Thursday 30 July 2009

What's Going On Now? - July Update

I'm sitting waiting for Steve to turn up so that we can play Dirtside 2 at last. When did we paint our 6mm sci-fi stuff? It feels like yonks ago, as if we have been putting off playing the game for years.

In the meantime, July seems to have gone slowly as far as painting goes. I did manage to paint my 6mm Border Kingdoms army and posted about that on the Talomir Tales site. I have been slowly working on painting my Totanem for Wargods of Aegyptus and have just completed them today. I need to varnish them before I can photograph them though. Pray for a sunny start tomorrow to give me time to varnish them then lots of rain to water our new lawn!

I did paint 130 15mm figures for my brother. I guess that took up some time too. Boy did I curse those Carthaginian figures with their nasty little overhangs. Still, they got done and I am being paid in lead. Thrift at work, or something like that. I paint his figures, I get new toys and the balance is maintained.

The Wargods figures mentioned in one of my recent blog posts sold, creating another opportunity for spending without upsetting the thrift balance.

I have also spent a lot of time editing and revising the Warrior Heroes rules for Ed Teixeira at TwoHourWargames. This seems to have taken rather longer than I anticipated. It might well have been easier had I just ditched his text and re-written it instead of trying to make his text conform to my ideas of how it should be written. I shall have the battle rules sorted out by the end of August at the latest. I promise (barring personal crises, existential angst and global apocalypse). I think they will be considerably easier to refer to than the old set. I hope so anyway, after my comments on this forum about the original version of the rules. Time to put my money where my mouth is!

Speaking of money, one of the goals of this blog was to chronicle my progress at reducing my lead mountain. Hmm. I seem to have slipped off the wagon a bit. If you have seen my posts on various forums, you will know what I am talking about. If not, all is explained on the Rather Large Towton Project Blog. It is clearly not thrifty to start such a large project, and yet, in some senses it is. Am I spouting nonsense? I don't think so. I am committing to buy for this project around £350 worth of figures. That's rather a lot of dosh. I plan to sell stuff to pay for it, which will probably double my workload but will result in clearing out things I do not need, while helping to build the new project. The other advantage of this project is that I am actually very interested in this period of history (mid- to late-15th century). It's not as interesting as Vikings or Scandinavia, but it is pretty interesting for a modern period. More on this later. Time for a game.

Monday 27 July 2009

Tusk Junior

My wife and I have had her nephews to stay for the weekend (our weekend runs from Sunday to Monday). Yesterday we took them to the Walking with Dinosaurs live show at Sheffield Arena as a birthday present. It was a pretty good show, although I felt that the emphasis on the 'special effects' over story let it down a bit, but I am old and jaded, so what do you expect? The dinosaurs themselves were really good and the size of them was impressive too. It really gives you sense of perspective.

One of the boys has been pestering me to show him how to play wargames. They play Heroscape but are fascinated with the array of figures in my office/games room. So, one of them asked me last night if I would "show them my moves"!!!!! By this he meant, how to play the games, not anything else. Today I caved in and asked them if they wanted to hunt dinosaurs, to which the response was an enthusiastic "Yes". I dug out Tusk, set up a 2'*2' board, gave each of them a small party of cavemen and we set to. The table had one each of Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus and Triceratops on it. I explained how to measure moves and they set to with gusto, each charging his hero in as fast as possible. The Tyrannosaurus fell first. It was simply not as aggressive as a small boy. Then the other nephew brought the Stegosaurus down. Both boys were enthusiastically throwing rocks and spears at the other two dinosaurs and the Brontosaurus saw the writing on the wall first. It fled for the edge of the table and away to safety. The Triceratops was less savvy and stayed to fight, surrounded by cavemen. It gored and trampled one group of them but could not take on the full might of two cavemen tribes. The elder nephew slew it and took credit for the kill as well as winning the game with two dinosaur kills overall. The younger one had only killed one dinosaur but his tribe had been halved in size, so I think the food will go around well enough.

Both boys, who are 6 and 8 by the way, picked up the game really quickly. Even the reaction system for the dinosaurs, which confused them initially, became clear with play. Flushed with their first hunting success, they left the game very happy and I could bask in the warm glow of being a successful uncle and leading them into bad ways. I wonder what I should teach them next ...

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Progress and the future!

