Friday, December 30, 2011

Braganza's Besiegers - AKI style

The other major project for December has been a unit for my Dogs of War, who are now developing quite a base of Static firepower.  Kings of War and the Perry Miniatures Late Medieval range has given this army a new lease of life, and they have now entered the dreaded 'Third carry case' stage of army evolution*

16 figures in all in a garishly bright quartered livery, so they'll really 'pop' in the army.  As said the miniatures are Perry Plastics, and serve ideally in my Dogs of War force, being as it is a conglomeration of every race and manfacturer, in an effort to realise my old school fantasy aspirations for a mishmash army.  They are of course tied together by the painting style and basing.

In close up you can see that the Pavaises' (big shields, for the rest of you!) are based on separate strips, to allow them to be optional to the unit.  This then allows me to field the unit as the Marksmen of Miraglio instead, or simply as a default unit of crossbowmen.

The heraldry and banner were all free hand.  A word on the banner.  I painted it on paper, over a pencil design, such that the two sides would fold over to give the back to back design.  Make sure you also paint the back of the paper your base colour.  Once finished this is cut out and the back given a complete covering of pva glue.  Folded on to the pole, you'll find the paper soft and malleable; whilst it is so you can form the natural folds into the flag, as you can see above.  The shape will hold within minutes and once dry is pretty solid (though a coat of varnish will further strengthen the banner).  Try to use thin, but good quality paper, I find letter writing paper works well for this, but office printer paper is fine too.

So that's it, the last painting of the year.  The final result is a satisfactory 538 models, against a target of 360.  A lower result than previous years, but in part because I reduced the points I scored for guns and vehicles, and didn't count scenery at all.  Overall I'm pretty happy.

Happy New Year folks...

*This being a stage where an army goes beyond a satisfactory size, to one of sprawling excess.  My file boxes typically hold about 150 28mm models on average, and I consider anything over 200 models to be a 'finished' force.  Therefore once the 300 barrier is broken and a third box is needed, it is both a moment of satisfaction and of resignation - to the fact I need either more storage space, or to sell something else to make room!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sherman's and Tank Riders

So I've been on leave since the 23rd, and with time on my hands the other day I cobbled together another Sherman Tank squadron for my WW2 games.

Inspired by the tank rider equipped Panzer IV's of Gaz at the club, I decided to add infantry to mine.

One tank was painted some months ago and only needed infantry adding; the other two were done quickly on Xmas Eve before shooting off for the festive whathaveyou's!

Over a base of Russian Green plus a little German Camouflage Green, I built up layers of more Russian Green with with a little yellow.  This was then weathered with red-browns and yellow-browns.  The unit markings are speculative but pretty typical of the period; obviously one applies them before weathering...

The tank riders are from the Hat minibox range and excellent little sculpts, except for the figure with optional weapons; when assembled he clearly has three elbows, he's an abomination!

You can see them better in this shot:

To ensure they stay in place, each figure has been pinned to the tank; they were painted separately, given a black varnish wash and then glued in to place.

Nice quick work to fill a few idle hours whilst watching The Man Who Would Be King; classic Xmas fare!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(War)Gameswipe - Review of 2011

Foriegn readers, no this is not me....

It's been a year that gave with one hand and took away with the other at Toomuchlead towers, we'll get on to the specifically gaming aspects in a bit but during this year I've moved twice, lost my old job, taken a offer just to stay in work at a considerable reduction in pay, but ended the year with a new offer on the table for more than I started the year with!  Aside from that I've split with two women and crashed and burned with several others, been the victim of crime three times, crushed one car and spent over £2k on the other getting the damn thing back on the road (buying an Alfa may make you a petrol head, it also makes you a mechanics favourite customer).  It has in short, been a helluva year.

Gaming and blogging has in some way helped keep me sane; but what in this crazy world of game has gone on, and how did I do on the prediction front last time....


