Tuesday 31 December 2019

2019 in review

Whew. That was a year.

Looking back at it from Dec 31, it was more of a year than it felt like at times, too. Let's have a look, aided and abetted by having a lot of blog posts and tweets to look back at.

First off, as should be obvious if you follow me on Twitter or pay attention here, I've been doing the #hobbystreak challenge - basically doing something hobby-related every day. There have been a few days (often when away) when it's been as little as some background reading or some discussion with someone on plans for the future, but I have managed it for the whole year - this is day 365! Around mid-February I decided to move the master record of what I was doing from Twitter to here, as well, as that allowed more words and pictures.

At a rough count, over the year I've painted:

I reckon that's 167 figures and 4 vehicles. Not bad. Add to that a goodly number of buildings and bits of scenery, and actually I've been pretty productive.

The two major gaming products have been Bloody Omaha (re-visiting for the D-Day 75th at several shows as well as Posh Lard, as well as a hosted game here for Per and his young lad, which was amazing), and the Dux Britanniarum Compendium, which... Is really honestly, nearly finished. I'm going to commit (Rich and TFL willing) to trying to get it out for Salute. We've been play testing like made for the last couple of months, and I'm down to three or four last bits of writing (one of them is the master index, which I'm still not looking forward to!). I've also got the studio (aka PE2 Collectables old office) setup for regular gaming.

Speaking of which, I also (as a side-effect of starting to watch Critical Role when I couldn't sleep one night), rediscovered a love for RPGs, discovered how much less D&D 5th Edition sucks than 3.5, and started to both resurrect my old campaign and start a new one, as well as a RPG blog, The Sage DM. This has, actually, more improved than detracted from my hobby activity as a whole, I think - there is a crossover both ways.

On the topic of blogs and websites, I also turned the Mill House site into my 'professional' site - if you haven't found it yet, and you have use for me as a writer, mapmaker, editor, designer etc, please drop by!

Let's see - sold stuff: 
  • all my Napoleon at War figures, having realised they were so far down the list I'd never paint them, I want to play SP2 in preference, and for Napoleonic big battles Gary at our club has enough figures to recreate Waterloo...)
  • a fair pile (£200 worth) of old RPG books
Other than that? Several shows, several Lardies events, lots of games. Still club chairman. Got to meet DaveC in Kansas and catch up with the ATF guys (Jeff and Elliot, specifically) in Minneapolis. 

On the downside, I no longer have a wargames outlet at the bottom of my garden - PE2Collectables has sadly ceased trading and moved out, which is a shame, as I rather miss having someone to natter to off and on during the day, and having a ready source of paint when I run out.

Podcast: I got two episodes out (and one in the can that may possibly see the light of day),  which is nowhere near as many as I'd like. Part of it is I think I need to figure out a little more of what I want to do with the podcast, and also work out a process that works for putting an episode, and not leaving it needing editing. 

To be fair, the non-gaming bits of 2020 haven't helped: losing a friend (right here in our guest room) early in the year, having James in hospital or needing to get there daily for most of May and June, and then getting him to and supported in his first term at Uni (while still being treated for depression and ADD) has been ... kind of crazy. Also? I really need a new boss. Getting half an hour to keep the hobby streak rolling is relatively easy when you're frequently out of good thinking brain by early evening, finding the energy to record and edit a podcast or do bigger things, less so. 

Anyway. Things are improving. Hopefully that'll clear up even more in the New Year. I have interesting plans, but I can't really talk about them until certain real-world things happen (or don't). 

Oh, and I've lost 60lbs in weight (deliberately, not through stress, I hasten to add!). More to go, but go me!

OK. If you've read this far, well done and thank you! I'm sure I've missed something, but hey... I'd love comments on what you'd like to see in the blog(s) and the podcast in 2020 - feel free!

Happy New Year!

Monday 30 December 2019

Battle Report - 30-Dec-2019 - Dux Britanniarum Battles

Ok. I think we have a winner here. But boy, my brain hurts. That required a lot of thinking, even just as the umpire.

