Into The Woods

Regular visitors to the Buffet will have noted a distinct lack of content relating to the stalwart members of the Black Museum.

Whilst I still have tales to tell (and games to play) of their adventures, we have reached a plateau and other projects have been singing their siren songs, encouraging me down other avenues.

So rather than ‘force’ my hand and produce additional content that might not be up to the standard I’ve already set for this project, I thought it best to take a respite and move on to something a bit…different.

My simple mass combat rules – Feast of Crows – are complete and have been passed on to a third party, in order for them to be tested and (hopefully) not broken. The results of this will probably be published here, with a review and AAR done by someone other than me, with the rules available as a download, so you can try them for yourself.

And as June is fast approaching, this will see the return of spandex-clad shenanigans, as Forgotten Heroes returns for the third year running. Once again we offer you the chance to exercise your creative muscles and create a 28mm miniature of a costumed hero or villain who has yet to be produced, or has, but the figure was a bit rubbish. Details of the previous two years outputs can be found on the ‘official’ Forgotten Heroes website, set up and run by my glamorous assistant, the lovely Roger Webb. Come join us – it’s a lot of fun!

So, what other things can you expect to see on the Buffet for the remainder of the year?

Well, the main project will not only be something new, but also a new era for me, as we travel back to the 18th century, a time of horse and musket, drums and shakos and Sean Bean shouting “Bastard!”…

And for this I blame Steve Gilbert. However, he has redeemed himself regarding this, as I shall explain.

We’d been discussing various topics and Steve had expressed a desire to do some kind of joint project, where we shared a ‘world’, to which we could both contribute, adventure and play within. I’d said I was quite keen on doing something involving pirates and highwaymen, flintlocks and powdered wigs, where if your hat had less than two corners, you weren’t taken seriously. Steve like this idea, as it was an era he was interested in and had a fair few existing models which he could use.

However, I didn’t. Steve then kindly offered to send me a few sprues of suitable figures from Warlord Games‘ AWI range, so I’d have the necessary core figures to do this.

Now that obstacle was removed, ideas began to flow and the world began to take shape…

So, this joint sandbox project will have three threads. Each of us will have a dedicated personal setting or campaign, with the third part being a shared location we both utilise.

The project as a whole will fall under the umbrella title of “Age of Unreason”.

Steve will be following the exploits of a group of ‘chosen men’, as they take to the field in various conflicts and will follow their globe-trotting career. This may feature here or may end up on a new blog of Steve’s. This will be entitled “Sharpe’s Progress.”

The shared location will be the small Caribbean island of St. Gilbert, located in the Lesser Antilles. Whilst entirely fictional, it was originally colonised by the very real Order of St. Gilbert, hence the name. For more details on this unique order, follow this link. This part will be entitled “Île des Mortes.”

As for my setting, I will be concentrating on a small British Colonial township located in the deep woods of what will become the state of Maine. And this part will be named after the town itself – “Dark Haven.”

Understandably, given who’s involved, you can expect a wealth of historical detail and a big dollop of the macabre. This is an era where the major powers of the World are expanding past their borders into regions filled with unfamiliar cultures and belief systems. Whilst the majority of what they encounter can be dismissed as mere myth and superstition, not every tall tale is untrue…and some things are best left undisturbed.

Now, as with every ‘new’ project I start, the first thing I do is to work out what I’ve already got that can be used/re-purposed for the nascent project, before deciding whether I CAN do and what else I will need.

As Steve had provided me with troops and my collection of HeroScape hexes would provide the terrain I needed, it was time to decide what else I needed.

Short list consisted of; North American fauna, suitable settler’s dwellings and trees…lots and LOTS of trees.

I’d already picked up some wolves from Warbases at Salute (see my post ‘Sa-Loot 2018’ for details) and Roger very kindly offered me a toy bear he had, that he felt was the right scale. When this arrived, it was not only the right scale, but also a better sculpt than the metal figures I’d been looking at, as you can see from the picture below;

Rather cool, ain’t he? Big thanks to Roger for this (as well as the other figures, you bad man).

Due to miscalculating exactly how much of my Salute budget I had left (it was more than I thought I had), I failed to pick up the Renedhra Noeth American Farmhouse, which was on offer at Salute, so don’t yet have any buildings. However, as I do have a crapload of coffee stirrers, some wooden cabins are on the horizon.

This left the trees…

Now, gaming trees are not the cheapest item you can buy. True, they do look rather nice and usually come pre-based, but you’re looking at roughly £15.00 for three, which if you’re trying to plant a forest, is a substantial outlay.

