All posts by Count Belisarius

Battlegames Magazine – SAVED!

Meant to post this last night, but Henry announced yesterday that Battlegames magazine is in the process of being taken over by Atlantic Publishing to be a stablemate to Miniature Wargames. The full announce is here. There have been corresponding posts on TMP, WD3 and assorted blogs and Facebook and as to be expected the response is a big Hurrah! It is really good news. For Henry, to allow his baby to carry on and to get his life back in order. For us, to get an excellent magazine back.

The intention is for Henry to remain at the editorial helm and for the style and content to remain. And there is the intention for Issue 27 to be available by Christmas/New Year. There have already been a few comments on mailing lists that the result of this will be a merger of the two titles at some point – as happened with Battle for Wargamers and Military Modelling all those years ago. I don’t see this happening for two reasons. One, Henry would not hand over the mag if he thought it was going to ‘change’. Battlegames has a unique approach to the hobby – not entirely Old School, but far from the current glossy approach. Two, well actually I can’t think of two! 🙂 I just trust Henry’s decision and that Andrew Hubback and Atlantic don’t have an ulterior motive!

I don’t know whether they intend to use their marketing clout to push the magazine into Smiths. It would be a risk as the increase in print run and costs would put a lot of pressure on its success. I think it could work. As a bi-monthly, especially if alternated with Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy there would still really be only three mags on the shelves per month and I know a few wargamers who buy the Smiths mags regularly but don’t really know about Battlegames so there is a good potential market out there. Then again, they may just keep things as they are. Either way, I’m please to see the mag saved and with Henry and Atlantic the best for a successful future.

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A night on the tiles…

Well, a night and half a day really. And a few years ago I’d have been talking about imbibing alcohol! But not now… Terrain Tiles! That’s what I’m talking about! But first a little history…

Back when I started getting back into figure gaming up here in Newcastle (c.1998) and started my AWI project my two mates, Gary and Terry had started picking up Purbeck Terrain Tiles. These were based on polystyrene tiles, but it was the standard polystyrene a la box packing so it was light and quite susceptible to damage. As I didn’t know what else was available and obviously needed to fit in with what the guys had, I managed to pick up a load at the Shrewsbury Wargames Show. The tiles came in large 18″x18″, mid 18″x9″ and smaller tiles at 9″x9″, the latter being for things like river curves, roads, rough ground etc. I bought enough to cover a 6’x4′ table and due to space/time/wife constraints at home I never actually used them until a couple of years ago when I played a game of Field of Glory at home. Other than that, the only time they saw light was to set up figures for photographing! I’ve tried a couple of times to shift them via TMP etc. but to no avail…

Roll forward to this year…and the need for some desert type terrain both for my FUBAR project, for my Yom Kippur War, and for my upcoming Western Desert WW2 project. I’ve seen rather nice desert terrain mats and the TSS tiles are nice but to be honest I don’t really have the funds to get something like that now. I could make some proper tiles following ideas from Michael at Angel Barracks but again, cost and time. So given that I have a Games Workshop battlemat for my European gaming and the tiles are reversible I thought I would adapt them.

Here we have the basic 18″x18″ tile:

I wanted a little variety in texture so rather than just apply paint to the lot I slapped some PVA in random patches:

And then scattered the usual medium railway ballast I use over the lot:

There are river sections but as I have some ‘lay on top’ river pieces I thought I’d use the river sections for a wadi:

Brushing off the loose left this:

I use DecoArt paints for my basing base colours and for my FUBAR chaps start with Country Maple. Now this would use a lot of pots so I took one down to B&Q and got a pot of emulsion matched. To be honest it came out a little lighter but isn’t too bad a match. Now I should have had a base coat photo but my phone died so we skip to the final tile! As the base was light my usual Tan first drybrush didn’t really show up so I went straight to Antique White. I tried dry brushing but it was getting uneven so I ended up using a sponge over the ballast areas and occasional dabs inbetween:

The river sections had the sides painted light grey and drybrushed almost white as I’d seen pictures of the side of a wadi in the Golan. I stuck a few bits of gravel in the bed and some assorted Woodland Scenics bushes. I may add more of these later.

Overall I did four of the big tiles, two rivers and a couple of hills:

The flatter pieces are MDF random shapes painted to match and these are meant to represent rises in the ground and give areas to hide behind and also to go hull down in what would otherwise be open ground:

Details of the wadi:

More wadi:

And some Israeli M48s moving through with support:

Overall I’m quite pleased with them. The colour doesn’t match the IDF bases as much as I’d like but it will the FUBAR chaps when I dig them out. Ideally I’ll do another two big tiles and another wadi section. This should give me enough for a decent FUBAR game and also a small Cold War Commander game.

