Thursday 31 October 2019

Original Laser Designs Saxon house

Back when I was assembling assorted MDF Dark Ages kits, I picked this up online, and wasn't really paying attention and reading the details of the description when I did. I was thus somewhat surprised when it turned up assembled :D Original Laser Designs were a major hit at the one Hereward they came to, and we'd love to have them back.

Since I'm on a roll with resin thatched roofs, I figured it was past time to get it done. So - roof, as before, AP Desert Yellow spray, Vallejo Sepia Shade wash - currently waiting for it to dry for a quick drybrush of Desert Yellow again. Main kit is 3mm MDF, so it got my usual treatment of a rough application of fine artists texture paste. Once that dries I'll spray it with AP Skeleton and drybrush some highlights from a suitably paler tester pot of paint, followed by some Hobbycraft Burnt Umber acrylic for the wood framing and door. If I can find one of my spare cork tiles I may base it.

Edited to note: somewhere on my workbench should be some more small bits of MDF from this kit. Hmm.

The life of a club chairman...

...involves committee meetings, which rarely merit photos and long blog posts, but do take time and effort.

We had the show postmortem and initial planning session for the 2020 Hereward show last night - considerably earlier for the latter than previously, with actions and everything. :D

Watch this space (and the show site) for updates.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Some new (to me) purchases for Dux....

AndyMac at the club was getting rid of some of his Dark Ages stuff, so I have picked up a bunch of originally unpainted Grand Manner buildings that he'd done a very nice job on.

The only issue with them was that he and I differ on preferred thatch colours, so I planned to repaint the roofs tonight. Being Grand Manner, they're resin and removable, so as a first stage I took them outside with a can of AP Desert Yellow, turned on the garden spotlight so I had some chance of seeing what I was doing, and had a blast

Partly because it was dark and a little windy, and I was spraying at an angle, the dusting of paint they got wasn't as thick as I expected and mostly hit the highlights. Certainly as a first pass, I could leave them like that: however, time for an ink wash to knock the brightness back a bit and deepen the shadows, and then drybrush back with Desert Yellow....

Et voila....

They'll definitely do.

Battle Report - 28 Oct 2019 - Chain Of Command

View from the German's end.
Dougie from the TFL mob has been working in Peterborough for the last couple of weeks, so generously offered to run a historical game of Chain of Command scenario last night.

Essentially, I got the Germans (with assistance from Carl) defending a village with a platoon, a Flakpanzer and a Pak38 against Gary and Colin with a well-supported US platoon (3 Shermans, apart from anything else). I was slightly distracted by trying to talk my wife through fixing her mother's Mac and iPad (from a distance of 70 miles) so I sadly failed to take notes on the historical details of the scenario, but...

Interesting patrol phase - I got a very well advanced jump off point on the left hand table edge behind a hedge, and a rather withdrawn right flank, which ... didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Gary sent his Shermans down the road, and a scout party and a section across the field (top left) towards the hedge while plastering it in covering fire. With hindsight, given the insane rate at which I was amassing Chain of Command dice, I should have just pulled it back (the picture above shows it after I did so, just behind the further house in the middle). Instead I got clever with an extra phase: the plan was to pop up, nail the scout team and leg it across the road. The covering fire and overwatch rather put paid to that :D You can see what's left of the broken section cowering in back of the house bottom left.

That done, I used one of my CoC dice to move the jump off point, and the other to... well, check the photo on the right. Having moved the jump off point we could (at Carl's suggestion) just managed to use the other Chain of Command dice to pop a Panzerfaust across the road and get a side shot on a Sherman.



Sadly, that was the high spot of the evening. I popped up the Pak38 for a shot at the second Sherman, doing it one shock and engine damage. With further hindsight (and advice from Dougie) I should have then pulled it back, rather than left it to get shot at by the Sherman in the hopes of a second shot. While I did get one ('so what do I need to hit?' '10' *rolls" 'No problem!') I only did another point of shock and gunsight damage, which... well. Lets just say the Pak38 crew and junior leader joined the huddled and pinned masses behind the house. And got liberally plastered with a 30cal or two.