Having dismissed this idea, I watched various online videos on how to make your own, which whilst is a cheaper option, does require a fair outlay of time to do.

And then I had a brainwave and went to eBay. I remembered that Andy had picked up some inexpensive trees for his ATZ terrain and thought I’d see if they did something similar for my needs.

After a browse, I came across a listing for “10 pieces 10cm plastic model trees”…for £1.80 including shipping! The pictures looked pretty good and 10cm tall was a good size – tall enough so they didn’t look too small, but small enougb that stiorage wouldn’t be an option. So, I took a gamble and ordered two packs.

Six days later (yes, it only took six days for them to ship them from China) they arrived, and this is what they look like;

Each tree IS actually 10cm tall and consists of an injection molded plastic tree, to which has been attached ‘blobs’ of flock to represent the foliage. The coverage is a little uneven, with a few bare branches, but this means that whilst each tree is effectively identical, there is a bit of variation. As the soft plastic of the ‘frame’ is easily cut, if you want to trim a few branches here and there, I can’t imagine this would be a problem. There was also a bit of shedding of the flock, but a quick dip in a solution of thinnned down PVA will solve this issue.

All well and good, you say, but how do they compare to a standard 28mm figure?

Like this;

Not had a chance to base them properly yet, so I just used a temporary solution to get them upright.

So, twenty trees for £3.80 – which is less than a pint of beer! Bargain!

Whilst mine were £1.80 for a pack of 10, this has now gone up to £1.95 for a pack of 10…but that’s still less than 20p per tree. And they can be found here.

A fair bit of assembly and basing to be done, but soon I shall be able to send some Redcoats into the woods. What will they encounter? Native tribes? Indigenous fauna? A French raiding party? Or something far more inexplicable? Hopefully you’ll have as much fun as me finding out.

Until next time…

44 thoughts on “Into The Woods

  1. **squeals**

    This is simply incredible. I sat riveted to every word from the first one to the very last, then I went right back to the beginning and read it all over again.. each time thinking at the end “I wish there were more” like that feeling you get when a favourite show comes to an end and you have to wait a whole `nother week for the next one to air.

    I love the proposed plans, and I adore the thought of you guys doing this together. I shall be honoured to contribute sometimes as time allows, if you want me to that is. I`m already thinking of my first part, a prequel perhaps – “The Hessian Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.” and I think my ugly family Grick may have to make a dimensional move into this world as well.

    The theme is simply perfect, should be stunning too, and allows for,. well everything from the Wendigo, and the Chupacabra, to disturbed burial grounds emptying and spewing forth its dead to chase away those who disturb the sacred boundaries – with vile retribution; and then of course what does lie in the lonely Pine Barrens of New Jersey?

    The shared island sounds intriguing and that map, Oo that map makes me want to BE there and explore it for real. But then again I doubt I`d last long in that forest **shudders** 🙂

    As for Sharpe`s Progress, this will make up for the series coming to an end, and the idea of continuing and alternative adventures of that motley crew, fills me with excitement and trepidation hehe. Hopefully the new rules combined perhaps with The Way of the Crow, will unite nicely for what ever scale game you like to play on any given table.


    • Feast of Crows, Forgotten Heroes, Age of Unreason…like a swan serenely gliding across the surface, you don’t see the furious paddling going on beneath. 😉

      And part of the reason I do such things and post about them is to encourage others to expand their gaming horizons, going beyond what others have stated is the setting or game to play. It’s your time and YOUR hobby, so make it what you want it to be.

      And should you be inspired and want a little corner of our sandbox to play in, you are more than welcome. It will only make the setting bigger and better.

      Dark Haven will tap into the actual mythology of the area, so wendigo are definitely on the cards, along with the other weird and wonderful creatures of Native American folklore, so expect to see something a little different than zombie indians and Colonial vampires – although they may be there too…

      St. Gilbert already has a bit of history written about it, and that may be exposed to a wider audience rather soon. And you’re right – the interior is not to be entered lightly…

      Way of the Crow will also get completed this year, so finally people will be able to use it for whatever they choose.

      And as the post was fairly lengthy, I didn’t mention Doctor Who…but there will be a bit of that too as we progress.

      Fun times ahead!


      • I shall Jez, thank you: but just the occasional post. I have already been commandeered over at the Guys new site, and will be running a few fav characters (e.g. my Family Grick and Lady Templeton Grey) through France and beyond, into the dust bowl of the Spanish Peninsular.. and beyond.


        • No worries, Tar. My door remains ever open for you, so should you wish to pen an article that the guys doesn’t feel ‘fits’ the tone of their new site, you’re more than welcome to post it here.


