Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Terrain Tuesday: Adventures in Basing and Building

Recently I mentioned that our guest on Canadian Wargamer Podcast #11 was Joe Saunders, who runs a small but mighty enterprise called Miniature Landscape Hobbies.  I was so impressed with his method for large scenic bases that I tried it, and here’s the result.

To back up a bit, my previous method was to cut a piece of MDF purchased from a DIY store.  This was never very pleasant or satisfactory because I used a craft knife and could never get the lines straight enough, and it was also very taxing on my hands and wrists.  There was also the very real worry that I might inadvertantly cut myself.  Once the MDF was cut, I would texture it with plastic wood (usually from Lepage), use diluted white carpenter’s glue to apply texture (usually model railroad ballast) and then once dry paint brown, two successive drybrushes (yellow ochre first, then maple tan) and then apply flock and seal with a matte spray.

Joe’s technique is explained in this video.  Not to describe the whole method, but in brief I used two sheets of cut boxboard with the corrugations going in opposite directions.   I them coated it with diluted matte Mod Podge mixed with brown umber craft paint, and while it was wet I applied the grit (ballast mixed with some clean cat litter).   The next step according to Joe is to mix rubbing alcohol with brown acrylic ink and then use a pipette and apply the ink mixture while holding the base at an incline to allow the mixture to run freely. 

I didn’t have brown ink but I had some green ink, so I thought I’d experiment.  What I got was a pleasant greenish hue and in a few places the green ink turned the grit a bright green, suggesting clumps of foliage.  I showed this image below to Joe and he thought it was a “happy accident” and suggested a tan dry brush before adding flock. 


Here’s the finished base on the left, with the Warbases cottage from their Prussian Napoleonics range of buildings.   I spent much of the winter cutting up cereal boxes to make the tiles on the roof of the cottage, until some bright chap told me to by the pre-cut roof tiles from Sarissa.  I did that for the Warbases Prussian barn on the right, but couldn’t resist the allure of the cereal box and also cut out the stones for the first floor of the barn walls.  The base of the barnyard was also made according to Joe’s recipe.

I wanted some texture on the walls of the cottage, which were plain MDF sheets, so smeared them with carpenter’s plastic wood filler to give the impression of stucco.    I did the same with the wall section on the barn beneath the wood timbers.  Thankfully the wood timbers were all one laser cut piece so quite simple to apply onto the plastic wood before it dried.

Some 28mm figures shown for scale.  The barn is a beast!  It won’t be hogging a standard sized table for a big battle, but it will wok for a skirmish game such as Sharp Practice, with Prussian jaegers defending against marauding cossacks, I think.

Another view of the stone wall on the ground floor of the barn.  Not sure what door halfway up is all about.  In my part of Ontario you sometimes see barns with an earthen ramp leading up to a doorway which I am guessing is for transporting hay bales and fodder.   I should consider constructing something similar out of styrofoam.

Friday, March 25, 2022

The Canadian Wargamer Podcast Episode 12 Is Out!

 I’m totally remiss in not posting more frequent updates on the Podcast.   We’re at Ep 12 now and closing in on 4000 downloads.  Woot! 

Cynthia Jing is the youngest person to appear on our podcast to date, and is arguably the most famous, because she and her group have been featured on Little Wars TV, and we haven't (not that we're jealous).  Cynthia is part of the Laurentian Tabletop Organization, a Canadian club that supports college and university gamers in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.

We had a great chat with Cynthia about how her group is firmly rooted in tabletop miniatures gaming, particularly at the crunchy end (Napoleonics and Seven Years War) while, thanks to Covid (thanks, Covid! >said ironically<), has pivoted to digital platforms such as Tabletop Simulator and Twitch.   We talked about how Laurentian helps college-age gamers discover the hobby, about the secrets of running successful campaigns, and about how it's cool to be a nerd.  As two aging nerds in cardigans, James and I were grateful to learn that we're cool.  

One of the secrets of getting people into historical gaming is playable rules that have complexity but are not ridiculously complicated, have a strategic aspect for campaign games, and which can play to a quick conclusion.  We talked about how Sam Mustafa's horse and musket rules, particularly Blucher and Might and Reason, work well for this purpose.   Cynthia recently hosted a fascinating chat with Sam on her Twitch channel and there's a link below.

We also talked about how the folks in Cynthia's group move between tabletop gaming (or it's digital equivalent) and highly complex video strategy games like Hearts of Iron (think Avalon Hill's Third Reich crossed with Sid Meier's Civilization.  Cynthia's contribution to our CWP Digital Library includes a publisher of these games.

In a shortened conclusion, James and I talk about Hotlead (just around the corner!), and the difficulties of finding joy in the hobby during this stressful time of war that lives on our phones and tears our hearts.  We'll be back soon with a post-Hot Lead episode.

