Saturday 28 March 2009

April Objectives

April looks like being a trying time for me, what with my mother going into hospital, the search for a new job and university deadlines looming. Nevertheless, I shall still try to stick to my objectives.

In April I shall try to paint a 15mm sci-fi force. I have a ton or two of Laserburn figures in the attic, providing effective radiation shielding. Some of them were painted by me in the eighties back when gloss varnish was in vogue and no one had heard of layering. I have designed a 1500 point Imperial Commander force to paint for an Imperial Lord Knight on a Feudal Outworld.
This force uses figures I already have and consists of:
1 Imperial Lord Knight
1 squad of Knights
1 platoon of Men at Arms
1 Men at Arms heavy weapons squad
1 platoon of Local Levy
2 Glaive class APCs
1 Scythe class squad jetcopter

For the sake of symmetry I could do with a couple more APCs, but I cannot afford them at the moment. Some of these figures will only require a little fettling to get them ready to be fielded, while others require painting from scratch. Of course, the next question is what colour to paint them. Should I go for a standard green camouflage, or should I paint them in the Lord Knight's livery colours instead?

I like the idea of the livery colours but camouflage just seems more sensible to me. If I opt for the livery colours, then I also need to decide what those colours should be. It is almost tempting to paint them in a futuristic version of an 18th century uniform. Oh well, I shall dither over that for the next few days.

Friday 27 March 2009

Song of Blades and Heroes - Campaign Start

Last night we played another game of WHAA and another game of SoBH. Both games cover the same subject matter but they are also sufficiently different to make playing them both games interesting.

My force consisted of:
Ragnar Flameheart Q3 C4 Leader Hero
Ketil One-Eye Q3 C4 Fearless Savage
Bjorn Q3 C3
Thorir Q3 C3
Ulf Q3 C3 Shooter (Long)
Egil Q3 C3 Shooter (Long)

Steve fielded:
Klaus – Human Leader
Matthais – Human Cleric
Rudolf – Human Warrior
James – Human Warrior
Pawel – Human Warrior
Michael – Human Archer
Uli – Human Archer

Steve and I decided that we should start an intermittent Song of Blades and Heroes campaign to see how it worked out. Well, my dice have now been thrown into the Humber, which flows past near my house, and I shall be breaking out some new dice for the next game.

Here we see both forces set up. Ragnar Flameheart and his heroic band (my force) are deployed on the left of the picture, while a bunch of Teutonic peasants (Steve's force) are deployed on the right. The scenario was the Difficult Ground one, which left both of us avoiding all terrain, because there is a chance that your figures get swallowed by terrain or fall into quicksand or something!
(Don't forget to click the pictures for larger versions)

With the forces deployed, we quickly rushed towards each other. Both of us know only one command in battle: "Charge!" As we charged forwards, my archer shot and killed Steve's cleric. The battle lines then clashed. I had the advantage of numbers and so I charged in. Bjorn was knocked out in the first melee, Ketil One-Eye was pushed back and Thorir pushed back one of the enemy.

Seeing that we had the local advantage, despite two of my figures losing their melees and one being killed, we chose to all charge in. Ragnar bellowed and attacked. Ulf and Egil, the archers also charged in. How could we lose? We totally outnumbered the two peasants that were in the enemy battleline by at least 2:1 in each case. As each attack was made, we confidently expected to slaughter the enemy and hear the laments of their women.

And so, with Ragnar and Ulf being knocked off their feet by the spearman on our right, and with Thorir and Egil being knocked over on our left by the other lone spearman, we chose the valorous path and surrendered. Despite outnumbering the enemy and making lots of Quality rolls, we still failed to win any melees at all after that first one where the enemy spearman was pushed back. Aaaarrrggh!

And so, I headed down to the river and made sacrifice to the dice gods ...

This was a great fun game but it seemed to highlight the high element of luck that seems to be needed in SoBH, more so than WHAA, which seems to even out more with lots of dice rolling. I can't wait to try some different tactics in the next game of SoBH!

Terrain mostly by WorldWorksGames, supplemented with a few Woodlands Scenics trees and some aquarium plants.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

The Russians are coming!

