Tuesday, 28 February 2012

More photos from Hammerhead 2012

I did actually take my Canon 300D DSLR to Hammerhead for our participation game. Unfortunately, the battery decided to go for the proverbial pie, lasting about a minute (literally) on one charge before giving up the ghost. I tried recharging it (thanks to the folks from WarBases for loan of a socket) but no joy, same again. So all the photos on the original report are from my iPhone 4S.

However.... I did take some photos with the DSLR in its brief, dragonfly-like moments of power, but I'd dismissed them from my mind in the bustle of the con. Having finally bitten the bullet and bought a two-pack of replacement batteries on Amazon, I took the DSLR to the club's all-day game on Sunday, and took lots of photos, which will appear in tomorrow's report once I've written it (it's a long one!). To my not-inconsiderable delight, when I emptied the card onto my Mac today, there were also a few shots from Hammerhead. And some of them, just being immodest for a second, rock...

I've left the colour cast on these from the artificial lights at Kelham Hall exactly as they are, as it suggests sunrise across the desert. We were stupendously lucky in that a single spotlight across the other side of the dome was pointed exactly at our pyramid, and a bunch of other lights were casting quite hard shadows across the sand table. And it looked... actually, pretty damn cool, if I might be so bold. Again. all credit to  Grahame and Chris from the club for coming up with this scenario and doing the lion's share of the prep work.

As an aside, these really do merit being viewed bigger - click on one and use the Blogger slideshow. Enough waffling, though. Without further ado:

The Combat Archaeologists of the Deutsche Afrika Korps look out
nervously over the sands of the desert.

In the shadow of the Great Pyramid, the forces of Mighty Ra, the Sun-God
begin to assemble.

Oberleutnant R. Harreihausen (yes, really - blame Chris!) stands up in the
rear of his staff car for a better view.

The sun finally crests the horizon, and the forces of Ra begin to move.

Monday, 27 February 2012

De-'mist'ing figures - the solution

So, it came to pass that about a year ago, I had my first game of Warhammer ECW, for which I wound up painting all of a Warlord Pike and Shotte Battalia box in about a week. As (unfortunately) seems to have become something of a habit, I based them on the night before and was spraying varnish on the figures in my open office doorway at about 6am on a surprisingly chilly April morning.

The inevitable happened - as you can see in the close-up shot from the Battle of Powick Bridge, and the banner image at the top of this blog, the varnish dried all misty and grey.

There's a whole load of solutions rumoured for this: it's clear, for example, that slightly wetting the figure makes the mist go away, but only until the moisture evaporates. Some folks suggest revarnishing with gloss and then again with matt, but the solution I found, which really surprises me, and works? Olive Oil.

 Don't believe me? Watch.

So - here's one (slightly out of focus) Warlord Games Royalist cavalryman, with that soul-destroying grey mist all over him. (I cannot tell a lie: the first time it happened I swore - a lot).

Usual causes? Overspraying (done that: check); spraying when it's too cold outside (done that: check); spraying when it's too humid outside (done that: check); bringing figures in to dry in a warm, damp room (not done that yet!)

And here's a jar of perfectly ordinary, non-extra virgin, not garlic-infused or anything else, kitchen grade olive oil, acquired, with permission and even blessing (she's is a gamer and role-player, and sometime figure painter, and was, I think, intrigued as I was to see if it'd work) from 'Er Indoors.

Just visible bottom left is a cheap and cheerful large brush from Hobbycraft, which I was quite happy to ruin (in fact, it's one of a rolling stock of three or four I use for dip).

Yes, I missed a bit.
Yes, I did go back and fix it after I noticed it.
Ok, thinks I. Let's give it a go. Dip brush. Paint on.

Wow. Certainly works as well as wetting the figure. Even better, leaving it to dry, and then wiping off a little with a tissue, does actually seem to fix the problem permanently.

