Sunday, 27 September 2015

Shoreline Completed!

Well, more or less completed anyway, there's a few other bits and pieces I'd like to do but time constraints mean I have to lock the shoreline down now for SELWG. Two weeks to go and I have the Necromancer and three points of Vikings to complete (base colours done, shading up next). I also have a few extra bits of scenery for the table that need highlighting and flocking. These are just for atmosphere though and won't affect gameplay. More on that once they are done.

So it's time for another test photo, to see how the river looks on my GW grass mat.



Remember the idea was to have some river terrain that was relatively quick and easy to make but still looked good for our games. Well I'm pretty pleased with the result. Of course it will look much better with a Viking ship hauled up on the shingle bank.

Here's an overview.


In person the terrain is a little darker than my grass mat, but close enough for our purposes.

Last but not least here's one of the three marshes I recently made. These will be the main obstacle between the sacked monastery and the Viking ship.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Blood Rage Has Arrived!

A sizeable box was delivered today... Inside was Cool Mini or Not's 'Blood Rage'.



That's a lot of stuff! Kyle's away at Scout camp this weekend so opening it all up will have to wait until Sunday. Really looking forward to trying this one out!


Thursday, 24 September 2015

PayPal - Buyer Beware

My unfortunate episode with the broken figures has now been resolved. Previously I've commented on potential problems when using PayPal for purchases. Well I've learn't a few more things so thought I'd share my thoughts,

These photos illustrate the figures I was buying from a private seller (not a company).




£235 including postage (the deal included both sets of figures, a book and two lots of SAGA dice). I think you will agree the figures are nice. Painted to a very reasonable tabletop standard.

Unfortunately this is what arrived.




Many of the plastic figures were broken with missing arms and snapped spears. The metal figures were in an even worse state: broken, bent and very chipped.

Clearly not acceptable.

The seller thought they had packaged the figures to an acceptable standard. The exterior of the box was undamaged. Personally I would have wrapped everything within the box in bubble wrap... But that's neither here nor there, neither the seller nor PayPal disputed that the goods were not as advertised.

Using both direct email and the PayPal dispute resolution tool I requested a full refund. The seller made a claim against their local postal service and delayed agreeing to provide me with a refund until they had received feedback on their own claim. During this delay I contacted PayPal twice, using their recommended feedback form, requesting information on my claim. The auto response promised my query would be dealt with within 24 hours. But I didn't receive any response to my requests. Sorry, I did receive one email. A request for feedback on how I rated their response to my enquiry! Well since I hadn't received any response, you can imagine how I filled that form in...

After a week or so the seller contacted me to say the local postal service had given him the ok to have the goods returned. However, he also told me that he had been in discussion with PayPal who told him that whilst they were going to find in my favour they would only issue me a refund after I had returned the package - at my own expense.

I looked into this and it appears it is normal PayPal policy to only issue refunds after goods are returned. Fair enough, credit card companies typically demand the same. But PayPal claim they are unable to force sellers to pay for the return postage, despite it being a legal requirement (certainly in the UK and presumably across the EU). When I've received faulty goods from Amazon, they have organised a courier to collect.

So I paid for the return postage (nearly £30). The seller asked if I'd sort the figures to separate the plastic from metal. To be honest I was reluctant to mess with them too much (I didn't want to be accused of making the situation worse). However, I did wrap the metal figures in bubble wrap and added enough extra bubble wrap to the box to stop things bouncing around too much (remember - there was no bubble wrap in the box when it arrived). All at my own time and expense...

Once the seller confirmed receipt (politely, thanking me for the wrapping), the refund was made. However, the seller pointed out that according to PayPal the seller was not responsible for paying for the return postage. I politely asked to be reimbursed and, to cut a long story short, the seller offered to pay 50% of the return postage costs. Since my only other option appeared to be initiating a potentially expensive claim in the small claims court, I agreed. So after all that, I am out of pocket by about £15. I shouldn't be out by anything, but there you have it. It could have been much worse.

The message I want to get across here though is that despite PayPal claiming that they protect buyers, PayPal will only provide refunds after goods have been returned - at the buyers expense. Once the seller confirms goods have been returned, PayPal closes the dispute. PayPal will not help buyers to recover return postage costs. Heavy items sent by international courier can cost a fair bit to post and you the buyer will be made to pay with no guarantee that these extra costs will be refunded. Clearly this is at odds with the Trade of Goods Act.

Whilst I will continue to use PayPal when making purchases through eBay (who deal with return postage differently), until PayPal change their policy on return postage costs I will no longer use the company to make purchases of expensive items. I recommend that others do the same.



