Saturday, 10 December 2011

Crikey, the island's about to explode!

We played Tusk ages ago and I have been meaning to post pics from it but never seemed to get around to it until now. The game involved two groups of Victorian explorers trying to get from one side of the board to the other, where their ship is waiting, before the volcano erupts and tears the island to pieces. Between the explorers and safety is a herd of Tyrannosaurs.
We both set out as fast as we could. I shot at the Tyrannosaurs in a bid to drive them towards Steve's group, but failed miserably in my goal of getting him eaten. He shot at the Tyrannosaurs and managed to kill three of them with his elephant gun, although brave Sir Harry did rather end up on the wrong side of one of them (its inside). As the countdown to doomsday continued, we both raced as fast as we could and managed to get two stands each off the table. My group consisted of hunters with my poor porters being left behind. I cannot remember what Steve's consisted of, only that I exited more points of troops. Still, it was a draw because we both got two stands off the table. Frantic stuff all round and great fun.

Figures: Irregular Miniatures 6mm

Friday, 2 September 2011


In a fairly recent blog post I showcased the Saucy Sue, a mobile den of scurrilous iniquity, or so the authorities would tell you. The Saucy Sue is a landship for our forthcoming Lacpunk game. She has some crew, but I thought she needed some extras and had these 28mm Black Scorpion pirates hanging around from an impulse purchase at a show. So, onto the painting table with them and slap some paint on. I don't think they look too bad, although my photography certainly still needs work and I have still not learnt to like painting 28mm figures:

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My Love-Hate Relationship with GHQ

It cannot have escaped the keen-eyed reader's notice that I use GHQ Terrainmaker tiles in a lot of my games. These are 4" across flat-to-flat polystyrene tiles of varying thickness according to need. The basic tile is 1/2" thick. Negative features, such as rivers, streams and ditches are constructed using two 1/4" tiles, while hills are constructed using 1" tiles. The whole system provides a fantastically flexible terrain system that is perfect for my normal games, which are fought on a 4' by 3' table for the most part.

I love this flexibility and I love the facility for making my own terrain as needed. You can do as much or as little with the tiles and they generally look fairly good even at the basic level of terrain-making that I do. Some people out in internetworld have done fantastic things with their tiles and make them look really good. For an example of this, check out Tom Stockton's website. His work is brilliant and an inspiration to me. Now if only I had the patience to do all that sort of work myself, but I do not, because I am a gamer more than I am a modeller.

However, I also hate the system. Why is GHQ's quality control so poor? The hexes I bought from Chiltern Miniatures when they were manufacturing them under licence over here were great. They were exact and fitted together well. The GHQ hexes that I have are occasionally squashed on the corners. They are not true hexagons and are often not precisely 4" across as they are meant to be. Some of the hexes I have are an eighth of an inch out in one dimension. It's a pain in the bum and ensures that my terrain often has fairly large gaps in it. I noticed this when photographing the Vikings earlier today. The 1/4" tiles that form an iced over river are smaller than the normal land tiles. They don't feature in any of the photos because of this problem with means that I had gaps in the terrain of 1/4" and more. Worse yet, those tiles then swum around within the terrain frame I was using because of the gaps. Bah! And Grrr!!

If only someone produced individual tiles like this that were precisely 4" across and were always perfect hexagons. Until then I shall soldier on, because I have rather a lot of the GHQ stuff and don't like the idea of all that wasted effort if I get rid of it. Of course, I suppose I could see about setting up producing stuff like this myself and trying to sell it. Might be a laugh. Anyone care to give me the start-up costs? I doubt I could manage it with the pittance I currently have in the bank.

There, I feel better for that whinge.

Some 6mm Vikings

This is the first part of my Baccus 6mm Viking army. These are enough stands to cover their use in our Rally Round the King campaign. All units are based on 40mm frontage by 20mm depth while the heroes are on 20mm by 20mm stands. This means I can easily use the same forces for Warmaster Ancients, should I choose to expand the army that far. At present I am undecided and shall probably just crack on with producing a 6mm Viking army for Impetus based on 60mm by 30mm stands. Perhaps I shall produce the full WMA army in the future or it may just happen naturally if the Rally Round the King army is successful in the campaign and expands to that size.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Castle Caldwell - a couple of CC3 images

I've been playing some more with CC3 and came up with the following image of Castle Caldwell (Basic D&D module B9). It is based on a revised floorplan that I found online somewhere.

The adventure map:

The castle on a bright spring morning:

I forgot to switch off the text from the player's plan of the area, but that is not too much of a problem. Time to switch to a scale bar, I reckon. I've also just noticed that the trapdoors on the towers are casting shadows so I shall have to move them to a different sheet from the rest of the symbols I used, but overall I am rather pleased with the effect and usefulness for our Labyrinth Lord game. I reckon I am going to get some nicely atmospheric maps out of this package. Yay! Money well spent, and I don't even have to paint it!!

I have produced maps of the interior and the dungeon beneath the castle, but I shall not post those until my players have battled through them, just in case they actually read this blog.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Map of Northern Karameikos - More Adventures with CC3

Ok, spent a bit of today fiddling with a map for our Labyrinth Lord game. The end result is this map of the area around the town of Threshold (Click for a larger version):

Looking at it displayed on the screen I notice some areas where I need to 'feather' the edges of the woods to give a less blocky feel. I could probably get away with fewer mountains in the mountainous areas too and the glow around the edge of the text needs fettling slightly to make the text more readable. Still, it gives the adventurers a visual aid, and I can fettle the map and add things they discover as I go along. The more I play with CC3, the more I wish I had this sort of technology in the late seventies when I first started playing Basic D&D.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Wargods and CC3 - Version 2

Ok, a couple of instruction videos down the line and I think I am beginning to understand a few more things. Here's the next version of the campaign map. Have I made any progress? I think so. CC3 seems simple enough to get the basics quickly but probably has a lot more subtlety to it that I may well manage to learn later. Hmm, Steve's a CAD wallah. Perhaps I should just point it in his direction and see what he makes of it.