British (Carl) defending a river ford (again) against the Saxons commanded by Myk and Andrew, with AndyH co-refereeing.

Pre-battle phase. There was prayer, speechifying and drinking. Again there were ones rolled, and both Bibamus and Portentious Signs cards in the deck, and the Saxons had FM 9 and the British 5.  
The Saxons have crossed the river to head off the British reinforcements, while facing off against the British  companipulares on the ford.
The Saxons, however, have fallen prey to the Evils Of Drink, and Carl uses a Bibamus card to force one of the two groups of Saxon hearthguard to go off prematurely, as it were...
The results are painfully inevitable - one uncommanded group of elite against 12 men plus a Lord and champion. Amphora misplaced, and off they go, with a -3 FM hit as well.  
Over on the British left, a knock-em-down-and-drag-em-out fight between two Groups of Saxon warriors and a mixed group of British warriors and levy causes the levy and one of the Saxon groups to leave the field. 
Perhaps unwisely, the remaining Saxons chose to ignore the levy and go hit the other British shieldwall in the rear through a ruined archway.
Cue a lot of very careful rule-reading in the gaslit end of the rules to make sure we got this right, compounded by several cards being played including a Step Forth. It didn't, sadly, go well for the Saxons. FM down to 1. From 9, remember!
The remaining Saxon formation (Elites + Warriors) psych themselves up to charge the British levy by the archway. 
What\s really galling from a Saxon PoV is, they won the fight, with one Saxon unit well and truly routed and the other on excess shock... except they took a wound on their Noble. -1 FM. Game over.
All in all, another excellent game. AndyH, who as the saying goes doesn't have a dog in this fight (as I wrote the core of the scenario) thinks these work as a way of resolving battles that's an improvement over the pitched battle in the original rules, so we're going to test it a bit more, and then throw it out to the next layer of testers.

The final Meeples...

...is up for those who've not noticed yet.

Very much the end of an era: 283 episodes (not counting various multi-parters from Salute, IIRC) over... longer than I've been back in the hobby - 12 years, in fact. One of the first podcasts I started listening to, back in Whispering Neil days, and one I was flattered and honoured to be a part of (counts on fingers) for I think over 100 episodes. It cost me (and probably a lot of other folks) a lot of money that I don't grudge at all, but equally it gave us all, I'm sure, a lot of fun and entertainment - I suspect I can speak for a lot of people when I say that there are games, figure ranges and rules, and probably even whole areas of the hobby, that I wouldn't have come across without the show.

It also created a community, and for that alone it was awesome, never mind anything else.

Thanks guys.

Roll good dice!

Sunday 29 December 2019

End of year planning

Lot of being driven around, as it’s visit my parents day. 

As I was partly navigating (son was driving) I didn’t get to write much down, but did get to do a couple of hours thinking and talking with Anne (when she wasn’t playing Ravenhill on her iPad) about serious gaming plans for 2020.  Watch this space. 

James and I also taught Anne how to create a discord server, which we both found rather amusing. :)

Saturday 28 December 2019

Battle Report - 28 Dec 2019 - Dux Britanniarum Battles


That was fun and very satisfying.

AndyH has been here for the afternoon and early evening so we can figure out the new battles ideas for the Compendium. I've had the idea for how to do this kicking around since fairly soon after the idea for the Compendium was mooted, but it's been held off on playtesting, partly because I wasn't sure and partly because I wanted to get the raids tested. Ran my draft outline past Andy earlier in the week, and he basically thinks it's a goer, so we decided to give it a shot.

First battle - for a settlement.

