Conquistador Halberdiers and Pikemen – plus Pedro de Alvarado – for the Battle of Otumba

On July 20, 1520, Hernan Cortes and his Conquistadores found themselves at a significant historical juncture. They had been fighting the Aztecs in retrograde for weeks as they attempted to reach the safety of the lands of their Tlaxcalan allies. Every single one of the Spanish was wounded in some way or another – and they were exhausted from being pursued incessantly by the enraged Aztecs. Cortes and his men had been lucky to narrowly escape from the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan during La Noche Triste. The safety of the lands of their Tlaxcalan allies lay past a nearby mountain pass, just beyond reach.

The Aztecs, with vastly superior numbers, had managed to nearly surround the Spanish and deny them their route to safety. The Conquistadores now were desperately defending a rocky outcropping with pikemen, halberdiers, crossbowmen, and sword and buckler men. The Aztecs wanted nothing less than finishing off the hated Spanish – either by killing them outright or by taking them as captives for ritual sacrifice to their god of war, Huitzilopochtli.

Here, both sides would fight the Battle of Otumba, and the fates of both the Spanish Crown and the Aztec Empire were in the balance.

The Battle of Otumba

You can click on the links I shared above and learn more about the Battle of Otumba. It was a near-run battle – and Cortes and his men were truly in danger of being sent off to oblivion at the hands of the Aztecs. The short version is that Cortes recognized that the Aztec attacks on his position were being coordinated by banners and signalers – all led by the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, Matlatzincatl. Cortes left the infantry on the outcropping to gather together what little cavalry he still had left. Cortes then personally led a cavalry charge to take out Matlatzincatl – and succeeded. Supposedly, it was Cortes himself who was able to dispatch Matlatzincatl with his lance.

At this point, the Aztecs had never before seen nor fought against a cavalry charge. It was indeed one of epic shock and awe. After the death of Matlatzincatl and his signalers, the Aztec attack broke up for wont of command and control, and Cortes and his men were able to make it to safety. This would allow them to regroup, get reinforced, and eventually destroy the Aztec Empire. Therefore, this was probably one of the Aztec’s last and best chance to annihilate the Spanish. By failing to do so – though many more battles would be fought – the seeds of the ultimate demise of the Aztec Empire were irrevocably sown.

As one of my scenarios for my games of Feudal PatrolTM  using my supplement for Civilizations Collide, I have designed a gaming scenario for the Battle of Otumba. It is a skirmish-type scenario but one that will hopefully evoke the spirit of the battle. For the Conquistadores, I already have adequate cavalry figures for Cortes’ charge. As discussed, from my research it appears that the Spanish took up their defensive position on the rocky hillock using pikemen and halberdiers almost in an infantry square. As I only had one pikemen figure that had come from Eureka Miniatures as a war dog handler, that would be insufficient to say the least.

My digging around websites yielded me three sources that I drew upon to remedy this shortfall: Eureka Miniatures USA (4 halberdiers from #100CON03); Wargames Foundry via Badger Games in the US (2 halberdiers from two #SBO16 that were part of a couple of artillery gun crews); Gringo 40’s (UK) (8 pikemen from #CONQ4 and a Pedro de Alvarado figure.) All of these figures were 28mm scale and metal. This group would get me to where I wanted to be.

A side note about Pedro de Alvarado. He was a key lieutenant of Cortes and a prominent player in the Spanish Conquest. He was a redhead, which was a novelty to the Aztecs. He is remembered both for his skills as a soldier and especially for his cruelty and acts of mass murder on native peoples – both Aztec and Maya. However, he played a big role at many battles, including the Battle of Otumba, and as Gringo 40’s had his figure, I got him as well. As I always say, in the Spanish Conquest, there were few “good guys” on either side. History must be understood in the context of the period – and it was a brutal one.

Pedro de Alvarado

These figures arrived in December, and were definitely in my sights as submissions for  Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” painting challenge in addition to my war canoes and Aztec Serpent Statues.

I filed and washed the 15 figures in preparation for mounting for painting and priming. However, let me share a few notes. I liked all of the figures as far as the sculpts go. However, the Gringo 40’s pikemen were only available in one pose – which I ordered nonetheless as I figured that I could deal with via a painting plan (so they would look different enough from each other). These also had a pike included – but it was a soft metal pike that would not have survived a gaming session.

I replaced them with ones from North Star Military Figures cut to the same size as the originals. I have used these spears on other projects – notably my beloved Rooman Pikemen – and they are nice but VERY sharp (I recommend filing down the tips a bit or you and your players will have a hypodermic battlefield with real blood).

The Gringo 40’s also came with nice swords that I liked. Both the pikemen and the halberdiers needed a good deal of pin vise drilling to accommodate their weaponry. Alvarado came in two pieces but is a great sculpt. The Wargames Foundry figs were also two of the same – so more challenge for me to make their appearance dissimilar. The Eureka halberdiers were nice too.

After a nice scrubbing, all 15 ready to go forward to mounting for painting.
Mounted and primed.

One of the challenges I found was airbrush priming of the pikes, halberds, swords, and Alvarado’s sword (and hands). This was difficult due to their being easily moved by the air pressure. I broke out my holder rack to use – and it helped – though I did need to deal with subsequently painting the parts under the clips.

Holder rack.

After priming in white, I washed them all with a 50% thinned application of Citadel “Nuln Oil” as shown below.

I worked on the base coats by using an Excel sheet paint plan as I needed a lot of paints to make this work – especially for the pikemen. I did make use of several contrast paints here as well – but I used them in combination with other products to shade and highlight. When you are trying to give 8 different pikemen different beards/hair, tunics, leggings, etc., you do end up with a good number of permutations! As usual, I list of all the paints, inks, washes, etc. that I used at the end of this post if that sort of thing interests you.

Finally all of the figures here are painted, shaded, and highlighted – they still needed flocking and varnishing as you see.
I flocked the bases first with PVA glue and Army Painter “Brown Battlefields”.
Then I added pigments to the bases and fixed with thinner, and let them dry.
Once dry, I dry brushed them with three brown/tan tones, then applied matte varnish via airbrushing. This is the recipe I used for most of my figures for the Spanish Conquest.

After the varnish dried, I added Army Painter “Grass Green” and 12mm jungle tufts from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures. I did add the tufts as they will help the bases blend with my rocky outcropping/hill I have for the battle – and I have found them to be the best tufts on the market.

I numbered my halberdiers CHB 1-6 and my pikemen are CPM 2-9. Alvarado is Alvarado! So, here they are as completed – first Pedro de Alvarado from Gringo 40’s:

Pedro de Alvarado

Next, the halberdiers. CHB1-4 are from Eureka, and CHB5 and 6 are the same figure from Wargames Foundry.

CHB1
CHB2
CHB3
CHB4
CHB5
CHB6
Group Halberdier Shot
Halberdiers completed and ready for action.

Lastly, here are the pikemen, CPM2-9. All are from Gringo 40’s and are the same sculpt – but hopefully I have varied them enough in color and appearance.

CPM2
CPM3
CPM4
CPM5
CPM6
CPM7
CPM8
CPM9
Pikemen Group Shot
All 15 of these Conquistadores
You can almost here them yell their rallying cry, “¡Santiago!”

I am looking forward to their upcoming game at TotalCon36 in Marlborough, Massachusetts on February 27th. I am also running two other Spanish Conquest games there on Thursday, February 24 (Surprise Raid on the Aztec Outpost) and Saturday February 26 (Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt), as well as a What a Tanker game (France 1940) on Friday. Slots for all are still available – come on down!

