Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Importance of Spot Colours


Have you ever looked at a technically well painted miniature or drawn image, and thought "It's missing something"? Even true to life models, which are weathered down to the anus of every man, need some colour to make them pop. There's an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Raymond's father sets out to paint Raymond's house. He decides on a yellow colour, much to the aghast of the extended family. It turns out Frank (Raymond's father) chose yellow because it made the house pop on the block. Needless to say you never actually see the house, but the episode really rung with me as a mediocre model painter who requires tricks to get around his limitations.This isn't so much a tutorial as a short diatribe on why all miniatures should aim to have some colour: 

My Examples: 

I painted a set of models today, 3 bunkers designed to be Viet Cong Bunkers for games I'm planning.
the obvious spot colour here is the red. Now unless you're colour blind (old mate Josh can fuck off) the first thing you're gonna be drawn to is the red tarp flowing off the side of the roof. Unfortunately, that's the only real spot colour on here. So, oddly enough, the basing becomes the spot colour. The other models are predominantly brownish aside from the corrugated iron roofing on the one bunker, so the grass becomes those part's spot colour that makes them Pop. 

This tau is a model I produced a long time ago, I'm not sure how well it has come out, b ut the first thing most people will notice is the orange and yellow pattern on the helm and target locks of the battlesuit. They are bright, out of place colours that once again, make them Pop. 

Examples from Video Games: 

This is also evident in a few video games, especially from the 8-32bit era, and especially prevalent within sidescrollers such as castlevania one and two, pictured below. 

In this example, the spot colours are the two player characters which share a slightly red, orange palette that makes them easily identifiable to the player. The other easily identifiable object on the field in the first screen are the enemies, which have a bright lilac colour palette designed to make them easily identifiable to the player. The Royal blue spot colour on the orb in the second image makes it easily identifiable as a quest item. Once again, the player is not going to perceive the skeletons as an enemy because they're not bright and colourful against the palette. 

The Best Colours for spots:

The best colour for your spot colour depends on your primary and secondary colours. Your primary colour will usually be a green, blue or grey (although fantasy gives room for changing this) so your secondary colour will be red for the first two and a black for the second. Good spot colours for green/red are yellow and orange, and green or white make good spot colours for blue/red. Grey usually has white or red highlights, although given the neutral nature of grey you can use almost any vibrant colour for spot colours.

I hope this might have helped someone with seeing the value of spot colours when painting miniatures. As always, if you have any questions, comments, critiques, anecdotes or just want to shoot the shit, you can contact me at 

Bonus round: 

Comment how many times you count the word pop! If you get it right, you'll get a prize. Here's a hint: The prize; It's like a lightbulb, it's pretty cool.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Basing Tutorial 1: Magnetizing a base.


So, you've made the dive into 15mm, or you just want a model that can be based on multiple surfaces. Maybe, you just want your units to all sit on a single piece of plastic duirng transport. Whether you're putting models to bases so they can be removed as casualties, or doing it because fucking magnets, this simple process can cut down the time spent magnetizing immensely. 


  1. A drill with sufficint fitting for a 7/64" (27.7mm)  drill bit. 
  2. Enough Magnets that are slightly larger than 7/64" for each model. IF you are magnetizing a 28mm model, or a model not based on a washer, you will need two magnets per model (the magnets being used here are ~30mm wide.) Obviously these should be small magnets, and these are usually called rare earth magnets. 
  3. Bases for magnetizing. 
    1. Movement trays if you're doing 28mm Historicals/fantasy
  4. A pair of flat-nosed pliers. The flat must be slightly larger than the magnet you're using. IT should also be magnetic to make this so much easier.
  5. A knife, because you're going to need to clean plastic. I suggest an standard blade, I did this with a curved blade and it was a pain in the neck to clean the magnet holes. 
Optional Items
  • Super glue: When done properly, these magnets will be in so firmly that you will need real force to pull them out. That is to say, you shouldn't be able to do it unless you intend to do so. 
  • Polar Magnet: Not necessary, but a good, large magnet will allow you to check the polarity of your new magnetic bases. Pick a side, and make sure that all your magnets stick to it.
  • Camera: So you can steal this tutorial, and make it your own, you view-loving whore. 


Step 1. Drill your holes 
This step is as simple as it sounds. Drill holes at a perpendicular line to your plastic base. Repeat as many times as required. Try to keep the drill exactly perpendicular to the base, as this give you a flush finish. Considering doing it into a board or table. 

About the only notable concern here is, (as I'm naughtily not doing in the image above) that you should drill into the rear of the base, rather than the top face. This means that the bit will not penetrate where your magnet will sit, and may mean the magnet will sit just a little more snugly. 