2011 has seen me expanding established armies in force rather than starting anything new; with the exception of a couple of skirmish games.  This wasn't the plan at the start of the year, when in a gaming high I had suggested I would build a new fantasy army and double the size of my Napoleonic French force.  Neither came to pass.

Rather I enlarged my Medieval French, Dogs of War, Undead, Orcs and Goblins, WW2 Americans and Spartans; and built my skirmish forces for Anima Tactic and Freebooters Fate from scratch.

Model purchases for myself were inevitably limited but I did appreciate the Perry Miniatures release (eventually) of the British Hussars - now on the painting queue, Immortal Spartans and Mantic Ghouls and Zombies, which work especially well when mashed-up together.  Also a mention should go to the success of the Plastic Soldier Company, I'm not a fan of all the poses, but they have really made themselves known on the market, similarly the Zvezda range of Art if Tactic miniatures has added further options to those who can see beyond the tyranny of Battlefront's ludicrous pricing of Flames of War models.

Beautiful 1/100 scale military vehicles for 1/3rd the cost of Battlefront

Overall I felt that the pace of plastic releases slowed down this year, though in the last few months it seemed to pick up.  I think I was close to correct in saying at least one of the Plastic 28mm manufacturers would go under as Wargames Factory went close to the wire, and Immortal sold to Warlord Games; but then at least one more manufacturer is entering the fray, so the market may yet expand.  The prices of metal have risen for the premium companies, but not by as much as I feared yet.

Game Systems

Three really stand out as new arrivals in 2011, Hail Caesar, Kampfgruppe Normandy and Anima Tactics.  Ok granted the latter I started with last December, but my games of it began this year and very enjoyable they were too.  Hail Caesar has got me back in to ancients gaming, having cast it aside for a long time due to lack of players of a set of rules I enjoyed; whilst KGN is WW2 gaming the way I remember it from my youth, but with a good solid set of rules to underpin it.  Great!

In the first half of the year I played a lot of Fantasy Battle, but by September or so I was tiring of it, and tried actively to get other games in.  The aggressively tournament style of play that became commonplace whilst the Leeds Wargames Centre was open was not to my tastes either.


Other games I've enjoyed this year were Black Powder, of course, Freebooters Fate and Kings of War.

Next year my main plan, if there is one, is to find or write a set of Rules for Modern Games I like.  A big ask, but there are options on the table.


I went to five shows this year and did three display games, with varying success.  Best to my mind was Poitiers of course, but in general it felt like a lot of effort at times.  Had a lot on my plate this year and in some cases it did feel like I was having my arm twisted to do displays rather than doing it for my own enjoyment.  In terms of event games, the Napoleonics games at the club were again the ones that really stick in the mind.

Blogging and Painting

Getting on for 55,000 hits this year; not in the big leagues, but for a guy who doesn't do a podcast and avoids a lot of the most popular systems, I don't think it's too shabby.  Service has suffered a lot of disruption this year and it has shown in a couple of months, but overall it has been on a gentle upward track since I started getting detailed stats on it.

up to 26 December 2011

I work with statistics and data by day, so yes this is interesting, to me!

As for painting I think the December total will be about 26 points, bringing the approximate total to the year to about 527 points, against a target of 360.  It's actually less than last year, but this year I didn't include terrain, and did aim to do more fine work.  I'm less inclined to do competition standard now, and for 2012 I'm hoping to turn out a few more models.

So the aims for next year?

  • Continue The Pledge to paint 30 points of miniatures per month.
That's it in essence.  I hope to start a new army, to scale up one of the forces I sold in 20mm to 28mm, and this will be a big painting commitment if it comes to pass, but it is still just a loose idea.  Beyond that I still have lots of parts to expand established armies, and I still have items to sell off too; there being a long standing objective to reduce my collection of boxes by a third

This is so the next time I do move there is less puffing and swearing, along the lines of "why do I even have this s**t, I haven't even took it out the box in five f*****g years!"

