A Morning Skirmish

A Narrative Battle-report

the elves march
The elves march through the village

Early in the morning the pickets saw it – smoke. The group of volunteers had been mustered by the young elven noble Celendaer upon hearing of a band of orcs that had descended from the mountains and was raiding and plundering the hill-men of the souther slopes. Accompanied by these volunteers, a band of mounted retainers and his cousin Beleg he had marched north – eager for adventure and filled with altruistic righteousness.

The orcs have already burnt two barns

In any case, adventure would find them. The smoke was from two barns razed by mountain-orcs. At the same time the elves passed a nearby village, the orcs formed a crude battle-line, ready for battle. Either overconfident or filled with blood-lust, a band of orcs mounted on great wolves rushed ahead of their peers on their own initiative, ignoring their leaders orders.

This impetuous act left them unsupported by their peers

Seeing the approaching foe, the elves deployed into their own line, the cavalry moving to the right flank and the infantry forming up in the fields past the village. The green volunteers felt dread as they observed the approaching foe – these elves were for the most part untested youths, and the march north had felt more like an afternoon stroll and camping trip than a prelude to battle.

Poor cows

The wolf-riders were now far beyond earshot of their leader, and continued charging forwards on their own accord. They were now close – close enough to toss their javelins at their foes. These harmlessly bounced off the elven shield wall. The orcish infantry desperately tried to catch up to their reckless kinsmen.

The volunteers show their mettle

Seeing their foe in front of them and unwilling to sit and take further missiles, the elvish spears charged. This countercharge caught the orcs completely by surprise – their attempts to stem the onslaught by pelting them yet more missiles failed completely. They where caught, far from any support and too shocked to withdraw. The few that were not slain fled in disorder.

The orc foot was too late

The orcs were stunned to see the ease with which their riders dispatched – not a single elf had fallen! Rage filled their hearts, but mixed in with this rage was also fear – fear and doubt. The elves were surprised to see the ease with which they had defeated their first foe and were filled with confidence – in any case the main forces were now face to face – the battle was about to begin in earnest.

The forces meet

As the sun rose over the sides of the valley the lines crashed together. The orc warlord and his retinue joined one of the orc units and led them in a charge against the elven horse, hoping to avoid being charged themselves. This, however, meant that the other unit hesitated – remembering the fate that had just befallen their fellows, and instead received the elven infantries charge.

The duel between Beleg and the orc leader

The elven infantry surged forwards – still high on their previous victory, they fell upon the orcs with fury and utterly crushed them, driving the few survivors from the field. The elven horse, however, took a great deal of damage – while relatively few elves were killed, many were wounded or lost their horses. Beleg who had been leading the riders single-handedly turned the situation. Spotting the orc leader he challenged and slew him – splitting his unhelmeted head in twain.

the remaining orcs flee in disarray

With their leader slain and their right flank annihilated, the orcs broke and fled for their lives, back towards the mountains whence they came. With a great deal of their number wounded, the elvish horse did not pursue and the orcs, who were lightly armoured and had abandoned their weapons swiftly disappeared into the hills. The engagement was over: it was an overwhelming victory for the elves!

This battle was intended to introduce a friend of mine – commanding the elves – to wargaming in general and fantastic battles in specific. She had played a couple of games of age of Sigmar in the past, but did not have good memories of it – I suspect her foes where more focused on winning rather than teaching. That said she had expressed interest in my narrative campaign project, so I decided her first engagement should be an introduction to the rules.

As such the scenario was simple – her character was an altruist who had gathered a force upon hearing about the plundering of their human neighbours to the north. They had marched a day north and camped. On the following morning, upon spotting smoke, they advanced in column up the road.

As such the elves would start in this formation, with the orcs set up on the other side of the board. Terrain was kept simple – the farmhouses were impassable, the stream as well as the ground beyond it was rough ground and the hills were, well, hills. the rest of the terrain was purely decorative.

Despite my rotten luck as the orc player (my wargs impetuously advancing after deployment to beyond my command range, and then advancing again) it was great for teaching the command mechanics and the importance of command range! We both had a great time, and i’m looking forwards to the next battle.

Dwarf Merchant

So, last year I kickstarted some figures from Red Bard Games, among them this brilliant figure of a Dwarf Merchant on his… well, it’s not really a cart, let us say mount. This figure is very very charming, and chock full of lovely detail. I’m very impressed with it, and I am looking forward to painting more of these figures… Next will probably be the ogre bodyguard.

Thoughts on terrain

So, I’m planning a warhammer sixth edition war bands campaign for when I will be able to meet people again, and have been thinking about how I will solve the issue of terrain.

Now, I’ve been watching Littlewars tv on youtube since they started posting videos, and they seem to have a rather intelligent solution to the issue of terrain – fabric over foam blocks for elevation, which allows them to pin terrain through it onto the foam below.

