eason’s greetings to you all.
As Yuletide approaches.
our minds turn to the year
that is now passing and the new
year yet to come. For my part, I
simply wish for twelve straight
months of health that don’t
remind me that I’m entering
the minefield of middle age!
In danger of becoming the
archetypal Grumpy Old Man,
I find myself muttering about
the litany of ranging shots that the Artillery of Life has
been sending my way since this time last year. The best
thing I can do is avoid the signalled barrage altogether
so, be warned, 2010 will see this Editor on something of
a major health drive. I quit smoking about 15 years ago,
but the waistline has remained stubbornly entrenched,
and the offensives I have launched against it have taken
withering defensive fire and retreated with poor morale.
Fear not, I have plans in place to achieve total victory, as
well as to put this extended metaphor out of its misery.
So what’s been good about 2009? If we ignore the realworld gloom (and what is a hobby for if not to escape
from those things beyond our control from time to time?),
then we must surely celebrate the continuing creativity
and output of those driving the hobby forward. Makers
of miniatures, scenery and paint all continue to dazzle us
with their astounding products. Sometimes, it really is
worth looking back over our shoulders to remember what
a struggle it used to be, not so long ago, to assemble the
miniature armies we wanted, on the terrain we wanted,
and for the right price. Nowadays, we catch ourselves
whingeing about the embarras de richesse that the
hobby provides. Lucky us, and long may it continue.
The output of superlative books and magazines should
also be cause for celebration. Houses such as Osprey, Pen
and Sword, Casemate, Ken Trotman and Partizan Press,
as well as smaller ventures such as John Curry Events and
18thcenturypress.com, provide us with a wealth of superb
reference works with which to stock our wargaming libraries.
And finally, I salute the editors of Wargames Illustrated,
Miniature Wargames, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy,
Dadi e Piombo, Vae Victis and the mighty White Dwarf,
together with those who labour as unsung heroes compiling
countless club and society magazines, websites and podcasts
– without them all, our hobby would be the poorer.
My sincere best wishes for Christmas and 2010 to you all.
A brush with Mr Kipling
Gaming the balance
Diane Sutherland, UK
Mike Siggins, UK
Gary Mitchell, UK
Talking wargaming: invincible squares?
Table top teaser
If it ain’t broke: WRG 5th Edition
A visit to Osprey Publishing
Trapped in the Birdcage: Salonika 1915-17
The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal: update
Events November/December 2009
Competition and classified ads
Chris Scott, UK
C. S. Grant, UK
Robin Miles, UK
Henry Hyde, UK
Barry Lee, UK
New goodies reviewed by our team
Our campaign to help support ex-service personnel continues
Richard Tyndall, UK
Win a Minden Miniatures battalion!
The Battlegames shop
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A brush with Mr Kipling
The continuing tales of a wargames widow
by Diane Sutherland
This is the basic structure of the fort. Lengths of polystyrene from a freezer
delivery, Mr Kipling cake boxes; Greek vine leaf tins and cardboard tubes.
with later using wall filler. The cake boxes are 5" across;
to make them multi-functional, we based them on a 5"
square of MDF. That way, they could be used as corners
and as straight walling. The wall sections are 18" long;
each is different. Two are basic straight walling; one has
the gate section with cardboard tube towers, the final one
utilises four empty tins of Greek vine leaves for towers.
For the wall tops, we found some sheets of small wall tiles
left over from the redecorated kitchen, and these were stuck
onto the tops of the walling and the towers. Buildings were
added to the inside of the walls using 5mm Floormaster
polystyrene, balsa wood doors and shaped plastic windows.
Now, we turned our attention to the ‘buttering’ of the
expect the more literary-minded of you flicked
straight to this page in the eager anticipation of
finding a compelling article on one of Britain’s
greatest poets and wits. Perhaps how his prose could
be used to fashion scenarios for the tabletop?
I apologise for having misled you, but to
offset the disappointment let me begin with my
own words, in the style of the great man:
You can keep your ’eathen cakes,
Them Panettones are too flighty,
Tasty Bakewell or mincemeat tarts,
Remind you of good old Blighty!
You may have now gathered that this article does
not concern colonial period poetry; there’s no mention
of Tommy Atkins or Fuzzy Wuzzies either. I had been
tempted to entitle this piece “Let Them Eat Cake”, but
I’m not sure how many of you would have been drawn
in by Marie Antoinette. Therein lays the connection
and why a wargame widow’s diet can be influenced
by terrain and building projects. I kid you not.
