Sunday 26 September 2021

Carronade 2021: At Last


So, there haven't been any wargames shows in my part of the world since the coronavirus pandemic struck here in March 2020, some 18 months ago.  Indeed, I suspect that the last show I attended was Edinburgh's Claymore in August 2019; that's more than 2 years ago!  I've really been missing such events.

Normally, Falkirk's Carronade show would be held in May, but this year (2021) it was postponed until the end of September.  For much of the summer I - and, I imagine, others - were waiting to see if there would be further restrictions which might cancel the show.  Well, there weren't, the show did go ahead and we did attend.  Here's how my day went.


Unusually, my son and I drove to Falkirk rather than taking a train.  This was because my wife and daughter were due to attend a dance competition only a few minutes drive away from Falkirk (the first time they had done such an event in almost 2 years as well).  I'm a bit rusty with driving long distances, not having done much of that for a while, but it was uneventful.  Neither weather nor other human beings caused us any difficulties.

The Show

One of the 3 (4?) halls in use for Carronade 2021

Carronade 2021 did feel a bit different to previous such events.  For starters, there was the distancing within the entrance queue and the collection of contact details by the show organisers.  Mask-wearing was compulsory, at least whilst moving around (there's some debate about whether it is really permitted to remove masks when sitting at a table indoors for any purpose other than eating).  Adherence to this regime seemed pretty much universal and uncontroversial.

Other than masks, the main effect of virus precautions on the show seemed to be fewer public participation games than I would normally expect.  I haven't compared the advertised numbers from various years; it just felt to me that these were more sparse than usual.

Sink the Prinz Eugen

Norfolk and Suffolk (left) open fire on Prinz Eugen (right)

My son and I did play in one participation game: we took part in an alternative version of the Battle of the Denmark Strait.  In this entirely plausible scenario, while the capital ships HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were engaging the German battleship Bismark, the shadowing cruisers HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk engaged her consort, the Prinz Eugen.

So, it's 2 Royal Navy heavy cruisers against one slightly larger German heavy cruiser.  This isn't really a battle that the Prinz Eugen can afford to take part in, let alone have much hope of winning - so the German's victory condition is simply to escape.

My son and I each took one of the British cruisers.  We were using (I think) Warlord's "Victory at Sea" rules.  It soon became apparent that winning initiative for the turn made a big difference; my son won the roll-off every time.  While the German cruiser did land some hits  on the Royal Navy ships, the game ended abruptly when HMS Suffolk landed a crashing salvo of 8" shells on the enemy ship, followed up with 2 torpedo hits (despite the Prinz Eugen only presenting a small stern target).  This blew the German to pieces, so we went away victorious!

I'm a bit dubious about these rules, mind: it felt a bit as if we were dog-fighting with heavy cruisers and I don't think that's really how it would have happened.  Still, our experience of the game was only 20 minutes or so.

Demonstration Tables

A few large tables caught my eye and we spent some time examining all the details.  Unfortunately, I was carrying a new camera and it seems either highly sensitive to shaking hands or else its automatic focus isn't so good.  A number of the pictures I took are heavily blurred and unusable.  Hmm.

Still, here are some images...

At first, I thought this was some form of Pulp setup, mainly because of the jungle ruins and the smoking volcano.  But no - it seems to have been a WW2 amphibious landing.  Still, it was pretty and had a lot of nice details.

The table had some impressively large, overgrown temples & statues in the jungle... well as a decent set of rice fields.  These are very similar in style to my own versions, though larger, deeper and more numerous.  Note to self: I need more paddy fields!

The other table that really caught my attention was the Congo Bill adventure.  I understood that this was more than a standard game of Congo.  It had many pulp features such as a maiden sacrifice and giant gorilla, but in addition to this the organisers were gleeful in telling us about the Cthulu-esque monstrosities that they had planned!

I didn't manage a really good shot of the whole table, but this slightly blurred version will have to do.  As well as all the explorers, there was a group of nuns/missionaries, large amounts of wildlife and (of course) copious natives.  This was all very much to my taste.

Painting Competition

I always take a look at the entries to the painting competition at a show, but I don't think I've ever mentioned this in a report before.  This time, the model above caught my eye.  I don't remember seeing it ever before, though my son wondered if it was a 3D printed piece rather than a "regular" commercial model.  Either way, I thought it was beautifully done!


