Thursday, October 20, 2016

Zulu Wars in the Shed and back to the ACW?

Well it was nice to get over to the Shed this week and see the extension that Eric has been working on over the summer.  We played a Zulu Wars game with the new The Men who Would be Kings rules by Dan Mersey. My account of it is here and Eric the Shed's much more comprehensive view of it is here.  We had five players and my dice throwing was a bit better than usual although not as good as Alastair's!

Throw five or six to hit!

My DIY skills do not extend further than putting up a curtain rail or, possibly, a shelf, at most.  I cannot do things with wood, let alone build a shed from scratch!  We got a shed a couple of years ago but I had to pay Mr John Lewis £3000 for it (plus another £1000 for the base).

How do people even learn how to do this stuff?  Even if I did learn I would still be rubbish at execution.  My father in law despairs of me.  He has a whole workshop full of stuff for doing stuff to stuff. I get stressed if I have to put on an electric plug.  Maybe its about having the right tools.  This is his workshop.  Look at the size of it!  It's got two boats in it he is working on.  This boat was at Dunkirk in 1940!

Eric's Shedstension means you can stand back and admire his lovely table from afar

Oh well.  The Shedstension means that Eric now has more room for his stuff.  This is useful wargames stuff, which is proper stuff, not weird tools stuff (although he probably has those too).  I was over at my father in law's the other week and he was talking about a new 'router'. What on earth is a router?  What is it for?  I have never heard of such a thing.  Some sort of power tool, I gather.  I didn't ask in case he told me and made me feel inadequate.  He gets cross that I make the Old Bat lay concrete and such like.  I don't make her, actually, she does it herself.  I am always in trouble for not maintaining the house.  How do you maintain a house? Things fall apart (as that annoying Nigerian novel was called which I had to study at school - I seem to recall it was mostly about yams) and you put up with them not working until it gets so bad you get a man in to deal with it (or get the Old Bat to do it),  

It even looks evil!

If the Old Bat gets really cross with me ("Have you paid for Guy's rowing?"  "Have you paid for Charlotte's physiotherapy?" etc etc - it's always pay, pay, pay for something for those waste of time and money babies) she threatens to buy me a Black & Decker workmate for Christmas.  She does this because she knows it would be my worst present ever and I would never use it (I probably would struggle with getting it out of the box).  She just likes the idea of it sitting there in the shed like a malevolent spirit (like that evil rocking horse in the scariest film I ever saw when I was little, The Rocking Horse Winner (1949)) making me feel uncomfortable.

Anyway, the Shed has been much enhanced with the addition of things like a kettle and also music (we had the Zulu soundtrack by John Barry playing).  Of course from now on I will expect appropriate music for every game!  We also had a new player along although, of course, they were a proper wargamer, not a terrified amateur like me.  The reason I stopped going to Guildford Wargames Club was that I got so stressed about having to play against clever people who knew the rules.  The Shed is a very friendly environment, though and people are patient with me.

I haven't played a game there since May and this was only my third game of the year but I have been very busy at work (I am back working from home - I didn't like going back to commuting) and dealing with various issues with the children who are both stressing me out.  I really want to get back to doing a bit of painting but my eyesight seems to have taken a turn for the worse and I know I can't paint to the standard I used to (which wasn't that good, anyway) so I am a bit frightened of picking up a brush in case my eyesight is even worse than I thought.

What I am now not sure about now is where this leaves my own Zulu Wars project.  Eric now has every figure you could possible need for a game so it seems a bit pointless to carry on at my glacial speed painting figures.  I have painted 40 Zulus and some 25 British but this is about 10% of what Eric painted in a few months.  Still, some solo skirmish games might be on the cards.

I have been good at not buying any figures and haven't been to a show since Salute but I might try and get to Warfare.  I am very tempted by Perry miniatures new Union ACW plastics, despite stopping and starting with the period several times.  This is all to do with Airfix days, of course and the recent article in the September issue of miniature Wargames on recreating a Terence Wise scenario from his book Introduction to Battle Gaming. using plastic 1/72nd figures.

The (fictional) Centerville battle was one I played many times with my friends in the mid seventies.  To do this again with 28mm plastics and the same rules is very tempting.  Now Guy has gone to university it would be easy to set up our table tennis table in his room for a solo game.  Each side has 81 infantry (3 regiments of 27) 12 cavalry and three guns.  So I reckon that would be eight boxes plus a few metal command. Hmm...

Of course I would have to paint all those figures and that would mean sacrificing painting quality (which I find really hard to do - I just cannot contemplate army painter!) but if they were plastics maybe I wouldn't care so much.  Now the real issue is that I have only painted 10 figures this year but a project like this might get me painting again.

Exciting update: I based some Mexicans today.  My first hobby activity for six months!  Hooray!
Not such an exciting update:  There is a chance I will have to go and work abroad for three months.  Boo!


  1. You need a black and decker work mate - I've got two and love them.

    Go to ( it's safe for work) - it will make a man out of you yet!

  2. If it helps I've never owned a work mate either but I can put on a plug! The ACW project sounds fun but the painting might be quicker if you went with the original Airfix.

  3. Great to see you returning to the game table and the painting desk!

  4. We have a more primitive version of that workmate. While it has its uses for holding wood as I saw it up for terrain, ours mainly serves as something to rest models on as I spray-undercoat them. They do have a purpose even if not their designed one. ;)

    1. Sounds sensible! I use our recycling bin and an old Dominos pizza box.

  5. I was given a Workmate as a (very unwanted) Xmas present about 25 years ago. It's still in my shed, significantly more rusty, and has only ever been used to stand on (H&S alert) to paint my porch every 10 years. One of the most useless items ever manufactured.

  6. I am being encouraged towards army painter style with 28mm Nappys I have been informed by my regular opponant that I've got to ditch the exhibition style painting and get something on the table! so kicking and screaming I will give it a go with a £16 box of Warlord French

    1. My big issue is that I don't use acrylics so I don't think army painter style approaches (like washes) work.

  7. I'm really not convinced that spraying the figure the main uniform colour and then painting the other colours is any quicker (at least not in 15/18mm) - I spray white undercoat and then block paint the figures, brush on the strong tone, highlight the cross belts and white trousers. With AB figures it is much easier to run the paint up to things like cross-belts rather than paint the cross belts themselves.

    But I know what you mean about Perry plastics - they call out to you even if you aren't interested in that period or scale!

    1. I'm afraid I see all army painter or washes as cheating!

  8. Dear Legatus

    re the painting I have bad eyesight and use (wearing my reading glasses) a magnifying glass on a stand and a daylight bulb in an Anglepoise lamp (try hobbycraft)- without them I simply couldn't paint. I thoroughly enjoy your blogs so keep up the good work.
    an ex boatie (Girton!)

    1. Thanks. I actually did a little base colour stuff today and it was OK. I find I cannot paint under artificial light at all any more! I have got one of those magnifying glasses on a stand somewhere. I will have to look it out!

  9. I bought my Workmate about 1973. I have rebuilt a BSA M33 on it and overhauled the engine of a Honda 500/4. Used it during the restoration of a Morris 8 and several VW vans. Built a five meter coastal going Sharpie with its help and it is currently aiding the maintenance of a recumbent tricycle.
    The last 40 plus years would have been a lot less interesting without it. I'm with your father in law on this :0)
    Interesting post btw.