Imagine the scene. Be honest. You are a wargamer and
an honourable one too. Every visit to a supermarket with
a wargamer in tow involves the said wargamer looking
at the packaging of products in an unfamiliar way. The
wargamer has little interest in the marketing messages on
the packaging; he cares not a jot for the bright colours or the
fact that the packaging is a hazard to future generations. No,
he is interested in the shape, the structure and the sturdiness
of the packaging. In short, its alternative uses as a tower, a
gateway, a structure or a linear obstacle. To be frank, he’s
not that interested in the contents of the packaging either.
Now I’m the sort of girl that, if asked, “What type of cake
do you like?” will simply answer “I don’t care, I just like
cake.” Any size, flavour, ingredients or origin is fine with me.
I do draw the line at having my cake choice restricted by
the wargamer’s desire to obtain four identical cake boxes.
These are needed, apparently, to make four towers for a
walled city. Mercifully, I have an obliging mother-in-law
with an even more serious cake addiction than my own.
A strangely shaped cake box attracted our attention on
the supermarket shelf. Mr Kipling Bitesize Cakes, to be
precise. The great thing about this masterpiece of marketing
is the fact that (upside down at least) it looks like a tower,
a perfect bastion for a walled city or a fort. Not content
with a simple tower, we wanted a ten-foot set of walls to
stretch across the entire length of the wargames table.
So-called ‘white goods’ are a fantastic source of high
density polystyrene; they are designed to protect the
edges of the fridge or washing machine in transit. We
cut down the polystyrene, making sure that we retain
the lumps and bumps. There’s no need to worry about
having gaps at the bottom of the walls; these can be dealt
This is one of the straight walling sections with wall tiles fixed in place. The
gaps have been filled with blocks of wood (from a mini-Jenga game), half
cardboard tubing used for magazines and laminate flooring underlay for
the building fronts. Roofs are made from plaited grass place mats.
walls and towers. This is an odd technique. To be honest,
it looks dreadful when it’s finished, but have faith; once
you have sanded it down and knocked out all the major
lumps, it looks the part. Use wall filler or plaster that you
have to mix yourself. Normally, we use the ready mixed
variety, but for this you want a runny, soft butter or thick
cream consistency. You can either paint it on with a 1"
brush or use a freebie coffee stirrer from Starbucks.
Don’t worry too much about going over features; you want
a nice thick coat. Reapply where necessary, sand down where
broken pair. To achieve this, we temporarily stuck a pair
of the washers in the gate opening and applied the ground
texture around them. The sets of gates were made from
balsawood and were painted in the same way as the doors.
Using exterior paints means that the whole construction
is somewhat tougher and more resilient. It is also matte,
so there is no need to varnish the walling or the towers.
This is the whole stretch of walling and towers after basic construction. The
additional tower in the centre was added so that the walling covered the
ten feet length of the wargames table.
the coverage is patchy. For the roofs of the buildings, we used
plaited grass table place mats. Cut them roughly to size and
fix with wood glue. You can trim them when they are dry.
To make the walling complete, we added a simple
square tower. It sports a section of cardboard tubing with
half a plastic ball, a Christmas bell and a cheap golf tee.
Once the groundwork is dry, give it a dry brush
with white then add some patches of static grass
and Woodland Scenics Clump foliage to taste.
This building project is a long one. Ideally, it needs
to be done in stages to allow for drying time. The
net result is that you can construct a fortification
that will run across the whole length of the table,
or you can use it as a corner or centrepiece.
Obviously there are alternatives for smaller scales or if
you cannot get your hands on big lumps of polystyrene.
Cardboard tubes and tin cans make wonderful towers;
they will not be recognisable once you have finished.
This one is a Mr Kipling cake box and the large square tower, both with a
thorough coat of Sandtex Bitter Chocolate. The paint dries very quickly and
allows you to press on with the project.
Here is a roughly ‘buttered’ Mr Kipling cake box, which has been stuck to
a 5” square of MDF and has a balsawood door and a plastic window. The
structure has been partially sanded.
Everything is now given a liberal coat of Sandtex Bitter
Chocolate. When this is dry, give everything except the roofs
of the buildings a heavy wet brush of Sandtex Mid Stone.
We gave the roofs a wet brush of Sandtex Brick Red, then
the Mid Stone. Again, allow to dry. Now give everything
a thorough, heavy, dry brush of Sandtex Cornish Cream,
finishing off with a brilliant white. Any white will do – we
use basic craft paint. You can make this a heavy covering
of white and the recessed detail will still show through.
