“Things are getting strange, I’m Starting To Worry, This could be a Case for Mulder and Scully …” (Catatonia)
On the distractions or gaming riches of binge watching box sets during Lockdown …
What series or TV programmes distract from or inspire your gaming scenarios?
Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blogposts
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog 14th March 2021:
Celebrate an amazing woman Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low (1860-1927) and the Girl Scouts of America that she founded on this day in Savannah, Georgia, 12th March 1912
Crossposted from our ongoing Tabletop Scouting Wide Games (and Snowball Fights) Project blog. This was set up by me (Mark Man of TIN) and Alan (Duchy of Tradgardland) Gruber before the Woking Little Wars Revisited Games Day 54mm last March 2020:
Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN, March 12th 2021.
My final entry for the FEMBruary female figure painting challenge are these fine new plastic 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures. They reminded me of the Revolutionary female figures in a favourite Morecambe and Wise film from childhood, The Magnificent Two (1967).
Read more from these two posts from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog:
Blog cross-posted by Mark Man of TIN, 5 March 2021
Alan Tradgardland Gruber’s post on Skirmish Kokoda Trail rules from Lone Warrior magazine reminded me of a failed experiment of mine last summer.
Maths was never one of my strongpoints.
I have often found that drawing hexagons that interlink well is not easy either.
I found this out about twenty years ago trying to plan some hexes to make a D & D style random terrain jungle path to suit Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars forest skirmish rules in the Appendix to his first War Games book (1962).
These simple rules call for impenetrable forests and dead ends to paths etc. as Natives track down Troops in the cluttered terrain on the tabletop terrain, mostly collected from the garden.
I discovered some interesting things.
Hexagons are not Octagons.
One of them has six sides.
I noticed too late that the toffee tin castle lid that I found at home, my sure-fire way to mark out rough draft cardboard hexagons, had on closer examination eight sides.
I was happily looking through the photo archive of original and DIY versions of Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol minigame (2000) on Board Games Geek. The game was reissued in a different form in 2016 and here is also a useful Skip the Rule book on YouTube video on the rules and tile placing in the 2016 re-release.
This difference between hexagons and octagons eventually explained why, as I tried to produce rough cardboard copy DIY version of the original tiles for Lost Patrol, that some curved path tiles and the ‘start’ clearing tile of six paths did not work for me. They did not copy across for some reason. It was admittedly quite late in the evening that I was roughing this out.
I wondered why it didn’t work.
One of my family pointed out that my cardboard tiles did not tessellate properly without square inserts. Hexagons should fit snugly together without gaps.
Featherstone’s Close Wars Appendix to his 1962 War Games that inspired my first hex attempts on tiny paper c. 1999 / 2000.
Maybe I would find the answer looking at my tiny flimsy paper hex versions from the year 2000?
Putting numbers on the paper hex tile edges meant that using a d6 dice roll could help to place the tiles for solo play at random. Throw one d6 for the connecting tile edge, another d6 for which of the newest tile sides is connected. And so your path randomly grows before the game or as you travel … d6 dice roll by d6 dice roll.
Fast forward to 2020: Late one evening a few weeks ago I decided to have another go at a random forest path of larger hex tiles.
I had been looking at the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group on Facebook post on this attractive 3D DIY terrain hexes for Lost Patrol by Raymond Usher.
Obviously the attractive 3D terrain modelling would be more difficult to store than the original design of flat tiles but they looked very impressive.
Raymond Usher’s solo play ideas are very interesting including the random tile choosing tokens.
The interesting concealed enemy (originally ‘lurkers’) have the advantage that they can cross the jungle across country from tile to tile whereas troops need to stay on the paths, which are surrounded by impenetrable jungle forest.
The jungle grows around the troops and can even encircle them. Apparently it is very hard to survive and win in the original Lost Patrol game as the Marines.
The Lost Patrol type hex or octagon path could be easily adapted back from fantasy and futuristic sci-fi of “aliens and lurkers” back to other jungle encounters in colonial times, ImagiNations, Victorian and Interwar explorers or modern / WW2 jungle forces. This malicious forest has a strong fairy or folk tale feel to it.