Force morale down to 2. Were this a campaign, I'd have called it a day, so since it was well gone 10pm, we did :D

Many thanks to Gary, Carl and Colin, and especially to Dougie for umpiring and providing forces. I am, it would appear, a bit rusty at CoC :D

Sunday 27 October 2019

Compendium catchup

Perhaps unwisely decided to install Bootcamp on the iMac yesterday, as it's the fastest Windows-capable machine in the house now James is at Uni :D

Which mostly meant I got sidetracked from blogging yesterday's compendium progress (repartitioning a 1TB drive on the fly is both slow and nerve-wracking), which was to finish off one of the appendices :D Go me.

In between church, band rehearsal and finishing off the Bootcamp install, I did manage to get some more stuff done today, which was actually having a serious play at designing unit reference cards for Dux. Haven't decided if they're worth the effort yet, but I did find the ones someone did for Pikeman's Lamemt remarkably useful.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Slightly happier with computers....

Yesterday I continued the IT bit of the Compendium, which involved double-checking exactly what fonts are in use throughout the document, and building a small folder containing them all on Dropbox (since there are two or three other devices I sometimes open the file on that I know don't have them on :) - yes, this house has far too many Apple devices).

Annoyingly, somewhere there are two bits of text using Helvetica and Times, which are either spaces or so small as to be invisible: sadly, while Pages gives me the tool to replace them, it doesn't tell me where they are first, and removing Helvetica causes loads of floating tables to shift around!


Now, if this cat would kindly shift off my lap, I could actually get on and do something else...

Thursday 24 October 2019

I hate computers....

Absolutely my least favourite
dialog ever.
Ok. Just to give you an insight into the work process on the Compendium, I'm using Apple's iCloud to share the master Apple Pages file between several machines, specifically my work laptop, my studio iMac, the older MacBook I'm using right now (while watching The Great British Bake-Off :D) and my iPad.

At least in theory, these all have the same fonts installed on them, so when the file gets opened on a different machine, I don't get Pages little ''This document may look different' dialog.

Except that somewhere, one of my machines somehow has "Segoe UI" installed rather than "SegoeUI"... which as far as I can tell are identical fonts apart from a space in the name. And if I'm in a hurry and miss the warning dialog, the font (which is the main font for all the body text) gets replaced with Helvetica and completely b****ers up the text formatting and diagram and table layouts. Especially if I then save it and fail to notice for several versions.

I've finally been bitten by this once too often. Guess what I've been doing this evening :D

Pondering Dux battles...

...was pretty much the sum total of yesterday evening's Compendium work, despite best laid plans :D

Still trying to figure out the battle section of the Compendium. As I think I've said before, I have issues with the way battles are set up: it seems all too easy with the rulebook deployment rules to end up with a battle that either takes up one narrow 2' wide strip, or is a long fight across the diagonal of the table. I also feel that a battle should be somehow more significant and memorable than just a chance meeting encounter.

There's an argument (and I'm interested in other folks' thoughts on this) that raids are about things - they’re about stealing food, or cattle, or treasure. Battles are potentially about places - they’re about taking a hill, a river crossing, a road junction, a town, that is the gateway to the territory you want to take from your enemy. Still trying to work out if there's a decent way of handling this in Dux - I sort of have one approach but I'm not 100% happy.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Back from a much-needed vacation....

...and time to stop listening to the Sealion book and sort out the to-do list for hobby stuff :D

Looks like I actually get a Wednesday evening free tomorrow (since I'm resigned to being unable to get enough cats herded to reschedule a committee meeting in time), so I aim to make a large dent in the Compendium. Have already had useful feedback from Derek Hodge on the rules clarifications section, so applied the minimal updates he suggested tonight. Also added another printable record sheet to the available ones at the back of the Compendium, since it was in my mind and I had the file open. (Cue much grumbling about Pages' table tool, which is... let's just say not the best.)

Saturday 19 October 2019

still alive...

In Brussels, enjoying good food, good beer, good chocolate. :)

Slowly working through the Sealion audiobook, which is my hobby activity for the long weekend. 

Thursday 17 October 2019

Back to Dux...

...'cause I may actually have a brain today.

Did a bit more tidying on the rules clarifications section, prompted by a question on Twitter. I think that's now done, barring getting Rich to confirm some of my and Derek's interpretations. Basically anything that's come up recently seems to be in the 'that's obvious if you apply the rules logically' category :D

OK - also. I am running Bloody Omaha here at the Mill House on Sat 16 Nov. There is probably room for one or two more players, and I'd give preference to folks who haven't managed to get to play it yet. If you're interested please drop me an email at fleetfootmike @ Gmail.