So, I’ve taken stock of what I need for the campaign, assuming I’d be able to have two games running parallel to each other (I’ll be using a card-system also stolen from little wars tv). The maximum amount of terrain I would need is:

  • Two forests;
  • Two hills with cliff;
  • Two areas of rough thorny thistles;
  • Two areas of boulders;
  • Two ruins;
  • Two fallen pillars/monoliths/statues;
  • Two sets of three drystone walls;
  • Two rocky crags/ridges.

I think that should be doable, which of course is famous last words.

Regiment of 30 night goblins and how I base my 28 mm miniatures.

So, I recently finished a unit of 30 night goblins I’ve been working on and off on for the last two years. Originally I planned on multi basing them for KoW, but I decided that it was better to base them individually so I could use them for more game systems.

Led by Buddy and his assistant Buddy

Some of my friends, as well as a couple of people on different fora, have asked me how I do my basing, so I decided to make a little tutorial of sorts.

Step 1

First I paint the bases with zhandri dust. The coat does not need to be fully opaque or even.

step 2

Then I glue on larger rocks or debris. If I have painted any other kinds of detail to have on the base, this is when I add it. This allows me to pile on the dirt to make it look like it sits in the ground rather then awkwardly on top of it.


Next I add my dirt. This is dirt from a small wood where people often motocross. This means the muddy areas become a fine sandy dirt when dry, and it absorbs liquid amazingly well. I sift it, and keep the larger rocks to decorate bases… like here. This is just a first layer, I put down a thickish (only slightly watered down) layer of pva and dip the base in the dirt, shaking of excess. The coverage here does not need to be perfect – we will add more. On every stage with he dirt I clean off the dirt from places I don’t want it with a damp brush.

step 4

Now is one of the more fun steps – I have a little container with very watered down pva glue, another with the sifted dirt, and I sprinkle more on to places where I want more dirt. I try to make details such as rocks look like they sit in the ground, and I try to make interesting small variations in the elevation rather than a flat layer.
I see now that in this example I buried one of the goblins right foot. Oh well, you can clean excess dirt off with a damp brush but since these are lovely back-rank night goblins I don’t really care. It won’t be visible when gaming anyway. Leave this to dry overnight.

step 5

now I add some of my homemade flock here and there. This is simply sifted sawdust painted with cheap craft acrylics. I try to vary where I put it, and make it look random and natural. I catch myself flocking the front left and back right of bases too often, it takes a little bit of effort to not make it look to planned.

Step 6

Finally I add static grass, tufts and clump foliage. I try to make sure all bases always have some point of interest – be that a large rock or interesting tuft – but I also try (and fail) to not make it too systematic and regular.

Finish the base off by painting the rim matte black.

How I paint my (rank and file) 28mm Orcs skin.

Step 1:

Basecoat all of the skin with a nice desaturated green. I currently use army painters army green, but this works fine with an olive green as well (I’m considering getting some other greens in order to vary the skin tone on my orcs).

You may notice that I use xenithal priming – this is entirely optional, I do it because I feel it makes it easier to see details, not because it has any effect on the colours themselves.

Step 2:

Now I give the skin two thinned down highlights with army painter camo green – This can easily be replaced by adding one part of an ivory colour to three parts of the base colour. I generally thin colours with liquitex matte medium and a bit of water, but really you could just use water.

Step three:

My final highlight is made by adding some more ivory to the skin tone – this time I used army painter drake tooth, but any ivory colour works fine. In this case I used 2 parts camo green to one part drake tooth.

Step four:

Next I glaze some additional colours onto the skin – generally I use a light flesh colour and magenta. I heavily recommend using some medium for this step, but water does work too. On characters I’ll often paint the whole thing using shades and glazes, but that takes too much time on rank and file figures – it is however great for adding some nice colour without changing the values too much.

In these cases I used three layers of each glaze, with a third on this specific model for the wound on his head. I add magenta to places with thin skin or in deep recesses, as well as any visible blood vessels (I guess my orcs have reddish or magenta blood), while I add the flesh tone to extremities that might have thick or worn skin, such as brows, chin, elbows and knees, knuckles and the palms of hands.

My first 10 mm orcs

So, as mentioned in the previous post, I’ve decided to start working on 10mm armies representing forces from the works of Tolkien.

Marching along the great road

These are my first ten stands of orcs – they will represent less disciplined orc forces, so rabble, war bands, maybe “wild” orcs. They are from Pendraken’s warband range – It will be interesting to see how the scale compares to figures from Eureka, Magister Millitum and Copplestone Castings, I suspect they are too big to pass as Snaga.

