Friday, April 30, 2021

Fantasy Friday: Landsknecht Otter

I painted this 28mm Oathsworn figure at the request of my son, who is an RPG guy and is into Burrows and Badgers.  It was a heck of a lot of fun to paint, beautiful sculpt.   Very tempted to order some for my self, but I really don't need another gaming/painting interest!

If you follow me on Twitter (@marshalluigi), you’ll know that I have a pretty good GIF game that often features cute otters.   This fellow is definitely not cute or cuddly.  I texted these photos to John in BC and he wrote back “Full of bravado, full of himself”.

Thanks for looking.   I have a figure lined up for next week’s Fantasy Friday but it’s certainly not as cute.

Cheers and blessings to your brushes.  A happy bank holiday to my UK and Irish readers.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Battle of Seven Pines (ACW): Gaming the Battle, Piece by Piece (1)

 Hello friends:

Recently someone said on gaming Twitter that they preferred actual battles with stories and backstories to random X points per side battles, and I confess I've been leaning that way myself lately.   Since I wanted to return to Dave Brown's Pickett's Charge ACW rules and employ some newly painted figures, I opened Vol. 1 of my copy of The West Point Atlas of American Wars  at random and picked a corker of a battle, Seven Pines, the beginning of the end of the Peninsular Campaign of 1862.

Seven Pines was a terribly fought battle on both sides, and brings little credit to anyone except the ordinary soldiers who fought and died there.   McClellan's Army of Potomac had crawled its way slowly towards Richmond, giving the Confederates ample time to mass their forces.    At the end of May, 1862, McClellan was within a few miles of Richmond, but had inexplicably pushed two of his corps (Keyes' IVth and Heintzelan's  III corps) across the swollen Chickahominy River, making them a tempting target for CSA commander Joe Johnston.

The Union line was arranged in what has sometimes been described as a fishhook, with the most exposed Corps, Keyes', being the least trained.   Some accounts say that the regiments in the furthest forward Division, that of Brig. Gen. Silas Casey, were raw recruits, armed with inferior Austrian muskets.  As one historian put it, "Casey's division, the smallest and greenest of McClellan's vast arsenal, was inexplicably ordered to lead the army's advance on to Richmond".  These poor guys had been marching and working for days, exposed to torrential rains, often without their shelter halves and coats, so they were pretty used and abused going into the battle.

Johnston decided that Keyes' Corps was too tempting a target to pass up, even though by May 30 the CSA command knew that the Union IVCorps was digging in around Seven Pines.  Johnston's   plan was that D.H. Hill's division would attack it from the front, up the Williamsburg Stage Road, supported by Longstreet's division, while Huger's division would move south to hit the Union left and Whiting's division would move to hit the Union right.  

It was a good plan in theory, but there were several problems.  First, a heavy rain on the night of 30 May left the roads that the CSA divisions must use a wet soggy mess.   That would slow down the rebels, but it was hoped that the same rains would prevent the rest of the Union army from crossing the Chickahominy to help Keyes.   

The plan required far too much coordination for an army of the period, especially considering that the chain of the command of Johnston's army was complicated and inefficient and Longstreet basically got in Huger's way because he thought he knew best, while Huger's orders were unclear, leaving Hill to wait impatiently and finally launch the attack on his own.  Or something like that.  It was basically a big mess and many of the troops Johnston assigned to this movement never made it to the fight. If you have an hour to spare, there's a good lecture here on the leadup to the battle.


This would be an easy battle to recreate as a whole in the smaller scales, but since I do ACW in 28mm, the only way to recreate it is in sections.  Fortunately the timeline of the fighting meant that the battle on the first day unfolded as a series of episodes, which is how I intend to proceed.

EPISODE 1:  Garland Vs Keyes

I found this map from the US Civil War Preservation Trust to be most helpful.   It shows the initial dispositions of both sides as well as the Confederate plans.  Modern maps are no help, as the entire battlefield has been developed, including a substantial portion which is now covered by the Richmond airport.

The Confederates had done enough reconnaissance to know that Casey's division was deployed in an open space that had been cleared of the surrounding trees, and bisected by the Williamsburg Stage Road.   Roughly 800 yards east of the start of the clearing were two buildings known as the Twin Houses, about 135 yards south of the road, and in front of them Casey's troops had constructed a redoubt with a battery in the centre.