  2. this is too much, any more and i will burst. i want it all to happen now. this is the most exciting news to happen in wargaming history since someone first sat down in a circle with some other friends and said “lets make a game and call it make belief”.


    • Thanks Stevie. Given the length of this post and its content, you can see why I thought it best to post yours as a separate piece, rather than wrap it within mine. And why I left a goodly period between publication. I wanted people the chance to read your piece, digest it and comment, before coming in with something else.

      And my bear is pretty cool, isn’t he? As for the trees…well, they’re a feckin’ bargain and will ensure that my woods LOOK like woods, rather than a few isolated trees.


      • “Those aren`t the trees your looking for”

        “These aren`t the trees I`m looking for.”

        “You can give these all to me, and be on your way”

        “I can give these all to…. *static* hold on, what?

        ___________________________________________ *winks*


  3. I am sad to see a hiatus from Blackwell. I don’t think I will ever get enough of those tales. But, I’m excited for the new direction and new possibilities. Anxiously awaiting the first tales in this shared world and some new inspiration.
    All the possible monsters and demons and and and and…. Very very excited. I’ve not read the Sharpe series yet. Its on the list, the very long list. Adds to the excitement to see into that world.
    So many possibilities!
    Oh, and email me Jez. I’ve got a proposition for you.


    • My friend Chris had similar feelings regarding the break, jokingly stating that he was going to launch a Kickstarter to fund the continuation of my Tales of the Black Museum…

      And the possibilities of this new setting are only limited by our imagination… Should be intetesting to see how it develops. Certainly it’s going to be a little bit different from the standard fare we see on other blogs.

      And I’m intrigued, so will drop you a mail shortly.


  4. Now that new monster makes a lot of sense ! LOL Hopefully it won’t be too long until we see another adventure in Blackwell, but also look forward to seeing these new adventures


    • Wheels within wheels, Dave…lol. I ALWAYS have a plan, but prefer to hint and tease, rather than infodump. That way when things do finally appear, they’re a pleasant surprise, tempered with the realisation of “Ahhh, that’s what he meant…”

      Cunning plans, see? 😉


  5. So let me see, we have a three corner hat colonial romp off the east coast just below the Canadian border – hey that`s Brunswick country, super cool (and not so far from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey); and we have Sharp-esque escapades and that can only be diverse affairs set in places like India, Spain, Portugal, France and Belgium, and north American too of course. But then we have this island, this creepy little island right off the mainland, in which you will both dabble about and play in. Hmmm I`m seeing pirates, black sails and “ahaa Jim lad”, and hoist the Jolly Roger.

    Can`t wait.


    • Sums it up rather nicely, Dave. 😁

      Of course, as with anything I’m involved in, things are never quite what they initially appear. I’ve seen that beaten track and do not care for it…lol


      • >chuckles<>chuckles<< no thank you.

        I`m sure with Steve in the mix there will be a lot of actual battles skirmishes and rpg narrative, as WELL as some stories (like you, he tells a darn good story does our Steve, then again, it is what he does for a living LOL).

        Keep up the good work guys.


  6. Ooops only half of the above came out for some reason, here it is again in full.


    >chuckles<>chuckles<< no thank you.

    I`m sure with Steve in the mix there will be a lot of actual battles skirmishes and rpg narrative, as WELL as some stories (like you, he tells a darn good story does our Steve, then again, it is what he does for a living LOL).

    Keep up the good work guys.


  7. >chuckles<>chuckles<< no thank you.

    I`m sure with Steve in the mix there will be a lot of actual battles skirmishes and rpg narrative, as WELL as some stories (like you, he tells a darn good story does our Steve, then again, it is what he does for a living LOL).

    Keep up the good work guys.


  8. I`ll try for you Dave, lets see if this works.


    Dave wrote –

    >chuckles<>chuckles<< no thank you.

    I`m sure with Steve in the mix there will be a lot of actual battles skirmishes and rpg narrative, as WELL as some stories (like you, he tells a darn good story does our Steve, then again, it is what he does for a living LOL).

    Keep up the good work guys.


  9. {chuckles} just so long as there are actual games this time. Loved your Black Museum but I stopped because I am a gamer and was craving batreps and AAR`s. Stories alone are all well and good, but on the limited time I have to spend on line, I personally only have time for game related material – not tutorials, or WIPs, or unboxings, or endless reviews of barely played and games: “here`s the game I got last week, not played it yet but its very good. *enthuse enthuse*” >>chuckles<< no thank you. I`m sure with Steve in the mix there will be a lot of actual battles skirmishes and rpg narrative, as WELL as some stories (like you, he tells a darn good story does our Steve, then again, it is what he does for a living LOL). Keep up the good work guys.