I now have painted 92 Conquistador, 32 Tlaxcalan, and 109 Aztec figures since I started this project. I still have more to go – specifically brigantines and cannons with crews, and a good-sized group of Maya. I hope that you found this rather lengthy post interesting. Yes or no, let me know and thanks for checking in.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE CONQUISTADOR FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Gorilla Glue Gel
  4. Poster tack
  5. North Star Military Figures 100mm wire spears
  6. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  10. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-white”
  11. Battlefront “Black”
  12. Vallejo “Thinner Medium”
  13. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  14. Vallejo Model Color “English Uniform”
  15. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  16. Citadel “Troll Slayer Orange”
  17. Citadel “The Fang”
  18. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  20. Vallejo Model Color “Brown Rose”
  21. Citadel “Runefang Steel”
  22. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  23. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  24. Vallejo Model Color “Vermilion”
  25. Citadel “Caliban Green”
  26. Vallejo Game Air “Sun Yellow”
  27. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  28. Vallejo Model Air “Brown”
  29. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  30. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  31. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  32. Vallejo Mecha Color “Grey Green”
  33. Vallejo Game Ink “Black Green”
  34. Secret Weapon Washes “Blue” (ink)
  35. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  36. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  37. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Blue”
  38. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Aethermatic Blue”
  39. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Shyish Purple”
  40. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Contrast Medium”
  41. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Magos Purple”
  42. Vallejo Game Ink “Violet”
  43. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  44. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  45. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  46. Hataka “Gris Blue Clair”
  47. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Ultramarines Blue”
  48. Vallejo “Glaze Medium”
  49. Citadel “Castellan Green”
  50. Battlefront “German Camo Orange Ochre”
  51. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  52. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
  53. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  54. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  55. Vallejo Model Air “Black – Metallic”
  56. Citadel “Waystone Green” (Technical)
  57. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  58. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  59. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  60. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  61. Army Painter “Red Tone” (shade)
  62. Citadel “XV-88”
  63. Army Painter “Green Tone” (shade)
  64. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade GLOSS” (shade)
  65. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (wash)
  66. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  67. Vallejo Game Ink “Green”
  68. P3 “Red” (ink)
  69. Vallejo Game Ink “Yellow”
  70. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  71. Battlefront “Flat Earth”
  72. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  73. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  74. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  75. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  76. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  77. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  78. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  79. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  80. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)
  81. Shadow’s Edge Miniatures 12mm “Jungle Tufts”

Aztec Serpent Statues

When it comes to building Aztec scenery in a city – I have found symmetry to be a very important consideration both in regards to your design scheme and placement of terrain pieces. Over the last couple of years, I also have found it difficult to find appropriate pieces that fit what I am attempting to build and are not either ruins or priced way too high to consider buying.

In December, I was speaking with Dave Stone of Wargames Sculptors Blog on Zoom (he is in the UK). I had wanted to have a chat with him and we set up something. I knew he had a hobby business, but really I thought he was interesting and someone I’d like to chat with over Zoom. We had a nice talk.

Over the time we spoke, the subject of war canoes came up – and Dave did have an African hollowed out canoe for purchase on his website. After we spoke, he was kind enough to cast one for me to see if it would work, and sadly it was too small. But, in his terrain pieces he did have “Aztec Style Serpent Statues” that looked pretty cool – so I ordered 4 – and Dave cast them up and kindly threw in the canoe (which you can see in my last post here).

The statues went for £6 each. They are resin, and scaled for 28mm gaming. I got the four in December, just in time for (ironically) Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” painting challenge (which you should join if interested). Why four – well, yes, this was for that symmetry I mentioned! I also got some LITKO 60mm bases for them as well as I thought they needed them – both for aesthetics and to reduce the chances that they’d get knocked over on the tabletop as they are pretty massive for resin pieces. I washed them and scrubbed them to prepare the statues for priming. They were excellent casts, with a few areas that needed some green stuff in a few bubble holes, but certainly much less than one might expect to find. One was a little lighter color than the other three, but that didn’t matter at all.

I decided that I needed to walk a fine line with these as they are supposed to be statues, and not giant monsters. They had bands on them that could be made of gold, as well as a “skull collection nook” on top that was very Aztec. So I tried to paint them such that they would have an Aztec color flair, but look like they’d fit in Tenochtitlan. I wanted to base them such that they would be centered and strongly affixed to their 60mm bases/plinths. Thus, I decided to make a template and drill out the bottoms for 4 screws.

The template, the model base, and the underside of the model. I used a 7/64″ drill bit and four #4 x 3/4″ screws in each base.

Then it was time to prime them. I went with an brushed application of Vallejo “German Green Brown” primer, then I followed that with an airbrushed layer of Vallejo “Dark Yellow”. After that, a good washing with Secret Weapon Washes “Sewer Water”. As usual, you can see the list of all the paints I used at the end of this post if that interests you.

Doubly primed, looking too much like somebody didn’t clean up after the dog!
After priming, a deep series of washes to get into the recesses.

Then it was time to get base colors onto the models. I went with a yellow theme and a red theme.

After heavy dry brushing. I liked the yellow but the red seemed too dark, so I used a lighter shade on a subsequent drybrush application.
A comparison of the lighter color on the right.

I proceeded to paint all the other aspects of the models – but I wanted to use inks to bring out the features on the serpents’ faces. For that, I use an off white and then add ink in layers.

Before the inks added.

I decided to do a test of possible inks for the heat sensors on the serpents’ heads.

Which green to pick? I chose the Secret Weapon Washes Green ink as it looked almost turquoise. The eyes would have reversed colors (red and yellow) as you see here.
Models all painted here – all I needed to do was add texture to the bases, dry brush that, and varnish!
Top view showing the “skull collection nook”.
View from the back.

I thought it would be useful to show the Aztec Serpent Models with some of the other tabletop figures and terrain I may use.

The four with an Aztec warrior to show scale.
With the Aztec Temple High Throne – my only wish is that the heads could have been mirrored for better symmetry…
…of course I could always do this with 4.
Two by the Sacrificial Altar
…or 4.

Lastly, I needed a way to store them for transport – and I had some extra space in my 32-liter Really Useful Box that I have my buildings in – so I modded up some poster board with hot glue and made a little cubby for them.

I’m pretty happy about these and I will be having them in my cityscape! Do you prefer the yellow or the red – let me know!

Thanks for checking these out.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE AZTEC SERPENT STATUE FIGURES:

  1. LITKO 60mm bases
  2. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  3. #4 x 3/4″ screws
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  6. Vallejo Surface Primer “Dark Yellow”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Secret Weapon Washes “Sewer Water” (wash)
  10. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”
  11. Americana “Primary Red”
  12. Army Painter “Light Tone” (wash)
  13. Citadel “Astorath Red”
  14. Army Painter “Red Tone” (wash)
  15. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  16. Citadel “Morghast Bone”
  17. Citadel “Waaagh! Flesh”
  18. P3 “Red Ink” (ink)
  19. Vallejo Game Ink “Yellow” (ink)
  20. Secret Weapon Washes “Green” (ink)
  21. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Ork Flesh”
  22. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  23. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  24. Citadel “Armageddon Dust” (texture)
  25. Vallejo Model Air “Gold”
  26. Secret Weapon Washes “Golden Brown” (wash)
  27. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  28. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  29. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  30. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  31. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Aztec War Canoes for the Spanish Conquest

During the 16th Century Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica, much of the combat occurred on and around the capital city of Tenochtitlan. That city was built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco – effectively making it a fortress city connected to the mainland by multiple causeways. Those causeways had removable bridge sections to hinder any enemy from using the causeways to take the city.

The Aztecs built roads around the lake for trading and military purposes. But also the surrounding lake provided a great opportunity to use war canoes as means to deploy their warriors either on the lake or onto the shoreline. This allowed the Aztecs to dominate Lake Texcoco and its environs for centuries.

In researching possible scenarios to game the period, I found that the need for war canoes (and other aspects) kept coming up. So first, I needed rules for their use – so I wrote them! And now you can have your own free copy of the new and updated 2nd Edition of the Civilizations Collide supplement for games of Feudal PatrolTM  just by clicking here and going to the Sally4th website. Again THIS IS FREE!!

I have identified at least 4 scenarios where war canoes would be needed:

  • July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway (the final breakout attempt by the Spanish continues on the Tacuba causeway out of Tenochtitlan as he is harried on all sides to include by war canoes).
  • Early 1521 – Aztec Raid on the Conquistadores’ Brigantines (The Aztecs attempt to burn Cortes’ assembling fleet before it can set sail on Lake Texcoco).
  • May 22, 1521 – The Battle of Tlacopan (The Aztecs counterattack an attempt by Olid and Alvarado to seize and destroy the aqueduct at Chapultepec which supplies much of Tenochtitlan’s water.  The battle takes place on a causeway with the Aztecs able to use war canoes on both sides of the Spanish and the Spanish have brigantines).
  • June 1, 1521 – The Battle of Lake Texcoco (Cortes leads his brigantines and allied war canoes against the massed Aztec war canoe fleet to seize naval control of Lake Texcoco and begin the siege of Tenochtitlan).

