Monday, 31 August 2009

Basic Impetus - Wars of the Roses Armies

As those of you that have read the Rather Large Towton Project blog will know, I have embarked on a rather daft venture to refight Towton as close to a 1:1 scale as possible. One part of keeping this project fresh is making sure that I can use the figures I am painting before I have painted the whole Towton order of battle.

So, bearing in mind that I have tried the Impetus rules and enjoyed them when Steve Kelly dropped by, I have downloaded the Basic Impetus rules and produced a couple of armies for them. Basic Impetus is the free 'light' version of Impetus and there are dozens of army lists available for the rules. Having tried Impetus, I think that BI can help me regain the joy of my early forays into DBA when it first came out. The armies comprise around 7-10 elements, so it is possible to collect large numbers of armies if you wish, or just enjoy the game cheaply, a must for a thrifty gamer!

I already had a few packets of Wars of the Roses figures before I began the Towton project. Ok, well, maybe I mean more than a few. Not all of these will be used in the Towton project because they represent troop types that were not present. I dug these out and added what I needed to the painting pile. As a result, in short order I had enough elements to field all of the options for Lancastrian and Yorkist armies. Each army consists of 8 elements, and each has 3 options that can be added in exchange for elements already in the army. The number of options in BI armies is not ridiculously large, like in the most recent DBA rules, but reflects the sensible nature of the first edition of DBA. Hooray for Dadi e Piombo, say I!

The armies below are arrayed with their core elements at the front. The three optional elements are arrayed separately to the rear. The figures are 6mm Baccus, based on 60mm x 30mm mdf bases from East Riding Miniatures using the Baccus Basing System.

The Yorkist Army (click the pictures for a larger version)

The Yorkist army consists of the retinues of Edward IV, Lord Hastings and Lord Berners.

The Lancastrian Army

The Lancastrian army consists of the retinues of Lord Grey of Codnor and Sir John Heron of the Ford. It also features the retinues of Viscount Bourchier and Lord Fitzwarin standing in as Lancastrians until I actually get some more Lancastrian running dog lackeys painted.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Shiva - Urban War

I have not painted much 28mm recently and Shiva has been sitting on my painting desk for a while, half completed. I decided to quickly paint her up the other day and have just finished her.

Shiva is a human that has been infected with the spores released by the Koralon (greebly aliens) when they invaded. She is a character figure for the Urban War game from Urban Mammoth. Steve and I both really like Urban War but we play it all too infrequently, because we keep getting distracted by other projects. It's a shame really because it is a game that is well worth playing.

Looking at Shiva, I think she may well appear in our Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures games. She would make a great minor demon figure, as would a lot of the other Koralon I have. Now, where can I find these figures in 6mm for our Warrior Heroes games too?

The Martians Are Coming

I finally got around to finishing some more Martians. My poor Shastapshian Martians are still outgunned by the perfidious British of Syrtis Major, but at least we have more of a chance now. The figures are all 15mm and are from Black Hat Miniatures, except for the Small Bird sky galleon, which is a paper model produced by squirmydad. You can download this model from the Sky Galleons of Mars yahoo group. Big thatnks to squirmydad for that.

My forces are based around the Shastapshian army in the Space: 1889 rules. Their army is organised into 'flags'. Each flag is a combined arms battalion comprising two warbands of infantry, one artillery battery and one cavalry warband. My ultimate goal is to be able to field three or four of these flags with supporting walkers and sky galleons.

A Red Flag Warband

These new infantry are the first warband for the second flag that I am producing.

Small Bird Class Screw Galley

This is my first air support unit. The Small Bird is normally used to support troops in siege situations by providing high level bombing. I am hoping that its sweeper guns and aerial mobility can also level the playing field against the British machine-guns.

Storch Mk2 Walker

This light recon walker is armed with a 0.5" Gatling gun instead of the more usual two-pounder that the Prussian Storch walker carries. Prussian renegades have provided the Shastapshians with three of these walkers so I had better buy and paint the other two as well. Let us hope that they prove resiliant enough to deal with the British steam tanks that I have heard are in production.

Shastaphsian forces march on Syrtis Major.

