Wednesday, 15 February 2012

On the Rocky Road to Dublin, one-two-three-four-five.

Well maybe not Dublin, but Castle Donington, to visit my old friends Rick and Ruth and help give their eldest son Saul a lesson in painting wargames miniatures, as well as show him how a wargame is played.

After a brief sojourn on the M6 car park, and only falling asleep once on the A50 (all hail the rumble strip!) I arrived mid morning and after a much needed cup of tea and being introduced to Saul's two younger brothers for the first time, we set to work in the garage painting Saul's five Space Ranger miniatures from EM-4

Now I have a soft spot for the Space Rangers, having picked up a box of them before EM-4 got hold of them.  They're very simple miniatures and a good alternative to the Games Workshop Space Marines.

Painting with the young padewan.
Saul had tried painting a couple of the figures already and had done well considering he'd had no instructions as to how best to paint miniatures.  I talked to him about caring for your brushes, how it's best to use different sized brushes depending on what you're painting and how it's best not to have too much paint on your brush and to paint it on thinly so as not to obscure the detail of the figure.  Saul picked things up really quickly, and his painting skills improved immensely.  I even showed him a little drybrushing and how it can add texture to a paint job.

He also had a very small selection of paints available, while I'd brought down my set of Inscribe Craft Acrylics, which I swear by these days as a much cheaper alternative to dedicated modelling paints (and to my mind, just as good)

After lunch we laid out a small skirmish terrain and I got out a few Victoriana/Steampunk figures and we had a game using Ganesha Games' Flying Lead.  I didn't bother with points or a proper warband, but just picked three figures each - two with guns, one with a melee weapon - and gave each side matching characteristics.  Unusually for Ganesha's games, the game dragged on and on and it seemed like no-one was able to get the upper hand.  Saul's figure shot my top-hatted adventurer, who Went To Ground, but both his other men failed to get a successful killing hit on him before he was able to recover.  My leader, a German swordsman called Colonel Gruber chased his figure all the way round the table, struggling to catch up with him and never quite landing a solid sword blow.  Saul's Gunfighter and my top-hatted adventurer traded pistol shots for a while at short range, missing every time, until I brought up my third short-sleeved villain to gang up on him.  Then on the turn we decided was to be the end of the game, Saul's Gunfighter scored a spectacular hit on Shirt Sleeves, nearly killing him outright and putting him Out Of The Fight.  Saul had won his first wargame!

Photo by Saul, as my top-hatted adventurer
has a nice lie down in the middle of the battle.
We talked for a bit about what other wargaming figures are available, and about Games Workshop.  Saul decided that he'd like to collect some Romans first, a good choice of a historical army.  I gave him a copy of Song Of Blades and Heroes as well as Flying Lead.

We then spent another hour or so finishing up the painting we'd been doing and I showed Saul how to texture a figure base with sand and flock, and how you can also use tea leaves. (Mummy and Daddy may now notice their stock of tea bags declining at an accelerated rate - such is the price of raising a wargamer!)  Another cheap-as-chips alternative to expensive modelling sand from GW is Wilco Bird Sand, which I use for most of my basing.

By the end of the day, Saul managed to get all five of his Space Ranger figures painted, with just a couple of bits and pieces here and there that needed finishing off.  One thing we didn't do was apply any Army Painter Quickshade.  That's because I didn't bring any with me, fearing the tin might burst open on the journey (having had that happen to me recently with another tin of stain/varnish.  I left it up to Saul and his dad whether they get the proper Army Painter Quickshade from my preferred supplier, or go for one of the almost as good but much cheaper alternatives.

It was dark by the time I left, and after falling asleep again on the A50, a service station coffee pepped me up enough to make it home safely.

All in all it was an enjoyable day and I hope it's set another potential wargamer on the road to the best hobby in the world.


  1. Very good for you, sir . . . EXCEPT for the falling asleep while driving, THAT is NOT GOOD.

    We want you to stay alive, sir.

    -- Jeff

    1. That's certainly the plan. Since I was made redundant, 99% of my driving has been five-minute trips through the suburbs, so I'm out of practice for the sort of long (by UK standards) haul journeys I used to laugh at.

      For future journeys I'll be packing a few sugar-free Red Bull for emergencies. :-)

  2. Cracking account, I feel like I was almost there :-)

    Thanks for coming down and spending some time with no.1, and it was good to see you again (this time under happier circumstances)

    He's not really spoken much about the melee, but was keen to hit the web after you'd left. I suspect you had a profound impact in him. (But hey, I didn't even know he had a girlfriend!!!)

    1. (sigh) the parents are always the last to know. ;-)