I hadn't expected to buy much at the show (I'm trying to cut down on new projects, for a start!), so I was surprised at just how much I found when I opened my bag on my return home.  From bottom left, going roughly clockwise:

  • A pack of My Little Pony stickers/posters/whatever, for my daughter.  No, really.
  • 2 3D-printed Short Sunderland flying boats (given free for taking part in the Sink the Prinz Eugen game).
  • A Kings of War sea serpent (I think) for my son.
  • A couple of prehistoric terrain pieces (some snares and a tannery) from Iron Gate Scenery.  This is a relatively new company, but one which I will be watching with interest, I think.
    Sadly they didn't bring any of their mammoths to the show, though the painted examples looked a little smaller than the other mammoths in my collection.
  • Perry Miniatures Sohei musketmen: after a recent game of Test of Honour, we realised that my Japanese warrior monks need more firepower.
  • A Reaper Bones frost giant, destined to be used for Frostgrave.
  • Some dark blue paint
  • 20x40mm MDF bases for more 6mm Napoleonics.
  • A packet of Scheltrum Miniatures' Wako (i.e. Japanese pirates).  More on these another time, I think.
  • Another addition to my Nightfolk warband (also for Frostgrave, though I don't believe I've ever described them in public).
  • Finally, a couple of the now-standard MDF entrance tickets.  Interestingly, these are labelled as "Carronade 2020", even though the show was held in late 2021.


It's good to be back at shows!  We (or at least, I) caught up with friends and bought more than perhaps I should.  We played a game (more would have been nice) and even the drive home again wasn't particularly difficult or stressful.  More, please!

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Batrep: The Treasure of Toyokawa


In the small village of Toyokawa, in Hida province, there are rumours that a local merchant has been avoiding taxes by hiding a large part of his wealth.  The local samurai lord, Ekei of the Oda clan, has set out to investigate this and seize any treasure he can find.  In this he is joined by the ronin Tadashi, a disgraced distant cousin who is trying to regain some honour in order to be accepted back into decent society.

However, the story of hidden riches has also reached the ears of a local Sohei monastery.  The abbot has gathered a few followers and has joined (reluctantly) with a bunch of mercenary ninjas in order to search the village himself.

The Setup

This was a 4 player game of Test of Honour, with two of the players being new to the rules.  To keep it simple, each player had 18 point forces.  In practice this meant that each force had 1 major hero, 1 minor hero and a greater or lesser number of assorted followers.

There are 5 treasure counters hidden around the village.  Each of these can only be discovered by a successful test of wits.  Once revealed, 2 of the 5 tokens are false leads and are worthless.

This leaves 3 genuine treasures.  The winner is the faction which carries any two of these back over their base line, or the remaining side if all of one force are wiped out.  There is no turn limit.

The Game

As the followers on each side advanced cautiously, Tadashi raced past the shrine, intending to search the hand cart.  He was confronted by the Ninja Master and although they exchanged blows, no damage was done at first.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the village, Ekei searched the merchant's garden.  Buried under the radishes, he found a small box which clinked when he shook it.  It seemed as if the stories were true.  It was just as well for the merchant that he and his family had fled, otherwise Ekei would have had his head for this trickery!

Feeling outmatched, Tadashi ran away re-positioned strategically, but the Ninja Master pursued him anyway and cut him down.  One of the other bandits did try to aid his leader, but his attempt to leap over the rice fields to reach the fight failed spectacularly and he ended up stretched out full length in the mud.

At the same time, the Sohei Abbot ran over the bridge and cut down Tadashi's lieutenant.  This was a calamity for the ronin/bandit player!

In revenge, the Oda samurai archer drew his bow and shot at the Ninja Master.  His aim was true and the arrow struck the black-clad figure in a vital spot, sending him to his death.

Then we realised that the Oda figure had already taken all of his permitted actions for the turn and couldn't have made this play.  We reset: no arrow was shot and the Ninja Master was unharmed.  It was all a daydream.

With a dazzling display of martial prowess, the Sohei Abbot continued to rampage through the now-leaderless bandits, cutting down several and causing many others to flee.

Back in the merchant's house, Ekei carried on with his search for treasure.  It was taking too long, though - he could hear the sounds of struggle growing louder as his followers in the street outside clashed with the advancing Sohei.