This is all of my painted Martians so far. I need to add some cavalry to complete the Black Flag. They are currently sitting undercoated by the painting table awaiting their turn.

In the near future, I plan to complete the Red Flag by adding an infantry warband with melee weapons, because the Black Flag is the only flag whose troops all have rifles. They will also need the cavalry and artillery, so I shall have to buy these at some point in the future. I have also printed out another Small Bird and plan to build it shortly. I think I would like a squadron of three of them and it would be nice to have crew figures for the Small Birds, so I shall print and build another at some point.

In the longer term I plan to expand the army to three or four flags, as mentioned above, and add the extra two walkers. After that, who knows? I am tempted to add an allied Piedmontese mercenary battalion to the Shastapshian forces, with the Piedmontese taking the role of the Fenians and Prussians in the rulebook. Whaddya mean you never heard of the Piedmontese space effort or their holdings on Mars? Well, you will ...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Italians buy British boats shocker!

In shock news, the Italian government has recently purchased a number of Stingray Class Torpedo 'Nefs from Britain. This is thought to signal British support for the newly formed Italian nation in its struggle against the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The new Torpedo 'Nefs are the first part of a larger order that the Italian government has made. The 'Nefs, designated S1 to S5, made a fine site as they escorted a small flotilla of Italian vessels from the British naval dockyards at Scapa Flow. The Orkney islanders turned out en masse to cheer the ships as they left. Reportedly this new order has saved a number of jobs at the dockyards that were previously threatened due to a downturn in wars.

I finally got around to painting some of my 'nefs last week. Now I just need to paint the rest. Click the pictures for larger versions.

The Italian Fleet leaves Scapa Flow with the newly purchased Stingray Torpedo 'Nefs:

Palestro Class Destroyer:

Re D'Italia Battlenef:

Stingray Class Torpedo 'Nef:

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

More Clearing The Decks - TYW Swedes

I recently rebased my Thirty Years War Swedes to make a couple of armies. OK, so technically it is not two completely separate armies. It is two armies with a core of models in common and additional elements to make up the rest. I played Impetus the other day and really enjoyed it, so I decided to quickly rebase my Thirty Years War Swedes for the Basic Impetus variant Basic Baroque. I am hoping that BI and BB return the same level of fun to ancients and renaissance gaming that DBA did in the early nineties. I have had this Swedish army for a goodly number of years but, like many other armies I own, it was never completed due to lack of opponents interested in the period. The army was originally put together for Renaissance Principles of War, which means I have quite a few spare bits for the BB armies now. I am thinking of reworking some of these to provide a Danish or Imperialist opponent for the Swedes. Given the small size of the armies, that should be feasible with minimum additional expenditure.
The figures are all 6mm by Irregular Miniatures on mdf bases from East Riding Miniatures.

The early Swedish army (Click the pics for larger images):

Later Swedish army:

The figures are all based on 60x30mm stands, because I had them to hand and am getting used to using them. I am not sure that this was the right choice but it is done now. I think I should have opted for 80mm frontage stands instead, which is another option that the game gives. This would have given the cavalry a bit more space for the commanded shot. Still, it gives me another army that is ready to use, and the point of wargaming for me is rolling dice and talking shite with my mates. This army is ready for another bout of that.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Play Day! (Impetus and FutureWarsCommander)

Yup, I had a play day yesterday. Steve (of steves blog) was in the country visiting his brother, who lives about an hour or so up the road from me, so we arranged to meet up. He brought his Wars of the Roses figures with him (all Baccus 6mm) and a couple of Dark Realm Miniatures armies for FutureWarsCommander. If you have not read Steve's blog, you should at least check it out; his figures are beautifully painted.

He managed to find my house eventually, after a dreadful journey down past York. One brew later and we set up for the first game. Steve had mentioned Impetus on his blog before and I have been reading reports by other people too, like JET on Geektactica. These all made the game sound interesting. I had also downloaded Basic Impetus, a free DBA-esque version of the rules from the website, which had whetted my appetite for the game. It looked interesting, and I was not wrong. Steve had mentioned on the phone earlier in the week that he had some reservations about the rules after his first game, so I was wondering if they would live up to my expectations. We set up the game. I took a Lancastrian Wars of the Roses force and Steve took the Yorkists. Both armies were Steve's.

