Sunday, June 26, 2016

The ever reliable eBay machine...

...that is painting WW2 20mm platoons has filled my Paypal coffers once again.

 I was going to advertise these to you, my (presumably) loyal readers; but they sold within the couple of hours it took to get round to it!

A selection of Russian oddments I had knocking about, plus a JS2 tank from The Works, were assembled into a reasonable force.  Two sections of infantry, plus HQ, support weapons and armour.

1st section, a Maxim and a 61K AA gun

2nd section and an 82mm Mortar

Commissar and HQ
 I tried something a bit different  for the basing with these, going for a look of urban rubble instead of grassland.  I think it worked OK.
Diecast JSII
A quick job, taking only a few hours really.  A fun diversion and a nice way to make a few pence!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oh bugger.

I don't normally discuss politics in the blog, and rarely my personal life outside of gaming, but...

The wrong choice was made I believe.  We've diminished ourselves and European harmony by this act.  

Those who agreed to this and voted out are entitled to their opinions, but I really don't want to hear them at this point; as we go blindly down this road I just want it to be clear I didn't choose it...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The patient is Stable[s]

A little terrain quicky tonight, one that had been sat on my shelf for months.

Scrupulously cleaned
This is the Stable from the Warbases Multi-Purpose range.  Needing a tiled roof added it is actually a pretty good representation and one where the laser etched MDF looks surprisingly convincing.  The painting was very easy and the resistance of the laser burns to paint made for effective relief shading without any effort.

I'd say that although intended for 28mm, this model would work well enough with 20mm models too, and is fairly timeless, certainly serving from the late middle ages through to the modern era, in the right contexts.

Nice to get it out the way, and to add to my modest terrain collection.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kobolds Unleashed

Regular readers may recall a few weeks ago I had a rash idea about building a new army, Kobolds in a D&D inspired force.  If nothing else they could expand my available models for putative dungeoneering games.

Well there's no possibility of much progress on these yet is there?


A full Warband in a Month
 So, Kobolds are pretty small, and don't take much painting it seems! a whole force of fully detailed miniatures in just four weeks.  It's great not having to study!  43 models all told including several larger pieces.  It's really hard to pick favourites from a delightful range of mini's like this, but I was definitely taken with the Bugbears:

Ogre sized fellows
 These represent mercenary offensive heavy infantry for my Warband, when you average soldier stands three feet tall you really need some back up!  The leaders are up next; they provide the finance, tactical sense and a degree of firepower to the force as a whole
Qesik & Nietl 
These are Elite, but Fearful foot with the Wizardling rule added.  They both stand a good foot taller then the rest of their Kobold brethren. 

 Some of the finest troops in Neitl's warband are his scouts, armed with crude but effective copies of Dwarven crossbows.

 Masters of using stealth and cover, they nonetheless are unwilling to get closely engaged with their foes; preferring to stand off and shoot.  These are the first of several conversions I made to the Reaper models.  The Kobold infantry provide only three basic poses, but the soft polymer material is easy to cut and shape, and super-glue provides an excellent bond.  It was easy to swap arms and diversify the poses to eight, though so far this was the only idea for the thrusting spearman I could find.  The bow itself is a cut down Numidian infantry bow from the old Wargames Factory set.

Living in the dungeons, Kobolds have learnt the art of trapping and herding all manner of subterranean creepy crawlies, and some of their more rash souls will drive these creatures into battle.

All from the Reaper Bones range
 These are Fearful Lesser Warbeasts, known for their irrational behaviour at the best of times.  I had great fun painting these, given it was easy to do them, and there were no rules.  I had a lot of fun with the blue thing in particular!  Note also the Standard bearer, with my treatment of a Kobold banner.

Varied ickyness
 Whilst Nietl may believe he is in charge, the likelihood his chaotic alliance of Kobolds and beasts big and small is down to the influence of the Jabberwocky that marches with them, reasons for this are lost to all save the creature itself, and naught will ever know its' thoughts.  Yet it is oft found in the forests, lurking with, perhaps leading against their will, the Kobold raiding party.

Grrrr, Flurgle
 Finally there are two groups of Fearful Light foot to round out the force.  Nietl has no shortage of enthusiastic, malignant little souls willing to follow him on his raids, though their willingness to get involved in a real fight greatly diminishes when they realise the outside world feature many more open spaces and much larger foes than they are used to.

Team Green
 Again here, there are conversions to move and exchange shield and sword arms, creating a wider range of poses.  Also each unit has a standard bearer and a leader from the larger (and more expensive) Reaper metal miniatures range.

Team Red
A last word on the basing, these are all simply done to match my other 'Roleplaying' models.  The integral Kobold bases featured a paved floor, so after an unsuccessful experiment with Green stuff I decided to use filler the extend this to cover a coin base.  Once applied to all the models, I went back and impressed the paving detail and trimmed the most errant blobs.  Then it was just a simple grey painting finish.

So, a super fast job, and a delightful set of models.  The danger is, I can see the inspiration for any number of little forces for DR off the back of these....

Oh dear!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Late to the Party - Dragon Rampant Thoughts

So the apparent drought of new material on the blog breaks with a bumper post about Dragon Rampant.  Yes I'm afraid for historical and big battle fans the blog is going to offer little for a while as this is the focus of attention in TML towers of late.

It took me a long time to get on the Dragon Rampant bandwagon to be fair, too much else to do to get any wargames in for a few months.  But an opportunity finally arose, quickly followed by another.