The next job is to pick out the detailing. Since none
of the buildings are designed to put figures inside, the
windows were painted black. At this stage, we gave the
doors a covering of Brick Red, Mid Stone and then Cornish
Cream. The tower on the extra building was given a
thick coat of bronze, and then dry brushed with gold.
To blend in with our terrain tiles, we use a mix of brown
paint and sand. Two wet coats are usually better than one
thick one. It was at this point that we realised that we had
forgotten the gates! We had some large metal washers
lying around from another project and we made three
sets of gates: one closed set, one open set and another
These are the wall sections after three layers of paint, but the last coat of
white has not been added. By sanding down the filler before the paint is
applied you can get a good rough surface that will respond well to wet and
Also consider making the basic carcass of the walls out
of foamcore or flooring underlay. All you need to do is
to make a basic “h” shape the length you need. Once
this is based, it will be surprisingly strong. Always think
modular too – not only does this give you more options
This is the open version of the gate section; a simple balsawood gate has
been stuck to each of the large metal washers. Note that the gates can be
removed and replaced with shut or destroyed versions.
the polystyrene first and giving it a more watery filler coat.
Another final point to bear in mind is to continually
check that what you are making is in scale. The
height of the crenellations on the walling should
not be too tall for a standing firing figure, and you
should think about the sizes of the doors, the heights
of the windows and the steepness of any steps.
So, the next time you take a trip to the supermarket
with a wargamer, be aware of sudden changes in eating
habits. You can never quite tell if the wargamer has a
genuine desire to try something new, or it may just be
that it’s not the contents the wargamer is interested in.
I leave you as I began; with a ditty Rudyard
Kipling might have been proud of himself:
Old ’enry ’yde wants more subscribers,
’E wants your bleedin’ names,
’E wants your ’earts and souls too,
Signed up to Battlegames.
The finished walling now occupied by defenders. The ladders were made
from cut sections of roller blinds and could benefit from a three-layer paint
coating used for the wood work.
when you use it, but it is a darn sight easier to store.
The other option to consider is the more Western-style
castle or walling. Similar techniques will work just as well,
although the key difference will be scribing the surface of
Hang on, why is my cake slice covered in Polyfilla?
An attacker’s eye view of the walls. Small stones were stuck at the base of the walling to cover gaps. The gate section has been fitted with the closed gates.
Bushel lifting, figure frisson, arboriculture and more...
I am often accused of hiding my
light under a bushel. It is mainly me
doing the accusing, in fairness, but
there is some truth in the matter.
This trait is shared by Keith Warren
at Realistic Modelling Services. Keith
sells an excellent range of rules under
the Real Time Wargames brand,
but can one easily find them on his
website? Frankly, no! It is therefore
my mission to put this to rights.
It was left to my friend Charles
to discover the rules, buy them, and
set up games to test them. Boy, am
I glad he did. We have so far played
the Marlburian set exclusively,
but the Sudan, 1866, Seven Years
War and Napoleonics have been
digested and games are planned
in the near future. So keen am I
on the 1866 set that I have made
figure counters… This selection
accounts for just half the range, so
we have a lot to look forward to.
In short, and no messing about here,
these are some of the best rules I have
seen since I started the hobby. Clever
ideas, original mechanisms, unusual
command perspectives, and decent or
better history. Most importantly for
this jaded old sausage, they are fresh,
atmospheric, and they work. Okay,
there are some minor queries, but
nothing to worry about. Keith has a
team of co-designers and developers
that reads like a Who’s Who (a
dreadful cliché, but true), and they
have come up with some classy stuff.
Let me tell you about the Spanish
Succession set, because that should
hopefully convey my enthusiasm.
There is a type of game where my
opponents and I go very quiet, play
solidly with no thought of abandoning,
and find that three hours have
slipped by, fully engrossed. We then
look at each other knowing that
we have experienced an excellent
game (this is an odd mixture of
surprise, relief, enjoyment, and
re-affirmation of the hobby). These
are just such a set of rules.
Low key marketing
The game is essentially a matrix of
locations, set in the Low Countries.
A location may contain a fort, an
impassable area, or other terrain.
Each location is rated for foraging,
but this is cleverly kept secret through
use of a clever card system. Each
side recruits their army, splits them
into administrative units under
commanders, and deploys onto
the cramped map environment.