At the west end of the clearing, the Union had felled enough trees to form a substantial abatis on the north side of the road, and had posted a picket line of troops drawn from Casey's three brigades.     Just before 10:00 hrs, after abundant signs that an attack was coming,  Casey sent an additional regiment, the 103rd  PA, to support the picket line.  

Working with the Pickett's Charge rules ground scale of 9" = 150 yards, with a 6' by 5' table, this is what I came up with.  The clearing is about 60" north to south, with Casey's first line, two regiments each from Naglee's and Palmer's brigades, about 27" back from the start of the clearing.   I've used model railroad pine trees to represent the abatis.  As I figure the ground scale, Casey's redoubt is about 36" back from the first line, so there is no room to represent them on the table in this first episode.  However, Casey's two batteries in the redoubt line (1 NY Co A, 7 NY) can fire from off the table if the rules permit.   From what I can read of the maps, this part of the battle was dead flat, so no need to model elevations.   Some of this clearing was planted, and possibly had snake rail fences, but I am guessing that after a few days camped here, Casey's men would have dismantled them and used the wood.

The first minutes of the fight in the woods doesn't need to be modelled, which is a good thing because it was absolutely terrible terrain.  In his report after the battle, Garland wrote that: 

The difficulties of the ground were almost insurmountable. The recent rains had formed ponds of water throughout the woods with mud at the bottom, through which the men waded forward knee-deep and occasionally sinking to the hips in boggy places almost beyond the point of extrication. The forest was so thick and the undergrowth so tangled that it was impracticable to see the heads of the several regiments as they moved forward, and the deploying intervals were in consequence very imperfectly preserved. 

The accounts agree that the Union pickets were driven in without much resistance.   Stephen W. Sears, in his book To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, has an account by one Yankee skirmisher who hid himself when he saw the first of Garland's men:  "I [then] left the place and took a course to get away".   

Thus, Garland's brigade will activate on the first turn within inches of the hapless 103rd PA, while Rode's brigade will have to spend several turns moving through the woods (difficult terrain) before they can get into the fight, as per the battle.   

Troop ratings are easy to figure out for the Union - every regiment in Casey's division is rated Green, while Casey himself was a competent and brave commander (he was chosen for the job because he'd written an important drill manual before the war).   I don't know how to rate the three US brigade commanders - Palmer, Naglee, and Wessells - I'm assuming that they were competent.   Rating Hill's division is a little more difficult, but considering the relative quality of the ANV in 1862, I'd rate them as Veteran with a few regiments being Elite, just to reflect the qualitative difference between the two divisions.  I hope I'm not buying into rebel mythology here, but these same troops will be carried over to the next episode where they have to face the redoubt (which historically they did), so they will need some staying power.

I'd be happy to hear your thoughts/comments before I kick off the battle, hopefully tonight.  If this works, my plan is to work on a set of scenario notes for Seven Pines that might be publishable somewhere in our hobby.

In the meantime, blessings to your dice rolls!


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Terrain Tuesday: Winter Terrain for My Canadian Pulp Project

I’m happy that I’ve posted on this subject three Tuesdays in a row!   

Yes, this is for my The Rockies Ablaze Project, which I am taking off the back burner for a while.    I need some more scenery and a cabin before I introduce a new character.

These craft store trees will need more snow than this!

Check in again next Tuesday to see the final result.  Check in again earlier than that for the start of a 28mm ACW project, The Battle of Seven Pines.

 In the meantime, blessings to your tiny landscapes.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Napoleonic Thursday: Some Player Aides and Figures for General d'Armee

Good afternoon friends:

My first foray into General d’Armee by Too Fat Lardies/Reisswitz Press showed me that I needed some player aides to better manage some of the core mechanics, one of which is Aides de Camp.   When I served, an ADC was just a luckless very junior officer who got tasked with picking up a GOFO (General Officer/Flag Officer) at the airport, getting him to his guest quarters and turning his sheets down, and other sundry details, the indignity of which far outweighed the privilege of wearing the ADC’s aiguillette, the ceremonial length of braided cord worn on the shoulder of the dress uniform.   

n Napoleonic battlefields, ADCs were ambitious and dashing young men of good families who rode around with orders and goads from the General commanding, like the unfortunate Lord Hay at Waterloo.   In Dave Brown’s GdA, ADCs, as we’ve seen, are the limited resources of time and attention to detail that allow the player to try and exercise _some_ control over the battlefield.   So how to represent them in 6mm?