The Scene

Hmm bit of a one that, locally gaming hit both highs and lows at the LWC, but in the end it was both a damn shame and anything but a surprise to see it go under.  This alongside the move of venue for the old club in February/March saw the Leeds club scene go into a state of uncertainty it is only just coming out of.  In wider terms Fantasy gaming has locally become as stated more competitive, and for me, less fun.  Whilst there is a slowly building community of historical gamers now taking regular space in my favoured haunts.  More gamers are coming in to the hobby with the widespread availability of plastic historical ranges, and this is a great thing.  The rules are now moving towards a peak of development and availability too.

I think the future still bodes well for figure gaming, despite tough times.

Here's to an enjoyable 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dice factoids for Xmas

Have you ever opened a cheap board game or Christmas Cracker and got a D6 with a weird pattern of pips, and the one and four painted red?

If so you are in receipt of a Chinese, or at least Asian made dice.

The red one is due to the inauspicious meaning of a single black circle on a white background; whilst the red four is thought to be of indian origin and is beleived to signify death.  However, another tale suggests Emperor Chong Tsung (AD 684 - 701) whilst playing sugoruku (Japanese Backgammon) with his queen was about to lose and desperately needed fours to win the game. He cried out, threw the dice and they came up accordingly. He was so glad that he ordered that fours be painted red from then on.

The size of the one may be to balance out the weight loss of the six pips on the opposite face, though no similar consideration is given to the other faces.  Personally I find that Chinese dice seem very reluctant to roll well and not keen on rolling sixes at all, so idea for Warhammer break tests!

So if you get any of these in you stocking fillers tomorrow, now you know a little more about them!

Happy Holidays folks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Playa Dos Zubira 1810

Last Sunday was my last figures game of the year, but we went out in style with a large five player game of Black Powder.

Neil was up for the day with his French and Jez also brought along a fair sized contingent; so many that third French commander, Laurie had only to bring himself along.  Alternatively the Anglo-Iberian forces were a man down, as Martin was called in to work, so myself and Gav took command of the British and their allies.

The scenario was a simple classic, a large division of French under the overall command of Junot was attempting to force crossing of the Zubira river, defended by a much smaller British army, formed largely of Spanish and Portuguese allies under the command of Arthur Wellesley.

The river was at a summer low, and scarcely two feet deep, but the banks were high and soft and easy to defend, plus Wellesley and his cavalry commander, Marchant, had wisely deployed troops east of the river in farmland.

From the French left, all photo's are clickable for bigger versions 

The French placed one Brigade in the woodland to their right, with a cavalry Brigade in column to their left.  Their expectation was that the cavalry would guard the infantry advance to the river on the right of the farm, but they were not aware of the lead deployments of the British.  Further to Junot's left a line Brigade led the attack with a guard brigade behind it, both in Ordre Mixte, with a grand battery formed from three formations of guns in the centre.

 At this point I have to say that the French inexplicably left three battalions, one from each brigade, in reserve. I didn't spot this at all at first, and I remain at a loss as to how they miscalculated their available force.  The only possibility is that they didn't have enough men, but I'm sure between us we did...

Nevertheless, they outnumbered Wellesley two to one.  With a small light cavalry brigade forward of the river, with two companies of Rifles, myself and my junior decided to deploy the Portuguese to the left with the Spanish to the centre and in reserve; whilst the British Guard Brigade held our right covering the ford.

We too held forces in reserve, but in our case we knew we were doing so.  Another British brigade of three battalions was advancing from the south, apparently unanticipated by the French.  They were expected to arrive in about three hours (six turns time). to the rear of the advancing French left.

Additionally each commander in chief had a special personality trait.  Wellesley had "Now's your Time!", once per game he could automatically issue a follow me order to any unit or brigade acting together on the board, without being part of it.  This we were holding back to allow our reserves to strike.

For the French, Junot was classed as Unstable, at the start of each turn he had to roll a d6:

6: Flashes of Brilliance - all commanders gained +2 command for the turn
5: Vision - The French could reroll any one failed command that turn
2-4: No effect
1: Delirium - all commanders suffer -2 command for the turn whilst Junot is distracted
And so it was that the French began their advance on the British, on their second turn Junot had a brilliant turn and his urgings made his otherwise average generals dash forward with vigour.

