Friday, 4 July 2014

Painting figures: Another experiment ... and some related thoughts

Since returning from our recent cruise I have been experimenting with the use of cheap acrylic craft paints to paint figures ... and I am very pleased with the results.

Other than the primer, the following figure was painted using nothing but acrylic craft paint.

I decided not to use Nut Brown India Ink to 'shade' the figure ... and I don't think the figure looks any the worse for it ... as the following comparison shows.

I am now thinking about using this simple technique to paint some more 20mm-scale figures.

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project ... and I began to come to the following conclusions.
  • I was going to have to 'bath-tub' the whole thing if I was ever going to be able to stop it becoming a monster ... and that was a compromise that I was unsure about making.
  • In order to stop the cost of the project from escalating to a level I could not justify, I was going to use as much of what I already had in terms of figures and vehicles rather than start from scratch.
In the end I decided that realistically I was unlikely to ever fulfil my dreams of a full-blown Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign, and that I had to rethink the whole thing.

At this point in my thinking I was reading through some of my old blog entries, particularly the play-test battles that I fought between Morschauserland and Eastland ... and it made me wonder if I should consider rejigging the whole thing along similar imagi-nation lines. The pluses in favour of this are:
  • I already have an imagi-world with suitable imagi-nations. (This would enable me to avoid the ethical conundrum I would otherwise have to face regarding whether or not to wargame the politically/racially-motivated excesses committed by both sides during the real war.)
  • I would not be restricted to using specific model vehicles, aircraft, ships, figures, and even uniforms for my imagi-world version of the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War. (I recently 'found' a large number of Spanish Civil War figures that I could use for smaller allied contingents and/or militia.)
  • I could use one or more of the sets of wargame rules that I already have to hand including:
The negatives are:
  • That I doubt that I could find a regular opponent to control one of the two sides ... but as most of my wargaming is done solo, this is not a major consideration.
  • That it might not be seen as 'proper' wargaming by some people within the hobby ... but I have been around long enough not to worry too much about what those sort of people think any more.
I am not fully committed to this course of action as yet ... but the more I think about it, the more attractive it becomes.


  1. I think you have a good idea. As to what others think, its your own hobby and kit. Feel free to do what you want. Most of my gamming is solo or with my son and if its not fun we do something else

  2. Bob,

    Have you considered a "virtual" opponent?

    I have several campaign ideas that exist solely in my imagination at present (the forces not being painted yet!), but I too lack regular opponents.

    I've thought that the only way I will get some of these off the ground is to use email & the internet for remote commanders.

    It's feasible to have either one or both sides controlled at the strategic level by someone at the other end of a telephone connection. Indeed you could argue that is MORE realistic from a C&C point of view.

    The killer to this idea is making it too grandiose as well as having players who do not send in orders; starting small with say 2x reliable remote friends may be the way forward.

    If you go down the Imaginations route you also bypass any of the "but my XYZ forces are much better/equipped with super heavy armour" etc arguments.


  3. If you are using the campaign as a means of generating battles, by far and away the easiest thing to do is a linked scenario format.

    I borrowed the campaign format from KISS Rommel to do Operation Bagration. It has enough variation and an element of strategic decision making to be interesting, but isn't overwhelming. It could also be played solo.

  4. Hi Bob,
    Why not use Matrix Gaming arguments to control the flow of the campaign. Then you, as umpire can roll the dice and the actions will align themselves in chronological order based on their merit.
    Back in my teaching days, my students loved using the Matrix format to test there understanding of events, vocabulary etc.


  5. Irishhighlander,

    Thanks for your comment. I have yet to make a definite decision ... but it does seem to be the best solution to my 'problem'.

    All the best,


  6. Neil Patterson,

    A virtual opponent? Not an idea that I had considered ... but one that I certainly will do now.

    Your point about imagi-nations reducing the 'but my troops and/or equipment were historically better' arguments is well made, and - again - not one that I had considered.

    All the best,


  7. Martin Rapier,

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    I have used linked scenarios to generate battles for a mini-campaign before, but I had not considered it for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project. I will have a look at the KISS campaign system to see if it might fit the bill.

    All the best,


  8. Brigadier Dundas (Don),

    What an excellent idea! It will mean that I will have to 'recruit' some players to present the necessary arguments ... but that might not be too difficult to do.

    All the best,


  9. I like the look of the newest figure.

    As for the campaign, something that allows you to use what you already have sounds more likely to result in games in the near future and reduces or at least delays the need to increase storage facilities. It also gives the best value per pound and time already spent.

    I should also note that I have played several enjoyable skype and google plus video conference games.

