Our sojourn into the Dark Ages has proved to be enlightening in many ways. I know my local history better than I did before and the joys of archeology have opened up some new vistas upon history, but above all else I have realised one thing, early warfare is bloody messy!
One of the joys of the Seven Years War and Napoleonics is the seried ranks of smart chaps, even with Sharp Practice you get the feel for military precision as the quarter column swings round to form a line and presents muskets with a precision that would excite the most evil drill sergeant. Yet in the Dark Ages pace sticks were sadly missing, and a load of hairy-arsed barbarians went round bashing each other over the head with no consideration for tidiness. Most inconsiderate when you are trying to keep track of who is who in your melee.
Indeed it was a messy shieldwall a week ago that prompted me to order a few movement trasy from Warbases, a company who have been impressing many gamers with their superb laser cut products at EXTREMELY affordable prices.
So, an order despatched just before the weekend (Thursday or Friday, I can’t recall which) prompted Postman Pat to deliver a well wrapped parcel on Monday morning, and like all wargamers I couldn’t put it to one side, I had to get them ready immediately. I bought tweleve trays in all, six for a dozen figures and six for half-a-dozen, all for penny sized bases. This is a great idea from Warbase. I, and most of my pals use 1p piece for our basing (Her Maj’s head down of course so as not to blemish her fair and noble vis!) as they are cheap as chips and pretty much cheaper than buying washers of a similar size.
My first step was to spray the bases with a light undercoat of car paint. Quite why I have no idea, I should have put some of the basing material on first, but I am a wargamer, so I spay things before I paint them. No logic required. So, next I carefully painted some watered down PVA glue on the top service, taking care to avoid getting any of the sharp sand and rock mixture into the holes where the figures would sit. I then let this dry before scrapng out any excess that may have crept it to the cavities, and then painted that with another wash of diluted PVA. That then sets pretty much solid.
One that was dry I began to paint up using some acrylics. Thanks to Sidney I now use a range of Windsor and Newton acrylics for scenery which are much cheaper than using something like Vallejo. Are they are nice to use? No, you need to build up layers of colour with a bit more patience, but the cost saving is worth it for large scenary projects, and I wanted the figures to match the terrain I have build to go with the period.
So, a few coats, building up to a final white dry-brush and that phase was over.
With that done I decided to paint the holes for the bases in a black wash. It is my intention to put some discarded shields, swords and axes (heads?) on pennies to fill the spaces when casualties are removed, but that’s a project for the future.
With that done I applied the static grass mix that I use for the figure bases, dotting on diluted PVA again so that some of the earth shows through. I then tidied up the edges, painting them in brown to make them stand out on the table. More on that in a moment.
So, are they perfect? No, sadly not. I hadn’t originally intended to put the figures in basing trays, it isn’t something I’ve ever done before, so the base edges on my figures are not as tidy as they should be, a bit of sand here, a rock or clump of foliage there, and that stops them being a perfect fit. The bases DO have a margin of error to allow a bit of room, but some of my figures still need some tidying up. I reckon a quick file round each base will do the job very quickly, then I shall put a dark brown ring around each edge, as is the fashion, aned they will be absolutely spot on. In future I shall make my figures specifically with these trays in mind and they will then be absolutely spot on. You can see a base here with some nice shiny coins in, and they are perfect.
We used the bases on Tuesday night, and allowing for the fact that not all of the figures fitted perfectly the lads were most impressed. It makes moving your figures the work of moments, and keeping your DarK Age thugs in order is made simple.
I should mention that another impressive feature of Warbases is the ease of use of their web site. The order page is basically a matrix, so if you want your bases eight figures wide by three deep (or whatever) you cross-reference 8 by 3 and the box there will show you the price for that base. So however you want it, you can pretty much be sure they will do it. Very impressed, five stars out of five. Apologies for the rubbish photos, my camera was out of batteries so I used my phone and it was a very bright day, so the colour has been a bit washed out. David Bailey I am not.
There is always a tremendous sense of satisfaction seeing the printer’s proofs for a new set of rules; it usually spells the end of a long period of hard work for me as editor getting everything print ready, as well as producing all the graphics and artwork. This time, however, it was really something special.