Saturday 30 April 2016

Figure poses - an idle question...

...while browsing figures for some opposition for my 95th and South Essex for Sharp Practice 2.

For units of horse and musket infantry, do you go for all the same pose?

Does the answer differ for a mass combat ruleset such as Black Powder vs a skirmish set such as SP2?

Does it differ for line vs skirmishers?

Friday 29 April 2016

SP2 finally here!

No fault of Rich's I hasten to add - it was a 6 bundle club order, so it wasn't going next day large letter :D Thanks Rich, it's awesome.

(Apologies for the terse post, but I was up deploying stuff for work at 3am...)
Mmm. Box

Well packaged....

Six SP2 Mega bundles for delivery at the club on Monday.

Except the top one. That's MINE.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Secret Project .. what are we at now?

Just so we keep track:
  • Sekret Projekt W - on indefinite hold
  • Sekret Projekt C -part complete, awaiting a holiday to write more over the summer
  • Sekret Projekt D - the Dux Brit Compendium - well in progress 
  • Sekret Projekt L - should be released over the weekend :D :D (Now there's a teaser)
  • Sekret Projekt A - in the planning stage.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

She's never going to believe this wasn't deliberate....

So - remember I mentioned we're off to Williamsburg for a couple of weeks in July.

Well. It would appear (thanks Dean) that 90 mins up the road in Fredericksburg, for the last weekend we're there.... is Historicon.

Convincing Anne a) that wasn't deliberate and b) I'd like to spend the Friday there is next on the agenda :D

Anyone running a Dux Brit game on the Friday would like me to bring a new raid scenario?

Tuesday 26 April 2016

But there's no force list for it!

The other thing I expect to hear a lot of now SP2 is out...
When's the list for X coming out...?


There isn't a list for X yet, then?

You have two choices.

  1. Wait for someone else, maybe Rich if it's a common list, maybe not if it isn't, to produce it.
  2. Don't be afraid. Gird your loins. Take a deep breath. Do some research. Compare the results with similar lists and similar force types, hack out a decent estimate of the points and post it somewhere. If you get stuck, ask on the Yahoo! group, the Facebook group or the TFL forums for help. After all, it's a period you want to play that badly, then:
    1. this will be fun,
    2. this will be educational,
    3. this will probably garner you lots of helpful suggestions on how to make it better from people who may or may not know more than you about the period in question or list building in general,
    4. you will be hailed as a hero by the rest of the folks interested in X!
What's the worst that can happen? Your first attempt isn't brilliant, you learn something, and you, Rich or someone else eventually puts out a better list. 

Give it a go.

Monday 25 April 2016


A somewhat tired and grumpy post, since I'm still slightly at a loss to understand why this issue raises its head so often. If anyone can explain to my where my brain is working wrong, or other people's are, I'm all ears.

The most common rules question I see, be it a TFL rules set, or otherwise.
The rules say things can do A if they have property B.
C does not have property B. Can it do A?
I'm assuming that possibly the issue is that people don't read that 'if' as 'if and only if'?

Sunday 24 April 2016

Back from the Royal Armouries...

...with a pint of Papworth Brewery's finest (Mad Jack), a cat and a slice of apple and walnut cake.

Apologies for no post yesterday - I didn't have a laptop with me, and the iOS Blogger client refused to connect.

As I said on Twitter, I found it somehow delightful to be playing a set of 40 year old rules (Skirmish Wargaming dates from 1975) with figures some of which were almost certainly at least that old. We only tweaked the rules a little - we dropped written orders in favour of token-based activation (in the style of TFL/Bolt Action), and we made a small tweak as we didn't think English archery was lethal enough against armour at close range. Other than that? The rules stood the test of time, and apart from the need for the main lookup table (one percentage roll determines both whether you hit and where you hit), we were pretty much running things from memory.

My thanks to Rob, Reuben and Dan from our club, and to Kirsty and the rest of the team for a great weekend (and pleasant company at Saturday night's excellent curry)!

So... here's a gallery of photos from the weekend.
The French camp. Tents are resprayed Timpo, bombard is (as
promised) four cotton reels and some balsa, and the barricades
are from our garden

The English archers get stuck in during game 1 on day 1.

"'Ere, Hal. Reckon tha' can 'it one from 'ere?"

View from atop the English-held castle, game 2, day 1.

Partway through the bloody carnage that was the last game on day 1.

"Oi! Frenchy! Stop pointin' that bloody spear at me!"

Carl from Second Thunder's smaller skirmish using Open Combat.

The Perry's 4300 figure Agincourt model.

One of the periscope views onto the Agincourt model.

