Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Terrain and Basing Issues Settled!

Progress continues on my Blood, Sand and Empire project. This week I managed to finish off a couple desert dwellings for my layout. Did some experimenting with the texturing on these. The bigger one was given a good coat of joint compound ("spackle") with sand mixed in. The smaller was white glue, sand, and a touch of baking powder. Not sure about the latter. It did dry very quickly however - not really a good thing. Either way both turned out alright for my purposes. Astute readers may recognize the models as being from the old Epic 40k wargame by GW! I simply converted them to fit 15mm scale.

Some new buildings all finished.

To go along with these two building I have also purchased two boxed sets of desert buildings for Flames of War (Battlefront pre-painted). These sets include a total of three additional buildings, some walls, and a well! So that should be enough buildings to get me by at the moment.

Also, I bought a ton of plastic palm trees off of Ebay to go along with the few I already have. All they need is to be painted up a bit and based as appropriate. Of course, I still need to make more terrain for rocky areas, cliffs, and shrub/greenery to clutter up the table.

As for my basing dilemma, I have finally made a decision! I have decided to base my infantry six models to a 30mm square stand. This is very useful and equates to 24 models on four stands which is perfect for representing a "standard" size unit in Black Powder, as well as for units in Battles for Empire II. My units will look big and have a really nice feel to them. "large" units are six stands, "small" units are two stands, and "tiny" units are six individually based models. So I am all set regarding that. The "tiny" unit models are perfect as I want to use them also with some skirmish rules I also have and am eager to have a go with.

Six models in two ranks on a 30mm square stand. Perfect for Black Powder
and Battles for Empire II.

I should have more stuff in by the end of the next week or so, so stay tuned for that. As soon as I finish some ancient Gauls I am painting, I will start getting these models on the painting desk and get some Khaki splashing about! Perhaps next week I will post some more photos of the lay-out using my Cigar Box desert mat and some new terrain.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Basing the Troops and Options?!?

Basing has always been an issue for me. Especially when if comes to regular infantry. For one, I like to have diversity with the mounting system I use so I can always try out various other rules systems with little hassle (a plus these days with so many options out there today). Another very important element regarding basing for me is how the models look and feel on their little base. I like a chunky base with some weight to it. I also prefer my units to be large, taking advantage of the mass effect 15mm can provide. So, when sitting down and looking over my options regarding various rule systems I want to explore, as well as taking into account the above mentioned preferences, I have come down to a couple options:
  1. mount six models in two ranks on a 30mm x 25mm base, or
  2. mount six or eight models in two ranks on a 40mm x 30mm base, or
  3. mount four (or six) models in two ranks on a 25mm square (or 30mm square) base.
I have considered mounting models four models to a base in two ranks. This option looks too small for me; for another; I don't like columns of troops in two files only - just doesn't look right, even for a march column. Three files is a must! Note that option one above really isn't an option or me, as I feel 30mm depth on two-figure ranked foot should always be a min. of 30mm. 25mm depth is too narrow for me.

A March column!
24 models on four separate stands. Stand is 30mm square. Three files on each stand looks perfect!

After reading up on basing in the Black Powder rules I was quite surprised. It seems that more important than the number of figures, or the amount of space each model takes up, is the overall "foot print" of a unit as a whole - I like this! In 15mm scale, a 24 figure "average" unit will take up a frontage of 120mm. Using 30mm wide bases this equates to exactly four stands! If I chose to use 40mm wide stands that would work as well- although only three stands which is somewhat awkward when representing things like square or attack column formations. Black Powder allows for all manner of basing schemes really, fitting my purpose just right. This would in fact allow me to have my figures based in all manner of ways if I chose, yet still be able to play with these rules with little if any change.

30mm Square stands: Each stand has 6 models arranged in three files, two ranks.

Looking at the Battles for Empire II rules however, there are some restrictions that must be adhered to. Top of the list is the fact that all units are four bases in size - the number of figures does not matter however. So in a way, I have to pay attention to how I go about mounting my little soldiers so I don't end up needing an absolute ton of models for one unit! Lets face it, four bases of six to eight figures is quite large indeed. However, this does not bother me as much as the amount of table space such a unit may take up on the table-top. I need to be able to take advantage of the fact that smaller figures allow you to have units with a smaller "foot-print" than say a unit of 28mm models.

30mm Square stands:
This mounting system will allow me use the figures with different rules systems with relative ease.

30mm square stands:
Each stand has a nice feel to it. Somewhat cramped, but I could always place four or five models on a few bases for variety.

40 x 30mm stands:
120mm frontage for 18 models. Note the "split-tray" to allow me to represent attack columns and squares better - no odd stand to deal with.

40 x 30mm stands:
With only six models per stand, lots of space on each base but retaining the look and feel of a unit.

40 x 30mm stands:
A little less dense a look to it - only 18 models instead of 24.

40 x 30mm stands:
24 models on three stands (eight models per stand). Standard 120mm unit frontage (same as for four 30mm square stands). Just as dense as the six models on a 30mm square stand.

40 x 30mm stands:
One stand is a "split-tray", turning three stands into four.

Again, the look and feel are most important to me when it comes to mounting my models, not to mention the option of using these little soldiers with multiple sets of rules as I desire.

