Monday, February 28, 2011

Asarnil the Dragonlord

Asarnil is a cheap way to fit up a Dogs of War army with some shock and awe; sadly the original model these days would only elicit a wry smile, and possibly derision...

A beautifully painted example, but frankly a very outdated model.

My purchase of a huge model dragon a few weeks back, did threaten to sit on the painting table indefinitely. But I got the spray cans out and base coated the beastie after staring at it for a while.

With the whole critter sprayed a dark brick red, I had to consider two other requirements, a base and a rider. For a rider, I lucked out on finding an Elven General in a box of goblins I'd bought, complete with horse; which gave its live, well torso, to form an elaborate caparison.

As for the base, a well smashed selection of bits of slate tile gave a suitably large base some definition. Everything could then be pinned together, and in the case of the rider, in such a way that the model can be removed, for storage or to allow the dragon to be fielded without a rider (it can be done).

So with a red theme picked, I set to on a layer of deep red all over and then varying layers of highlights up to bright orange in places. The reds for the rider were somewhat different; but the net effect ties in reasonably well:

Apologies for the Terrible quality of the pictures.  I have this very day bought a new camera!

You get a sense of the sheer size of this model from the rider here.  The base is 80mm wide by 100mm deep.  I may yet add some sort of reins but the original model of course has none so I'm not so worried.  The ability to separate the models is a definite benefit.

Better pictures and hopefully evidence of the chap in action to follow in good time.  Oh and if anyone is wondering, I've counted the whole thing as a 'tank' and a cavalry model, 7 points!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A little 95th

The very last of a long standing commission completed.  A small unit of the 95th Rifles in 15mm.

Despite the scale, I still did three layer highlighting for the coats and pants; base coat and highlight elsewhere.  Not nearly as precise as my 28mm, but pretty good for this scale. 

And before the Grognards ask, yes, there were Drummers in the Rifles, though possibly only as part of the Regimental band; still I was using the figures provided and I don't have a problem with it, there was no bugler available, so he'll do!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Massive Spiders and Price Hikes

Trapped in Bradford for the weekend, due to the ongoing car debacle; the only Wargaming exposure I got was a trip to the local Games Workshop (not five minutes from my apartment).  Their in I snapped a picture of the Arachnarok Spider in the flesh:

A pound coin (same size as a 1 Euro piece folks) gives a sense of scale.  To be brutally honest, it's a lovely looking model, but not as big as I first thought, still it is an impressive centrepiece; and probably worth splashing out the £36 asking price (though as I'll get mine at the FLGS instead, rather less).

Not so can be said of the 'New' Orc Boys Boxed set:

Yes, their the models from the old boxed set; but where that retailed for £20 for 19 models, the new box contains 10 of the same miniatures, for £18!

Quite frankly, the most phenomenal piece of offensive price raising GW have ever done.

You know I could see the point when the new Empire infantry went to ten for £12, they were a much better set of models, even if they were as pricey as historical lead miniatures.  I could understand the logic of their making elite troops more expensive; I didn't really agree with it, but accept the point that units people would buy less of will need to sell for more to be viable.

But this is one of the most common rank and file units an Orc player could field, and until a few weeks ago they retailed at just over £1 per model.

The price has gone up by 80%  for absolutely no change in product whatsoever.


Games Workshop, you should be ashamed of yourselves.  Truly, ashamed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Game of Thrones....

I've never read the books, and I'm unlikely to see the TV miniseries, but I have played the board game a couple of times.
The game is from Fantasy Flight Games, who made Chaos in the Old World and many other modern board games with high production values and well thought out game play.  The aim of the game, presumably based on the books is to take control of a number of key cities on the map to seize overall power; however, before all that can be resolved there are several other factors that have an influence on game play. 

One player for example will control the throne, and have power to determine the winner of draws in the game, another will have the raven and can change commands, whilst another will have the sword, and thus more power in battles.

The turns are played by issuing orders in secret to each of your forces, and then playing them out in an established sequence.  Orders include raids, advances, defends and consolidations.  How they interact vary, but obviously when one force advances into another's territory, battle ensues.

Battle is a simple affair, of adding up the values of attacking, defending and supporting units, and then factoring in a commanders card of varying value.