To me the more historically fascinating model - the smaller of
Captain Siborne's Waterloo models.

An Allied square on the Siborne model. I have always wanted
to see his models.

Back on the last game of day 2... the only game on which the
majority of the French crossbowmen fired more than once!

Kirsty FINALLY gets enough of a break to play a game of
Open Combat.

Friday 22 April 2016

The French camp packed...

...well, barring its flag.

Do come and say hi if you make it to the Royal Armouries this weekend. You shouldn't be able to miss the castle...

Thursday 21 April 2016

Longer term plans for SP2

Not for a while since I do have this Dux Brit compendium to finish.... But:

One thought is definitely 1812 French and Russians from the retreat from Moscow. I've always wanted to build a set of snow scenery tiles, and the  new terrain pack for Watlord by War World Scenics is giving me ideas....

Also, we've just booked two weeks vacation in Williamsburg Virginia in July. If that doesn't cause me to come home wanting to build an AWI force, I shall be very surprised :)

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Royal Armouries Gaming Event prep continues

So that's the bombard barrel painted (four cotton reels), four Timpo tents sprayed a more convincing canvas colour, and the banner art sent off to signprint.labs on eBay first thing this morning (£31 to arrive tomorrow - not bad!)

Should be all ready for Saturday!

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Post Salute musings...

...some of which have already made it onto Twitter...

  • I walked 5 1/2 miles - a lot of it in the same 12' x 12' area
  • big Warbases mistakes
    1. Only buying enough bases for the things I expected to buy
    2. not buying any horses for the Sharp Practice wagons - *facepalm*
  • I should never let Reuben talk me into visiting stalls just before the show closes. That way lies 100 quids worth of lovely, lovely Tablescapes buildings
  • it didn't seem quite as crowded as last year, and I wasn't impressed with the way display games appeared to have been chosen. This isn't sour grapes because we didn't get a game, but some clubs and organisations appeared to have multiple games while folks known for awesome games had none.
  • Bloggers meet up awesome as ever. But...
  • Getting mouthed off at by someone in a SLWarlords orange shirt because our photo group didn't leave a path between my rear end and his stand's light stand for 30 seconds was a bit much
  • There's too much of Salute for one day if you're actively doing anything at the show

Monday 18 April 2016

"Touching History"

I was cross with myself this morning, as I was reminded by a post on the TFL Yahoo! Group that I'd meant to pop over to Caliver Books stall at Salute and see if they had a copy of Paul Darnell's "Touching History" volume 1 (on building terrain for the Peninsula), and I'd clean forgotten (I plead having already bought loads of stuff and walked over 5 1/2 miles, according to my FitBit!).

You may therefore imagine my delight when I Googled for it, intending to bring up the Caliver page (where it's about £25), and found this - those lovely folks from Karwansaray Publishing (who publish WSS magazine) have it as a very decent quality downloadable PDF for under a fiver.

Thanks, Jesper!

SP2 players doing the Peninsula? You probably need this just for inspiration, if nothing else! Also note they have the other three volumes including North America...

Sunday 17 April 2016


Ok. Time to fess up.

That red bag was well packed with lead :D (barring some plastics and a rulebook). The Foundry bag was, however, light as a feather, for reasons which will become apparent later, despite being pretty much full.

So here's what I bought - picture captions will explain all. Just don't tell the wife :D Individual reviews to follow as and when things get used/painted etc.

Anything with a * before it wasn't on the original shopping plan....

SAGA Age of the Wolf campaign setting

GB Romano-British plastics.
Bad Squiddo Catherine the Great.
* Brother Vinni 4 pack of shield maidens
* Footsore Dark Ages Christian Priests

A freebie from Mr. Douglas (thanks,
mate) who insisted on feeding both my elf
and chocolate habits.

Elite Wargames and Models female Napoleonic characters
Offensive Miniatures 12 x 95th Rifles
* Eagle Figures 12 x Spanish Guerrillas
* Eagle Figures 24 x Spanish infantry

* Foundry 24 x Perry-sculped British flank company
* Foundry 8 x British light infantry command
* Foundry 9 x British Dragoons

Tablescape's lovely Peninsular buildings - these are ridiculously light
but robust, I WILL be buying more.

Tablescape's walls. (The Spanish scenery bits were all in
the Foundry bag and weigh next to nothing!)

The Warbases order - you can't go to a show without one!
50mm rounds, 15mm rounds (for the Royal Armouries game)
Sharp Practice wagon set
1p movement trays + magnets (need more!)
Show freebie figure and casualty tracler 

Alban Miniatures 95th Rifles (bought s/h before Salute,
unavailable any more as the business shut down this past January!)
Harper character figure is bottom left, Sharpe third from right top row.