Mapping Aegyptus with Campaign Cartographer 3

I have been considering putting together a Wargods of Aegyptus mini-campaign recently. It would be the first episode in a series that ideally would see the harbingers rise from lowly Ka1 wannabes all the way to Ka10 and possibly one of them becoming Pharaoh or restoring Osiris to the throne. The basic campaign idea is a simple one. The Harbingers must find the clues, which are located at significant named spots. Once all the clues have been found there is a climactic big battle. Each clue will add a bonus to the warband that finds it, so finding lots of clues will give an advantage to the warband that does this. So, I wanted it to be a map campaign and had drawn up a simple grid on paper. Then yesterday I weakened and bought Campaign Cartographer 3, primarily for mapping my Labyrinth Lord campaign but I produced an Aegyptus map first. This is the result, my first warts and all CC3 map using the basic package and no add-ons.

I was very surprised at how easy it was to produce this map. A quick whizz through the basic tutorial followed by a quick run through the CC3 Essentials pdf manual. A trip to the forum yielded a couple of clues about approaches and techniques too, as I read a few posts by first-timers getting their own work checked out, followed by looking up the topics in the main manual. So, that was Sunday afternoon filled up. I then spent an hour knocking this map together in the evening. I've tinkered with the settings a bit more today, in between running errands for my wife, but a small investment of time has yielded a perfectly usable map. It's not brilliant but I am quite pleased with it as a first effort. My next task is to try the same map using a different basic map type and see how that works. The range of icons available in the standard Vector style map is not as great as in the standard bitmap fill map, so let's see what I can do with the latter.

Overall I am very pleased with the basic CC3 package and how easy it is to use. I am not a great digital artist and have only sporadically used CAD packages in the past, so I am not an expert there. I use Photoshop Elements a bit, but this is not the same style of package and I am no great digital artist with PSE either, but I reckon that with a little bit more practice and thought I could be churning out competent maps for my games quite happily using CC3. I also suspect that I shall be spending a small fortune on the add-on packages too once I really get going!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Bwendi Aerospace Navy Gets New Fighters

The Bwendi Bugle
Blowing the Bwendi Trumpet Since 1984 Old Earth Time

Gladcorp is very pleased to announce the development of the new Dendrobates Fast-Strike Interceptor. The Colonel's own Azureus Squadron took delivery of the first of these new fighters and may be seen here testing them above the Bwendi night sky.

Colonel Throckmorton P Gladiolus himself leads this squadron into battle and it is reported that he is very pleased with this new interceptor: "The flight was so smooth that I was able to perform combat manoeuvres while drinking my tea and I did not spill a drop. I can't wait to take a pop at the ADF in this beauty."

Figures: 1:300 Amrep Eagle by Brigade Models

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Avast Behind! or The Saucy Sue Sets Sail

Dave Graffam produces a nice range of card buildings for printing out and building. They use layers in the pdf so you can customise them and produce quite a variety of models from just the one download. At no more than $5 per pdf that makes them very good value, although you do need to factor in ink and card costs.

Anyway, I was browsing his stuff at Wargame Vault last night looking for some cheap retail therapy when I spotted his Patrol Boat model, which looked interesting. Then I spotted his Abandoned Wagon model. Well, that was it. Three quid for two models with many uses. I was sold.

Better yet, I could combine the two models. Steve has been talking about playing a Lacepunk game set on a lost continent in the mid-eighteenth century for some time now. I admit that I too have talked this one up. It sounds like fun to me. One of the ideas with this world is that it has a vast flat plain at its centre and the denizens thereof use landships to get around. Naturally, my group in the game will need their own wheels, so here is the Saucy Sue. She is a small cutter-like vessel, being swift and manoeuvrable but with not much room for crew. The next question that we need to answer is whether to raise the jolly roger or not.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tarting up the Troops

I mentioned tarting up my troops in the last post. Here is a before and after shot of Austrian (left) and Russian (right) stands from Irregular miniatures. In the background is the Russian general's new car, which I found in the bits box. All figures are Irregular miniatures and show how the WW1 infantry come based (three figures to a stand). I rather wish they did their WW2 infantry this way too. For some reason the modern infantry that I have is based similarly to the WW1 infantry but not WW2 stuff. Odd.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Orange Blossom Special?

Train, trees, track and village by Irregular Miniatures
Hexes by GHQ and all flocked up by me

I started a Red Actions play by email campaign recently. I am umpiring it and my players (one in Australia and one at the opposite end of England) are busily plotting and counterplotting against each other. Steve and I are refighting the battles for them. You can read how the campaign is progressing on my Red Actions blog, but more importantly, this campaign has inspired me to revisit my WW1 6mm figures.

I have Russians, Austrians, Germans, Italians and British forces available to use but have not played anything with them in ages. These chaps are now proxies for the Estonian and Freikorps forces in our campaign. Railways are important in the campaign and I realised how bad our table looked without proper railways on it, so I ordered an armoured train pack from Irregular Miniatures and some track for making railway tiles. I ordered on the Thursday afternoon and the figures arrived on the Saturday morning. By Sunday they were all painted and I could start fixing railway track to hex tiles. I did the final basic work on the hex tiles this morning.

I chose to keep the train's paint job generic because I have not decided if I am going to choose one particular force to field and I currently want to be able to use it with all the forces available to me. The village and trees are from Irregular Miniatures too. I have had them for years and it shows. I really should get around to repainting them all. The hex tiles are GHQ. It is frustrating that they are not precisely cut but I still like the overall effect and flexibility. As my eyesight deteriorates with age I should become better able to ignore the gaps between the hexes! I also need to return to the hexes I made first and do more work on them because I am not happy with the colour of the scatter material. It is too dark.