Like many boardgames with a map as opposed to an abstract symmetrical grid for a board, certain players have an advantage in comparison to others, blessed with strong, secure bases of power, or largely free of enemies until later in the game.  This does not detract from the pleasure of the game, but does ramp up the challenge of playing as certain sides

Recommended, so long as you can muster four or five players and about four hours to play.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

You'll never be cool enough for the Cheerleaders

An interesting conversation was raised the other day on one of the web forums, about the perceived cost of the hobby of Wargaming.  Well specifically Games Workshop, of course.  Oddly I found myself defending them  in the process of challenging the belief it is an expensive hobby, but it begs the wider question, of on what grounds do you define expensive?

The argument essentially was that to start Warhammer or 40k costs around £4-500 to get an army together.  True enough perhaps, and some of the chatter was that this was excessive compared to other activities, notably video gaming.

But is it really the money?  I think there's more to it than that.

 Snowboarding; by far the most expensive thing the author does; and a great way to break bones too!

After all, Wargaming on face value is much cheaper than many pastimes.  I spent £800 on a snowboarding holiday in December last year; for three days snowboarding.  I think in the last ten years, my addiction to snowboarding has cost me around £10,000; not to mention lost earnings whilst I took an 18 month sabbatical to do two seasons in France instead of making a living!  That is not a cheap hobby.

Other people opt for Scuba diving, collecting rare records, Parachuting, Hunting, Playing in Bands or Customising cars.  Their all far from inexpensive...
 You can spend hundreds of thousands to look this stupid going down the street. A Games Workshop carry case is a bargain by comparison!

The cost equation is in perceived returns; and these are more complicated to gauge.  My personal view is that Wargaming gives very poor return in terms of social currency whilst giving very good returns in personal currency.

I'll explain.  Pound for pound you get a lot from Wargaming; once purchased models have to be researched, cleaned, modified perhaps, painted and based.  This gives lots of activity in return to the initial outlay.  You have to produce scenery maybe, build a table even, find opponents, a club, so on and so on.  Once complete an army can be used for games pretty much forever.

 Never in the history of mankind have these resulted in a guy scoring with the opposite sex...

It however, provides one with no social cache.  Ever chatted to someone you didn't already know pretty well, or know was involved in gaming already about your wargames?  No of course not (well at least I haven't).  It isn't the sort of thing that impresses people.  It's not a basis for social climbing, it won't impress a woman, it doesn't improve your credibility with an employer.

 Yes, but he'll be crying all the way to the bank about it

And that is the crux of the argument, that is why I think gaming seems expensive to some people; because like comic book collecting for example it is something that only earns you respect with other people who already also appreciate it. 

You may be just as interesting, or otherwise, when talking about it as the next person talking about their football team's performance at the weekend or the new improvements they've made to their Evo 7.  But in the first place you would be hamstrung by the innate geekiness of the hobby; it is not for everyone, and that lack of approval devalues it to those not interested in it, where they can dislike golf, say, profoundly, but see it as an indicator of social status that wargaming would not be.

You may not agree, your experience may be different, and that's fine.  But I recognise in my own experience, that as much as I love wargaming, military history, painting and modelling - the whole shebang - if asked about what I do in my free time, I'll always, always lead with snowboarding.

Do I get more fun for my money from it than gaming?  Probably not, it's far more fleeting and a higher risk activity to boot.  But it also serves functions that wargaming won't. 

And that is part of the, unspoken value of a hobby.

Undead, that smell of Cheese?

Activity with the blog is alas moderated by an abject lack of transport at the moment.  The shiny new car has suffered a terminal failure, and so the ratty old car is being put back on the road.  Until then I'm winding up the last of my recent games.

 I'd like to get away from Warhammer, but it is always easy to pick up a game, last week it was an uber-cheesy competitive "Deathstar" List I pitted against Gav's High Elves.

Deathstar is a new term to me, but implies a Warhammer army under 8th edition where most of the army is sunk into one horde sized unit of maxed out heavy infantry.  In my case 1250 points of a 2000 point army was invested into a single unit of 38 Grave Guard, plus the Vampire General and the Army Battle Standard.

The aim is to work up an army for league gaming and maybe more tourneys, league games at least likely to become a regular feature at my club in the coming months.  Traditionally as a friendly player of Dogs of War, Orcs and Goblins and a non-gunline Dwarf army I suffer against the more notorious builds.  Cynically perhaps, I built an army in what is considered the most competitive of my four Warhammer armies to avoid getting stomped so much.