Though it was not without the odd communication failure, and the French Cavalry seemed reluctant to challenge the British in front of them.  Rather their infantry came forward and formed square to screen them.  For the British this seemed to play in to our hands and as far as we were concerned, making the entire French Brigade form square to respond to one unit of cavalry was a good return.

Meanwhile before the guards, long range musketry opened up, and enough disorder was done to stall the first French attempt on the ford for half an hour.  The French general of the lead brigade seemed frustrated by this and went on to throw forward a sacrificial unit rather than stand enfeebled.

The regiment advanced and struggled through the water to the steep facing bank and more withering fire.  Some three hundred Frenchmen lay dead or dying in the warm waters of the Zubiya, whilst the other half of the formation broke and ran.  In the centre the artillery pounded the Rifles, whilst French Hussars threatened to hunt them down, whilst on the French right the stand off continued.

The French resolved this by throwing forward their regiment of Cuiriassiers to counter the Light Dragoons, it was a fierce fight but the strength of the French told and the British were forced from the field.  The Spanish cavalry had retired behind their infantry long since, whilst Wellesley himself was trying to reorganise his second line.  French cavalry and infantry began to move through the farm, flushing out the Rifles to some degree.

But not entirely, and the lead Brigade Assaulting the ford were broken temporarily by savage crossfire.  By now more than two hours had passed, but the French attacks were now coming on in volume, with both fronts coming under attack.

But the close support the allied line offered allowed even Portuguese and Spanish troops to hold, allowing even the French Dragoons to come on, holding them with musket fire and a whiff of Grapeshot.

On the French left losses were more severe, and becoming critical.  Junot and Clausel implored General Foy to commit the Garde, but he was cautious, and it was another half hour of battle before the Grenadiers and Garde were thrown in.

Their late engagement finally cut through the British lines where , many hundreds of their brethren had failed.  The Grenadiers in particular smashed a British Guard battalion.  The Highlanders were finally after over an hours hard fighting reduced to retiring the field.  But the fatal blow was the charge of French Hussars across the river; rolling up a Spanish militia battalion that Wellesley was trying to rally.  Arthur was carried from the field in the ensuing rout.

And this at the very moment when the dust clouds of the British could be seen to the rear of the French, but with out Wellesley's guidance the Brigade of Beresford could not arrive in time.

Although threatened to the rear, it was clear that the valiant allied defence of the river was destroyed and so the French claimed a famous victory.

As ever a fantastic little game played out more or less in real time.  The French came on in classic fashion, clearly without any inclination that the force before them may not be all they would face.  Had Wellesley stayed on the field the last turns would have been very different.  There were remarkably no blunders all game, and few problems to resolve.  For me and Gav it was largely a game of delaying the French and snickering expectantly, until the smirk was wiped off our face at the very end; whilst for the Empire there was a clear division of command strategy, with Jez and Laurie at odds with their CinC Neil, who was being more cautious that they wanted to be.  I was with them, even as the British, for it is the French way to attack!

For an alternative account of the battle, you can see the version of Jez at his blog here.

A well balanced scenario I'd urge you to try, and all in all a nice way to wrap up the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Carcassonne is one of those classic eurogames, whose simplicity belies its' complexity of play.  Anyone can pick up the basic rules in a matter of minutes, but mastering the game could take dozens of plays...

Last Thursday was notable for the fact it was the first time I've won at the game, against season players as we'll as a total beginner (not me) taking the random button twiddling, ignore any and all sage advice offered to him, player.  We played the river expansion, which requires the assembly of a number of themed tiles before players then take turns to draw a randomly drawn tile and place it on the board in such a fashion, as like a jigsaw, or complex game of dominoes, it matches to it's neighbours.