The Britons are defending the villa. Pre-game phases results in force morale boosts for both of us, and me as the Saxons getting an extra Fate card in my hand, but otherwise little effect. 
The Saxons start to advance, aiming to get to the villa before word reaches the rest of the British forces. 
The Saxons amass, psyching themselves up to charge the British hearthguard. Unfortunately, despite having  six Fate cards to play with, I can't draw a Carpe Diem for love nor money, and perhaps unwisely, I hang back.
Unwisely, you ask?
See that unit Andy is pointing at? That's warrior cavalry....
See that empty space in front of the cavalry, and the bloody smear on the hillside? that WAS two groups of British warriors. Admittedly, the cavalry's on excess shock and not going anywhere else for a turn or two, but I have lost two groups with thoroughly mislaid amphorae, and a chunk of force morale.
At last. I get to wade in with this delightful fistful of goodness. 
Crunch. Andy's elites, the front rank, do not survive two rounds of combat, and leave the field....
...but not before he does this to me. Which leaves my big unit of mixed hearthguard and warriors in NO state to deal with the big block of levy you can see top right... my big unit has taken far too much shock to cope..
Game over for the Saxons, sadly. In go the levy, and it's amphora missing, byebye force morale.

Ok. Battle two.  The British attempt to retake a captured province by bringing the Saxons to battle over a river crossing. (Believe me, if you look up Nennius' '12 battles of Arthur', battles for river crossings were common as muck! 7 out of 12, in fact.) We dug out my unfinished river boards for this one.

Pre battle phase. Pure comedy gold, this.

Andy (the attacking British): "I shall make a rousing speech." Rolls a 1. -2 FM, -1 Fate card.
Mike: "Hah. I shall ply my men with mead!" Rolls a 1. +2 FM, 2 Bibabums cards, -1 Fate card
Andy: "My priests will pray to God for success." Rolls a 3. No effect.
Mike: "I shall make a rousing speech too." Rolls a 1. -2 FM, -1 Fate card
Andy: "Ale for my brave warriors...." Rolls a 1. +2 FM, 2 Bibamus cards, -1 Fate card.
Mike: "Oh Mighty Odin, All-Father...!". Rolls a 1. -2 FM. 2 Portentious Signs cards.

Andy: "I think we've done enough damage between us. On with the battle."

The deck is loaded with Bibamus and Portentious Signs cards, Andy has Force Morale 9 and I have Force Morale 5.
Oh, and we both have a maximum of THREE Fate cards each!

Let's roll for deployment. Andy gets the maximum possible initial moves for his force, I get the minimum possible garrison force for the river crossing.

OK. Guess we needed to test the extremes of setup, right?
The Saxons square up across the river from the advancing British. Meanwhile in the distance, the Saxon relief force of warriors is massing trying to force a crossing.
Andy decides the time is right, and charges with  elites and warriors to drive the Saxons back.

Ok. Maybe not.
1" short.

So the Saxons charge in.
Somewhere during the two combat rounds of back and forth, I lose any remaining ability to roll dice.
The Saxons fall back with excess shock.
The British are about to follow up, and in the ensuing combat both sides will lose a unit to missing Amphora. Andy,. having 9 Force Morale, can afford this. I however, cannot afford to lose the THREE points off my 5.

So we're now facing each other, one unit of Elites on each side. 
Meanwhile, further up across the river, the Saxon warriors attempt to force a crossing against 2/3 their number of Levy in shieldwall. With a reasonable chance - I mean, face it, it's maybe 5" away, and they're rolling 3d6 -2 per dice for the river.

Total move? 0"

On the other hand, maybe we could stay on this bank where its dry and make faces at each other some more.

Back at the ford, the Saxon elite reckon they should have a reasonable chance - the British they're facing are on even Shock and kills, so one kill will give them excess, while they've still got 5 figures and a scattering of Shock. Should be easy, right?


Andy takes 1 shock, 1 kill from my abysmal 3 hits. My dice seem to have hits and damage confused, and my Elites take insane amounts of shock and leave, Amphora thoroughly busted.

Force Morale 0. Game over and not a good week for the Saxons.  
Ok: so? Conclusions.

Did it feel like a battle? Hell yes. In both cases, we wound up manoeuvring into battle lines and facing off until our troops were psyched up enough to fight. It seems to fall into a style of combat that feels like it fits the period and the kind of battle that was chronicled.

