Thursday, 23 March 2017

Death is in the eye of the Beholder!

Some stuff has rolled off of the painting table recently: 
BEHOLD!  The Harlequin Beholder. I like this monster, but I wish this model were a little big bigger and more imposing.

A new recruit for the  Orcs of the  Skull Smasha Lejun- they now have magical support on  hand!

The imperials rolled out two refurbished warengines. The first two I ever bought...

And of course, Zulus...

Alas only 'fasands more to go...


The Ring and the High Road

Well its been a busy week on the gaming table, and with games that the group has only recently started to adopt so I thought a brief review/AAR was in order! The games of Dan Mersey, such as Dragon Rampant and The Men Who Would Be King, appear to be gaining traction- their appeal is obvious- they are very quick and simple with no overly complicated mechanics are ridiculous army lists. One thing we've noted with them is that only a few turns in and you hardly need to consult the rule book. Ideal for those trying to learn or just play a game in the few hours available on club night!

On Thursday last we decided to try out Dragon Rampant, the fantasy version of Dan Merseys rules.  2 players aside, and each commanding 24pts- the two Daves with Daemons and Orcs versus Geoff and I with Men and Elves. The scenario rolled was The Ring, in which one of the Daves units was carrying a Macguffin, which served as the objective, with a tendency to scythe the battlefield clean of life if its bearer is the last unit standing! An interesting twist- to win the ring Bearer can't just hide at the back. If everyone else gets wiped out he explodes so both sides lose!

The Daves deployed. The nearest Dave has borrowed my Orcs for the occasion. Mostly Harlequin
with a Ral Partha Giant. The other Dave has a variety of scouting Imps backed up some nastier stuff!
 Unbeknown to us the Orc Warlord has the Ring! 
My force- Archers, Halberdiers, Free Company, and a Helblaster,
commanded by the Tsarina, and Legolas!
Geoffs Fully Painted Snow Elves - Mostly citadel 80's Noldor Elves I believe.

The Alliance advances, the Free Company leading.  In these rules each unit may attempt one action a turn,
usually having to test to do so. In Dragon Rampant the test varies depending on the attempted action-
 My Mostly Light Infantry force was quite good at getting moving, but less keen to press home the attack.
 If an order test is failed the initiative goes straight to your opponent! The game goes at a good pace, and large
 battlefields are covered surprisingly quickly.

Regular readers  know my theory on arm gestures and how they relate to the outcome of the game.
Compare Daves feeble and limp wristed effort with Geoffs much more decisive and definite gesture below...
The Allied advance had gone smoothly by this point- the Orc cavalry had been pushed back, and
everyone was in good shape. Then it went rather pear shaped.
The Free Company got beaten up by everyone, The halberdiers were roughed up, and the Archers were
 driven back. Worst of all, the Giant made mincemeat of the Tsarina!
Luckily the Orcs  and the Deamons had overstretched themselves; My Archers fought
back hard and drove offmarauding Orc infantry, while the Helblaster took down the Giant, and 
poked holes in the big daemon thingy.Most of our infantry was lost in this desperate scrabble.
 We suspected by this point that the Orc Warlord had the ring- he'd been hiding behind a tree all game! 
Legolas stepped into his charge range to draw him out, but wasn't able to evade the Wild Charge!
 The silly wood elf got his teeth kicked in, and the Orc went on a killing spree...
...which was promptly ended by the volley gun! With the ring bearer dead and the
rest of their forces inbits, the Orcs and Daemons quit the field.
 This was a great game, and very hard fought, with the Orcs and Daemons chewing up our melee units before our line steadied itself and brought its superior firepower to bear. Lessons to remember in DR are simply to be mindful of the order in which you try and active your units for certain tasks, to make sure you give yourself the best chance of completing as many of them as possible before the initiative is lost!

Last night I had the opportunity to play a Dave again, only this time it would be Fuzzie Wuzzies  (plus allied Pathans!) Versus Redcoats in the Men Who Would Be King!  This game is superficially similar to DR, the core rules are essentially the same. But enough is changed to give a different feel to the game, one more appropriate to the Colonial period.