My newly enforced increased-leisure lifestyle has resulted in a number of changes around here. Thrift is no longer just a good idea; it is now the law. Therefore, my expenditure on anything has gone right down, but my productivity has increased commensurately. My latest oeuvre is a 15mm Russian force for the PBI rules from Peter Pig. I really like the Peter Pig figures because they paint up well and easily. I doubt that my efforts really do justice to Mr Goddard's figures, but here are some photos anyway. As usual, click on the pictures for larger versions.

The whole force

Company command

The PBI, backbone of the force

HMG team

Tanks ... you're welcome

76mm anti-tank guns with crew and tow

Extras - the army pack came with quite a few extra figures, partly because it is provided with whole packs of figures, rather than just those needed for the basic force, but also probably because I have not followed the layout as they thought I should. I shall never know because it does not tell you how to field the force, just what force they expect the pack to be able to field. These extras will permit some variation in force design anyway, which is good.

Monday 23 March 2009

Talomir Tales - A New Blog

With a view to tracking our campaign progress, I have started a sibling blog to this one: Talomir Tales

Talomir Tales is for tracking the progress of our Warrior Heroes (WH) and Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures (WHAA) campaigns. My plan is to link the two so that WHAA adventures can be related to the wider political events of Talomir, the world created by Ed Texeira for his Warrior Heroes campaign. We are planning to make some adjustments to the setting to suit our available armies, and we also plan to start small with just four nations on the map, but we hope to expand the campaign map in the future. I have figures for some of the additional nations but need to paint them. I also hope to start including naval battles using THW's Warring Fleets rules but that may have to wait a while.

In preparation for the campaign, I have exported the WH and WHAA posts from this blog to Talomir Tales and edited them to suit their new home. They will still remain on this blog, because there is review material that is more appropriate here. Look for more background on Talomir in the near future as I photograph my armies and update the blog.

The goal for the campaign will be to play one or two WH or WHAA games per month and to continue for as long as we can be bothered. There is no real need for victory conditions in the campaign so it will remain open-ended, like an RPG game or like real life. Characters may die, nations may be annexed or absorbed into other nations, but life will continue regardless.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Mercenaries of Talomir

Warrior Heroes is an element-based game of fantasy warfare. It has recently been superseded by Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures, and is no longer available. However, I am still fond of it and have been painting up a number of armies for games using the rules. I would love to be able to field all 44 armies listed in the rules, and especially to use them in the grand campaign game that comes with the rules. One facet of the campaign is mercenaries that you can recruit. There are two named companies of mercenaries in the rules. Both hate each other with a fury and they will not accept a contract if it means fighting on the same side as the other company.

The Black Company
The Black Company is led by Alfred Badenhorst, a one-time resident of Altengard. Badenhorst is a notoriously poor loser at cards. It is rumoured that his rivalry with Sir Geoffrey Chambers of the White Company stems from a game of Brag that he lost.

The White Company
Sir Geoffrey Chambers is the Captain of the White Company. He was born in Treyine and still holds some affection for that land. Many of his contracts are in service with the Treyine army. He is said to be a poor woodcutter's daughter, as was his father before him. He also appears to enjoy Morris dancing and real ale.

All figures are 6mm and by Baccus Miniatures.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Mission: Ooh Shiny - March Update

Woohoo! All goblins painted!! That gives me an available force of:
6 stands of Black Moon Goblins
10 stands of Goblin Archers
12 stands of Goblin Warriors
6 stands of Goblin Light Wolf Riders
2 stands of Ogres

The whole army:

This force will be more than enough for the Warrior Heroes game that we are planning next month. It amounts to twice the number of compulsory stands, which will permit some variety in the way I field the army. It really needs some more Goblin Warriors but I shall wait to get those until I have some spare cash, which may be a while now. As usual, click the pictures for larger images.

Irregular Miniatures Ogre allies:

The units are all based on 40mm by 20mm stands, with as many figures on each stand as I feel like putting on there. I like the 40mm by 20mm stands. They are neat and look good. For some reason I prefer this style of basing to the more normal DBx bases sizes that many rules use. I think it is because the stands rank up neatly together. The character figures are based on 20mm x 20mm stands with one or two figures per stand.

Baccus Goblin Wizard:

The figures are predominantly Baccus 6mm with a few Irregular Miniatures figures to provide those elements that Pete Berry does not produce. I really like the characterful goblins that Pete produces and they paint up really easily, but I do wish he would expand his fantasy range a bit. Mind you, having been made redundant recently, my gaming budget has been drastically reduced, so it is probably just as well. Perhaps it can wait until I have a new job.

