Tuesday 23 October 2018


The Astrovian arms build up continues with the introduction of some light troops.
I wanted to portray border troops from the Marlburian era... so didn't want to use SYW Grenzers, nor did I want to use the Croats I have for my TYW collection.
In the end, on the grounds that this is an imaginary army anyway, I plumped for some suitably ragged chaps from the Foundry Cossack range.

Here are Karavani's Croats which I've given a sort of themed/ semi-uniformed look:

Next, I'm working through some loose ends in a number of projects, and adding to this one too. So the workbench has Macedonian Successor peltasts, Napoleonics, TYW, and Astrovian artillery all on the verge of getting paint applied! I'm enjoying the variety, and the fact that I'm getting through some things that have been in the "pending tray" for some time. It's very cathartic!!

Tuesday 2 October 2018

A Sicilian Adventure

26 years ago, my lovely daughter, Victoria, entered the world.
Where has the time gone?

We recently spent a week in Sicily where she got married.
A week in a lovely villa in the hills above Cefalu on the north coast, which we shared with my brother and his family and my siuster and her family... punctuated by a three night stay in the very top notch hotel Le Calette where the reception was held.

I've been to the island once before, but this time was extra special, of course.
I have never been more proud.

Just a few pictures...

The pool at the villa.

Below: with Dianne.
Wedding day... and I decided to look particularly Sicilian in this picture... to blend in with the "in-laws"!


Below: with my son, Christopher.

Below: the happy couple. As any parent will say, "I just want my kids to be happy." Result!

Later on, Victoria and Marco arrive at the reception... a typically massive Sicilian affair, overlooking the sea from the hotel... amazing.

Below: Two proud dads.

Below: the pool at Hotel Le Calette the morning after... 

 We added an extra day to our stay in the hotel... it was just so lovely.
Then back to the villa for a couple of days. 

With all the excitement over, I did get out my wargaming notebook to think and relax. I was joined by our tame gecko, Gordon, who sat on the adjacent seat for quite some time...

Below: meal out in Cefalu:
The rest of my siblings and partners and offspring... 
Brother, Steve (front left), and his wife Gina and baby Rye; plus sister, Cath (back right), and her husband Simon and their daughter, Layla. Plus my lad, Christopher (front right), and me at far end. Photo taken by Dianne.

I hope you'll forgive this personal intermission!
Soon I'll have some wargaming activity to report...

Friday 14 September 2018

Heavy Horse

The latest unit to canter off the workbench is the Astrovian Kuirassiers von Klammer.
Fairly speedy paint job, but I think they look effective... in fact, quite threatening. Those Vaubarians had better beware.

This brings the orders of battle to the following...
Vaubarians: 2 Line Infantry Battalions, 1 Light Infantry (dismounted dragoons) regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, 2 guns.
Astrovians: 2 Line Infantry Battalions, 1 cavalry regiment.

Artillery from Hautmont Etrurie are being completed by Steve as we speak, and I'm going to be working on a unit of Astrovian light infantry next.
This means we will have enough for some games soon. Look out for the scenarios, layouts and deployments appearing here soon, and you'll also get some AARs too.

Meantime, I'm heading off to Sicily for a week, to be the father of the bride! My daughter, Victoria, gets married out there on Tuesday. Where did all the years go?

Monday 10 September 2018

Field Commander

One of Astrovia's most villainous Generals, and a fiendishly skulduggerous member of the Imperial Court, is Reichsgrafen von Schwarzenatter.
He has recently been awarded command of the Astrovian Field Army... and that spells trouble.

His dark and devious personality is reflected in his choice of a black uniform coat, richly embroidered with golden lacework, representing the opulence of the Astrovian Court where his Machiavellian machinations are legendary.
Of course, putting him in charge of the Astrovian field force gets him out of the way a little... perhaps that's helpful to certain other members of the Imperial entourage.

His standard bearer wears the uniform of the Kuirassiers von Klammer, a regiment who I hope to be able to show in full later this week...

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Dismounted Dragoons

Next unit finished... Vaubarian dismounted dragoons.
This is regiment Muller. They operate as light troops, making them The Muller Lights. Groan!!

The workbench is groaning under the pressure of preps for a game (or three!) that I'm planning to host in the not too distant future - the start of this particular collection being used "in anger" on the tabletop.
I have 3 scenarios in mind to be played out in one day, and whilst the collection is in the early stages, and the orbats are limited somewhat, there will be sufficient tactical challenges to keep the two visiting commanders entertained for the day...
Can you guess which scenarios I have in mind (most readers will know them, I'm sure).

