Friday, 13 December 2019

Bad Squiddo Bofors unboxing

Ok, unbagging, maybe?

This arrived the other day, and I wanted to test the use of my DSLR as a rostrum/video camera, so it seemed like a good idea!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Hohum - tidying time.

Anne's off at the dog track tomorrow night, so I have an evening in with stuff to do which requires, apart from anything else, a clear workbench.

Which this isn't.

Time to fix that. Exciting way to extend the hobby streak or what? I promise the result of tomorrow will be more interesting.

Wednesday night at the Mill

Another scenery build night. Andy's on duty on his day (erm, and night) job, so there was just me, Rob and Andrew, making another inroad into the TTS Venice buildings. Almost done now, I think - mostly down to a lot of door and window frames, shutters and fine detail.

Speaking of which:
I picked up a pack of Staedtler fine line pens, which work really well for prettying up engraved details. Not least because the laser does leave a very slight dip where it draws the line, and it's enough to catch the tip of the pen if you accidentally try and stray outside.
I can do colouring in, me :D

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

My Night's Watch

Being reminded by a comment on a previous post that my Night's Watch got very little love on this blog, I shall rectify that, having dug out the box and tidied them up, with a couple of photos, since I'm blogging on a related subject for the Sage DM.

The foot. These are a real mix. Essentially, take a box of Frostgrave Soldiers, a box of Frostgrave Barbarians, some Fireforge foot Sergeants and archers, and some Gripping Beast Dark Ages Warrior heads, and throw them all up in the air along with a handful of resin cloaks from somewhere back in the days of early Warhammer. It's made a little complex by the Fireforge heads being different to the Frostgrave and GB ones in terms of how they fit, but otherwise it was a bit of a riot of mix-and-match.  
By comparison, these were relatively sane. Essentially they're Fireforge mounted Sergeants bodies and horses,  Fireforge mediaeval Archer arms, and GB Dark Ages Warrior heads. 
Painting was largely spray AP Matt Black, with very dark colour drybrushes - green on the cloaks, grey or blue on armour. Horses were my standard black undercoat, various shades of brown, white socks, AP Barbarian Flesh noses, AP Red Leather harness, and of course mostly bay.

Sarissa Dark Ages Granary WIP

Managed to find half an hour over lunch to knock this together yesterday. Nice simple kit - everything fits very nicely.

I shall find some spare flannel to thatch it, and am debating whether to add some split coffee-stirrer timbering as well.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

For sale, post shelf tidy

I've had a bit of a sort out, to try and avoid my large format books shelf becoming two large format books shelves! If you're interested in any of the following, please either DM me on Twitter (@tatm_blog) or drop me an email (fleetfootmike at Gmail). Offers considered, I may be slightly biased towards folks who I can deliver to by hand :D With that in mind, prices do not include postage to your part of the world:
  • Warhammer Gladiator (hardback): £25 (OOP, going for relatively silly money on eBay)
  • God Of Battles (by Jake Thornton, very good fantasy rule set - ask Rob!): £15
  • Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (hardback): £14
  • Napoleon at War 1st Ed (hardback): £10
  • Napoleon at War 100 Days supplement (softback): £7

Northstar cultists

Needed to throw a few evil cultists together for last night's D&D session, so I grabbed a box of Northstar's Frostgrave cultists (handy Amazon next day, turning up about an hour before my players did!): here's a very quick review.

They're pretty much like their Barbarians and Soldiers, both of which (along with some Fireforge Sergeants and a few GB Dark Ages heads) I cannibalised together for my Night's Watch army (which I probably still owe folks some pictures of!)

Easy to put together - the plastic reacts well with Humbrol's 'yellow' Precision Poly Cement, which makes ensuring things stay stuck much less painful. Essentially there are four identical sprues with five torsos, a gazillion heads with variations on hooded, skeletal and otherwise, and enough arms for both all-skelly and all-normal sets of figures. There's also two sprues with 10 x 25mm round bases on each. Nice clean sculpts, nothing too fragile on the sprue, although I didn't use any of the skeleton arms. Of course, being Frostgrave, you can hack away happily and swap heads and limbs with soldiers, barbarians etc, as well as GB figures which use the same head joint style (and I think Fireforge do too).