Size/build comparison of the Alban and Offensive 95th - the latter
on the left are perhaps a little less slim, but not enough to be much
of an issue.
Pretty decent, and of a size with both the Foundry and the Eagle.
The Foundry are a bit chunkier but as they won't be based together,
it won't matter that much.

Saturday 16 April 2016

I can't have spent *that* much... all fits in two carrier bags. One of them weighs a LOT more than the other, though. And I only visited two stalls not on the original list.


Friday 15 April 2016

All set for Salute, and travel tip for tube tomorrow

Bits and bobs printed off, wristband delivered by Reuben so I can get in in time for the stall briefing (but see below!).

So... If you're after a starter force for Sharp Practice 2, come talk to us on the PE2Collectables stall on TH14. Depending on stock levels (it is Salute, after all) we may not be able to help you there and then, but a) I do have a decent idea of what goes into an SP2 force and b) Reuben's prices are excellent. Odds are he'll have some package deals on the website soon after Salute as well, for some basic SP2 forces for AWI, the Peninsular War and the ACW that'd allow you to dip a toe in the water for a decent (well under £50 in some cases) sum, even including an extra support.

If you're coming by train via Kings Cross, be aware that the Westferry/Poplar section of the DLR is closed, and trying to get to the Excel via Bank will wind you up on a bus, the Circle is completely closed, and the Metropolitan/Hammersmith and City are part closed east of King's Cross. Best bet is take the Victoria Line from Finsbury Park (if your train stops there) or Kings Cross, and change to the Jubilee at Green Park to Canning Town: then you can get the bit of the DLR from Canning Town to Custom House (for Excel), which appears to be fine.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday 14 April 2016

Gripping Beast's new Romano-British plastics

The 3-ups that had everyone drooling.
AHunt asks, perhaps unwisely for his wallet, on reading yesterday's post, "What are Gripping Beast's Romano-British plastics?" And indeed, it does appear that, while I've drooled over them on Facebook, I haven't mentioned them here.

They're actually listed as late Romans, but... 8 armoured spearmen, 16 unarmored spearmen, 16 unarmored archers in a box. Two boxes will do you a Dux Britanniarum force with plenty of spares, or you could probably work up something from a box of these and a box of the Dark Ages warriors.

The box

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Salute itinerary...

This is mostly here as a reminder to me, as given the usual butterfly 'ooh shiny' approach I have to Salute I need to make sure I don't miss anything I need to check out:

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Salute blogger meet up and me at Salute!

For those who missed the note on Ray's site, the annual Salute bloggers gathering will be the usual time (1pm) at the usual spot (well since last year), which is to say just south of the middle where the big red circle is.

Despite what you may hear in the pre-Salute episode of Meeples (due out 15th April), I will be in attendance - successful negotiation with the Domestic Authority means I'll be delivering James to tennis for the Friday evening session, not the Saturday while herself is on call :D

If you miss the meet up, you can find me either collecting various pre-orders from GB, the Dice Bag Lady and Warbases, or helping Reuben out at the PE2Collectables stand (TH14 - go there for excellent prices on all manner of stuff, including boxes of stuff suitable for Sharp Practice 2, on which we should be able to advise).

Monday 11 April 2016

Figure scale vs. ground scale and related matters

This question cropped up again recently - in fact, three times this past week - and I figure it's time for a longer rant on the subject than last time,

The question gets asked so often it's definitely a FAQ: "Will these rules work with X scale figures and will I have to change anything?"

There are four things you need to consider here. Figure scale, ground scale, basing standards (if any) and the intent of the designer.

Let's start with the first two, because they go together. It's pretty simple, really: if your figure scale exceeds your ground scale, then you're fine. If it exceeds your ground scale by a LOT, then you might want to consider some adjustments. If your figure scale is less than your ground scale, you're probably going to want to consider some adjustments.

What do I mean by figure scale vs ground scale? OK, here are some examples:

Figure Scale (mm) Equivalent Ground Scale
(12" = X yards)
6 100
10 60
20 30
28 21
54 11


For an example, Chain of Command's ground scale is 12" - 40 yards. Which is pretty much spot on the real scale for 15mm figures, and is why a LOT of people play it in 15mm. Scale compression, though, is a wargaming fact of life, because ranges are generally long, especially in more modern warfare, so there's no real problem playing it in 28mm, where ranges are effectively half what they should be.

