Sunday, August 26, 2018


Mark D's new Spanish guerillas, on their still in-progress bases, make their (very successful) debut.

It's been awhile since I've posted about actual game activity. Thus, I am happy to finally report, albeit belatedly, about an excellent gaming visit I had with my friend Mark D (who also has a report on this game on his blog). Mark has been exploring skirmish level rules for his expanding Peninsular 28mm collection.   Having not settled on anything yet, he invited me up to his place to give my Brother Against Brother Napoleonic variant a try.  Regarding that system,  I'll make some contextual references to some of the rules in this report, but will defer a more direct discussion  until the end. Suffice it to say that I nicknamed it "Not Brother Against Brother" to tip players familiar with BaB to not assume too much when playing it.  It retains the bones of BaB, but departs in details.  In this post, as usual, you may clix pix for Big Pix...
Mark took the part of the British/Spanish and I the French. For the initial set-on, we placed the unit leaders and command figures. Once activated, we then bring the unit figures on. Above Left: the French initial set on, with the HQ and Baseline noted. The HQ is one of my additions to the BaB standard rules. The HQ can be placed anywhere within 12" of the friendly table edge--and is also limited to this zone. It moves at the end of every turn (may be relocated anywhere within this zone). It can provide company command to a "squad" within 6" and has some functions related to random events and leader replacements.  Each side has also designated a "baseline"--in this game marked by a wagon with the baseline extending 24" to either side. If the baseline is threatened (defined as an enemy unit coming within 12" with nothing in its way directly to the baseline), then units of the threatened side would be obliged to either hold in place or move closer to their baseline (if moved) until the gap had been covered or the threat removed.  Above Right: Mark's allied set on: a fairly balanced approach for both. 
The view from the French side after the first turn.  The discs are my universal activation markers  (in case anyone is wondering).
Overview of the action at the conclusion of the first turn--just before the "stuff" hit the fan. 

 My Legere cozy up to the hedge and let loose a withering, albeit futile fusilade (signifying nothing). The British Guards sidestep out of the fire lane. The French grenadiers, taking a cue, also scuttle behind cover. Meanwhile, the British lights have yet to activate, and seem to be up to something (what is Mark up to, we wonders?)...
...with a high movement die roll, Mark swings the British Lights out on to the flank, with the company officer along to allow them to initiate melee. A crafty move, indeed: who will activate first next turn? The British Lights or the Legere?

My dragoons get the first activation and a golden opportunity to...
...send a fusilade into the Spanish guerrillas caught in the open...
...that was the theory, anyway.
Not being one to let an opportunity pass, Mark then sends Guerrilla Band #2 to melee my dragoons (of course, the guerrillas pass their moral check).

The French and British guns indulge in counterbattery fire, the British gunners scoring a hit and coming out unscathed. The French and Polish line infantry fire with about as much effect as the French dragoons. The Poles receive the attention of the Portuguese--and are much reduced as a result.
It was at about this time that I took the entirely rational step of purging dice that had disappointed me.
The action thus far: in the melee, Spanish Guerrilla Band #2 thumped the French Dragoons (note only 4 figures left), who will go on to fail their morale and fall back in their next activation.  Guerrilla Band #1, after dodging the French fire, is snugly ensconced in the building, and the British Lights are poised at the edge of the table on the extreme left flank. Both sides have secure positions, though, with neither baseline in danger.

Above Left: my Legere get the first activation and launch a charge into the British lights (note that sometimes we use kill rings to show figures with empty muskets). The British Guards activate next and swing around in position to support the British lights and threaten the Legere. Above Right: I send my French grenadiers into melee with the British Guards to even things up. When the British Lights activate, the subsequent melee round doesn't go well for the French Legere (as witnessed by the figure count), but the Grenadiers come out ahead in the initial melee with the British Guards (sparing a few dice a trip to the gulag...for now)...

Above Left: in the ensuing action, the British Guards manage to back off and deliver a spirited volley into the Grenadiers. Above Right: the British Lights manage to dispatch the French Legere. This triumph is short-lived, however, as the French guns fortuitously now have a clear line of fire, sending the British Lights to join the French Legere in Ragnarok.
A random event "Gendarmes Return Stragglers" then came up (which allows each side to return some figures). Mark shored up his Guards and I shored up the French Grenadiers, which returned this flank to stasis. These were the only viable units in the area and both of us felt the tension to hold the line as opposed to just throwing units around--the effect of the baseline rule infuses the tension of maintaining a viable position.