When doing this to both a squad/regiment base and a model's individual base, do the base first, then do the regimental base. For doing this, I suggest using flat bases rather than the raised GW bases. Rendedra produces great flat green bases that are perfect for this purpose.

This is most of the work. IF you want to be very careful, you might consider measuring and accurately defining where your magnets will end up, but I haven't done this as I was basing 15mm vietnam war infantry, who understandably didn't tend to fight in formation. 

Step 2. Clean the base
You've worked with plastics before if you're here, so I don't know why I'm telling you this. Maybe this process is just so simple and I wanted an extra step? Who knows. I'm clearly just a wanker. So, cut away any remaining plastic. IT's worth noting that you should absolutely avoid widening the hole at all when you do this, so be careful and avoid files unless you're using them flat against the surface of the base. 

Step 3.Fit your magnetsThis step is optional. I used my pliers to effectively jam the magnet into place so that when I put them in flush, it was less of a mission. Having a magnetized set of pliers helps here, as the magnet can be attached to the pliers then pressed into the hole. You will not believe how much easier this makes the whole process unless you've worked with magnets before. 

Step 4. Put magnets in flushThis step is the most important, but arguably the most fun. I tried two methods to complete this task. Both worked well enough. The first is to use the butt of your craft knife to gently press the magnet into place, as seen in the image to the left. You should do this until you can rub your thumb across the face of the base and not feel the magnet in place. 

The second method is to use your flat nose pliers to do pretty much the same thing. I found this method quicker as it meant that I didn't have to do the step prior to this one to complete it. It can be a little more difficult to aim with, though. Once again, the facing should be flush. IF you can't run your thumb across it you haven't done it well enough and should repeat the pressing. This is especially important with regimental bases where models that are sitting on top of a magnet will be very noticeable. 

Additional step

Apply superglue lightly over the top, or epoxy putty if you prefer and you're as safe as rain in england in terms of the magnets staying in place. just remember to make sure that they sit flushly! 

If you have any question, comments, critiques or humourous anecdotes, feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The reasons for a hiatus


Hello dear reader,

IF you're reading this, you're probably wondering why (or, I've shamelessly advertised to you about it because I'm a view monger) I've had such a lengthy hiatus from writing anything serious about wargaming. I had a long list of Bolt-action related topics to write about, with four or five months of world war history resources planned. I intended to get into some of the seventh edition codexes, citing the success of my review of the Space Marine Codex for my reason for this.

Unfortunately, none of this panned out. I'm a bastard. I know. My mother told me so.

In the time since my last post, I've had a turbulent relationship with my once strongly held hobby. Like a theist falling out of faith, I fell out of interest pretty heavily with warhammer and other well established wargames like Bolt Action, eventually becoming something of a pessimist about the hobby as a whole.

I specify established wargames for a reason. My hiatus gave me a chance to realize why it really was that I didn't like wargaming: It was a shock. I didn't dislike wargaming. I fucking loved it. I loved rolling lots of dice. I loved watching my opponent roll lots of dice. I loved moving miniatures around a table like the neck bearded armchair general that I am. It made me realize something else. I didn't feel burned out because wargaming was losing its place in my spare time, I felt burned out because I never got to play something that reflected what I felt about the genres.

The Ancients Wargame Phase

I had a look at some of the lesser established or 'retro' wargames. A local store owner and wargamer, (the owner of Emperor's Legions in Brisbane, Australia) introduced me to Warhammer Ancients. (for full disclosure purposes, I've never played the game. I've read the rules though.) This got me to realise that I really liked ancients as a wargaming concept. It figured, I played wargames on my PC religiously. Games such as the Total War Series, any turn based game I could get my hands on and even the thoroughly despised Jagged Alliance: Back in Action game. I realised that I really liked these games because I could play them at least partially to my own rules, with nobody else's input forcing me to do anything. So I did what any sane person who hadn't found his niche wargame would do: I made my own game. My parents, as caring and supportive as they pretend to be of my irritating hobby, had a great comment on the matter of rules made by me. They said that "It didn't matter what the rules are, just so long as I win because of them."  Affectionately titled Marches of Rome, then Shield of Rome and using a working title of ANCIENT BATTLES GAME DO NOT DELETE YOU ARSEHOLE.doc, this game became my first fully fledged gaming product that I managed to dupe one of my friends into playing.

It doesn't matter what the rules are, just so long as I win.
We had a blast, being completely confused by how the rules forced spearmen to outperform swordsmen in a charge, watching with dismay as many units crumbled after just a few hundred dice were rolled. I got to writing supplements, codexes so that my friends could play factions that they liked. In fact, when asked about the codex I promised him a friend said "Look dude, I just want my ancient Spanish." The game had some phenomenally unique mechanics, such as literally hundreds of dice being rolled to cause the death of just one man, battle lines being drawn and then shifted, seemingly at random, units breaking from an engagement only to be chased down and then emerge victorious after being charged in their rear, and the resource management that was the per-unit dice pool. 