I thought of simply ordering some officer figures to single base as ADCs, but decided against it, as it would take a while to get them and paint them (Baccus is swamped with orders at present and I have no idea if other companies like Adler are any more responsive) and I already have single-based command figures in the pipeline to represent brigade level commanders.   I then hit on the idea of trying my dubious artistic skills to sketch some caricatures, starting with Austrians, so I painted some discard sabots from multi-bases in white and then went to work with an HB pencil.  I found as I went that I was remembering some officers from my military service as I went, like the fellow with the big hair and the easy smile.

 Final result.  Started colouring them with the grandkids’ pencil crayons, but the results were quite uneven and so I decided to revert to acrylic paints.   I’m quite happy with the final result.   Can’t wait to try them in my next game of GdA

Also finished this week are some skirmish stands so I can try out the Skirmish rules in GdA.   I still need to do more Austrians, but I figure the French are more likely to deploy skirmishers than their opponents.  Some of the French figures (left) are by Baccus, painted by me, and some are from the collection I purchased.  The Austrians on the right were in that same purchased collection.

Finally, since I was on a basing jag, four brigade commanders for the French.   While I could also employ these figures as ADCs, I like my approach better.

Hopefully we’ll see all this kit in action soon.    Thanks for looking and blessings to your brushes!


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Terrain Tuesday: 28mm Sarissa Manassas Stone House

It’s Tuesday again and time to show off another piece of scenery for the war-games table.   This is the Sarissa Manassas Stone House in 28mm which was a fairly easy build from the flat-pack, though I did manage to get the root cellar door on the wrong side wall and only discovered that when the glue had set.   One overestimates MDF kits at one’s peril!   It sits beside a stand of pre-made trees which I bought at a show and glued onto an old Windows CD with some ground texture and flocking, so perhaps this counts as two terrain pieces.  Hooray! 

 The house will work for my ACW and alt-ACW battles.  It has a big footprint on the table, so perhaps more suited for skirmish games.   I didn’t apply any texture to the walls.  Rather, I focused on the laborious task of picking out the stonework in every shade of grey at my disposal, to give the impression of an old field-stone farmhouse that one still sees in my part of SW Ontario.

Having the self-imposed deadline of a blog post on terrain gave me the incentive I needed to finish this piece and get it off the work desk.  Hopefully it will feature here soon, as an ACW battle is next in the gaming schedule.

Blessings to your projects!  


Monday, April 19, 2021

Podcast Recent Listens and Recommendations

Hello friends:

I've been doing a bit of a deep dive into wargaming and military history podcasts lately, which I listen to either on long walks or at the painting bench.  I thought some of you might be interested in a roundup of listens that I've recently enjoyed and which might be of interest.

Big Lee from Posties' Rejects (of which I'm an honourary member!) offers some wise thoughts about how to get the younger generation into the hobby of wargaming,   As a wargaming vicar, I found this conversation very similar to the debates we have about the greying of the church and where the next generation will come from.  As a grandparent blessed with little ones, I found his suggestions most encouraging


I'm a great fan of Zack White (@zwhiteHistory), an English PhD student and a tireless online promoter of Napoleonic history - usually on his podcast, The Napoleonicist.    He's an erudite and gracious interviewer, and his guests are usually topshelf.   Recently I had the pleasure of contributing my meagre voice talents to a collage of readers he put together for Voices of Ireland, bringing select letters and diaries of Irish soldiers and civilians to life.   I'm the one with the flat Toronto accent.    Conrad Kinch (@questingvole) has heard me try my Irish accent, but has tactfully kept his silence.

Ken Reilly (@yarkshiregamer) has a podcast featuring those long, free-wheeling conversations that I associate with British wargaming podcasts (aka the late Meeples and Miniatures).   I really enjoyed his conversation with Dr. Chris Brown, a Scottish historian and wargamer.  Chris is funny, acerbic, and very much a character - in other words, a Scot.   I'm currently reading Chris' book Arnhem: Nine Days Battle and while it's not my wargaming area of interest, it is a brilliant piece of military history.   Chris also has a wargaming presence on Facebook - S.P.I.T. Wargames (Stupid Projects in Twenty-eight)  - which is worth checking out.