We had 24 points for the Fuzzies, 18 for the Redcoats, with the Scenario "The High Road".  Daves objective was the British Camp.
Dave took one unit of Pathan Horse, and one of Pathan Foot, 3 units of Fuzzies and a captured/enslaved gun.  All the Tribal foot were rated Fierce. The Horse were Veteran.

I took 2 units of Regular Riflemen, one of Natal Volunteers, and one of Natal Native Contingent. No particular special stuff was added, but perhaps worth noting that my colonial forces are all based around units of 12, so for my tribal units I knock a point off to account for the reduced strength, so paying 2 for 12 rather than 3 for 16.

The Pathan advance past the generic African village...
The Fuzzies are stuck behind it.
The British Firing line deploys.  The NNC, a very long way from home, are beyond the camp.
Ignore the other stuff to the left- that was just Dave sorting his units out!
Daves assault falls to bits- He kept trying to double time; This requires a test and allows a
 unit to move an extra d6". The Tribal units don't normally have to test for their movement,
 but with poor Leadership andbeing made to test every turn they ended up all over the place! 
Just using their free move would have kept them alltogether and moving every turn rather
 than half the time. The Pathans got out in font by themselves- The Natal Volunteers 
charge and a couple of volleys from the Redcoats cleared both units from the field.

This is as far as the Mahdists got. They managed to beat the Volunteers back, but the
 Redcoat volleysripped into their piecemeal attack, and what was left was finished 
off when the NNC charged forward destroying the remaining Fuzzies...
 This was only my second game of TMWWBK against a live opponent, and I'd grown a little concerned that Native forces might struggle to win games- I'd seen the Redcoats win easily both times.  I had played Mr Babbage twice (TMWWBK includes rules for solo play with automated Natives!) and they'd been harder to beat there.  I wondered if it was the rules at fault, or the Tactics...both the games we'd played so far had seen the Native player trying to double time rather than make use of the free move, whilst heading straight at the Redcoat firing line. This broke up their attack and made them easy meat for the Martini-Henrys.

  So, we swapped sides, to see if I could do any better!

Dave deployed pretty much exactly as I did, and we used identical forces. The scenery was the same.
 Only the Native tactics changed.  Here a few turns in you can see that sticking to the Free
 Move has paid dividends-its not as potentially fast but it keeps everyone moving and together!  
Also I think I made marginally better use of the cover, and sent my cavalry against the NNC-their 
position was clearly the weakest point of the British line. The Horse piled 
through in short order, the Pathan  infantry close behind.

The Fuzzies actually got to within charge range before they took any casualties!

Having turned the flank the Pathan  horse tried to roll up the Redcoats. That didn't work but
 distracted the Redcoats for long enough that I could get infantry into camp, and more behind
 them. The Fuzzies kept up the pressure on the two units of Regulars, so they couldn't turn and fight.
 The Volunteers rode into camp to rescue the situation but were chewed up and spat out by the
 Pathans. The game ended with the British on the ropes; only 6 figures still in the fight! 
The Mahdists were in camp with 3 units still in the fight, and the gun just finally getting into range!  

I'm happy now that it was just the tactics that were lacking. My more concerted attack was far more successful than Daves version . Seeking the flanks and advancing in cover is the way to go, and with an extra unit of Horse instead of the gun I'd have been turning both flanks!

 My advice is to think like a Zulu- don't just rush headlong into the rifle fire, keep moving to the flanks...the civilized Imperialists don't get free moves, and can't move as fast so they can't keep up. Use this to keep forcing them to try and move (costing them firepower) and keeping yourself concealed  (costing them firepower!) .  Get round behind them and then close in from all sides.

Once close don't try and charge home straight away- firepower is key and the Natives have more, although of lower quality. Charge a Redcoat and he gets a chance to stick you with his bayonet- He'll almost always win that contest. However, throw a spear at him and even if he ducks there's still a good chance he won't get to shoot back! Then when they are pinned and thinned out a little, you can move into finish him off!