We deployed roughly opposite each other and commenced the archery duel, which was not particularly decisive but did disorder my archers fairly quickly. Our mounted units charged towards each other on my left flank, while the rest of the troops tried to remove disorder and advance. As we closed the archery became more furious and units started to really get hurt, with Steve's men taking the brunt of it. Meanwhile the mounted knights were in a ding-dong battle that raged back and forth across the field. My knights got the worst of it in that melee and were quickly reduced to a strength of 1. Ouch. However, despite, or possibly because of, being outnumbered they rallied and fought back even harder. Meanwhile, my archers had destroyed a couple of Steve's archer units and my melee troops stormed into the combat. Very soon the battle was over and the Yorkists were fleeing for their lives.

This was a great fun game. I don't think we used all the rules in the Impetus rulebook, but it flowed well and was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the idea of selecting which body of troops you wished to move and dicing for their initiative versus your opponent rather than rolling initiative for the whole side. That keeps both players more involved in the game all the time and adds a layer of interesting decision-making to the game. I also really liked the fact that melee continues until one side is destroyed or has fallen back beyond the pursuit range of the other side. This makes melee quite deadly really but also led to a real back and forth battle between our knights. The quality of the rulebook is also exceptional. It has thick glossy pages that feel like they will last well. The illustrations are inspiring and there appear to be plenty of examples too. Overall, I have to say "thumbs up" for Impetus and it is now on my shopping list. Oh, and Steve's reservations about the rules? Well, it turns out that he had drunk rather a lot of alcohol before he even began that first game ...

We broke for lunch and then set up a game of FutureWarsCommander. I have had these rules for a while and it is on my regular opponent Steve's and my list to play. Yes, my regular opponent is called Steve too. That makes it rather confusing but I shall not mention him again so any references to Steve will henceforth refer to Steve of 'steves blog'. So, as I was saying, I have had these rules for a while and have been really keen to try them out. I painted up my Scandinavian Union force a while back, as regular readers of this blog will know, and had previously only used it for Dirtside 2. Steve used an Andrayadan force from Dark Realm Miniatures for this game. We picked 2000 points of troops and set up a quick encounter battle so that we could get rolling dice asap.

It all started so well. I discovered that my troops had firepower and range over Steve's force. Brilliant. In the first four turns and almost completely annihilated one wing of his army as it tried to advance on me and had reduced Steve to one point from his breakpoint. My own casualties were minimal so far. At this time I was feeling rather guilty. After all, I had won the first game and it would be rude to win the second game in such a manner. Then on Turn 5 both my HQ and my CO failed their first command rolls. My troops stood there like lemons while Steve's advanced. I started to take more casualties. On the following turn my CO again failed to activate anything while my HQ was trying to manoeuvre his wing over to the other side of the table. And that's when it happened. Steve's troops activated and activated and fired and fired and my troops started falling like flies. In the space of one turn the whole game was turned on its head and suddenly my troops reached their breakpoint. I now had to roll every turn to see if the commander would order a withdrawal. He passed the first time but the troops took so many casualties on that turn that there was only a minimal chance of succeeding at the withdrawal roll on the following turn. I rolled. I failed. My troops fled the field. Victory to Steve!

This game was brilliant. The command system is very neat and offers all kinds of possibilities for problems and amazing successes. The game flowed really well and there were no problems. We did spend a bit of time looking things up, but that was because neither of us was particularly familiar with the rules. I can't wait to get another game of this in and am even wondering whether I should collect a new army for it. The question is, which army?

So, a big thank you to Steve for an excellent day's gaming.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Rather Large Towton Project - Update

I have just completed my first contingent for the Towton project we are doing. This consists of 294 figures in 6mm. You can see the results on the Towton Blog. Here's a shot of the whole contingent to tempt you to look there (click for a larger version):

My own contribution to the whole project will be about 8500 figures. I hope that the others can contribute half as much each. If they do then we shall have a truly epic game to play. The figures are all Baccus 6mm and they are awaiting the flags we are due to get from Freezywater/Lance and Longbow Society. Watch this space or, better yet, follow progress on the other blog.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Danish Army at Helsingborg

I have previously posted pictures of my Swedish army for the Battle of Helsingborg. As part of my clearing the decks process, I have now finished rebasing my Danish army too. As usual, click the pictures for larger images. If you want to see more picture of this army and the individual units, you can find them in my Photobucket account.