Speaking of interviews, there's a very good one with Andrew, the host of Firepowergaming, in conversation with Tom Egan (@tomjegan).   Tom is an army officer in the Irish Defence Forces and an ardent wargamer.   In this conversation they talk about gaming as well its applications to Tom's day job which is training junior officers to plan and conduct operations in the field against a variety of threats and challenges.   Not that I'm trying to imitate Irish accents (see above), but Tom's Cork accent has thus far defeated me.  :)

Another interview that I enjoyed recently was between Sean Clark (@GodsOwnScale), host of the God's Own Scale podcast, and Jon Bleasdale, who runs a blog called Grymauch 's Solo Gaming.  I am fond of Sean's podcast, he has an easy, gentle style and is what I call a "down the pub" sort of podcast.  Jon's Grymauch blog is incredibly ambitious and shows a multitude of large 6mm battles in a variety of periods.  I think I could learn something from how Jon does campaigns.

Finally, I want to say how glad I am to have discovered the Old Front Line podcast by Great War historian Paul Reed (@sommecourt).   His depth of knowledge and the way he brings minutiae to life are stellar.  For example, in a discussion of the role of estaiments (small restaurants) in the life of the Tommies, I learned that our slang word "plonk" for cheap wine comes from the soldier's adoption of "vin blanc", which along with cheap beer was the booze on offer at soldier's estaiments - the red wine was for officers and was quite expensive.   Paul's discussion of the Lijssentheok military cemetery is a great example of Paul's erudtion, and covers the development of British military medicine in the Great War, the role of women nurses, railways and transport, soldier's eating and drinking habits, and the layout of military cemeteries.  Top shelf.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Command and Colours Napoleonics and the Battle of Wertingen: A Test Fight

So now that I’ve resurrected my French and Austrian 6mm miniatures and am frantically painting more while the mini-mojo courses through my bloodstream, what to do with them?   I could just fight some more random battles using points or whatever forces catch my fancy, but that seems somewhat below the noble historical calling of Napoleonic wargaming (said slightly tongue in cheek).  I invested in GMT’s Command and Colours Napoleonics for precisely this reason, as a simple wargaming guide to the campaigns and battles of the era.

I had spent a long evening putting stickers on the blocks for the CCN Austrian expansion (I have every CCN set and have gotten quite good at it), so I started at the beginning of the scenarios in this set with Wertingen.   The Battle of Wertingen, a town in Bavaria south of Augsburg, was the opening of the 1805 Ulm campaign.  It looks like a modestly sized fight ideal to recreate in 6mm.   

Here’s the initial setup, mirroring the historical situation.  Murat and Lannes arrived with several divisions of light and heavy cavalry, and Oudinot’s grenadier division was coming up on the right.    This was bad news for the Austrian commander, von Auffenberg, who had been told to take his infantry division, with two small battalions of horse, and go scouting.   Given the rock/paper/scissors nature of the horse and musket period, running into a cavalry heavy opponent when all your guys are on foot is not a strong omen of success.  Here the Austrian infantry is divided into three wings - most are the large, five-block Austrian foot, which are one of the Austrian advantages in CCN, along with several unit of grenadiers.  The Austrians have a light cavalry regiment on their right, and a heavy (cuirassier) regiment in their rear centre.  Historically the Austrian guns were lighter than the French and so were outmatched in range by Murat’s horse artillery, but in CCN terms Foot Artillery is Foot Artillery so that unit is one of the stronger cards in the Austrian hand.

Speaking of cards, I was using the Tactician cards and the new Command deck which are in the CCN 5th edition.  This was my first outing with hem, and I found that they add much more period flavour and choice to the game.  There is a video on YouTube showing how the system for card-driven games devised by Stuka Joe can be used to make solo play in CCN more interesting, and I shall try that next time I play CCN.

The opening went as the battle started, with the French horse getting stuck into the Austrians and causing some grief.  However, the Austrian line infantry in CCN can form Battalion Mass, which ineffectively a square but does not require the Austrian player to sacrifice a command card for each unit in square.   The rule reflects the Austrian tactics’ favouring of the defensive, and requires the French player to use horse, horse artillery and infantry in Combined Arms attacks.