Onto these one can lay claim to the tiles you play by placing your population counters, into a town, onto a road or upon fields.  When towns or roads are completed you get you counter back and some points.  But farmers must stay on table until the end of the game; where bonus points are totted up.

In this game I recognised that the river would allow for early control of agriculture to the cities, so I went early with several  key farming placements (I was black).  By the end of the game I had racked up 85 points to my nearest competitor's 77 or so.

This game would make an appealing change from Monopoly or Cluedo for Xmas day, and being simple to pick up and free of combat, an ideal introduction to the extended family as to gaming.

Maybe worth adding late to your Christmas list?...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dystopian Wars; By land, as sea

A good 10 months ago I had a play of Dystopian Wars, but I don't think it made it to the blog due to only going on mobile phone photo's and timing to a point where my laptop was broken.

The rules were very like, by which I mean essentially identical to, Uncharted Seas which I played a few times when it was first released.  I wondered how the system may translated to the land battles promised in the rules.  As it happens I got the chance to find out.

Basically the core rules are unchanged.  what is added is minimal, basically small tanks that come below the level of the smallest ships in the naval version, and aircraft that in many respects operate just like flying ships.  Terrain can effect tanks, but they are basically so massive that only things like cliffs or lakes would impede them.  They are also more manoeuvrable.

Above is an example of one of the biggest land ships, with the details of its' stat card.  The provision of these cards with models makes life a lot easier reducing recourse to the rules.  For those who don't know the combat mechanic is rolling a number of dice based on the range band, looking for '4+' to hit as a basic.  Scores of six are worth double and get you a reroll, so are the way a lucky hit can become catastrophic!  Score damage equal to the DR and reduce the unit by a hit point, Score equal to the CR for a random critical and double hits.  Once all the HP are gone a unit will be destroyed.

As for my game, it was a small affair played on a 4 foot by 3 foot table with whatever terrain was to hand.  I played the Federated States of America, whilst my Opponent and guide Paul played the Empire of her Britannic Majesty.

The American forces were blessed with longer range firepower, but less of it.  Initially the small square based of British tanks out shot my own, but the big American guns were telling.  The system being by unit activation allowed for the sort of simple tactical decisions of refusing options to the enemy, and rushing to act with key or opportunity forces.

Air power added another element to the battle as it cruised lazily around the battle (the aircraft themselves being reminiscent of Miyazaki designs).  The painting of the models did cause a rarity of wargiming reality, where I indulged in a friendly fire incident in which I shot down one of my own fighter planes.  We realised what had happened, but I insisted the result stood!

By this stage the British were clearly beaten, their multiple weak shots being no match for my hard hitting guns and luck.  Overall it was a simple, but enjoyable game.  I think I would still prefer the naval version, but it is an entertaining little game in it's own right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kampfgruppe Normandy - Action at Petit Filous

It's only my second game of these rules, and yet I volunteered to take a new attendee of the club through them; in an effort to make a gamer of him.

I'd had to work out two simple, evenly matched armies, that importantly incorporated the collection of my opponent, Gary.  These we'll see shortly, but of course on the morning I also set a suitable battlefield:

The village of Petit Filous, in northern France, surrounded by fields of Bocage, and areas of open woodland was the scene of a German withdrawal in the face of a feared heavy assault, that failed to transpire.  Other localised German counter attacks had blunted the American advance and left the ground deserted.  The Germans aimed to retake the no-man's-land, before the Americans recognised the lack of a defence.

A reinforced American Infantry platoon was supported by an over-strength squadron of M4 tanks, one with a 76mm gun.  Reconnaissance was supplied by an M8 Greyhound, with an artillery spotter on hand to try and request up to four fire support missions.

Conversely, the Germans, short on mobility and fuel, marched on to the battleground largely as foot troops, even having to drag on their anti-tank support.  However they were able to muster a fine squadron of Panzer IV-H tanks and had a full complement of 80mm mortars available to support.