There easily could be other scenarios involving war canoes.

However, finding and sourcing reasonably-priced war canoes was problematic. As readers of this blog know – I was lucky to be able to trade 19 painted Viking figures to my friend Greg Priebe in Maryland for 19 3D-printed canoes. I also got a Blood and Plunder one from Firelock Games at their Historicon booth (for $20 – yikes), as well as a single scratch-built balsa wood one (for $3) from a table at Wally’s Basement at Historicon. Lastly, I got a canoe from Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop (priced at 2 pounds). That made 23 canoes for me to paint up of four different types.

Luckily, Dave Stone is also running a “Paint What You Got” painting challenge over on his page – for stuff you had unpainted from December 26th to the end of January. So these (and some other cool stuff from Dave I’ll hopefully put in a future post coming shortly). But back to the canoes and how I completed them all.

Greg’s stuff arrived safely just before Christmas, as did the one from Dave. I sized up Greg’s – and it looks like they will fit 4 figures well – but 5 was too many as you see below on the left. I gave the Greg canoes a good washing and tried to get as many of the little strings off as I could.

Next, I looked at the other three types. The Blood and Plunder resin one can handle 5 or 6 figures, while the scratch-built balsa wood one would need some seat removal to handle 4 figures. The resin one from Wargames Terrain Workshop is really nice – but was too small to accommodate my 1″-based figures. I can use it as additional nice eye candy on the tabletop, so I put it into the painting queue.

In mocking up the possible transport capabilities of each war canoe model, it became clear that they needed magnets inserted to hold the figures in place during game movement. Otherwise I would risk having figures get damaged or just not be aesthetically pleasing.

I worked out a template plan and drilled out 9/64″ inch holes for 1/8″ neodymium magnets as you see below. Note that I mark the top of the magnets with a red sharpie so that all of the magnets have the same direction of polarization. I also used a similarly-oriented stack of magnets on the underside of the war canoes to properly seat each one on the drilled side in its Gorilla Glue-imbued hole. Otherwise it is VERY easy to have magnets go onto other unwanted ones in other holes. Generally, I stacked two magnets in each of four holes in the war canoes.

Checking to see how the figures would be held in the canoe by the magnets underneath – concept did work!

The next step was to do the same with the other types.

Checking the hold on the balsa wood model – also worked.

Then it was on to priming. In order to really protect the models and to fill in as much of the 3D printed lines, I double-primed these. First, with a brushed on MSP “Black”, then after that dried with an airbrushed application of Vallejo “German Green Brown”. As is my custom, I listed all of the paints that I used at the end of this post for those interested.

The 23 ready for priming.
After the black priming but before adding the brown green primer.

I wanted to make a nice wooden appearance to these – so I decided to serially airbrush a somewhat zenithal series of applications of sequentially-lighter colors on the canoes. Then I would add a sepia wash and see if I needed a darker one inside the canoes (I did).

I went left to right with these colors – followed by a wash. It was a bit tedious as I had two sides to do – and I had to allow enough drying time before reversing the models in order to paint the other sides.

I think I achieved my goal with regards to the wood tones. The balsa wood and B&P models ended up a but darker, but I think that is fine as complete uniformity would not be great. With that said, let’s see how they look on the tabletop with some Aztec Warriors as passengers!

Eye Candy

Flotilla from the starboard side
Close up looking at the bows
Top view, port side
The Blood and Plunder war canoe version with a commander and some warrior priests inside.
The balsa wood war canoe will serve as a command canoe in most scenarios I run, as will the B&P model.
Here they come!
Close up of the front of one of the 3D models.
Aztecs on the move
Jaguar Warriors in a war canoe.
Cuachicque (“Shorn Ones”) and a warrior priest in a war canoe. Normally I will have a designated paddler, likely a novice warrior, in the back of each canoe.
A view of the side of the Jaguar Warriors’ canoe – this shows the wood tone nicely – not too streaky, but naturally not uniform. It also shows that the magnets are holding the figures well.
I was able to fit all 23 of them in a 3-liter Really Useful box with some room to spare. You can see the little Wargames Terrain Workshop canoe nestled in the larger Blood and Plunder model.

I hope that you enjoyed this post. Let me know your thoughts and feedback – always appreciated. And more is to come for sure.

Hint: more Wargames Terrain Workshop terrain coming very shortly!

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE WAR CANOE FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Neodymium magnets
  4. MSP “Black Primer”
  5. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  6. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  7. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  8. Vallejo Model Air “Berman Green Brown”
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Desert Yellow”
  10. Vallejo Model Air “Light”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Sand/Ivory”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Ivory”
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  14. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  15. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  16. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

My 2021 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2021 was another one that we all want to forget in many ways, but not all.

I set out some goals for myself back last December for 2022. Some were around gaming, some around hobby production, some were around golf, and more. Back when I was working in “the dreaded private sector”, I had sales goals to hit every period – be it yearly, quarterly, thrice annually, or whatever. Every manager would ask you for “stretch goals” – which was pretty unnecessary as the sales quotas you were given from corporate were never layups anyways. Still, it’s always good to have a plan and try your best. It’s also good to be honest with yourself and be accountable to yourself. Hopefully, that’s what I did with regards to my goals in 2021.

How did I do versus my 2020 goals?

Paint 250 figures or more

That did not happen, though my production was pretty good at 104. For three months I did not do any painting (August-October) as I was pretty involved with the new garage+ project.

Not even all of them now…

Complete the figures and terrain for Civilizations Collide

I have to give myself full credit here – the building of the Aztec cityscape was an epic project. However, I still am finding that I have more to do as I develop scenarios for my Spanish Conquest scenarios booklet – so yes I built what I planned – I just have more to do to flesh out the other scenarios with terrain and figures.

Historicon 2022

Complete my figures for Wars of Ozz, ok at least 40 of them

Big miss here – did not get to them. I did get to play a game at Christoricon though – commanding the Greater and Lesser Pumpkinheads.

I gotta paint mine (these are not).

Paint up a platoon from Wargames Supply Dump for Combat Patrol™.

Big miss here – did not get to them either.

Attend and run games at conventions or club nights or both, if possible – to include Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games, What a Tanker©  Battle of France May-June 1940, and Aztec games (live or virtually) for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement

No retro sci-fi games or WaT games this year – but I did run multiple games of for Feudal PatrolTM using my “Civilizations Collide” supplement, to include at Historicon.

Christoricon

Get my golf handicap down below 15

HA! I have hovered around 20-21 all year. I did get new clubs this year, and I won my flight in the Club Championship (and as a caveat it was the D Flight, but I am proud of that).

I did get a trophy…

Play golf (in season) at least twice a week

I did do this!

The new G425 toys! I also got G710 irons.

Make between 30 and 36 blog posts of value and quality

As far as quality, I would judge them as up to standard (but that is the reader’s judgement, no?). Quantity-wise, I did 54, so that’s a “check”.

Get back on the Imperial Rebel Ork podcast

Well IRO euthanized his podcast earlier this year, so that wasn’t possible. Understandably, the man had a cabin to build!

Build a new garage

As most of you know, that is on-going, so not yet done.

Through early December

Personal Highs for 2021

  1. Continuing to serve my Town (East Brookfield, MA) as the elected Board of Health Chairman during the pandemic. Specifically, getting over 500 seniors vaccinated (1/3 from neighboring towns even), and getting nearly 100% of the 56+ residents vaccinations.
  2. Completing the Aztec cityscape and bringing it to the gaming at Historicon – and playing with Harry (borderguy190 at War Across the Ages and Other Dark Horrors).
  3. Getting together with Dave Wood, Buck Surdu, Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer, and Duncan Adams in person and on Zoom games. Even had The Imperfect Modeller on one game as an observer (which was cool).
  4. Winning my flight in the club championship at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club in Oakham, MA.
  5. Having fun Zoom chats with Luke (IRO), Dave (The Imperfect Modeller), Dave (Wargames Terrain Workshop), Mike (despertaferres), and Pete (S/P Project Blog).
  6. Getting the garage started and mostly done.
  7. Getting together with family especially my daughter Ellen and my granddaughter Tabitha.
  8. My wife Lynn, every day (seriously).

