Sunday, January 30, 2011

Can I train my Dogs?

I'd allowed myself to be talked into playing in a tournament for the first time in about 4 years, which would make it only my 4th ever. 

I considered which of my Warhammer armies to field for a fantasy tournament; Vampires would be the Strongest in general, but the painting of some of my models is shocking, so that was a no.  Dwarves would make for a pretty reliable gunline army, but yawningly, achingly dull.  So that was a no too.  Orcs and Goblins would be fun, but unreliable; deadly when they work, deadly to themselves when they don't. 

So that left the Dogs of War; a very pretty, but uncompetitive army.  I felt if I used them they would have no hope of winning a tournament, but I'd not be expecting too so, like a British tennis player, I could relax knowing my destiny would not be troubled by the spoils of victory!

Still it was providential to get a little practice in before hand.  I had some idea how to make the Dogs of war army passably competitive.  Their strengths are in some of the Regiments of Renown, featuring some amazing units, cheap heroes and spell casters, with the ability to stuff units with characters as a result and lastly, great skirmish and fast cavalry options.  Conversely, rank and file infantry are costly, missilery can be too fragile, the army is always small, and if it loses it's Paymaster, it's up sh*t creek!

 My first practice was against Al's Bretonnians.  It went reasonably well, but in no small part due to the lack of time to play out many rounds, and Al's lack of experience against this army.  He made charges against units ideally placed to defeat his knights (Pike and the Cursed Company) and suffered accordingly.

 In points terms the game probably ended as a draw.  But it was useful to me, I decided after that the Human crossbows were going to be better upgraded to Dwarves, even at the cost of a couple of magic items; elsewhere I could drop an extra hero, to allow the flexibility of the light troops to stay in the list.

My next practice saw a slightly tweaked force face James' Lizardmen.  The last time I played James I inflicted a heavy defeat on him with my Orcs.  This time we rolled for a random scenario and got the Dawn Attack.  It didn't affect me much at all, the random deployment, except that my Wizard lord was somewhat out of position on a flank.  For James it messed him up only a little, putting a unit of Saurus on one flank.

 James' was an army that lacked an effective response to my light cavalry, well to be fair, his Skinks could certainly have done the job, but they opted to attack my Mage, Knights and Skirmishers instead.

 Indeed most of the game went well for me.  Again the Cursed Company paid for themselves many fold, whilst my Pike did a good job, and the Knights fought on valiantly to were James Down.  In the end it was an admittedly narrow, but, very definite win for the Dogs!

So what did I learn?  Well, you won't get much advice on using the Dogs of War anymore on the Net;  they are after all about the oldest army in the game (and not even legal for many tourneys, they're so old).  But I can say; always field at least two mages, always field at least two units of bow armed light horse.

The Cursed Company are a must buy elite unit, Dwarves with crossbows can fight in combat, and Halflings make good shooters against low toughness enemies. 

Form a strong mutually supporting centre that can wait for the enemy to charge it; meanwhile compromise your enemies flexibility with vanguard attacks on the flanks and aggressive magic.

So how did I do in the tournament?  I tell you later in the week...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Swatembe Raid 1879

Last Sunday saw the return of the Zulu Wars to the club.  Myself and Jez, who had recently got the Black Powder rules played out a simple scenario with Brevet Colonel Woods Northern Column.  Their orders were to locate and steal away the Zulu livestock locally which was supporting the operation of a Zulu army.

 The British formed two commands, that under Wood of the 1st Coy, 13th Light Infantry, Natal Native horse and a 7lb mountain gun; and the command of Major Hackett, with three companies of the 90th foot and their own 7lb gun. 

There were three suspected locations for the livestock, marked with bases of goats.  Jez, as the British commander, did not know hat was at any site, but would be able to identify them once within 18cm (we played in cm rather than inches, as befitted the 15mm models).  I wrote down the locations as follows:

1:  The Livestock, plus a large number of skirmishing Zulu youths (the Boys)
2:  Nothing
3:  A Zulu Impi in three warbands waiting in ambush.

Jez set off, and at first headed straight for the correct objective with Woods command, however he turned away from it at the last moment to focus on the farms.  Part of the reason for this may have been the reluctance of Hackettt to issue orders, rather he malingered a long time in camp over breakfast.  The 13th were to find the native farm empty, but from it could make out in the distance a Zulu impi on the march (my reserves arrived on turn three).