The whole army for Helsingborg using Polemos order of battle:

The army is now based on 60mm x 30mm stands. Originally, when I first conceived of the Helsinborg project, I envisaged using Koenig Krieg to refight the battle. However, further experience of Koenig Krieg suggested to me that those rules might not suit my schedule and available gaming time. Therefore the project stalled with both armies painted and stuck to KK bases. Then along came Polemos. I decided to rebase to that standard. I figured that I could then use the armies with Volley and Bayonet too. I like Volley and Bayonet, although some find them a little simplistic. I also think that Volley and Bayonet may well suit my available gaming time better, although I intend to try both out.

As an example of how the units look, here is a picture of the Guard infantry:

And here is a picture of Bulow's Ungarske Dragoon Regiment.

Just to show how truly geeky I am, here are the casualty markers that I put together for the original Koenig Krieg project. There is a full set for every regiment in the army, painted in regimental uniforms.

Some figures that are not needed for Helsingborg, but which I rebased anyway:

Following the rebasing, I also find myself with a lot of extra figures left over. The Koenig Kreig battalions are larger than the Polemos / Volley and Bayonet ones so I have the equivalent of half a dozen regiments of infantry spare, as well as some additional commanders and dismounted dragoons. The infantry will have their facings changed and will become regiments that fought at Gadebusch in 1712. These spare figures will need command figures adding to them too, but I have plenty in the lead pile so that is not a problem. I shall be assuming that most regiments had not received their new red uniforms by then, but if I need to begin afresh with some units then I shall paint them in the red uniforms.

Clearing the Decks

With my first batch of figures for the Towton project staring reproachfully at me from the side of my painting desk, I need to make some space for them. I also need to minimise distractions from other projects. Therefore I have set out to clear up what I can. First up are some Viking Age shepherds and their trusty dog, Gnasher. I know he is not a gnaschund but I could not think of a better name and he really does look like he is up to no good:

These figures are Gripping Beast, I think. They were already painted by my brother as part of a 28mm Viking army for DBM or some similar system. I was not keen on the ink wash my brother had used. It was brown over the grey cloaks, so I repainted the main details on the figures and dipped them in a magic wash solution using dark grey paint as the pigment. Then I rebased them. It seems to have worked well enough. These figures are extras for our WHAA campaign so I did not really want to spend ages getting them perfect. As it is, they should not be too embarrassing to field.

The other mob that I have finished up is my Swedish Hussars for the Seven Years War. These are 6mm Baccus figures. Baccus does not produce a Swedish range for the Seven Years War, but it is perfectly feasible to use similarly accoutred figures from the Prussian and Austrian ranges. On the left we have the Yellow Hussars (Gul Husaren) and on the right the Blue Hussars (Bla Husaren).

The Blue Hussars were the original unit, formed in 1757. The Yellow Hussars were formed in 1761. They are the only hussar units in the whole Swedish army at this time so any Swedish army of this period will need to include them or do without light cavalry. Pengel and Hurt note that they cannot find any evidence for standards carried by the hussars. I have chosen to give them generic livfanor because I think that a hussar regiment really ought to have flags.

Until I paint the actual Swedish regiments of the Seven Years War, I plan to use my Great Northern War Swedes as stand-ins. The uniforms are close enough so it will not be glaringly obvious except to the most pernickety of people.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Rather Large Towton Project

I believe I mentioned this project in an earlier post on this blog. I have hit upon the idea of producing a 6mm refight of the Battle of Towton. Towton was fought between the House of York and the House of Lancaster on 29th March 1461 during the Wars of the Roses in England. It is reputed to have been the bloodiest battle on English soil and was fought in a blinding snow storm. The numbers involved are disputed, with some scholars claiming around 30,000 men in total, while traditionally there are supposed to have been around 70,000 involved. At the end of the battle, 28,000 men are supposed to have lain dead on the field, most of them being slaughtered in Bloody Meadow as they routed. Again, the number of casualties is disputed, with those favouring a lower number stating that insufficient burials are known from the area to support the higher numbers. All I will say to those scholars is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

The Plan
So, on to the project. I have started a new blog to chronicle the project as it develops over the next year and a half. The new blog can be found HERE. I have recruited half a dozen other people to help with this project and we are planning to field armies comprising upwards of 8,500 figures with an ultimate goal of 25,000 figures on the table. That said, I am now wondering if 33,000 figures is a feasible goal now that I have received my first order (Edward IV's command).