Best laid plans....

Seems like I'm not the only one laid low with assorted lurghis - spent a good half hour tidying and prepping for the club committee meeting to have over half the team cancel for various health and unforeseen reasons. But the studio is at least tidy!

Ah well. We had a good discussion of various things, and postponed the main meeting till next week :D Such is life.

So. Off to Brussels on Friday for a long weekend. Any suggestions for hobby-related things to visit while there?

Wednesday 16 October 2019

I had a great title for this post when I thought about it last thing last night...

...but I can't remember what it is now. (FX: more Lemsip)

So, yesterday. I pre-ordered Bad Squiddo's fabulous Bofors gun because, well, it's fabulous, and also see not-so-Secret Project S!

Also composed several relatively carefully worded tweet replies and - on a related tack - considered editing the podcast before realising that (probably fortunately) it had been superseded by events, and I was going to have to think very carefully and rerecord one section. Still have a decidedly croaky voice and no brain, so that's not one for now.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Man flu and the Royal Game of Ur

Not really connected, except that I wouldn't have discovered the latter without a dose of the former rendering me incapable of stringing many coherent thoughts together.

But hey, I vanished down a YouTube rabbit hole yesterday  (as this requires very little brain) and came up with something that's both about ancient history and boardgames. Good enough for here, no?

The Royal Game of Ur, for those not aware, is generally held to be the oldest playable board game in existence. The latter appeared on a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum, and were the subject of some serious research by Irving Finkel, who's one of the museum curators.  The video in question is from blogger/YouTuber Tom Scott (of whom I'm a fan), who actually took on Finkel at the game.

What actually makes it interesting is that, despite (in the form they were playing it) being a very simple game (you can explain the rules in under two minutes) it has a fascinating combination of luck and strategy, has dice that are basically ancient D4's (well, technically D2's!) and is a game with an interesting self-balancing property where the further ahead you are, the easier it is for your opponent to catch up (given a bit of luck and optimal play).

A fun game: I shall have to grab a copy to add it to our copy of Hnefatafl.

Monday 14 October 2019

Copyright, licenses and mapmaking...

Been finishing off some top-down map assets for Wonderdraft tonight - which led to some thinking about how I want to license assets like that - obviously it's good to get them out so folks can use them, but equally it'd be nice to see some small reward for the time that I put in.

A bit of thought and discussion later - stuff like that (map assets, 3D files, etc - not scenarios or the like) I'n going to put out as CC-BY-NC, which means it's under a Creative Commons (CC) license, so you can use it for your own projects; if you publish the result for others to use, you should credit me (BY); and this is restricted to Non-Commercial (NC) use.

Commercial use? Ask me. To quote what I've said on the linked page, while I am (obviously) interesting in making some small return on my effort, I’m equally interested in supporting independent creators and getting my work out there. Depending on who you are and what your project is, commercial licenses for things I create may range anywhere from ‘just give me a credit’ upwards.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Recommended Listening

If you are into Ancients at all and aren't listening to the Ancient Warfare podcast (and for that matter subscribing to the magazine), why not? :D

Can I particularly commend to you the most recent couple of episodes, one on the rôle of geography and maps in ancient warfare, and the other on how re-enactment and experimental archaeology contribute to our understand of ancient battles. Listened to the first and a chunk of the second on my way back from the O2 last night - definitely worth a listen.

As far as my podcast goes, sadly I have very little voice of any use (thank you for the cold, dear), so I'm not editing/fixing stuff today.

Friday 11 October 2019

More yak-shaving....

From Wiktionary:
  1. Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem.
    I was doing a bit of yak shaving this morning, and it looks like it might have paid off

Today's yak shaving involved upgrading my big iMac to macOS Catalina, as it can be done in the background, and allows me to make sure various essential bits of software don't break before I update my work laptop.

Of course, they do. Specifically, the time I was due to spend on podcast editing today went on getting a 64-bit Catalina-compatible version of Audacity working. :D

On the good side, I did also satisfy myself Wonderdraft still worked, and created a couple of assets for drawing top-down battlefield etc maps, specifically some Ordnance Survey style slope hatching.

Thursday 10 October 2019

One of those bitty days...

... that happen occasionally in which I can't quite point at or photograph anything and say "look, I done this today"...