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Comments. Links and a note on Productivity

Thanks everyone for the comments on yesterday's post. I'm glad the Schrodinger pun wasn't lost on some people... 

Today, I added a few new links and updated the blogroll at the sidebar (it saves me having to keep looking in my favourites list).

One blog particularly worthy of note is "Chasseur." Now, I don't know the chap who runs it (I think he's on the underside of the world), but his blog is excellent. I particularly like his take on painting productivity. He bashes out Napoleonics at a phenomenal rate, and some of his older posts on the psychology of turning out such large numbers are really worth a read. Well done that man.

It reminded me of the old "Painting Points" concept that I originally put forward around 13 years ago. Yep, I checked, 2005. 
I still see people referring to "Olley points" or "Painting Points" occasionally, and many of them will have no idea who I am!

The idea behind Painting Points is to have a productivity measure. It doesn't have to be a huge target (this is a hobby, after all), but a sense of how much you are really getting done is useful. The scoring is 1 point for infantryman, 2 for cavalry (1 for rider, 1 for horse) and so on. Simple. The value is in both keeping tally of output, and also in planning new projects. It's no good planning, and hoping, to produce the Battle of Leipzig at 1:20, if your average painting output is 14 figures a year. You'll become despondent in no time, and the butterflies will take hold.

Think about it. How many figures have you painted in the last 6 months, or the whole of this year so far? Get the average monthly output. That gives you a clue as to what you can produce. Now, if you were really focussed I'm sure you could up it a little, just by turning off the TV, or setting aside a very specific part of the evening to paint, or whatever rhythm you want to create. So, if you've averaged 12 figures per month in the last 6 months, how about a stretch to 15; or if it's been 33, what about upp'ing it to 40 per month. If 87, why not aim at 100. It's not about bragging about who is whacking out the most stuff. What's important is the steady build on a decent output for you.

Now, there will always be distractions and things that prevent the brush getting wet. I myself have a varied and busy life. In September, I'll be travelling a fair bit, and have plenty of business and other stuff going on. And it may be that the month to come prevents me getting to the paint desk much at all. 

But, in the normal run of life, that's where the painting points helps you. It's not about those times when it would be impossible to paint. It's about those times when all is "normal" - and when all sorts of distractions and procrastinations could get in the way. Remove those distractions, get a clear target in mind, and go for it.

Take some time to read Chasseur's post about his approach to painting Napoleonics in volume. Then set to work.

Monday 20 August 2018

Special Dispensation

This is Astrovian Infantry Regt 2. Schrodinger's Regt.

The Colonel of the regiment, von Schrodinger, visited the Emperor to get a special dispensation...
He requested that, instead of having the usual Astrovian black eagle on the flags, he might be allowed to replace it with a yellow one. He reasoned that, given the flags are black/white, it would be difficult to see the usual black eagle, and that people wouldn't be sure it was there or not.
The special allowance was granted.
Von Schrodinger's great, great, great grandson was to gain notoriety some years later - something to do with a cat.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Normal Service...

What a summer! And it's not over yet!!
Amongst the glorious sunshine, I've had a good few weeks rest and recuperation, including my annual Tai Chi and Kung Fu retreat at summer school.
The venue is certainly conducive to a week away from the norm...

Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincs

Time off means reading, thinking and planning, as well as getting some painting done. And I've got some new stuff to show, just as soon as I can get a decent photo shoot done. Maybe this coming weekend.
So, wargaming updates will be resuming shortly...

Not sure whether to bother with Partizan on Sunday - convince me, someone...

Thursday 26 July 2018

Astrovian Infantry

This is the view on the workbench this morning, just before I headed out to my office. I couldn't resist pointing my phone at these guys and clicking. 

These were speed-painted... basically blocked in, dipped, highlighted.

Astrovian IR1 - Regiment Frankl

I'm also working on IR2 and should have them done very soon - although their completion is now interrupted by a week away.

I've spent some time working out all the Astrovian uniforms and flags, and naming all the units has been fun.
More to come...

Monday 23 July 2018

New books

At the moment, I'm enjoying this...

… and flicking through the two volumes of this...

Just saying...

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Speed painting workbench

At the moment, I'm focussing on getting the Wars of The Vaubarian Succession (circa 1704) in full flight. This involves some speed-painting of Astrovians. And yes, some dipping was involved, and anti-shine varnish... 

