Category: Flames of War

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
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There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
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Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
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To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

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The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
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However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

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All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

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Paint scheme reference cards

PaintRefAThis week just a small tip for folks delving into miniature painting. If you are like me you might have a lot of different game systems and army projects going (sometimes several simultaneously). Once an army is done, going back to add a few troops or units is always an option. However it can be a tad difficult to remember what paints were used before for that force.

Another issue is that occasionally your miniatures will get some dings and dents. You may find needing to touch up a miniature or two. So trying to think back what paints you originally used for a base coat along with the proper wash might be a problem. It’s compounded if you’ve been painting a slew of other stuff since then too.

To get around this I use note cards. I write down the paints used for base coats, washes, and highlights. Additionally I pair this information up with the appropriate parts of the models. Along with the name of the paint, I also place a small dab of the paint color on the card.

This way I know exactly what colors I used for say, the webbing on my US Marines, along with the colors used for the drybrush highlight too. The color reference is also there in case I have problems tracking down a specific paint. I then have a hue to compare to if seeking a replacement paint from a different manufacturer. Another plus is I can take the card with me into the shop to directly compare.

They are very handy. I’ve got a slew of unfinished 15mm Russians I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now. At least with the paint reference cards I have some confidence I can revisit them again using the same color scheme as I had done in the past, ensuring that my army will have a uniform look. So consider keeping track of the paints you use on your minis. While I find note cards handy, but even a notebook is helpful. After all you never know when you might have to touch up a couple of minis (or add another squad to your force).

Hotz Mats felt fields

A long while back I mentioned that I picked up some battemats from Hotz Mats and wasn’t that impressed with them. At the same time I made my order, I decided to pick up some flocked felt field sets from the same company. Despite me not being keen on the treated felt mats, I gotta say that I do like the flocked fields they offer.

I bought 2 sets of the 20-30mm range felt fields. The fields vary in sizes and colors that look pretty good for that scale. Seems they offer smaller scale mats for 6-15mm. The pics I have here are of 1/72 scale Germans. It does seem that smaller models would look a little off with the larger scale mats.
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The felt fields are durable though and the flock is tightly adhered to the material. Mind you I keep them stored relatively flat tucked in a box of other terrain, so if tightly rolled up I’m not sure how they would hold up. But I have to say they’ve been through some heat and humidity and still look nice. Through normal gaming wear and tear you’d likely have some fields that would last for years.
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The felt fields range in size having one large section, 2 smaller fields (a little over 6″ long), and a mid-sized field. A good mix for a set which looks nice. Throw in some small stone walls or bocage and you’d have a nice bit of rough terrain or light cover for your table. If looking to get some rural terrain and not too keen on modeling your own, they are a good option and worth picking up a set or two.
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Wargaming in Seoul – Orc Town

A while back I talked some about places where you can pick up different wargame supplies in Seoul. One place in particular was Orc Town. They recently packed up and moved to another location, so I thought I’d give them a visit and check out the new store.

Ocr Town is now in the southeastern part of Seoul in Dongok I-dong. If you take subway line 3 and get off at the Maebong station, Exit 4, head south a few blocks alongside an apartment complex. Go past a main T intersection, and one block west, you’ll eventually hit the store. It is now in the basement of a small business complex.

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Be sure to look for the small sign on the side of the building over the basement stairway.

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It’s certainly much bigger than the old shop. There is a small storage section where folks can leave their models in personal lockers for a fee. This is pretty nice for regulars as they don’t have to lug their models around to the store.

The new place has more space to play, with a side room just for gaming holding several tables. From what I remember, the gaming section here has almost double the number of tables from the old place. They also have a few shelves with store terrain to allow players to dabble in some different scenery layouts.

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They seem to still carry similar products, including Infinity, Bolt Action, Firestorm Armada, a few Napoleonics and a smattering of other historical kits. There are also some Flames of War miniatures and some alternate 15mm WW2 sets. However Orc Town is still very much a Games Workshop store. They carry lots of 40K stuff and a good number of Warhammer Fantasy minis. The store also has a full line of Citadel paints, spray primer, and other GW hobby modeling supplies.