The game set up as seen above was the chance encounter scenario, played diagonally and with random reserves.  My Deathstar unit naturally ended up in reserve, which basically meant it was safe from the enemy on the first turn, but had to start from the back of the table. 

It was no surprise that Gav's tough old army worked through the rest of my force with general ease, two units of Ghouls a regiment of basic Skeletons and a unit of Wraiths made up the rest of the force (excepting a tiny diversion of Dire Wolves) and only the Wraiths and Wolves had staying power.  However one of my spells allowed me to turn the enemy into a spectral horde, which happened three times and saved my bacon. 

When the Grave Guard finally got in to action they proved murderous, but moved too slowly to overrun the enemy.  After six turns Gav was up on points, but not quite by enough to call it other than a draw.

As a unit, the Deathstar is lethal, as an army it is hit or miss, probably vulnerable (despite it's 4+ Regeneration power) to war machines and big power spells. Still compared to my Dogs, it is a much more competitive prospect.  Until the Orcs and Goblins book can be assessed, it will serve.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

March of the Greenskins

It's always mixed feelings when Games Workshop release a new army book for one of my armies.  Will they improve things or ruin the army, what new models are they going to introduce to tempt you.  And of course nowadays, how much are they going to screw you for to get the new army book?!

 On that last point it is quite a lot.  This represents a move to hardcover and full colour throughout, with an associated price tag of £22.50.  Ouch!  However as it is an essential purchase to play the army, they kind of have you there (and we would not of course, stoop to downloading pirated copies now would we? Ahem).

Every new army comes with a fistful of new models of course, amongst them there are the appearance of units long unrepresented, such as Savage Orc Boar Boys:

And entirely new units and troop types, including Goblin Sneaks (essentially cheap Dark Elf Assassins).  But the centrepiece to the release is this mighty beast; the Araknarok giant spider:

 That's a 100x150mm base by the way.  Again the models, released in March, carry a hefty price tag.  The new Savage Orc warriors on foot set is £18 for 10 models for example, and the Spider is a whopping £36.  But fear not!

In March/April, Mantic release their Orcs, also on 25mm square bases and scaled to match GW sized models, they will retail from £14 for 15 models, with the usual deals on bigger units.

So, you pays your money, you takes your choice.  Either way, expect to see lots of new half finished O&G armies appearing on a table near you soon!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A little painting

Just some oddments really.  A pair of Goblin bosses firstly; I'm aiming to try the 8th edition front rank of heroes concept on a goblin unit, so I need a good few, and have plenty available.

The one on the right was a breeze to do, his mate is needlessly fiddly and not an easy casting to work on.  As my Orc and Goblin army is only done with a glaze technique for shading, I didn't want to be fannying about with fiddly stuff!

The other job was much, much smaller, but deserved a lot more attention.  The last of my Anima Tactics Black Sun starter set; promethea's guardian, Styx:

I wanted a natural looking finish to make the glowing markings on the flank stand out sharply.  To that end I used photos of 'Red' Doberman's for inspiration, hence the touch of pink around the nose.  I think I got the eyes perfect, he has a sort of sad mournful look about him I think.

A tip for anyone trying to pin tiny models like this to custom bases, as here.  Don't just cut the base tab off entirely (and try to replace it with a drill hole); rather cut all the extraneous material away that is not directly under the feet, so that the remaining tab is more of a rectangular peg.  Then gently trim and file this down to as small a round peg as you need to fit to the hole drilled in the associated base.  Don't shorten the peg!

Another tip, to work out where to drill the holes on the base, after dry fitting for the desired position I put a dab of paint on the bottom of the pegs and the place the model in position on the base.  Leaving spots of paint in place for the drilling of the holes.  Now you can be pretty certain that your drill holes will line up!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wargames, Economy-proof?

For some people, the economic downturn does not seem to have impacted yet.

The latest Perry Miniatures release is now up for pre-order, and the painted samples I've seen on the net look very tempting; I'll admit I haven't touched my little ACW collection in a while, but at 42 figures for £18, these could be tempting to get a box; just a shame there were no Zouaves in the Division I've chosen to recreate!

Ah well, check them out for yourself; this set appears to be of 8 sprues of 5 advancing figures and one sprue of two command figures.  This may seem a bit light onofficers to some (like me, my ACW units are only 18 strong); but you can of course pick up extra metal commanders, and recent perry sets have been available by the sprue on their website.