Baccus Goblin Heroes:

The Irregular Miniatures figures paint up nicely, but they tend to be a bit lumpish in the lead. These particular Irregular figures do not have the same character that the Baccus figures have. This is a shame really because Irregular Miniatures are one of the nicest companies I have ordered from and they are really helpful if you ring them up with queries. They also have the fastest mail order system I know of. I believe they must either have Mystic Meg working for them, predicting what they need to package up in advance, or they have a time machine so that they can get your goodies to you immediately! Anyway, apart from their WW2 vehicles, I would still recommend Irregular to anyone wanting cheap figures and good customer service.

Irregular Miniatures Goblin Archers in the foreground with Baccus Cavalry and Infantry behind:

Irregular Ogres and Baccus Cavalry:

Song of Blades and Heroes - First Fight and Comparison with WHAA

When the search for Griselda ended rather abruptly with the capture of two of our stalwart heroes, we decided to try Song of Blades and Heroes. We both created a 300 point warband, set up our figures and set to.

I had a Viking warband with a hero and a magic user. Most of my troops were Q3 but three of them were Q4, which was a major disadvantage without a figure with the Leader characteristic, as I was to find out. Steve had a warband of mixed Elves, Humans and a Dwarf. The early part of the game saw him using his leader to move his troops forward as a group. His archers managed to knock my Magic User down with some shooting but did not hurt anyone more than that. My archers either refused to activate or did no damage when they did activate.

I did not have the option of moving as a group, so had to move my troops individually. My hero and a couple of the main warriors charged forward, with Sunniva the Valkyrie knocking two of her opponents down.

Unfortunately Sunniva's opponents then promptly stood back up and killed her. My other warriors consistently failed their Quality rolls and just stood there while Steve's troops swarmed all over them. He was able to isolate my troops and kill them off piecemeal. The magic user tried some spells but never scored well enough for them to have any effect. The end result saw me surrendering with three of my figures killed, including my hero and my two best warriors. Even when outnumbering the enemy, and with him on the floor my troops failed to score a kill. Aargh

This was a good fun game and felt different from Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures in many ways. Both rules provide a good game, both have army lists and a campaign system, and both are designed primarily around skirmish games. WHAA does provide for larger, unit-based battles, but it still feels more like a skirmish game than a big battle game.

Where they differ is in their approach to command and control problems. WHAA uses reaction tables and you read off the results, which can see your troops charging uncontrollably or just halting in place rather than advancing towards the enemy. You also roll for initiative at the start of each turn with the number you roll indicating which of your troops you will be able to move. SoBH uses a Quality number that you have to roll over to activate your troops individually. Thus, in WHAA you know which of your troops you will be able to activate this turn, while in SoBH you will only find out when you try to activate each figure. You also do not know if you will be able activate all of your troops because the turn can end if you fail to activate a figure. Both approaches work and both are quite elegant in the way that they take total control away from the player.

Combat in WHAA uses the reaction system too. You can wind up rolling half a dozen dice and counting up your successes to compare with your opponents successes. The more successes you beat your opponent by, the worse the damage to his figure. SoBH uses a single die mechanism for combat (roll a die and add your combat score); you are trying to score double your opponent's score to kill him. Combat results for WHAA include being pushed back, out of the fight or dead. SoBH includes pushed back, fall down or dead. Both systems work well enough. Where SoBH falls down in my opinion is the lack of more detail in this stage. The combat score represents your weapons, armour and training. Some skills can be used to represent additional armour or possibly bigger weapons but there is no provision for a broadsword doing more damage than a dagger. WHAA allows you to outfit your figure with armour, which affects how badly you are damaged, and weapons, which affect how much damage you can inflict on your opponent. I prefer the WHAA system for this, because I like the idea of outfitting the figures. On the other hand, the SoBH system is very simple and makes for considerably fewer dice rolls during combat, which speeds the game up a lot.

Morale is dealt with similarly in both rules sets with rolls versus Quality / REP, and the tests are taken at similar times.

SoBH includes attributes for your figures, which WHAA does not, although WHAA Book Two is supposed to be including those when it is produced. I like the attributes in SoBH. They can add character to your figures beyond the basic weapons and armour.

