this because I want my Nuln detachment Empire army to have a strong gunpowder weapon theme. It is meant to represent a new, experimental type of Empire army detachment which makes heavy use of the gunpowder weapon technology. I want all of the miniatures in the army to represent that. Rules-wise they just count as normal Free Company.

You might also have noticed that there is a guy in that Free Company unit that is wearing a black hat, even though as part of the militia he should be wearing a brown hat. There is a good reason for that. I actually came up with a whole backstory for that guy, just based on the fact that it is an interesting miniature.

He was originally a private in the regular army, serving as a handgunner. In a brutal battle with a band of Orc marauders, his unit was cut to pieces, and his leg was chopped off at the kneee. As the Orc ran down the fleeing remnants of his unit, he somehow managed to remain concious, and tied off his leg to slow the bleeding. In agony and barely clinging to life, he looked up to see the Duke who led the Empire army locked in combat with an Orc champion. The Orc knocked the Duke to the ground as was about to finish him off when the Hangunner fired off a shot. It killed the attacking Orc, and saved the Duke's life. They managed to turn the battle around, and the hangunner miraculously survived, despite the terrible wound he had received.

In recognition of the hangunner's courage and determination, the Duke whose life he had saved awarded him with medals, paid for him to get a nice prosthetic leg, and heaped other gifts upon him (such as that extremely fancy hat). He was, however, discharged honorably from military service, since the regular army did not allow those with missing limbs or similar physical handicaps in their ranks.

The Duke made sure the handgunner lived a relatively comfortable life in his retirement from military service. He found a wife and settled down. Years later, his wife died of the plague. He was very lonely, and began to miss the regimented lifestyle and comradarie of military service. Since he was now old and still physically handicapped, he was not eligible for service in the regular army. So instead he, with a little support from the Duke, managed to raise his own militia unit of Free Company and joined up with a military detachment.

So, out of respect for his prior distinguised service in the regular army, he is allowed to wear his old black hat, despite technically being a non-commissioned officer in the militia.

I kind of like having little backstories like that for some of the models in my armies. It gives the army more personality, and adds to the drama when some of the characters in the battle have a history. If there are any models in your armies that have backstories you came up with that you'd like to share, please leave a comment and tell the world about them. I'd like to know what kinds of stories other people have come up with.

Warhammer Empire Master Engineer

Some pictures of my Warhammer Fantasy Empire Master Engineer, with Hochland Long Rifle. He is painted in the red and black color scheme of my Nuln army. Originally posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007.

Master Engineer Master Engineer Master Engineer Master Engineer

There's nothing much to say about the paint job, since I didn't really use any special techniques. It's all just manual shading and highlighting, but I think it turned out pretty well. By this point I was getting a little more confident in deciding where to paint the highlight colors. I did use a some metallic paints in several places. The gun barrel is black with a drybrush of gunmetal metallic paint. I think everything else is pretty straight-forward.

Warhammer Empire Cannon

Some pictures of my Warhammer Fantasy Empire cannon, with crew. These were originally posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

They are painted in the red and black color scheme of the province of Nuln. You might start to notice that many of my miniatures heavily feature red and black. This wasn't really a conscious decision, they just happen to be my favorite colors, and I think they look very good together. So I often fall back on the colors red and black when I need to come up with a new color scheme, such as for the Tyranids and the Grave Guard shown in previous posts.

In this case, it just so happens that I had already decided to make an Empire army from Nuln. Shortly before starting to paint the army, a new Empire army book came out and the Nuln colors were inexplicably changed from black and yellow to black and red. So now I have yet another red and black army. Probably for the best, though, since yellow is really difficult to paint.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Warhammer 40,000 Tyranid Gargoyles

I've decided that just re-posting pictures I had on my previous blog of the miniatures I was painting at the time kind of defeats the purpose of starting this new blog. On the other hand, I'd like to have all the gaming related stuff in one place. So I will continue to post the old pictures, but I will also add some commentary about the paint jobs, which will hopefully be interesting or useful to others. Next up is a unit of Tyranid Gargoyles. I originally posted these pictures on Saturday, March 17, 2007.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Originally Posted: Monday, April 17, 2006

I started working on painting up a Vampire Counts army. I had already painted a unit of skeletons, a vampire, and a Wraith a while ago. Recently I painted a unit of Dire Wolves and a Necromancer that was kind of half painted already. So here's some pictures.

Here's a blurry picture of the necromancer. It's too bad the picture is so blurry, since I think the paint job actually turned out pretty well.

Dire Wolves Dire Wolves
Here's the unit of Dire Wolves. Pretty basic paint job, but they look decent.

Blood Dragon Blood Dragon
A kinda blurry Blood Dragon vampire that I painted a long time ago.

Skeleton Warriors Skeleton Warriors Skeleton Warriors
Skeleton spearmen unit. I love the pimp skeleton for the unit champion. You can even see his gold teeth and ring in the last picture.

My painted Wraith. He turned out pretty well, even though I have no idea how you're supposed to paint an hourglass on a model.