I’m still trying to decide whether to add some areas of static grass to match the FUBAR basing, and also whether to spray/coat the lot with thinned PVA to protect it a little more? Not sure.

Anyway, a productive little session 🙂


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Syrian Support (for ’73 not now!)

I wanted to put together some support for the infantry. Mortars in the GHQ Heavy Weapons pack are fine (though only three of them!) and I’d assumed the ATGWs were Saggers (AT-3s) but I think they’re actually Spandrels (AT-7s?). Now for the Syrians I need the Suitcase Sagger. Which GHQ don’t do. Mainforce don’t do. But H&R do. Now I’ve used these for my Soviets but mixing them with GHQ just highlights the difference in size.

Anyway, here are the mortars. Only after I’d finished painting them did I realise I’ve got the crews facing the wrong way! Can’t be bothered changing them now:


I’ve gone for 20×20 for my support weapons with one team on each rather than 40x20mm and two teams as for my Cold War stuff.

Now, on to the Saggers. The Heroics and Ros are to the left. My version is to the right.

With the Heroics and Ros the Sagger itself gets lost in the sand and the figures, while fine, are quite small.

For my version I started with the Spandrel from the Heavy Weapons pack from GHQ. Cut of the tube section and used the box as the base for the Sagger. I then had the missiles etc. from an H&R Allouette and chose a suitably sized ‘bomb’, filed one side at the back so it would sit with the nose raised and stuck it to the box. The lying down Spandrel guy had the tripod cut off and the stand looks enough like the Sagger control I’ve seen in some pics. The other crewman is a GHQ radio operator. The radio on his back is a little big but not too bad.

I think it looks better from above as well compared to the H&R one.

And this is the Spandrel that got butchered!

Overall I’m quite pleased. I shall await feedback from various sources, possibly telling me it’s wrong, before I start mass production! And I’ll need to get a few more radio operators as well!

Painting these I did little different. White undercoat, Sepia wash, Violet Brown for uniform, leaving the wash showing for belts etc., Flat Earth kit, Pale Sand drybrush. Mortars and sagger left in Russian Green (all Vallejo).

I have four BTR-152s based and ready to go for them to ride in!

More to follow…

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Syrians and basing woes…

Have finally finished another Syrian unit and couple of HQ units. Have still to finalise a proper list to work to and add to the Painting Master Plan.

So, here are the chaps so far:

I finally finished off the Skytrex T-55s  by adding the HQ stand.


Next up was some GHQ BTR80PBs. These are lovely crisp little models and were a joy to paint. I went with the same basic sand on green pattern as above but will be doing some with the grey later.

The infantry are GHQ Soviets. They’ve come out a little dark and I may do the next lot differently. And the basing went wrong – see below.

 HQ stand, again with GHQ Soviet Infantry

I fear my basing mojo has deserted me. I knew I wanted to use the sand with crushed shells mix as is to speed up basing. I had done this with a few M48s (below) and was happy with it. However, when I came to do the T-55s I had forgotten that on the M48s I’d painted the base mid-brown first. So on the T-55s the various dark patches from the painting process showed through and made the whole lot darker. When I came to do the infantry I knew I had to paint the figure bases and I chose Vallejo Desert Yellow as I thought this would blend with the sand. As I knew I had to paint the bases anyway I just used this for the whole base as well. It was lighter than the mid-brown I use and consequently when the sand was applied that came out very light as well! It was a noticeable difference so I applied a thinned Sepia Wash to it and that has gone too dark. Not horrendously so but enough to be annoying!

The plus point is that the light colour will work really well for my WW2 Western Desert! I also decided that I like the dark brown edges from the MDF laser cutting. So I’m going to leave them as is. And I found that Vallejo German Camo. Black Brown is a good match when applied to existing bases!

All a bit frustrating really as I like to have a uniform look to them all but I suppose the ground colour is different in different parts of the Golan!

I’ve just acquired a few GHQ Italians at roughly half price on eBay so now have a good size force for my Western Desert project for next year.

Next up is some support weapon types, some AA assets and then some T-62s. And a CO stand. Then I should have enough for a wee game!

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Battlegames Magazine RIP?