 At this stage the Zulus seemed to use shock and awe the force the British back; the 90th formed a disjointed line near scrubby trees as the Zulu's roused their brothers from ambush and began to advance down from the heights.  Still, despite apparent danger, Hackett malingered over his kippered Herring.

 Wood sensing the Danger, sent his native horse to fill the gaps and began to intervene with the troops of his erstwhile junior commander.  At one point in the day, going to his very camp to remonstrate with him most severely; "Dammit sir, in Gods name do you not see the natives approach, would you rather disturb breakfast, or the security of our Queen?!"

 Withering fire of the Martini Henry and the Mountain guns was all that allowed the British line to hold, as the issue of the day became less about raiding cattle and more about the saving of red coated lives.  Wood hurried to dress the lines and succeeded in breaking one of the Zulu Impi's, but still the other two came on.

 The Natal Horse made an effective strike at the Zulu's as they approached , but then a second warband threatened their flank, they retired, hoping the thin red line and a stern volley or two would resolve the problem. 

Instead, charging through dense scrub the Zulu made good their attack and at the tip of their Asegai's cut down a faltering company of the 90th.

By this point the British were forming two sides of a square in the hope of staving off a reinvigorated assault by the warbands, now aided by the Boys.  British artillery was lost to the hordes of Zulu and the infantry were soon overwhelmed.  Wood could only look on in despair as Hackett tried to extract his forces in the face of massed Zulu attack.

And so the day ended.  The Northern column had lost well over two hundred men, and failed to capture the livestock it came so close to discovering.  Despite that losses to the Zulu were later counted by scouts at over four hundred dead, but with their far greater numbers such casualties were easier to absorb.  Probably their losses were even greater for many of the wounded would not return to this or any other campaign. 

However, any such losses would remain insignificant next to the irreplaceable losses to the British.

A great little game, but bad luck for Jez who game within a gnat's whisker of finding the loot and getting away with it.  The scenario was stacked so that if the British stood and fought they would be hard pressed indeed, and that was what the unfortunately did.  They were really hamstrung by the dismal performance of Hackett, who truly failed nearly every command roll, despite a leadership of 9!

Until the next time, I wonder if Wood's column can recover...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Anima Tactics: Promethea

The first of my Anima Tactics models is finished:


Promethea is one of the Black Sun characters. She's clearly not too worried about catching her death is she!


This took about three hours all told. Getting the flesh right was one of many challenges, I used 6 to 8 graduated layers, aiming for a pale finish, and smooth transitions. Many things naturally can still be improved, not least the washes I used to do the hair, and the lining of the fishnet stocking effect. I touched this up a bit but it still needs a steadier hand.

Not easy though, the figure is only 35mm tall of course!

The Base is from PG Scenics but good luck finding them on the website, as I couldn't, I know Paul though and he's a friendly chap; drop him an email if you like the bases...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Remember these chaps?

Well they sold for a very impressive £39 on eBay.  Not too shabby!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Squigs and Dragons...

So painting from a little before and just after Xmas to kick off; still strongly fantasy based, but I will move onto some historical topics soon.

Firstly a Goblin hero bounds into battle on the back of a giant cave squig; from the bulk purchase of second hand Warhammer models I picked up in early December (about £150 of models for £30!):

Next, a horde of Squig herders; mostly Xmas presents but some were from the bargain purchase above...
All the above were painted in the usual black wash fashion I used for the rest of this army, back in the day (see blog entries from 2006).

Next up is something spectacular to add to my Dogs of War army.  Whilst in Austria I as usual mooched around any toy/souvenir I found and whilst looking for Papo products (look them up) I chanced upon Schliech models.  One model caught my eye, but there was no way I could get it home in my luggage.

A quick search on Amazon when I got home though and I was able to source this little beauty:
A huge model, over a foot long!  For a sense of scale a Goblin squig herder attempts to quell the beast below:
Not a bad little model for £15!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kings of the New Year!

Well I'm sure it's about time I started talking games again. The first games of the year for me were fantasy ones (always easy to arrange) but Kings of War rather than Warhammer.

I gave a new undead player a couple of introduction games to the rules, one largeish battle of 1500 points and a smaller one of a mere 800. 

