Monday 26 November 2012

Battle Report - 25-Nov-2012 - Bretwalda - WAB Age of Arthur day

Sunday saw our club put on a WAB Age of Arthur day at our venue. In the end, we had 14 players turn up, a mix of our members and folks from further afield - the venue could, with a bit of a squeeze, hold 24, so there was a reasonable amount of room.

The players were split into two factions, the British (with mercenary allies) under Vortigen, and the Saxon invaders under Hengest: we diced for leaders, and issued them with crowns. Format was three rounds, the first being three sets of doubles plus the leaders (Scrivs as Vortigern and Phil from the Halifax club (the Pennine Raiders) admirably cast as Hengest) in single battle. I paired up with Stephen (also from the Pennine Raiders) to take on the worst Britian could throw at us (which turned out to be Reuben and AndyB from our club!).

It all went OK (ish) for the first three turns, but turn four saw an awful lot of damage done to the combined might of the Saxons and a lot of failed tests, despite our best efforts, and we wound up on the receiving end of a Mighty Victory to Britain. Which rather set the pattern for my day, sadly.

After a quick dash home for the scenery I'd forgotten, we set up the tables for two rounds of singles for the afternoon. The plan here was that each leader was given the scenario sheets for the seven different tables, and had to allocate a player to each table for the second round, and then a different one for the third round. Most of the scenarios were out of the Age of Arthur rulebook, but we added a couple of Andy Hawes and my devising (The Old Roman Signal Station and Our Lady of Wansford) and James Morris' Battle of Chester scenario.

For the second round I got assigned Cat Coit Celedon against Vortigern himself, Scrivs. This basically requires the attacker to punch a hole or two in the defender's formation and make it off the table. I almost managed it: my cavalry vapourised in the face of some remarkably unpleasant double-shotted sling fire, but I did get two units of Duguth headed in the right direction. Except that, due to a complete bit of tactical idiocy on my part, I'd got my hearthguard rather firmly stuck behind some fleeing Geoguth, and in no position to charge. So when Scrivs charged them and they broke, fled and died, my army proceeded to fail its tests, and ... yup, another Mighty Victory to the British.

Last up I got Grahame from our club's Franks in the Mount Badon scenario, which I picked largely because it was the only one of the seven I'd never played. Looking at his forces, and really not wanting to attack uphill against thrusting-spear armed Franks, I decided I'd defend the hill: at this point (in order to make the 2000pts vs 1500 pts the scenario calls for) my cavalry defected to Grahame.

It so nearly worked. I spent four turns resisting the temptation to leave the hill. My reinforcements obligingly turned up on turn four, and proceeded to charge what used to be my cavalry... which actually worked out quite well, as they fled, causing a bit of a logjam for Grahame. By turn 5 I'd lost a unit of Duguth and both my skirmishers, and was poised to charge my Gedriht off the hill and hopefully turn a close-fought victory... except that Grahame unloaded on my Gedriht with every missle troop he had, and did 6 out of 24 casualties. A panic test. They failed. And fled. 11", which was about 3/4" too far for them to stay on the table... You can guess the rest :D

All in all, though? It was a brilliant day - I had a blast, and it certainly seems that everyone else did. The British won the most territory, despite some sterling efforts in the final round after a pep talk from Hengest, and there was a three way tie for the mightiest warrior, resolved in favour of Andy Beer who actually managed three Mighty Victories. Thanks to everyone who came, to Andy Hawes for being organiser in chief and MC ("Yet more interesting NEWS, gentlemen, from the Land of Britannia!"), and to everyone else who helped.
I'm also very pleased to report that the dice-off for various goodies, including a bottle of mead and some of the very nice new Musketeer character figures, raised £65 for the Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal.

Oh, and, P.S.: Scrivs? I win :D

Monday 19 November 2012

Into The Woods - part 2 - undercoat and scatter

But first, an aside.

I'm making a second (larger) wood base, for which I chose to use the Tamiya textured diorama paint I use for figure basing, instead of Woodland Scenics foam putty. To be honest, it's a tossup - I marginally prefer the Tamiya for ease of working, but the Woodland Scenics is a lot cheaper!

Anyway. Onwards.

Next up, undercoat.

I confess to being permanently slightly puzzled by the number of people who undercoat terrain boards they're going to flock, in green. After all, the underlying colour is earth, which is brown: so, I use brown. Specifically, and until I find a cheaper match, Humbrol Matt Dark Earth spray.