Mid game.  The Austrian light horse have caught the French horse artillery and obliterated it.   Also, the French have lost a general (two sabres came up on the casualty dice when his unit lost a block) so at mid game the Austrians are up 3-1.


 By the end game the tide was turning French as Oudinot’s grenadiers came up on the right.   The Austrian foot was in a protective crouch, using the defence advantages of the terrain, but a terrible run of cards left the defenders unable to answer the French weight moving to the right wing, and a series of persistent attacks, always with the terrible weight of French horse in reserve, took their toll.  Result, 5-4 French win, much closer than the actual battle, which augurs well for a more interesting miniatures game, perhaps. 

Next steps, do some background reading (I’m currently going through F.N. Maude’s book The Ulm Campaign 1805: Napoleon and the Defeat of the Austrian Army, which is an old chestnut but very readable and dead cheap as a Kindle version.   There’s also a very helpful entry on Wertingen in the invaluable Obscure Battles website which gives a detailed OOB for both sides that will be invaluable when I try to translate the battle to either General d’Armee (battalion level) or Blucher (brigade level).   One thing I noticed immediately in the OOB is how CCN fudges the numbers to create a more even contest:  the Austrians have a LOT of blocks for their 5500 men whereas the French should, one would think, have more blocks for their 20,000 men. It may look much more one-sided as a miniature battle.   

However, CCN proved its worth as a useful overview of a battle and an incentive to learn the wider context (I am still very much a newbie at Napoleonic history), so hopefully by the end of April I’ll have tried Wertingen as a tabletop battle.

Blessings to your die rolls!





Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Terrain Tuesday: Battlefront 15mm Command Post

It’s always a struggle for me to allot my painting time to figures vice terrain, but as my friend Mr Hot Lead (formerly the artist known as Rabbit Man) likes to say, any time invested in making the war-games table look better is time well spent.  Thus, I’m starting a new blog feature designed to motivate me to better efforts, so every week on Tuesday I’ll post some piece of terrain that I’ve either finished or am working on, and you, dear readers, can help keep me accountable to this goal.  I hope you’re ok with this weighty responsibility I’ve dumped on your shoulders.

To start this feature, here’s a resin command post from Battlefront that was included in a British WW2 mid-war rifle company set, back when BF made metal figures.   Since the new TFL/Reisswitz Press rules O-Group place a large emphasis on command and control at the battalion level, it seemed worth moving this piece into the painting queue. 

Not much more to say, really.  It will work for any setting in Europe, but I’ve dry-brushed the ground to suggest lots of dust, making it appropriate for my Sicily 1943 project.    I’ve pained the half-profile signaller in Vallejo British Uniform since it is supposed to be a British HQ - now I need something like this for the Germans/Italians.


Speaking of terrain, I’m still shaking my head at the quality of work displayed in this video from @Joe_Wargamer, it’s stunning and clever.    I may try something like it the next time I buy some MDF buildings.

Blessings to your tabletops!




Monday, April 12, 2021

Revisiting 6mm With General D'Armee

There was a while back around 2012 when this blog was buzzing with excitement about my foray into 6mm Napoleonics.  I had purchased a large collection of painted Austrian and French figures, bought some new figures from Baccus, and was learning to paint them.   I had picked up Sam Mustafa’s Blucher rules and had played a few games with them, and was generally happy with my progress.   Then a move, my wife getting sick and dying, a new duty assignment, retirement from the military, remarrying and starting a new life.   A lot of things got in the way, and I think the resurgence of my interest in this period and scale has to do with being in the happiest place I’ve ever been in my life.   Funny how it all works.

This Easter seemed like a good time for a wargaming vicar to live out the resurrection by raising my 6mm collection out of their boxes and taking Dave C. Brown’s General d’Armee rules for a spin.  I had previously played Dave’s ACW rules Pickett’s Charge (PC) and liked them, and found the mechanics similar enough that GdA was fairly easy to pick up.