Personal Lows for 2021

  1. One that comes to mind I’ll save for next year as it was 2022. Still a fresh wound.
  2. That pandemic thingy from China, ’nuff said.

My goals for 2022

Well, its time to set my goals for 2022.

  1. Paint 150 figures or more.
  2. Complete the remaining conquistador figures for Civilizations Collide.
  3. Complete the remaining terrain for Civilizations Collide, to include the brigantines.
  4. Complete the remaining Maya figures for Civilizations Collide.
  5. Complete the scenario booklet for Civilizations Collide.
  6. Complete my figures for Wars of Ozz, ok at least 40 of them.
  7. Paint up a platoon from Wargames Supply Dump for Combat Patrol™ .
  8. Try to get my Nomonhan WaT project off the ground.
  9. Attend and run games at conventions or club nights or both, if possible. This would include TotalCon34, HMGS South Recon, HAVOC, HUZZAH!, Historicon, and BARRAGE .
  10. Get the Mass Pikemen more active once the pandemic diminishes.
  11. Celebrate my wife’s retirement (and mine belatedly) with a nice trip.
  12. Finish the garage+ and launch that baby successfully.
  13. Post on the blog 48 times or more – and in good quality.
  14. Be a good blog follower.
  15. Have multiple Zoom chats with fellow hobbyists.
  16. Go to a golf school and get my golf handicap down below 18.
  17. Play golf (in season) at least twice a week.
  18. Win my flight in the Championship.
  19. Be a competitive golfer.

Again, thanks to all who make the time to read this blog – Happy New Year!

Lastly, here follows a detailed list of the 2021 production. You can access more details here.

2021 Production
  • 104 figures painted
  • 0 figures cast
  • 25 figures assembled
  • 144 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 145 terrain pieces painted
  • 1 figure or terrain piece conversions
  • 1 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 0 molds made
  • 1,051 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

Goodbye Caesar, my birdie friend, RIP

As you can tell by the title of this post, we lost our cockatiel Caesar on New Year’s Day. He was 27 and a half – and I had had him in my life for 24 years. I never thought that I would get close to a pet bird or have one be a big part of my life.

I met Caesar on my wife Lynn’s and my first date on December 14, 1997. He was interesting – I though he’d be flying around but Lynn had his wings clipped so as to prevent him from flying into a ceiling fan or a window. He was not too fond of me at first – after all I was competing for attention with “his mummy” Lynn. He lived on top of his cage – but the door was never shut – he had full reign over his domain.

Over the years, he got used to me and I to him. He could talk – saying “Caesar is a pretty bird” or “pretty bird” or the whistle commonly associated with cartoon wolves seeing a pretty girl. He also could “almost” do Jingle Bells (badly), mimic a barking dog, a landline phone ring (he was that old), or the sound of a construction vehicle backing up. I posted a video of his jingle bells and a finishing “pretty bird” on Instagram here. Take a listen.

He loved being in closed spaces (cockatiels in Australia live in holes in trees so I supposed this was instinctual). Out of old shoe boxes, I cut out houses for him and mounted them to the top of his cage. These were his “apartments” and he loved to make them his own by chewing them up. We also got him straw tepees and boxes designed for gerbils and he loved being in them too.

We spoiled him – he got more than bird seed – he like “people food”. His favorites were lobster and steamed clams (just the necks). Whenever he got them, he’d warble in excitement as he ate them.

He’d cuddle with Lynn and get his head scratched. I could get to scratch his head, but only Lynn could get face to face with him. She called Caesar her son, and loved the hell out of him. So did I.

As he aged, I looked to see how long he might live – after all, we knew his loss would be devastating to us. I think the world record is 35, though rarely wo they make 30. Most times it’s 20 and done, if not shorter. Still, he was always there. As I went through multiple surgeries over the years, he kept me company as I recovered.

I said goodnight to him every night, and greeted him every morning. Until last night and this morning that is.

He was the equivalent of a human at 103 years old.

On New Year’s Eve, we usually get lobsters and steamers and this was no exception this year. Caesar was so happy he ate three clam necks and some lobster – warbling his happiness. On New Year’s Day, Lynn took a selfie with him (see photos below), and cuddled with him. By later in the day, he had started getting listless and had trouble walking. He had been arthritic, but this was worse. Lynn cuddled him, and soothed him. Within an hour and a half, he breathed his last and died in her arms.

We are broken hearted of course, but are somewhat comforted in that we know he had a good pampered life. We rarely left him with babysitters (I think only 3 times in 27 years), as Lynn (and I) did not want him to be stressed. Even then, those times were with family he knew.

It has been unseasonably warm here in Massachusetts. To bury him, I had to buy a new shovel as mine was broken. I drove to Klem’s store in Spencer and got a new D-handled shovel – and on the way out looked at the 4 cockatiels in the pet section and cried even more.

Lynn put him in a nice cedar box. For his grave, I dug the hole in the garden by the house in the front yard, right below the window that he looked out of every day. I used some concrete pavers and 5″-high edgers to put in his grave – such that his little coffin was not resting on or under dirt. Basically, I created a little stone box by putting a 16″ x 16″ paving stone in the bottom of the grave with the edgers making walls on top of it. My daughter Ellen and my granddaughter had come by, and we all surrounded his little box with decorative landscaping stones, then I covered it with another 16″ x 16″ paving stone as a gravestone. Then we decorated the rim with the pretty stones.

I’m going to share some photos below – as this is cathartic for me in a way, but I will never stop remembering my little birdie friend. Love ya buddy.

December 2006 he posed as a “Misfit Toy”.
Caesar in October 2014 at the ripe old age of 20.
Our 2014 Christmas card shot.
Caesar loved to have Lynn play with him like this in January 2015. I couldn’t as this was only for mummy.
Caesar and Lynn enjoying a summer’s day in July 2015. We got him outside like this on warm days – but kept an eye out for hawks.
Rarely would Caesar take a drive – but here we are in September 2016.
Looking cute in December 2016.
Playing with me under a paper towel on a blanket as I lay on the couch in January 2017. He loved confined spaces.
His cage (always open) with his teepee (that he eventually chewed up) in February 2017.
He loved cuddling with Lynn – here in March 2017.
I’m here recovering from one of my many surgeries in 2017 and Caesar is keeping me company.
Caesar enjoying a warm day outside in May 2017.
Here you can see his house – he designed it himself!
Valentine’s Day 2018 – he’s being photographed here from outside as he enjoys the winter sun.
In June of 2018 with Lynn and Tabitha (then 1 and a half).
August 2018 – sometimes he cared less about posing…
I took this shot in October 2018 and don’t even remember how I filtered it – but I do like the shot.
He loved the Christmas tree – well staring at it as it was next to his cage every year. Once in a while – like here in 2018, we got him to pose in it.
Christmas card shot for 2018. We probably needed 20 shots to get one!
2019 Christmas Card shot.
One of the few selfies he let me take without a fuss. He is on his basket, which was his “traveling perch” in the house.
The teepee after months of chewing up…
As my Aussie buddie Luke sent me his podcast T-shirt, I only thought it proper to take a shot with our resident Aussie bird – well he was American but descended from Aussies.
In July 2020 getting love from his mummy.
Our 2020 Christmas card shot – unfortunately we did not do one with him in 2021…
Caesar and me with my Wars of Ozz shirt in April 2021.
In November keeping me company as I do computer work in my office. You can see he’s enjoying chewing on a business card form our garage door vendor. He loved to chew paper and especially cardboard.
New Year’s Day, 2022, only hours before he passed, cuddling with his mummy.

Goodbye my little birdie friend, love ya to pieces. I’ll miss you until the day I die.

Our Garage+ Project – Weeks 17 to 20 Update

Yes, it’s been a while since I updated you on the project – a month! It often seems like either everything is going on at the same time, or we are waiting and nothing is happening , and November 2021 was such a month.

Lots of external and internal issues happened. I had Historicon, surgery, Thanksgiving, and weather to deal with, plus a broken dishwasher and some old school Vikings minis to paint that I just posted about. So, where are we? Like I wrote, some days it was like crazy-town with activity, and others like crickets as we waited for inspections or materials. We are further along but winter is coming – so I’ll give you the progress time line in pictures.