Here is a section of my workbench, full of half-painted lead.

The untidiness, and unfinished-ness is setting off my wargamers' OCD alarm bells. So I'm using this post to ask for forgiveness and understanding and reassurance!
Just a few more sessions to go and these will be finished, I keep telling myself! 

Tuesday 17 July 2018

What's the Connection?

Thanks to all who commented on the previous post about the maps...
I love doing them. It's a nice interlude when painting hordes of figures!

What's the connection between...
Marcus Hinton (of Hinton Hunt), Ed Suren (Willie figures), Brigadier Peter Young (Charge!) and Lt Col JBR Nicholson (mentioned as one of the players in The Wargame)?

When I joined The Sealed Knot a few years ago, there were howls of derision from some quarters, and many wargamers were very outspoken and negative about the world of re-enacting.
I kept my counsel, smiled, and just got on with it... and have enjoyed it ever since, despite not getting to many musters this year due to a fairly busy schedule.

When the latest copy of my Sealed Knot quarterly magazine, Orders of the Day, came through the post at the weekend, I was immediately drawn to an article previously written by "The Brig" (Peter Young), who founded The Knot back in 1968. The article was reproduced in the current magazine as part of the retrospective in the society's 50th year.

In the article The Brig mentions the involvement right at the outset of Messrs Hinton, Suren, Nicholson, and one Christopher Duffy. 

One can't help but wonder that their expertise at sculpting, writing and understanding the military experience of centuries gone by was surely all the better for walking round a field with a pike or a musket over the shoulder. It's all very well holding such weaponry for a few minutes, but after an hour or two even the hardiest soldiers start to feel the weight.
Of course in the modern era, people like the Perry Twins and Dave Andrews' re-enacting exploits are well known. Perhaps that adds to their ability to make such outstanding contributions to the miniatures hobby too.

Sunday 15 July 2018


This weekend, the Wars of the Vaubarian Succession (1704) have been at the fore, with two infantry units being worked on at the painting table.
Meanwhile, I've also been working on the campaign background, including the maps.

Here is a map of Vaubaria 

No fancy software or anything of that sort involved. I just sketched this out, then got the coloured crayons out... a bit of tongue out the side of mouth work does wonders!

Coming soon, maps of the whole Vaubaria - Astrovia region), and a map of the key area of operations between these two states.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Building Book

At one of my recent modelling masterclass evenings with John Boadle, he showed me some of the reference books he uses. Many people make miniature buildings which are generic, and look ok. John has taken his research to a different level... he is perhaps a "beam counter" when it comes to half-timbered Germanic buildings. 

Whilst I don't think for one moment that I want to emulate such detailed craftsmanship as John, one of his reference works was just too good not to go and buy straight away.

My copy arrived recently.
It's a weighty tome, packed with information, distinguishing variations in design and construction of buildings in different regions of Germany. Its pages are packed with sketches, plans, and other inspirational imagery, so although I can't read the text, I have plenty to enjoy in this book...

Sunday 8 July 2018

Terrain bits n bobs

2018 has been a flurry of activity. 
Salute, Partizan, trips abroad (most recently Florence... again - love it!), World Cup mania, chairing the organising of a charity event for a local children's hospice, the normal tapestry of business commitments, and sadly the loss of two of my university flatmates within a couple of months of each other.

But... There's also been some wargaming, painting and terrain work.
With hobby time being precious, however, there hasn't been much room for blogging. so I hope you'll forgive me for the absence. I will do better, I promise.

I've been updating my terrain suite for gaming at home … chiefly adapting items from Last Valley - rivers, rocky outcrops etc. and basing some more coniferous trees... can't have too many of these for the upcoming Wars of the Vaubarian Succession (see previous post).

I love Andy's  Last Valley rivers, and the brown-ish water colour is certainly realistic. But I like my wargaming rivers to be a little more blue-ish, so I redid those, and repainted the stonework on the bridges to match the colours I usually use for stonework. 

Sometimes it's fun just to lay the table … and who can resist a column of infantry crossing a bridge.
Here, Vaubarian infantry and artillery are on the march, circa 1704.

This past few weeks I've also had the privilege of a couple of evenings round at John Boadle's home learning to improve my scratch-building techniques. Many will know of John as he is one of the hobby's real gurus when it comes to model buildings and his vast knowledge, experience and expertise in this regard have been very valuable. Thanks John. See you again soon.