Elsewhere Warlord is starting to drip feed more details on its' new Hail Caesar rules, Have a look here to find out more about the basis of the system:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

AKI at Vapnartak 2011

I hadn't mentioned it beforehand, but I was at Vapnatak, the York Wargames show, at the weekend.  I formed part of the Leeds Night Owls/Gaming Club Network team; mainly due to my provision of pretty toys for the demonstration game.
I am none of the above!  The author's anonymity remains intact...

More on the show in a moment but first some quick details on our game and display.  We had a simple beach landing scenario using my Napoleonics collection and a set of rules from the 'Perfect Captain' website.

 The British were attempting to force landing, and of course the French tried to throw them back into the sea.  For my part, when playing the demo I managed to shove the British back into the Atlantic.

 Our location was right next to the bring and buy, which was a mixed blessing.  On the one hand everyone at the show came past our game, and due to the queuing system for the new format sale, most of them had to queue up within spitting distance of our stand; but on the other hand none of them were really up there to browse games and so moved on swiftly by.

I suppose I should mention the B&B in detail anyhow at this stage; the format was one that was unusual for shows, but a result of the situation.  Rather than the usual leave your stuff and pay the organisers a cut, you instead, paid to rent a table and sold your stuff yourself.  on top of this, the organisers limited the numbers in at any time to avoid the usual Bring and Buy scrum (where the largest and sweatiest always seem to fill the front of the tables, and your only way to see the sales is via judicious use of elbows, or perhaps a machete!)

This seemed like a good idea, and initial queue problems side, made the B&B a more pleasant experience, it was worth visiting several times as the traders changed.  There was also a section for more up-market sales where good to excellent painted armies appeared; you could contact the owner by mobile phone and go from there.  It all seemed like a good idea, and I understand took a lot less manpower to run.

So, to the rest of the show, I had a couple of hours to wonder round and so in no particular order...

First up Legendary Wargames put on a late Roman/post Roman game.  A nice tidy affair with good figures, as one might expect from a group who make their living from them!

 The venue was for a wargaming show a huge, well appointed one, being at York Racecourse.  spread over 5 levels, it was light and airy, and generally well laid out; though a couple of displays could have had better lighting.  Upstairs several different Gaming tournaments were ongoing, including Warhammer 40k, Warmachine and Impetus.

 There was a children's section set aside with simpler games and make-and-do distractions to entertain the more bored kids.  This Flames of War tank battle being one of the diversions for kids...

 As with most shows, the Reenactors were about, in this instance, and perhaps unsurprisingly given York's heritage, the Dark Ages were the subject.  I love a shiny helmet, me!

 Back to the games then; A near future urban war game; not bad scenery, though obviously someones' been hoarding the foam packaging.

 The Battle of Lutzen as a Black Powder battle was one of the highlights for me, sadly it was in a dimly lit area of the building, under the stairs.  But great scenery and good figures.

 Nearby was a big table of unfashionable 20mm WW2 (I await people telling me it isn't unfashionable, but I will press on).  Operation Barbarossa, featuring an excellent river crossing.

 A large interwar period colonial game attracted a lot of attention; with lots of players and spectators crammed round the table.  I suspect it may be by the people behind the Very British Civil War series of games, but I profess not to know.

 The terrain boards, especially the river, were very nice.

 Water and townscapes appeared again in another Pike and Shot game.  I didn't glean much about this one, but the Harbour scene (complete with flooded houses) was striking.
 The Lance and Longbow society had a game on, which looked like War of the Roses in period.  Visually not an eye catcher to be honest, though the massed ranks of troops were nice.

 I was pleased to see another Napoleonics game, and also one in 20mm plastic!  Lots of troops looking good together, though it was clearly a game to be played not looked at; unlike many at the show.  Look at the damage all that marching has done to the road network!

 Moving out into the better lit section of the building again, I came upon a favourite game of the show for me, a modestly sized Samurai game.

Nice castle!

The scenery was very good and the figures were top notch.  Excellent!

 Lastly, of the items that caught my eye, was a dark age game, apparently put on by Gripping Beast (judging by the position and massive pile of their models on one end of the board).

As for the show as a whole, it seemed busy enough, but I also heard it reported that takings as a whole were down for the traders, with austerity biting after the rise in VAT.

Personally I hadn't been planning on buying very much, and came away with just a few bits.  A book of articles on the Zulu War, a new paint brush, and 13 figures, wow!

A good day then, though our display could have got a bit more attention for my money.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Bad news over at Wargames Factory...