While the Sohei Abbot continued to terrorise the bandit commoners, the Ninja Master decided to investigate the bullock cart.  After screwing up his face in disgust he searched through piles of dung and found ... nothing!  [In other words, he uncovered one of the "fake" treasure tokens].

Finally, after much effort, Ekei's efforts were rewarded and he found a small pouch of precious items [so that's 2 treasures.  All he has to do is run off the board and the Oda/Ronin alliance wins the game.].

However, escaping might be a problem.  Ransacking the merchant's house had taken several turns and now enemies filled the street, waiting for the Oda lord to show his face.

Ekei took the initiative and charged out, straight at the Sohei Abbot.  Such was the ferocity of his assault that the monk was driven back, step by step.  However, Ekei still couldn't risk slipping around his enemy; the gap between the abbot and the his other foes was too uncertain.

Outnumbered like this, the end was not long in coming.  As Ekei fought furiously with the Abbot, the Sohei lieutenant charged him from behind and cut him down.  There was no realistic chance that the remaining bandits or Oda spearmen could challenge the Sohei and Ninja heroes, so the game was conceded by blue/blue.  In any case, we had reached our real-world time limit and needed to pack up.


Well, that could have gone differently at any one of a number of points!

  • The loss of both the Ronin/bandit leaders relatively early was a terrible disaster.
  • Ekei did find 2 treasures, but took too long in doing this.  If he had just been luckier with his searches then he would have had time to escape.  Probably.
  • The Sohei Abbot was death incarnate.  He strolled along main street as if he owned the place, cutting down all who stood in his way.  Mostly peasants, mind you.
  • The Ninja Master survived a near-death experience from the Oda archer.  If this had really happened then it would certainly have changed the balance of the game considerably!
  • The Sohei drew huge numbers of Fate tokens and ended up with a lot of skill cards in play.  In contrast, the Ninjas didn't draw a single one.
...but these are all "ifs" and "might have been".  The only real question is this: did the players enjoy themselves?  I can only speak for myself: I thought it was a very entertaining evening!

Saturday 18 September 2021

Seven Samurai


Seven Samurai, Kurosawa's masterpiece, has been one of my favourite films ever since I first saw it.  The story has been repeated and remade so many times that I've lost count.  Many people will recognise the plot; it has been transposed into other settings such as Western (The Magnificent Seven) and Science Fiction (Battle Beyond the Stars).

Until recently I could only dream of being one of the small band of heroes facing off against huge numbers of bandits, at least in a game.  Then, Footsore Miniatures released a pack for the Test of Honour game called "Seven Ronin".  Of course I rushed out and bought these models, but then life got in the way and it took me quite a long time to paint them.  Still, here they are, at last.


Kambei is the leader of the seven.  He is getting on a bit, but is wise, experienced as a commander and proficient with his weapons.


The taciturn Kyuzo lives only for the perfection of his swordsmanship and is idolised by some of his younger comrades.


The tall Kikuchiro has strong emotions and is perhaps a little deranged.  Initially he has some difficulty fitting in, but finds his niche as an emotional bridge between the samurai and the peasant farmers they are sworn to protect.


Katsushiro is the youngest and most innocent of the group.  He's independently wealthy and has tagged along for the adventure rather than because he needs to work for food.


Heihachi is not the greatest warrior, but he is witty and charming.


A capable, mellow and observant samurai, Gorobei is also a proficient archer.


Shichiroji is an old friend of Kambei's - both thought the other one dead before meeting up at the start of the story.


For the most part, I've let the pictures above speak for themselves.  For anyone who wishes more information on the characters, the story or the film, the internet is awash with reviews, synopses and analyses.  But seriously, if you haven't already seen the movie then why not?

On the figures: Footsore have produced some extraordinarily fine representations of the characters from the movie.  I have some concerns that the realistic-thickness swords may prove  a bit flimsy for gaming models, but apart from that these are very fine figures.

Since the original film is black & white, it's difficult to find primary sources for the colour schemes.  There are a few secondary sources (such as later collectable models and book illustrations) which depict the seven in colour, but these aren't consistent with each other.

In the end, I've chosen colours that seem plausible to me and I've tried to copy at least some of the patterning on their clothes, usually simplified a bit to fit my skill level.

OK, now I need a whole load of Japanese bandits.  And a village.  And villagers...