 In the first I deployed in a classic double ranked Dwarven formation, with warrior units interspersed with units of handgunners.  With a few hints about the best deployments, my opponent also deployed a reserve, and used weaker units such as the zombies to screen his better troops.

 The undead came on in force (actually, partly due to the fact I forgot they couldn't march) whilst the Dwarves tried to shoot them down.  The leader of the undead, a Vampire on a Pegasus, soon proved to be the real threat however, being able to fly around our units to attack them from behind...

 In the main though, the Dwarves were controlling the pace of the battle, and the undead were being thinned out.  we destroyed a number of units.  However the Vampire was now in the midst of our ranks and wreaking havoc.

 The undead had few units left, and whilst my Slayers chased down his necromancer and attacked enemies all over, my other troops held a firm line to the undead.  We finally managed to get the Vampire cornered, but weren't able to pick him off.

 The fact that his Revenant cavalry had been drawn into an unfavourable fight in cover and most of my firepower remained intact gave me pause to think I may win; but in the event the sheer expense of the Vampire lord meant the at the end of six turns the Undead had a narrow victory, by ten points!

Still revenge would be mine.  A rematch on a smaller scale a few days later saw me defeat the Undead  in the streets of a ruined city.

This time I was, thanks to the condensed fighting area able to force his Vampire to fight on my terms, and towards the end of the game I was able to destroy him, which left the Undead with very little to save them.

Elsewhere on the night of the first game, Mark ran an Ancient Greeks game which caught my eye:

Using only plastic models (Immortal's Greeks and Wargames Factory's Numidians to produce the light troops), Mark was using another set of rules by The Perfect Captain.  Hopefully I can convince him to face my Spartans with these rules sometime.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Competition painting: Thug

My first effort at improving my painting (and photography to be fair) this year:

Produced for the Warhammer Forum's ongoing painting competition, this months challenge was to paint a classic model (from before 2000 and one that is no longer in production).

A rummage in the bits box threw up this oddity in my collection, a Chaos Thug.  Ideal material I thought.  I took the time to rebase him on some slate and threw a variety of little extras at the painting.

I am under no illusions, I will not be winning anything, but it looks pretty good to me...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Plastic Army men

We all had them, and some were, well, rubbish:

Plastic Army Men on

Take a look and see for yourself...

Space Hulk Terminators

A commission job I received at the start of December gave me the chance to look at some of the finest plastic miniatures ever made. 

An old pal had bought the limited edition Space Hulk set and asked me to paint the Terminators for him.  To date they are only assembled and (subsequent to the photo below) undercoated.  But even at this stage the quality of the models shines:

Each model is the result of only two or three parts, that this is the case is almost unbelievable, given the dynamism in the models.  GW has shown what it can really achieve here, it amazes me that they would not make this game available on general release though.  Obviously the game would sell on the strength of its models alone.

You have to wonder about them at times..

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Final count on the 2010 Pledge

The finale for the year, December, was a tale of two halves, with high output in the first two weeks and next to nothing thereafter. Not surprising really, as I was on holiday for most of it.

Amongst the items I finished not shown so far were these Mantic Ghouls, done in the same way as the previously shown Skeletons and Zombies.

I also had time to knock up a last bit of club scenery; a suitably generic modern ruin.

Late in the month I finished the first of a pack of Perry Mercenaries; their latest plastic set. The rest of the box are to join my Dogs of War army at some stage, but these chaps being a bit spare, and not suited to my historical armies are likely to appear on eBay soon.

8 Burgundian Ordinance handgunners.

I went for a fairly sharply contrasted three tone scheme, softened and given further shade with a very light glaze of black in the final varnish; just enough to add a little depth. I'm pleased with the final result.

So the final numbers on both the month and year are pretty good. The yearly objective was 600 points* and I make the December total 115; bringing the final total to:

1117 points

Very near to double what I aimed for; though a large chunk of that was probably terrain. Still I knocked out at least 600 figures of one form or another so I'm more than satisfied.

As stated though, in 2011 it's quality not quantity so the volume aspect of the pledge is essentially halved for this year. I will see how I go on the quality side of things...

*Each infantry figure of 15-28mm counted as one point, cavalry as 2. Larger items were scored as I deemed appropriate to a maximum of 10 points for a single item.