It gets better! Turns out that that brush load did about 8 figures - the thinnest smear of oil is all you need. For the next one I loaded the brush and wiped it off on the inside of the jar before starting, and still managed to do about 5 cavalry with it. From then on, I actually just ran the brush over the inside of the jar to pick up a smidge of oil and used that each time - it's amazing how little it takes. It's worth a quick wipe of the excess, but you can pretty much dry-brush them, and the oil does tend to flow and wet the whole surface. It does, though. dry to a slightly oily, satiny sheen.

And before you ask? No, I haven't revarnished them. By the time I was done oiling just over a hundred figures it was 7pm, and quite chilly outside.

And contrary to what my wife may tell you, I do learn from my mistakes.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Battle report - 20-Feb-2012

Another night at the club - you'd think after the weekend I'd be WABbed out, perhaps, but no.

Monday night was week 1 of our restarted WAB campaign: we have six players, three Roman (Emperor Dan, Gary (governor of Macedon) and me (governor of Britannia)), and three not (Grahame (Picts), Andy B (unsurprisingly, Dacians) and Reuben (Macedonian)). According to the campaign rules (which I will ask Dan if I can link to), the Emperor gets to spent resource points and decide who does what, so...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

An experiment

By way of an experiment, I'm going to switch to Blogger's dynamic Magazine view on this blog for a while. If I decide I don't like it, I reserve the right to switch back. This means I think I lose all the sidebars, which is one reason why it might not be a permanent change!

One of the bits in the sidebar you're now missing, of course, is the fact that sometime yesterday or possibly Tuesday (it passed in a blur of database disasters at work) this blog passed 10,000 page views. Woot!

Anyway, comments welcome!

[Edited: Interesting. It appears to have changed back without my intervention. However, I have to say that I missed the sidebars something rotten, and I'm pretty sure it produces an artificial inflation in stats. That and it's not as nice to read, so... back we go.]

Monday, 20 February 2012


So I let Grahame from the club talk me into entering this year's WAB GT at Maelstrom this past weekend.  To be fair, it didn't take much persuading :D

Arrived Saturday a.m. with Grahame (to whom thanks for driving us both days) and AndyB from the club, in time for a sausage sarnie and the first of many mugs of tea. For those who haven't been to the Eye Of The Storm before, it's an old mill that's been converted into their shop and webstore distribution warehouse, with a downstairs bar and an upstairs pretty much devoted to about seventy five gaming tables. We were off in one end of the upstairs area, with 10 double tables (2 x 6'x'4' end to end) between the 16 of us, which made for plenty of space to dump everyone's collections of Really Useful Boxes (seriously, they looked like the second or third biggest supplier to the assembled company!).

I'd taken a British Tribes list from AoA2 representing the Brigantes under Cartimandua, basically four warbands (one fanatic) each with a chieftain, a group of chariots with the army general (Queen Cartimandua herself), some cavalry and a few skirmishers. A fair chunk of it was painted last week - as I've said many times before, I'm not the best painter, but they looked pretty decent as a seething mass from a couple of feet away! (Yes, Curt, I'll get you a photo or two this week :D)

So, first up? David Johnson's EIRs - nice looking army with a couple of units of Maccebean allies to add interest, on a rather fun table with a long stretch of broken ground and trees diagonally across the table from one edge of his deployment zone to the opposite one of mine. I have to confess that the precise details of the combat are lost in a haze of time, tea and overstrained brain, but suffice it to say I hit army breakpoint sometime after I'd managed to rout a couple of his units off the table, and the end result was a 27-5 win to him.

Next up after more tea and lunch (and a quick raid on Maelstrom's store with competitor discount) I ambled back upstairs, having idly commented 'with my luck, I'll get Grahame...'.

I got Grahame.

