Monday 27 April 2009

Aieee Shub-Niggurath

Sorry, not a Cthulhu project, but May is the month of the goat.

We have agreed to spend May painting Wargods of Aegyptus figures. This does not really fit with our stated aim of painting armies and then playing games that we have not previously played, because we have played rather a lot of Wargods before. I am, after all, the current pan-European champion! Still, that does mean that we have loads of unpainted figures for Wargods, which we can use them for other projects too.

I am planning to start with a couple of units of Khemru (goat-headed critters) and some characters to go with them. These will double as beastmen for Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures, and I suspect that I can use them as monsters in Broadsword Adventures too. I probably have other games that will suit them too and just need to think about it a bit. For variety, I have added a couple of undead Khemru to the mix. One is the limited edition Undead Beastmaster found in the Eater of the Dead starter set. The other is a Khemru Crypt Lord.

So, on with the challenge. In May I shall not be aiming to award myself 2VPs for completing the challenge. Instead I shall award myself 1VP for each unit of 10 figures or equivalent that I complete. Hopefully I shall manage at least 2VPs worth of figures, but I hope that I can manage more than that. After all, I have the Khemru warband to paint as well as half a Totanem warband, an Eater of the Dead force, a Tethru starter set, some Heru, a dozen or so Basti camp-followers, a unit of Sebeki and the rest of my Olympus warband. So, with all that ahead of me, I had better get myself ready for the challenge!

Sunday 26 April 2009

Busy Weekend

I have had a very busy geekly weekend. M'buddy, Derek, came to stay on Friday for a spot of intense Advanced Squad Leader activity. Most excellent. We agreed to play scenario RB1 One Down, Two to Go from the Red Barricades historical module. This module is set in Stalingrad in October and November 1942 and represents the German attempts to capture the Barrikady factories. The scenario sees the Germans renewing their assault immediately after the capture of the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Factory. Part of the board is in flames (determined randomly) and the Russian forward positions have suffered early bombardment, represented by the front rows having to take a morale test before the game begins.

I was the Russians, while Derek was the Germans. The scenario began well for me. My off-board artillery pasted his left flank and my minefields slowed down his assault sufficiently for me to blast his troops. The crowning moment for me was when my battalion mortars stonked his 10-2 leader (second best quality leader possible in the game) and associated kill stack by dropping a building on them. As you can see in the picture below, the fires around that area were quite severe too. The grave of the 10-2 leader is the rubble counter near the centre.

Unfortunately, my luck did not continue. On my left flank, Derek was able to mass his reinforcements and drive a wedge down my left flank while my reinforcements were still advancing northwards to try to block them. Unfortunately, by this time I had broken most of my machine-guns and my reinforcements were mainly conscripts. Eek!

And then the final end came when a Stuka (did I mention the level of air support available to the Germans?) scored a critical hit on my second last heavy machine-gun. Boom! It rubbled the building, set it alight and killed everything in there. It was about this time that my personal morale broke.

The end game was then characterised by me trying to get my reinforcements into place and Derek shooting them to pieces as I did so. We played it through to the final turn, but that only emphasised the kicking that I received. It was a great scenario and I did scare Derek by having read and learnt the tunnel rules and cellar rules. That caught him out at the start!

On Saturday afternoon, Steve dropped by and we were able to play Midgard, Eketorp and Chez Geek. Derek won both games of Midgard, which is a game of Viking expansion and death, by a significant margin in both games. He clearly understood the metagame better than Steve or me. Nevertheless, the game was brilliant fun and has a lot to recommend it. The card draft forces you to make difficult decisions, knowing what you are handing on to your opponents to choose from. The game also does not reward a lot of tit-for-tat playing. The moment you start having a go at someone, the pair of you fall behind in the points, or at least make no progress. I look forward to playing this with more people.

After that we played two games of Eketorp, which is a game of Viking fort building. This game has some of the feel of Settlers or any other resource management game. You have to fight for and gather materials with which to build your fort. The game ends after ten turns or when the first fort is completed, at which point you add up the points you have gained. Steve won one game of this and Derek won the other, but these games were much closer than the games of Midgard. This is another excellent game that I shall seek to play again.

Finally, we played Chez Geek. This is a classic card game from Steve Jackson Games with excellent artwork by John Kovalic. The goal is to accumulate Slack, while preventing your opponents from doing the same. You gain Slack by buying things, doing activities and having the right people show up in your room. The card play is fun and I really enjoy the game. Steve won this game.

So, I managed to play six games over the weekend and lost them all. It has certainly been a thrifty weekend because I have not spent any money on games and have played four games that I already own. I have also had a lot of fun. Sounds like a good result to me!