Now I am not going to promise a full review of the game, as frankly if you have seen my opinions on Lion Rampant there is only so much to add, the two games are 95% identical, there is just the addition of some fantasy specific elements and these only really serve to enhance the experience.  If you already like (or despise) Lion Rampant, then you really know what to expect here, and should have no illusions about what is on offer.

Rather a few words specific to my first couple of games.  As an opener I had a match against Ross, who for once was not rolling out his Ogres, rather a small collection of [obviously unpainted] elves, rescued from a dustbin!

Outflanking with a Dragon, what could go wrong?... 
We rolled up one of the scenarios from the book, notably, and probably to allow space for other items there are slightly fewer scenarios than in LR, but those present seem familiar. 

This one involved blocking the advance of the enemy with two flanking forces.  It did not suit either my force nor my tactical prowess.  However that may have been down to unit choices.

Dragon busy achieving nothing
One early point appears that putting all your eggs into one basket is a bad idea, My dragon was fully 10 of my 24 points, and proved next to useless, if they don't attack they are a huge point sink.  Granted, if hey do get stuck in they have huge potential, but unlike many other fantasy games, they are not near invulnerable.  The balance of DR is different to other games, many units are basically the same value regardless of race, and they all have access to the same set of special rules.  On the plus side this allows for infinite flexibility, but it does result in a degree of the generic about units.  Seasoned Warhammer/AoS players may not like that, others may love it!

Bellicose Foot (Faeries) against Elven Heavy Cavalry
 Manoeuvre, failed us both early doors, and as is a criticism of LR before it there is a reality of several turns going by with nothing happening, but the rules do not set an arbitrary limit on the number of turns so these shouldn't be seen as a real issue, just a minor annoyance.

Add caption
Combat aside, what really hamstrung me in this game was the enemy magic.  There are a small range of spells, each with its' own particular strength, I came up short repeatedly to 'Befuddle Thee' which rather easily allows a unit to become Battered - the Rampant version of Shaken or Wavering.

Consequently, my first game was enjoyable, but rather one sided.  Ross had enough games under his belt to have a solid idea that his force would work, whilst mine was a little less than effective.

 This in mind a week or so later I arranged another game, as part of a round robin at the club to introduce the rules.  For this I brought along a tweaked version of my first list, but additionally I brought a pair of forces both learning some early lessons, and showing the flexibility of the rules.

24 Points of Ogres
 My Ogre force centred on Offensive Heavy infantry, two units using the 'Reduced Model Count' rule to represent 12 figures with 4 models each.  The same rule turning one Ogre Captain into a unit of Elite infantry.  The warband finished by a troop of Hobgoblin cavalry with bows and lances.

24 Points of Goblinoids
 Similarly, the Greenskin force used the reduced count rule to Bring Trolls and Chariots, as well as a unit of spellcasting Goblin heroes and two units of Infantry; heavy and offensive Orcs and light and fearful Goblins.

In my game I took the Ogres for a trial, partly to see how the rules fared against the 'Ogre Test'.

Open battle in the Bloodbath scenario 
The Ogre test is a term a friend conjectured for the fact that in many fantasy rule systems or fantasy mods, Ogres seemed to be included as forces but written with disproportionate strength.  A classic flaw in Warhammer, and carried over to Sigmar, a problem to a lesser extent in Kings of War perhaps, though only for certain builds...

 In fairness, DR was unlikely to carry much of an issue due to the simple fact all armies derive from the same templates, if I build a army of Ogres and it seems overpowered, well you could just rewrite your elves list to represent exactly the same unit structure, and use the same number of models if you so desire.  No problem.  That arguably makes theme paper thin, but units having the same stats and performance but appearing hugely different on table never bothered historical gamers, this may be an expectation more of fantasy games!

More Faerie action
Unlike most large games, the action is fast and loose, units can see and be seen pretty much anywhere, movement is simple with only cohesion applying major limits, whilst shooting and combat rely only on one model of a unit being able to engage, for both sides to be fully involved.  These sort of lightweight rules may infuriate master tacticians who enjoy exploiting the wrinkles in a system, there are too few here for that, but they make for fast play.

A general advance against slow foes (and a tunnelling Wurm!)
Combat still splits dice into either 12 or 6 depending on the proportion of a unit still on table, and some again may find the idea of a unit down to it's last elf rolling 6 dice rather than 1 unusual, but it does mean that units always have a chance in battle, not least as the other key mechanic of combat relies on usually needing 2-4 hits on a unit to do any actual damage.

Another angle...
 My second game was a victory for me; admittedly against the army I lost with in my first, in other hands.  Happily just as much fun.  The pacey game had taken about 15 minutes to explain the basic rules of for the new player (Ricky) and then a little over an hour to play.  Whilst had tea and took club photo's Ricky and Matt had a second game, featuring my Greenskins against an alliance of Evil: Barbarian, Giants, Orcs and forest beasts.

Owlbears attack Orc Chariots 
Thrud makes Goblin paste
So, an overall conclusion?

I really like it.

This is not a simulation, it is not a representation of much in the way of real battlefield tactics, it is frankly rather gung-ho so far as skirmishing would be concerned too, were it not intended for a fantasy game context, in that case it works just fine and the open sandbox that the rules present allows for virtually anything to be represented.  Any game that gets me immediately thinking about buying and building a new army has to have something fundamental going for it.

Dragon Rampant certainly achieves this.  It's fun and it evokes the essence of classic fantasy wargames, without the need for endless fiddly rules-mongering or reference to endless tables and statlines, rules and errata.  Sure, they're not perfect, but what ruleset is.

In its own modest way, it is magnificent and well worth a look for any fantasy gaming fan.