Sunday 12 September 2021

The incident at Station X


On a barely-charted jungle planet, remote from normal shipping lanes, the Federation have permitted the establishment of a private research station.  Ostensibly this group of scientists, led by the fiercely intelligent Professor Frinkle, are there to develop new medicines and cures.

A garbled message from the base is received by the USS Matakishi - a Federation starship commanded by the inspiring Captain Bellamy.  It reads:


The ship's comms officer has determined that the transmission is being jammed.  By looking at a list of base personnel, it is thought to have been sent by Doctor Smith, the research centre's second-in-command.  Bellamy decides to investigate immediately and leads a small away team to the planet's surface.

However, he's not the only one to show an interest.  The Klingon vessel P'Rang has also intercepted the message and her captain Mor'tah has ordered that "Federation combat drugs" research is in violation of some treaty or other and must be seized, for the safety of the Empire.


This was a 3-player game of Pulp Alley, using my newly-completed Alien Jungle and my slightly older Salad Box Science Base.  The terrain was set up as follows:

  • Most areas of vegetation would be difficult (i.e. if anyone ran through them then they would take a peril).
  • 2 of the areas of vegetation (the one with the pit beast and the one with the Venusian death lilies) were dangerous.  No running was permitted and even walking would trigger a peril.
  • All building interiors were also difficult.
6 minor objectives were set up in buildings and around the base:

  • A microscope and samples were in the Geology building
  • A computer terminal was in the Command building
  • A filing cabinet was in the Admin building
  • A cloning tank was in the Science building.
  • A hyperwave jammer was at the eastern end of the base clearing.
  • The base's power supply was at the western end of the complex.
The major objective was Doctor Smith, who was in the open at the very centre of the research base.

The Leagues

Federation Away Team

  • Captain Bellamy is inspiring, quick-witted and a lucky devil.  He can shoot and brawl a bit, but his strengths are really in problem-solving.
  • Science Officer Tring is extremely smart, but probably lacks some social graces (well, he is an alien, after all).
  • Doctor Johnson is a hard-nosed medical officer.  He probably spends much of his life being quietly exasperated by everyone and everything else in the universe.
  • Lieutenant Rashi leads the security detail.  He's impetuous and a daredevil, so it's a bit of a wonder that he has survived even his first few years in Star Fleet.
  • 3 redshirts are also included in the party, to provide the inevitable "meat shield".  Their skills are, well, mediocre (as you might expect from a bunch of goons).

Professor Frinkle's Base Experiments

The mad professor is determined to preserve the autonomy of his research from outside interference of any sort.  To that end, he has the following resources:

  • Professor Frinkle is your standard crazy geneticist who won't be shackled by anything so paltry as morality.  He is a deductive and an inventor.  For this game he used his inventing skill to come up with some mind-enhancing drugs for himself.  Frinkle has also set up cameras and booby traps all over the base; this is represented by his cursed presence ability.
  • B-9 is the professor's sinister robot.  It is armoured and can project some form of electrical field (long burst).
  • Miaou Miaou is a harmless pet - probably one of the professor's early experiments.  It looks a bit like a cross between a seal and a penguin, but is surprisingly agile.
  • Eygar is a faithful lab assistant.  She is clever and crafty, though somewhat faint-of-heart.
  • The professor has been using other base personnel as experimental subjects.  3 of them are present as reanimated plague zombies.

Klingon Expeditionary Force

  • Captain Mor'tah is a classic, "bad guy" Klingon.  He's intimidating, savage and veteran, which together make him quite a fighter.  He's also very cunning, though not particularly subtle.
  • Maal is the captain's loyal second-in-command.  He is intelligent, cold and calculating, ruthless and indomitable.
  • Science officer Sira is extremely bright, but not as tough as the other members of the Klingon party.
  • Vagh is a close combat specialist who believes that fighting with the bat'leth is the only true way to gain honour.
  • "Targ" is a strange, pig-like beast picked up by the captain on his travels and regarded as a pet.  It's not a real, Klingon targ of course - that's just the captain's little joke.  Actually, it's quite a dangerous animal.
  • Leyra is the Klingon's answer to the Federation's redshirts: a security goon with little expectation of surviving an episode.