I have not updated this blog for nearly two weeks now, so it is about time I did. The question you are all asking yourselves is, what has he been up to? You haven't? Oh well, maybe it was just me. Well, my figures sold on ebay. I even had a couple of bids on them, although they did not go for the insane prices I saw a single Anubi warrior go for; £15 is a ridiculous price to pay for one painted 28mm figure, yet I saw several going for that much! I now need to sort out my next batch of ebay goods, although I am tempted to try alternative forums for selling because of the 15% cut that ebay and Paypal take in total. I know that I would pay 10% at a normal auction so I can handle that, but hitting you with the Paypal stuff too when it is all the same business feels like gouging.

In painting terms, I have painted my 6mm objective, the Border Kingdoms army for our Warrior Heroes campaign. It is featured on my Talomir Tales blog. I have also spent too much time helping my brother out by painting 130 Carthaginian types for a Field of Glory army in a very short space of time. He entered a tournament without realising that his normal army would not be eligible. What a numpty! Always read the rules!! :-) This has affected my targets for this month, but I think I can still meet them, and he is paying me in lead. I have also started making progress on the Totanem that were scheduled for painting this month. I still hope to complete them by the end of the month.

And finally, I attended the Baccus open day last Saturday. It was really good fun. I learnt about the miniature production process from green to final casting, which was quite informative. I had not realised how much effort went into the process so early on. I also got to see the first greens of a forthcoming Viking range that the nice Baccus people are working on. There was the opportunity to spend money and I spent about half of my ill-gotten ebay earnings on Sassanian Persians (Mirish in our WH campaign) and Amazons (Hykar in our WH campaign). The rest will be spent on figure storage. I have my eye on some figure trays from Kaiser Rushforth, since Figures in Comfort is between owners as far as I know. It's a shame because FiC produce a series of trays that fits my Polemos figures perfectly, which is exactly what I need. I shall see what Kaiser Rushforth have and report back later.

Another result of the Baccus open day was a discussion over a pint of beer with Peter Berry about possible games. Someone (no names, no pack drill) had mentioned that Towton would be a good battle to refight and hinted that others might like to do that. No one picked up the gauntlet. Peter suggested that I might project manage such an event, so I mooted it on the Baccus forum and received positive responses from several people. We are now in serious discussions about producing a demo game for shows in 2011, the 550th anniversary of the bloodiest battle on English soil. With any luck we shall be in a position to show off a large game with around 10,000 figures per side by that date. If we really work at it, we could double that number of figures and still have a playable game. My ultimate goal would be to produce a totally epic 1:1 man:figure ratio for the game but I think we might need a bank loan to buy the figures, even in 6mm. Therefore a smaller game is more realistic. Watch this space. It's not thrifty but I shall probably have to fund it buy selling stuff and painting figures, so it may well still fit the definition. Anyone want to buy my lead mountain before I start?

Sunday 12 July 2009

Slowly Clearing Things Out

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to throw stuff out, or even to get around to selling it. I am not particularly enamoured of EBay these days either. It is getting more and more expensive to use, is not particularly friendly to the individual that occasionally wants to sell something and you hear more and more stories of fraud too. To my mind, EBay is no longer really an auction house and more like a department store. This is a shame.

Another problem I have is that I dislike selling my unpainted lead. You don't get back what you paid originally. This means that I tend to hoard the lead until the walls are fit to bursting and will rarely sell it off unless I get around to painting it. If I get around to painting it, then I have completed the project, so why would I then sell it? Tough problem!

So, I was looking at my collection and wondering about rationalising it again. I have done this in the past and usually wind up buying the self-same figures all over again at a later date when the enthusiasm resurfaces. This time around I decided to sell some Heru from the Wargods of Aegyptus range. I have two units that are painted and based, so my prospects for selling these figures ought to be reasonably good as long as I pick the right price point. Another consideration was that I only kept the Heru because I wanted the option of fielding them in a game, and I wanted them available as an enemy for my Typhon warband. I have no particular desire to field a Heru warband myself, but it is always good to have a spare warband in case you can entice others to play the game. I have other, unpainted, Heru in my collection and Wargods also allows for human contingents in each warband. These humans count towards the compulsory element of the warband. This means that I can retain a unit of Heru, add some humans and still field the Heru warband if I so choose. I don't need to keep these other figures and can use them as a means of earning a bit of money towards my wargaming budget, assuming they sell.