SoBH is cheaper for the first book than WHAA, but you can quickly spend just as much if you buy the additional supplements. I have not read these yet and so this comparison is based on the first book in the SoBH series.

Overall, I like both rules sets a lot. Each brings something different to the table and can be played in a short space of time, which gives you the chance to get a couple of games played in an evening, or even to play a mini-campaign in a day. One thing that SoBH lacks, which WHAA has is a system for generating enemy troops randomly. This is very useful for solo play and I would like to see something like that for SoBH. We shall certainly continue to play both rules sets, but I suspect that I shall stick to WHAA for solo play because of the ability to randomly generate enemies.

Friday 13 March 2009

Desperately Seeking Griselda

Brother Cedric led the advance from the rear. Sigismund and Konrad followed him from in front. They had pursued the fleeing goblin to a cave in the nearby hills of Zog-Rot. The three knights were tired, but their mission demanded that they smite the evil followers of the Black Moon. The Red Sun must shine everywhere, even in the underground lairs of the vile goblins. Brother Cedric ordered the advance. The three stalwart men entered a cave, where the light from outside still filtered in and shone from the green crystals that filled the walls. The beauty of the cave was lost on the three. They had a mission and would not be diverted from that mission by idle sight-seeing. Stealthily they moved to the door at the back of the cave. Nothing could be heard through the thick wooden door, so they wrested it open and advanced into the large room beyond. A single door led from the opposite side of the room into a corridor beyond. The brave knights advanced further into the cave complex. It appeared to be deserted. The next room they entered was also deserted but the door out of this room was locked.

"Stand back," said Cedric as he took a run at the door. He staggered into the corridor beyond as the hinges of the door gave way to his great strength and the door thumped to the floor with a resounding thud that echoed through the chambers.

"Our vile foes will be ready for us now," said Sigismund.
"No matter," said Cedric, "We are a match for twice our number in goblins. Nay, thrice our number. I relish the opportunity to blood my blade this day with the foul spawn of evil."

As they advanced, the floor suddenly gave way under Sigismund's feet. A gaping pit filled with spikes yawned below him. He twisted his body in a desperate effort to avoid his fate and managed to grab the edge of the pit. His arms felt like they had been dragged from their sockets but he was safe. The others pulled him up and they leapt across the pit without further incident.

Beyond the pit, there was a door and the corridor also turned to their right. Cedric took a guarding position in the corridor while Konrad and Sigismund opened the door. The room was filled with angry, armed goblins.

"Aha," shouted Sigismund, "We outnumber them three to seven. Chaaaarge!"

The goblins were ready for the knights, having been alerted by the rather loud entrance through the previous door, but the ferocity of the knights' charge still took them aback. Nevertheless, with nowhere to run they were forced to fight. The goblins desperately defended their home and managed to drive the knights back for a bit. Soon the knights rallied and re-entered the fray. Goblins started to die in quick succession until their numbers were halved and gore encrusted all in the room. But then it got nasty. Konrad took a blow to the head and fell senseless to the floor. The vile goblins swarmed Sigismund and he fell under a pile of goblins, never to move again. Cedric looked at the odds and his nerve wavered for a moment, but then he charged in. He had to recover his friends' bodies or die trying. Suddenly it was all over. A swarm of goblins pounded and beat Cedric to his knees. His last sight was of their evil leering faces standing over him as they pounded and beat him until everything went black.

Cedric stirred. His body ached all over. He remembered the fight and was surprised to still be alive. A hand supported his head and fed him some acrid water. Opening his bruised eyes, he saw Griselda, the baker's daughter, tending his wounds. He sat up painfully and his natural ebullience came to the fore as he saw that Konrad was with him too. They were in a small room, clearly still in the cave complex. They had been stripped of all their armour and weapons, but they were still alive.

"See, Konrad, my plan worked. I told you that the best way to find Griselda would be to get captured and let the goblins take us to her!"

This game was rather shorter than expected and I believe that Steve's failure to rescue Griselda rests with his forgetting to bring the proper figures to the game. Instead he had to borrow some of my DDM stuff to make up his group, which clearly affected his dice rolling. The next scenario will be an escape scenario, which we hope to run next week. The terrain is my WorldWorksGames Caveworks build, which I plan to expand a lot more at some point. Unfortunately, Sigismund is OD but the other two survived. I suspect that Cedric will have to recruit some more troops next time he returns home.