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Sadly, I still think prices are over retail. No real clue how the prices for GW products fare but I noticed some of the Warlord games stuff being well over retail. I have no idea why. Maybe they can’t get distributors to send stuff over and have to go the route of resale (which likely includes having to pay extra custom fees on merchandise).

They have an online store and I’m guessing with pre-orders, you could get more of a discount to bring it in line with other international distributors. For a handful of items, given that you’d have to pay international shipping charges, it seems ordering directly through Orc Town works out maybe a little cheaper. However I do wonder if making a large order, getting a big a discount from an online retailer, and just paying extra shipping might be more economical.

Nonetheless, if you want to pick up a few models and paints Orc Town seems to fit the bill. If you are a GW fan, it’s the only place to shop. I’d also give it points for allowing space in their store for gaming. Certainly a great way to get some feelers out to meet up with other fellow wargamers.

In and out of love with Flames of War

A long while back most of the World War II gaming I did was skirmish stuff with Battleground WW2. I really enjoyed the tactics of small unit infantry action and along with a tank or two that game handled it pretty well. Larger forces for smaller scales wasn’t something I was interested in. This attitude was mimicked with my 40K gaming also. After a while, interest in skirmish-type gaming sort of waned some playing 40K and BGWW2 a lot simultaneously. I was itching for something different.

Flames of War was making some noise as trial rules were making the rounds on TMP and it caught my interest. 15mm wasn’t a scale I was too keen on painting, but the idea of company-sized engagements with combined arms sort of hooked me. What absolutely got me into FoW though was a local mini gaming club that met monthly at a local library. Those guys were really into historical gaming (and miniature wargames in general) and that really drove me to play Flames of War.FoW1

I enjoyed the combined arms aspect of the game, while still retaining a company-sized force. The telescopic range was also interesting with longer ranges being longer distances. Yeah, artillery really should be off board assets but with the idea of telescopic ranges, it allowed me to field a few guns on the table which looked cool. I liked the idea of target experience being the factor for how easy it was to inflict casualties. I liked the idea that hits on a unit could impede movement and shooting so that casualties weren’t the only means to cripple command of a force.

The game had abstract mechanics but they typically led to historical outcomes. FoW tanks ruled the battlefield and could cut through infantry. But get those infantry dug in, and within bulletproof cover, those stands are suddenly a bit tougher to dislodge. Throw in some AT assets and they become a nightmare for tanks to effectively attack, going back to using infantry to assault infantry in those conditions. I liked that.

Another big thing was we used tables with lots of cover. Oodles of terrain were used in our games. I’ve heard of nightmare stories of some employing 40K-like tournament tables, with not a lot of terrain. We never had that issue with plenty of cover and stuff to break up LoS. We also didn’t get into min/max forces with much of the group leaning towards historical company composition for certain periods (even tried a longer campaign with Operation Husky for the invasion of Sicily). So I think I lucked out getting with a great group of FoW players.

But there were rough spots with the game. A glaring aspect was the IGOUGO turn order and no real chance for opportunity fire. Even with pinning units, they could still throw out some dice in attacks. It all became a little predictable. Add to this the meta of super efficient lists, with guaranteed attackers and defenders for certain missions, you ended up with the potential for an alpha strike army. A player could move in and cripple certain forces within the first couple of turns (especially seen with light tank armies). There were specific counters to this, which sort of made for a game where players took relatively safe lists and weren’t willing to tinker around with something different.FoW2

Moving across the world, I packed up my Flames of War models. I ended up taking a few 15mm Russian troops with me in hopes of possibly painting up an infantry force. However I let them languish for the most part as I haven’t played the game in over 8 years. Not getting an opportunity to play certainly had diminished my desire to paint.

Another bit that soured me some on the game was Battlefront’s response to competition. They always seemed to accept folks were going to use other manufacturer’s models. However when Plastic Soldier Co. hit the scene with their 15mm kits, they completely changed their attitude going for a more restrictive policy for hosted tournaments. I don’t blame them. It’s their show and their rodeo with official tournaments. Yet given they release so many different rule and campaign books and have that as a source of revenue, it seemed a little bitter on their part rather than trying to offer a more competitive priced product.