The chastised remnant of my French dragoons return to the fray, taking a page from the guerrilla book and skulking in the woods. They unleash another near point blank fusilade in the general direction Guerilla Band #2, with the same results...

...and consequences.

Guerrilla Band #2, now known as the "Men of Iron" continue to defy the odds. Meanwhile, Guerrilla Band #1 has settled-in for the duration. 

The "Men of Iron" pull back to secure the woods on the British left. At this point, things had returned to stasis. With both sides stretched to cover the line, any advance  would be a risky affair.  Thus we called it a draw.
 It was just as well.  I was running out of dice, anyway. 


 Thanks to Mark and his lovely wife, Nancy, for hosting me to a Friday/Saturday interlude of gaming at their place.
Here are a few notes about my (Not) Brother Against Brother Variant. One probably would need an understanding of the rules to make sense of the below materials.
I replaced the cards with die rolls for morale checks and random events (roll for random events when a die roll of "1" or "0" comes up on a morale check).  I rate each unit for movement, morale, fire, and melee--but these ratings are independent of one another, allowing greater granularity for designing units. This allows you to have Spanish guerrillas, for instance, rated green for morale yet melee as "shock." The combat, movement, and morale effects are modified, as evident in the Reference Sheet. One thing to note is that unlike muskets, rifles have a "rate of fire": they may only fire up to  1/2 (max) per turn, but you don't keep track of loading/empty. Rifles also have extended range, but not an inherent +1.  The riflemen, however, could be rated as "skilled" shooters (and usually are), rendering the +1. You can access these files as well as some markers and other resources in this folder. Eventually, I'll gather together some coherent notes and post my BaB Napoleonic variant in a content page on this blog (there's no shortage of hobby activity ahead!).

In the meantime, dear readers, thank you for your indulgence on this rather overlong report.


Sunday, August 12, 2018


It seems to me that in our hobby, varied as it is, basing figures might be the single most universal component, even more so than painting--not all paint their own figures, after all, but all figures must be based. I guess it should come as no surprise, then, that there have been questions about the basing on display in the various and sundry blog reports here.  So, in this post, dear readers, I hope to satisfy the curious and at least engage the incurious, who may still share in this common experience.
I suppose I should comment on my overall approach, my style. I must admit that I hadn't given it much thought until I received comments on this blog characterizing my basing as "old school" and/or "minimal" (in a positive way, I am gratified to say).  Although I haven't articulated even to myself what my style is, I would agree that it is an "old school" style in that it derives from my beginnings in the hobby, where basing was certainly minimalist--a coat of green paint or maybe some green flock for special units.  Although I certainly admire the artistry of basing effects and styles I see on display elsewhere, my style (or non-style) conceives the base as "framing" for the figures rather than as an object of display in itself.  This minimalist approach comes to the fore, I think, when you have many bases on the table, rendering an overall effect rather than multiple individual effects (if that makes sense).  There is also a tactile and utilitarian component to this basing system: the bases are self-consciously bases, if that makes sense.  I don't try to camoflage function, in other words. Instead, function adds a level of form and appearance. For instance, they have enough heft in feel and look to invite the gamer to handle them as opposed to grasping the figures.  The set-aside space on the back is a distinct palette to display game information. Without further ado, then, here is my process explained.  (In the below, you may clix pix for BIG PIX, as usual).