The armour of both sides advanced upon the small village.and stumbled upon one around the curve of the road.  A Panzer IV quickly engaged one of the M4's; but missed.  Having drawn attention to itself, the Sherman's positioned themselves to counter, and by some fortune managed to destroy two of the German tanks in short order (despite needing 9's and 10's on 2d6 to do it! I counted myself very lucky, and felt Gavin, my opponent, would now struggle).

The Surviving German tank managed to destroy the 76mm M4, and tried to engage another tank with its' second shot, but failed to penetrate.  Similarly their Panzerfausts and Shrecks proved unable to score a hit.  finally, German infantry rushed to the village on foot, leaving machine guns to lay down covering fire.

Half of the American platoon rushed into the village, and deployed to the nearest houses, but German infantry had struggled in to the other building complex and soon each side was trying to pin down the other.  The Panzershreck team in the field were able to knock out another tank and the surviving Panzer IV took out a third.

It was providing close range support to the infantry, as well as avoiding the threat of American mortar fire that was targeting the corner of the road where it had been; but it had not considered the danger of a flank attack...

The remaining American tank fired from under a hundred yards range and penetrated the side armour with ease.  Recognising the threat of German armour was now scant, it retired out of infantry weapon range to a position where it could move around the flank of the village.  The second half of the American platoon now advanced around the outside of the village to take the left flank too.

German mortar fire began to impact on and around the only intact building in the village, apparently intact for good reason, as the infantry inside huddled in surprising security, safe from the bombs rattling off it's roof (only two casualties to 6 direct hits represented extremely light losses)!

Far behind the front line the American infantry were racing around the German rear, but a wisely deployed MG34 team was able to eliminate their command jeep and crew, which saw the infantry begin to deploy in an effort to eliminate the attackers.

The M8 engaged the Pak40 with machine gun fire, but failed to inflict significant casualties, in return the German crew hauled their gun around and took their only shot.  The M8 was a smouldering hulk in seconds.

The opposite flank was the concentration now though, with the surviving tank doing it's best to out flank and harry the German infantry.  In the village American 4.2 inch mortar rounds started to pound the remaining German infantry, knocking out a section and a weapons team.  By this stage it was clear the Germans were a spent force (their morale limit was passed) and they had begun to melt away through the woodland behind the village.

Petit Filous was finally liberated.

This was an excellent, simple little battle.  Gav asked for little tactical guidance, but accepted advice where I felt his choices would be ill advised; he also had the benefit of a junior commander Joe, who after some initial confusion, soon got into the swing of the game, to the point of deciding which units to use, and what to do with them.  I felt the Germans had much the worse luck in the battle, and the American advantages of numbers told more than they ordinarily would.

By contrast on another table, Mark and Andy were also going at it with KGN, and the Germans here were in control...

Grand to see two games of KGN on, and even more pleasing to get a new player or two involved.

So far December is proving a good month for historical gaming, and there is more to come with a big Napoleonics game scheduled for the coming weekend.  More on that, another day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 2012 Display Game Project

Thoughts turned to my games for next year over the weekend, Last year saw a big push on Napoleonics, and This year has been a mix of Fantasy and Ancients.  When I moved for the second time in six months however I became aware of the number of miniatures I had yet to use for anything at all, or at least not in many a year.

One such set is my Yugoslavian Civil Wars models in 20mm.  A result of the war being on the TV every day when I was getting back into wargaming, but also beginning to take world politics rather more seriously.  There were, and for me remain of course, issues with gaming ongoing conflicts (as it was at that time) but with well over a decade passed since the end of this particular conflict; I feel as comfortable as I can with resurrecting the models from their long sabbatical.

This has not always been the case mind, I sold my Iran Iraq war models, mainly to avoid being expected to use them to play Gulf War, or War on Terror-esque games, and because it felt like a game with staggeringly few features to elevate it above glorifying slaughter.  To be fair our harsher critics may say that of the whole hobby, but I feel there is a line in the sand that can be drawn, for me WWI, anything to do with the SS, The various Gulf Wars and anything within the last 20 years have to be approached very carefully indeed.