Is it balanced? We tweaked a couple of setup rules, but then with hindsight they were dumb and I should have noticed them when I wrote them. Even in the face of extremes of setup rolls, crap combat dice and ridiculous pre-battle rolls (seriously, FIVE ones out of 6????) neither battle was a foregone conclusion. With a bit more guts and less waiting for cards on my part the first battle would have gone very differently,. and if I could roll dice at all for the last two turns of the second I'd potentially have or at least made Andy sweat.  So yes.

Was it fun? (the acid test). Oh my goodness, yes. So much so we're testing it again on Monday!

Friday 27 December 2019

Saxons finished

Completed in between various interesting bits of bug investigation for work.

Hair by Citadel Contrast (mostly Skeleton Horde), shield backs with Contrast Cygor Brown, fronts with various AP colours, weapons with AP metallics.

Basing: WarWorld Scenics basing grit, Vallejo Sepia Tone, my standard grass basing mix.

New warriors at the back. Need to tart up the movement bases a bit :D

Thursday 26 December 2019

Panting some more Saxons

My Saxon warriors for Dux are.... scratty, as my wife would say - shields falling off, paint chipping etc. So I've assembled some more out of the GB Dark Ages warriors box and started on them with the Contrast paints...

Leatherwork in Snakebite Leather, faces in Fireslayer Flesh, clothing in assorted Nazdreg Yellow, Agaros Dunes, Millitarum Green, Arkhelian Green and Flesh Tearer Red. Saving Skeleton Horde, Gore Grunta Fur and a couple of other shades for hair.

Should get these finished and maybe even based tomorrow.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Playing with the Stream Deck

Back from the in-laws. Anne's in bed with a box of Lindor choccies and an iPad game, James is (checks Discord status...) apparently playing around with Ableton Live on his PC, and I have a comfy armchair, a small pack of Hotel Chocolat caramel chocolates (ok, the wrappers and tray from...), a MacBook which now has OBS installed, and a brand new Elgato Stream Deck.

Basically, it has 15 completely configurable buttons with individual colour displays, and the idea behind it is you can customise it for your own gaming or streaming video, or whatever, setup to replicate arbitrary key presses, do scene/camera changes, send Tweets, etc etc...

In 15 mins of playing I already have it doing the last two of the above. This thing is freaking COOL.

Now I just have to find the case containing my two MS LifeCam Studios and my Firewire audio interface, and the fun can really start.

A Merry Christmas to you all

This is scheduled to post about the time the strains of the 'For Christmas Day only' verse of 'O Come All Ye Faithful' echoes round our church at just after midnight. I shall shortly be home for the annual ritual of checking how well the Christmas cake came out, with a slice of Wensleydale (do not knock this until you've tried it) and a good single malt Scotch.

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, have a happy and peaceful Christmas, however you may choose to celebrate it.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Pre-Christmas Dux...

Look! Words!
Shot AndyH a copy of the scenario we were playtesting, having made a bunch of changes last night, to receive back some great suggested edits and clarifications at... um... midnight.

Man's keen :D

Got those worked in today: harder than I expected as there's a built in constraint that raid scenarios should fit on one page, as per the original book, and... It's not exactly that the setup instructions are difficult, once you see it done, but explaining them unambiguously is a challenge, and why my standard playtest for new scenarios is to hand my instructions to Someone Else, preferably Someone Else Who Is Pedantic And An Ex English Teacher[1][2][3], to set the scenario up.

Anyway, that was a good day. Have helped James through some Marketing homework, wrapped presents, scratched my head at two very odd bugs at work, so now it's food, a cuppa and an evening off till I go round sound for Midnight Mass.

[1] This is the rule-writer's equivalent of the Evil Overlord's "One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation." :D
[2] That's "formerly an English teacher", not "formerly English and a teacher."
[3] Mr Hawes, preferably.

Battle Report - 23 Dec 2019 - "The Tax Collector", Dux Britanniarum

Playtesting with AndyM and a late-arriving AndyH...