I picked up this nugget whilst watching the start of the Superbowl; it seems Wargames Factory has suffered a hostile takeover by Chinese investors after getting shafted by one of it's staff.

I only just picked this up, but it is indicative of this year being the one where at least one of the new plastic manufacturers falls by the wayside.  Personally I had one of the British companies as likely to fall, so this is a surprise.  Of course the new potential owners could keep the business in hand and make a go of it based on the current model.

But really, that requires a lot of faith to believe.

We'll see...

2011 Pledge begins slowly

The volume of painting in the first month of this year was pretty low, but I think I got quality rather than quantity  I actually managed just 23 models, which any regular readers of the blog will know is a pittance, for me!

One of the items I did complete was the next of my Anima Tactics models; a Type 005:

 I went with a purple palette for this chap, I'd wanted it to be paler than this but it looks OK in the end.  The muscle tone ended up very defined!  I was happier with the blue robes, and feel I got the bone weapons looking believable, with layers of red gore wash.

 Generally satisfied with it, though it could have been a bit better.

I also knocked up another elven mage for my Dogs of War army, mainly as I found him in a box.

Other unphotographed items included a handful of 15mm British Artillery and a Goblin hero.

So it's a slow build up for the year, but with the Terminator commission well on its way I hope for a better score in February.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Yorkshire Open Warhammer Tournament

As said, I'm not a one for the tournament usually.  But every so often I enter one and hope (more than expect) to enjoy it.

My army was unlikely to be terribly competitive, but for the record was as follows:

Lords and Heroes

General: HW, HvyA, SH, Pegasus, Relic Sword (min 5+ to wound), Shield of Ptolos (1 armour versus missilery). FLYING. Save 3+

Level 3 Wizard: HW, Lore of Life

Paymaster: HW, Armour of fortune, Ironcurse Icon (6+ ward versus Warmachines for character and unit). Save 5+

Level 1 Wizard: HW, Dispel Scroll. Lore of Shadow


19 Alicanti Fellowship: Roderigo - H+H, HvyA. Save 5+ Pikemen - HW, Pike, LtA, Standard, Musician. Save 6+

6 Voland's Venators: HW, Lance, HvyA, Sh, Barded War horse. Save 2+

6 Light Horse (Centaurs): HW, Bow, Sh, War horse (well body anyway). Musician. FAST CAV. Save 5+

6 Light Horse (Tribesmen): HW, Bow, Sh, War horse. Musician. FAST CAV. Save 5+

10 Duellists: Hw, Sh, Throwing Knives (Javelins). SKIRMISH. Save 6+


15 Cursed Company: Richter Kreugar HW, HvyA, Sh, Blight (+1 Strength) 14 Skeletons HW, LtA, Sh Save 5+ Banner of Malediction (acts as undead battle standard), Regenerate losses

12 Fighting Cocks: Lumpin Croop HW, Bow, Sh, LtA. Save 5+ Ned Hamfist HW, Bow. No save 10 Halflings HW, Bow. Standard, Musician. No save

10 Dwarves HW, HvyA, SH, Crossbow. Musician. Save 4+


Cannon+Crew HW

That's 2000 points exactly.

My first game of the day turned out to be against one of the older club members who nonetheless plays an occasional game of Fantasy, with an army of High Elves; not a favoured match for the Dogs, but there could be worse.  I deployed my standard formation with a refused flank covered only by cavalry on my left.

 I managed to out flank and largely contain the Elves, though their chariots were a definite problem for me and the ever present threat of the large spearmen block was ultimately my undoing.

 We only managed 4 turns but as his Spears got into action I doubt I would have come out on top.  As it was, it was a minor victory to the Elves and I was down 13-7.

That made it lunch time, and time to review the other armies, most were familiar club fare, in varying stages of completion and painting; only one belonged to a non member, being a chap from another club.  His undead Ogres were full of invention and as I'd not seen them before they got my vote for favourite army of the day.

 How many Ogre armies feature an angel?

 Dan's Greek Demon army came second for me; the painting was better and the modelling just as creative, but I knew it'd be killer cheese to play against, and I had seen some of it before.  So second place for me.

 Lunch barely over I had to get down to my next game, against a chap I'd not played before, but knew from around the club.  he had an artillery heavy Empire army that looked like bad news to me.  3 Mortars, 1 Cannon, a Steam Tank, a War Altar...