Since I don't want to paint the magnetic sheet, a) because it's only borderline strong enough to hold the trees anyway and b) because I like the look of black dots where the trees have to go, I dropped a spare 2p piece (in fact, the ones I'd weeded out as being pre-1992 and not magnetic) in each tree spot before I sprayed.

So, that bit's easy. One generous coat so it all looks the same colour, wait for it to dry...

...then turn it upside down and catch a rain of falling 2p bits. Easy!

At this point, I figured it was time to get my ducks in a row.

So, here we go, working from the back across through the arsenal of things I might possibly use before I'm done:
  • Static grass tufts from tajima1 on eBay.
  • Old margarine tubs of 
    • Javis Static Grass (a mix of spring and summer)
    • Javis Earth scatter
    • Javis Moorland scatter
  • Noch 12mm Static Weeds
Next row
  • Javis grey fine ballast
  • Gaugemaster garden flowers
  • Heather tufts from tajima1
  • Army Painter dark grass scatter
  • Deluxe Materials Scatter-Grip Tacky Glue
  • Javis scenic glue
Front row
  • Woodland Scenics purple flowers
  • Gale Force 9 Steppe Grass
  • Gale Force 9 Arid Grass
  • Gale Force 9 basing grit
  • Army Painter Meadow Flower tufts
  • Army Painter Jungle tufts
  • Citadel basing sand

And with that lot, away we go.

The one thing missing from this photo, actually, is a pot of Treemendous Forest Floor scatter, which is brilliant stuff: a mix of small leaves, dirt, a few larger branches etc. It's actually made by Javis, but I picked it up on eBay. You can just see it on the left in this photo, which documents the next stage - supergluing the Woodland Scenics tree bases to those handy metal discs I mentioned earlier.

Then I liberally coated the base, with the tree bases inserted, with the tacky scatter glue, and left for a good 15-30 mins. The aim was to paint the bottom of the tree bases with glue, but not the trunks or top. Not always as easy as it sounds. This is also the time to move the cutting board under the terrain board and replace it with a sheet of newspaper!

My next step is then to sprinkle the edges with static grass, so that, once I get a terrain base to match on my wargames table, the piece will blend in. I find that for short static grass, dropping small pinches between my fingers, like I was dropping salt into a recipe, is enough to make it stand up when it lands.

After that, I wanted to mark a path through the woods, so I laid a line of earth scatter across the board from one edge to another, winding between the trees, and fading out at the edges off the board.

As the glue stays tacky for, pretty much, ever, you can take your time over these stages.

Next step, the Treemendous Forest Floor scatter, liberally around the bases of the trees. This really gives it some character, and reminds me of walks through Epping Forest.

After that, you're really on your own. Little patches of flowers, tufts of longer grass, a few fallen limbs of trees, a couple of bushes, etc etc.

I'm trying pretty hard to keep it reasonably flat, so that with the trees removed figures on bases can stand upright.

The final step is to seal with a coat of matt varnish - this is very necessary as the tacky glue dries gloss where there's no, or thin, patches of scatter.

And there you have it. Next (and last) the trees, and some photos of the two finished boards.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Leibster Blog Award/Meme

Another meme that's been going around, apparently, and has just started to impinge on blogs I follow. The rules are simple enough - if you have received one of these awards, you put a post up with a link back to the blogger who gave you the award, then award it to 5 other blogs that you think deserve it. The word translates, if I remember rightly, as favourite. Tamsin of the the excellent Wargaming Girl has just very generously award it to me citing "if for no other reason than his excellent and informative series of posts on horse colours and heraldry". Which makes me at the same time pleased, humbled and a little guilty that I haven't got cracking with the rest of both those series :D

My nominees (and narrowing it down to five was hard, believe me):
  • Sidney Roundwood for Roundwood's World. The scenery this man produces is beyond awesome, and an inspiration to me and countless others.
  • Andy Hawes - no marks for an original blog title :D, but a great mate and a fantastic painter - another inspiration.
  • Paul's Bods - one of my first followers, with some wonderful nostalgia-inducing work in 20mm plastic (ahhh, Airfix plastics...) and who can paint and convert 20mms like they were 28s.
  • Bob Cordery's Wargaming Miscellany - chiefly for making me think on numerous occasions about the why's and wherefore's of gaming.
  • Phil Broeder's The Wargaming Site - one of my regular commenters and a man with wide-ranging tastes on wargaming who never seems to fail to write things I want to read.  