As a reminder – as of November 6th – the project looked like this:

Week 17 – November 7th to 13th

November 9

November 10

Early Wednesday morning shows the front window getting installed, Don Millette putting the gas line in the trench, and the Victors supervising.
Frame going in!
Back side of the building showing installed windows.

Then, a minor supply-chain-related crisis. Evandro (our masonry guy) found out that the paving stones that we wanted were not available. We would need to scramble. I told Evandro that for this project I was function (what works), and my wife Lynn was form (i.e. she picks colors and similar choices – what looks good). At the time Lynn was at work, and Evandro had a book of stone examples but no physical samples. As it’s a major decision, we asked to see some, and Evandro came back later in the evening (after dark) with probably a dozen full-size paving stones as samples (each weighing maybe 30 pounds). We thought the samples would be, well, small! Anyways, by flashlight we were able to make a choice so Evandro could keep going. The choices are less bluish, but still a nice mixed gray hue.

The next day I was off to Historicon, returning Sunday the 14th.

Week 18 – November 14th to 20th

November 14

When the sun came up, this was the progress while I was away. You can see progress on the patio and the doors and windows.

Sunday morning November 14th showed me this!

However, Evandro was still at work that Sunday trying to take advantage of the good weather.

Lots of paving stones.

The other progress was nice as well on doors and windows.

While I was away, our dishwasher decided to shed its mortal coil – or at least to begin to leak. This was not part of the project, but needed attention as we also discovered that we needed new valves under the kitchen sink. Luckily we got a plumber to replace the valves and found a dishwasher model locally for delivery later in the week.

November 15

The patio made significant progress on the 15th getting under the stairs.

November 16

On the 16th, Evandro was well into prepping the fire pit for paving stones – but the gas line needed inspection before we could go further.

November 17

The morning of the 17th there was a heavy frost – yes, my roof is not normally white. Jonny Victor was early and got going on the siding installation.

November 18

The weather warmed up significantly on the 18th, which made it an ideal day to replace our front door. It had been previously ordered to be installed in the summer, but the retailer screwed up and sent a door with no stain on it. That was sent back, and finally the new one arrived.

The old front door with the storm door over it. The storm door had trapped sunlight (and heat) and delaminated our front door, so it needed replacement.
Inside showing the new door, unfortunately it’s defective!

The door width was 1/8″ wider in the middle than at the top! So, it sticks, and will need to be redone – unfortunately – but as it’s a manufacturing defect we should be ok with a replacement. Timing in November is not good, and it only gets colder. At least the old one is gone now.

And on the same day, the dishwasher was delivered for installation – so yeah, busy.

November 19

Early morning Friday the 19th showing siding and patio progress around the fire pit. All pavers are cut to shape.

November 20

On Saturday, Evandro’s crew kept going – this time attacking the overburden pile of dirt they had previously excavated for the patio and gas line by hand. This was needed as we expected to get the driveway paved with a base course of asphalt within a week.

Moving the overburden by hand.
And it’s gone!
Progress at the end of a very busy week.

Week 19 – November 21st to 27th

November 22

On the 22nd, I was scheduled for minor surgery at noon – and I checked out the project. Siding work continued.

Siding work continuing by the deck door.

The surgery went ok, but I was pretty much out the rest of the day! Anesthesia and I do not work well together…

November 23

This was a part of the construction project that I really wanted to see close up – Bill Keyes Asphalt doing the paving! However, I was in no shape physically to do much more than poke my head out of the door or through a window to take pictures.

November 24

The next day, the siders came back and installed the shutters and repaired the siding by the house deck that had to be replaced as a result of the new deck.

Shutters going in – these are for aesthetics only! I know Pat in Australia had asked me about shutters here – just for looks unless your house is 200 years old.
Repairing the siding by the house deck.

November 25

This was Thanksgiving – so no work happened of course. But the project looked like this below – and its getting colder.

Shaping up nicely and we even are parked in the driveway – for now anyways. Yes, that pond is freezing up too.

November 26

This date was our wedding anniversary – normally a day to hit the casino and have fun – but I was still recovering in the house. Of course, this being New England, we got snow anyways.

Well this sucks…

It did not last but it’s still been pretty cold.

Week 20 – November 28th to December 4th

With all the cold and needed inspections, and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the progress slowed to a halt. We did pass all of our inspections, and did get a dumpster dropped off to help with all of the rubbish and construction debris that had piled up – especially from the siding.

Hopefully, the upcoming week will show gutter installation, insulation, and more. As of now, it looks like this as of Saturday, December 4th.

Latest progress shot – and it’s getting colder and darker every day.

Hope you enjoyed the long update!

Old School Ral Partha and Minifigs Vikings for Aztec War Canoes

I was originally enticed into the hobby by way of 25mm metal figures from Ral Partha, Grenadier, and Minifigs back in the 1980’s. Some of you of course are remarking to yourselves at this point that you have no idea of those days!

Well, no internet existed such that one could go out and find whatever one wanted with a click. You either ordered from a catalog or got lucky at a hobby store with whatever existed in the shop (insert bad joke here).

Some of the figures were pretty simplistic, others were (and are still) marvels of art. Most readers of this blog will recognize that until recently, I have been very much involved with painting and building figures and terrain for my Civilizations Collide project (Aztecs, Conquistadores, etc. for Feudal Patrol. So, you ask, Mark, what the f**k you doing with old school Vikings?

Well, this is related to my recent trip to Historicon (which I wrote about here). Several of the scenarios that I am developing for the Spanish Conquest require Aztec (and Tlaxcalan) war canoes, which were involved in many of the battles, both along the causeways out of Tenochtitlan and in naval combat with Spanish brigantines on Lake Texcoco. At Historicon, I searched high and low in the vendors area and in the flea market for reasonably priced war canoes. All I found were a Blood and Plunder model for $20 (not reasonable) from a vendor’s booth and a single $3 scratch-built balsa-wood version from the flea market.

I got both as options for considering how to design and scratch-build my own. As I estimate that I need 4-6 war canoes for each of the 4 brigantines that I have in queue. That’s 16-24 canoes – and I am not going to pay $20 per canoe! Shortly after the convention, Greg Priebe (who was with me at Historicon) suggested that he could 3D print canoes for me! I was elated, and I asked him what I could offer in trade. Greg kindly said don’t worry about it. But, I thought that’s unfair, and I could paint some figures for him as a fair exchange.

Greg is the author of the Vikings Feudal Patrol supplement (which you can download for free here), so I offered him Vikings. He agreed, and when I got home I went into my unpainted stash to see what I had available.

My supply of unpainted lead includes many figures from the ’80’s. I got a lot of them when I returned to the hobby but have not painted a lot of the 25mm ancient stuff. We conferred, and Greg agreed that he would like ones from three blister’s of 25mm figures and a single 28mm berserker. They all work for skirmish games.

One was a six-figure blister of Ral Partha Imports “Viking Berserkers with Axes” (#DA45) – circa 1982. The second was a six-figure Minifigs “Viking Command” blister pack probably from around 1980-1982. The third was a six-figure pack of Ral Partha “Saxon Huscarle” (#1117) from their “1200 A.D.” line – circa 1982. The last was a single figure from RAFM, “Berserker” from their “Adventurers” line circa 1989. This adds up to 19 figures, and Greg is making me 20 or so canoes. So, the following will describe how I proceeded to paint all of these up.

Ral Partha Imports “Viking Berserkers with Axes

These were likely made by Citadel and marketed by Ral Partha – a common commercial practice back then. The bases had “1982” and DA45 on them. As my process was modified batch-painting, I’ll include some of the steps I took on all of the models here and spare you a repeat later. There were three poses among the six figures, which was a lot back then (most packs of six had just one pose). But, I needed on all of these to make them different enough for easy identification and for fun on the tabletop.

The blister pack of DA45. Opened after 40+ years,

The figures had substantial mold lines, which was common back then. That issue was easily remedied. Their axe shafts were also a bit bendy (common as well) – and I gave them all a light coat of Gorilla Glue – to stiffen up the shafts (insert bad joke here).

Mold lines seen here. Also bendy axes.