I'm now happy that TMWWBK is a suitable ruleset for use in our next project.
Each year at Gauntlet (our clubs annual show) a few of us put on a game. As big and impressive a game as we can manage (usually at short notice with little free time and a tight budget!). This year nobody had suggested anything and  nobody seemed keen to put themselves forward. We've done this for the last 4 or so years but it seemed this tradition was to be short lived. And then somebody told Rick that the table was booked for us. The organisers clearly expected something from us! I threw a few suggestions into the ring, based mostly on what was on my painting table at the time...fantasy stuff mostly, dungeon crawls etc. It got no takers.  And then I suggested the Anglo-Zulu War reckoning it was another non-starter...and Rick went and bought some Zulu's. And TMMWBK. That's about as close to committing to something as this group gets!

So for Gauntlet, in a little over 3 months we will put on as big an AZW game as we can manage using TMMWBK rules.  I've worked out a scenario, we have enough redcoats and their auxiliaries, I'm making the scenery...all we need now are Zulus...thousands of 'em.  I've 120 ready so far, but that's not nearly enough! Another 100 marched onto my painting table this week. 24 have already marched off again, but I must redouble my efforts if we are to put on a reasonable game for Gauntlet!

Toodle  Pip!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

An okay Kraal

I can't seem to spend any time just sat painting figures at the moment...I find myself getting distracted and wandering around.  However I have managed to divert some more energy into building terrain. This time, inspired by a new set of rules we've been trying-  The Men Who Would Be King, which I'm rather enjoying, I decided I needed a Zulu village.

So I picked up some polystyrene spheres, a roll of willow twigs and cloth from a cheap hardware store and set to it! I cut the bottom of the spheres and made a door from a scrap of cardboard and greenstuff on one side. The cloth was roughly cut to shape and glued over it.

The base for each part is just a bit of hardboard off the back of an old wardrobe. I removed a few sticks from the roll of willow twigs ( which I think is intended for edging a lawn or flowerbed, its just hundreds of sticks about 8" long held together with a bit of twisted wire.) and cut them down to 2-3" lengths and glued them into a rough fence. I did a smaller one for a separate Kraal. The bases were textured and the whole lot spray painted brown. Each component was then highlighted up with layers of drybrushing. And then flocked. 

Need to find a few civvies and cattle, but otherwise all done. Not the most accurate depiction of a Zulu village ever but I'm happy with it. Total time to build; about 5 hours. Total cost- well under £5!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Grox and Firkin.

So, I think I've finished the frontier colony settlement I've been working on.  Its not perfect but it will do. Its got all the features you'd expect of a town on the frontiers of the 41st millennium- a hairdressers, a Games Workshop, a pub- the fore mentioned Grox and Firkin, some light industrial facilities for processing fuel or something, a police station and a couple of houses.  The industrial vehicle is crude but serviceable.  The buildings are all heavily weathered/stained and I was directed to Dakkadakka to find posters and notices.  I need a few more I think.  The last thing I did was to add all the foliage; just a bunch of aquarium plants to tie the town into the rest of my jungle scenery!

 Also- heres the reboot of my Empire army!  After years of languishing in a box, and occasionally being sold on ebay my once Glorious Army of Averland was a shadow of its former self. It got stripped down last summer, and new recruits were bought.  More are on their way thanks to a recent Landsknecht Kickstarter...though I'm not expecting that batch till June!  This is only the first four units;  One company of 12 Greatswords (Artizan Designs), one company of 11 Archers, and another of 12 Halberdiers (both Battlemasters), and 14 Freikompanie (wargames foundry),  A Captain in fullplate, and Waldo the wizard are the commanders of this small force. Its even been doing a little fighting, providing fighters for Frostgrave and units for Dragon Rampant, which appear to be the games of choice at the moment.

thanks for reading!

Sunday, 12 February 2017


Just a little update to show some progress on my WIP buildings for a scifi battlefield, which are what I've mostly been working on this week

I've been collecting junk for ages : this lot is mostly made of the tops of spray cans, margarine tubs, spare bits of plumbing , desert pots, and baked bean cans. A sheet or so of corrugated card and an old sieve provided some texture, and drinking straws were applied liberally. 

 Theres a few details I want to add, mostly just a few more windows etc, but otherwise they're ready for painting.  This will give my frontier colony 3 small houses, a small sheriffs office, a pub and a couple of light industrial units.

