Luxuriant Braids and Magical Staves – Conversions 101

While we are spoilt for choice these days if it comes to miniatures,  it still happens that I really love a miniature, but there is this one detail that really does not work for me. For instance the pose is awesome and the garments are beautifully rendered, but instead of a spear the miniature is wielding a ‘tree log’ or a sword is as thick as a wooden plank. With Bones miniatures (or any other miniature really) miscasts can be an issue and may ruin an otherwise  wonderful sculpt.

Fortunately we have greenstuff and bits and bobs from other sets at our disposal to change or enhance the look of a miniature. In this first installment of a semi-regular feature on conversions I will talk about the basics and provide an example for making thin braids and wooden staffs. This tutorial is meant for the conversion novice, mainly because I am one also😛, but I hope future installments will add complexity.

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Interview with Greg from Agema Miniatures

Last time we asked Kawe Weissi-Zadeh of Westfalia Miniatures some questions about his company and halfmen Kickstarter. This time we put Agema Miniatures‘ Greg McBride to the question and ask him about his early wargaming career, Agema’s genesis and his plans for the company’s future.

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In plumbo veritas – Divining the wargaming year

I wish all my readers a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope your spiced ham levels did not exceed your limit and you did not have an unfortunate fireworks accident.

I had both a very relaxed Christmas break and changeover into the new year in good company. I had some time to further my projects and think about future articles on DaggerAndBrush.

As it is tradition (well since last year ;P) I divine my wargaming future using the ancient nordic rite of molybdomancy. So gather your exotic ingredients and an unwanted miniature and join me lifting the veil of the things to come.

Oh and kids, don’t try this at home! Adults only! After all we are handling molten metal.

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Romans Advance! – A Review of Agema Miniatures’ Republican Romans and Carthaginians

Hastati spargunt hastas. Fit ferreus imber.

(Enn. Ann. 8.281)

We are truly spoiled for choice these days if it comes to high quality 28mm Republican Romans and their enemies. They not only come in ‘heavy lead’, for instance Relic Miniatures’ offerings, but Victrix recently added to existing ranges with their injection plastic Punic Wars range. All these ranges have one thing in common: They are all more or less heroic scale, some more on the ‘chunky’ side, others with more realistic proportions.

Agema Miniatures, a small company based in the United Kingdom, could be called the Minden Miniatures of ancient ranges. They are to my knowledge the only company that provides Republican Romans and Carthaginians with such realistic proportions and an almost classical beauty to their sculpts. Notably they offer injection plastic, metal and resin miniatures, combining the advantages of all three materials.  Reason enough to review their plastic and resin Republican Romans range, conversion kits to create Hannibal’s Veterans and a selection of their metal character models.

This three-part review will first focus on the scope of the range to date, sculpting quality,  poses, casting quality, historical accuracy, conversion potential, customer service and value for money. In the second instalment we put Agema Miniatures’ Greg to the question. Finally in part three I will present painted examples with some notes on the colours and techniques used.

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The halfman cometh – An interview with Kawe from Westfalia Miniatures

I hope you are all doing well and survived huge amounts of spiced ham and truckloads of cookies. While you are eating the remaining Christmas cookies I suggest a read of this first installment of a new interview category on my blog. The idea is to introduce a company I like and also include a short, fun interview with the goal to establish a more personal connection between my readership and the ‘face’ behind a company. I aim on featuring an interview once a month. Today we look at Westfalia Miniatures successful Halfling Kickstarter and put Kawe Weissi-Zadeh to the question.

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In taberna quando sumus – building a tavern in 28mm part I

The tavern is one of the most iconic staples of any fantasy role-playing game. It is the place where many adventures start and where  prospective quest givers and shady informers can be found. Naturally it is also a place where our heroes  end up in great a many brawls or spend the coin they earned on drink, food and rumours. Naturally a tavern can also be an excellent terrain piece for historical games. Many generals of renown made the local tavern their headquarters or lodged  there for some time.

We see, the potential for a tavern in our gaming is endless, but how to go about creating a tavern?

In this first part I will cover the basics: features a tavern might have, basic construction techniques, materials needed and so on. To exemplify these I built a prototype that consists of a house front and floor only, well suited to experiment with different techniques, but also an excellent photography or gaming background when finished.

Continue reading In taberna quando sumus – building a tavern in 28mm part I

Happy Halloween – Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”

The old gravestones were covered in moss still wet from the rain at nightfall. Glistening in the pale moonlight they caressed weathered carvings, indecipherable by the eye. Two tall oaks loomed over the soft soil and each of their steps made them sink in deeper in the morass. Khael and Anirion had trouble to keep the hems of their overcoats from sticking to brush and creepers.

With sorrow Khael realised that his tobacco pouch had become wet, a good pipe now days away when they again lodged in a dry tavern. Anirion did not speak much during the last days. Khael was not too unhappy with this development, his mind clouded by dark thoughts and his overcoat heavy and wet from the rain.

There was a solemn appearance to the rows of gravestones, haphazardly placed, some tumbled over, some lifted by the roots of the gnarled oaks. This was a place where old spirits dwell, long abandoned by the villagers when there was no space anymore for new burials. Rumours had let them here, yet it was Anirion that insisted that they had to visit this place, bound to find the name of the priest that Anirion  encountered all those years ago in an overgrown ruin.