Links to This Episode:

Our Guest, Cynthia Jing:  

Laurentian Tabletop Gaming Organization: https://www.facebook.com/groups/582653558459668

Cynthia's Channel on Twitch:


Cynthia's Interview with Sam Mustafa:



Cynthia's Game Recommendations for the CWP Virtual Library:

Paradox Interactive: https://www.paradoxinteractive.com

Our Closing March

The Great Little Army (Kenneth J. Alford), Quick March of the Canadian Army


Contact Us:

Mike: madpadre@gmail.com







Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Another Year, Another Painting Challenge Done and Dusted

On 21 March, the first day of spring, Curt Campbell (aka The Snowlord) called Time on this year’s Painting Challenge.   I’ve taken part in these efforts off and on over the last decade.   The AHPC has become an international hobby community with painters of all different skill levels and interests.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of the miniature hobby landscape.

Here's the happy builder and painter with his total output for this year's Challenge.

This year I focused mostly on 6mm historicals, but thanks to the special theme rounds or mini-challenges I was inspired to paint this set, The Triumph of Frankenstein, sculpted by Bob Murch of Pulp Figures.

It was also an opportunity to play with my new 3D printer and try make some scenery for a mini diorama:

My post for the Challenge, with more pictures and some “How I Made This” details, is here.   

Taking a break to paint these figures was a welcome rest and an enjoyable diversion.  Sometimes I think we get too focused on our big projects in painting and wargaming, and we forget the pleasure of just doing something for fun.  

Cheers and blessings to your brushes,




Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Games at Hot Lead 2022

Hello friends:

On of Canada’s most well-known miniature tabletop gaming events is now in the books, and can be counted a success.   After two years of Covid-induced suspension, the games were back, the players were a little fewer in number and all masked and well behaved.   Congratulations to my friend James and his crew of redshirts for making it a success.  You can read James’ account of HotLead and see his own photos here.  There are lots more photos and videos on the Hot Lead Facebook group page here.

This was the first time I’ve stayed over at the Arden Park hotel, the venue space.  Previously I’ve cheaped out and couch surfed at my friend James’ expense, but this time I went all out and my lovely bride Joy came with me to sample Stratford’s shopping delights and to do some anthropological studies of the wargaming tribe.  She said “your friends are weird but nice”.  Truth.

My own brief account of what I played in and what I saw begins on Friday night with on of Dan Hutter’s signature multi-player rules, where no one is a friend and the guy sitting beside or across from you is probably gunning for you, so best gun him first. The game was set in Somalia during the disastrous UN intervention there in the early 1990s: several factions of Somalis, UN peacekeeping troops, and secretive mercenaries all had their own agendas and bullets soon flew in all directions.  Rules were a very simple and mostly playable version of FUBAR.  Grand start to the weekend.


Test of Honour samurai game going down on Friday night, lovely table. 

 Chris Robinson, a friend of the Canadian Wargamer Podcast and normally an historical guy, put on a Star Wars game that looked quite attractive.  It was good to hear that the young players enjoyed it.

 Some of the Hot Lead crowd were playing this impromptu Victorian SF game on Saturday morning, involving big steam powered clanks AND dinosaurs. 


Saturday morning I played in this beautiful WW2 game hosted by Joe Saunders of Miniature Landscape Hobbies.  Joe is a friend of the Canadian Wargaming Podcast and a lovely guy. 

 This scratch built railway gun was done by Joe and part of the table dressing.


The game was called “Countdown to Launch” and featured the Germans trying to delay the Allied onslaught long enough to fuel, arm, and fire off this V1 rocket.  

 It was quite an onslaught.  The Germans died in droves but managed to fire off the rocket.  I confess that tanks massed track to track are an example of why I don’t personally like Flames of War, but it did deliver a fast game, and at this sort of event, with three hour game slots, you need quick fast games.

 This beautiful medieval game, the Battle of Tewkesbury, was hosted by Ian Tetlow, who always puts on good looking games at Hot Lead.


 On Saturday afternoon I played in Sean Malcomson’s “Hard Brexit” ancients game using Too Fat Lardie’s Infamy, Infamy rules.  The object was for the Roman players to move a herd of (unfairly) taxed cattle across this table to safe harbour.  The British, strong believers in No Taxation Without Representation, were trying to stop them.

 Some of Sean’s beautiful ancient British figures.   The British deployed from a series of ambush points.

 Life got quite difficult for the Romans.   Their legionaries stood in line like rocks while their auxiliary reserves ran back and forward plugging gaps and counter attacking.  

The British skirmish cavalry, seen entering here, were annoying but not decisive.   In the end, we ran out of time but called it a British win.  I found these rules similar enough to Sharp Practice that I got the hang of it fairly quickly, and would try them again as an excuse to get some Romans to oppose my Germanic war band.