I don't want any part of my gaming to glorify the horrors of war, but I don't want to ignore them either; my display game will allow me to get regular games out of my collection again of course, but it should also allow me to a tiny bit of education?

My Guardian reading, leftist guilt assuaged then, I'm still wanting to put the last European war on, so the very first step was to take an audit of the models I had in my collection.

Surprisingly there was an awful lot of it, well over 30 fighting vehicles and another 20 or so civilian ones, and over 225 infantry.  Many of the latter though need a degree of freshening up, and reflect a quite inventive collection of modern plastic and metal 20mm soldiers.  A handful of the models from my JNA (Yugoslav National Army - the Serbian Regulars) forces are shown below:

The infantry are the ultra rare late period set of Airfix Modern Russians, which are staggeringly boring, workmanlike models.  I got hold of thirty of these eons ago, and they served with minor repaints in a variety of armies.  As part of the box contents review I decided to add some texture to the bases.

The vehicles are suggestive of a second line unit.  On the left is a M36 Jackson; the USA briefly supplied Yugoslavia with military equipment in the 1950's when the country isolated itself from the Warsaw Pact.  Photographs of this vehicle still in service in the 1990's are commonplace,though properly it should be a B2 variant with a raised roof for the turret.  In the centre is a BTR152-K command variant, made by ACE models of Ukraine if I recall correctly.  The last one may test you though; any guesses?

It is a Yugoslav M60p personnel carrier, an indigenous design that utilised parts copied from a mix of Soviet and American equipment. This is a near virtual scratchbuild, based on the running gear from the old Airfix ready-to-roll FV434 carrier.  Some might say I committed heresy converting it in such a way, but this unique model is worth far more to me.  The M60p was a good design of it's type in the 60's and 70's, but looked dated with the widespread distribution of Infantry fighting vehicles in the 80's, and was replaced by the M80a.

I hope to make another and will maybe do a step by step if people are curious enough.

So, to begin, I've considered the game to be socially acceptable, with certain caveats, and I consider I have enough models to restrain shopping.  Now I should begin to refresh tired pieces, give thought to a set of rules, and decide on a scenario...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Garden of Morr

The last of this year's commissions was the Games Workshop funereal scenery set; The Garden of Morr:

As with most of their recent scenery sets, this is both ambitious and ingenious, and certainly one of the nicest of their sets I've had the opportunity to work on.  Really characterful despite the fundamental simplicity of the parts; the walls and bases are single-piece castings and the mausoleums are no more than four parts each.

The completed set is impressive:

 Zombie for scale only; though he probably is also visiting relatives for lunch!

As it is all separate components, you can either create a single graveyard, or use the parts piecemeal for a varied effect.

And so a word on the painting.  These models really were a joy to paint, and much easier to do than I first thought they would be.  After spraying every thing black, before attaching the mausoleums to their bases, I worked up in dry-brushed layers of greys first, then doing the brown earth, and finally going back for the details.

There are more skulls, you just cant see them in this angle; wouldn't be GW without 'em!

Once the bases and buildings were painted this way separately, I then glued them to the bases.  As you can see from the one above there are lots of characterful details on the models, which are obviously ideal for the Empire or Sylvania; but could also serve for pulp and Lovecraftian horror gamers.

At £25 or so from GW, I have to say this set is pretty good value, effectively 4 easy to build structures plus close to two feet of walls.  Regular readers will know I'm not a partisan fan of Games Workshop and their pricing; but this product to me seems pretty good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saga - Norman Wisdom

I assembled my first scratch force for Saga last week for a try of the rules in person.  Rummaging through my Carolingians (actually a mixture of figures from all over Europe - and Middle Earth! - between 500 and 1100ad) I was able to assemble enough singly based models for a 4 point warband:

This exposed a couple of points, firstly that my old painting techniques - apply paint, stop - do not look very nice unless masked by being part of an army of 200 models.  And secondly that my choices were compromised by a lack of heavy infantry on single figure stands.  I may need to invest in a handful of new figures and some repainting time for this game.