We plan to take the Towton game round several shows in the UK in 2011, the 550th anniversary of the battle. I hope I shall see some of you there.

How can this be thrifty? Good question. We are being supported in this effort by Baccus and The Lance and Longbow Society. Baccus is giving us a hefty discount on the figures that we are buying for the project, which makes purchasing the higher numbers of figures more realistic. The Lance and Longbow Society/Freezywater produce a range of standards and banners for the Wars of the Roses and they have volunteered to give us all the 6mm flags we need for the project. I would like to thank both of them for their generosity. I really hope that our efforts repay that generosity.

The other aspect of thrift in this project is that I shall not be spending any money on it! Well, that is not strictly speaking true but I intend to make my spending on the project 'outlay neutral'. I have more than a few projects that have stalled and are never likely to be finished. These I propose to sell on ebay to fund the purchase of figures for the Towton project; my first purchase was funded by my recent ebay sales. I intend to repeat this process until I have all the figures I need to refight Towton. I shall also be begging all of my relatives to buy me the figures I need for my birthday and Christmas presents. With any luck, this will mean that I do not actually spend any money beyond what I can earn from my hobby on the project. Then all I need to do is get them painted. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Albion attacks Bwendi Again - Dirtside 2

I have owned Dirtside 2 since before 1997 and after 1994. I know this because I remember buying it in the comics shop in Bedford when I worked for the archaeology unit there and those were the dates of my sojourn in Bedfordshire. However, I had never played the rules until this Thursday just gone. That is a shame because we had a cracking good game and the rules worked really well. I had feared that they might be a bit crunchy, but as it was they actually played very smoothly. The only downside to the game is that it was very one-sided and Steve took the brunt of the bad luck. I do prefer a closer match.

We chose to fight a standard 3000 point encounter battle, with each of us setting out 3 objective markers. The markers were all drawn randomly from the pool of objective markers so we did not know what points values each of us had drawn. All of mine were worth one point each. Bah! I found out afterwards that Steve had drawn two 2s and a 3! One objective marker had to be placed in our rear areas (the third of the table closest to our base edge), while the remainder had to be placed in the centre third of the table (the main battle area). The red circles on the set-up picture below show their locations.

My force consisted of the HQ group, two tank troops, two armoured infantry platoons and a heavy SPG troop. Steve had, if I remember correctly, an HQ group, two heavy tank troops and an armoured infantry platoon. I outnumbered him significantly and, as I found out, he had taken a totally different approach from me to building his force. I bought small tanks with big guns and very few frills. Steve bought big tanks (his Scotia tanks were twice the size of mine, literally!) with smaller guns but loaded up with stealth options.

The Set-Up (click pic for larger version throughout)

One unit of Steve's tanks is missing from this picture (on the far right) because of the limitations of my photography expertise. The arrows show the approximate movements of the units throughout the game.

Steve began the game by advancing a unit of tanks down his left flank. I promptly proved that I had actually read the rules by declaring opportunity fire. Three hit rolls later, two tanks were in flames and one had suffered a catastrophic failure of all its systems and it had also lost its drive train. The systems could be brought back online but it would never move again.

On his right flank, Steve moved a heavy tank troop into the military industrial complex to seize the objective there. I responded by advancing my headquarters troop to try to drive him from it. Suddenly all the target training I had given my troops seemed to desert them. They were right up next to these tanks and could not hit a thing. Fortunately, Steve seemed to have forgotten to train his own troops in how to shoot too!