Here is the result. An armoured train steaming through the countryside. Let's hope the village and woods do not contain partisans bent on blowing the train up!
(Click the pics for larger images)

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Massacre at Umbobo Station [Laserburn]

The Bwendi Bugle
The Truth Shall Make Ye Feer

News is just coming in of an assault on Umbobo Station in Mpele Province. Two gangs of Albion Symps have attacked the station, massacred the police troopers stationed there and stolen a consignment of valuable organs worth thousands on the black market. The whole are was littered with bodies. Initial reports say that four of the five troopers were found dead at the scene. Sergeant Friendly of the Police Sentinels lived long enough to tell a terrible tale of murder and treachery before she too died.

The perps drove up in two trucks from Natongo town and immediately murdered Officer Nicey, who was on guard. The other officers sought to arm themselves before confronting the villains, who were busily searching the supplies for their loot. Officer Lovely was first out of the door and managed to immobilise two of the gang members before being gunned down. One of the villains then burst into the barracks and gunned Officer Smashey down before he was immobilised by Sergeant Friendly.

Sergeant Friendly and Officer Super leapt out of the barracks to confront the remaining villains, only to find the villains firing on each other. Between them they accounted for two more of the villains before themselves being gunned down.

Forensic officers at the scene report that military spec technology was used including a Vortex Grenade that demolished a building and a tree. With such weaponry being used the perps must have been sponsored by the Albion Defence Force and it is odd that they seem to have turned on each other when they could. Investigators hope to find out more from the one living perp that was left at the scene. This man has been identified as Ezra Betterware a small-time crook. He is currently in intensive care at Sea Prison and will be questioned when he comes to. Two of his known associates, Esther DeVries and John Waldorf, were also found dead at the scene. A worldwide manhunt is now on for their other associate John Statler, who is thought to have been driving one of the trucks. If you see this man do not approach him. He is armed and dangerous.

Satellite imagery shown below shows another gang of four people, all of whom escaped in a stolen militia truck. They have not yet been identified. If you think you know them call our tips hotline on 5150-BAG-A-PERP.

(Click the images for larger versions)

The Scenario:
Mpele province is a real backwoods area of Bwendi Prime. It is sparsely populated and is known mainly for the logging industry in that area. As a result, it lacks many amenities but is generally peaceful. What it does have is a widely scattered series of automated hospitals staffed only by a small security team and a doctor whose function is mainly to keep the Autodoc in good repair. Each month new supplies are flown in to the hospitals and these include valuable organs that could be sold on the black market for a small fortune. You have decided that this sort of easy target will provide you with easy pickings and a means to improve your social status. So you have chosen Umbobo Station, which lies nearest to your hometown of Natongo and you have stolen a truck to get you there. Now all you have to do is intimidate the half dozen security guards and steal all the good stuff before police reinforcements can show. Next stop the big time. No more tagging and casual vandalism for you.

The Gangs
Each gang has 2000 Credits to spend on troops and equipment. You can only take four or five figures in total, because you need space in the truck for the supplies that you are about to steal. You do not have to pay for the truck.

The Police
One officer starts standing guard at the gate to the compound. The others are in the barracks building. No police officer will do anything until after the first shot has been fired, at which point they may now act freely. The points value of the police should be based on how many gangs there are. If there is only one gang, the police get 2000 Credits to field 4 or 5 officers. For each gang over one, add 500 Credits to the police budget. In a multi-player game the police are there to be an annoyance more than anything else. It is expected that the gangs will provide the main opposition to each other. We used the basic equipment listed for colonial police in Forces of the Imperium.

We used a 4' by 3' table for two gangs. 4' by 4' would probably work well with 3 or 4 gangs. All gangs enter from off the table.

The table should have a lot of cover scattered around. Umbobo Station should be in the centre of the board, equidistant from all starting points. It has 6 piles of supplies lying around it. To find the organs, the gangers must search the supplies. It takes one full turn of uninterrupted searching to be allowed to roll to find them. Roll 1d6. If it is a 6 then the organs are in that supply pile. If the organs have not been found and only one supply pile remains, then they will be in it. There are four crates of organs in the pile. Each crate is equivalent to carrying a heavy weapon and requires two hands, so figures must drop the crate if they wish to shoot or melee.

Winning the Game
The winner is the gang that escapes with the most crates. Each crate is worth 500 Credits. Experience is awarded normally.

The Truck
Acceleration: 5m per turn
Deceleration: 10m per turn
Turning circle: Half current move distance
Armour: Mesh
Carrying capacity: 1 driver and 2 passengers in the front. 6 spaces in the back. Each space holds either one figure or one crate.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Squadron Commander: Reheat - First Impressions

Rules: Squadron Commander: Reheat
Producer: Brigade Models
Type: 1/300 starfighter combat

Squadron Commander: Reheat is a reworking of Squadron Commander 3600. The rules are available as a free download from Brigade Models so the first thing to say is that the price is right. Apparently there will be a printed edition that includes points, campaign stuff and other bits not included in the pdf. The pdf edition of the rules contains the basic rules for play and the stats for the existing range of supporting miniatures so you can get started immediately.

The Rules - Table of Contents
Game Set-up
Sequence of Play
Resolving Damage
Damage Control
Leaving the Battle
Starfighters and Missiles
Squadron Generation
Designers' Notes

So, how does this game play?
The game shows its hex-based origins very clearly and is written as if the default position is to play on a hex grid. They also include a section on playing without a hex grid (read 1 hex as 1 inch and measure appropriately). We played without a hex grid and it works absolutely fine. The only thing we thought would come in handy was a turning key to help fighters turn, because turns are measured in increments of 60 degrees exactly if playing on hexes or up to 60 degrees if not. I shall get around to making one of those at some point soon.

Each fighter has its own data card with all the information on it and space for writing in its missile payload, damage received and current speed. The data card contains most of the information you need to play the game and is probably the main reason why you would not field a vast number of space fighters in this game. We're not sure on practical maxima at the moment, but the starter sets are a good clue to a base game size (two flights of four fighters on each side).