So where does that leave me now? I’m getting the itch some to dabble in 15mm again. I’m feeling the call to paint up those Russians. I’m just not sure that Flames of War will be my go to for 15mm gaming any more.

Cigar Box battle mats review

Ever on the quest to find some cool gaming mats I stumbled across Cigar Box Battle Mats and had to pick a few up. A while back I had gotten some Hotz mats for my Bolt Action and Firestorm Armada games. The star field mat was okay while the green mat was a little lackluster. Further, they were treated felt. The surface looked like it could handle pilling but it was stiff and kept wrinkles if folded up.

The battle mats from Cigar Box are made out of a thin fleece material. It’s very supple and has a sheen surface that will not snag on miniature bases. Most come in 4′ x 6′ with a few mats measuring 36″ x 36″. You can machine wash the mats and the surface appears to be screen printed making it look pretty resistant to your normal wear and tear.

The star field mat is very muted, but has a nice generic look. All of which allows you to plop down whatever terrain you have and not look too out of place clashing with something printed on the mat itself.

The generic grass field has a nice textured look to it. As the material is so yielding, you can put hills under the mat. This is something I found an issue with the Hotz mats as the treated felt was rather stiff. For a basic open field, the Cigar Box mat looks good with just a little contrast to break up the entire surface.

Digging through the store, there are also more elaborate patterns which can highlight roads, fields, and forests. A few even are set up to portray classic civil war battles, but could work for different historical engagements too. There is a pretty impressive variety and fortunately some generic mats are also available.

I think one ding to the mats would be that you’d have to double up if needing a 4′ X 8′ mat as the size options are limited. The mats are also ideal for free miniature movement as there are no hex or grid options.

The service was quick and I got my order via international air mail about a week after it was shipped. They were also very quick to respond to any queries via email. I highly recommend these mats. They are durable, provide a good gaming surface, and look great. Well worth picking them up for your games.

Litko game tokens as holiday gifts

Say you want a stocking stuffer for your significant nerdy other, or want to give a small gift to a gamer pal. Litko makes quality plastic acrylic game tokens and other miscellaneous game items, offering a great gift for them. A long while back I made no bones about my preference using tokens and markers around the table. Having a tactile marker to represent a condition, bonus, or temporary status is great over just using pen and paper. So I’ve had a long affair of enjoying Litko products for years now. They’ve got wonderful stuff for just about any gamer you’d like to get a gift for.

The wargamer – They offer tons of sets and individual packs for tokens. From command and casualty markers, to range band and blast templates, Litko offers some fantastic tokens and markers.

The board game fan – Litko has branched out and now provides game token sets for popular board games too. Imagine spicing up your Pandemic game with these tokens…

Not to mention some really wonderful X-Wing token and marker sets…

And I’m certain Netrunner players would enjoy having these on the table…

The RPG player – Litko also offers a lot of sets and tokens for RPG games also. You can find lots of tokens to mark temporary conditions….

and complete sets are also available like this one for Savage Worlds.

They offer some more interesting items like paper figure miniature stands…

or markers for indicating which character miniature is holding a torch…

And other bits for gamers – Litko also makes a variety of bases for miniatures and other really clever items like counter dials….

and a variety of portable dice towers which can be taken apart and thrown in a zip lock bag. Perfect for those gaming tourneys.

So I encourage folks to give them a look. Several online retailers also carry their products. And if you aren’t sure about what they’d really like, well just give them a gift certificate instead. Hope folks enjoy the holidays with family and friends (and get some games in too).

Hotz Mats gaming mats

Since I was sorta on a terrain kick making asteroids for Firestorm Armada, I wanted to get a better gaming surface than a black cloth. For a while I heard about Hotz Mats which make a variety of felt gaming mats that can serve for some really nice space tables. They are screen printed and have a variety of options with printed hexes or grids, or even mats that are double-sided with an option for one side being gridless. The mats come in a variety of dimensions with 4’ x 8’ being the largest.

So I went ahead and ordered two mats at 45” x 72’ with one being an earth green mat for my WWII and SAGA stuff, and another deep space mat for my Firestorm Armada games. The mats are felt. However they are supposed to be treated with a fabric binder that reduces the wear and tear of the surface, lessening the pilling you typically see with felt.