The British warrior cavalry wind their way down the hillside to come rescue the tax gatherer...
...who has been yelled at to get the heck out of the village while his levy escort rank up in Shieldwall to hold off the advancing Saxon warriors. I actually blew a Step Forth to make sure the levy were in Shieldwall before the warriors could hit them.
...except that Mr Miller had a Strong Arm and some very good dice (and I really don't), resulting in one Group being wiped out and the other mislaying its Amphora. Force morale down to 4, given that the Noble took a wound as well...
And then it just got worse. The Warrior cavalry made it down the hill, but due to a bit of a logjam at the bottom, had to charge the approaching Saxon Elites over the corner of the temple ruin, which was -1/dice terrain...
First dice 1(+2 -1) . Second dice 2(+2 -1). Third dice (now clear of the ruin) 3(+2).

Well short.

Oh dear.  
A turn through the deck later. The Saxon hearthguard have charged the cavalry that are hanging around waiting for it, and AndyM has a Carpe Diem (and I DON'T have an Evade) so they have no escape, and they don't get double dice or Shock. It goes about as well as you'd imagine - Amphora lost, Force Morale down to 2.

"Oh, hi, AndyH. I've been running the British for you while you got here. Erm... your force Morale is 2, and you're down to a mixed unit of hearthguard and warriors and one group of Levy."

I'm probably off his Christmas list.
The British hearthguard/warrior unit has fallen back under the weight of yet another Strong Arm and multi-card attack - it's actually halfway down the hill around about the belly of the horse, but it won't stay on the slope :D
Meanwhile the remaining levy prepare to sell their lives dearly in an attempt to protect the tax gatherer's wagon.

(Note: had this been a campaign game, we as the British would have called it a day by now!)
And the levy manage to last a whole round of combat. Unsurprisingly. Amphora gone, Force Morale down to 1....
Redesigning the initial setup, so we don't have so many 'X in a village' variants... There's nothing fundamentally wrong with scenario balance, but I don't think any scenario would survive in the face of such awful dice rolling!

Sunday 22 December 2019

Plotting and scheming

Yes, I know it’s not the end of the year yet, but I’ve been doing some wargames related plotting and scheming for 2020, both for me and the club ;(AGM on Jan 6th, after all).

Will have to remain under wraps for now, though....

Saturday 21 December 2019

An evening of Dux prep

Definitely a 'getting my Dux in a row' (yes, I know, I've used that gag before) night - running several play tests over the Christmas period so I'm making sure I have the scenario briefs up to date with the latest edits and a couple of spare figures painted up...

Specifically a cart, some horses to pull it and some tax-collecting revenue in chests to put inside it :D A mix of what I think is an Original Laser Designs cart (but I can't find a receipt to prove it, but I do know it came preassembled), Warbases shire horses (experimenting with Contrast paint - the jury is definitely out on that for horses), and some Mantic Dungeon Saga loot.

Major problem - the cart is rear-heavy with any load in it, so I had to get slightly subtle... it also seems a bit overscale (like the wheels are nearly 6' scale diameter), so I may replace it at some point, but it'll do for now.

Discovery, too - AP Rough Iron is a really gorgeous metallic - it comes out looking like, well - rough iron, with a patina of dirt and the beginnings of rust on it.

Friday 20 December 2019

Another somewhat fragmented day...

...improved greatly by discovering I have a new boss at work (ok, discovering I don't have my old boss. The jury's out on the new one, as we haven't spoken yet).

That aside:

  • sorted through some more bookshelves, added some more D&D books to the for sale post from a couple of days ago;
  • worked out a better process for applying my decals to shields (leaving them on sprue and actually using AP sprays and gloss varnish, which I should have done sooner, having mentioned it in a previous post);
  • painted 4 more Shieldwolf minis (it's very therapeutic, and I reckon it takes about 30 mins with a mix of Contrast and AP paints once they're primed), one of which for fun has a pair of Fireforge Templar arms as well as the shield;
  • looked at domain names for another project;
  • did some prep for Monday's Dux Compendium playtest. 
Still a Star Wars spoiler free zone (till Monday afternoon)

Thursday 19 December 2019

Rewriting old rules

For once, the meat of today's post is going to be on the other blog, and I make no apologies: it's one of those things where I'm not sure where it belongs, but it started on The Sage DM, so it can stay there!