I decided the the best way to learn the mechanics was to take two identical forces, thus, a French division of three infantry brigades, four batteries, and a light and heavy cavalry brigade faces its Austrian mirror image.   All units were rated as Line for simplicity’s sake.   This force selection seemed to promise enough complexity to get a sense of rules that claim to be scaled from Divisional to Corps level. 

 The Austrian force of General Albert Kurvi-Tasch (dubbed by Archduke Franz Joseph “More moustache than brain”) defends the key crossroads south of the village of Schlumpen and watches as the French of General Theodore d'Ordure, dubbed by Napoleon as “the Grossest of the Gross”, comes into view.   The backdrop is not 6mm, sorry about that.

 The battle began with the light brigades of cavalry scrimmaging on the Austrian right.    Dave’s charge procedure rules were basically familiar to me from PC and are fairly simple to administer in horse on horse actions, where there is no defensive volleying to complicate things.  At first things went fairly evenly, with the two brigades somewhat battered and retiring to reorganize.   When the went at it again, however, the Charge dice went disastrously for the French: their “2” vs the Austrian “12” on 2d^ (it’s all d6 based) saw the French light horse simply dissolve.  Charges can be exciting and tempting because you never quite know how they’ll go.

 The French reserve advances through Schlumpen in a brigade column, hoping to punch a hole through the Austrian centre with the support of the heavy cavalry to their left and the two flanking infantry brigades.   As you have noticed by now, I am using small dice to keep track of casualties, though am not happy with the look.  Perhaps I need micro-dice?   I’m now wishing my unit stands had little slots for casualty dice like the cool kids have.

 Artillery can be deadly in these rules.   The two Austrian batteries in the centre have savaged the lead unit in the assaulting brigade, and checked its advance.   Ordure moves his heavy cavalry forward to open the way, and the Austrians respond.  It’s still anyone’s battle. 


 Austrian cuirassier and French dragoon trade blows, largely ineffectually, and the two brigades basically repel one another like bumper cars at a fairground.  For me this is where 6mm really shines as a visual scale with the clash of massed units.  I would never paint enough larger figures in my remaining lifetime to achieve the same effect.

Speaking of visual appeal, I’m quite happy with the table.  The game is being fought on a Geek Villain 6 by 4 fleece Grasslands mat, the roads are from Paper Terrain (glued to cardboard and then cut out) and the buildings are by Timecast which I really like.

 In the final clash of the game, the French columns advance on the Austrian lines.  I’m very happy to say that the two French infantry units in the centre are the first 6mm figures I ever painted, almost a decade ago now, and I’m very happy with the way they look.   At this point you may be wondering how I portray formations.  Good question.

All my units are based the same, in lines, though with French units I usually put some skirmishers in front.   However, because in my world a single base represents a single unit, I don’t have any way to represent the formation changes that GdA and other rules call for.  My core assumption then for this game is that each unit is currently in the formation that makes sense fir the situation and for its army doctrine.  Thus, here the French are in column and the Austrians are in line.   Infantry, if charged by cavalry, would go into square if they made the appropriate test.   Cavalry are generally in column.  I have enough limbers (another benefit of 6mm) to portray artillery either limbered or unlimbered.  It seems to work so far.


 With the repulse of the French infantry (as in Dave’s ACW rules, defensive fire from an intact foe is pretty deadly), and with the destruction of the French light horse, the game seemed to be done and an Austrian victory.   

One of the features of Dave’s rules that I especially like is command and control.  As in PC, GdA uses a varied number of Aides de Camp each turn to help ensure that your brigades do what you want them to do, and reduce the chance that they might go Hesitant and spend a turn dithering in uncertainty.    ADCs can help you salvage wavering brigades, can direct artillery in intensive bombardments useful to prepare for a charge, etc.   In this game the French could have 5 ADCs a turn to the Austrian 4, but you then have to roll for their availability each turn, so you seldom have enough, which adds some uncertainty and friction - no wonder Richard Clarke and TFL rep Dave’s rules, they are a natural fit with the TFL philosophy.  

I look forward to revisiting GdA soon, preferably using an historical battle as the template.   I just finished using CCN to fight Wertingen, the Austrian defeat at the start of the 1805 Ulm campaign, and that seems a manageable sized battle to fight.    

Thanks for reading.  Blessings to you tiny soldiers!