Tuesday 21 April 2009

The Army of Bwendi (April Objective Completed)

Bwendi is a small agricultural planet within the Ztumsia system on the extreme margins of the Imperium. It is not a rich planet, yet it dominates the system by virtue of controlling the main food supplies and also as a result of the determination of its people not to lose. The main threats to Bwendi's peace and prosperity are rival Lord Knights with an expansionist agenda and incursions by the Red Redemptionist Rebels. Fortunately this does not happen too often.

Technology on Bwendi is limited. The Imperium strictly controls what technology is made available away from the core in a bid to weaken possible dissident elements. As a result, Bwendi is limited to 21st and 22nd century Earth Reckoning technologies. It has little by way of high technology industrial base, so grav technology is rare, high-powered energy weapons systems are not often seen and power is mostly based on natural resources, such as hydro-electric or wind turbines.

Bwendi is ruled by Imperial Lord Knight Throckmorton P. Gladiolus LXVI. Lord Gladiolus is a benign dictator and expects to rule for the rest of his life, as have his ancestors back to the colonisation and unification of the planet. The Gladiolus family has a long heritage of such activity. Lord Gladiolus is descended from Earth stock and can trace his ancestry all the way back to the cradle of humanity. Back in the 20th century of old Earth Reckoning, the Gladiolus family ruled the small central African republic of Ztumsia for many years, fighting off insurrection and rebellion at every step. However, history records that the Gladioli were able to bring peace and prosperity to this small nation in the same way as they have succeeded in doing so within the system named for Ztumsia.

The Knights of Bwendi

Here we see the Knights of Bwendi admiring Lord Gladiolus' newly acquired Scythe Class Jetcopter as Lord Gladiolus himself poses for photographs in front of it.* The Knights are Lord Gladiolus' personal bodyguard. They are the elite troops of the Bwendi army and will ride to battle with him in the Jetcopter. They wear ex-Imperial Light Armour systems with autorangers and carry bolt rifles, which fire explosive bullets. One trooper in the squad is armed with a heavy bolt rifle as a squad assault weapon. All troops also carry a range of grenades.

*These pictures will appear in Howyadoin magazine and it is the duty of every right-thinking Bwendi citizen to buy a copy and support the government. You can also read all the gossip about the Ztumsian tri-d vid stars too.

Men at Arms

The Men-at-Arms are the small professional cadre of soldiers on Bwendi. Here we see a platoon of Men-at-Arms parading in front of their Glaive class Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The platoon is led by a Lieutenant (pronounced leff-tenant on Bwendi) armed with a force sword and bolt pistol. Each platoon is organised into four rifle sections and one heavy weapons section. The bulk of the men are armed with bolt rifles, while one man in every section carries a heavy bolt rifle. All troops are kitted out with ex-Imperial light armour and carry a range of grenades. While the platoon pictured here has two IFVs, many do not have any, and some platoons, like this one, do not actually have enough IFVs to transport all the troops.

The heavy weapons squad is smaller than the standard Men-at-Arms section. It is led by a Lieutenant armed in the same way as his counterpart in the infantry section and has two soldiers armed with Support Bolters, a tripod-mounted rapid fire bolt weapon, and two soldiers with Conversion Beam Projectors, a matter conversion beam for ripping things apart at close quarters.

The Levy

The bulk of the Bwendi army consists of local levies. Here we see a Levy platoon on parade. The men are expected to be supplied with fatigues, a flak jacket and a sub-machine gun or assault rifle. Officers are expected to carry a pistol and sword. Some men supplement their equipment out of their own pockets.

The levy system is the main way for Bwendi to raise large armies quickly. All men of fighting age are expected to attend two weeks' training every year and to be ready to be called up when needed. The planet is divided into levy zones and each zone is expected to supply a platoon of troops for general service each year. The size of the zones is calculated based on this requirement; while platoons do have a nominal standard size, variations do creep in. The levy zone is also expected to pay for the equipping of these troops. This can lead to variations in the quality and quantity of equipment given to the Levies.

All figures are 15mm Laserburn figures, currently available from We are planning to use these figures for Stargrunt II, Laserburn, Imperial Commander and Beamstrike games.

Stargrunt II is freely downloadable from Ground Zero Games. It is a platoon-based game and will probably comfortably use 30-60 figures or so plus a little vehicular support.

Laserburn and Imperial Commander can be bought from Laserburn is a small skirmish level game and uses up to 20 figures per side maximum. It is probably too detailed to comfortably play larger games than that. The force pictured in this post is about 1500 points for Imperial Commander, which is the "grand skirmish" rules set that goes with Laserburn. A scenario of 1500 points per side in IC will take about 3-4 hours unless you get lucky with the dice.

Beamstrike is a freely downloadable Imperial Commander clone that resulted from an inability to obtain the rights to revise and republish Laserburn and Imperial Commander. It is designed for similarly sized games as Imperial Commander but has more rules for the inclusion of AFVs.

If you are interested in discussing Laserburn, pop on over to the Laserburn Yahoo Group and say hello. The group really needs a bit of a shove to get talking again!