Similarly, IABSM's ground scale is 12" = 100 yards, which is spot on for 6mm (and if you want to see just how awesome it looks in 6mm, check out Mark Luther's stunning gaming tables). But 15mm is decent enough - it effectively halves the ground scale which is still plenty. But I wouldn't play it in 28mm without some adjustments, for a number of reasons:

It's not to say you couldn't - but IABSM relies on moving by sections, and a 10 figure section takes up quite a bit of space in 28mm, which is where we come on to basing standards. Actually, IABSM doesn't have any (though quite a few folk use Flames of War style bases), but the point is that when compared to the ground scale, a 10 man section in 28mm is going to take up about 50 scale yards on the tabletop even ranked two deep. This, to my mind, is a bit much, and if I *were* mad enough to play IABSM in 28mm, I'd be looking at a much bigger table and probably doubling all ranges and movement, so that figures take up a sensible amount of space and ranges aren't stupidly short. Or, I guess, you could plonk 3-4 figures on a base and call it a section, but to my mind that's rather missing the point - see below.

Equally, I wouldn't play CoC in 6mm without some serious adjustment, since the ground scale is now bigger than the figure scale, and that's just flat out wrong. In fact, it's 2.5 times the figure scale, so one approach would be to try changing inches for cm on all measurements (which usefully reduces ranges and scales down to almost exactly 12" = 100 yards, the same as the figure scale), and move to a 3'x2' table.

There are some Napoleonic rule sets where a musket-armed line can only fire at targets directly ahead, If you change the ground scale, you will have to change the base width for a line to match, otherwise you'll break the intent of the rule designer. Pretty much any ruleset with a mandated basing size will fall into this category, because there will be some aspect of the rules where movement rate, range and unit frontage will interact, and you can't change just some of those.

The Society of Ancients' 54mm Bosworth Field game
from Campaign 2013
Which brings us to point 4 - the designer's intent. CoC is intended to be a skirmish game (admittedly on the large side, but it is clearly platoon+ level skirmish) - you're looking at individual figures, not serried ranks of troops. While you can do this in 6mm, and I'm sure if you had next to no space you perhaps might have to, it again rather misses the point, in my opinion. By the same token, while you could replace every figure in Sharp Practice with a block of 6mm's, or a section in IABSM with 3 28mms, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't feel right. (That said, I have seen Bosworth Field done in DBM with 54mm figures, and for what it was trying to do, it worked.)

With that all said, here are a few key rules to consider when you start tweaking things:

- don't change movement and ranges separately: change the ground scale - i.e. change ALL measurements equally
- consider whether unit basing is important when changing ground scale,
- figure scale less than ground scale is almost invariably a bad idea

There you have it. I feel better now :D

Sunday 10 April 2016

Expeditionary Force 54mm French for the Royal Armouries HTYW weekend

Uff. Given my eye is still not 100% I'm fairly glad I only had to paint these to Britain's toy soldier standard :D

Still - all done, using a bunch of Army Painter colours over their spray primers - which latter are excellent for actually making paint stick to the soft plastic minis. Just waiting on one more figure from eBay - oh and a I have a bombard, a chunk of castle wall and a barricade/rampart to build :D

Saturday 9 April 2016

Sharp Practice 2 plans

The limited edition Sharpe
off the cover of SP1
Well... I originally wasn't going to invest in any new forces for SP2, and rely on various folks down the club having assorted fun stuff in various periods, as well as my own Imaginations force (the Duchy of Elland - note to self, must update site :D )...

But I have to confess, for all its historical flaws, to being a big fan of the man who gave his name (with a letter filed off for copyright purposes) to the ruleset, and I have just lucked into a set of the Harper and Sharpe from the limited run that went with the original Sharp Practice rules, as well as having enough credit burning a hole in my pocket with Reuben at PE2Collectables for a box of the Warlord Chosen Men as well as probably a few sprues and/or metals of someone's Peninsular light infantry...

A loverly pair of chaps :D
I'm considering following Hobbsy's example and blowing a bit of my bonus on getting ADC or similar to paint them for me, since I know I won't do Napoleonic uniforms justice, not on 'hero' figures in 28mm, anyway :D I will still, I think, base them myself though.

Question for the readers: does anyone out there have the (sadly now ceased trading) Alban Miniatures "Sergeant Shakewell & Corporal Hammond" pack (BR1)?

Friday 8 April 2016

The good and the bad of audio books

For the first time ever last week I asked for a refund on an Audible book (yes you can do that, surprisingly!)

The book in question was "Hawk Of May", the first in Gillian Bradshaw's excellent trilogy of Arthurian/Dark Ages novels about Gwalchmai ap Lot (Gawain). I own it in print and I adore the series, but given I had credits to burn, I figured having it to listen to on my commute would be good inspiration for Dux Britannoiarum.

Oh. Dear.