Normal movement is in straight lines or turns of up to 60 degrees. You set your speed at the start of the turn and then move when your turn comes. You have to move a set distance in a straight line, based on your speed and manoeuvrability, before you can turn. There are also options for side-slips, hard turns and barrel rolls if you want to get fancy. Fighters also have acceleration and deceleration limits so you do not have a totally free choice of speed.

Sensors are used to identify enemy fighters and can also be used to scan the enemy for damage or other information. Normally you cannot view enemy data cards and this is how you would find out just what damage has been done. Of course, fighters also carry jammers so your scanner has to beat the enemy jammer before you can get a lock and find stuff out. This same process is used for getting a lock on the enemy to fire missiles at them.

Fighters all carry cannon. This is a generic term for blasters, lasers, etc. Cannon are fairly short range and cause less damage than missiles but there are fewer ways to avoid cannon shots, so it probably balances out in the long run. Fighters can also carry missiles. The basic fighters may carry one missile per hardpoint with fighters having either two or four hardpoints. To fire a missile you need to get a lock on the enemy fighter. Once the missile is launched, the enemy fighter gets to drop decoys if it has any and use ECM to divert the missile before it hits, so there are plenty of opportunities to stop missiles, which might make them seem not much use. On the other hand, they have longer range than cannons and do a heck of a lot more damage when they do hit.

Some fighters have shields. These prevent a lot of damage completely and can recharge between turns. Other fighters have more armour, which reduces the amount of damage taken but does not completely stop it, unlike shields. It's a trade-off in design that played a large part in our game. A lot of games just give the figures damage points that are reduced when they are hit. SC:R uses a system of critical hits instead. This results in components of the fighter getting damaged or damage being taken to the structure of the fighter. If the structure is reduced to 0 then the fighter is destroyed. You can also cause a nice fireball by hitting critical components. This makes the game very interesting, because reduction in capability is not incremental. You either have a system or you do not. The number of critical hits inflicted is equal to the damage done divided by the armour rating of the fighter. So, as you can see a heavily armoured fighter will take fewer hits, while one with shields will take more hits once its shields are gone but no hits up to that point.

One final point to include is that you also roll for pilot skill and abilities before the game. Pilots can start with weakness such as being poor with scanners or strengths like being a Marksman. Presumably in the campaign game pilots can improve in skill and skills. That would be really cool.

The question is, how does this all work in practice?

Our Game
We decided to just play with two fighters on each side. I chose my Hornisse Interceptors while Steve chose a pair of Folgore multi-role fighters. My ships carried lots of armour but no shields while his had shields but little armour. I think it would be fair to characterise my fighters as great lumbering brutes, whiles Steve's were lighter, faster, stealthier and better in almost every respect except armour and ability to absorb damage.

We rolled for set-up and it turned out that my lumbering brutes had got the drop on the Eurofeds (Steve rolled a 1 and I rolled a 12). We deployed behind him, trying to get in close enough to tail him, but his fighters, being more agile and faster quickly turned around and were speeding towards us. Each of us tried to get position on the other but it was not going to work so we wound up in a head-to-head pass. As the fighters flew into range, my two ganged up on one of Steve's. There was a brief exchange of fire that stripped Steve's fighter of its shields and then I launched a couple of missiles right at him. He wanted to do the same but unfortunately I had shot his missile racks off that turn with my other fighter. His ECM failed to stop the missiles, but his decoys did take one of them out. Still, that was enough. Twelve critical hits later his pilot had ejected and the fighter was a brief fireball in the firmament. Steve's remaining fighter then came in to try its luck. One shot caused my rookie pilot to lose control of his craft as Steve did some damage to the main structure but the veteran pilot on the rookie's wing then fired a blaze of blasters at the Eurofed machine and blew it to pieces with a reactor hit. Job done, my boys went home to a well-earned cup of tea.

We enjoyed the game. It was nicely crunchy, allowing for a small game that is still engaging. The critical hit system and the design of the two fighters is sufficiently different to require different tactics, which is great. The game play went smoothly enough. There were questions about the rules but we were able to resolve them based on my incessant interrogation of the chaps at Brigade over the past week on their forum.

If starfighters is your thing then I would recommend downloading the rules and giving them a shot. I really like the fighters from Brigade too, so buy them while you are at it! :-) I am now looking forward to more fighters for my faction, although I am tempted to buy a flight of the AmRep ones for an elite squadron. I am also hoping that the published rules are not too far off because they should include a points system, a design system and a campaign system. Then it will be time to add SC:R to our Bwendi versus Albion campaign properly.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

This Stylish Blogger Award is doing the rounds and Donogh has been kind enough to nominate me for my documentation of my losing battle with the shininess of wargaming stuff. Wow, well, I am honoured and would like to thank my mother and father, without whom this would not have been possible. I must also thank my wife, who tolerates my addiction and my cats, who keep me on the straight and narrow and my buddy Steve who feeds the addiction and goes along with all my madcap plans and ...

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.
Donogh of Land War in Asia nominated me as I mentioned above. Thank you and I am well chuffed that he appreciates my blog enough to nominate me.

2. Share seven things about yourself.
  1. I started gaming because of my father. He saw his friend's children playing this game called Dungeons and Dragons and decided that we should play it. I'm not sure if he did me a favour or not, but I have had loads of excellent enjoyment from it.
  2. When I was 16 and 17 I rode amateur flat racing with the Arab Horse Society.
  3. I am a Norwegiophile. Not sure if that is a word, but Norway is very much my spiritual home.
  4. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a total fanatic about Vikings. This extends to doing a PhD on Viking berserkers and trying to correct every nineteenth-century misconception that survives.
  5. I like cats. I have two cats, both of whom dote on me. I think it is because I feed them.
  6. My other hobby is growing orchids. I currently have around forty in the house.
  7. My mother-in-law actually likes me!