The Original Lost Patrol rules by Jake Thornton 2000
Hulkskulker has posted the older unavailable Games Workshop rules for Lost Patrol (2000 version) online at the Trove.net – Copyright still belongs to Games Workshop https://thetrove.net/Books/Warhammer/40000/Tabletop/Dataslates%20&%20Supplements/Lost%20Patrol.pdf
Useful starter rules from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol 2000 version game design / rules by Jake Thornton – reprinted by Hulkskulker on Trove.net
Looking at Board Game Geek, now that the GW 2000 Lost Patrol original is no longer available at sensible prices, there are lots of interesting DIY variations that people have posted including using hex tiles from other games like this urban warfare futuristic game.
The Octagon and Hexagon thing aside, these tiles were ‘doodle relaxing’ to draw up as rough tile copies. They could hopefully pass for alien forests or earth jungles.
The original Lost Patrol had ensnaring Tangleweed tiles that you had to dice to escape from. I used ridged garden wire to create my own renamed ‘Snarewort’ tiles.
In the original 2000 Lost Patrol, lurking forces of spirits of the forest were represented by card markers, an idea which could be cheaply and easily adapted such as card markers for the forest Natives in Close Wars / French Indian Wars. Forest spirits? Spirit warriors or ghost soldiers (Thanks, Wargaming Pastor / Death Zapp! ) are another possibility. That’s why your troops should never camp on the old Indian burial ground …
The route out or victory and end condition for the troops is to make it to the crashed dropship and retrieve documents. They do not have to fight their way back anywhere in the original. Presumably they get zoomed somehow out of the situation.
Again the lure or target such as the ‘drop ship’ plans could be adapted to period – a rescue mission, rescuing plans or vital maps and secret documents from a lost wagon or appropriate era vehicle. Explorer figures would have to find the Jungle Temple artefact Indiana Jones style etc.
Like the random path, where will this idea go?
Who knows? I could add or insert 3D jungle elements to the square spacer tiles but again this is a challenge for storage.
First off, I will explore Raymond Usher’s solo wrgaming ideas, read through the original and simplify it to my level.
If it doesn’t work it has cost only cardboard, paint, some ink and some time. I will have relearnt again some basic geometry. Hexagons. octagons. One of these has six sides.
Watch this space.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN August 2020 / 12 February 2021
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
The Lost Patrol is also a 1934 film which looks promising for games scenarios https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Patrol_(1934_film)
Quick plot summary from IMDB, which also has some dramatic and stylish film posters for The Lost Patrol: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025423/
A World War I British Army patrol is crossing the Mesopotomian desert when their commanding officer, the only one who knows their destination [and mission] is killed by the bullet of unseen bandits. The patrol’s sergeant keeps them heading north on the assumption that they will hit their brigade. They stop for the night at an oasis and awake the next morning to find their horses stolen, their sentry dead, the oasis surrounded and survival difficult.
Four bags of online pound store joy amongst the presents under the Christmas tree.
Q. Why are these the perfect toy soldiers for Christmas?
Look carefully for the answer or find out at:
All this for a pound coin … joy!
Blog cross posted from Pound Store Plastic Warriors by Mark Man of TIN, 29 December 2020
The latest addition to my Spanish Armada 54mm Operation Sealion type invasion scenario Arma-Dad’s Army are the feared Spaniards themselves.
Having converted some suitable cheap plastic knights into an Elizabethan militia rabble called a Muster, not as well equipped (‘furnished’) as the Trained Bands, I thought it time to complete some of their opponents.
These figures are 54mm Chintoys Conquistadors, an unfinished unpainted project kindly gifted by Alan Tradgardland Gruber.
For some ideas of colouring, I checked Blandford’s trusty Warriors and Weapons of Ancient Times, Funcken and eventually some old Ospreys on the Conquistadors and the Spanish Armada. The Spanish troops did not have our modern conception of a uniform.
I struggled to decide how to paint the Spaniards – motley colourful or more uniform?
In Osprey 101 Conquistadors there is an interesting quote from The Broken Spears (the Aztec account of the Spanish invasion) describing Spanish cavalry:
“There were about fifteen of these people, some with blue jackets, others with red, others with black or green, and still others with jackets of a soiled colour, very ugly, like our ichtilmatli [cloak made from the fibres of the maguey cactus]. There were also a few without jackets. On their heads they wore red kerchiefs or bonnets of fine scarlet colour …” (p. 12)
“The clothing was colourful, red being an especially popular colour, and feathers were often worn in the hats.” (p. 12)
Osprey Elite 15: The Spanish Armada – “It has already been noted that the Spanish frowned upon uniformity of dress as bad for a soldier’s morale, but the circumstances of English military service led to a more advanced attitude … The counties had no fixed regulations for outfitting their militia.” (P. 51)
“Uniform colours were not adhered to, as individuality in clothing was thought to inspire soldiers to valour and pride in themselves. The red cross of St Andrew and a red scarf or sash were worn as identifying marks of the Spanish service.” (P.9)
The front cover plate by Richard Hook of Spanish command figures shows an intriguing black clad light pikeman from Plate K1 “This unarmoured pikemen comes from the ‘tercio of the sextons’ who were famous for their sombre dress.” (Osprey Spanish Armada p.62)
“The nicknames given to the Spanish tercios in the Netherlands – the ‘ tercio of the [beribboned] dandies ” , “ the sextons ‘ and so on – reflect a sense of pride and corporate solidarity.” From The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567-1659 by Geoffrey Parker, John Elliott, Olsen Hufton (2004) .”