This leads me on to the next issue. How much do I list them for and how much do I rate my painting at? If I were to send these figures to a professional painter it could cost me £5 per figure plus postage, were I to use a UK based service. I could send them to Sri Lanka and get them painted for around £1 per figure for a basic paint job (more for a better job) but then I have to take the risk on shipping them around the world. Also, these prices do not include the cost of the figure. Surely other people consider these too when deciding to bid on an auction. Well, I hope they do but I suspect that most do not. They come to EBay with expectations of getting a bargain. This has been my experience in the past when selling figures. People do not want to pay the going rate. In the end, I have looked at similar figures on Ebay and worked out what the minimum I would accept is. I listed the figures at that price. It covers the lead cost and the cost of my painting without being as expensive as a professional figure painter in the UK would charge. Let's see if I get any bites.

On a side note, I did see that someone was selling Anubi warriors (basic warrior figure, which retails for around £20 per unit of ten) at £9.99 per painted figure. There were bids on those figures too. I wonder if I should have broken up my units and sold individual figures at that price instead. It would have massively increased my potential profit margin!

The figures I am planning to sell are a unit of Heru Archers (EBay Link):

and a unit of Heru with Polearms (EBay Link):

Thursday 9 July 2009

A Mammoth Task - Tusk Battle Report

Og hunt big food. Big food drink. Og hunt big food while big food drink. Big man dead. If Og hunt well, Og be new big man. If Og not hunt well, Ug be new big man.

We played Tusk last night. The scenario was that the chief of the tribe had died and the hunter that killed the most mammoths would become the new chief.

Mammoths at the watering hole (Click the pictures for larger versions)

Ug know what to do. Ug send hunters forward fast. Og know what to do. Og keep hunters hidden. Ug's hunters drive big food towards Og's hunters. Og clever. Ug stupid.

The game began slowly with my hunters not wanting to move (low activation die rolls), while Steve's troops advanced quickly forward. The mammoths started having to take reaction tests. Most grazed, but one decided to withdraw quickly away from Steve's hunters and toward mine. I pretended that this was all part of the plan and moved my hunters up behind a low hill.

First contact

Og send dogs in. Push big food into swamp or over edge. Big food attack dogs.

While Steve was moving his troops forward I used my few activation points to send my dogs forward with a view to driving the mammoths into the swamp or towards the cliffs on the right of the table. The mammoths attacked my dogs, who fortunately survived. I think I must have had particularly irritating yappy dogs because every time I tried to drive the mammoths with my dogs, the dogs were attacked.

Hunters slow. Og lose patience. Og attack big food and kill it. Og do happy dance. Ug not happy.

With Steve's hunters advancing rapidly and low activation points I took a risk. Og is a hero and has a fifty/fifty chance of dying if he attacks a mammoth. I charged him in and he won, killing a mammoth that Steve's dogs were about to worry. Meanwhile my dogs were attacked by a different mammoth and Steves hunters were trying to bring a mammoth down with slings and bows.

First Blood!

Og happy. Og kill more big food. Ug very not happy.

While Steve's dogs worried more mammoths and my dogs irritated them more, Og attacked and killed another mammoth, and still survived! The rest of my hunters were still lurking behind their hill, refusing to come out, while Steve's hunters were advancing rapidly towards the watering hole.

Og 2, Ug 0

Og happy. Big food step on Ug hunters. Squish! Ug dogs squish too. Og not happy. Ug kill big food. Ug hunters kill big food. Og hunters still hide.

Then suddenly Steve's hunters started to get lucky. Well, sort of. First his slingers got too close to a mammoth, which killed them. On the same turn his dogs disappeared under mammoth feet too. But, shortly after that Ug, Steve's hero, and his spear-armed hunters both killed mammoths. The scores were tied and it was going to come down to the final mammoth.

Ug and his hunters hard at work

Og race Ug to last big food. Og swift as wind. Ug slow like mud. Og kill big food. Og new big man. Og make Ug cook dinner.

With only one mammoth remaining and the scores tied, our heroes were the closest to the last mammoth, so we raced as fast as we could. Og got there first and, wildly improbably, killed his third mammoth, while his hunters finally started to come out of hiding. Victory to me!

Last mammoth standing

This was a brilliant game. Although we got a couple of things wrong at the start, largely from not reading the rules properly, we did manage to get things sorted out and we had the rules working properly by the end. We both had a great time and the result was very close to the wire. The reaction tests for the mammoths worked well, although interpreting how they should be adjudicated sometimes required some thought because of the presence of lots of humans in the area. We shall definitely play this one again, but next time we plan to hunt dinosaurs!

The game took about an hour and a half in total, so we had time for a game of Pirates afterwards, which Steve won. I did not photograph that because of the lack of a suitable seascape, but I plan to sort out that issue later and produce a battle report for Pirates next time we play. It was a good game and the rules were surprisingly subtle for a simple game. I definitely need more ships for next time though. Good job The Works in Beverley is selling them off very cheaply.