Fortunately (as I was in a hurry), all I had to do from there for my purposes was spray the end results black, pick out blades in Warlord's Dark Gunmetal (I love love love this colour for metalwork), woodwork in AP Werewolf Fur, and drybrush a hint of skull masks/faces and the crossbow string in AP Skeleton Bone. Now I have a little more time, I may dry brush some deep blue highlights on their clothing, and maybe do something with the bases.

Simples! One set of death cultists done. The Frostgrave minis are a fabulous resource for D&D minis!

Friday, 6 December 2019

End of a day... and an era...

Seem to be having 'days' of late, of the fragmentary nature.

Have tidied the workshop ready for tomorrow's D&D session... sometime after blogging yesterday I had one of those glorious DM's "ahah!!" moments where a scenario hook and a bit of long-standing campaign history came together and fitted with a resounding clunk, which caused me to dash off 300 words of 'note to self before I forget'.

I really ought to count up how many words I write a week sometime. Certainly in the process of considering how to monetise the output and Do More Hobby Stuff (because, frankly, who wants to write code 5 days a week? :) I know what I'd rather be doing.)

We also named the new cat, finally - meet Jolene (probably Joley or Jo for short) - what can I say, Anne, James and I all play in the same country band! She has very much settled in and wormed her way into an Ash-shaped hole in our lives.

In other news, in case I really am your only source of hobby news, Neil has announced that the end of year episode of Meeples will be the last. Very much the end of an era - I used to look forward to Wednesday recording sessions during my time on the show as one of the highlights of the week. While it wasn't responsible for me restarting the hobby (that's entirely the Reverend Phil Marsh's fault), without Neil's reviews of things like IABSM, Duel in the Dark and many other things, I'd not be where I am today in terms of what games (war- and board-) I like and the amount of stuff I do.

Meeples has, for the longest time, I think, shaped the hobby, or at least the corner of it I live in, and it will be a shame to see it end. That said, kudos to Neil for making the call rather than letting things fizzle out to an undignified end.

On which topic... no, I haven't forgotten I have a podcast too. I'm planning on spending December and the Christmas break (what little of it I have given I blew the last of my vacation taking Anne to Brussels for her birthday!) getting my hobby ducks (and Dux) in a row.

Watch this space.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Altar of the Unknown God

Nice simple little piece - grey undercoat, and I've actually slapped on some Woodland Scenics Concrete paint (designed, I think for colouring plaster or coating plaster bandage contours) and then wiped it around and off with a tissue. Static grass from the Omaha leftovers pot. I may add some tufts and a bit more distress.

Tomorrow I think will be a workshop tidying day :D

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Bits and pieces

This evening didn't go as planned, but I did manage to:

a) Book the club Xmas dinner

b) finally hang the D&D campaign world map (thanks to Pippa of the many sewing machines for hemming the edges so I could)

c) assemble Sarissa's cute little "Altar of the Unknown God" and give it an undercoat. Hey, it's a start!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Scenery WIP

Apart from writing a long Dux post and updating a couple of scenario notes on the Compendium, I've done a couple of quick bits of scenery work:
Dark grey undercoat on one Salute board for a first pass at scenery work on it tomorrow....
And another layer of water on the river board
Crossing fingers the layers of masking tape are watertight :D

Battle Report - 2-Dec-2019 - Dux Britanniarum "The Boar Hunt"

More playtesting - most scenarios are on their second round of testing for flat out brokenness and unbalance now, and seem to be going well.

[There is a question for folks who think they have their head round Dux combat at the end of this post - comments appreciated.]

