Tag Archives: ACW

10mm, 12mm, or is it simplY epic?

My foray into 12mm American Civil War

A while ago, probably getting on for 2 years now (OK, maybe 3) a very close friend Glenn broached the idea of doing the American Civil War, but in a ‘grand scale’. I had already stumbled into the period some years before when Mike, another close friend, had convinced me to building a division in ‘classic’ scale (or 28mm), so wasn’t completely new to the period. However the idea of being able to actually play larger battles, even on my limited gaming space, was very appealing, and so we started to investigate our options.

After discussing the relative merits of 6mm, and 15mm, we went for the compromise of 10mm and explored who did what, and for how much. Surprisingly, there are (or were then) already a few options available, including Pendraken, Old Glory, Minifigs, and Kallistra to name a few. All of these offered a fairly extensive selection of figures at reasonable prices, and most importantly were available for mail order.

After a bit of deliberation we opted for Kallistra. We liked the look of the figures, and they were offering a multi-pack deal which clinched the deal. Starting with a small purchase each we each bought ourselves enough figures for a division or so of infantry, along with associated artillery and some cavalry, as well as our all important commanders. I would start with the Union, and Glenn with the Confederates.

We hadn’t determined which rules we were going to focus on, so basing was going to need to cater to a multiple of rule sets. As such we settled on 4 infantry figures to a 20mm by 20mm square as the baseline, with the option to pair the bases for 40mm by 20mm with 8 figures on etc. Cavalry would simply be 2 cavalry to a 20mm square base. The Kallistra figures arrived with plenty of 40mm by 20mm plastic bases, so it seemed to solidify the choice. I meanwhile had ordered a large batch of steel bases from Products for Wargamers, my reasoning being that I it would facilitate by next cunning plan. Through the simple use of magnetic paper I could now create simple sabot bases suitable to whatever rules we ended up playing. It had the added benefit that I wouldn’t need to magnetise the figures, but simply line my figure box with a magnetic sheet instead.

When the figures arrived I quickly cleaned the figures for flash and visible mould lines before priming a sample batch with a white base coat. Games Workshop had released their Contrast Paints and I wanted to try those out initially, but if they didn’t work out I intended to revert back to a black undercoat and block the colours in from there. Fortunately the contrast paints were very easy to work with, with the paint seeming to ‘bleed’ into crevices, highlighting all of the detail which I would have inevitably missed. I went for a fairly simple pallet of colours to be able to paint the figures without too many complications. Within a fairly short time I had finished my four regiments of infantry, along with artillery and limbers. Feeling rather pleased with the results I then undercoated the next batch in white to repeat the process.

It was around this time that Warlord Games released their Epic ACW range. After lots of confusion and discussion the online community seemed to align that these new figures were around 12mm to 13mm tall (or there abouts). They weren’t 10mm, and they weren’t 15mm, but somewhere in between. Fortunately for myself and Glenn, we had gone with the 12mm Kallistra ACW figures which seemed to fit in rather well with this new offering (we were fortunate to be in the Goldilocks zone). So I bought a box, and what a box that was! The box was huge and contained 2,400 infantry and other figures, along with terrain and a set of the Blackpowder rules. The figures though come in strips of 10 men, designed to fit on a 60mm frontage base, so so serious consideration will need to be made as to how to integrate my existing figures and my established basing convention, with that of the newcomers. With lockdown now upon us I was sure that I would have the time to find a solution.

It was about that time that all of my progress came to an abrupt halt. We had ordered a new kitchen as seems to have been the fashion for lockdown, and it was about this time that it was delivered. Unfortunately the fitters wouldn’t be available for some months, so the dining room and conservatory became effective no-go zones whilst the kitchen was stored there. Since this is where I did my painting I would have to put it all on hold until a space for painting would become available again – I hadn’t quite appreciate just how long that would be. And so this was to be the case for many months whilst we waited for the installation to be completed. At least it gave me time to continue to explore the various rule sets which were available, and there are a lot of them available.

Home grown fencing

I had a go at making my own snake/split rail fencing for my American games.

I wanted the fences to fit onto the standard 6 inch (15cm) mdc bases I use and also wanted them to be relatively easy to build (and replicate) without too much facing around.  With that in mind I decided to opt to use pre-cut matches from Hobbycraft.  You can get 50g for a little over £1.00 which is plenty for probably 6 foot or more (best guess). At 1/50 the 4cm matches are probably slightly undersize for length being approximately  7 foot as opposed to the traditional 9 to 11 foot lengths.

I get my mdf bases pre-cut from Blotz.  I requested a 6 inch long base which is 1 inch wide with fully rounded ends to allow full flexibility for positioning at odd angles or ends without having to worry about corners or the such.

I initially used a watered down ova mix to glue the matches directly to the mdf base.  Having now completed the first batch I would probably use full strength pva for future fences because I found that sometimes there wasn’t sufficient bond and one of the fences fell apart on me when being handled (well at least it’s a lesson learnt for next time).

I wanted the fences to end roughly in the centre at each end so that they could be married up to the next fence base easily.  Unfortunately I discovered that due to the length of my base and the  match size being used I wouldn’t achieve a universal fence base which could be easily placed either way around to marry up without issues to the next one.  I ended up doing a compromise and made two base types which mirror each other and so long as I alternate the basing they will hopefully marry up without issue.  I’m not all that sure if I’m simply putting concerns where they don’t really exist but I’ll only really be able to see it when I use them in earnest on the table top.

Each base starts which three matches laid at roughly 30 degrees to the base length, with the two end matches touching the base edge in the middle.  I then snipped two small pieces to put on top of the end pieces to help support the third level.  this is because the fences are normally continuous so support each other.  Due to my requirement to have individual pieces I would need to compromise somewhere on the aesthetics.  I then laid  two complete matches onto between the three base matches to complete the second level.  The third level was simply a repeat of the base layer using the end bits for support.

I repeated this process until I had 7 matches height in total (4 on the ends and three on the middle – the pictures probably show this better).

I gave the whole structure a light wash with watered down PVA then left to dry.  Once dry I applied a PVA layer to the base and dipped in a fine gravel.  Once all of this was dry I painted the whole item with a watered down Red Earth acrylic ink from Daller Rowney and left it to dry.  I then applied a dry brush of sand (light stone/beige/coffee colour) to the entire fence and base.

To finish it off I stuck greek static flock to the base.

As to lessons learnt.

Well the fencing took slightly longer than I anticipated.  The 8 lengths probably took a couple of hours end to end allowing for drying time within that.  I could halve the manufacture time by doing parts in batches so that I was doing things whilst I was waiting for things to dry but this would mean being somewhat better prepared next time.

I also found that the initial watered down PVA wasn’t a good solution for constructing the fences so will use a thicker solution next time.

The watered down acrylic ink worked very well as it soaked into the base and fence very quickly so didn’t mean that I was trying to patch up areas I had missed later on.

As a final product I was pleased with my first efforts and they were soon used in a Dead Mans Hand game and held their own against the commercial stuff on the table.

Next time I’ll have a go at stone walls…