    • Ahhh, not the first time this particular topic has come up and whilst there WERE a couple of AARs, they weren’t specifically noted as such. I hsve taken this constructive criticism on board and future AARs will be more obvious and a bit more regular. See? I do listen…lol


  10. Ah good, when its just me says something I start to sniff my shirt to see if its coming from me LOL. But when others can smell it too, you know its coming in from the farm >chuckles<<


    • As there will be a new ‘cast’, none of which I have yet to form an emotional attachment to, I think we can guarantee that death will stalk the woods…maybe on two legs, maybe on four or maybe on no legs at all.

      I’ve already got the first scenario/adventure/AAR in mind…just need to (literally) assemble my troops. 😁


      • Always the fun part of starting something new I always find, getting into gear, breathing new life blood and making the new cast come alive. Many`s the time I have been known to pace about doing silly accents, pulling faces in the mirror, and quoting lines I haven`t even written yet, all just to bring a character to life. My family think I`m crazy.

        Of course, when you have actual miniatures for your creations, it starts to feel real.

        Okay, here they come, white van and nice looking men in overalls and a lovely looking jacket. Oh is that for me? it looks awfully tight!


  11. im the same. i spend most my awake time painting figures to play with, then playing games with them. i like to take photos and make journals of my games as well and make campaign reports out of them so i can look back and see what i played any year. i dont spend lots of time on line because it stops me enjoying the hobby (too easy to sit and never actually play), and when i do check the net i look for sites that specialise in after action reports of games played. this is where i find the inspiration to play more of my own games and often bring new ideas in i would never have thought of if i hadnt first seen it played on line.


    • The reason I spend a fair bit of time online is that I have mobile accces, so can browse the Internet, read blogs and, via the WordPress app, can compose and publish content ‘on the go’ – as long as I have Internet access and haven’t blown my data allowance for the month. So, this can be done whilst commuting to and from work and during breaks.

      All my gaming stuff remains at home, packed neatly away, so playing a game can only be done when I have the time to set uo, play and pack away. As my wife believes that any ‘spare’ time I have could be more usefully used to redecorate or perform household maintenance, certain compro.ises have to be made to ensure that I get ANY hobby-time. So, it’s not a case of not wanting to, more of a case of sneaking it in when I get the chance. Not an excuse, but hopefully explans why AARs are not as regular as other content.


  12. i wish i knew where i saw it, but a man like you with limited time and massively restricted space, found his own way to play enjoyable narrative games, turning the whole thing into full spectacular full on wargame just a few times a year, almost as highlights to his normal small games. this guy has lots of figures, but mostly only played with a handful of them at a time, sometimes only two or three figures, and all played on the smallest space space, sometimes a tea tray. his models and his terrain looked incredible and he combined the art of good storytelling with an endless number of linked campaign skirmishes and `tiny situational` set ups that could be written up as stories from the game play itself (like two men having a pistol duel at dawn, with seconds and a physician looking on). His backdrops and his terrain were incredible and always had a stand up background which he would draw and paint himself in watercolour, so the whole thing really did feel a tiny three dimensional cameo every time he set up and played one of these miniature 28mm games.

    i wish i could find the blog again, but i have never found it since. it is what inspired me to do my own games the way i do. often tiny, often put away before bed, but easy to re-set up next time I have the time, and start from where i last left of. these games can be as small as a single tank and its crew, of a squad of five men moving along a road in enemy held territory, looking for a lost pilot who baled out of his plane at night and has to be picked up before the enemy find him first.

    great way to play with very limited space and perfect for when time is an issue.


    • Now that’s an interesting concept and one that I’ve not considered before. I suppose it’s partially ‘ingrained’ in all wargamers, to a certain degree, that games MUST be played on 2 foot or 3 foot square battlefields. Most skirmish games do specify that this is the MINIMUM space that can be used. But as you rightly point out, this is not a necessity.

      Thanks for that, Luke – that’s incredibly useful. 😁


  13. its a pleasure Jez (I think everyone calls you, right?). i think you will find that the man i described but cant remember who or where i saw his blog, actually got his inspiration for playing that way from stephen gilbert`s old pro-website some years ago. stephen used to write for a production i think was called wargames journal, back in the time when magazines were paper and not all digital pdf stuff. he promoted a series of articles which showed gamers how to play the most satisfying games on small spaces, and cut into half an hour chunks of game play, like chapters, so you could easily set the game down at any point without having to worry about time restraints. ideal for the soloist or the man with family commitments.