Motley, red or black … a colour scheme is slowly emerging.
Overall the Tudor British colours were originally white and green but steadily blue coats became more standard for the English, “guarded” by edging stripes of their unit colours.
Taking the dominant Spanish red colour, this avoids a motley painting nightmare of coloured stripes and varied uniforms.
Army Red on Army Blue at 54mm scale? How very H.G. Wells and Little Wars. All the more reason to keep the toy soldier style of painting shiny!
The solution was found on Barney Brown’s Herald Toys website:
I really liked the black, red and silver colour scheme with leather brown. This was it, dark colours, the black and red diabolical colours of flames. I have painted them as fearsome as the Cornish might have seen or talked of them.
From Osprey, Elite 15 – The Spanish Armada:
“As for the common soldiers and people of England, they had been brought up on stories of Spanish cruelties against the Dutch. They had heard how the people of Naarden had been massacred, and that the garrison of Haarlem had been executed despite having surrendered on good terms. They also knew that as a result the people of Leiden had starved rather than surrender to the Spanish; and that the Citizens of Oudewater had set their own Town in fire rather than let the enemy enter.”
“The people of London knew that 8,000 citizens had been killed and 1,000 houses destroyed when the ‘Spanish Fury‘ had burst upon the great city of Antwerp. With the pamphleteers telling them that the Armada was loaded with Jesuits and instruments of torture, it seemed that the coming battle would be to save not only their Protestant faith, but their very lives.” (Page 55)
(At this point to offset this Protestant propaganda, I feel I should point out that some of my best friends growing up were / are Catholics.)
They are painted in shiny toy soldier style (including pink cheek dot) using Revell Aquacolor Acrylics (gloss and matt) and then spray varnished in gloss. I want them to have look of factory painted shiny Britain’s straight out of a red box lead hollowcast figures. Bases are 2p mdf bases from Warbases.
Off the painting table, waiting for the varnish to dry. Red, black and shiny.
The Chintoys Conquistador Set 1 figures have a variety of weapons of the time, there are 8 poses in the set.
The figure poses from the Chintoys bag header or graphic insert
Reading the Osprey books I began to recognise some details of the uniforms and weapons. Each figure carries a light sword.
1. The Swordsman with the sash and Combed Morion
The strangely pointy helmet of the combed or Spanish Morion was not just worn by stereotype Spaniards. He also has a breastplate or cuirass. The stuffed breeches apparently gave some protection against sword cuts.
2. The Crossbow figure
The flat cap and slashed or pinked jacket to show different colours shout “Tudor” to me. If only such recast heads with these hats existed or were easily available.
In the conditions of South America, bow cords soon wore out and the winding cranequin and working parts rusted so they were steadily less serviceabl. Even still crossbow bolts could easily pierce the cotton padded body armour of the native warriors. Slow to reset though. Not so good in the rain either. A sword is also carried, just in case!
3. Arquebus figure – firing
Again, an obvious codpiece and stuffed breeches. This shorter weapon (a caliver or arquebus?) require no musket rest. In the humid jungles and mountains of South America, these weapons became rusted and less serviceable.
4. Arquebus or musket figure – standing
Note: The musket style rest and leather strap with powder charges – a bandolier of boxes. Again, an obvious codpiece and stuffed breeches. A plainer Morion helmet is worn.
Awrquebus, Caliver or Musket?
Before anyone objects to my firearms ID, both the Osprey Spanish Armada and the Wikipedia entry on the caliver and arquebus say that the distinction between these and the ‘musket‘ are not clear and definitive. It partly depends on size.