 I've also made a few piles of detritus , bits of sprue, pebbles and polystyrene mashed together with a lot of glue, to give the impression that somebody has been trying to clear ground for farming or building.  When finished they'll look a bit overgrown.

Obviously the colonists didn't get this lot built with just muscle power, so some sort of tractor was in order.  The result in the photo above was bodged together from spares, and resulted in a rugged little vehicle with dozer blade and an arm that could in theory carry a variety of tools, though I just gave it a grabbing claw, a flat bed to carry stuff and a towing hook. The perfect general purpose vehicle for helping establish a colony. Ideal for clearing ground and unloading spaceships...

Oh, and some more figures for my empire army made it onto the painting table- 5 of the old battlemasters archers. I rather like those figures, its not immediately apparent in that pic, but I upgraded them with spare arrows from the Perry WOTR archer/billmen kit, which seems to work. Theres another 15 to go, and then 25 Halberdiers too.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A painting frenzy!

Its hard to believe its February already, and so I thought a new post was in order.

Its been a very busy month on the old painting table: around 150 models have marched of the production line! I've managed to get a bit of gaming in too, taking part in a large ECW game; the refight of Marston Moor run by Rick which you can see here, and getting started on our new favourite game- Frostgrave!

So, this is my warband, though two more chaps have been added to it since then. I'm trying to stick with old Citadel (or its foundry counterparts!) as much as I can, so we have the 80's LOTR Gandalf as my  wizard, and Frodo, as a thief. The first Grombrindal, a couple of the Mercenaries and Dogs of War ranges (F4 fighters I believe) are my general purpose thugs and fighters, The great Waldo is my Apprentice, and a Dungeoneer acts as a Knight. This last was my avatar back my days of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and is one of my favourite figures, mostly because of that nostalgia I suppose. The original disappeared long ago (along with my copy of WFRP!) and it took years of trawling Ebay to replace him. I'm not sure of the actual place of the figure in the Citadel range though- he appears in a pack of adventurers along with Waldo around 1990 but thats the earliest I can find him in my regular trawls of Stuff of Legends, but he looks older, and Waldo was definitely available around in 1985 in the Wizards range...

Anyway, we've been playing a bit of a campaign. My first game was against Chris, with a witch commanding a bunch of bestial chaps obsessed with summoning fog and Daemons!
My Warband managed to secure the bulk of the treasure early on, and here
can be seen covering the retreat of the treasure carriers

A horde of Daemons and knights charge under cover of fog (all those bits of paper!)
And then just as I manage to get all treasure to safety I manage
to shoot my own Wizard in the back with a crossbow bolt.

Ended up with a modest pile of treasure, and Niggling injuries for my, on to game two!  A three way this time with Geoff and Dafydd. This time it was the Haunted Crypts Scenario, which features 6 buildings containing treasure, and possibly a wight. Now Wights are tricky- you can't hurt them without a magic sword, and I had no magic sword. And they can do a lot of damage. But not to worry...I had a plan!  And the Telekinesis spell.
Most of the Scenery hand made by Geoff from the Hirst Arts Ruined Fieldstone Moulds.
Except the tower made by me and the GW ruin bottom right.
My warband trying to carry the treasure off without entering the building and having to fight the Wight! They managed to get two lots by this method, along with a third courtesy of the Reveal Secret spell, and put up a spirited fight for a fourth! 
During this game I discovered my band has a major weakness, namely a lack of offensive spells! Reveal Secret looks to be a good choice, giving me access to a treasure early on with no opposition. There are some useful things like Transpose, Heal, Teleport, Push and of course Telekinesis, which can be handy for controlling the table top, but XP is earned mostly by killing stuff, and my only offensive spell is Banish.  Which only works on Daemons. I'll just have to hope I can find a Grimoire with an appropriate spell soon! The result was that my Wizard got shot again, and my warband was fireballed to bits trying to contest the final bit of treasure. Luckily no permanent damage was done.  Game three in a couple of weeks!

So on to the results of the painting- a selection of pics, most stuff ended up put away before it could be photographed, including the contents of three of the Dungeon Saga supplements- thats Orcs, gobbos, daemons, trolls, heroes and demi-gods, all painted! Just need the Tryant of Halpi...