I then mounted all the figures on 1″ steel washers, and put them on poster tack on specimen containers for ease of painting. I primed them all white with my airbrush and after they dried, I washed with “Heavy Body Black” from Secret Weapon Washes (all of the paints that I used will be listed at the end of this post for those interested).

Close up of the HBB wash on the Berserkers. It helps me to see details and preshades the models – both very helpful steps with 25mm.

I numbered the six figures by the three poses (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B) so that I could plan differences in painting. At least these had no shields…for the rest that did I needed a plan as well. Yes, I used Excel!

Here all of the 19 figures are ready for varnish, but I did need to work on the shields. More on that in a bit.

On all of these, in terms of painting, I aimed for a good tabletop standard. While I do not think these are badly painted at all, I have done better work – but these reminded me of how much easier painting modern figures is now, especially 28mm. Another challenge was effectively painting blonde hair. I don’t think I’ve done that in 40 years. Anyways, I toned down yellow (very Sailor Moon) with “Snakebite Leather” contrast paint and Seraphim Sepia” wash and worked ok. The ginger hair was easier. I also added differently colored tufts to the bases for ease of identification as well.

Now, let’s see the models from this blister all completed.

The group. I tried to give the eyes a “mascara” look like the show “Vikings” did. At 25mm, this was hard to do, but you can let me know if it worked or not to your eye (pun intended).

Minifigs Viking Command

I remember painting a number of fantasy Minifig miniatures back in the day. They had square bases and the details were rather plain. These were the same as those. My guess is dating from the early ’80’s or possibly even the late ’70’s.

Unfortunately, these had a severe coating of oxide or something black and crusty on them. I don’t think it was lead rot, but I did clean them up with baking soda just in case. Their spears and banner shafts were even more bendy than the others – which was very much a common issue for this manufacturer back then. I added a second stiffening coat of Gorilla Glue to these bendy shafts, and then proceeded as discussed previously.

There were three poses here. Two with a horn, two with spears and axes, and two with either a banner or a long-shafted axe. For the last group, I gave one an axe and one a banner. They all had shields (unattached) so I did need to get some references for free-hand painting them.

The old blister – $3.98 for six figures!
You can see the dark oxidation (if that’s what it was) on all the figures – which needed filing, cleaning, and fixing of the more-bendy shafts.
Close-up shot showing issues.

Each of the three poses had a different number on the bases. Pose 1 (with horn) was DA97, pose two (with axe and spear) had only partially DA4-something, and the last one was DA42. I’m assuming DA stood for “Dark Ages”.

Second pose after HBB wash.

I tried to give different looks to these as well – again, a painting plan in Excel helped. As for the shields – they were fun the most enjoyable to paint – and different than the Aztec shields to be sure. I chose 6 designs that I thought would work with the colors. Instead of thinner, I used Vallejo Flow Improver with the black on a Newton & Windsor 0000 brush – and that worked (thanks to The Imperfect Modeler for that suggestion).

I would sketch lightly with a .5mm pencil, then line with black paint thinned with flow improver.
Painted shields.

After I painted the shields, I gave them a brush of satin varnish. Once they dried, I mounted them to the figures.

Then after drying time, they were off to varnishing and flocking (similar to the previous group). Below are the finished models.

The Viking Command Group together.

Ral Partha Saxon Huscarle

While housecarles in English is proper, the blister said “Huscarle”, so…

The old blister from the 1200 A.D. line.

The sculpts were pretty nice – especially the chain mail. However, these were in all the same pose (as was common back when these were launched in 1982). Therefore, differentiation was more needed.

I followed the same process as discussed above with priming and the initial wash application. Another nice thing about these was that the shields were already attached – that and the eyes would not need special attention.

After the priming and the HBB wash application. I could have used Nuln Oil but I thought I’d use the HBB before it became useless.

For shields, I looked up some images for Saxon ones and chose six.

The final six look as follows:

The Saxon Huscarle group.

RAFM Berserker

The last figure was a single one – and he looks to be 28mm hero-scale. That makes him a bit off of the others, but maybe he’s like the Mountain from GoT?

Anyways, he looks pretty Viking-like, and Greg wanted him, so he’s in!

In his 1989 blister.

This figure was so much easier to paint as it had virtually no mold lines and was well-sculpted. I only wish his axe was reasonably-sized.

That’s the last of the 19. Here’s a group shot of them finished.

Group Shot. All in the mail to Greg in Maryland now!

I originally wanted to paint them all up as part of Roger’s (over at Rantings Under the Wargame Table) “Mo’vember Challenge”, but between surgery in November, Historicon, Thanksgiving, and my garage +build, it did not happen. Still, check out Roger’s cool roundup – I did get in Cortes

As you may imagine, making all these figures different took a hell of a lot of paint! The list is at the end, but here’s a shot:

That’s a lot of paint!

I hope that this was enjoyable – and a change of pace was nice for me. Not sure what’s next, probably brigantines, but I do want to post a belated garage+ update by the end of this weekend. Thanks for looking and sharing any thoughts.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE VIKING FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack
  4. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. Secret Weapon Washes “Heavy Body Black” (wash)
  8. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  9. Vallejo Model Color “Black”
  10. Battlefront “European Skin”
  11. Citadel “Flash Glitz Yellow”
  12. Citadel “Troll Slayer Orange”
  13. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  14. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  15. Secret Weapon Washes “Red Black” (wash)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown”
  17. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  19. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
  20. Hataka “Gris Blue Clair”
  21. Vallejo Game Color “Livery Green”
  22. Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Grey”
  23. Hataka “Beige”
  24. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  25. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Cygor Brown”
  26. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore Grunta Fur”
  27. Vallejo Game Air “US Olive Drab”
  28. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  29. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  30. Vallejo Model Color “Wood Grain”
  31. Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
  32. Vallejo Model Color “Brown Rose”
  33. Vallejo Model Color “Basic Skin Tone”
  34. Vallejo Model Color “Light Flesh”
  35. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  36. Vallejo Game Air “Chainmail Silver”
  37. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Shyish Purple”
  38. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  39. Citadel “Ushabti Bone”
  40. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  41. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  42. Secret Weapon Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  43. Citadel “Waywatcher Green” (glaze)
  44. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (wash)
  45. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  46. Battlefront “Skin Shade”
  47. Citadel “The Fang”
  48. Army Painter “Red Tone” (shade)
  49. Army Painter “Green Tone” (shade)
  50. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  51. Citadel “Bloodletter” (glaze)
  52. Vallejo Model Color “Vermilion”
  53. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  54. Citadel “XV-88”
  55. Citadel “Daemonette Hide”
  56. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  57. Army Painter “Purple Tone” (shade)
  58. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  59. Vallejo Model Color “Dark Blue”
  60. Secret Weapon Washes “Sunshine” (wash)
  61. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  62. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  63. Citadel “Stirland Mud”
  64. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  65. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)
  66. Army Painter tufts (various)
  67. Shadow’s Edge Miniature’s tufts (various)

Historicon 2021 — War Across the Ages, and other dark horrors

Below is a blog post from borderguy190 that some of you may not have seen – I am reblogging it with his permission. I (Mark) met him (Harry) at Historicon and he was a player in my Aztec/Conquistador game. I think he did a nice player review of my game as well as a superb review of the convention. His blog site is here – and I highly recommend you take a look! Now, here is his Historicon post:

One of the biggest joys of my year is getting to attend Fall In!, or as in the case this year, Historicon. Last year was a complete bust for conventions, and here in Michigan, the small local cons got called off for C19 earlier this year. Fall In! was my last hope. At some point […]

Historicon 2021 — War Across the Ages, and other dark horrors

Historicon 2021, Christoricon, and Axis & Allies

This post will cover my wargaming over the extended Veteran’s Day weekend – hopefully you will enjoy the discussion and the photos of the games here. Hell, grab a beer or a wine or whatever! Some cool pics and links to be sure.

I had been planning to attend the last Historicon – but it got moved (I think there was a pandemic or something, I (try) to forget). The event was then rescheduled for November. As Historicon and the other HMGS events have been on my bucket list, I wanted to go as a GM anyways and player too.