For giggles (and because Carl had just finished painting them) I let Carl and Myk take a Gwŷr y Gogled force from Raiders, which basically meant his normal 6 elites (or warriors) could be replaced with 4 equivalent Shock Cavalry. Or Mobile Threshing Machines, as we prefer to call them.

If you've never done this before, my advice as a Saxon would be not to face them with a force you're at all fond of until you've figured out some tactics ;D Things to be aware of:
  • Move 3 x (d6 + 2)
  • Double all dice if charging into combat - no that is not a misprint: and Rich has clarified that as figure out all your dice bonuses etc, and double the lot
  • Double all Shock handed out if charging into combat.
Now sure, there are only four, plus (one assumes) your Lord, plus his Champion. But that alone is nine dice before adds, and the adds go on before the doubling, so if (say) you have a dice for being better than the warriors your hitting, and a couple of dragon-suited cards (including the Hero of the Age you get dealt to start with as a Briton which makes your Lord roll 6 dice in combat) you're potentially rolling 2 x 14 or 15 dice. And if you're lucky enough to have played Artorius, you're hitting on 3s.


AndyM and Rob's warriors were testament to the fact that that hurts.

However, they do have certain disadvantages:
  • They're one Group. So all defensive attacks go on them.
  • No shieldwall (obviously)
  • They can't charge if they have any Shock on them

  • They can evade if charged, but it costs them a point of Shock 
  • They risk becoming unhorsed (essentially a 50% chance of not) in difficult (-3/dice) terrain

  • If you face them down with two groups of undamaged Elites, you'll be throwing 17 dice (with Lord and Champion). Statistically (i.e. if you're not AndyM) that should mean around 8 hits, one kill and 2-3 shock. You'll be taking about 10 hits per group worst case if they charge you, so 1-2 kills, and 3-4 shock per group. You will lose, but with average dice rolls all you'll do is fall back. And they won't be able to follow up next round with any shock on them, remember.

    Interested in comments from folks who've used the Gwŷr y Gogled force more than I have as to how to deal with those cavalry.  As far as I can see one way to deal with then would actually appear to be to dance around with your Harassing troops and try and keep Shock on them as much as possible...

    So what happened last night, I hear you ask.... well....
    Ready for battle. The boar is off in the woods to the right, and the Saxons are hearing the echo of hoofbeats....
    Warriors vs Warriors. A win to the Saxons after a couple of rounds, although the Saxons have just noticed the looming wall of horseflesh and are looking worried... 
    The Shock cavalry decide the Saxons aren;'t worth the effort, and start on a long arc round the stone circle to come round behind the rest of the Saxons....

    Meanwhile, the boar is unconcernedly rootling up truffles in the far corner of the wood, since no-one seems to care about him. As a playtest of the Boar Hunt scenario... mmm, not so much :D
    Some while later (I was having too much fun to take photos) one lot of Saxon levy have been chased off, one lot of Saxon warriors likewise, and here come the Companion cavalry, into the Saxon hearthguard,  'cause... frankly, we wanted to see what would happen.

    What happened is Andy and Rod rolled dreadfully, and the Saxon elites retreated. :D
    As an aside, if you've got this far, one other thing I discovered, as I've been trying very hard to get the rules scrupulously right (it's very easy to fall into bad habits, like, for example, AndyH and I getting combat result calculation wrong for several games - he says that's how Rich taught us, me, I dunno!)