The next thing one learns in a new game, is generally how to lose at it.  To introduce the rules mark suggested the basic 'Kill the Warlord' scenario, the equivalent in the rules of a straight battle.  We deployed and lined up for action.  I sent my cavalry round the flanks hoping to surround Mark and roll him up.

Mark went straight for the jugular, chancing exhaustion to get his warriors and warlord into contact with mine whilst he was exposed.  The effect of leading a personal charge was such that my commander was soon surrounded instead, and pounded in to the ground.  Game one was over in ten minutes!

We reset and tried round two; this time I revised my plan, placing the warlord with a guard of mounted men; my levies deployed in the spinney to my left, whilst the rest of my troops broke to the right.  In effect I refused the centre with the hope of over extending his lines and using my superior mobility to avoid trouble.

Mark picked one flank then the next to chase, and I was able to use hit and run tactics on the ends of his over-extended lines to some extent.  Even the levy bowmen played a small part in this action, getting off occasional volleys of arrows into the confused Saxons.

Mark regrouped and advanced his men in two groups to the left and right.  Diving back my infantry at heavy loss but faring badly against the levy, who appeared to have created some sort of defensive obstacle in amongst the scrub.

The lesson here is that a well rested force in defensible ground can wear down better troops.  By this stage we had long overrun the number of turns set as a game limit in the rules, but had spent only an hour and a half playing.  Clearly it was going to go down to the bitter end!  Marks Warlord ran himself ragged chasing down my Warlord, who horse game him a serious advantage here.  And in the final conflict a small advantage of numbers allowed my commander to edge a victory.

Here he taunts all the remaining enemy, from behind the remains of his own force.  Yes, it was that bloody.

A fast paced game where the tactical subtlety is all in the use of your saga dice on the playsheets.  Mark was constantly using his higher initial dice allocation to intimidate my troops in to missing turns, which meant I had at times to commit three of my five dice to one critical unit to ensure it did what was needed.

For my part I was committing dice to increasing the effect of bow fire and cavalry charges, and as these wore Mark down I was less effected by the intimidation and was able to turn the battle.  Still the second round was dependent on my flighty tactics and refusing to fight fair.

A good steep learning curve.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dawn of War(hammer)

Myself and James played a 2000 pointer of Warhammer the other weekend, James is an old time WFB player but new to 8th edition (a late arrival) so the game was admittedly played at a slow pace.

The randomised scenario was the Dawn Attack, and I found myself with one of my key units out on a flank miles away from the rest of the army, with virtually nothing of the enemy anywhere near them.  Prior to battle my plan had been to use large units of Ghouls to support a small force of Grave Guard and some elite troops; it was looking a little less certain now.

As for James, most of his Warriors of Chaos were clumped together.  The nature of this scenario is such that once you've deployed any unit, the temptation to deploy other units in the same area, simply next to it, becomes overwhelming.  The terrain funnelled us into certain zones too.

Battle joined the problem with my ghouls was even more apparent, as they were unable to march.  Their slow plod began whilst the rest of the army rushed at the Warriors.  I was confident I could beat most of his units, but to do so I would have to carefully coordinate my charges with some magic and a little luck.

My other unit of Ghouls, and my Wraiths got stuck in and used their natural advantages to tie up James centre.  The Black Coach seemed determined only to reduce my spell casting ability, but in general it wasn't a problem yet.

I got stuck in to the marauders with the Grave Guard and soon they were routed.  This left the Black Coach the job of destroying the Chaos Warriors which with a few bad rolls, it abjectly failed to do.

Still, James had no magic left and only one significant unit left.  But when battle was joined with my Grave Guard.

They came out as the victors.  The Vampire Counts Achilles Heel struck once again.  When the lead Vampire dies the army is pretty much stuffed.  I had a fair amount of troops left on paper, but their points value amounted to only a few hundred, and double that had just been wiped out by the Warriors.  It was only right that I concede; it was pretty much time to pack up after all!