The Game

Unsurprisingly, given the setup, the first turn was spent with most characters heading for the inevitable "scrum in the middle".  Turn 2 started to become interesting:

  1. The Klingon pig-beast charged around the corner of the Science building, straight into Eygar.  Both were knocked down, but the pig-beast just shook itself and regained its feet. The faint-of-heart lab assistant didn't bother to get up again.
  2. Science officer Sira tried to switch off the base's power supply - but each time failed a peril and was knocked down.  Even though she stood back up and tried again several times more, eventually the repeated zaps knocked her out (i.e. she kept failing perils and taking damage; eventually she failed a recovery roll).  It seems that the mad professor's booby traps were working as intended!
  3. Captain Mor'tah strode into the middle of the clearing, grabbed Doctor Smith and shook him into submission.  Of course, this immediately made him a prime target for every other faction - but Mor'tah embraced this position and returned all fire with glee.
  4. Both Doctor Johnson and Miaou Miaou made for the filing cabinet in the Admin block.  Neither had any luck, as both of them went down to hidden hazards in the darkened building.

The pig-beast charged into the nearest thing is could see, but Professor Frinkle was a tougher customer than his lab assistant.  He swatted the creature down with ease.

Meanwhile, B-9 rumbled forwards and then unleashed a deadly electro-bolt.  The ray narrowly missed Mor'tah, but completely fried the hapless Leyra.

Over in the Admin block, Doctor Johnson and Miaou Miaou both regained their senses at about the same time.  There was a brief scuffle which resulted in the strange alien pet bolting through the door, leaving the doctor alone in front of the filing cabinet.  However, despite several attempts the increasingly-frustrated doctor just couldn't figure out how to break into the locked cabinet.

As another moment of comic relief (perhaps?), one of the plague zombies chased a redshirt across the board in slow motion.  Neither had much chance of hurting the other, though the redshirt kept dodging backwards so as to use his phaser and the zombie repeatedly stumbled forwards to close the distance.

Then the robot lurched forwards.  It suffered some form of malfunction and splattered corrosive fluids all over itself, Professor Frinkle and Mor'tah, as well as making that area perilous for the remainder of the game (this was a fortune card, though I forget exactly which one).  The robot and the professor were unharmed, but the Klingon captain caught a face full of the poisonous goo.

What with the noxious chemicals and phaser fire from Lt. Rashi & Captain Bellamy, Mor'tah sank to his knees and then collapsed, releasing his grip on Doctor Smith.

With a detour into the Science building to look at the cloning tank, the Klingon pig-beast squealed its challenge and charged at Professor Frinkle.  It may have been intent on revenge for its fallen master, but once again the hopped-up professor smacked it down into the dirt.  This time the creature didn't stand up again.

B-9 now turned its attention on Captain Bellamy and Lt. Rashi.  It shot down the lieutenant before unleashing its electro bolt on the Federation captain.  Luckily, the captain survived, as did a nearby plague zombie which happened to be in the line of fire.  Honestly, I think at this point that the player of the Mad Science league was so annoyed with the plague zombies' hopeless performance that he was even trying to kill them himself.  Ah, well - what else would you do with a failed experiment except turn them back into spare parts?

In the last turn of the game, the Federation started to retreat.  Science officer Tring had managed to solve a minor plot point (the microscope in the Geology building), though not without a considerable amount of difficulty.  I think it took him 2 or 3 turns.

He now retreated to the relative safety of the away team's shuttle, having discovered several interesting facts about the microbiology of the planet's soil and the curious organisms which coexisted below the surface.

At the same time, Doctor Johnson gave up trying to open the records cabinet ("Dammit, Captain!  I'm a doctor, not a filing clerk!"); he also moved towards safety.


Even though Professor Frinkel held the centre ground, he had been totally unable to solve the major plot point.  I suspect that by this time Doctor Johnson had lost all means of cooperating with any of the leagues.  Indeed, I imagine he was quite dead, having been phasered, covered in corrosive robot fluids and then zapped with an electro bolt.

Likewise, Maal had spent several turns trying to understand the computer terminal in the Command centre.  Despite his advanced abilities, he just couldn't gain anything useful from it and failed to solve the plot point.