Battle Report - 17-Oct-2012 - Dux Britanniarum

The Saxons advance.
Not the usual Dux Britanniarum game - this one was run by an old friend from Uni, Tim, who turns out to be another Lardie fan, and has been playing Sharp Practice and other TFL games with several other of my Uni friends for a few years now... and I hadn't seen Tim in most of two decades until yesterday. Due to being roped in as Dad's Taxi Service at the last minute, I was about half an hour late making it to the session, but since I was the only player who's played Dux Brit before, this wasn't much of a problem!

We played a raid scenario, two of us on each side with Tim umpiring. MichaelA and I took Uffa's Saxons, raiding the church of St Vigor, not far from the city of Venta Belgarum (Winchester), from a base on the Isle of Vectis (the Isle of Wight). The defending forces of Constantine the Just were handled by Phil and Chris.

Tim plays in 15mm, with some really nice figures painted by Matt Slade. Due to the restricted size of his dining table, he also uses custom rulers, marked at 20mm = 1". Which was fine, except that I've just about got my brain tuned to estimate inches! Terrain was a piece of heavy curtain material over some bits and pieces to create hills etc, and some Woodland Scenic trees, and buildings painted by Tim's wife Jackie.

The British comanipulares
get laid in to the Saxons. 
We got lucky with the start of the game, with three moves before the British appeared, which got us most of the way to the objective, pausing, because we could, to set the village barn on fire.

Things worked out, at least to start with, quite well: we managed to get a substantial force past the church to intercept the approaching British and keep them out of our hair while we ransacked the place. Unfortunately, the card decks very much worked out in the British favour, and a combined unit of British comanipulares and warriors got first strike on Michael's hearthguard...

I wouldn't have made it even if
these were proper inches.

Tim's very nice dice tray - I
must get a couple.
Which, potentially, wasn't going to be that bad, since I had two units of warriors about to enter the fight, who must have been no more than 6 ... erm ... "Tim"ches away.

Cue my usual dice rolling luck.

In the next couple of activations, first one then the other Saxon hearthguard ran away, but, fortunately, between us we made the necessary looting rolls in the church, and managed to pick up a nice, expensive and easily portable load of loot. It was decided that at this point discretion was the better part of valour, and we chose to beat a hasty and hopefully treasure-laden retreat.

Anyone know the Saxon for "leg
it, lads!"
And we'd have got away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling British!

As seemed to be becoming a recurring theme with this raid, it all started so well, with some excellent rolls to put some distance between us and the British. Sadly, though, by then our hearthguard had misplaced its amphora, and one stand got well and truly clobbered by a big unit of British levy.

The British pursue.
At considerable speed.
And then Phil produced a 'Bounding Move' card, rolled four dice for the pursuing British... and got twenty-freaking-one!

We got all but one unit of warriors off the table, but our force morale was down at three, and it all boiled down to which of about four activation cards happened first as to whether that last unit got off the table before one or other of the British forces got to it.

This is the first raid I've played in which the Saxons' withdrawal was actually contested, so Michael and I are stacking up Retreat cards. In fact, we have an entire hand full of them.

We came so close. Constantine the Just (who was wounded in the earlier fight and down to being a level 2 Big Man) activated first, used one activation to send in the unit of warriors closest....

...and Phil rolled a two.

Cue sighs of relief from Michael and I. Except, of course, the British Lord has another activation...

...and rolls a six and a ... cocked dice that was probably a six. As it happened, so was the reroll!

Result, in rapid succession. One unit of warriors destroyed. Two off the force morale. One Noble wounded. One off the force morale. Down to zero, and our hand of five Retreat cards is instantly worthless.

Like many, if not most, of the Saxon victories I've been a part of, this one was decidedly Pyrrhic. Technically, as we satisfied the victory conditions, we won. We lost enough men doing it, however, that the British (who lost a grand total of about three) came off distinctly better.

A great game - fantastic to meet up with a bunch of old friends (including a coffee mug I'd left at the workplace I shared with Michael and Phil in 1994!) again, and I hope to do it again soon.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Into the Woods - part 1 - bases

So, as mentioned previously, I have some woods to knock together for our Age of Arthur day, and probably future use in other systems and eras.

One of my (many) pet peeves is the small trees in a lot of wargames scenery. The tree opposite our house is of the order of 60' tall - in 15mm that's about 6", and in 28mm it's nearer a foot. While the latter is probably a bit much for a typical wargames table, 6" high trees aren't that hard to come by.