I've been digging out my copy of the D&D Battlesystem mass combat rules, which were designed for AD&D 1st and maybe 2nd Edition, and seeing if I can make them work for 5th Edition, which has subtly different combat rules. Quite a fun exercise, involving spreadsheets and juggling with dice probabilities - right up my street.

Not quite finished - the last of the job is changing the activation system from IGOUGO with interrupts and other nasties to a TFL-style command and control system. :D

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Laser waterslide decals, Contrast paints for hair

Slightly the worse for wear today, so after a day at work having to use my brain, I decided to have an evening doing non-brain-strainy stuff.

I have (as commented on Twitter yesterday) some laser decal paper. This has the advantage over inkjet that laser printer ink is waterproof, so you don't have to spray the printed decals with acrylic spray before you apply them. Also, I happen to be the happy owner of an A3 colour laser printer, - a parting gift from IT at my last job - it had been sat in a pallet outside the tech office for 3 years unopened, and we were shutting the company down… The downside is the colours are a little less vibrant than with an inkjet, but that's a small price to pay for a heck of a lot less faff.

They're a little more fragile than ... Actually, thinking about it? I strongly suspect the custom decal folks in our hobby use laser-printed paper, so that may not be the case :D I am aware that (after some playing) you need to make sure the surface you're applying is smooth (ideally spray gloss varnished) and dry (patience!), and also not to remove the decal from the water too early, in case not all of it lifts.

You are also going to have to cut around your design fairly carefully, and you need to re-gloss varnish afterwards before you apply your final sealant coat. I haven't tried using MicroSol and MicroSet, but I suspect these or Humbrol DecalFix would also help.

Either way, these have come out pretty well....

I've now got 8 of the Shieldwolf Shieldmaidens done with Fireforge Templar shields. Another useful discover - Citadel Contrast paints are GREAT for hair. Snakebite Leather, Aggaros Dunes and Skeleton Horde make great shades of blonde over a white undercoat, Gore Grunta Fur does a great redhead, and Cygor Brown does a good mid-brown/chestnut.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

More of a tidy results in more stuff for sale, some painting....

I've had a quick sort through the RPG shelves, and the following are available for sale (and will be going on eBay on Sunday if unsold):
  • Serenity the Roleplaying Game (hardback): £15
  • Serenity the RPG: Out In The Black (softcover): £10
  • Middle Earth Roleplaying: Empire of the Witch King (softcover, some creasing in one corner, still has original fold out map which has been unfolded precisely once): £40 ono (OOP: apparently goes for stupid money on eBay, make me a sensible offer)
  • AD&D 2E Tome of Magic: £15
  • AD&D 2E Book of Artefacts: £20
  • AD&D 2E Forgotten Realms Adventures: £10
  • AD&D Al Qadim sourcebook: £10
  • WOTC The Primal Order: £20
Been stuffed on a bookshelf
unread a couple of times and
got creased, sadly. 
I've also acquired (thanks to the club's honorary American and all-round nice guy Shawn), a new magnifying daylight lamp (twin to my current one) and an airbrush compressor, as they're UK-power compatible and he is, sadly, leaving us for the Colonial shores. Now all I need to do is find the blasted airbrush!

Also nipped into a purveyor of figures and paints that do not have anything to do with wargames (it says so on their annual report, guv!) to pick up some more Contrast undercoat and a couple of colours I don't have (as sadly my preferred supplier had run out of what I needed). Pro tip - if like me you have trouble remembering which paints you own? They do actually do an app on both iOS and Android for keeping track of your collection, at least of their stuff: at the price of Contrast paints I'm quite keen to avoid duplicates, too! 