So, the final scores were these:

  • Federation away team: 1 victory point (for Tring's minor objective - the microscope).
  • Klingon expeditionary force: 0 points.  Sira's early, repeated and ultimately fatal failures to switch off the power grid and Maal's incomprehension of the computer terminal were frustrating.  However, captain Mor'tah's showboating move into the middle did claim the major objective briefly before he was shot down.  I suppose that could be seen as reckless & irresponsible, or glorious & brave, depending on your point of view.
  • Mad Science base defenders: 0 points.  Miaou Miaou did attempt a couple of plot points early on, but was easily chased off when someone else came close.  Professor Frinkle left it too late to claim the major plot point (though he did achieve 2 of the 3 successes he needed) and B-9 was having too much fun zapping things to bother with such trivia.
In the end, the Federation won the game, even though they only held a single, minor plot point.  This wasn't for lack of trying by all three leagues, though.  I cannot remember another game of Pulp Alley where the plot points proved so perilous and the challenges were so hard!

Man/machine/animal of the match: runners up are the pig-beast (which just kept getting back up and charging the next opponent) and Professor Frinkle (who shrugged off every hit he took from every source.  Maybe his combat drugs do work after a fashion?).  The winner, however, has to be B-9.  The large, armoured robot trundled around the centre of the table and scared the cr*p out of everything nearby.

Most useless: I think Sira was a bit of a waste of space.  This Klingon science officer failed to understand the base's power supply and indeed kept getting zapped whenever she prodded it.  Eventually this was too much and she was knocked out of action, without having contributed anything at all.

Friday 3 September 2021

Creepy Forest, Alien Forest, Bamboo Forest


Here's a project which grew and grew, well past my original intentions.  Oh, well - sit back and enjoy the story!

The Creepy Forest

A little while ago, I obtained a bargain copy of Mantic's "Gloomy Wood" (note that these models seem to have various other names - perhaps in subtly different packaging - such as "Scary Wood" and "Gothic Grounds").  This is an excellent product, with a number of twisted trees and tree stumps.  It even includes a few mushrooms!  The only criticism I might have is that the trees are somewhat small, but I don't mind this as it makes them easier to store.

I suppose that I could have flocked the branches and made the models into living trees, but I decided to paint these up as bare, dead trunks in keeping with the "gloomy" theme.  In hindsight, some trailing mosses or creeping ivy would have been a good addition as well - but I didn't do that.

To mount the trees, I then bought several packs of 4-Ground's "small tree base" and "large tree base" packs.  These have respectively 2 or 3 60mm circular plates and an area feature to hold them.  I did enlarge the "holes" a bit; the circular bases were too tight a fit in their sockets straight out of the kit.

In order to make the area bases a bit more interesting, I textured them with grit and then added flocked horsehair clumps.  These can represent brambles or any other thick undergrowth, as the viewer sees fit.

As an aside, the Mantic trees come with "faces" which can be stuck onto the trees.  I only used one of these - you can see it in the picture above.

The Bamboo Forest

Now I had some leftover 4-Ground bases, so what was I to do with them?  Well, I still had a few unpainted bamboo models bought some while ago from some Chinese supplier.  I finished them off quickly; they made a couple of decent clumps.  Mind you, there is something a bit too regular about these bases for my liking.

Ideally I should make a whole lot more of these and have a real bamboo forest, I think.

The Alien Forest

I had used all the 4-Ground bases, so everything was fine, right?  Well it occurred to me that I had an old Christmas present which I hadn't yet touched: some alien plants from TheBardsForge on Etsy.  I bought some more 60mm MDF rounds and based these up as well.

There are 3 different types of alien plant here.  They could be segregated into types on each area feature, or I could "mix and match" to produce a very varied alien plantation.

I finished off the bases with some tufts in various "alien" colours.  This was a first for me; I hadn't used tufts before.  Still, I can see why people like them: they're a very effective product and extremely easy to use, if slightly pricey.


I'm still not convinced that having a few "terrain features" with a larger number of tree bases that can be slotted into them is a worthwhile project.  The actual area features are relatively cheap and easy to build, so it may make more sense to have dedicated areas for each set of trees.  That way the "alien" and bamboo areas wouldn't need to have bramble thickets on them either.  Instead they could have their own, dedicated texturing.

Even if, with hindsight, I might have done this slightly differently I'm very happy with the results.  I'm also delighted with the momentum which carried me through to finishing all these various types of "tree" base.  Now I just need to obtain some more bamboo to make it a proper forest rather than just a couple of clumps...