Wednesday, 30 September 2015

British HMG platoon

I actually painted these a while ago but just added tufts to the bases and painted the command stand, so unit all complete now.

The unit consists of:
  • 4 stands of heavy machine guns which are old Wargames South figures, no longer available unfortunately;
  • 4 Universal Carrier with heavy machine gun, these are Pithead models;
  • A universal carrier for the command which is again Pithead;
  • A command stand, it consists of an Arrowhead infantry man and two Pendraken figures.

Here is the unit deployed around a small town. I still had the Perfect Six barricades out from an earlier post so used them in these pictures too (I just love those barricades!).

For an easy way to see all my WW2 posts check out the WW2 Summary page.

Review of Shapeways model - British Boarhound armoured car

My experience to date of 3D printing has been CGD models - for example see my posts on the British A39 Tortoise and the American T28, and also the Calliope turrets. I will first provide some views of CGD by way of context and for later comparison. They keep changing their material - and I note it has recently changed again since I last bought anything (now more smooth). The Calliope turrets had excellent detail but extremely grainy. Later materials have been fine on detail in general (although not quite so detailed on the new Calliope turrets) and have been much smoother. Although there are two issues with CGD for the models I have bought:

  • while smoother than their first efforts there is still a kind of light ridging effect on the models which I guess is a consequence of the printing process. This is actually easily removed by sanding or filing the model and it sands down without a great deal of effort - although can be difficult to get in to some parts of the model. So this is not an issue I have too much of a problem with as easily rectified;
  • the models come with a massive amount of sprue attached and all closely packed (e.g. from rear of vehicle). This is a pain to remove as the material is a bit glass like and hence it is quite likely that a bit of the model comes away when the sprue is cut off no matter how careful you are - and because there is so much (could be 15 or more bits) and closely packed it is actually difficult to see what is part of the model. So some work with Milliput or the like is needed to repair any damage.
The new material (which I don't have any of yet) may sort the first problem but actually it is the second that is the biggest pain and the thing that has stopped me doing the CDG models I have waiting to do as the sheer effort involved is a bit off putting (when I have many other things to do that do not require such heavy preparation).

I have occasionally scouted around on the Shapeways site. But my experience with CDG, the many different material options for Shapeways that can get very expensive (and what is good enough?), plus high postage compared to model price has stopped me trying anything. Over the summer they had a free postage option and with my birthday coming up I decided to treat myself. I got 3 British Boarhound armoured cars in "Transparent Acrylic: Firm translucent plastic with a smooth surface and rubbery feel." and one Polikarpov I-153 in "White Strong & Flexible: White nylon plastic with a matte finish and slight grainy feel.". I went for the cheaper option for the plane as my main interest is vehicles and did not fancy spending a lot on an item that would only make an occasional appearance in games and would probably not be on display in between.

I have fancied the idea of Boarhounds ever since I saw them in the Flames of War Mid-War Monsters book. They just looked cool and were actually made and used - although not really in combat roles but then they could have been. When I got them, a week later than first suggested but they did email me about the delay, I was actually quite pleased. No sprue other than a tiny bit for the wheels so unlike CGD no horrendous preparation time. Pictures as they came out of the box:

Very difficult to see the surfaces due to the transparent material but they looked smooth. However, after spraying with the undercoat I realised that the flat horizontal surfaces were smooth but the vertical and curved surfaces were far from smooth. I did not take any photos until I had applied lots of paint but I was sent 4 turrets for the 3 vehicles so later on I put a bit of paint on the unused one to try and show the issue:

Very difficult to get a good picture but the sides of the turret (and the vertical and curved parts of the main body) are all like they have been cut from something like MDF and a slightly rough cut at that. Actually getting paint on was quite an effort as it would not flow as a result of the surface. It took about 4 coats or so before it could be painted at all normally and I ended up with 15 to 20 coats on the final models with acrylic paint to try and build up a reasonably smooth surface.

When I got an email a week or so after delivery asking me to rate the models and I gave 1 out of 10 they did contact me and refunded the cost of the Polikarpov I-153 in the end as a token gesture. Since then I was able to show the extra turret I managed to get a full refund even though the above pictures were not enough to properly show the problem - I am left wondering if this was a printing problem or this is really what the supposed "smooth finish" is really like. For about £11 a model I can't say I am impressed if that is the case. Weirdly the cheaper option on the Polikarpov I-153 looks much better - here is an unpainted version - I have put on a first coat and much easier to get paint on and the finish is the same everywhere on the model, but more when it is done.

While putting on my many coats of acrylic on the Boarhounds I was far form convinced they would look OK right up until the final stages. Below a model with the basic paint job done and then one with the finishing touches (wash in Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade, dry brush of Games Workshop Snakebite Leather and mud effect and decals).