    A very useful tactic as Britons, given you only have one unit of Elites, is to rank up Elites in the front of a shieldwall with Warriors in the rear (or ditto with Warriors and Levy). If you do this, the movement restriction is based on the front rank AND the front rank ONLY takes casualties in melée. This is both good and bad - bad in that it concentrates the damage your opponent does on just the front rank, but good in that
    1. it makes you pretty much immune to Goad
    2. the first kill gets soaked by the shieldwall
    3. you're harder to damage (because you're the better troops of your formation).
    4. your opponent counts as facing the front rank for determining if he gets extra dice
    The slight awkwardness is what happens if the front rank has to fall back. I got a bit confused about this at Steel Lard, but I think I now have this straight:
    • If the front rank fall back 2" or less, the rear rank can fall back with them if it wants (as per Excess Shock on p54 of the main rules): no loss of Formation or shieldwall, but your front rank is still the better troops, is still somewhat damaged and Shocked
    • If they fall back more than 2", as I see it:
      • they will (and clearly, in fact, must) interpenetrate the rear rank (see p39 of the main rules - "Troops retiring due to excess Shock will ignore some of these restrictions, see Withdrawing through Friendly Troops on page 55." I would assume this rule also applies to falling back for any other reason due to a combat result - the wording on p 55 is not entirely unambiguous.)
      • as a result (p 55) the rear rank takes one Shock per excess Shock that the front rank has (plus one Shock per quality level difference). Obviously, also, because the front rank has fallen back > 2" the Formation and shieldwall are broken
    Uff. It does make sense if you apply the rules in order, carefully. Comments very much appreciated on this one

    Thanks as ever to my loyal playtesters, Myk, AndyM, Rod and Carl!

    Monday, 2 December 2019

    More Dungeon Saga painting with Contrast paints

    Didn't get stuff written up last night, as it was (even with the heat on) bloomin' cold in the studio, largely because I hadn't been in there long enough for it to warm up from the 4ºC outside!

    So, here are some skellies....

    And a dragon (which still needs a bit of clean up and eye and mouth detail, and a base...)...

    Sunday, 1 December 2019

    Dungeon Saga figures

    Having a bit of a sort out as I'm running the first session of the new D&D campaign next Saturday, ands if nothing else I need some floor plans - seems daft to pay for them when I can raid the Dungeon Saga box.

    Just for giggles I threw some Contrast undercoat on a few figures at the same time.

    Friday, 29 November 2019

    Back onto the Compendium

    Managed to spend some time diagramming a complex situation that arose at Steel Lard, clarifying my thoughts (revealing that I probably made one mistake at least) and bouncing it to some knowledgeable people for opinions. 

    If you’ve played enough Dux to be confident of your ability to apply the combat rules feel free to drop me a reply and I’ll send you a copy. :) (on mobile at present so can’t add it to this post) 

    Thursday, 28 November 2019

    Redoing the river boards

    Mostly the rest of the prep work (filler, paint) and clearing enough level bench space for a test pour on the smallest board.  Re-grassing comes after the water's done - I'll mask it off.

    From experience with the Omaha marsh boards, multiple shallow layers is the way, and I'm very glad the workshop is both heated and well-insulated (so it holds the heat when I turn the heating off). I have a suspicion I may need more than the one bottle of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water I have left, and I'm expecting these to take a week or more in total with drying time.

    Wednesday, 27 November 2019

    Wednesday terrain building session

    Not a lot to show for this Wednesday, sadly - AndyM, Myk and Grahame came round, and we finished dismantling the show construct from 2013 ready to be rebuilt for Salute 2020. Which left us with a large pile of 50mm grey expanded polystyrene which may get turned into hills at some point.

    Most of the order from Wish for the game has arrived, too, so we tested a bit of that, and were happy :D

    More than that, you'll have to wait for :D :D

    I also painted a river bed on my river boards, ready for a water pour this weekend, if I can find 6' of space on the level workbench.

    Oh, and I backed Bad Squiddo's Kickstarter. So should you.

    Tuesday, 26 November 2019

    Another rather fragmented (if somewhat better) day

    Did some club admin, spent some money on hobby related stuff, which you can see when it arrives.

    I did make a start on cleaning these up today - as I commented on Twitter, they're pretty much my first attempts at terrain boards: the water didn't dry properly, and I'm not sure how level the surface they were on was while it did. Anyway, I've started gouging out the water effect preparatory to re-grassing to match my other boards and then re-watering.

    In other news, the new cat is staying :D That WAS my seat. I've also been promoted from 'scary two legs' to 'pink furless monkey who has opposable thumbs and knows where the ham is kept'.