Still only one real unit of infantry, though at 48 strong, a big one.  The scenario was "Battle for the Pass" which essentially means playing on a board lengthways.

 Not unsurprisingly I was pummeled by artillery, however my light cavalry and General did their proscribed tasks of chasing it down and destroying it.  The knights and Cursed Company put a charge in on the massed swordsman unit, but were unlucky not to break them (he made a Steadfast test of 8, he had no reroll available, so a fail and I'd have had him!)

 It was downhill all the way from there, ending as a Major Victory for the Empire. Three more points for me put me on a lowly 10.

Languishing in the bottom end of the rankings I was pulled against someone doing rather worse than me.  A Tomb King player, who deployed his entire army - bunker style into one corner of the table.  A meaningless formation in real life, but one that works very effectively as a defensive block in a tabletop game.

By this stage I was tired and this did not start as a fun game, but it did pick up as I continued to frustrate his plans and blocked his limited tactics (which seemed to revolve solely around trying to open the casket of souls to scare me away, which he failed to do.

Although he killed my Paymaster the whole army stood and took it, and used the ensuing Hatred to wipe out the unit that did it, at no point in the game did any of my units fear the skeletons (we did, as I kept pointing out to him, have them on our side too!).  Ultimately his conservative deployment saved his leader, but cost him victory, by taking too long to get going, and being dependant only on magic working for him.

It ended as a draw, and I knew I wasn't last!  Hoorah!

In fact the results of the day were better than I feared.  Despite losing two battles I made a respectable 8th out of 12.  Not too shabby considering how uncompetitive the Dogs of War usually are (I've won two games in three years with them!).  But the real win for me was that my little chaps won Favourite Army (judged on overall presentation and composition), beating Dan's Demon in the only way possible!

A show of love for a classic army and I hope, a nod for my painting and conversion too.

Certainly that capped a pretty good day, which ranks as the best experience of a tourney I've had to date.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dogs Backstory...

Or fluff as it has come to be know (what a terrible term).  For the Yorkshire Open Tournament, background text to support the army was recommneded, points are awarded for it, so I put fingers to keys and typed the following:

Allesandro Pannini looked plaintive and aghast at his Liege.

“But sire, surely you can offer more than this handful of men?!”
 The Grande Vecchio di Montefollonico, Picked over the array of foods before him, a gargantuan feast to befit his bloated, corpulent belly. “I don’t believe you understand me Allesandro.”

“What is not to understand sir? You offer me a troop of Duellists and a cannon and expect me to secure your borders, and against who? If not every foe under the sun!”

Allesandro tossed the map, that Montefollonico had thus far assiduously waived viewing across the decadent banquet. It unfurled to show the hopeless position of the state of Foccacia, beset on all sides by both the hostile interests of border princes and the encroaching kingdoms of Dwarves and Wood Elves, not to mention stranger threats of the walking dead and tribal raiders said to be more horse than man.

Montefollonico gave the map a cursory glance. “You disappoint me boy; whatever talents you may have as a general you lack a businessman’s mind.” He stood up, with some difficulty, smearing chicken grease on his silk robes as he rose. Servants rushed to aid him, whilst others cleared the meat dishes, with avaricious eyes.

Allesandro recoiled a little as Montefollonico approached him, the smell of sweat, the sight of his bulk shifting awkwardly, the sound of his rasping breath as it struggled to escape his pitifully inadequate lungs.
 “When I say I will not permit more of my citizens to die, for the marginal profits of war, I think I am quite clear.” Montefollonico swung an arm around Allesandro, a sudden, brutal weight on his shoulder. “My citizens make me my money by being, alive. By trade, by the pen and the scales, not the sword and the shield.”
 “And how long will that be the case? With a handful of men?” Allesandro retorted.

“A long time.” The Grande Vecchio smiled warmly, in a way that bemused the young prince. He snapped his fingers to a servant and Allesandro found himself presented with a clinking bag.

“You see, it is very simple. Two thousand gold Ducats should suffice. And ensure you keep good accounts.” With surprising power to Allesandro, Montefollonico drew him close to his food stained face. His eyes narrowed. “Don’t find me enemies to fight. Hire them to fight for me.”

He let Allesandro go, and sucked in a gulp of air, along with some of the finest wine in the old world.

“Let my people live. Let my enemies die for my money, hire them.” Montefollonico returned to the table, and picked over the selection of fruits from the Orient.

“Win or lose, there will be less of them to threaten me.”