The version with just the basic paint job does not look great but the wash and dry brush etc. makes a huge difference - always the case but even more so on these models.

So here are the final models after lots of coats of paint, weathering and decals and basing. They do at least look the part which, as noted above, I was far from sure about until the final stages of painting. The awful surface does not stand out from any sort of a reasonable distance - although with so many coats of paint they were far slower to do than I though when I got them.

They are huge. A comparison with an AEC mark II below (Pithead model). I did wonder if the pattern was not quite to a proper 1/144 scale but then checking out the page on the Flames of War site they are actually pretty huge and if you Google Boarhound armoured cars and see pictures of the real ones with people around them they are massive.


So even though the final models look quite good - unless you look very closely - for the price I would not say they are good value for money. If I want something unusual I would rather pay a bit more and get a quality resin kit (not sure that is an option for Boarhounds mind you). Compared to CGD there is much less in terms of preparation time but once prepared CGD take paint very well and look very good and have much better detail. Perhaps the even more expensive options for Shapeways are smoother and better detailed but I am certainly not going to risk it at over £22 for ultra detail (and would not pay that for a single vehicle anyway). Other models may be better but I don't think this is the design rather the printing method so I am not going to try anything else. To be fair to Shapeways the customer service was excellent even if I was far from impressed with the models - very proactive after poor feedback. I really wish I knew if I was unlucky or this is the normal quality but I suspect I may never know now.

For an easy way to see all my WW2 posts check out the WW2 Summary page.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Some thoughts on backing Kickstarter games

I did a post on my very first foray into crowd funding not long after I started the blog - mainly just to highlight what looked like an interesting game. That was Historia. When the game arrived I was a bit surprised by the small amount of material in the box (given most games these days seem to be overflowing with stuff) but the game itself was certainly interesting and I have enjoyed playing but was it worth getting via Kickstarter rather than waiting for it to be in the shops? Here are my thoughts:

  • I got the game a few weeks after it was available in the shops;
  • It was cheaper in the shops than I paid for it on Kickstarter - and I paid 6 months in advance;
  • I did get a small amount of bonus material only available separately when sold in retail. But it was not much and I haven't actually been sufficiently enthused by it to play the game with it as yet;
  • Communication was not that great following the close of the campaign - although not non existent and after reading some comments on some other Kickstarter campaigns it seems that some of the main manufacturers are pretty bad on the communication side of things so could be worse!
[as an aside, while available on Kickstarter and the German equivalent I actually pledged via Giochi starter although the experience is actually down to the company and not the crowd funding website].

So all in all I was not that inspired by the whole experience and as a result unlikely to try crowd funding again. Other than the fact I already did just a month after pledging to Historia and hence before getting the full experience! That was Forge War. Truly excellent game and a box crammed full of stuff, although be warned it is a heavier game and takes a good 3 hours or so with the full game (but there are also quicker play options included). But as far as the Kickstarter experience went, here are my thoughts on that one:
  • I got the game before it was in the shops;
  • It was actually a bit cheaper than retail;
  • The stretch goals were many and seemed designed on significantly improving the content and quality of the final game (never seen a better quality box which was one of the goals). So all in all it felt like you were doing what Kickstarter is about and allowing a game to be funded and improved by upfront investment;
  • The designer - Isaac Childres - was doing his first game and was clearly very enthusiastic about the whole thing and communicated constantly, both via the Kickstarter pages when live and then through weekly (at least) emails once it was funded. When there were a few problems with fulfilment he was keeping everyone updated on the issue and progress.
So a very different and very positive experience - left me with the view that steer well clear of big companies as they are just after cash-flow and take a close look at games from people new to the market if they are your sort of thing.

I am now actually contemplating a couple of other Kickstarter campaigns.  The first is the second game from Isaac Childres. That is "a board game of cooperative card-driven tactical combat in a persistent, ever-changing campaign world. 1-4 players, 30 min. per player" called Gloomhaven. I am torn on this one, while I have played games involving character development I am not totally sure this is my thing but then Isaac does make excellent games (well one of one so far) and Gloomhaven looks no exception. I really like the card driven combat and the fact that you lose cards during a scenario so the choices are therefore hard and you need to plan properly. It only has a couple of days left so I will need to make my mind up soon. It looks good value so I suspect I will succumb and back it.