And for all other readers... I promise I will be back later this week with a further update.
In the meantime, I hope your hobby workbenches are groaning under the strain of heavy activity... just as mine is!

Thursday 3 May 2018

War of the Vaubarian Succession

Over the past year, I have been meeting with a fellow wargamer at our favourite haunt, our HQ, a small pub on the Fosse Way which is midway between our two homes.

Dubbing oursleves "The Fosseway Indie-Fencibles," the discussions have been about all things wargaming, and beyond.

Over the past few months we've decided to collaborate on a small project set around 1704 or thereabouts, using the Front Rank WSS range... just a few units, you understand.

We've called this The War of The Vaubarian Succession (WVS) as it's a fictional affair between the imaginary nations of The Electorate of Vaubaria (me) and Hautmont-Etrurie (Steve).

You can expect something different from the usual imagi-nations affairs, however. First off, we've settled on much smaller units (20 Infantry and 12 Cavalry) and having chosen Front Rank for the lead, it's not "old school" as such. We'll be using a set of rules I began using for the period around 1990, namely those of the late Peter Gilder, the Wargames Holiday Centre set for the period (slightly adapted).

Suffice to say, it's still at the very early stages, but a start has been made on the painting of figures.

Here are a couple of photos of the initial force of my Vaubarians...

Infantry Regt Dremel (excellent at drill), Infantry Regt Breitner, Vogts Cuirassiers, artillery under Master of Gunnery and commander of the Vaubarian arsenal (Graf von Wenger), all commanded by Markgraf Karl von Orff (with his banner, of Fortuna).

Above: Infantry Regt Dremel, supported by Vogts Cuirassiers.
Below: Infantry Regt Breitner.

The sharp-eyed will notice I've done the artillery in both deployed and "limbered, on the march" configurations. I've also done a casualty marker for each unit. It's good to begin as you mean to go on, rather than playing catch-up at a later date.

This is a slow-burn, and I'm just enjoying the leisurely painting time. We've got a couple of games planned in the diary for the near future, so I'll add pictures of those as we go.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Winter is back!

In case you hadn't noticed... It's a bit white out there.
Living out in the countryside has its advantages... But not on days like this.
There's no way I will be at Alumwell today, so won't be trading.
Might see if I can get squeezed into Partizan instead!!
Now for a day at the painting desk instead...

Wednesday 14 March 2018

A spring in the wargaming step

There's a spring in my wargaming step...

It has been a while since I played a game, but yesterday evening, I was fortunate to be hosted by John Boadle to a tabletop encounter set in 1866.
Now, John will be known to many in the hobby for his skills as a creator of some excellent buildings, and such edifices adorned the battlefield. Here are just a few pictures of the action - quickly snapped on my iPhone as we played the very entertaining game, so apologies for the poor quality of the pictures which don't do John's layout justice really.

It showed what can be done on a 6x4 table, with some creativity.
Lovely collection of figures, well-presented terrain, and rules which allowed the game to flow effortlessly. As Prussian commander, I can claim a sort of draw, and the Austrians can claim a very, very, very pyrrhic victory, I think!

Meanwhile, I'm starting to box things up for the big sale at the Alumwell show this weekend (see previous post). Looking forward to seeing a few of you there.

This will mark the start of the show season for me, and I'm possibly going to visit Salute next month, and certainly Partizan the month after that.
And yes, I've been painting again for what Steve Gill and I are loosely calling our "New School Imagi-Nations" project. Soon, we'll be ready to show some pictures of what we've been up to.

I hope you've got a spring in your wargaming step too!

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Selling Up!

Selling Up?
Well not quite, but
I've decided that I've got enough items for sale to justify taking a small trade stand at the WMMS Alumwell show on Sunday 18th March.

There are figures - painted and unpainted - including Colonials, Macedonians, Dark Ages, Napoleonics, as well as some very, very, very old armies and units... and all my 15mm ancients armies that really do deserve to see the light of day, on a table somewhere.
I've also got boxes of very old fantasy stuff (25mm) from the earliest days of GW, plus Ral Partha, and others, and a pile of minifigs Valley of the Four Winds figures too.
And there are some 25mm Great Northern War figures (Swedish Cavalry).

There are also terrain items, a few buildings, many books (including some Ospreys), rule sets, and magazines. 

And, it will all be reasonably priced, because I want it all to go.
I'll be set up from opening time, and will stay until it's all gone!!

See you at Alumwell!