The game shamelessly stole elements from Hail Caesar from Warlord Games, expanding on the command system in that game  to include the chance that the messenger got shot on the way there. IT stole points costing from SAGA From tomahawk Studios, as well as something resembling the points and fatigue systems from that game to create something of a grand battlefield strategy game with the most micromanagement one could possibly include in a four hour wargame. It was glorious, and I loved it like a son. Then, I realized it still wasn't what I wanted.

After that, I underwent a period of vacuousness. I played no wargames and tried to create nothing. I had truly burnt out. After a few weeks, one of my wargaming buddies organised a fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Campaign. I was immediately taken in by the "do whatever you want" attitude my DM took and I was excited by the prospect of doing stupid shit like swearing at my opponent rather than actually acting. IT occurred to me that this is what my wargames lacked: a player input system. Wargames differ from pen and paper RPGs in that they tend to have very well defined rulesets with no holes in them, (we speak in ideal terms as wargamers). RPGs tend to have well written rules, but have a different goal. They don't give players a direct route from A to B to resolution, but a framework for players to define what A and B are, and the GM as their only opponent to this. I thought "I could do this shit" and so I tried. I felt a pang of discomfort at relinquishing control unto some grubby-fingered player, but I realised that that's what I was looking for in a games system, and if nobody was going to write it, I might as well have a crack at my stupid dream. 


The end result was a counter-terrorism and hostage situation game, focused on not forcing the GM to follow some strict rules, and allowing lateral or "out of the box" thinking by the players and the GM. I did a lot of research about domestic gun fighting, researched dozens of hostage situations and SWAT-equivalent tactics and equipment to decide on my rules sets.  I often felt paranoid that ASIO (Australia's CIA) Was watching me and just waiting for me to ask a question about going to the Levant.)

The game took me into a new scale, and a new idea of how wargames should happen. Rather than being a turn based simulation of battle, the game I Created [Codename: GREY AREAS] was a cross between a wargame and an RPG. Players had set missions, distances and weapons like in a wargame, but the ability to think laterally, characterfully and interactively like an RPG. A big focus was on making a negotiation system that allowed players to do more than roll a dodecahedron and hope for the best. The final system I Developed left a lot of the details up to the GM: You, as the GM decide  whether your player makes a fitting argument based on a few pieces of information provided by the character sheet of the boss or organisation you're negotiating as. Combat was designed to be quick, unforgiving and brutal, but was eventually scaled back with the inclusion of an HP bar. It remained uncomplicated and designed so that when well planned, players could execute their mission without ever having a single shot fired at them. The game was mechanically like a ballerina or gymnast; it was flexible and graceful. I was happy with what I had done. 

After a while I began to focus on how to bring the project to life. Miniatures are the heart of any wargame, but RPGs care much less. Rather than settle on whiteboards and circles, I decided to go the whole hog and use setpiece terrain designed to immerse the player in a specific location. 4ground terrain was fantastic for this, and my friend at The Last Stand in Brisbane was very generous with his discounting of the products so that I could actually afford it. This left me with a lot of buildings with intricate, doll-house like levels that were accessible from the top down. I built doors into them and walls so that I could make specific rooms. Most of all I needed good miniatures to support my game with, and I found some fantastic generic yet so specific it hurt 15mm miniatures from a company in America called Rebel Minis. It gave me some simple, miniatures reminiscent of the people that supplemented the tanks of the micromachines franchise to play around with. 

I have played but one game of this system, but I thoroughly enjoyed being the villain, and I hope that through a subsequent campaign I can create a game where my friends and I can play imaginatively, with rules designed to give form rather than structure, while still being stiff enough to play like a wargame. 

It'd be cliche to call myself a madman now, wouldn't it?

The Future

For the time being, my future is uncertain in wargaming. I will definitely continue to go and play wargames, although I am still very much on hiatus from competitive wargames. I've spelled my time with card and board games (I am fiendishly fond of Coup, which is a great card game reminiscent of bullshit), computer games and Pokemon. (Yeah, Competitive fucking Pokemon.) I've even been tossing up starting my own youtube channel, although I'm doubtful I have the presence of mind to do 15-20 minute videos like some of the great youtubers I waste too much time on. Whatever happens in the future, I Can only draw three certainties: 

  1. I will continue to make broken rules that suit my creative needs as a gaming butterfly
  2. I will continue to play wargames. 
  3. I will continue to use this blog to augment my own hobby and bring it to new heights. 

I appreciate your reading this, fair-weathered reader. Your view means as much to me as my quirky sense of humour must mean to you, and that's not boding well for ether of us.