Meanwhile, in the centre of the battlefield, Steve advanced his infantry forward and I did the same. My green troops advanced into the woods in my rear area to seize that objective and never moved from there for the rest of the game. Did I mention that troop quality was determined by a chit draw? I drew 2 green units, 1 elite unit and the rest were average. Steve's troops were all average and mostly with average commanders, while my command ratings were all over the place. In the picture below you see me triumphantly moving my troops up to the edge of the middle woods, supported by an armoured troop, and loudly declaring, "Hah, this objective is mine!" I then realised that the objective was actually in the woods at the top of the picture and said, "Oh, bother!" Doh!

I did move my infantry up to the woods with the objective in later, and managed to hold it. Steve brought his infantry up to try to take it, but I countered with some devious tank movements to chase his APCs off. Meanwhile, I had managed to smoke two of his tanks in the industrial area, had finished off the third one on his left flank and had occupied five of the objectives. At that point I declared game end. Under the rules, once you control more than half the objectives, you can declare game end. That said, it had not been easy. I spent many turns failing to hit Steve's vehicles. Similarly, he failed to hit mine and the one time he did, he scored a firer systems failure; the gunner pulled the trigger and the blue screen of death showed up instead of brewing up my APC. Such was Steve's luck throughout the game.

The final situation with arrows to show approximate troop movements:

The game was great fun and we played it through in 1.5 hours despite never having played before. The rules worked smoothly and the only thing that spoiled the game was Steve's abysmal luck. I'm sure he will do better next time. From my own perspective, I got the impression that numbers will tell in DS2; the more shots you get off the more chance you have of hitting and hurting the enemy. Steve's lack of numbers was a contributory factor in losing the game. The stealth systems he had worked well though. I spent several turns firing everything I had at him and missing every single time! I do like the opposed die roll system for hitting. That works well and is fun. It also keeps both players involved all the time, as does the alternate activation mechanism, where each player alternates activating one unit at a time. All in all, DS2 s well worth trying if you like 6mm sci-fi and it is available free from the Ground Zero Games website.

Our next planned game will be FutureWarsCommander using the same figures. We shall also return to DS2 but with bigger forces and more variety of vehicles.

August's Objectives

My loyal followers will have noticed that I have not yet posted anything about objectives for August. That is because I have none. By the end of this month I have to get the next chapter of my PhD into a highly polished format for submission to my supervisor. Therefore, rather than balancing my painting and my coursework (usually in favour of painting!), I shall instead be focusing on writing stuff about Vikings. If I were to set myself any gaming objectives, I would be driven to complete them first, so I shall not do so.

This does not mean that I shall be idle on the gaming front. I am currently clearing the decks for a rather large long term project, so I do have a bunch of figures to paint, but I am not going to pressure myself into completing them yet.

We expect to resume normal service in September though.

The Rock Muppets March On

One of my July projects was completing my Totanem (Rock Muppet) warband for Wargods of Aegyptus. I had a unit of warriors, a hero and a Stone Colossus to paint. Well, I finished them with hours to spare, varnishing them on the morning of 31st July and finishing off the bases in the afternoon. Here they are in all their schisty glory.

Unit of warriors led by a hero:

I had a spare shield, so I added it to the hero, because I already have one of this model in the warband, so I thought it would make him a little different.

Stone Colossus:

The Stone Colossus is a creation that the harbinger of the warband can build when he gains enough Ka (equivalent to levels in an RPG or something like that anyway). It is a slow but tough juggernaut that can level buildings with its bare fists. I suspect that it will also be an arrow magnet in any game we play.

The whole warband:

This is the whole warband. It consists of:
  1. The harbinger (front centre)
  2. A master of words or magic-user (centre left)
  3. An artifex, who crafts items of power for selected characters in the warband (centre right)
  4. The Stone Colossus (rear)
  5. Two units of warriors, each led by a hero

The figures shown here weigh in at between 850 and 900 points, depending upon how I rate the heroes (they could be bought as champions or heroes). To bring it up to the starting warband default level of 1000 points, I would add a unit of Khemru slingers to give me some missile capability.

You will notice that the newer figures are a different colour from the older ones. This is because I tried a different painting technique on these ones. Instead of doing lots of highlighting, I just washed the figures in a stone colour and allowed the white undercoat and the wash to provide the shading. Then I dipped the figures to increase the contrast a bit. I think it worked quite well and I would not be too embarrassed to field these figures on the table.