3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award.
This list reflects those blogs that I follow that are most often updated with material that interests me. I was going to try to avoid blogs that have already received this award, but then it struck me that multiple awards just show that a blog is popular. If I like it enough to send the award its way then so be it. The blogger should be rewarded for appealing to a wide range of people. So, on with the awards. In no particular order:

Frugal Dave at A Year of Frugal Gaming got me blogging when he started his frugal year. I liked the idea and it has worked to some extent in that my expenditure actually has reduced. I know it might not seem like it from some of my posts, but it has, and various projects have been finished. Thanks, Dave.

Steve Blease of Bleaseworld has actually been responsible for a lot of my expenditure over the past year in particular. Stop tempting me with 'nefs and Land Ironclads, dashitall!

Andy McMaster is a decent chap and keeps reminding me on Another Slight Diversion that I am not alone in my constant distraction by shiny things.

Jet at Geektactica writes most excellent battle reports and is partially responsible for my interest in Impetus. Great set of rules but I was not planning to buy the full version. Ooh shiny ...

Steve at Little Legions is the main person responsible for getting me into Impetus. Thanks a bunch, mate! :-) Mind you, I did enjoy playing it. His beautifully painted Crusader army is tempting me to get a Crusader or Arab army for the first or second crusades, even though I have more than enough to paint in my lead pile. I have resisted so far though.

Javier at War feeds my need to read other people's Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventure reports. They are good fun to read and his figures are very well painted. We are planning a crossover between our adventurers at some point. It will be like Grendel versus Batman or something equally cool and epic.

The Gruntz guys along with Mark at Dropship Horizon feed my need for 15mm sci-fi goodness. I've been into 15mm sci fi since the early eighties when I first picked up Laserburn and some of the Laserburn figures from Bob Connor at Tabletop Games. Now there was a bloke that gave good mail order service.

Tactical Miniatures Gaming has a large number of most excellent battle reports. I want to move in over there because they always seem to be having such good fun.

Another blog that inspires me is Victoria's Boys in Red. It keeps reminding me that I have Martians still to paint for our Soldier's Companion games. I really must find time for that, although this month looks like being a write-off already. Also, while on the topic of VSF there is no way that I could leave out Yours in a White Wine Sauce.

I could pick more blogs but these will have to do for now.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Infinity Games UK

I just joined the Infinity Games affiliate scheme in the hopes of boosting my spending power with them. I hope this will not put any of you off reading this blog. Basically, if you click through to IGUK from the box on the right of the screen, then it registers on my account and I get 5% of the total purchase price of anything you may buy.

I like IGUK because I have had excellent service from them. They were prompt to deliver my games and the website tells you if everything is in stock, so no waiting around to find out later that what you want is not available. They also sell most games with 10% or more discount off the RRP and include postage in the cost quoted, so you know up front what you will be charged.

I have put a link to the Age of Conan boardgame on the right at the moment. They currently have it at £31.89, a discount of 47% off the RRP, which is pretty good IMO. It was certainly good enough for me to buy a copy for Steve after he painted a bunch of figures for me. I really need to get around to writing a review of the game so it must be time to play it again, assuming that Steve is willing. After all, I beat him last time so we may never play it again! ;-)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Battles of Westeros

Fantasy Flight Games recently announced a painting contest for Battles of Westeros. The idea was to paint a unit from the game including a leader, while staying faithful to the books. Best painted figures win a full set of the game. I don't reckon I stand much chance, as much because of my photography as my painting, but here is my entry.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Bwendi Militia receive transport

President Throckmorton P. Gladiolus proudly announced last night that the Bwendi army had received its first consignment of the new Throckwoddle Industries Bullfrog All-Terrain Truck. Throckwoddle Gladiolus, CEO of Throckwoddle Industries, declared that he was pleased to have been able to do his patriotic duty in selling these trucks to the army. Minister for Procurement and Defence, Throckwoddle Gladiolus, stated that this was an historic moment. No longer would the Bwendi militia have to take taxis or the bus into battle. Now they had their own dedicated transport and the army would save a fortune on bus and taxi fares, and compensation payments for damaged public transport.

Captain Pangloss of the militia is quoted as saying, "These are surely the best of all possible trucks. Our militia troops here on Bwendi Prime and on our outworld colonies will surely benefit from their versatility."

A squad of Bwendi militia parade in front of their new transport:

Imperial Commander - Wheeled Softskin, Hull Class 2, Turreted MG, Autoranger, carries up to 10 passengers, 2 Crew (paid for separately), 34 points.
5150 - Hard Armour, DV 1, 1*HMG, Wheeled, Speed 16/12, Crew 2, 136 points.

The trucks and cargo crates are 15mm Ground Zero Games. Infantry by

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Starfighters over Bwendi Prime

My ninja shopper picked up a Squadron Commander:Reheat (Brigade Models) starter set at Salute last week for us to split. I got the ONESS German kit because I have the same for my ground forces, representing the loyal and heroic army of Bwendi Prime. He is working on the Eurofed victims, representing the evil imperialists of the Albion Defence Force. These starfighters are intended to be 1:300 scale, the same as the ground forces they sell, and I plan to use them in direct support, as well as for space battles. SC:R looks like an interesting rules set. I suspect that managing more than a couple of flights of fighters per person will be a stretch because of the record-keeping, but the game should have enough crunch to be interesting even with a small number of fighters and ought to come into its own in a larger multi-player game. I'll let you know when I have played it.

So, anyway, enough rambling. I completed painting them today (instead of writing my thesis, which is what I am meant to be doing) and here they are. Apologies for the shoddy photos. I am not happy with the eight-pointed stars on the wings either. Yes, those are meant to be stars (The Frog Star actually), not flying spaghetti monsters. My hands shake too much at times! I may replace them with decals if I find any suitable ones. Alternatively, there may be a schism in the Bwendi church with people turning away from The One True Frog and beginning to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The background is a board printed from WorldWorksGames' Sathrican Homeworld map. Click the pics for a larger version.