    For anyone else suggesting names, be aware that almost all tortoiseshells/calicos are female. Don't ask me why: I only do horse colour genetics!

    Battle Report - 25 Nov 2019 - "The Finns are coming" - Free Fire

    Ok - for those of you who don't remember, Free Fire is the set of generic skirmish rules Rob from our club is working on. They've got a nice core mechanic, and the idea, as I understand it, is somewhat GURPs-like in that there are core rules and then stuff that ties the rules into a specific setting.

    Anyway,. If you happened on this game at Hereward, this is the same scenario, only instead of the Brotherhood Without Banners ambushing a Lanister wagon train, it's WW2 Finns ambushing a Russian truck convoy.

    Myk and I got the Russians: at least to start with, better commanded and with more men, but the Finns are considerably tougher (they're used to this winter lark) and we were also testing out some new rules both for combat damage and for snipers,. And the Finns had a sniper...

    Oh boy, did the Finns have a sniper.

    The Russians pile out to both sides of the road having come screeching to a halt in front of an unexpected barricade.
    Finns - figures from the Winter War Kickstarter from the early days of this blog :D
    More Finns crest a rise, about to make serious inroads into the Russians.
    This section and the sniper opened up and made short work of most of these, including taking out their Lieutenant with a single shot.
    My section of Russians go for the sensible approach of trying to shift the barricade so we can all get the heck out of here, pronto. 
    Meanwhile, the braver than he is useful Russian Comissar and a couple of men try and track down the sniper (Hint, guys, he's behind that tree in front of you.)
    We should have had him - one of the rifleman put 5 dice of hits into him and rolled NO damage (wanting 4s on d8s)... 
    The braver bits of my section try and hold off the Finns. About here is where the sniper, who by rights should have been dead if either Myk or I could roll dice, splatters my Sergeant's brains all over the snow.

    Yes there is tinsel on one of the trees in this Finnish forest. Why do you ask? :D 
    "And HEAVE, comrades!"
    Cue sounds of impatient gunning of truck engines, and an awful lot of small arms fire hitting the rear truck and immobilising it.

    "Run away! Bravely run away!"
    (Other captions are available.)

    With better dice, and at least one smarter command decision, we might have made it away with both trucks, One, however is better than anyone else has managed with this scenario in this setting!

    Sunday, 24 November 2019

    It's been a day...

    If any cat of the four in this house were mine, it
    was probably the grey fuzzy. I shall miss him.
    Definitely didn't want to get up this morning, in part because I got up far too bloomin' early for Steel Lard yesterday, and partly because we were both putting off the inevitable, of having Ash, our oldest cat, put to sleep. He had a good three and a half years from coming to us that he probably wasn't due - he must have been 17 or 18 when he arrived, bad teeth, generally run down. But... we do what we do - I married a veterinary surgeon, and feline waifs, strays and the variously broken are her and our thing. 

    He had a good life, and a peaceful end on my lap.

    In contrast, spent the rest of the morning seeing a friend get baptised (by full immersion, or as we irreverently call it, 'dunking'), and then clearing up after Steel Lard and writing up the battle reports...

    ...And we have another cat, who arrived on Friday because life goes on, and just because we lose one doesn't mean there stop being others who need a home and some love.

    Suggestions for a name welcome.

    Battle Reports - 23 Nov 2019 - Dux, Steel Lard

    Back from Steel Lard sufficiently late and tired having got up at 6am to be on the road for 7 that you weren't getting an update then!

    AndyM picked me and a lot of terrain boards up at 7am, in his nice spacious Audi, and we caned it up the A1 and across to Sheffield in plenty of time to set up for Game 1.