I went for the Woodland Scenics tree armatures and a whole bunch of clump foliage, of which more later. But first, the base for the wood - like the stone circle, it's 60thou plasticard, cut to a suitably irregular shape with a slightly bevelled edge. The trees are based on readily available copper-plated 25.7mm, 2mm thick metal discs (post-1992, and only 2p each!) which serve two purposes:
  1. they weight the bottom of the tree to stop it falling over quite so easily
  2. they just happen to be magnetic
The plan was always to make the trees removable. The ingredients for this are some self-adhesive 0.5mm magnetic sheet, and a handy stash of 26mm inside diameter 2mm rubber washers off eBay: stick the magnet to the plasticard, superglue the washer to the magnet. It's not perfect, in that the pull isn't that strong, but it's enough to hold the tree in place against an accidental knock.

The first one I've done is on a roughly A4 piece of plasticard. The other ingredient is a small cutout area into which I can place a small feature - the one I've built so far is just a piece of old GW Lord of the Rings ruin, suitable for a Dark Ages setting, but I'll also build a 15mm bunker or pillbox to fit in the same spot (either that, or see if one of Battlefront's will fit!)

Next stage is to apply some filler (in this case Woodlands Scenics Foam Putty, since it's what I had around) to smooth out the edges of the washers and magnetic sheet. I'm still experimenting with this - depending on how well it sticks, I might switch to something else.

That's it for this time: next up, undercoat and flocking.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The evolution of my workspace

I'm not entirely sure evolution is the right word... but on the other hand, it does imply a certain uncontrolled growth from previously, largely due to circumstance, so maybe.
I should admit here that, as well as being a fun exercise in realising
just how much clutter there is on my workbench, this is also my
entry to the BenchVent 'Show us your Workspace competition' :D
In the interests of spontaneity, this is an iPhone panorama after a quick tidy off of some accumulated cruft. Across the top of the two desks, we have:
  • a pile of assorted Really Useful Boxes (mostly 4L and 9L)
    • El Cid army
    • Early Saxon Kingdoms army
    • Dux Britanniarum characters and sabot bases
    • ImagiNations/WSS army
    • unpainted 28mm WW2 Russian/German figures
    • Wings Of War WW1 planes
    • several empty 4L and 9L boxes with tray inserts earmarked for 15mm WW2 for IABSM
    • 28mm Wehrmacht and British Paras for Op: Squad/TW&T
    • lots of milk bottle lids (green) as figure holders for painting
    • box of largely GW and Humbrol acrylics
    • box of assorted odd small tools and glues
  • in front of those, a pile of army lists etc for filing, and several sheets of A4 60thou plasticard earmarked for scenery projects, some Uhu White Tack
  • some scrap polystyrene
  • lots of clump foliage
  • in front, some cheap and cheerful PVA and some loo roll for wiping brushes etc
  • some pots of GF9 scatter
  • more scrap polystyrene etc, some spare Javis scenery
  • scenic scatter
    • several margarine tubs of Javis scatter
    • some army painter tufts
  • brush-on liquid poly cement (EMA Plastic Weld)
  • A3 cutting board, currently clearer than usual
  • a very nice bright fluorescent desk lamp
  • craft knife set
  • Woodland Scenics foam putty
  • Loctite Power Gel superglue
  • stack of Warbases IABSM blinds markers
  • Deluxe Materials Scatter-Grip Tacky Glue
  • Woodland Scenics and Javis scenic cement
  • Woodland Scenics spray bottle (not impressed with this)
  • old laptop stand holding 
    • brush holder
    • assorted odd paint pots 
    • tubes of acrylic
    • jar of olive oil for de-misting varnish
  • small collection of glass and plastic Gü pots, great for mixing paints
  • Really Useful Box of Army Painter paints
  • Warlord Games paint station, more GW paints (the ones I use a lot still), a Citadel water pot,
  • two stray Gaugemaster trees
  • large blue Really Useful Box that's supposed to only contain spray cans but I keep dumping stuff on top of (including 3 A3 sheets of plasticard and 40 26mm ID rubber washers)
  • large containers of Woodland Scenics scatter/brush/undergrowth materials
  • a Sports Direct mug that's not being used at all!
and below, left to right
  • Apple Mac G4 I need to clean data off and get rid of
  • one of my two sticks for Blutak'ing figures to to spray
  • a set of drawers full of non-modelling junk
  • the (overflowing 'cause I just tidied some crud) bin
  • stack of red RUBoxes - mostly scenery and under-conscruction trees
  • stack of blue/red RUBoxes - unpainted figures (Romans)
  • stack of blue/red RUBoxes - unpainted figures (assorted Ancients)
  • stack of blue/red/clear RUBoxes - unpainted figures (15mm WW2, Saxons)
Not visible in this picture just to the right of where I'm standing:
  • 11L RUBoxes with Ancient British, Roman, ECW 28mm armies
  • club laminator and pouches
in the utility room by the sink:
  • paint palette in need of cleaning
  • Dettol and jar for removing paint from figures
  • drying brushes (from having PVA cleaned off them)