A tough, decision-heavy game of
manoeuvre, scouting, diplomacy
and guile develops, where you
must handle an overall plan, local
strategies, and commanders of
varying ability. Battles occur, which
can be resolved using the system or
fought separately with figures. The
whole narrative unfolds superbly,
feeling like the period. It is a minicampaign that plays in the timeframe
of a battle. I am deeply impressed.
Now I am not an expert on the
Marlburian period, but like many of
us I have read a bit over the years.
The game seems to generate a lot of
the flavour and history of the books,
which is all I ask, while also giving us
a fascinating game to play out. That
combination seems to be the grail of
wargame design, and here we have it
for £6.50. I can’t recommend these
rules highly enough, but do make
sure you search the site – they are
there! Sudan and 1866 next time.
by Mike Siggins
Pete Waterman is an interesting chap.
Rightly accused of inflicting some
pretty vile music on our ears, as well
as some good stuff, he is also a railway
modeller, manufacturer and preserver
adored by many in that cousin to our
hobby. In short, he does some good
work with his millions. He has a couple
of books out at the moment, which
sure enough meant he appeared on
the radio. [Metaphysical question:
can you “appear” on the radio? Ed.]
Chatting away happily about models,
it was quite refreshing for someone
to be doing this without reticence,
and for the presenter (Simon Mayo)
to be treating him with respect. The
comment that struck home, and why
I am waffling again, was that Pete felt
that while music could give you that
frisson, models could not. I have to
disagree. There is no doubt that the
visceral Nessun Dorma or Nimrod are
hard to match, but I have certainly had
the old spine tingle when viewing an
outstanding game, model or paintjob.
Yes, it’s a pun, but fortunately not
one of mine. Treemendus is a new
company specialising in tree making
materials and custom builds. This
is a specialised art, in which I very
much like to dabble. We nutters
will go to great lengths to make a
nice looking tree, and any help is
welcomed. The added requirement for
wargame trees is of course that they
are tough enough to survive regular
handling, squashing and storage.
In this aim, Treemendus sell an
excellent range of relevant materials.
One can start with the 12" wire
lengths (£5), which are easily twisted
into armatures and have an almost
perfect balance between strength
and ease of working. Depending on
complexity, I can get about five really
convincing tree forms from one pack.
Next up is a bark mixture, which I
have yet to purchase. While I would
usually add readily available rubberised
horsehair for branches, I do also use
postiche (false hair) for the more
delicate types of tree. Treemendus
sell this under the name of Canopy,
and very good it is too. Finally, there
is a range of foliage/scatter packs
which are not only the right scale for
20mm to 28mm, but they also have
impressive, realistic colour tones. If it
helps convey my satisfaction, my first
request was whether I could buy bigger
bags! Treemendus also sell sheets of
fur fabric in convenient sizes, which
you can’t have failed to notice on the
wargames circuit as long grass. The
only negative here is the Treemendus
name, for which I am docking him a
point! Otherwise, highly recommended
and well worth investigating.
Audible belt tightening
In the past I have moaned, perhaps too
frequently, about the ever escalating
Last time I reviewed the new Vallejo
pigment sets and it seems that I was
not alone in my concerns on relative
pricing and performance. Later that
month, a piece appeared on the
MiG website comparing their own
pigments with those from Vallejo,
trying to explain why MiG’s cost rather
more. This article had an underlying
indignant feel, and was about as
convincing as a study by the Coffee
Marketing Board on the undoubted
health benefits of coffee. But it
prompted me to leap into action, so at
the next opportunity I bought myself
a large pot of Sennelier ochre artists’
pigment (£5) and experimented. In
the frame we have MiG, Bragdon,
Vallejo and Sennelier. MiG is the
people’s favourite, and a tried and
trusted runner. Bragdon is ridden
by Chuck Doan, perhaps the world’s
greatest modeller (controversial!), and
so must be considered by the bookies.
Vallejo are a well known stable, and
Sennelier are the handicap horse.
In short, there are indeed
differences. What is immediately
clear is that the specialist pigments
(MiG and Bragdon) are much more
finely ground, and so look and feel
different on the palette. These two
also claim to have extra ingredients
to promote adhesion. This would
also appear to be true, as they both
stick better when applied ‘dry’ than
the others. What they also do, when
mixed with thinners, alcohol or water,
is settle exactly as one would expect
them to. Vallejo were next best here,
while the Sennelier needed a fair deal
of working with an old brush to get
it to lie down. Ironically, as a final
comparison, I ground up some Unison
pastels and these were perhaps the
best of the lot! More tests to follow,
and I would appreciate your findings.