Sunday, 20 September 2015

Shoreline Dry Brushed...

... I think I'm going to need a bigger brush!



Of course, when looking from this distance in the dodgy light from our conservatory, the dry brushing is perhaps not that clear. The dry brushing isn't too heavy (after all, it will be covered in grass). So here's a close-up of one of the cliff sections.



I'll be quite busy over the coming week so may not have chance to apply the static grass until next weekend. Hopefully I can continue to make some progress with the Vikings in the meantime.



Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Paint Arrived!

My emergency order of Army Painter Leather Brown arrived by courier this morning! So not only was I able to progress the remaining three points of Vikings by painting their clothing and play not one but two games of Zombicide with Kyle and one of his mates, but... I was also able to spray the base colour of the river banks. And all before Doctor Who!



The sun was a bit bright in the conservatory so not the best of photos, but you get the idea. Once the base coat was applied I even managed to give the cliffs and pebble beach a wash with black/brown. On most of my terrain bases I would apply a wash to all of the base. But I don't think its worth doing with such large pieces like this.

Dry brushing starts tomorrow...


Friday, 18 September 2015

And Primed...

Managed to get the shorelines primed late last night. They are starting to look the business!

Typically I have run out of the Army Painter Brown Leather that I use for most of my terrain base coats. Fear not though, I put an order in a couple of days ago so it should arrive in time for the weekend. Fingers crossed...

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Shorelines Sanded!

Update on the shoreline - small stones and sand PVA glued onto the boards. Once the glue dries, the cliffs will be primed black. The whole lot will then be primed grey before being base coated brown.


I've also started on the next three points of Vikings and a few more items of loot.



Tuesday, 15 September 2015

River Shoreline Terrain

Quick update on the river shoreline terrain I am making for SELWG. Previously I've cut the boards needed for the adjustable shoreline sections. Yesterday I glued various pieces of polystyrene to the boards to provide some relief. I've also glued some pieces of cork that will provide a small cliff.



The six boards make up four feet of shoreline. I've constructed the cliffs in such a way that the two boards will fit together when required (the cork was cut down the middle with each section glued to a different board). In the photo above the cork sections are at either end of the river. The idea is that the cliffs will provide a barrier at either end of the board.



The central boards will have shingle banks and provide a suitable location for the Viking Longship.



These central sections therefore represent the area that the fleeing Vikings must reach after looting the monastery.

I've also managed to apply filler to the boards. This covers the polystyrene in typical wargamer's hill type fashion.




Next I need to apply small stones to represent rocks and cover the remainder with sand. I have to wait for the filler to set first though.



Monday, 14 September 2015

More SELWG Preparations

Most of the terrain I need for our SAGA game of Back to the Longship is now completed. I have a few extra bits that will add flavour, but nothing essential. The main outstanding item is a shoreline for the Viking longship. Over the summer I gave this a lot of thought. Initially I was going to create a beach with ocean waves lapping. However, I have an idea for a game for next year's Broadside - and that needs a river. A wide river. Hmm...

The problem with rivers is that they can be a lot of work (ie time) to do well. They also need a fair bit of skill and the finished terrain is likely to take up a lot of storage. The river I have in mind for next year's game may run to 12 feet! That's a lot of river to both make and store!! Time to step back and consider the options.

I have a small river (stream really), together with ford and a couple of bridges that I bought last year from Magnetic Bases at Salute. These resin pieces were painted earlier this year for our games of SAGA and whilst they are ok, the sections are a bit short and rather 'jointed' in appearance (currently packed away so no photos). I have therefore decided I want to create a river that will be less segmented (ie longer sections) and can be used at different widths for different games and scenarios. Crucially, the river has to be relatively straightforward to construct, but still look good for our games.

My solution is still evolving, but currently takes the form of a vinyl mat cut into two four foot lengths (if it works out I'll get some more for next years game). I am now creating wooden shorelines, each section of which will be one to two feet in length. The idea being that the shorelines are placed on top of the vinyl and can be moved closer or further apart as required. Anyway, here's what I have done so far for SELWG.


This is just a test to make sure the dimensions work and fit my GW grass mat. In the distant future I'll have a dedicated games room with custom made tables... But until my lottery numbers come up I have to make do with the conservatory table and grass mat...

The next step is to cut some polystyrene into appropriate shapes and glue them in place. After a liberal coating of filler, rocks and sand will then be added before the shoreline sections are primed, painted and flocked. I'm also aiming to make a removable shingle bank and a couple of mid-stream islands. It should be possible to construct the islands in such a way that they have some white water to give the river the illusion of flowing water. We'll see. I suspect some trial and error will be called for.