Friday, April 9, 2021

In Praise of Paper (Terrain) 2 - Basing the Buildings

Hello again friends:

It’s me to preach the gospel of paper again, and specifically to illustrate the basing technique that I use for Paper Terrain products.   With these three 15mm Russian village buildings (including the one odd man out, the MDF building in the righ foreground) I put two paper buildings (plus a small woodshed/outspace) on a single base to represent either a farm or an entire village, depending on the scale of the game (platoon vs battalion).

Here @MarshalLuigi, having inspected the village and found it acceptable, demonstrates correct roadblock and delaying action procedure.   The road to Moscow is secure for now.  There may be too many trees on that backdrop for the steppes!


Here is the village of Paperskoye almost complete, just a few more buildings to base.


I use a numbering system to help me remember which buildings go on which bases.   I thought about gluing the ruined interior shells to the bases, but decided against it.  Having the bases in one tote and the paper buildings in another makes for safer storage and transport, I find.

Luigi, aka the Cossack Catbeast, appears to have lost interest in the project.  The road to Moscow may not be so secure now.  Wasn’t a giant cat mentioned in the Al Stewart song?

Moving to the sunny Mediterranean, we take you to a small village in Sicily.  the fist fruits of my basing efforts for my Sicily 1943 project.   These would make a nice pair of strongpoints for the defending Germans.  As with the Russian buildings, my basing technique is the same.    I handout a piece of MDF from the hardware store, texture it with a wood builder’s putty for sealing gaps, base coat it dark brown, then dry brush in two lighter colours (Yellow Ochre and then Desert Tan), and finally flock, but only in patches to suggest an arid climate, which is in keeping with this new Sicily gaming mat from Geek Villain.  I also used some brick red craft paint to go over the roof ridge lines, which were left white after the scoring and folding.  A little effort for a great improvement, I think.

 The same buildings, having been thoroughly liberated.   

I have some British/Commonwealth troops in the queue to paint, but somehow some 6mm Napoleonics figures have used their superior mobility and stealthy size to get ahead of them.

Until next time, blessings to your basing!   MP+

Monday, April 5, 2021

In Praise of Paper (Terrain)

Reading the Canadian historian Mark Zuelkhe’s book on Operation Husky, the Canadians in the Sicilian Campaign of 1943, got me thinking of using some of my 15mm kit to explore that campaign, and to do so I would need some Italianate buildings, enough for a small town.   So I turned to a tried and true source, Paper Terrain, run by Scott Washburn, and ordered his Italian Village pack and his Town Expansion set.  Here’s an example of one of the sixteen buildings that came promptly in a flat manilla envelope.

 It may look daunting, but all you need is a steady hand, some patience, a decent pair of scissors and a craft knife, and a patient partner who can put up with the myriad bits of paper that are the byproduct of the assembly process.   I used a metal ruler and craft knife to lightly score the fold lines, and while the buildings are printed on sturdy cardstock, you need to learn not to score the lines too deeply.   Once cut and scored, you fold them together carefully and glue them.  I use white carpenter’s glue.

 As they say, some assembly required.   Putting the roofs on is perhaps the trickiest part but you soon get the hang of it.

 Each building includes a ruined shell which nests in the completed building like a Russian doll set.  Very useful once the HE starts flying.  I suppose you could dress the interior with rubble, but keeping it clean makes it easier to place stands of occupying troops.


Some of the completed buildings, laid out on my Sicily fabric terrain sheet from Geek Villain, which is a nice piece of kit in its own right.  The church is stunning and large.

The buildings look good on their own, but they look even better when based.  I am working on two Italian building bases now, using the garden walls and sheds that Scott includes with his terrain sets, and I will show the finished results in another post.   

I have several sets of PT products - a Western European town set suitable for France in 1944-45, a Northern Russian village set suitable for the Ostfront or even the black powder era, and now these Italian buildings.  I’ve found Scott to be easy to deal with, and quick to answer questions about tricky points of assembly (which are rare in my experience).  In my last email exchange, he mentioned that he keeps expecting resin and 3D printed terrain to put him out of business, but demand remains strong.   For me the advantage of his product is that it’s relatively sturdy if carefully stored and handled, comes in a variety of scales, does not require painting, and provides an affordable mass of terrain in relatively little prep time.

Blessings to you scissors!



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