Monday 6 July 2009

Vikings versus Greenies - Song of Blades and Heroes

When my brother dropped by at the weekend, we played a couple of games of Song of Blades and Heroes. I fielded my totally unsuccessful Viking force, while my brother took to the field with his Orcs and Goblins. The games were interesting but highlighted how random the commands can be. My force consisted of 5 Vikings with a mix of missile and hand weapons, and a heroic leader. My brother's force consisted of about eight or so Orcs and goblins with a mix of archers and melee troops, led by a tough leader.

Game 1 - Set-up

The first scenario included a place of magic on the board with bonus victory points for occupying it with a magic-user. Neither of us had a magic-user so the game came down to driving the enemy from the field. I felt sure that the Orcs would win by weight of numbers. As it happened, poor command rolls led to the Orcs being driven screaming from the field.

Game 1 - Orcs being driven screaming from the field

The second game was an all-out battle to kill the enemy. It had the same result for the same reasons. Patrick (my brother) had real problems with his command rolls, which resulted in the Orcs being outmanoeuvred by the more tactically astute Vikings. The Orcs were not able to bring their greater numbers to bear effectively and so they lost.

I felt that the second game more than the first was lost by the Orcs through poor command rolls rather than won by me through tactical genius. However, in both cases the better quality troops won by virtue of failing fewer command rolls. So, why have my Vikings always lost to Steve's Teutonic Knights? :-)

Saturday 4 July 2009

Wolves from the Sea

My brother came to visit today. He was dropping off the Vikings supplement for Field of Glory, which I plan to try at some point in the future. Wolves from the Sea is a nice shiny army list book. I already have some quibbles with the Vikings list (Cavalry? What were they thinking?) but the book itself is well-produced and has lots of inspirational artwork from the Osprey books in it.

I suspect that Field of Glory will fall short of my desires in the same way as every other rules set that covers the entirety of prehistory and history up to the end of the medieval period does, but I shall try them first. The game play may be sufficiently good to warrant continued play. On the other hand, I may well prefer Impetus. Dadi e Piombo already scores well by making Basic Impetus freely available, and I like the fixed army lists for BI. One thing I hate in army lists is the ability to pick and choose every option that was ever used in history, even if it were only ever used once. My view is that army lists should produce representative armies, not the exceptions. Unfortunately, the Ooh Shiny Complex seems to creep into the lists. Wargamers want to be able to field flaming tar pigs and stampeded cattle at every turn, even if they were only rarely used, but I do not subscribe to that particular fetish. Anyway, I already have a ton of 15mm Vikings, Saxons and Normans to paint, so I shall paint these figures up and try the rules out.

My brother also dropped off a copy of Command Decision: Test of Battle. I have played Command Decision since its first incarnation and have both the second and the third incarnations and have always enjoyed it. I also have and have played the WW1 and modern versions of the rules (Over the Top and Combined Arms). The new version is nice and shiny and comes with Fog of War cards, which I understand are played like random events. It also claims to have streamlined the combat system (a definite plus because the rules are quite techie) and now includes a points system for pick-up games. You decide which theatre and time period you are playing and get a core force for your side based on that. The core force is fixed but you then have a number of reinforcement options. I have not looked at it in detail but it looks like a good way to produce historically believable battle groups without the usual problems that a points system brings. The rules also include 12 scenarios to introduce you to the game, so there is plenty to do with them. In addition to this, a quick glance at the index suggests that they are very complete in terms of combined arms attacks, air support and all the rest. I can't wait to try these out. Time to dust off the old Western Desert forces and break out my copy of the Benghazi Handicap. Tally ho, chaps!

Friday 3 July 2009

Searchers of the Lost Uraei - A Wargods Report

We played Wargods again last night. Wargods really is a good game and the command system in it makes every game tense and exciting. Last night's game was a continuation of a mini-campaign that we started many moons ago. It saw my warband heading into the swamps to try to recover information about a tribe of no-good Nekharu that we have to find for some reason that currently escapes me. Steve has written the scenario up on his blog. I am now really looking forward to the final part of the campaign. Then it will be my turn to write a mini-campaign for Steve's warband, the forces of Karn the Flayer. I wrote a Wargods of Valhalla mod some time back that is still downloadable from the Gods of War ezine. This introduces Viking forces into Wargods. As anyone that knows me will be able to tell you, I like Vikings. So, I have tentatively titled this new mini-campaign Snow Trek: The Wrath of Karn. I wonder if there are merchandising rights to sell based on this one?