Let me quote my review:
Quite honestly, this is unlistenable. The (American) narrator affects a range of supposedly Scots accents for the characters (including the first person narrator), and they are, I'm sorry to say, unlistenably, almost embarrassingly bad. Gwalchmai (the narrator) as a teenager sounds at BEST like Wee Jimme Krankie, and is at worst borderline incomprehensible.
The reading has pretty much ruined the story for me, so much that I've actually stopped listening,. 
The video link to the right is the first 15 mins, which was about all I could stand. Some of the American reviewers actually liked it!

So, to easy my disappointment, I'm now two chapters in to Bernard Cornwell's "The Winter King", read by someone with a much better grasp of accents.... which is prompting interesting thoughts on the nature of magic in its world.

Thursday 7 April 2016

New version of the Chain of Command QRS

A small change, but Neil and Dave were grumbling about it when we were recording the next podcast last night. so....

V2.1 of the Chain of Command QRS is now up - go to its page to download a new version. There's only one change, namely an addition to the close combat section on page 2 for the "one side has four times as many dice as the other" special rule.

For those asking about a Dux Britanniarum QRS, I won't currently be producing one, as AronBC has made a more than adequate one which can be dowloaded from the TFL Yahoo! group. (You'll need to join the group but if you're playing TFL rules you should anyway)

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Sharp Practice 2 - preorders and short review

It's time. As Rich posted this morning, advance orders for Sharp Practice 2 will be open from now till the product goes on sale on April 23rd. You get the following choices:
  • Rules alone in hard copy: £25
  • Rules + card deck: £29
  • Rules + MDF chits: £28
  • Rules + card deck + MDF game tokens: £35
  • Rules + MDF chits + MDF game tokens: £34
  • Rules + card deck + MDF chits + MDF game tokens: £38
    Note - you WILL need a set of cards or chits to play the game, although obviously one set between two players is fine and you don't need both! The tokens cover markers for various states of units in the game, and are optional. ALL preorders come with a free PDF copy of the rules as well. Orders can be placed here.


    Well... I've had two demo games so far, both in different periods (War of 1812 and AWI - basically the rules will cover pretty much any part of the horse and musket era), as well as a look at a pre-release set of the rules. and I'm sold. The main takeaway was just how quick and easy things were to set up, how quickly folks learned the core rules and how surprisingly fast they were to play. I'm personally very grateful that a number of folks down our club have figures for several house and musket era forces, or I'd be spending money again... as it is, there's a part of me still fancying SP2 in the Peninsular in 54mm :D :D

    Seriously, though - I haven't had as much fun with a new set of rules since CoC, and these are coming close to rivalling Dux Britanniarum as my favourite set of rules (which as those who are regular readers will attest, is saying something!).

    Tuesday 5 April 2016

    And that's the last of the 54mm shopping list...

    Just nabbed on eBay....

    It's the only Swoppet figure in the force (i.e. body and head are removable) but given the rarity of crossbowmen generally I didn't care that much.

    I was for a few moments seriously tempted by this... but it's an example of what I mean about wince-inducing price tags... £77 plus postage (ok, it's only £6 a figure, but...)

    But they're pretty... and I may start talking myself into them again...

    Not buying the bombard, though - the basing's ugly, and it's thirty quid for something I could make with four cotton reels and a pack of balsa bits.

    Monday 4 April 2016

    Battle Report - 4 April 2016 - Sharp Practice 2

    Today the club was graced with the presence of Rich Clarke of Too Fat Lardies for a demo game of Sharp Practice 2. We had a startlingly good turnout (in addition to the 8 or so folks playing Frostrgrave, a game of Aggro and a game of X-Wing upstairs) which resulted in a slightly upscaled battle with 4 players a side and two interested spectators.

    A classic encounter battle - the short summary, because it's late: basically a lot of feeling out across the river with various groups of skirmishers, before the Hessian cavalry came storming across the bridge and put two colonial skirmish to the sword before itself being routed. It fled past a column of British line that was following up, which proceeded to shunt some colonial militia off the bridge, before fanning out into line and collecting a bunch of musket fire for its pains.

    There, we had to stop it, with things teetering a bit depending on what happened next in terms of card draw order. Brilliant game, though, and I know several folks went away inspired.

    Some pictures - roads and foliage by Last Valley, mat by Citadel, rest of toys courtesy of Rich Clarke:

    The river bridge. 
    Some loyalist skirmishers deploy by the ford.
    The cavalry are coming...
    ...and in the distance can be seen retreating back towards the
    British line column.
    It's all about to kick off big time on the bridge. British line in
    column about to crash into the flank of some colonials. 
    Things hang in the balance around the bridge and farm.
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