On a narrow featureless gravestone sat a raven black as the tendrils of darkness around them, its beady eyes reflecting the pale moonlight. Its eyes were filled with a primal intelligence, following them as they approached. Deep cut runes spelt the name “Isidor” on the otherwise unadorned gravestone.

Anirion knelt and followed the runes’ outline with his gloved finger. He glanced at Khael, worry written on the old dwarves face. The runes were cold to the touch, even through his gloves he could feel it.

“We have to find him  friend, we must…” Anirion uttered, his voice thin as the wafts of fog closing in.

Spoke the raven with its thin beak: “Nevermore”.

Like a dagger the word cut in their hearts, a heavy burden on their shoulders. Musty bones made their way through the soft grave soil, spindly fingers seeking warm flesh…

With this short intro I wish all my readers a very happy Halloween and I hope you have a delightful day. But what to do on such a day? I hope the suggestions below bring a bit of dread into your gaming and your evening.

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Elmes love the Vines, the Vines with Elmes abide – a modular skirmish board set during the Second Punic War part I

Ageinst him where he sat
A goodly Elme with glistring grapes did growe: which after hee
Had praysed, and the vyne likewyse that ran uppon the tree:
But if (quoth hee) this Elme without the vyne did single stand,
It should have nothing (saving leaves) to bee desyred: and
Ageine if that the vyne which ronnes uppon the Elme had nat
The tree to leane unto, it should uppon the ground ly flat (Ov. Met. 14.661-665).

Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE to 17/18 CE) is famous for his  love poems (Amores) and his mythological narrative Metamorphoses. In the short piece above taken from the latter work he describes casually a then very common form of viticulture and uses it as a metaphor for marriage. He already uses this simile in his Amores in the well-known phrase “Elmes love the Vines, the Vines with Elmes abide” (Ov. Am. 2.16.41). The relationship of vine and elm tree (or growing wine on trees as a support in general) is a long-standing one and continued in Italy well into the 20th century (cf. Fuentes-Utrilla, López-Rodríguez & Gil, 2004).

Nowadays this form of viticulture is very uncommon, but nevertheless sparked my interest. More importantly it also spawned a new project – the very raison d’être for this post: a modular skirmish board set during the Second Punic War featuring a villa rustica complete with vineyard, olive grove and orchard.

In a multi-part tutorial I will guide you through the creation process from the early planning stages to the final piece. In this first part we will look at the design of the modules, historical considerations when it comes to depicting a Roman vineyard complete with villa rustica and finally we will also have a look at some Agema miniatures to provide some suitable skirmish forces.

Continue reading Elmes love the Vines, the Vines with Elmes abide – a modular skirmish board set during the Second Punic War part I

Celtiberians – “They died with obstinate resolution”

The Battle of Great Plains or Campi Magni in 203 BCE was a disaster for Carthage, ultimately resulting in Hannibal being recalled from Italy to safe the day and finding his master in Scipio Africanus at Zama a year later (cf. Goldsworthy, 2003, 294-298).

At the first charge of the Roman cavalry both Carthaginian cavalry and infantry at the wings were driven from their ground, leaving exposed the centre formed by Celtiberian mercenaries. But it was here, faced with their imminent demise,  that they made a name for themselves and allowed the Carthaginian and Numidian commanders Hasdrubal and Syphax to escape:

The Celtiberian line, though stripped of the support of both the wings, stood their ground; for neither did any hope of safety by flight present itself, as they were ignorant of the country, nor could they expect pardon from Scipio, against whom, though he had deserved well both of them and their nation, they had come into Africa to fight for hire. [9] Surrounded, therefore, on all sides by the enemy, they died with obstinate resolution, falling one upon another; and, while the attention of all was turned upon them, Syphax and Hasdrubal gained a considerable space of time to effect their escape (Liv. 30.8-9).

This was not a singular event, quite the opposite: Diodorus Siculus explains that “the Celtiberians advanced far in fame and were subdued by the Romans with difficulty and only after they had faced them in battle over a long period” (Diod. 5.33.1). And indeed they were one of the last to be overcome by the Romans after 200 years of upheavals and conflict on the Iberian peninsular (for campaigns in the 2nd century BCE see Quesada, 2006b).

But who were the Celtiberians? How did their panoply look like and how did they fight? I shall give  an overview of the historical background of these fierce warriors, tactical considerations when using them in Field of Glory and finally some thoughts about sculpting and painting of my – now sadly OOP – Corvus Belli Celtiberians.

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Built on shaky ground – flexible wargaming terrain

You will be all familiar with the famous caulking method to make beautiful flexible wargaming mats. However, this technique does not only come in handy to cover an entire gaming table, but can also be used for scatter terrain, such as rough terrain, roads, villages and even hills. It can also be used to create a very versatile photography mat.

In this first installment I focus on making some flexible rough terrain featuring some rocky outcrops, brush and small bushes. I took my inspiration for this piece from ekimdj, who not only has a very nice blog, but also wrote a tutorial for flexible desert terrain on the Sweetwater-forum, so if you are able to read German check it out (it is pretty picture heavy, so you can follow it easily in any case).

This tutorial will also come in handy if you want to learn how to create basic groundwork, flexible or not. This technique can be applied to a small base or an entire terrain board.

Per usual I will give an overview of the materials you need, followed by detailed step-by-step instructions and finally some ‘action’ shots showing off the piece’s flexibility.

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Miniature painting, wargaming terrain creation and more