After much debate it seems I am starting to lean towards the 30mm square stands for my basing. This allows me to field my standard size units as four stands of six models; a nice look. It also allows me to keep that even number of stands so I do not have to deal with an "odd" stand sticking out when forming things like squares and  attack columns. Following on with the Black Powder rules, this means my "average" sized units are 4 stands, "small" two stands, "tiny" one, and "large" are six stands (36 models)! Using the Battles for Empire II rules units will also be four stands strong and occupy the same ground frontage as in Black Powder. Of course this is kind of big for those rules, so I may simply set unit sizes at 3 for those rules. Also, the rules don't make use of attack columns, so that is not an issue.

Anyway, I just thought I would throw my random thoughts regarding basing miniatures out there. If anyone has any comments about this feel free to do so.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blood, Sand and Empire Vlog on YouTube!

Just added the Blood, Sand and Empire Vlog on my YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure. Basically a place to post all my British colonial wargaing videos. I usually post battle reports, updates, reviews, and other such nonsense there. So be sure to check it out if you have any interest in this period of wargaming.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More Goodies Have Arrived!

This week I got my 6' x 4' Cigar Box "Desert" mat as well as the Black Powder rules and Sudan supplement - Death on the Nile. Below are some pics of the goods.

New rules to get me going.

Pretty happy with everything so far, as this little project of mine continues. The Cigar Box mat looks really nice. It should be noted that these mats are made of high quality fleece - they are not simple felt sheets. As such they have a very appealing look and feel to them.=; somewhat of a slight shine to them in fact. This is not really a bad thing as it is hardly noticeable at all. Again, very high quality. The actual texturing on the sheet is very well done - color is just right, and scattered "desert" details fill the piece. I highly recommend Cigar Box mats if you want a high quality product that really adds to the look and feel of your lay-out.

This is their "Desert" mat; perfect!

Cigar Box Mats are really high quality.

The Blood on the Nile supplement for Black Powder also looks great. At 90 full color gloss pages it is slightly smaller than the new Rebellion AWI supplement that just came out. At first glance the book is chalk full of details - scenarios for all the well known battles, pictures of uniform details, battle scenes, etc. What you would expect from Warlord Games really.

Lots of nice color pics to inspire.

Uniforms, maps, scenarios abound!

I will have more details - reviews - on these products later down the road. For now, know that I myself am very satisfied with these items. I am really excited to get this project going and get some troops on the table!

Stay tuned as I progress through this awesome new project of mine.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Some NEW Minis are Here!

Getting this new project off to a start I ordered some Blue Moon 15mm Colonial troops last week - from their Sudan range. All I can say is these little guys are awesome looking; no complaints at all. I ordered just five pack, which is enough to get me started. Of course I will be adding to this little collection over the course of the coming weeks as I get models completed. Really looking forward to getting some Egyptians and Sudanese troops to make the bulk of my colonials. Here are a few pics of the haul so far.

An assortment of Blue Moon Sudan troops.

Here are the British regulars command.

A nice assortment of Ansar command.

In addition to these I also bought a nice Cigar Box fleece "desert" terrain mat. These mats look great! Considering I don't have any desert terrain, this will save me time and give me a good start.
A nice desert mat from Cigar Box I also ordered. Perfect!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Introduction to the Blog

Well, I have finally decided to take the plunge in to colonial wargaming. I have to admit, after years of reading about the conflicts, battles, and heroes of Victorian adventure I am quite excited. Living my busy little life I never seemed to have the time to blend my interest in this romantic period with my wargaming hobby. I also should thank Dan Mersey for giving me somewhat of a nudge to getting in to this period of history. If you get the chance have a look at his blog to gain some interesting historical wargaming insights. Now, after years of putting it off, I am finally getting myself stuck in. This blog is all about this very subject - my journey in Victorian Wargaming.

If you follow any of my other blogs you will be used to my format. I hope you like it. I should also mention that at the moment I do not really have much content to post. Like I said, this whole project is new to me - although the history and subject matter is very familiar. As time goes by I will be posting all sorts of interesting tid-bits about this wonderful era of history - as it pertains to wargaming. That would include such things as battle reports/AARs, making terrain, rules and product reviews, as well as details on my own experiences with the period - such as the rules I use, observations, scenarios, and so on.

It should be noted that much like my other blogs, this blog is very specific - its subject matter in this case is almost entirely about the Victorian colonial wars from the mid 19th c. to pre- WW I. Those conflicts that fascinate me the most will be covered in great detail. This includes the 2nd Afghan War, the campaigns in the Sudan, and the Boar War! The blog will include information regarding other colonial conflicts as well - if such strikes my fancy.

I am very much in the beginning stages of this grand project. Suffice it to say, I am quite taken by such miniatures rules as Dan Mersey's up-coming colonial rules (?), Black Powder, Smooth & Rifled, and the wonderful rules Battles for Empire II. If you fancy the Piquet system, Din of Battle is another great set of rules. I will be covering these rules in great detail as the project gets under way in full. In fact, I will be covering everything from how I will be mounting my miniatures, scale, making terrain specific for the conflicts I play (such as the Sudan), as well as details on my Wargaming Diary.

All in all I hope you enjoy what I do present here. I have much planned indeed; stay tuned.