Thursday 31 October 2013


True Gods, they sleep,
Locked in their mountain of dreams.
They wait for the call, for the hunger.
They must be freed,
Drive out the Christian seed.
Lay waste; bring the storm and the thunder!

If I was King for a day,
This land would burn in the mystical flames!
Born through the fire,
The Old Gods would reign!
If I was King for a day!

King For A Day, From "The Once and Future king, Part I" words and music by Gary Hughes

Another slight foray into the mystical side of Arthurian wargames, here is Merlin, or, if you prefer, Myrrdin. Although his advice to Arthur was invaluable, it's well worth remembering Merlin (or Myrrdin!) had an agenda of his own, and only helped Arthur because it suited his ends.

 I hate churches, me...

As such, he's another potential source of randomness or downright anarchy in a game of Dux Brit, along with Nimue, either together or separately.

This is a Harlequin Miniatures model from their Lord of the Rings Legends of the Realm range, designed to represent someone who might look a bit like Radagast the Brown. I bought it through Black Tree Design when they owned these moulds. They are nice figures, but I'm not sure if that part of the Harlequin range is on the market any more. This is unfortunate, as they really were lovely figures.

I altered him a little, changing the leggings and high boots for a long robe, and removed the top of the staff. On Gary Hughes's albums, Bob Catley, formerly of Magnum, takes the vocal role of Merlin. Add a beard and he's even more convincing!

Finally, here are Merlin and Nimue, together. If each one was trouble on their own, just imagine how messy things could get with BOTH of them meddling?

Here's trouble...

Think about the way you feel tonight,
Does the fire inside you still burn bright?
Find a way somehow to believe enough to fight,
Feel the cold caress of steel tonight.
Will you find the strength to face the light?
Did it take `till now to believe enough to fight?

I will return the gods to Britain!
This fire will burn,
I pledge my soul.
I will return the gods to Britain!
This tide will turn,
This ancient land.
Believe Enough To Fight, From "The Once and Future king, Part II" words and music by Gary Hughes

I will return the gods to Britain!

Merry meet again!

Thursday 24 October 2013

Fields of Crops, Quick and Cheap!

Want some very quick terrain? Try this.

Get a coir fibre mat to represent growing crops (cereals, mostly). I bought a short pile (20mm) version from my local “if we don’t sell it, you probably don’t need it” farmers’ stores, for the princely cost of about four quid.

Then you cut it into appropriately sized rectangles with a big knife.

And that’s it.

I suppose I should wipe my feet!

If you want a bit more, a simple variation is to cut out a section in the middle of the piece, so that it looks like any troops in the field are standing in the crops, not floating in mid air. A word of advice. Trim a piece off each side of the inner piece. That way it's easy to get in and out. The off-cuts could be used to make narrow, but (in my opinion) totally unconvincing hedges.

Dense enough to hide in - but is it realistic?

There’s a school of thought that says that coir matting doesn’t look like a cereal crop field, and I can see why, especially if you just do the above - cut off lumps of it and plop it down on the table. So, invest a fraction of the time it would take to make another terrain piece and ginger it up a bit!

The colour tends to be a bit dark, but I’ve seen plenty of old, weathered barley crops that look that colour, and if it’s a big deal there’s always drybrushing.

Another argument is that as it is, it’s too dense. I got around this by carefully setting my table saw to cut less than the depth of the pile of the mat, then running the section through to produce parallel rows of stalks. This took a long time, as the single-kerf blade took several passes to cut each row. Norm Abram’s stack head dado cutter would have done it in no time! Oh, and the mess it creates is breathtaking! Then, trim it short around the edges, and add a bit of flock/static grass/clump foliage there, to represent the weedy bits on the headlands of fields. Lovely!

Miles more authentic, this one!

Here's the same piece, with the centre cut out.

Take a stand in the middle of a field!

Here's a close up. These ruffians are the first btach of Pictish raiders, with an armoured noble to try to keep some semblance of order among them. Good luck with that...

Right lads, here we go...

Merry meet again!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Building A Gaming Table

There have been a few discussions over on Lead Adventurer’s Forum about building gaming tables. Much as I would love to have a dedicated table, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of that happening, so I need something portable, collapsible and because it's me, cheap.

I went with 9mm MDF – reasonably light, and inexpensive. The sheet cost £15, and B&Q cut it into quarters more me on their big saw. I could have cut it myself, but to be honest how am I going to get a 8’x4’ sheet home intact in a Ford Ka!

 So, I’m left with four pieces of MDF, each 4’x2’, that are reasonably easy to handle and store and also drop nicely onto my dining table to make a 6’x4’ surface. Now, MDF will warp, especially when you lean it against the wall to store it. 

Sheet material in easy-to-handle bits.

So, to prevent this, I added a timber framework. I bought several lengths of 25mm square PSE (planed square edge) timber. I took my time and picked out a selection that were straight, had nice clean grain and were as knot-free as possible. Despite this, even with sharp tools it spelched like hell when it was cut and drilled - horrible stuff!

Ready for a frame up

I cut the pieces to length, and added them to the sheets. Two long pieces, and then once these had dried, four shorter cross members. The timber was glued to the MDF with Gorilla Glue and clamped.

Basic joinery.

I reinforced the joints with brads (probably unnecessarily), toenailing them in. The pencil mark is a guide.

Nail 'em up, I say!

The cross members were fixed to the long pieces with screws. I used these drywall screws, because the application doesn’t need to be over-sturdy, they’re nice and thin (and so less likely to split the end grain), I had about 500 of them lying around and I’m too tight-fisted to buy anything else!

Does the job!

The final step was to drill a set of holes into the long cross members. These were carefully measured and positioned, so they line up neatly. This allows me to put a small bolt into place to hold all three pieces together once they’re in situ.


This is probably overkill if I use the sections on my dining table, but if I’m using (say) a set of trestles or sawhorses, it might be very helpful.

M6 Coach bolts do the job!

Just to prove it lines up, here's a shot of the working surface with the bolts in place.

Flat as you like!

Total cost, under £28, and it can all be done with hand tools. Power tools make it quicker and easier but aren’t actually a requirement here. The work took about four hours in total, in four short bursts of an hour or so each.

As far as it goes, this is the end of the "build" as such. I'm not going to bother colouring the surface or adding any detail. No matter what I do in that way it isn't going to be universally applicable, and in the interest of "future proofing" the project, it's isn't worth trying. I can make up a playing surface using felt, card or even fleece blanket in suitable colours for different environments, and store these separately. It's easier (for me at least) just to have a flat surface I can move and store easily, and keep the terrain and environment as add-ons. Of course if you wanted, a coat of suitable paint would be an ideal starting point. Just remember to prime your MDF with PVA first, unless you have a bottomless paint pot!

Merry meet again!

Thursday 3 October 2013

One Hundred Followers!

I've got 100 followers! I never thought there would be 100 people interested enough to come and read what I'm writing, never mind come back regularly enough to actually be followers!

I want extend my sincere thanks to everyone who reads and comments. Please keep coming back - I'm glad you are enjoying it!

Merry meet again.