Also, as followers of this blog know – I have been deep into building out a series of games for the Spanish Conquest over the last year-and-a-half. This has involved many aspects – writing a rules supplement, painting figures, and building a series of games and battlefields much more for the for Feudal Patrol games for the period of the Spanish Conquest in Mesoamerica 500 years ago. I also recently rewrote my supplement Civilizations Collide – which will be a free download (as will a scenario booklet with multiple historic scenarios that I am working on now). So, I was very much looking forward to Historicon 2021.

Therefore, I signed up to run two games – both of which are scenarios on my in-progress booklet. I planned on running both my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” and “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” games on Thursday night and Saturday morning respectively.

The Maryland-based H.A.W.K.’s were kind enough to admit me as a game master and share their room. I have been long-time friends with two members, Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate) and Buck Surdu (who also has been a friend since our West Point days which are now going back aways). Buck is also the author of many games, to include  Feudal Patrol and Wars of Ozz© (see a nice review of Ozz here).

My friend Craig Hogan, myself, and Dave Wood back at USMA – probably Ring Weekend in the Fall of 1983. Craig sadly was killed a few years ago now in a private plan crash.
Thanksgiving 1987 in Hagenbach, Rhineland-Pfalz, West Germany, Buck, myself, and my daughter Ellen (who is 34 now). We got together for gaming and the holiday. Buck came up from Vicenza, Italy where he was stationed to my place with a buddy, and we gamed and we had fun.

Through Dave and Buck, I have been lucky to make new friends with others of the H.A.W.K.’s, like Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer, and Duncan Adams (and many more too – like Zeb, Don, Eric and others – please don’t feel left out if I did not mention you). Due to my ongoing garage+ build (of which there are a number of updates that are listed here), I missed BARRAGE in September. So, I was pretty stoked about the opportunity to get together with friends (and make new ones) and push lead around the tabletop.

However, as fate would have it, some folks would not be able to attend Historicon due to personal reasons. As seeing and gaming with friends are as much a draw for me as the convention itself, I needed to make a change in plans. We had a Zoom call, and collectively arrived at a new plan. I would drive down from Massachusetts and meet Dave in Maryland for a gaming afternoon on the 11th at my hotel room. Then on Friday morning I would run my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” game in Chris Palmer’s gaming room in Maryland, and then play in an Ozz game afterwards until I needed to leave for Historicon (about 90 minutes away). Friday night I would drive up to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to set up my “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” game for Saturday morning play.

So, on a 28-degree morning in Massachusetts, I defrosted my loaded car (12 boxes of terrain, plus 2 mats, a wagon, plus a suitcase) and headed to Maryland – arriving around mid-day – where it was 4o degrees warmer. Ah, New England!

Frosty morning departure.

Axis & Allies

Dave and I have now gamed since 1982 – so coming up on 40 years. We have played Avalon Hill’s “Victory in the Pacific” (as well as other titles) dozens of times over the years. On Thursday, after I arrived, we decided to be different and try Milton Bradley’s “Axis & Allies” this time – a board game with plastic miniatures that we have discussed many times but never played before. I got this game back in the mid-80’s. At one point there was an on-line version but we never got around to playing that either. For this game, we picked sides at random, and Dave played the Axis, and I the Allies. It was Veteran’s Day, and as we are obviously both vets, it was a nice add.

The game went back and forth. A lot. I managed to keep Russia in the game – and built an industrial complex in India for the British. This allowed me to build 3 units per turn there in an attempt to keep the Japanese off the Russian’s back.

After the first turn, I had consolidated a nice position in Mother Russia to try to thwart Dave. And yes, the shirt says what I am impressed with – Dave has run dozens of marathons and many runs up to 50 miles and maybe more in distance.
We had a back and forth fight over the Karelia territory that had a factory I did not want to lose. Eventually, I did.

Meanwhile, my Indian gambit attracted a lot of Japanese attention – maybe too much. Dave hammered away at it and while the Japanese were unsuccessful he did attrite my forces and that prevented me from exploiting my force buildup.

Dave made multiple attacks on India supported by carrier-based fighters and land-based bombers. I had sent the American-supported Chinese infantry in to help defend. Meanwhile, Russia fell.

Dave kept hammering away at India, and eventually had his Germans violate Afghan neutrality – hitting India for the decisive blow. Yes, the Germans took India by blitzing panzers through Afghanistan…

I built India up and flew in American air support, but the next turn it fell.

I did desperately roll for Weapon’s Development for both the Americans and the British – with only the British succeeding in getting 3 – Rockets, Super Subs, and Strategic Bombers. My rocket and strategic bomber attacks slowed the German’s production, but it was too late…congrats to Dave!

Christoricon – Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost

Originally I was supposed to run my one of my games at Historicon on Thursday night – that being a rural one where Aztecs are making a surprise raid on a Tlaxcalan village (acting as a Conquistador supply depot) – only to see that there were indeed some Spanish there. Instead, we went to Chris Palmer’s house and I ran the game on early Friday morning. We joked and called it “Christoricon”. I hosted and there were 5 players – Buck, Duncan Adams, and Dave for the Aztecs, and Chris and Greg Priebe for the Spanish/Tlaxcalans. The defending Spanish/Tlaxcalans had one Warband of three Elements – 23 figures worth 41 points. The attacking Aztecs had two Warbands of 3 Elements each – 53 figures worth 78.25 points. Buck has already written a great post about this game and the others that day on his blog here – and his write-up and pics are great. I took some photos that you see below, but for me, simultaneously being a GM and a photographer is not easy – so I do recommend you take a look. Meanwhile, here are my pics.

The game is ready to begin. Chris and Greg elected to place the Conquistador Element armed with arquebuses further away from their leader in their secret deployment in lieu of their Element of Sword & Buckler men. This meant that they were “pinned” with their black powder weapons only activating at best on half of the turns. They could have “unpinned” but as luck would have it the dice did not let that happen. Note also that Franco the unlucky Conquistador made the trip!

Chris chose to send out his war dogs towards Dave’s Aztecs as a screen, and they promptly took atlatl damage. Dave, Duncan and Buck moved up quickly, while Greg took up a position in the maize field with his dangerous Tlaxcalan bowmen.

Dave moves up his “twinned” Elements of veteran/novice warriors towards a wounded war dog.

The Spanish then had their Catholic Priest take possession of the gold (possession of the gold was one of the game objectives) and drag it to a more secure location while they contested the Noble House (another objective) – (insert joke here).

Battle starting at the Noble House – the war dogs are already going down here. Their priest has already dragged away the gold to a safer location.

Buck’s advancing Elite Cuahchicque (“Shorn Ones”) took the full volley of arquebus fire from the less-activating pinned Spanish. Despite these Elite Aztecs taking a lot of damage and having a ton of Morale checks to overcome, Buck was able to rally his troops successfully against the odds twice. Meanwhile Duncan moved his Jaguar and Eagle Warriors against Greg’s Tlaxcalan bowmen in the cornfield – hoping to best them in melee.

Dave and Buck confer while surveying Duncan’s advance – and their chances at victory – with concern. This shows the second volley that Buck’s Elite Shorn Ones took and the blue beads are Morale checks he needed to pass. He did. Twice.

Slowly, the tide of battle started turning in the Aztecs’ favor. Dave’s attack on the Aztec right was making headway, and they were gaining control of the objectives.

Priest still dragging the gold away here.
Lots of carnage on the tabletop.

Eventually, the Spanish and Tlaxcalans were overwhelmed.

The game ended as a resounding Aztec win, as they had control of three objectives, as well as dragging off 9 pour souls for sacrifice, killing 2 more, and making one run away. The Spanish had only the gold, but did dispatch 15 Aztecs and capture one more. The final score was 86-40 as you see below. I think the players had a good game. Congrats to Dave, Buck, and Duncan!

Christoricon – Ozz

After the Aztec/Spanish game, Chris Palmer ran a Wars of Ozz© game that I played in briefly – again, Buck’s blog post has an excellent account as I left after having stymied Dave’s advance a bit (though I was pretty well smashed force-wise in that effort). I commanded a force of Winkies with allies (Greater and Lesser Pumpkinhead Warriors). My sacrifice was not in vain, and it allowed Chris and Greg to smash the Munchkin center.

I love the Ozz figures!

I then drove to Historicon, and set up for Saturday morning’s game.