With those in hand, I did grab a bit of time over lunch to paint (this is me, don't expect Golden Demon standard!) one of the Shieldwolf minis... Some experiments with Contrast white, which I find comes out very grey - the cloak I wound up highlighting with AP White on its folds to get it to look right. Mail is Contrast Basillicum Grey, which works ok. The face is AP Barbarian Flesh overbrushed on Contrast Guiliman Flesh, as I do not like how the latter works on its own.  Hair is Contrast Skeleton Horde, her belt is AP Pure Red. The shield is AP White + AP Gloss Varnish, ready for a custom decal off the laser decal paper that should be arriving today.
 Second pro tip for lousy painters. If you're using the Citadel base coat sprays for Contrast, get a pot of the matching Citadel base paint: if you mess up with Contrast paints, you can then let it dry, brush over in the base colour where you goofed, let that dry, and try again.

Battle Report - 16 Dec 2019 - "The Deer Hunt" Dux Britanniarum

We're on pretty much round 3 of play testing now - last one before things go out to the playtesters. Andy and I are going to have a go at the whole problem of battles on the Saturday after Xmas, but apart from that I think we've played every new raid scenario at least twice except two, and I'll work those in over Xmas too.

Last night was the deer hunt, and boy was THAT a doozy - it contained a bit of play for which I'm very thankful to Derek Hodge's compilation of Rich's answers to rule questions (which will be in the Compendium!). I think this one works really well. The key fun gotcha is that the startup instructions have a totally chaotic 'every unit and leader is chasing after the stag independently' thing where everything arrives semi-randomly, so units may be out of command or not grouped together sensibly. It was, I am assured by Myk (now turning into one of my regular playtesters to the extent he's borrowed the rules over Xmas!) and Colin, a great game...

The majestic stag (a very nice Warbases mini) poses atop a rocky outcrop before starting his run for safety. In the background a mix of British elites and levy try to work out what to do... 
Having escaped from a group of Saxon hearthguard, trailing blood, the stag runs into both factions' groups of missile troops, as well as a single unit of warriors with the Lord and his champion on both sides. Interesting random deployment resulting in two identical small forces in the same area :D
Ok. Pay attention, because this got... amusing.

British mounted warriors (with their noble) and Saxon elite with a level 2 noble), although initially the Saxons were about 12" back from this position.

Colin (British) gets the card for his noble. He's obviously going to charge, being cavalry with no Shock - he gets double dice and then double Shock if he does. Myk plays a Step Forth to interrupt, followed by a Carpe Diem and a Bounding Move to charge the cavalry, instead.

I point out to Colin that being cavalry, he has an ability to Evade being charged.

Myk (who is on the ball!) correctly points out that according to the writing on the Carpe Diem card, Colin can't Evade. Specifically, he can't use the Evade Ability of cavalry. He can however, use the Evade card he has in his hand (thanks, Derek!). So he does. Fortunately for the British cavalry, he rolls low enough to stay on the table, while still getting out of reach of the Saxons.

End of Myk's activation, and the British get their turn back, And obviously enough, charge!

As you were, I guess, apart from several cards being used up!
The first round of combat between the cavalry and the Saxon hearthguard was a draw, due to some very lucky dice rolling on Myk's part as the Saxons. The second round? Not so much, as the British cavalry aren't getting the benefit of doubled dice and Shock - you really do have to get in and get in hard, because cavalry are no good in continuous fights. They fall back on excess shock (and were very lucky not to lose their amphora).

Meanwhile, over by the stag, it dies, full of arrows. The Saxon warriors advance to cover it, the British warriors charge them, and manage to just win a very bloody fight.