The mats are a decent thickness (if just a tad thin) and can get a bit creased. However really deep folds can be carefully ironed out. The surface of the painted side is somewhat stiff which I assume is the fabric binding material that is sprayed over the surface. This does keep models from snagging up as much compared to regular soft felt. I could push my ship model stands around without having them get caught up on the material.

The deep space mat is pretty nice for a generic background. A little color is thrown in aside from the star background which is nice. I think if I were to get another I might splurge for the enhanced deep space mat.

I am a little disappointed with the earth green mat. I was hoping maybe a little extra paint to add some texture to it. However it’s really just a bolt of green felt yet still has the fabric binder coated on it. This gives it a decent surface and likely a hex printed version would serve great. Overall the one I picked up is a plain, muted surface for wargaming.

Now to go a bit on the customer service of Hotz Mats. Bluntly, I found it lacking. I do know they pretty much make the mats custom order. And I would put money on a lot of the mats being done in one go, and maybe needing some time to dry out in the open. Coming from Canada, this might mean delays due to poor weather (humidity) mucking up the production.

It took my order an extra two months to arrive. Email responses from the company were also sporadic and I didn’t get any indication my order was shipped. So I will give a huge caveat for buying their mats directly. It’s going to be delayed. Don’t expect a prompt (or any) response to emails. I can understand production delays, but I’m a little less understanding with the lack of communication. Consider the 3-5 weeks deliver to only be valid if you live within the province.

Now I understand they are moving to a new studio. This might alleviate some production delays. If you order from them, I think you need to take a zen-like approach and just accept that after several months you’ll get what you ordered in the mail.

The game mats are decent, seem like they can take a little punishment, and can easily be stored away. However simply put Hotz mats aren’t worth getting as there are better gaming mats out there that are comparably priced. What really pushed it over into the no buy column for me is the abysmal customer service. Seems you’ll get your mats… eventually… when they decide to get them into production… and bother to ship it. There are other options available for gaming mats which provide much better customer service. I can’t recommend buying Hotz gaming mats.

Modelmates weathering wash

Usually for my tanks and such I’ll give a drybrush of brown paint to simulate mud and gunk that will pick up on the wheel guards and treads. It’s a simple technique that gets a decent effect. I never really dabbled in weathering pigments much. Then I heard about this nifty line of products for washes from Modelmates.

Modelmates translucent washes come in a variety of pigments that are really nice. A big plus for me is that they can be diluted and cleaned up in water. So I decided to pick up a bottle and try it out. I got the mud brown color wash. They come in plastic containers with a small bead inside to facilitate mixing. The top has a sloped funnel lid to allow excess paint inside the lid lip to drip down back into the pot. The manufacturer recommends trying out the wash on a section first for testing if painting on plastic, as the wash themselves have a little solvent in them. Apparently for some plastics this can be an issue. I think for the typical plastic used in model kits this isn’t a problem, as I didn’t get any peeling of paint or pitting of the model surface.

I dabbed a bit over the wheels and let it set in, followed up with a matte spray coat. I’m really impressed with how the weathering wash looks and it’s a breeze to apply. Here is a bren carrier I’ve been working on. The carrier on the bottom had just a drybrush of brown for mud, with the carrier on top also having a coat of Modelmates weathering.

I would certainly have a lot of water on hand and use a crappy brush. I’ve heard that while it’s water soluble, it can gunk up your brushes and will dry pretty quickly as the solvent evaporates. So having water nearby to rinse out your brush every tank tread or so would likely help in keeping the brush intact.  With weathering, it really added a lot more depth to the basic treads modeled on the side of the carrier.

I’m really happy picking up this weathering wash. Likely I will check into picking up other shades, especially if working on an African-theater platoon, as the dust colors look really nice. They are a super easy way to dress up a basic paint job. Best of all they seem easy to work with and cover well over acrylic water-based paints.

Top places for miniature wargame supplies in Seoul

While board games and CCGs have a lot of popularity in Korea, miniature wargames seem quite the niche hobby here. A while back during holiday at home I scooped up some of my 15mm Russians for Flames of War. I figured during the winter months I could enjoy some weekend mornings doing a bit of painting and finally get through that pile of unpainted metal I had stored away. When I really started looking around I found it exceptionally difficult getting the typical supplies I wanted for painting and modeling. So I thought I’d share some of my efforts to any expats.