I've also just finished three points of Vikings. Three more to go. SELWG is in four weeks so plenty of time - I hope!



Sunday, 6 September 2015

SELWG 2015 Preparations

South East London Wargames Group will be holding their annual show on Sunday 11th October 2015 at Crystal Palace.



The Friday Night Fire Fight Club will be there with a couple of games and one of these will be run by yours truly, ably assisted by Mighty Kyle. Our table features a SAGA participation game that is based on the Revenant scenario Back to the Longship.

Viking raiders have sacked a Saxon church and are making off with the loot when dead grasping hands rise from the marshes and undead forms slowly emerge from the mist...

Kyle and I have had lots of ideas about the game. Kyle will be playing the Revenants and has acquired a dodgy horned Viking helmet (I know...) from Lindisfarne. Apparently he intends to mock whoever is brave enough to play the Vikings by making them wear it!

SAGA is a great game, but one that can perhaps lack something on the terrain front. Things can be a bit clinical with set sizes for terrain and rules for placement etc. So I've decided to spice things up a bit. Although we'll be using the existing terrain rules (more or less), I want a bit more colour on the table. So they'll be a few more scenic items - that may or may not be important to the game...

Of course, I've been working on all of this for a while, but not actually tested it out together yet. The image in my head may not make it to SELWG in exactly the form I intend, but I'll be giving it a good go.

So on to a few spoilers. Here are some of the Saxon warriors from Curteys Miniatures that came to the monastery's defence, but were cruely slain.



It would be unfortunate if Kyle's Necromancer was able to reanimate them using foul magic...


No Viking raid would be complete without a dead monk, some plundered loot and a rather elderly maid being led off to an uncertain fate...





These Viking Raiders come as a set from Wargames Foundry (who will have a stall at SELWG so you can buy your own - I should be on commission). I intend to have these positioned 'atmospherically' near the monastery. I've bought some flickering Halloween tea lights and if I can work out how to do it, I intend to have the roof ablaze - well, adorned with suitably painted and flickering cotton wool anyway.

There will be other stuff as well. I've just finished varnishing the marshes, next step is pouring some realistic water. Never used this stuff before so wish me luck!

Since we only have so much time for each game, we'll be using four(ish) points a side. My Oldhammer zombies will once again make an appearance as the Revenants and I'm currently painting up the Necromancer (from Gripping Beast's box set). That just leaves the remaining Viking warband. And guess what? I'm painting those up as well! I'm aiming to have six points completed (to provide more choice), but may only finish four in time for SELWG. We'll see...

I'll post more photos as stuff is completed.



Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Lesson Learned...

After my success with the Celts, I couldn't resist when an opportunity arose to purchase some more painted figures. Well, a cardboard package arrived today. Rather worryingly the box had an unnerving rattle so was very carefully opened...

Unfortunately the contents looked like they'd been used in a game of football. The cavalry figures are completely smashed and will need a significant amount of time to repair. Even then I'm not sure they can be repaired to anything approaching an acceptable state.

I'm currently in discussion with the vendor and I've asked for a full refund. I'll not post photos or further details until the vendor has had an opportunity to resolve the situation. Suffice to say I am bitterly disappointed. The figures looked excellent in photos on the vendor's blog.

But... Here's the important lesson I learned. When I made the purchase I had the option of paying as if receiving goods/service from a trader or I could have transferred money using the family/friends option. In the past when I've purchased figures privately, I've been asked to use the family/friends option. I believe that this means the vendor does not have to pay any service charge to PayPal. Indeed if you use this option you'll find that PayPal will charge you a small fee. Perhaps when purchasing the odd unpainted Oldhammer figure, the risk here is low. But larger purchases? Hmm.

This time around the vendor did not specify either option. Although the purchase was not massively exorbitant, it was still significant - to me at least. I therefore decided to pay using the correct goods/services option. Very pleased I made this decision. I apparently have buyer's protection so have opened a dispute with the vendor through PayPal and if this is not satisfactorily resolved within 20 days, PayPal claim they will refund. We'll wait and see what the outcome is. But take my experience as a warning. If you use PayPal to purchase stuff don't try to save a few quid by sending money directly. This is especially true if the vendor isn't personally known to you. If the vendor has anything resembling a clue, they'll have already added a small surcharge to cover their PayPal fees. Ask them to send you an invoice with all fees clearly stated. If they're not happy? Walk away...

Oh, one last thing. Don't think I'll be buying any pre-painted figures again anytime soon.