Meanwhile the British on the hill (a mix of Levy and Elite) are about to charge the Saxon Elite, with the Saxon Warriors (with the wolf banner) are coming to grab the stag.
The Dead Marshes, bottom left - as good a place to put casualties as any, I guess :D
Just out of sight, the mixed British group has managed to make the Saxon Elite fall back through the group of Warriors.
... and a bunch of uncommanded Saxon Levy rather fancy their chances against the rather shocked and wounded Elite - they're literally hanging on by the skin of their teeth in both groups.
We got through about two more turns from there - the British warriors managed to grab the stag while everyone else was distracted in a whole mess of grubby little combats between the wood and the marsh in the middle, and hightailed it past the barrow with a group of Saxons in hot pursuit.

It was (had we had time) probably going to come down to order of activation and who had the better hand and better dice rolls, but it being 10:30 we had to start packing up.

A brilliant game - one of those where umpiring is a joy (even if I say so as the scenario writer) and the players (thanks Colin and Myk!) had fun too.

Monday 16 December 2019

Customising the Shieldwolf shieldmaidens

Well, only a bit, really. Yesterday I found a box of Fireforge Teutonic Foot left over from the Night's Watch project, with lots of tall shields, perfect for what I wanted. Just had time to affix a few before Anne\s work Xmas do yesterday.

I also got a new toy from Amazon - nice cheap (£6 and small change) AA battery powered display turntable. It's only annoyance is it doesn't have a power switch - it's on as soon as you insert the battery. But it's smooth and slow. And it was very cheap.

And yes, I didn\t use the DSLR on the tripod for this, because I stupidly left its SD card in the Mac in the house, and it was hosing it down when I came to shoot the test shot yesterday.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Shieldwolf Miniatures plastic 28mm Shieldmaiden Infantry/Rangers

Evocative box art...
If you're following my RPG blog, you'll notice I've been running a series on cheap fantasy-usable plastic minis for D&D, and one of the things I spotted were the Shieldwolf Miniatures range. Now - memory serves me that they got a wee bit of stick on an episode of Meeples for the bare midriff look some of their sculpts on their first go at the Kickstarter had, but I'm happy to report that the end results are (barring four bodies that you don't actually have to use) loads better, and not going to freeze in winter. (Note, they actually successfully rebooted the Kickstarter having cancelled the one linked above, earlier this year, which I'm annoyed I missed.)

...but no help for guessing what the
figures will look like.
A clever design, in that the body comes in two parts, with either a plain upper back or one with a cloak, which glue on. The heads are a bit of a tight fit in the resulting small hole, but other than that they go together pretty well, even if the poses can look a bit awkward. You get 24 bodies, but enough arms etc to make 20 figures: there are actually enough to make a complete set with crossbows, which I might buy a second box for at some point. The weapons are a bit more fantasy than some folks might like - I've seen people use sword arms from Perry knights with these, which seem to work quite well, and with a bit of filing there are other heads from other ranges of female plastics that could work, too. That said, the heads are fantastic (in both senses), with some great helmetless windblown looks. Most of the rather nice shields are, annoyingly (but only so to me), round with moulded detail: hence I haven't fitted shields yet, as I need 20 plain plastic heater shields from somewhere for the unit these ladies are intended to be. (I need to go hunt in the leftovers of my Fireforge boxes from making the Night's Watch, I think.)

And here we are. These probably won't
rank up on 20mm bases, given the
amount of 'cloak swirl'!
Anyway - between various other things today I've assembled 4 just to see how they go together. The plastic takes Humbrol 'yellow' Precision Poly Cement very well, but then they're manufactured by Renedra, so I've come to expect that. A teeny bit fiddly to assemble, and the point of contact with the base is literally the feet, so you have to be sure to file them flat - smart move would be not to make the sprue contact point on some of the bodies be the sole of the feet, guys! The plan is to use Contrast paints on them, and see how they come out, so a trip to the Rift is in order if I can get there in time tomorrow, as I need white and one of their metallics and some more undercoat :D One other minor gripe is that it seems to be impossible to get the banner blowing the same way as the bearer's hair! (I may fix this by cutting it (no, the banner!) off and replacing it, especially since I need a specific design on the banner, and it's going to be much easier to print it or produce custom decals, I guess.)

Anyway - despite the odd grumble, I actually really like these.
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