As a first caveat to this, my Korean is abysmal. I am certain if I had a better command of the language the process would be easier tracking down materials. Korea is very much an online shopping country. There are likely places I’ve missed that have a larger online presence than a walk in store mainly due to my ignorance with the local language.

However miniature wargaming also just doesn’t seem that popular of a pastime. There is an immense pressure on kids to study and private academies are all the rage. Free time is limited for kids and parents want them studying more. So pastimes that leave a smaller footprint around the house are likely more popular. It’s far easier for kids to carry around a CCG or sneak off to a PC bang (internet cafe for gaming) rather than lug around a painting bench and throw down a wargame table. It does seem for the folks that wargame, it’s much more popular for college students than for kids in high school.

Stationery and Art Supply Stores – Odd enough, stationery stores may very well carry some modeling and painting supplies. Give them a look and you might pleasantly be surprised. Foamcore board can typically be found as well as colored felt cloth. I’ve snagged packs for Woodland Scenics flock, plastic sheets from Plastruct, balsa wood, and other modeling material too. So you can pick up a few things to help in construction of terrain for your games from these places.

As painting supplies go, you can find a fair amount of brushes and can even get down to 10O sizes for model painting. I’ve even been able to snag some Apple Barrel craft paints. While I don’t use them for mini painting, they make great paints for terrain. So hobby and craft supplies can be picked up at these stationery stores. It just takes a bit of digging.

Neighbor Hobby – This is a fantastic place if military models are your thing as there is a great selection of kits. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 models, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great selection of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. They also have several 1/72 scale buildings too.

What does this place for me though is the paint selection. There is a wide selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for miniature painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful selection for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. They also have brushes and other modelling supplies. Well worth checking out and they do online orders as well.neighborhobbyb

To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park, and then take a side street. Once it ends, then go right and you will hit a main street. From there go left and it will be in an office building on your left.neighborhobbyc

Orc Town – Likely the most popular wargame store in Seoul, Orc Town is one that is Games Workshop-centric. They also dabble in other game systems like Infinity, Flames of War, Bolt Action, Firestorm Armada, and Dust. What is particularly nice about this store is they carry Citadel paints and supplies, especially matte spray and primer. My biggest complaint is that the prices are horrendously expensive and well above retail. They all seem to include shipping costs. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time justifying purchasing some model and rulebooks here compared to buying from an international distributor. Still, having a shop where you can walk in and buy some paints is nice. Having one where you can get a bit of table space for gaming is even nicer.

Tamiya Models – On the first floor of the shopping center at the Yongsan train station is an official Tamiya Model store. For a military wargamer this is a fair place to pick up paints and hobby supplies. They have full stocks of enamel and water-based acrylic paint sets. They also have brushes, cement, and other modeling supplies (plastic styrene sheets and other model building material). I find the prices reasonable for Tamiya model kits and for plastic cement and other modeling tools (which can be a bear to find anywhere locally) it’s a great place to shop.

As the gaming figures go, if you are a Bolt Action fan they have a decent selection of 1/48 scale armor and vehicles along with some figure sets. 1/72 scale options are lacking save for planes and 1/35 is the other popular scale for military models. Additionally scenic materials are also lacking. But if you want to track down a particular 1/48 vehicle or historically accurate paints, the Tamiya store is not a bad choice. TamiyaSeoul

International distributors – Lastly you can always order online and pony up for international shipping. I have had spray paints sent overseas and worked with many stores over the years. It can be done, but expect some costs for shipping. I’ve always gone the route of making a large ($150-250) order to offset the shipping costs. Getting a few paints is exceedingly expensive. It’s best to wrap more goodies into that shipping charge. Because of this, you want to look around for stores that sell other types of games. While you might save a few dollars from one online store selling just paints, using another that lets you also include board games and RPG books into your order is a better choice.

There is a very small wargaming community in Korea but we exist. Hope those into the hobby can find some of this useful for picking up models and supplies for their bench top.