Our heroes advance upon their hapless foe

These were great fun to paint – Since they are just orcs, and there will be a lot of them on the board at any one time, I felt more comfortable experimenting and being bold with them. I played a lot with the citadel contrast range (I’m hoping these will make the elves a cinch to paint) – They are the first figures I’ve used them on.

Boldy retreating from scary Noldor

In the books, orc skin tones are described as “swarth” and “sallow”, so many of these orcs have dark skin or yellowish skin (made by using contrast flesh tones over yellow base coats). I have however also decided to, inspired by the movies, add some more exotic skin colours, like blue, green, red, pale and even purple. These have earned the figures the nickname “skittles orcs” by my friends.

Next I’m hoping to get started on some elvish foes for the orcs to face.

Making drystone walls for my 10mm wargaming miniatures

I have recently gotten into 10mm wargaming and invested in two forces (from pendraken’s warband range). I chose this scale for the following reasons:

  1. The figures are cheap. For a relatively low price (compared to larger scales) you can get a respectable force. Many of my friends are interested in wargaming, they are intimidated by the cost of, say, a Warhammer army. This way I can own several armies my friends can play with.
  2. Because of the smaller scale and less detail, I have an easier time speed painting them. I can crank out large forces of 10mm figures quickly (for me).
  3. I require far less table space for gaming, and this means I can easily carry anything I need with me.

My first terrain project has been drystone field walls, mainly inspired by my travels in northern Portugal.

Step one:

I started by cutting out a series of bases for the walls out of an old egg carton. I painted the underside black and the top side brown – cheap craft paints are best for this, no point wasting expensive paints. I varied the length of these walls, with the smallest being 5cm long and the longest 12cm. The edges are cut into points, so that I can but them up against each other in any angle I like, eliminating the need for corner pieces.

Painted bases

Step two:

Next I started making the actual walls. To do this I used thin brush on superglue. Little by little I glued small rocks (more like gravel) onto the base, using tweezers. This is time consuming and fiddly, but I find it oddly relaxing, and I find the result looks good. I like to vary the size of the gravel used, and adding small pebbles.

One way of saving time and adding some colour is to have part of the wall be hedges. To do this I simply glued on some clump foliage here and there to break up the stonework.

In order to make the rather flimsy egg carton card straight and not bowed, keep the areas not yet worked on weighed down.

I’m using the flock box to keep the card flat

Step three:

So, my next step was adding ground cover. First I gave the exposed card a thick layer of PVA glue, and then a layer of my ground covering – dirt from the garden that had been sterilised in the oven and sieved.

When this is dry, I added my homemade flock and I cut pieces off gamer grass tufts. To seal it I sprayed on a mixture of pva glue, a drop of dish soap and water.

A completed wall with a 10mm Pendraken goblin for scale

In my next post I’ll write about adding fun details to vary the walls.

Bocksten Inspired Tunic, part 1.

Creating the pattern

So, the first task is making the pattern in pattern paper. I based some of the measurements on the book “How to Make your own Medieval Clothing: Basic Garments for Men” by Wolf Zerkowski and Rolf Fuhrmann, which is an excellent and not too expensive book I recommend to anyone interested in medieval clothing.

I measured the length of my arms from the top of the shoulder, my height, the circumference the thickest part of my torso (unfortunately my belly), the circumference of my chest, the circumference of my upper arms and wrists and the length from my shoulder to where I wanted the tunic to go. I made some modifications to the Bocksten design based imagery from the late 14th century.

The first part I made was the torso. The Bocksten torso is made up of two pieces, rectangular, attached at the shoulders (with a hole for the head, of course) and at the upper waist. It seemed to me that it, unlike modern garments, got narrower at the arms.

I have seen similar things in other reconstructions and, more importantly, I have interpreted similar things in depictions and sculptures. I decided to try to reflect this on the tunic. I want to not, however, that my solution is entirely speculative, and if you are following this as a guide, you may want to take it with a  grain of salt. This means that the top of the fabric is as wide as the top of my shoulders, but the rest is wide enough to get around my chest when sown together with the other side.

I also made the opening for the neck larger (but obviously not wider) for the front side, in order to better account for the shape of the human body. I also included a line where I would cut the fabric to insert a triangular piece of fabric (which I will refer to as a gusset) to extent it, starting at just under the navel. I never ended up cutting there, but the original is made in that way.

I made it reach down to blow my knees, and just wide enough for me at the chest.

The next parts I made were for the sleeves.

In my previous tunics or shirts, I always made my sleeves simple rectangles – the same width all the way through. This time, I decided to tailor it more (just like on the original), making it narrower around the wrists starting from just after the elbow. I measured the length from the top of my shoulder to my wrists.

Next, all that was left was the gussets. I decided to take a different approach for this. I chose an angle, around 40ยบ, and cut out a triangle to act as a guide, since I was not sure how long each would be.

Next time I’ll start cutting the fabric.