Historicon – Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt

The drive up to Valley Forge Resort Casino was uneventful – though finding the H.A.W.K.’s room was a challenge. The gaming was not located in one location at the resort. Unfortunately, it was also a Friday night at a casino and all the close parking was gone. Luckily, I have a little collapsible wagon and was able to get into the room with my stuff in a few trips and set up the terrain and the troops for Saturday morning’s game, Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt.

My game flyer

You can see a short Instagram video of the set up here.

It’s a BIG battle. The Spanish/Tlaxcalans have three Warbands of three Elements (2 Spanish, 1 Tlaxcalan) plus support – 77 figures (including the 4 war wagons) worth 161.75 points. The Aztecs have five Warbands of 2-3 Elements each – 109 figures worth 154.25 points. 186 figures in total. This battle is Cortes’ second attempt to escape. He would do a second on the following day, and three days later a third – La Noche Triste. Originally, on the Historicon listings, the game was supposed to be La Noche Triste – which again happened three days later (and of which I will have that scenario written soon) – but I needed war canoes for that one. Those I don’t have yet, and will be mentioned here in a bit.

Back to the game set up. As I was setting up, I had a number of people come by to remark positively on the game visuals – terrain and figures. They had seen my posts on different forums (or fora both are ok!). To all of you, thank you so much for your kind words and interest.

Besides all of the cityscape – and it’s a lot I know – but with everything predeployed I just needed to put players on their troops and let them know what they needed to do on their part of the battlefield.

As I mentioned before, I had previously needed to cancel my Thursday game – and I got a comment from one of our blog community – Harry (aka borderguy190)- that he was disappointed as he had signed up for the game. I apologized, as I wish I could have ran that too at Historicon as well. But the good news was that he would be playing in this game!

He joined 7 other players. They seemed to grasp the concepts of the game quickly – and I did get some help from Greg Priebe and Buck Surdu in the early turns before they had to help run an Ozz game.

The game set up.
Troops deployed and dashboards out. My undermagnets and game markers really have proven their worth – especially in big melee scrums.

In this game, the Conquistadores are surrounded, and need to fight their way out from the Palace of Axayacatl where they were holed up with their hostage/puppet Montezuma II. They have war wagons, and while these are helpful in providing cover against missile weapons, they are also rickety and slow – and prone to breaking. In fact, all of them broke during the game and were unable to move afterwards. The Aztecs are trying to get to the Conquistadores and avenge the massacre that the Spanish perpetrated at the Festival of Toxcatl. Their Tlaxcalan allies are mostly on the other end of the tabletop and trying to break into Tenochtitlan to help their Spanish allies escape.

There were ups and downs for both sides all over the table. The Conquistadores breakout went slowly, but they did take out a lot of Aztecs. On the other end where the Tlaxcalans were trying to help, the two sides traded missile fire and got into a scrum but were unable to change the status quo.

Lots of action! Harry (in red) ponders his next move.
Aztecs swarm the war wagons and wound the crossbowmen and arquebusiers inside.
Thinks get more contested in Tenochtitlan.

One of the aspects of the game is the importance of The Banner of Cortes. It provides inspiration to the Conquistadores and helps them to reduce negative Morale effects. However, I also made its capture (as well as incapacitating Cortes and dragging him off for sacrifice) game objectives. The Aztecs took some heavy losses BUT were able to take out the bannerman and seize the banner. This lead to the Spanish having to try to satisfy Honor and retake the banner. However, this did not happen before the game’s end. As it was worth 50 points (see below), it was decisive.

The Banner of Cortes is taken!
Aztecs won 78-35. The 50 points for the capture of The Banner of Cortes made all the difference!

Thanks so much to all who played! I did not win any awards for the game – though many said I should have. Anyways, the best reward is happy gamers afterwards – and I got that in abundance!!

The gamers! Very cool group – thanks to all!

After the game, I got a lot of positive feedback, and learned of some areas to help make the play easier. Those suggestions have already have already been acted upon when I got home (mainly on the dashboards such as linking the undermagnet colors to the dashboards).

After the game, I then went with Greg and Buck to the vendors and the Flea Market. It was nice to go to the Badger Games booth and actually be remembered! Also, I was looking for canoes to use as war canoes, but only found one from Firelock Games that was $20. That is way too expensive when you need as many as do. I also found one in the Flea Market – a balsa wood scratch-built one from an estate sale- for $3. I am going to use both for gaming and as ideas on how to make my own. Of importance, Greg is a big lover of his 3D printer – and in exchange for me painting up some Viking figures for him, he will make me a good number of canoes! Win-win! So, my next job will be to paint those up.

I look forward to returning to the gaming and convention scene as a GM and a gamer. I hope you found this interesting – thanks for looking.

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

More Game Aids and Markers for Spanish Conquest Feudal Patrol Games

Back in March of 2021, I shared a post on gaming aids – specifically for my games of Feudal Patrol games using my supplement Civilizations Collide. This post expands on that list with a few more additions. It’s basically a process post.

As I wrote back then in March (quoting myself) – and it’s still true:

…I want to emphasize that I did not need to do any of these projects to play Feudal Patrol™. Period. I did because they suited my personal needs and – well – I get thoughts of stuff in my head that need realization.

Buck’s Feudal Patrol rules have more than adequate tools and game aids. They are fantastic. My goals here were for myself so that I can make my games easier for me mainly.

Now, as time has gone on I have realized that I wanted a few more things to ease play for me as a GM – specifically to adapt to the period. I am sharing those here and my processes as they may prove useful for some, and just interesting for others.

First, as far as steep-stepped structures (such as temples that one might expect to see in the Aztec or Mayan Empires), they pose a challenge gaming-wise. I have updated my rules for melee combat on these steps (but they are not yet published – but I use them). Most commercially available steep-stepped structures are either ruins (not ideal for depicting them in their heyday) or lacking adequate space on the steps to place figures during a game. Most of my figures are on 1″ bases, and getting them on the steps of my structures was not happening. I did not want them to be just big eye-candy on the tabletop. So what to do?

Make templates!

Below, I will share what I did and how – with the assumption that all my figures are 1″ based and that there would actually be sufficient depth in real life for them to stand on the steep steps in single rows.

The main need was for the small temple that I am using as The Temple of Yopico in Tenochtitlan. I figured out the size of the sides and the top, and adjusted for 1″ steel washer bases. You can see that each side should allow for 14 figures plus one on the top. After drawing these, I then I cut out the graph paper templates.
Ready for backing

Clearly these needed some heft – and my other main hobby, golf, allowed for some good cardboard backings with a glue stick application. I pressed them down with a book and a 25 pound dumbbell.

For phase 2, I traced the templates onto card stock, and in pencil drew in the lines. Next, cut out the card stock. Then I used red and black Sharpie pens to outline the steps and edges and color in. Add the glue stick, and press again under the weight.

I am pretty happy with the results and look forward to using them.

Final templates
A mock up of the templates with them full of Aztecs facing off against some Conquistadores. In games, I will have these templates setup off of the table for resolving combat but am showing it next to the temple for comparison.

I then did the same for the Temple High Throne and the Temple Sacrificial Altar structures that I have, just in case that they are needed.

The next marker project was a continuation of my previous one that I mentioed above with some additions. In a game, Elite troops such as Jaguar or Eagle Warriors (and more) can go “berserk” – basically making a fanatical charge until either they kill an enemy or are killed. There are advantages and disadvantages to trying this as a player. I found that if Aztecs went into “berserk” mode on the battlefield, I needed to differentiate that on the tabletop, as some figures would, while others might not – plus they tended to charge far afield on the tabletop. To remedy this, and for better availability, I wanted more of the same magnetic markers. I did the same as you saw previously – using cheap magnets and craft paints and printing off labels that I cut out. As I use steel bases, magnets are a good help.

Lastly, I printed off some new 2-sided 5″ x 8″ cards with all the special Morale rule differences for my game versus other eras/theaters. Mine are meant to evoke the nature of the Spanish Conquest.

Morale Cards – and yes I see the typo!

Now, I as I write this I am getting ready to hit the road for a fun weekend of gaming with some old friends. Well, we are all getting older at this point I guess…beats the alternative!

I am hoping to share a good post on all the games when I return. Also I need to do a follow up on the garage+ project as a LOT is happening. If you are unfamiliar with my garage+ project, you can catch up on all of them here.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

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