Bend it like Beckham
So, Reddiprene38. I am sure you will
remember her as the third replicant
from Blade Runner. But no, of course, I
am joking. This is one of those newfangled, hi-tech polymer-plastic-type
materials we are always hearing about
on Tomorrow’s World, brought to the
wargames market by modelscenery.
com (who clearly didn’t get the memo
about dotcoms being a bit passé).
The product, for such an exciting
name, is a little underwhelming. And
quite heavy. In truth, some of it looks
like those black liquorice strips you
got at the corner shop. Or one of
those ribbon cables we attached to
hard drives in the Olden Days. There
are also ‘sections’, such as hexagonal
rod. It also comes in flat, or patterned,
plasticard-like sheets in various
thicknesses (0.6mm to 3.0mm), all
suitable for modelling. These seem to
be mainly 200mm x 120mm, so I would
recommend they look to provide larger
sheets to avoid joining problems.
So, what is the trick? What is the
special skill that will make us gape
in awe? Well, if you heat this stuff
up, it will hold its shape. Something
similar adorns the back of Woodland
Scenics grass mats, so that you can
get out the hairdryer and conform
them to a hill. Or a younger brother.
You can also poke it, carve it (there is
price of metal figures. This is down
to a number of reasons: becoming a
grumpy old man; railing against the
Ansell Assertion; gaining a mortgage;
and being increasingly frustrated
at seeing first £1 and then £2 per
figure breached in some areas. In the
end, because it seemed people kept
buying regardless, I simply shut up
and reverted to plastics, in the main.
To an extent I also mellowed.
I took the view that paying a bit
more would help keep some very
talented individuals in work, if not
Ferraris, and ultimately one cannot
argue with market forces, even
those working in our turbulent little
niche. Metal prices went up, the
economy is all over the shop (as you
may have spotted) and £20 seems
to barely get one out of the house.
I was also curious to see what the
‘natural’ level was, from an admittedly
smug position of already having
more lead than one man would ever
need. But then along came plastics,
the credit crunch, and what must
be a very worrying period as far as
discretionary retail purchases go.
Frugality is the new buzzword, many
of us are looking at the Lead Mountain
and thinking, hmm, perhaps I should
do something about that first. And of
course more new, superb figures and
models arrive every month to test
my resolve… I am not well attuned to
Austerity. Whatever, this year or next,
I think, there may have to be a pricing
correction and I believe Renegade have
made an astute business decision in
their approach. What do you think?
no grain), press shapes into it, and as
one would expect it can be cut, glued
(cyanos) and painted. Phew. I tried
acrylics on it, and there is, surprisingly,
a degree of ‘soak’. I would definitely
prime, and I might experiment with
Unibond PVA or similar. It doesn’t
sand well; it just roughs up.
Exciting stuff, then. Great fun
to play with. You can even heat it
several times. Time passes. About
now you realise that it is not Play Doh
and that you need a real life project.
Modelscenery.com have pictures of
buildings, with brick effect, but frankly
these look a bit naff due to gaps in the
superstructure. For those thinking
Linka for the New Century, one house
point (and are you enjoying your bus
pass?) And for flat planes, why would
you not just use textured plasticard?
It’s a lot cheaper. No, Reddiprene’s
talents lie in the curvaceous realm.
To test this stuff, I decided to try
and make one of those cobbled country
lanes that have a bump in the middle.
I made a former out of balsa, roughed
it up a bit, and selected a small sheet
of the Reddiprene38. Heated up, the
plastic slowly drapes itself over the
former and takes on the shape desired.
There is some working time while it
cools, so you can pull and push the
stuff around. I would think shaping
the cobbles would be a simple re-heat
and press. The same process should
let you make turrets, cast armour,
smooth fairings and the like. My
only concern is that it may not hold
very tight curves, which will see you
returning to the plasticard and oven…
It is the corniest statement in the
world to say this product is limited by
your imagination. It is clearly more
limited than that. But, you know,
the more I played with it and got it
to do some weird bendy (okay, fun)
stuff, the more I thought towers;
sagging roofs; fuel pipes; corrugated
sheet; flags (obvious Siggins, come
on!); curved walls; sails and yes,
any number of scratchbuilding uses
(especially if you are a sci-fi modeller).
Being a jaded old cynic, I can’t
go overboard about this product
because I haven’t yet stretched it
enough (sorry), but it is promising. I
am sure you will find a use for it, and
when the second and third generation
products come along we will be
wondering how we lived without it.
Find out more on their website