Upper Left: My bases are 1/4" (6mm) thick. I am fortunate that I have a friend who has a laser and can provide custom cut bases in this thickness. However, before I had this resource I simply ordered twice the number of standard 1/8" (3mm) thickness wooden bases that I needed for the figures and then glued two of them together to get 1/4" thickness bases. I also affix a self stick magnetic sheet to the bottoms: this helps with storage and adds to the "game piece" feel. Upper Right: I use readily available Woodland Scenics flocking materials for most of my effects. Specifically, the base effect in all of my stands is a combination of Blended Turf, Green Blend (T1349) with a Blended Turf, Earth Blend (T1350) highlight. For command figures, I add a few other effects.  This would begin with the addition of a touch of Yellow Grass (T1343) and might go no further (there are a few examples of simple and more elaborate command bases at the end of this post). 
Upper Left: I put a metal strip on the back of my bases to facilitate labels and markers. For these, I use metal wargame bases (these and my markers will be the subject of another post, dear readers). I spray paint the metal strips using Super Maxx Satin Hunter Green (8979). This household spray paint covers in one step, with no need to prime. As a matter of fact, it doesn't work well with primed metal (I found that out in early usage).  Upper Right: I use brown as a base under the flock and then black for the edges.
As far as other materials,  I use white glue to adhere both the figures and the metal strips to the wood stands.  I use wood filler to eliminate the "step" between the figures and the base, plus to fill out the look of the stand, as needed.  For my "secret ingredient" I use Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement (S191), which is a pre-mixed formulation of white glue and water: no mess, no fuss. 

Paint a black “U” around the edge of the wood stand to frame the metal strip. Then glue the metal strip to the base.  I find that it’s best that the metal strip be a bit less wide than the base, and also to inset it just a tad from the long edge. This gives it a nice look and also keeps it from being pried-off accidentally. By black framing the area in advance, you don't have to worry about going back and coloring in any bare edging around the metal.  

Apply the wood filler (or a similar putty) to the bases of the figures. How much you use is a matter of taste. I generally don't fill the entire base, but am instead looking for an effect that makes the figures blend in with the base.  Sometimes that means covering more of the base than others, creating more of  "mound" effect.I generally do like to have the filler be flush with the edge of the metal strip on the back.
Clean up by using a dry towel to wipe the excess off of the metal strip. I have found that a dry towel gives a cleaner line than a wet one, which causes the filler to run onto the metal.
Use a putty knife to smooth down the filler at the edge of the metal strip. This is a rough step, so don't be too concerned about getting it perfect. The next step will take care of that.
Wet the putty knife...
...and go back and finish by applying the wet knife to the wood filler, which will smooth it out. This basing scheme is not about undulations and variations.
The effect when dry.

This step is no doubt familiar to all:  applying the base flock (Green Blended Turf).
Paint over the top of the base with a generous coat of brown, to include the edges around the metal strip. Make sure to clean off any paint on the edges. Drag the base through the flock.

Check for a nice, clean edge before setting aside to dry.

After the paint under the green flock is dry, add Earth Blend highlights.
Using an eyedropper, add Scenic Cement to the base until all the flock is soaked.
Sprinkle Earth Blend to highlight. One trick to keep from having shadows under the figures where no highlight falls is to tip the stand to spread the highlight evenly under them.  
The scenic cement will bond the two applications into a single layer. Once dry, the bonded flock will form a durable crust and also will not shed. The scenic cement causes the green to darken. So the difference between the Earth Blend highlight and the underlying Green will seem less pronounced when just applied (above left) than when dry (above right). So it takes a bit of experimentation to get to know how much to apply to get your imagined outcome.  Of course, there are other combinations of turfs that could be used as well.

Finish by painting the edges black. One trick I've come up with to manage this potentially messy step is to put my stands on small boxes (Perry figures boxes are ideal). This gives full access to the edges without blacking my digits in the bargain.

One point of special attention is to make sure that the figures are standing on top of the ground as opposed to sinking into it. This takes care when applying the wood filler and also during flocking. I will usually brush off excess flock around the footgear before applying the Scenic Cement to keep it from creeping up the leg and over the footgear.  After painting the base edges black, I'll do a final touch up by applying dabs of black to bring out the shoes and/or blacken any flock that may be over the shoe if necessary. 

 Two illustrations showing highlight effects in the base scheme. In the Napoleonic unit in the right picture, you can see the effect of letting the brown underpaint come through where the flock is thin or there are small gaps.  
Two command stands with the minimalist addition of Woodland Scenics Yellow Grass Fine Turf (T1343), and Noch Medium Brown Flocking (06520), the latter of which I find to be a very good combination with this palette.
A command stand with a bit more elaborate treatment.  As before, the stand has the addition of the Woodland Scenics Yellow Grass and Noch Medium Brown Flock, with the extra use of Woodland Scenics Fine Brown Ballast and Clump foilage.  The semi-circular tab on the back is made from peel and stick flexible steel sheet.

This concludes my treatise on basing. I hope it's been of interest.


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