The second involves more established designers and involves an established company that seems to have attracted some negative comments in the comment section for past Kickstarter campaigns. This game is The Others: 7 Sins. This has just over a week to run so I have more time to decide (or procrastinate). This is also a cooperative game with various characters but is not built around character development but rather multiple types of bad guys and maps to give huge variety to each scenario. They actually say on the campaign page that it is likely to arrive after it is available in the shops, but some of the stretch goals seem to be Kickstarter (or future promo) exclusives but more importantly include things that are going to be available as extras (supplements) rather than in the core box - e.g.the extra Sins beyond the 2 in the main box. So it seems that given it is heavily backed (5,630 at the time of writing) you will get a lot more for you Kickstarter pledge than the core retail game. Still undecided but sorely tempted.

I have seen table top wargaming equipment on Kickstarter such as terrain (e.g. trenches). So far though these have not been in my scales and to be honest not things I have ever found problems getting in retail so not been temped by anything other than board games as yet.

I am currently a bit unwell and had enough nap time for now so thought I would distract myself with a blog post. Hope some of you find it of use.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Perfect Six barricades - a review

In my last order from Perfect six I had a set of barricades and this is both a guide to painting them and a review.


Perfect Six scenics are generally very cleanly cast and these are no exception so only a tiny bit of clean up required around when the metal comes into the mould.

As I want to use them within my buildings I did not want to put on a base but I also did not want to have bare metal on the bottom. My solution was to glue on to thin black plasticard. I can't remember how thick it is now - as I got it for other reasons - but it is less than 0.5mm I think but not the paper thin stuff.

I first super glued on to the plasticard sheet near the edge.

This gives an idea of how thick it is.

Next I roughly cut them out with a knife.

And next I trimmed the edges so they were flush and used a file to make sure it was completely flush with the metal.


I used Tamiya light grey primer (looks pretty much white actually) followed by a Flames of War spray called British Armour - a nice earthly brown as a base for the painting.

I then painted the ground part with Games Workshop Steel Legion Drab, the barrels and 'bricks' lying around Games Workshop Mournfang Brown and finally the pieces of 'wood' and the crate with Vallejo US Field Drab.

I then gave them a heavy wash with Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade. The front one below has had the wash and it does make it look very different - the wash gives the browns a different tone and highlights the distinctions as well as edges the detail but I just couldn't get it to show up in the photo (probably should have taken it up on to my terrain boards but too late by the time I realised I should have done that rather than take the photo on my work table).

I then painted some highlights with the original colours and then with a bit of Games Workshop Ushabti Bone in the Mournfang Brown for the barrels. I used Vallejo Light Brown to highlight the bricks scatted in the earth and that is quite an orangey brown which looks the part and gives more variety in the colour contrasts.

The final stages. All of them have been brushed with an acrylic varnish then sprayed with anti-shine.

And as a final touch a few pieces of foliage have been added to give a bit of colour beyond shades of brown.

Barricades in use

For Napoleonics these are not just scenic pieces but I will be using them as markers. For many rule sets I have looked at recently they make a distinction between moving through / just having entered a built up area and defending it. When Richard said he was going to do barricades I thought these would be an ideal way of marking the distinction. Put the figures in on the first move with no barricades, then when moved to defending add barricades to show the unit is now defending the buildings.  I have also thought about fortified built up areas (i.e. preprepared defences) and these could be marked with more substantial barricades (e.g. bits of furniture in them) and the number of barricades indicate the level of fortification (rules sets I have seen this is usually 1, 2, 3 or 4 so can easily have a barricade on as many sides as needed to show the strength). Anyway, need Richard to do the alternate barricades for that but for now I have a way of showing occupation and this type of barricade could still do that alongside the more substantial one for the level of preprepared defence.

Here are some examples - I did discuss with Richard the sizes that would be useful to do so no surprise the work well with my buildings!

Example one:

I have used barricades on each of the three routes into the village but when using as an occupation marker the number does not matter - just for aesthetic reasons really.

So now the battalion has either just entered the village or is moving through on the road and hence no barricades - it is not defending the village.

Example two:

Different village, just for variety really.

And once again just moving through.

A few examples now with 10mm WW2 figures to show how well they work at that scale. These could be used to show entrenched in FOW or defensive positions.


I really like them and being made for 6mm they work very well with the Adler 6mm Napoleonics and I think they are going to be a great marker to show the unit is defending the buildings. Not sure how many I will need until I play a few games with multiple villages, but I suspect I will put more than one on just for the effect even if one would do the job to show the unit is defending. So will probably need some more I would guess.

For WW2 they woudl also work well for 6mm and for 10mm I think they are fine for light barricades or entrenchment markers. Would need something bigger for anything that is supposed to be a fortification / heavily barricaded.

For an easy way to see all my Napoleonic posts check out the Napoleonic summary page.

For an easy way to see all my WW2 posts check out the WW2 Summary page.