    First raid scenario - Coastal Raid. This is the third time I've play tested it, and like the other one I ran, I decided not to do random terrain placement so I could get a feel for how a roughly balanced setup plays. I'll probably run it a couple more times with settings at the more extreme end of random to se if they need tweaking.
    The table. Longboats are Revell (cut down to a waterline model by Andy, who'll be along later to explain how tricky this is!) and Adrians Walls resin (on loan from Carl at our club)
    The British levy, having raised the alarm, do what any sensible shield wall would do, and wait upslope for the Saxon elites.
    ...who do a lot of screaming, yelling and banging spears on shields before charging up at them. The levy actually survived  two rounds without losing their amphora, took out the Saxon champion but did lose their leader and just barely suffered excess shock.
    So the Saxons decided they could safely ignore the levy and headed for the village, where their warriors were already advancing.
    The British levy, by dint of a Rally card and some support from their own slingers manage to survive the very annoying Saxon archers without going into excess shock again...
    Meanwhile, the Saxon levy decide they're not going to face the British warriors on the upslope, but instead skirt up and round the hill...
    Here come the British heartguard, while one of the Saxon leaders decides to do some quick looting....
    Saxon archers driven off, the British slingers head inland while the levy hang around by the Saxon longships to provide a roadblock... (still on lots of shock with no leader around...)
    The Saxons fall just short in their attach, so the British counter-charge...
    ...and drive them back..
    The British turn to fall just short, before the Saxons  (having rallied off a fair chunk of Shock) manage to use a rather nice hand of cards to make a fair mess...
    ...while their hearhguard are now upslope of the British warriors.  You will note fleeing British hearthguard in the background!
    British warriors driven back, half the force defending the village itself driven off.
    Saxon victory.
    For game two, I decided to test out the Treasure Hunt raid scenario again. Again I set the table, rather than allowing a random scenery layout, partly for testing balance and partly because it made for a prettier table.
    Six 'random' treasure locations: the willow island in the marsh,  the rocky outcrop, the ruined Roman temple, the fallen Roman column in the wood, the barrow and the stone in the woods (that did have a sword stuck in it till it broke off!). 
    Early scrap right in front of the barrow (really glad I took the time to finish that on Friday!) 
    Battle lines are drawn. The British are consolidating on and around the barrow,. the Saxons have just about fallen over a ruined Roman column in the woods....
    The two hearthguard units face off. Meanwhile the  British slingers find a nice vantage point atop the barrow to shoot over people's heads. 
    "Olaf? What's that you've found?"
    "I... uh. Don't know. Some kind of round thing with ends that unscrew. Has Roman runes on it. Probably not important."
    Britons; "It's a SCROLL, YOU IDIOT, Don't trash it!"

    There's a bit of a scrap going on beyond the woods that drives away some British levy. Which is just fine by them as they'll go looking for treasure...
    The prelude to a perfect piece of card play (and the middle of a rather complex piece of 'ok, just how do we resolve this according to the rules?'). The British hearthguard,  which were forming the front rank of the unit in the centre, have been shocked enough to fall back a couple of inches. Not enough to break the formation, but they are pretty much in contact with the small group of Saxons behind them, which kind of a) makes this a rather confused ongoing combat and b) means that this is, as the saying goes, Going To Hurt. A Lot, as, with a Carpe Diem, if the Saxons warriors activate they get to do the British a lot of damage with a rear attack.

    Except that the British Lord activates first, and lo and behold, he has a Disengage, which gets him very very nicely out of what was a pretty sticky predicament.

    My memory is sketchy as to what happened next, except that the Saxons took a fair force morale hit somewhere, and we wrapped it up as a British win. 
    Note to self: need to think about exactly how the whole business of shieldwalls where the front rank is elites and the rear warriors behaves when the front rank's morale starts breaking. because it can get a bit complex.

    So, that was my bit of Steel Lard. Some very pretty tables around,. which I didn't have time to take pictures of - check the hashtag #SteelLard on Twitter for pictures of the games, as well as the alcohol-hazed proceedings both before and after. Thanks to all my players, to Andy for the lift and company, and Tom for organising a fabulous day. We must do it again.
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