    • I have been called many things, Luke, not all of them complimentary, but Jez is the one I most commonly answer to. 😁

      Stephen Gilbert? Hmmm, the name sounds familiar…lol

      I believe Steve is actually working on a solo wargamer’s guide, which is probably a condensed and tidied version of these original articles, which should be invaluable to someone such as myself.


  14. Oh and Jez, I completely forgot to mention, those trees… they`re simply scrumptious. I badly want to get some now, as I`m amazed just how perfect they are for the sort of thing we need for our games. Fast delivery too, so wow, that`s just great.


    • I was pretty pleased with them and was glad I took the risk. As I said in the post, whilst they are identical (bar flock coverage) trimming off one or two branches or shortening the trunk will easily give a bit of variety, as would giving tgem a touch of dry-brushing in various shades of green. You’d need to ‘seal’ the flock first, of course, otherwise you’ll end up with a brushful of flock.


  15. Very much looking forward to the shared world project, Jeremy. It sounds terrific. And colonial Maine as a setting, particularly for horror, is a solid choice!
    (Palpatine voice) Yes, young Jeremy, we will be watching your career with great interest!
    You can certainly count me in for Forgotten Heroes again this year, although I had no idea it was almost upon us! I’ll have to start planning around my own projects. Perhaps not an entire team for me this year…
    Speaking of which, are you still planning on doing the Crusaders?
    I’m sad to see The Black Museum on hiatus, but I can certainly sympathize with wanting to do something different so it doesn’t feel like work rather than play. One burning question (pardon the pun): did you ever finish your Victorian Ghost Rider?


    • Cheers Keith. Whilst I’m somewhat familiar with the area, as the period I’ve chosen saw a great deal of upheaval and border and name changes, I’m going to have to be somewhat careful to get the historical background broadly correct.

      And I thought I’d announce FH 2018 early-ish, to ensure that people had a chance to plan. I have a specific character in mind this year, but am tempted (due to my current focus) to have a go at the Revolutionary era Captain America…because it would be cool. The Crusaders will have to wait…lol

      And my Victorian Ghost Rider is ALMOST finished. I think he will probably get done over the next month or so, just so I can say he’s done.


  16. Well this all looks like it will be splendid fun Jez, glad you are pleased with the bear, he was just sitting on my painting table (honestly can’t remember why!), so you are most welcome top him. Strange you mention Forgotten Heroes too, as I was only thinking yesterday that I’ll have to go round and contact all last years entries to see if they want in again (I won’t bother with Keith now), I think I’m going to go simple this year again as time might be an issue.

    Can I just throw my oar into this pond and say that though I do like the stories and narrative aspect of this, I’m a shallow sod, and like the pretty pictures too, so WIP’s and suggestions as to what you are going to do, and with what, with pictures are the posts I like best, I’m all about the figures as you know, so AAR’s are great but can we have pic’s of the fig’s in situ, as it were. I realise this isn’t always possible for the reasons you mentioned above, but if you can that would be great.

    Looking forward to this, cheers Roger (the glamourous, I’ll be Debbie Magee to your Paul Daniels).


    • Thanks Roger. The bear was exactly. what I needed.

      Regarding FH, I believe Steve wants to take part this year too, but I will double-check with him.

      And whilst there will be more AARs, there will still be the standard fare you’ve come to expect from the Buffet, just a bit more of a balanced mix.

      And funny you should mention Debbie Magee, as my son regularly works with her on her Sunday morning radio show and apparently she is as lovely as she appears.


  17. I am already hooked! Love the idea of your joint venture and the opportunity to allow both of your wonderful imaginations loose in tandem – what could possibly go wrong? Many moons ago, I was fiddling around with what was loosely called the ‘Secret Project’. Set in the late Victorian era, Holmes and companions find themselves on a lecture tour of the American Mid West. The idea was that they would run around solving all manner of mysteries and local legends, think Mystery Inc. with pocket watches. It didn’t come to much (I painted a few bits and pieces), but I mention it here with regard to trees. Have a look at these – I loved the idea of the thin saplings, all very Blair Witch.
    This link should get you all the “Secret Project’ posts up:


    • Thank you, Michael. I think we’ll make a good team, as we have a similar mindset and sense of humour, but each part will have its own particular flavour. If all goes according to plan, it will be like enjoying a three-course meal, with each oart complimenting and enhancing the others.

      And I do recall you mentioning the ‘Secret Project’ before and definitely did admire your birch trees. I may very well borrow that technique to add variety to my woodlands.


  18. Pingback: In a Dark, Dark Wood… | Carrion Crow's Buffet

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