Grahame's tournament army was Late Imperial Roman, with, as is something of a trademark for him, lots of skirmishers. He's a master of the art of being very very irritating with them, something I need to learn :D I'd faced this army on Monday at the club, and learnt a few things not to do (charging his legion in shieldwall for one). Kind of a one-sided battle, this one, sad to say. I didn't get outmanoeuvred by his skirmishers, at least, and my cavalry (with feigned flight) did manage to lead his a merry dance on one flank, but in the end a number of crap dice rolls and a couple of really badly timed failed warband tests led to a mass exodus of my entire army and an 0-32 drubbing. A consolation was that I did make good use of a long skirmish line to protect the warbands from incoming missile fire for a couple of turns.

Final game of the day (after some very nice apple pie and more tea) was against Martin "the man who wrote the supplement" Gibbins, also fielding a Late Imperial Roman army, but rather different to Grahame's - fewer skirmishers, no cataphracts, no rear-rank archers in the legionaries. We got the table with the crocodile swamp, which we both basically ignored, and ... well, I lost. I'd probably have lost less if I could estimate the difference between 10" and 8" better, as I basically let two warbands get charged that I really shouldn't have, and (stop me if you've read this before) that led to a mass exodus of my entire army and an 0-32 defeat,

Warbands. Gotta love 'em. Your best laid plans get scotched by that one failed test that pushes you into range to be charged, and once they start down the slippery slope of breaking, they're kind of hard to stop, as you just lost all your rank bonuses to Leadership.

Sunday morning dawned way too early after the amount of brain I'd expended on Saturday (including some late night trigonometry that gave me a useful mental 8" and 10" ruler!), and we arrived in time for more sausage sarnies and tea, before...

...I drew AndyB's Dacians.

He'd taken the reverse approach to warband to me: no characters at all, some noble cavalry, and 5 10x4 warbands (four armed with bows as well), which pretty much fit the full width of the deployment area (44" including 1" gaps between units!). Surprisingly, unlike Grahame, I've never actually played his army at the club, so this was a welcome chance to do so. I have to confess that this was the one defeat I was actually cross with myself about, as I missed three charges which would probably have turned the battle my way - certainly would have cleared out Andy's right flank. And by missed, I mean got caught up in start of turn admin (warband tests, rally, etc) and plain didn't see them until it was too late. Nrrrgh. Stupid, stupid, stupid. 0-32.

Lunch! And man, that red velvet cake was gorgeous.

Last up, and 40 points off 15th (which was about the point that I realised there was a last place prize!) I drew John Wall with his collection of my hereditary enemies, the early Imperial Romans. We got a very plain table, one wood in the middle and a couple of hills. My lights went for a sweep round the right flank, carrying off his bolt throwers (but not before they'd taken out one of my chariots) and some archers, while the warbands fanned out either side of the wood. On the left centre, we had kind of a standoff for several turns, until one warband blew its warband roll and advanced into charge range of a legionary cohort (which ended up with it chasing me off the table over the course of about three turns). On the right, my chariots' dice deserted them and they got routed by a legion (with thirteen attacks on a charge, and 3+ saves, they really should have done better). However, the two warbands on that side (including the fanatics) got stuck in properly, to two knock-down drag-out brawls (one including TWO tied musician rolls, both with snake-eyes), and eventually broke a cohort of auxillae and one of legionaries. Meanwhile, my cavalry's dice also deserted them, and they got routed by a smaller unit of cavalry, largely due to a very bad Feigned Flight roll putting them in harm's way. By then it was turn six of seven, and everything was, pretty much, out of reach of everything else, so we spent two turns jockeying for position on the table quarters and called it a game. A defeat, true, but a much more satisfying 13-19 to John, and I could maybe have won it with better dice - not losing one or other of the chariots or the cavalry would have made it interesting!

And that was that, barring the awards. I'm struggling to remember all of them: Keith Tait's gorgeous Sassanid army deservedly won Best Painting. AndyB upheld the club's honour by winning Best Sportsman, both Grahame and I won a raffle prize (to my relief. I didn't win any more Celtic Warband. but some Immortal Miniatures Hoplites instead). My loser's prize was a copy of the Hail Caesar army list supplement, and...