Found out today that Battlegames magazine is looking like discontinuing –  at least as a print magazine. Here’s the full announce from the Battlegames website:

I am sorry to inform you that following a review of the business, I am no longer able to proceed with further printed issues of the magazine in its current format.
It has become clear that for some time now, I have been subsidising the publication, which has been squeezed by increased print costs, increased competition in the wargames magazine market, substantially increased postage and distribution costs and now, a dramatic fall-off in advertisers. To incur further debt by proceeding to print at this point would be completely irresponsible. Whilst you have been patiently awaiting news of issue 27, I have been struggling to come up with solutions to the problem, but it is clear that no simple solution exists.
I blame no-one else for this situation and I apologise for failing you. Six years ago almost to the day, I made the decision to start a company in what I knew was a niche market, and I am proud of what I managed to achieve, but the blunt fact is that I should have recognised the writing on the wall sooner and am now in considerable financial difficulty as a result. I have been operating as a one-man-band in a precarious financial position from the outset, with no fall-back position, and I have paid the price. It is now imperative that I resume my former career in graphic and web design for the time being, as well as my new one in writing, in order to prevent complete financial meltdown.
I am conscious of the support and encouragement that I have had from so many of you over the last five years or more, and this is not a decision that I take lightly. As you know, Battlegames has been very much ‘my baby’ and I’m sure you can imagine my bitter disappointment, but facts are facts.
I am hoping that I can salvage something from the ruins and have already received a couple of suggestions that have potential merit, such as producing a high-quality quarterly journal without advertising, with a higher cover price to compensate for this, but of course it would be crucial that any future printed matter would have to be profitable to make it worthwhile. Producing Battlegames is a highly labour-intensive exercise, and I am no longer in a position to subsidise the publication in any way.
If sufficiently large numbers of current paper subscribers are willing to convert to the digital subscription, then it is possible that Battlegames might be able to live on in electronic format, again probably quarterly, with occasional printed ‘specials’ and additional e-publications of the kind I had been hoping to produce all along. However, I am aware that many of you are not keen on electronic formats, and I fully understand your position. After all, I started Battlegames so that I could have the *printed* magazine that I wanted. If a digital version of Battlegames were to become viable (at present, with just 150 digital subscriptions, it is not), then I would consider redesigning it to optimise the publication for on-screen viewing, taking into account the most popular methods of viewing digital content such as iPads and Kindles, as well as on PC or Mac screens.
Whilst I am sure there will be plenty of comments online over the next few days on TMP, WD3 and elsewhere, and I shall be issuing a press release along the lines of this email, I am so busy trying to deal with my predicament that I will not be able to respond on forums.
I fully understand that you are likely to be upset about this news but once again, I can only apologise and assure you that if it had been possible to continue Battlegames in its current form, then I would of course have done so.
Until I have had sufficient responses, I cannot yet determine the viability of continuing either in a revised printed format, or with a digital-only option, but I will of course keep you fully updated as soon as I have a clear idea of the response. I would urge you, if you have not already done so, to sign up for the email newsletter on the home page of the Battlegames website at which is by far the easiest, quickest and most cost-effective way for me to stay in touch with you.
Previous editions will, of course, remain on sale in the Shop here.
Thank you for reading what has been an extremely difficult message for me to write.
For me, this is very sad news. Henry has done an outstanding job over the last few years producing a quality mag in a very small market. It was the only magazine of the ‘big’ wargames mags that I read right through every issue. It’s the only mag that has a permanent place in the attic loo as I often re-read articles while ‘meditating’. It’s Old School credentials were often misleading as the content was wide and interesting to anyone in the hobby although I suppose the market was more of those among us ‘of a certain age’. There are often comparisons to the old Battle for Wargamers. Although the style, and quality were different, it was the ethos underlying them both, and I suppose a nostalgia for our wargaming past that drew us. I really am going to miss it if it doesn’t continue.
I wonder if the new Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy has had an affect on advertisers. It’s a quality mag, it’s in Smiths. There is only so much advertising to go round? Not sure really. There are so many factors involved in the current economic climate I think we’ll never know.
The plans for a digital version I will support. I would much prefer a printed copy but if I can’t have that I’ll have what I can get. I also hope that the removal of the allure of being seen ‘in print’ won’t impact on the supply of contributers. Irregular printed Specials are an option as well, or even a quarterly. I think it will take Henry a while to sort out his options, stabilise  his life/finances and come up with something. I’m sure he will, as his input to the hobby would be missed. Just take your time, Henry. We can wait.
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