The new PSC 25pdr battery, with tractors and limbers. Plus some
 hotchkiss 25mm AT guns, AT rifles and some panzer II 

Harlequin Ogres.

22 Harlequin Orcs. Theres another 18 of these almost finished except for their shields on the table now.

And the Re-Start of my Empire Army! A Ral Partha Knife thrower  next to a Citadel Big Fighter.
Artizan Designs Great Swords behind the Foundry Mercenaries.
Now I was hopping to finish the last of the Orcs today, but got distracted by scenery building.  I had intended  to build a castle... seem to have ended up with a sci-fi frontier town, suitable for GOA or 40k.  Oh well.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Build it, and they shall come!

Once upon a time, a group of gamers would regularly gather to play games set in the ECW.  There were big battles, little battles, battles in weird shapes and campaigns.  And then, for a long time, there was nothing.  I arranged a few dates, set up tables and so on, but after several occasions where the only figures on the table were my own I gave up...

Occasionally I'd be asked when I'd do another, but work would get in the way, and nobody could pick a date when anyone was free. Rick offered to pick up the baton and run with it for a bit, and managed to get some folk to agree to a gaming day in about 32 years time.

Feeling that perhaps this was a little long to wait I decided to lay down a challenge- I would turn up with my forces on a set date, (this saturday) and play against anyone who turned up.  So on saturday morning I boxed up my army, and scenery and set off down to the old sports hall at Broughton. I set up the table in that huge lonely building and put out some scenery. And waited. The deadline Id set was 9am, but I was still on my own at quarter past. After a while wondering around the empty rooms I found myself looking down on the near deserted car park...and there was Ian, sat in his car reading Pike and Shotte!  By ten oclock, there were 6 of us!  Ok so its hardly woodstock, but I was very pleased with such a turnout!

We split into two teams- Myself, Ian Shaw and Dennis, against, Ian H, Michael and Chris. No fancy special rules or deployments were used. It was just a line up and whack 'em affair!

I'm not sure of how the game unfolded along the rest of our line, but I took the Parliamentarian Right wing, facing off against Ian H. I had a good array of potential defensive positions to choose from and a clear run for my Horse on the very right, however I was in the mood to be aggressive- my troops hadn't had a fight for a long time and I was keen to let them get stuck in! My Brigade of Foot (4 regts plus fireloques and guns, commanded by Essex, held the grounds around a small village and a hall, but merely sued this as a launch pad for the assault of another village up the road lightly held by Ian's Royalists. Two regiments of Foot assaulted the village directly, the other two covered the open ground to the right and engaged a similarly sized force of Ian's. My brigade of Horse( 3 regts commanded by Fairfax) Galloped up the flank enthusiastically but came up against large amounts of pike, which resulted in a bit of a stand off, with some sporadic skirmishing. This saw us lose a regt of Horse each, and my dragoons eventually arrived to push Ian's out of the woods which helped a little but the Horse didn't make much headway.  In the village the opposing units wore each other down a lot trying to outflank each other and by the end both lots were spent, and staring each other down across the surrounding hedges! It was in the middle where the most decisive fighting took place, with two regts of foot breaking into Ian's centre and driving back and destroying several units.  When we declared time up, we determined that despite my losses both my brigades were just about intact, but one of Ian's was broken. Similar results came in from the Centre and Left wing where IanS and Dennis both managed to do more damage to their opponents then they took, and a narrow Parliamentarian Victory was declared!

Initial dispositions-Royalists to the Right, Parliamentarians to the left.

View from the Parliamentarian left wing commanded by Dennis,

Michael at least, is pleased to be there!

The right wing, my regiments of foote deployed.

Parliamentarians take up positions covering the approaches to the hall.

Fairfax's Horse out on the flank.

The Royalist left wing.

Cromwell, the overall General, waves my regiments forward.

Dennis's Foot faces Chris's Horse at the other end of the field.

The first melees on the the Right Wing.

Royalist infantry counter attacks!

Parliamentarian troops overrun the first line of Royalists!

Fairfax's horse presses the attack , trying to find the weak point in the Royalist line.

At the opposite end of the field Royalist horse are driven back in disarray!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!