Sunday 8 March 2009

The Red Menace

Last month I painted Martians to fight Steve's British troops. We actually managed to play the game last week, but my battle report has been delayed by various Real Life(tm) problems. We used the Soldier's Companion rules from GDW that are aimed at supporting Space 1889.

The Martian Messiah, Itaba Sootaman, has been rabble-rousing in the provinces around Shastapsh. His goal is to foment rebellion against the British occupying Syrtis Major and to drive the invaders from Martian soil. When it was reported that Sootaman was largely unaccompanied, the British sent a platoon of infantry to arrest him. His general area was known, but not his exact whereabouts, so the patrol headed out to investigate the villages in that area. As they advanced through the village of Paraam, which still lay partially devastated by a recent British assault, the area was quiet. The locals had obviously heard that the British were coming and had evacuated the area. This worried the British commander.
He ordered his troops to advance on the next village, Irshash. As they approached the village, a ragged volley of fire erupted from the woods line in front of them. It was all sound and fury for the Martian marksmanship was terrible and there were no British casualties. The two sides traded fire for a while, but neither side took any casualties. The Martian marksmanship was terrible, but their use of cover was brilliant.

Suddenly another troop of Martians erupted from the brush behind the British. Ambush! The attack was perfectly executed and, but for the Martian accuracy, might have seen the British ending their days on that spot. Unfortunately for the Martians, their smoothbore muskets were not very accurate. Caught in a pincer movement, the British fixed bayonets and charged the Martians in front of them. They drove the Martians all the way out of the woods and back to the next village along, sniping at the Martians' heels as they went. The other Martian warriors could do little now but pursue the British. Fortunately, they caught them and were able to break their nerve. The British regrouped back at Paraam and returned to the fray, and the fight continued swirling around the woods from which the Martians had first emerged. The British now held their nerve and started causing significant casualties to the Martians. One Martian troop was nearly wiped out, while the other was suffering badly.

Seeing the chance to break the Martians' nerve forever, the British commander ordered a charge. His men bravely tore into the Martian force and a bloody combat ensued with no quarter given. Then it happened. The British officer fell in the melee. The Martian warriors howled as one of their number took his head. This was too much for the British soldiers and they broke and ran. The Martians were too exhausted to pursue, but this was still a great victory for them. Inspired by this act, the whole of Shastapsh would soon be in ferment.

This was a great game that could have gone either way. The Martian ambush was perfectly executed, but my dice were not favouring me in this game. For some reason I have real problems rolling sixes! The rules worked well, although we could envisage situations where the Martian player might be sitting for ages waiting to win an initiative roll. Since your only option when you fail to win the initiative is to shoot or charge and you do not get to manoeuvre, a good British leader could easily win the initiative every turn and march circles around a poor Martian leader, leaving the Martian player with nothing to do. I suspect that we will institute a die roll modifier of +1 for every turn in which you have not won the initiative. This modifier is cumulative until you win the initiative, at which point it resets to 0. That would ensure that both sides at least get to do something and stay involved in the game. I am now looking forward to painting and using the rest of my Martians in a bigger game. I also need to get around to making some better Martian terrain.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Mission: Ooh Shiny, Part 3

Well, no pictures this time around, but I thought it was time to post the March project. This month I shall be painting a 6mm Goblin army for Warrior Heroes.

Warrior Heroes is the element-based army-level game from TwoHourWargames. THW no longer sell Warrior Heroes, which is a shame. It includes a set of battle rules and a campaign system that puts you in the shoes of the army commander and deals with the system of generating the battles for you. There are numerous army lists that cover a range of different armies from historical analogues to standard fantasy fare like Elves and Dwarves. The rules also include heroes, mercenaries, wizards and magic. This makes for a complete package that I am rather taken with. The rules themselves could probably do with a rewrite for clarity's sake, but there is nothing there that is particularly difficult and I am looking forward to actually playing these rules. I have been meaning to do so for ages but have only recently completed any armies for it.

So, the plan is to get the Goblin army painted as a 6mm variant of my 28mm skirmish force. Steve is painting 6mm Teutonic knights this month and the two forces will go head to head in April. Can't wait.