  10. Ross Mac,

    The latest painted figure looks a lot 'cleaner' than the inked one, and is the pattern that I intend to use in future.

    Using what I already have to hand makes a lot of sense ... and not just in terms of cost. You are spot on; I can get things started a lot quicker if I use stuff that I already have ... and I have loads of stuff in my wargames room and my shed.

    Using Skype or Viber (both of which I have) would make it possible to fight against a remote opponent ... just as long as the time difference between locations is not too great!

    All the best,


  11. You conundrums and dilemmas seem similar to those I have run into with my Latin Wars project (very much on 'hold' at the moment. This whole scheme was designed to be WW2 in a Latin American setting, and run pretty much as a solo campaign.

    One of my main difficulties - well, two really - is that, although I have plenty of equipment and figures - no problem there - so much more of it is German compared with the Allies (Gran Bolivaria and Pan-Andean People's Republic) that the latter would have very little chance. The other difficulty is that so little of it is 1941 materiel.

    If getting the campaign under way is difficult, I have found a series of one-off/pick-up/ play testing games is a good way to start. These become ante-bellum 'border clashes', or 'back history'. I believe that's how Tim Gow is tackling his Little Cold Wars project. The War of the Imperiasl Succession is beginning that way; and the series of early 'Jono's World' actions to play-test my one-brain cell rule set were set up as back history.

    The kind of thing suggested by Martin rapier is what I call a 'logical campaign', and is very handy as an introduction as well. But I don't think I would run an Operation Barbarossa that way.

    Speaking of which: if you can find a copy, check out the Command Decision campaign book 'Barbarossa 25'. I recommend it highly and unreservedly. Command Decision's vehicle scale is 1:5, but the whole campaign has been 'bathtubbed' by a further factor of 25. The campaign map reduces 25km hexes to 1 km (22" on the table) - everything is so scaled down, that Germany invades the Soviet Union with 1 Panzer Division and 3 infantry Divisions, plus ancillary services (the Gross Deutschland Division becomes the Klein Deutschland regiment...).

    I've never played the campaign myself, but the ideas ...

  12. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

    I suspect that this problem is by no means unique, especially amongst players who tend to fight most of their wargames solo. I like the sound of your Latin Wars project, but I can sympathise with the problems of balance. One wants to make the likelihood of a war breaking out realistic, but not to make one side so strong (or the other so weak) as to make the result a foregone conclusion.

    I have used the linked scenario system before to provide scenarios for some of my play-tests, and most have revolved around border skirmishes that develop into more full-blown fighting. It is how I envisage my campaign – when I ever manage to stage it – starting. Tension along the border leads to minor clashes, which in turn lead to heavier fighting, which then becomes a full-scale invasion/counter-attack. You are right, however, when you point out that this might not be the best way to run an Operation Barbarossa-like campaign.

    I do own a copy of BARBAROSSA 25 and have given serious consideration to using it as the basis of my campaign. I like the concepts that Frank Chadwick outlines in his designer notes, and I keep referring to them frequently whenever I do any work on my own Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.

    I am sure that I will get there in the end, and that the journey will be worth it in the long run.

    All the best,


  13. Bob
    Martin (above) also produced rather a good linked battles system for one of AGN's PzKorps called Race to Leningrad for the Spearhead Ruleset. It can be found in one or two guises online.

    I adapted the system for AGC's Drive on Smolensk and it can be found in The Journal Nr 78. Or I could let you have a copy if you don't have access to the Journal.

    It might be possible to adapt the system further to represent the whole of the Campaign, or at least its opening stages


  14. Rumblestrip,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I think that I have a copy of that issue of The Journal, but if I cannot find it I would very much appreciate a copy of that article.

    All the best,


  15. My project along these lines is still very back burner, but I am thinking similar to you. I was also thinking that it would be a good way to try out various other rule sets i have kicking around. My idea to get around the ugly parts of history was to set it in the Avalon Hill game Blitzkrieg, where Big Red fights Great Blue. As for long distance gaming, have you looked at VASSAL? The have a Memoir '44 module. My other thought would be to host a tournament style game online where a strategic map could be displayed and then people could volunteer to play out the battles and send back the results to campaign central. But then again I tend to get carried away.

  16. Sean,

    You seem to be a bit further along with your thinking than I am!

    The idea of 'Blue' vs. 'Red' is a bit too abstract for me, but I like the concept of using an existing map-based game.

    I have heard of VASSAL, but have never used it. I will investigate this possibility after COW as it sounds as if it has potential, especially in light of the MEMOIR '44 module.

    All the best,