Hornisse Interceptor:

Galland Attack Fighter:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Rather Large Award-Winning Towton Project

The team took the Towton game to Salute last weekend. I could not make it because my friend had chosen to get married that day but it seems to have been a successful day even without my micro-management, because they came away with the Most Impressive Troops trophy. Nice. There's more about the show, including more photos over on the Towton project blog but here's a couple of photos just for the Ooh Shiny Complex followers. Click the images for larger versions.

0900 on a snowy Palm Sunday in 1461. Shivering, the troops line up as snow begins to fall:

As they realise that their arrows are not reaching the Yorkist lines, the Lancastrians begin their advance across Towton Dale:

Norfolk falls like a slightly asthmatic lion on the Lancastrian flank. The Lancastrian rout begins.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Only one week until Salute

I now have a complete single iteration of the order of battle painted, based and ready to field. The last of the flags went on today. That's 288 stands with around 8500 figures in total on them. These photos were taken before I had finished all my figures so there are some gaps in the lines:

The terrain is completed, all 18' by 4' of it. There are just a couple of tasks left to do:
  1. Print orders of battle for the game;
  2. Print display material;
  3. Rely on the other team members to turn up with their figures;
  4. Work out how to fit everything in Steve's car.
I shall not be at Salute because my friend has decided to get married that day but the other team members will be there for you to talk to and the game will be there for you to ogle. I hope you enjoy it.

The orders of battle (each square represents one stand):

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Snowing in March!

Steve and I had a productive day yesterday (Saturday) working on the terrain. We covered the frames for the final two boards in plaster-soaked t-shirts, added green scatter material to the three boards that had only been painted and added snow to the first four boards that we had worked on. It looks like we might actually have a game to put on at Salute after all!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Towton terrain

I have been slowly plugging away at the last of the figures I need for Towton, while Steve and I have been spending our gaming night progressing the terrain. We have a big day tomorrow as we have the whole day to crack on with it. We are planning to get the majority of the terrain finished or at least into an acceptable state for Salute by the end of tomorrow. Here's part of the terrain before the snow gets added with a view looking towards the Cock Beck and where Castle Woods will be.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Lead Wars: A New Beginning

Following on from yesterday's post, it strikes me that I have too many rules sets that I want to try. Obviously, given my circumstances and my general levels of impatience, painting armies for all of these rules is out of the question, so I need to focus. It strikes me that focusing on a small number of rules sets might be a solution. However, rather than doing that, it seems that focusing on the figures used might provide a more satsifactory solution. So, I reckon that if I pick a figure set, a scale and a basing system then I can match the rules to suit. I shall allow myself half a dozen choices and see where it goes. My usual opponent, Steve, could do the same and that would give us monthly target once more. As I wrote yesterday, the Towton project is almost complete, but will still dominate our painting and terrain building until mid-April. It may also require additional input after that if we decide/are persuaded to expand the size of it for the Derby show in October. Anyway, here goes with my picks. As you will see in the list below, I like flexibility and variety.

1. 6mm Wars of the Roses on 60mm x 30mm bases
Rules: Poleaxed 2, Impetus, Warrior Heroes, Rally Round the King.
These are the figures for the Towton project. Their functionality covers all of the above rules sets, although it seems unlikely that we shall use them much for the latter two rules because those are a feature of our Talomir Tales campaign which uses 40mm x 20mm basing.

2. 6mm Fantasy/Ancients/Medieval on 40mm x 20mm bases
Rules: Warrior Heroes, Rally Round the King, Warmaster Ancients, Impetus.
We already have a selection of armies painted and based like this for our Talomir Tales campaign which currently uses Warrior Heroes for the massed battles and will upgrade to Rally Round the King at the end of the current campaign year. The campaign is on hold while we finish the Towton project, but I plan to add Vikings, Amazons and Elves (all Baccus 6mm) to it when time permits. I also have a painted WMA Hoplite Greek army, which will see use in Talomir Tales, and I could expand some of the Talomir Tales armies for WMA too. As a further option, there is nothing to stop us using these armies with Impetus either, which will expand the range of armies available to us.

3. 28mm Fantasy skirmish on individual bases
Rules: Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures, Broadsword Adventures, Montjoie, Retinue.
Talomir Tales uses a variety of 28mm fantasy, ancients and medieval figures for the skirmish element. Combining the massed battles as background with skirmish games enables some great storytelling and allows us to have heroes that get involved in the events in the wider world rather than just having small adventures that focus solely on them. We already have a selection of painted figures for a small number of nations. I really need to paint more of the figures I have for this, so this must be on the list. We are both interested in playing Broadsword Adventures too. It requries very few figures and suits our schedules well, so we plan to play BA at some point soonish. Retinue is an old favourite of mine from back in the eighties. I might inveigle Steve into playing an occasional game just to feed my nostalgia. Montjoie is a game I am interested in trying because it allows for your character to start small and eventually command whole armies. As an alternative, I might transpose the advancement system from Montjoie into WHAA, because that would save learning a whole new rules set. WHAA would cope well with purely historical battles too.

4. 15mm science fiction on individual bases
Rules: 5150, Laserburn, Imperial Commander, Stargrunt II, Striker, Striker II.
I have had vast numbers of 15mm science fiction figures since the eighties, when I got into Laserburn and Imperial Commander. Some of them are even painted! We are planning to play a small campaign using the 5150 supplement 'First Contact'. The Bwendi will take the role of Earth Force, with the Albion Defence Force (Steve's mob) taking the role of Gaea Prime. Steve also has Sahadeen from Rebel Minis for this one. I shall need to rewrite the background slightly for this on the grounds that the official background winds me up a bit and the Bwendi cannot be seen as the bad guys. In every campaign I have ever used them in from their first incarnation as a fantasy army in a play-by-mail game back in the late eighties, they have been the good guys and this must not change. It should be easy enough to intersperse this campaign with Laserburn and Imperial Commander games. As for the other rules, well, they may well have to wait. I have a real yen to play Striker II, because it derives from my favourite WW2 rules set, Command Decision, but I am not sure if I can be bothered learning new rules at the moment. If we did play it, then the plan would be to either just put a couple of figures together and call them a stand, or use sabot bases, because Striker uses element bases rather than individual figures. Another option with these figures is to use them for a variety of post-apocalypse games. Steve is keen to play a 1980s post-apocalypse game and a lot of my less military figures would suit that.