...well, I'll let AndyP, the organizer, have the pleasure of revealing the results at the other end of the table in his own time.

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part for being friendly, accommodating and making us all welcome. to AndyP for a sterling job organising the whole event, and to Maelstrom for hosting (and the lass behind the bar for countless mugs of proper, decent, drinkable tea!)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Work in progress...

...and hopefully going to be done in time for the WAB GT tomorrow.

110 Brigantes Warband - oh, and a couple of chariots! At the point of the photo they were dipped and had been drying for 18 hours. As I type they\re almost done basing. Finished pictures to follow.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hammerhead 2012

Just got back a couple of hours ago from Hammerhead 2012, where the club has been putting on one of its by-now-traditional participation games. Carl picked me up at an ungodly 0730, and we were rolling up to Kelham Hall at a pretty respectable 0825 or so, to find a goodly chunk of the rest of the team already there and setting up.

Our game was "Pyramid Of Peril", which pitted the Combat Archaeologists of the Deutsche Afrika Korps, having just recovered the long lost artefact known as the "Giver of Life", against a horde of undead that were bent on getting it back.  Think Rorke's Drift meets Indiana Jones and you won't be far wrong. This was done at about 40mm scale with a bunch of remarkably cheap and cheerful Poundland and bring-and-buy figures, for a total outlay of around £50, with a set of home-grown and much tweaked rules.

I'll let the following set of photos tell most of the story, although I should note that I did do a bit (*cough*) of shopping, and came away with copies of SAGA, Age of Arthur, Op: Squad Vehicles and Reinforcments. three boxes of plastic Saxons, a box of Persian Cavalry, some bases, a set of very nice SAGA rules and tokens and a can of Army Painter chainmail spray. And that's definitely me spent up for the month.

I'd also note for the record that most of the credit for this year's game definitely goes to Grahame for the idea and most of the hard work, although I do claim responsibility for the graphic design of the poster. Huge thanks also to the Hammerhead folks for organising a fab show!

Rolling up to a snowy but picturesque Kelham Hall

Starting to fill the sand table. Yes, we had a sand table

Adding the top layer of sand. Dustpans, brushes and saucepans to the fore.

And there we pretty much have it - the Combat Archaeologists of the
Deutsche Afrika Korps' camp, complete with tent hiding the 'Giver of Life".

Unfortunately, the DAK don't get away with it that easily. 

Our first game was really touch and go: for most of the last 15 minutes it
looked like the skeletons would win, but the DAK hung on by the skin of
their teeth.

Game two went to the forces of Mighty Ra, the Sun God: probably the
most one-sided of the four games we had all day.

Games lasted for four turns of the hourglass, by which time it was deemed
the sun would set, Ra's power would fade, and the skeletons would
crumble back into the sand from which they came.

<doom-laden-voice>The SANDS of TIME!</doom>

Game three in progress - a close win for the forces of
the undead, this one, down to the last few grains of sand.

A close up of the Egyptian triceratops Eternal Guard. Mowing these down
good and early was a smart move for any DAK players who wanted
to survive.

Game four, with some interestingly unorthodox tactics from the
surprisingly smart walking dead. Another win for the bony lot!

And the result of our labours. The award for Best Participation Game.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Peninsular campaign progress

Morning all! Back from an extended weekend of music and mayhem, complete with complementary post-con cold.

For my first post in February, a quick update on the Peninsular campaign I'm involved in... for which, over to Gavin, as he has an overview post of the situation at the end of last week which I am, for obvious reasons, not allowed to read, so you'll have to go give him the page views instead!

From my viewpoint, it's just starting to get interesting: I've chased off a couple of British forces, and taken my initial objectives, but I do seem to be running into a few logistics problems. The system's mostly working great - we've tickled a couple of bugs, but kudos to Gav for what is a great system.
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