Sunday 11 November 2012

Dark Ages scenery - Stone Circle

I've been knocking together a few bits of scenery for our Age of Arthur campaign day on the 25th. Most of what I've been working on are woods, which are waiting for a few bits to turn up to finish them off, but while I was waiting I knocked together a stone circle.

My first attempt used polystyrene for the stones, but like an idiot I forgot what happens if you use spray paints on polystyrene... Result, some very melted stones. So, take two involved a quick hunt through the gravel out the back for some suitable looking stones.

Saturday 10 November 2012

More on Maelstrom - statement from Simple Miniature Games

I think this basically sums things up (with thanks to Colin for spotting it on the Wyrd Games forum) - a statement from Simple Miniature Games:

Friday 9 November 2012

Maelstrom Games - official statement

Well, well, well...
Maelstrom Games Ltd. has ceased trading and will enter liquidation at some point over the next few months. 
A creditor of Maelstrom Games Ltd., Wayland Games Ltd., issued a Statutory Demand under section 123(1)(a) or 221(1)(a) of the Insolvency Act, 1986 on the 17th of October, 2012 for £99,773.61 plus costs of issuing and serving the demand. 
This debt was purchased from Simple Miniature Games by Wayland Games Ltd on the 1st of October, 2012 and payment of this debt was demanded in full by Wayland Games after seven days had elapsed. Unfortunately, Maelstrom Games Ltd. could not pay Wayland Games Ltd. this debt in full within those seven days.

"Special" dice...

An idle muse, prompted by being confused during Monday's ECW campaign session...

...Am I the only person who finds dice with one custom face more hassle than they're worth?

We had two people on Monday with custom dice - one set had roundels on the 6... one set had a tree design on the 1. I'm not for a minute suggesting either of them was trying to gain any advantage from the confusion (both of them being excellent and scrupulously fair gamers and friends), but I was actually having to work quite hard to remind myself which face was marked in each case, not helped by the roundel (looking like a 1) being on the 6 face!

Heh. Guess I'm probably just getting old.

[Editorial aside: Monday's post on Maelstrom seems to have gained some momentum - 500 page views and counting. That's more than this blog managed in its first MONTH!]

Monday 5 November 2012

Maelstrom Games

Well, I guess it was fairly inevitable, reading between the lines of their "final final FINAL sale" notices over the last month. Their site is currently quote 'down for maintenance'. I'm not holding my breath, and, judging by the discussions on Dakka Dakka and TMP, neither should anyone else.

There are a few points I'd like to talk about, though.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Are you really a proper Wargamer?

Via PhilB's excellent blog:

To genuinely call yourself a Wargamer, then you must have done most or all of the following; 
* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent
Erm... Yes, but don't tell the wife. Certainly x2, possibly x3, certainly will be x3 by the end of next year 
* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times
Oh heck yes. 
* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again
Yes, definitely 
* Bought an army off EBay
Yes, but only if you mean 'bought all the figures to make up an army'. Never actually bought a complete painted army  
* Sold an army on EBay
Not... yet 
* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once
Yes :D 
* tried several different periods and genres
* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height
Not yet. Carl? 
* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice
* made at least one enemy for life
* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table
No. Come close once. 
* thrown a dice across a room
* rebased an army for a different rule set
Sort of. Does sabot bases for Dux Brit count? 
* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent
* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision
Several times 
* joined a wargamers club
* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted
Not literally, but not that far off 
* been to a wargamers show
* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them
Hasn't everyone? 
* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates
Don't believe I have. Well, not yet, anyway!

Thursday 1 November 2012

WAB Armies of Antiquity 2 Parthians

Just spent my lunch break working out a Parthian list as a possible candidate for next year's WABGT.

Man, am I going to need several more boxes of WF Persians (and probably some more Numidians for conversions/heads etc)! 3000 points buys you 72 horse archers and 22 cataphracts, plus some assorted scummy skirmish foot for annoyance purposes.
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