My last game at HotLead was on Saturday night.  Brian Hall, one of our local masters of 6mm, hosted an ACW corps-level game featuring the Battle of Cedar Creek.   Since the battle began in confusion and alarm for the Union, both forces started under blinds, with three of the four Union corps well back from the start of the action and thus the Union in a poor position to stop the Confederate advance. 

 By this point the Union had stabilized a line and were beginning to hold.    The rules were Altar of Freedom, which I found fast playing and quite bloody.   With each manoeuvre unit in the game a brigade, whole divisions were being quickly shattered, but the rebels lost too many men to sustain the assault, ending in an historical outcome.

Since a lot of my playing is solitaire, I found the points bidding initiative system in AofF to be a bit of a turn off, but as Brian noted to me, a card drive initiative system could easily be bolted on to the core combat rules for solitaire gaming.




Finally, it wouldn’t be a convention report with the usual haul of goodies.  My dear friend MikeB gifted me these Warlord Crimean War sculpts by Paul Hicks for use in my Alt-ACW project, which was kind of him.

Another friend sold me these antique Avalon Hill rules for Napoleonics, which are more of a collector’s item than a viable gaming system, though I gather they were once influential and I will try them out some day.  I gather it was AH’s equivalent of GDW’s System 7 Napoleonics, though the cardboard counters in the AH set were designed to give players a taste of the system and motivate them to buying miniatures.  There are some vintage adverts from minis companies of the era in the rules books.

And I stocked up on tree and basing material.

So that was Hot Lead.   I ran out of stamina after four games in 1.5 days, but as I said goodbyes on Sunday it was grand to see the crowd getting ready for the traditional mass VSF game.  

Huge congrats to James, Elizabeth, and the crew for making this revered event happen and I look forward to returning next year without a face mask!

Cheers and blessings,


Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Canadian Wargamer Podcast Ep 11 Is Out!



It’s been out for a while now, but hasn’t been noted here until now.  Here’s the description below.   I can’t say enough times what a pleasure it was to meet Joe Saunders, a totally friendly guy with enormous modelling skills and a passion for teaching them to others.   I’ve started to incorporate some of his techniques into my modelling and I’ll showcase them in posts downstream.  MP


Joe Saunders is one of the nicest guys you'll ever hope to meet in the hobby - he's an artist, a modeller, and a gifted teacher who wants to share his many skills so the rest of us can build better looking models and fight our miniature battles on better looking tables.   In this interview, we talk about Joe's background with Games Workshop Canada (remember them?), building his YouTube channel, and his work with Battlefront.  We also discuss Joe's recent decision to get into Napoleonics gaming (One of Us!  One of Us! One of Us!).

In the second half of the podcast, Mike and James go into the Canadian Content Corner to talk about a little known and horrific battle, Kapelsche Veer, in the winter of 1945 as Canadian troops (Lincoln and Welland Regiment, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), some of them in canoes (!), cleared stubborn German defenders in a brutal week of fighting along the Maas River in northern Holland.  

In the What We're Doing segment, Mike talks about his early adventures in 3D printing, and his favourable impressions of Sam Mustafa's Napoleonics rules, Lasalle 2.   James talks about how artillery takes up a lot of space on the battlefield, and revisits his beloved Bavarians being annoying to Napoleon at Hanau in 1813.   We also talk about how things are looking better for HotLead in March (woot! woot!) and we look ahead to CanGames in Ottawa on the Victoria Day Weekend in May (hmmmm, gaming, or gardening????).

Links to This Episode:


Our Guest, Joe Saunders:  

Miniature Landscape Hobbies YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/MiniatureLandscapeHobbies/about

Joe's livestream on Building Terrain:


Joe's Etsy Store:


Joe on Patreon:



Joe's Books for the CWP Virtual Library:

Peter Morby, Creating a Napoleonic Wargames Army, 1809-1815 (Crowood Wargaming Guides)  Creating A Napoleonic Wargames Army 1809-1815 (Crowood Wargaming Guides) eBook : Morbey, Peter: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

David Miller, Fighting Men of World War Two: Axis  (Simon and Schuster)  Fighting Men of World War II - Axis eBook : Miller, David, Smith, Graham: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

Canadian Content Corner:

Paul Woodage of WW2TV talks to Edwin Popken on the Battle of Kapelsche Veer: https://youtu.be/8_LzRfAuARY

James Holland and Al Murray of We Have Ways podcast talk to Mark Zuehlke about the Canadian Army in NW Europe:



Other Stuff Mentioned:

Becke and Summerfield, Hanau 1813: Napoleon's Retreat from Liepzig


Sam Mustafa's Lasalle II rules: https://sammustafa.com/lasalle/

HotLead 2022 (Mar 18-20) https://hotlead.ca

CanGames 2022 (May 20-22) http://cangames.ca


Our Closing March

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment:

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment - Wikipedia

The Lincolnshire Poacher:  March of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment  https://youtu.be/s6vyUcF_F2k

Blog Archive