5. 6mm 18th century on 60mm x 30mm bases
Rules: Polemos: Great Northern War, Volley and Bayonet: Road to Glory.
I already have two large armies for the GNW painted and based. I also have a small Saxon GNW army and a small Prussian SYW army. I would like to expand these latter and have a fair few figures for them awaiting the attention of my brush. I would also like to expand the Saxons into a full army for Kliszow by increasing the Saxon army size and painting the Polish army that I have, while the plan for the Seven Years War is to put together a Prussian army for Lobositz. The place of the Austrians in that battle will be taken by one of my other armies to save on painting. I know that Steve has a Russian GNW army to paint too, so I should encourage him to do that by playing games using my armies! Another consideration here is that I have a couple of campaign systems that I rather like the look of and it would be great to play some kind of imagi-nation 18th century campaign. Options could include running the campaign by email so that we can expand our player pool or just running our own armies and having a system for controlling non-player armies. Anyway, these plans aside, this period has the massive advantage that I should not need to buy any new figures for it.

6. 6mm World War Two on element bases
Rules: Command Decision: Test of Battle, PBI 2, Blitzkrieg Commander.
I have medium-sized British, Italian and DAK forces for the Western Desert in 1941 all designed for an Operation Brevity campaign that I have never yet run because each time I return to it I find new evidence that invalidates my previous research. I need to put a stop to doing research, finish basing these figures and start playing games instead. One thing I need to do with the DAK and Italian armies is add some more infantry to them for generic battles. As they stand, they are well-suited to the one campaign, but the basic army generation systems in all the rules sets proposed require more ordinary infantry than I currently have painted. Therefore, the project will be to add a couple of battalions of infantry to the DAK and Italian forces so that we can use the Test of Battle system in Command Decision and play the other two rules as written. With that done, I might well get around to expanding these armies further by painting more of the stuff I still have tucked away in the attic for them. It also occurs to me that I could use these armies with FutureWarCommander quite easily and so they will permit me to field my Bwendi 6mm army without deviating from plan! Cunning, eh?

So, that seems to be the main focus that I wish to aim for. I'm not sure how happy Steve will be with some of the rules choices. I suspect that Command Decision may be a bit too techy for him, but he will no doubt read this and tell me I am talking bollocks as usual. The next step will be for Steve to come up with his wish list and then we can agree a programme that will see our lead mountains turn to lead molehills ... ooh, was that an airborne pig that just flew past?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A lack of focus?

Yesterday I suddenly had an urge to catalogue all the wargames rules that I owned. My idea was to review what I had and work out which rules I could focus on using this year. The result of this cataloguing process was quite startling. I only counted up the rules I had in my office, which is where I keep the rules I most want to play. I did not count all the rules in the attic or those that currently only exist as pdf files on my computer, and I did not count different editions of the same rules set as multiples thereof. I also only counted up actual wargames rules, rather than including all the boardgames that I own. It turns out that I am eager to play 68 different rules sets! Yes, sixty-eight!! Looking at this number, I realise that I am already stretching myself too thin, before I even start painting. Now, before I get all depressed at this state of affairs, many of these rules sets can be played using the same figures, so the various sci-fi skirmish rules sets can all be played with my 15mm sci-fi figures. This means that I can sample different rules if I feel the urge. However, I cannot help but feel that it would make more sense to focus on just a few rules sets, play them more and learn their subtleties better so as to enjoy a better game. I certainly think that it would make more sense to reduce the list to half a dozen rules sets and focus my painting and playing on those rules. The question really is how to take control of my butterfly mind and pin it down to just a few rules sets. If I could do that then I might well be able to focus my playing and painting properly. I think I shall have to return to the system of picking one set of figures each month to paint and focusing my painting on that, as I did when first I started this blog. At present all my painting and terrain building is focused on our Towton project. That debuts at Salute in April, so I shall be able to concentrate on other games once more from May. So, which rules and which figures should I aim to paint in May? I think it will probably be reinforcements for my 15mm Bwendi (sci-fi) army, because I have some armour that it desperately needs to support it, but then I did recently get some of the new Baccus 6mm Vikings and I am rather partial to Vikings. Oh the choices ...

Just in case you are interested, here is the full list:
.45 Adventures
A Coat of Steel
Age of Blood
Battle Troll
Black Powder Battles
Blitzkrieg Commander
Chaos in Cairo
Chaos in Carpathia
Combined Arms
Command Decision
Dirtside II
Fantastic Worlds
Field of Glory
Glutter of Ravens
Hellswords and Sorcery
Hordes of the Things
Imperial Commander
Larger than Life
Ludus Gladiatorius
Martian Empires
Over the Top
Pieces of Eight
Polemos: FPW Commandant de Bataille
Polemos: FPW Kommandant der Armee
Polemos: GNW
Polemos: Mythic Armies
Polemos: War of the Spanish Succession
Polemos: Wars of the Roses
Rally Round the King
Red Sand, Blue Sky
Regiment of Foote
Soldier's Companion
Song of Blades and Heroes
Square Bashing
Stargrunt II
Striker II
The Company Rules
Urban War
Valhalla's Gate
Volley and Bayonet: Road to Glory
Wargods of Aegyptus
Warmaster Ancients
Warrior Heroes
Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures
Wastelands 3: Meltdown
Wastelands v1.2
Wings of War
Wings of War: Dawn of War

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

It's fun to stay at the ...

Y - M - C- A

Mirholmen Death Dealers for our Talomir Tales campaign (aka fantasy Vikings from the new Baccus 6mm range). As usual click the pics for larger images.