Whilst the Conquistador figures are c. 1520s-1540s and in their Armada roles I am using them for the 1580s-90s, both armour and dress styles were in slow transition. These figures are from an age where the bow and crossbow are slowly and steadily being replaced by the arquebus and musket as easier to learn for unskilled troops. The Cornwall or local Muster of untrained, ‘unfurnished’ troops and even the Trained Bands in 1588 in many areas still had a fair complement of bowmen and polearms, which by the late 1590s Armada invasion scares were steadily being replaced by ‘pike and shot’.
In this way I can mix in some later English Civil War figures of musketeers, ensigns and pikemen to represent the most well equipped Trained Bands. The minimal pike armour of helmet, breastplate or corselet and tasset thigh guards are relatively unchanged 50 to 60 years later.
5. Swordsman with round buckler shield
This sword and buckler (shield) man wears a burgonet helmet with slight swept back peak or crest. As well as a corselet backplate and breastplate armour he also wear tassels or thigh armour plates.
6. Swordsman with heart shaped shield
He wears a cabacete helmet with swept back metal crest. He also wears the cotton or maguey Caruso fibre quilted padded jacket in place of plate armour, similar to the native tlahuiztli body armour of Aztecs and Mixtec seen on some warriors here and in the Osprey Elite Conquistadors book.
The Spanish plate armour apparently went rusty in the tropic heat of South America, despite being painted black, and was heavy and hot to wear. No surprise the Spanish went native in their body armour, sandal footwear and lack of hose.
The unusual heart shaped shield is made of hide and is called an adarga.
7. Halberd Man
The halberd with red tassel – the sign of a sergeant in British Trained Bands and soldiers. Note the obvious codpiece. In the Osprey Armada book cover, the Spanish officer carries a fancy halberd – a sign of rank, rather than common polearm?
8. Spear Man
In place of a jack (jacket of jerkin) or breastplate, he wears a padded quilted cotton jacket based on the Aztec / Mixtec body armour (see No. 6). He also wears a simple sallet type helmet.
I enjoyed painting these, once I had settled on an impressive if unhistorical colour scheme. The Mixtec / Aztecs from Alan Gruber are already half painted in unhistorical generic South American tribe colours, again shiny toy soldier style.
Elizabethan figures in 54mm are quite scarce. Recast or replacement Tudor or Elizabethan heads are not easy to find.
Although the Chintoys figures appear expensive at £2 to £3 each, expensive to someone who mostly works with cheap plastic poundstore figures, Chintoys figures are good unusual figures to add character in amongst cheaper converted alternatives. This obviously dilutes the overall cost of building up skirmish forces for the Armada and South America.
To further dilute the cost, I have a few bags of seaside cheap Hing Fat / China made pirate figures of a later century can also stand in for Armada seamen and landing parties with their swords and primitive firearms. I also have a handful of some Safari Toob Jamestown settlers (1607) sailor and civilian figures to mix in.
I didn’t realise that Chintoys made a second Conquistador set which have now been bought from a U.K. Dealer and stored away for Christmas as Spanish and English reinforcements and character figures. The Chintoys Spanish warriors is already in the family presents box.
Set CHT012 has eight good individual figures or characters and their varied weapons, figures could be either Spanish or English. The Chintoys Spanish Warriors set CHT024 appear to be in slightly earlier 16th century costume and armour but still have a crossbow and primitive firearm.
Although I balk at paying £20+ for eight admittedly good figures, the price is diluted by padding out the skirmish forces with Pound Store and cheap plastic knights and pirates.
Here is one such weird Greco- Roman cheap plastic knight with stuffed Tudor style breeches converted with kitchen roll and PVA glue hair into a fierce and furious Spanish raider!
Pricey as they seem to an Airfix kid whose price boundaries are skewed or set by cheap plastic soldiers, the cost of Chintoys figures is put into perspective by the costly alternative of 54mm metal figures from Phoenix / S and D Elizabethan range or the effort to cast and convert the Prince August Spanish Armada homecast chess set.
Likewise my Mixtec Aztec Zapotec set of spare figures from Alan Gruber will be padded out or reinforced by select cheap plastic Wild West “Native American” Indians.
All great fun. Now what do Spanish Armada invasion barges and Tudor beach defences look like and can I make one or two such boats out of milk cartons?
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 31 October 2020
The conversion process is shown in simple stages on the painting table here on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog:
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
This one’s for Mr. Gruber!
More strange plastic tat penny figures lovingly painted and based in gloss toy soldier style.
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Soldiers blog:
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 23 August 2020