Here, have a werewolf. This big hairy brute is from the Strange Aeons miniatures of Uncle Mike. He’s a monster in several senses, about 44mm from base to top of his hairy head; the base is just under 40mm across.
“Everything is very simple in War, but the simplest thing is difficult.” — Carl von Clausewitz, On War
Richard Clarke of TooFatLardies has written a fascinating post over on his Lard Island blog about friction in games and in reality. Short version: real war is full of things going pear shaped; most gaming systems aren’t. Go read the full article, I’m doing it a terrible disservice with my one-line smartass summary!
I generally do figure prep (taking off moldlines and flash) and basic basing in fairly large batches, prime the whole batch, then tuck most of them away and bring them back out 5-10 at a time for painting.
It’s a good system for me; it gets the gruntwork of cleaning and prepping done efficiently, but avoids the “Primered Legions” paralysis I get from having hordes of unpainted figures staring at me from the corners of my painting bench. Instead they’re out of sight in in a spare figure case, to be brought out in small enough batches to actually paint.
Created a new Historical Gaming page, which has replaced the ECW/TYW page in the top menu; there’s also a matching Historicals category now to populate the page.
With my interests wandering into the Great War, Russian Civil War, English Civil War/Thirty Years War and elsewhere recently, a new catchall page was needed. I’ve retroactively added old posts to the new Historicals category as well.
There will, of course, be a lot of overlap with my long-standing Pulp interests, which is only natural as most of my developing historical interest grew out of the quasi-historical pulp games we’ve been playing for the last several years! Expect strongly pulp-flavoured history, as well!
If you’ve never heard of the Internet Archive, it’s a huge and sprawling website full of all sorts of material. Probably the most famous section is the “Wayback Machine“, an attempt to collect, curate and archive huge swathes of the internet. Looking for an interesting old wargaming website, perhaps one hosted on Geocities or another vanished host? Fire the old URL into the Wayback Machine, you’ll probably find something!
What I’m focusing on for this article, though, is the Texts side of the Archive. It’s an attempt to preserve, digitize and distribute huge numbers of old and new books, and make them available in as many formats as possible. Google (through Google Books), Microsoft and dozens of university, public and national libraries are involved. The collection is already millions of books and still growing rapidly. It can be hard to find things, though, which is one of the reasons I started writing this article — it began simply as a list of interesting Archive.org URLs I wanted to save for future reference in case I couldn’t find the same books again!
The Great War On Archive.org
I make no claims to have here a comprehensive list of the era’s books and publications available on the Internet Archive, but what follows is a sometimes arbitrary list of items that caught my eye!
There’s a whole bunch of official publications of various sorts, mostly American but a few British as well. Of particular note for Great War gamers is Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action, 1917 – this is an American re-publication of a famous British military manual. Straight from the source, as it were. A good chunk of the British background material in the back of Mud & Blood is straight from Training of Platoons, as are several of the scenarios presented in the Stout Hearts & Iron Troopers supplement.
Many of the rest of these books are published by civilian publishers; the main market seems to have been American officers in the newly-raised American Expeditionary Forces and to a lesser extent new officers of other nations. There was a certain amount of repetition and even flat-out plagarism in this market; some of the authors also regurgitate chunks of Training of Platoons straight into their own books.
Trench Fighting (1917) is a British book, noteworthy mostly for lots of good diagrams.
Tactics and Duties for Trench Fighting (1918) – One French and one American author, both infantry officers, longer book but written to be easy to read, lots of interesting details that could inspire scenarios.
Probably the most useful format to get these books in is PDF, especially as that preserves the original diagrams, illustrations and page layout better than any of the other formats the Internet Archive offers. Most books have a link straight to the PDFs on the left of the page; some (especially the ones via Google Books) don’t. The Google Books ones are especially frustrating, as going to the Google Books page does not actually give you an obvious link to the PDF file. Those PDFs are still in the Internet Archive, though – instead of going to Google Books, click the “All Files: HTTP” link at the bottom of the left-hand box, then look for the .pdf file on the resulting basic index page. Voila, the PDF, without messing around!
The prize find there, at least for a Mud & Blood player, has to be Instructions for the Offensive Combat of Small Units (Direct PDF link), which is a mid-1918 American adaptation of a French tactical guide. Training of Platoons, way up at the top of this article, was a British publication simply reprinted by the Americans; this one is extensively rewritten to use American tactical formations (the AEF used much larger units than either the French or British did by 1917/1918). Nice illustrations and diagrams, too.
There are almost certainly other interesting resources tucked away in the CARL files; I’ll keep looking and either update this articele or write a followup at some point in the future.
There’s also Druid_ian on Scribd but all his content is straight from the Internet Archive or the US Army sources listed above, just uploaded into Scribd’s sometimes useful but mostly frustrating interface. He has discovered some interesting documents buried in these sources, although note that only people who sign up for Scribd accounts may download from Scribd. Search for the same titles at IA or CARL and you won’t have to sign up for yet another website…
A number of these books are available on paper from various sources – search Amazon for them. I have no idea of the quality of these reprints; I prefer to keep my money for figures and scenery where I can! There are a number of good collections of trench maps and of course Great War/WW1 photography out there, but that’s for another article, this one is already long enough!
Found something interesting on the Internet Archive, the Obsolete Military Manuals collection or elsewhere? Leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to the article!
Here’s something I bought largely on a whim from a local craft store that has proven unexpectedly useful. It’s a 2oz (60ml) sprayer, cost about $2, and I find all sorts of uses for it.
Filled (as it is here) with a dilute mixture of acrylic artists ink and water, it’s a highly controllable way of applying washes or stains to scenery projects. In this case it’s got a grungy-looking mix of green and brown inks in it as part of an ongoing experiment in making grassy fields from fake fur (more on the fake fur experiments in a future post!). Due to lack of bench space, I often put projects on an old plastic tray and work on them there; I can spray with this little sprayer without having overspray all over the tray and the table I’m working on.
When basing figures or adding texture to scenery, I’ll put sand or flock down, paint it if required, then once that’s all dry, do a second coat of heavily diluted white glue to really lock the scenery material in place. To get the glue to flow easily into and around the scenery material, I fill the sprayer with plain water with just a tiny dab of dish soap added. The soap destroys any surface tension in the water, making what’s known as “wet water”.
A quick spray of wet water gets a second coat of dilute white glue applied by eyedropper to flow nicely in and around the scenery material. Once it’s dry the flock/sand/whatever is pretty nearly bombproof. I’ve got figure bases a decade old done this way that still haven’t shed a noticable amount of flock.
You could probably spray dilute white glue directly with a sprayer like this, but it might also be a great way to clog the nozzle, and especially when basing figures, I don’t exactly want glue sprayed on them.
Got a favourite small or slightly odd tool? Share in the comments!