I recently took delivery of some of the new Baccus Vikings and could not wait to put paint to lead, because these miniature beauties are just fantastic. Peter has produced a most excellent range of eleventh-century Vikings for invading England with, and he has also just released the Normans, who are also stunning. My painting efforts are currently focused on Wars of the Roses, so I decided to scratch the Viking itch with this stand of half-naked berserkir, who would be quick to paint. As naked berserkir belong in the realms of fantasy anyway, I did a base on 40mm frontage for our fantasy campaign, rather than a 60mm frontage base for the Impetus army I plan to produce. Naked berserkir are a nineteenth-century fiction that seems to be enduringly popular despite the total lack of actual evidence for them. They derive from confusion between Celtic and Norse cultures at that time.

‘Grenjuðu berserkir,
Guðr vas þeim á sinnum,
emjuðu ulfheðnar
ok ísörn dúðu.’ (1)
(Berserkers bellowed,
Battle was about to begin,
Wolfskins screamed
and shook steel.)
One emendation of the above verse reads 'ok ísörn bítu' 'and bit iron'. These Mirholmen heroes are clearly sword chewers.

(1) 'Haraldskvæði' in Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla, ed. by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, Íslenzk fornrit, 26, 3 vols (Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 2002), I 4th edn, 116.

February Update - More 6mm Wars of the Roses

This month we have mostly been building terrain for the Towton refight. My target for painting was to add two more contingents to the Lancastrian army, which I have done after a fashion. I did not paint them all myself though. Peter at Baccus kindly lent me his Warmaster Ancients army on condition that I rebased it to the 60mm x 30mm standard bases that he favours. The army was on 40mm x 20mm bases before. So, rather than spending the whole month painting, I have spent a large part of it rebasing stuff. This has actually put me ahead of schedule as I now only need to paint ten more stands to have a complete single iteration of the Lancastrian order of battle, once Steve finishes the contingent he is painting for me. With this done we should be ready to rock at Salute. I shall then get the rest of the figures I was meant to paint myself done so that we can add some extra figures to the battle when we attend Derby in October.

The Yorkist army has also benefitted from Peter's kindness to the tune of one contingent, but I forgot to photograph them when I took these other shots. This leaves just twelve stands of troops remaining for the Yorkist army. Those are currently in the capable hands of my friend John, who has promised them soon.

In addition to these figures, I have included a teaser shot of the Towton terrain at the bottom of this post. As usual click the pics for a larger version.

Here we see the whole Lancastrian command that I am working on(empty bases show what remains to be painted):

This is what I have painted this month:

And here we have some of the figures that I rebased for Peter:

Proto-Towton terrain (everything you need to build Towton properly):

Monday, 7 February 2011

Vapnartak 2011

I went to Vapnartak in York yesterday. It's only 45 minutes from my house, which makes it a nice easy show to get to and the venue is pretty good. I really liked the Merchant Adventurers' Hall when it was there because of the atmosphere of the place, but the racecourse is much better in terms of lighting, space and parking. So, how was the show?

Socially it was brilliant. I met up with Andy (Another Slight Diversion), Meic (an old friend from my digging days in Wrexham), Mike with his newly sculpted Ottomans (very nice and can't wait to see them come into production: for a preview check the Baccus forum) and many others. I had a great chat with Peter Berry on the Baccus stand and Tony at East Riding Miniatures. All in all, the social side of things was really good and it was a great pleasure to meet up with people that I only see occasionally.

The down side to the show was that it was very busy in the morning and seemed rather overcrowded, which made looking at things difficult with people barging past all the time. The crowds thinned out greatly in the afternoon, which made it much better.

As far as demo games went, the show was rather disappointing. None of the games particularly inspired me. I found the wall-to-wall nature of the predominantly 28m games rather tedious and not particularly evocative of the periods being represented. Looking for the positive, The Lance and Longbow Society game did not suffer from this. I think it was Mortimer's Cross this time around and it did look like a game that one might wish to play. There was a demo of the forthcoming Viking Age rules from Gripping Beast that looked interesting. Again, it was not wall-to-wall figures and the table dressing of pigs and sheep was nice to see. The League of Extraordinary Kriegspielers had an interesting looking game going too with a nice town layout. The problem with this game though was that I found it hard to see what was going on for the backs of the players. Another major gripe of mine was that no one at any of the games even greeted me when I approached the table to have a look. A simple hello would have sufficed and might have given me the opportunity to ask questions without interrupting the game play. Instead, the players kept playing and the onlookers were ignored. As such I wonder why the players actually bothered bringing their games away from the clubs into a public arena.

On the buying front, I limited my purchases significantly due to lack of money. I bought some Figures in Comfort foam trays for my troops. You have to keep the troops happy or they will not fight well for you! I also bought a packet of each of the new Vikings packs from Baccus. They are beautiful little pillagers and I am looking forward to getting paint onto them so that I can field them en masse. Lovely stuff.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

January - The Photos.

These are the figures that I painted in January. It does not look like that many when I gather them all together, but it sure felt like a lot.

Parts of Exeter's Command slog their way across Towton Dale towards the Yorkist lines. Baccus 6mm figures as usual with a sneak preview of part of the Towton terrain included. Flags are all by Freezywater and bases from East Riding Miniatures.

Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus stands proudly in front of the newest additions to the Bwendi army, Two HAMR suits (Rebel Minis). The Colonel (15mm Laserburn) is convinced that these will really help prevent further Albion Defence Force incursions into Bwendi territory. The Colonel's brother-in-law would appear to be adept at sourcing secondhand military hardware. "One careful owner, a little old lady who used it to go shopping, you know. Oh, don't mind that hole there. We can easily patch that up with a bit of plastic padding."

The Road Warrior stands proudly beside his new car. He is a 15mm zombie hunter that I bought through TwoHourWargames (might be Rebel Minis, I cannot remember). The car was one of a pack of thirty that I bought for £1 in my local Wilkos. The gun on top is a spare piece from a GZG tank. We are planning a small post-apocalypse skirmish and are slowly gathering forces. Rules of choice are currently one of the Wastelands variants.