  • updated my 'wargamer for hire' site
  • took delivery of the bits for the club Salute 2020 game (which were originally the bits for a game at Hammerhead a few years ago, being repurposed) - this wasn't trivial, as it's about 64 square feet of plywood and foam.
  • found several miniatures I'd forgotten I'd ordered
Annoyingly, the handbrake cable on my car broke while picking James up from the station, so tomorrow morning is going to involve a visit to the garage that replaced a brake calliper during the MoT two weeks ago, since I suspect these events may not be unconnected.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

I recorded a podcast!

(sounds of various readers dying of shock)

Yup - The Miller's Tale 8 is in the can. I'm not proposing to edit it tonight, as I've found with hindsight that being at a day or so's remove from it stops the immediate post-recording sense of 'well that sucked' from just making me delete it all and start again :D

Band rehearsal tomorrow, so with luck you'll see episode 8 by the weekend.

Dux updating...

Added some more rules clarifications yesterday based on a couple of things Andy raised a week ago and an issue with Aggressive Charge that I actually got wrong on Monday (oh, the embarrassment).

Latest version of that Appendix has been bundled up in a PDF to TFL, Derek and Andy for comment

Monday 7 October 2019

Battle Report - 07 Oct 2019 - "Treasure Hunt" Dux Britanniarum

Another playest of a Compendium raid scenario - this time a hunt for treasure. Chris (with a little help from me) took the British, and Rod and Myk the Saxons - total experience between the players being that Rod has played one and a bit games before, so this was also a teaching game. I don't have much voice left.

I'll skip the scenario details, other than to note that this one didn't need a rehash of the start conditions, and does seem to play quite well. Still tweaking how the result affects the campaign, and I have two tables still to write. But... there was one epic fight.

The British Hearthguard edge up to the wood... 
...where they find two units of Saxon Gedriht, having this turn moved up and being about to search a fallen piece of stonework for rumoured Roman treasure...

Note here this is pretty heavily weighted in favour of the Saxons - Myk has 11 dice for his elites plus 2 for his champion and 3 for his Lord for a total of 16. Chris has 11.... except he has a dragon-suited Carpe Diem, Hero of the Age (doubles his Lord's combat dice)  and another dragon-suited card, which gives him 17. Two rounds of combat: the first sees not a lot of damage done, except one kill on Chris, which he rolls onto his Lord and elects to take on his Champion... Myk does however take enough shock that round two is still quite close, and then rolls badly enough that the fight continues. One Saxon elite unit is now on 3 men and 3 shock, Chris's elites have 2 shock...

End of turn. First card up of note is Saxon Lord... Rod and Myk are holding a decent bunch of cards...

But Chris (with a bit of advice from me) plays this gem of a collection in his hand...
Step Forth - British Lord interrupts and activates immediately
Audacia - his Lord gets two more levels (boy, if THAT had turned up with the Hero of the Age...)
Carpe Diem - wrong suit, so not needed :D
So. Off comes the shock (I hadn't;t removed the dice when the pic was taken) and round we go again. 10 dice for the British, 5 figures, Lord level 5 (for the activation, not just the round), takes on 11 (8 figures, Lord + Champion -2 for shock)

And blow me if the British don't survive two more rounds, on 4 shock with 4 men left, and put excess shock on one of the Saxon Elites... unfortunately not quite enough to cause anything to break but they did fall back...

Of course, now it's time to pay the piper: Myk's Saxons do a preposterous ten hits - surprisingly Chris saves all but 4 shock and 1 kill, just doesn't lose his Amphora, but falls back a fair way...

There we called it, which was a bit of a shame, as I was quite keen to see what wound happen when the Saxon Elite turned round to find 12 warriors backed by 12 levy, all in a large formation in Shieldwall behind them :D
Need to check up on some rules for Aggressive Charge, among other things. A very useful session.

Battle Report - 06 Oct 2019 - "Marston Moor" - Pike and Shotte

Slightly late (as I had a bunch of photos to sort through), here's Sunday's refight of Marston Moor using Warlord's Pike and Shotte rules. Huge thanks to Gary for organising it, and Rod, Pippa, Ash, Dan, Grahame, AndyM, and Shawn for making it an enjoyable day.

[This is our seventh (or so) ECW battle recreation - Carl ran Edgehill in 2012 with Warhammer ECW, Gary ran Newbury later in the same year with Pike and Shotte, Grahame ran the little-known skirmish in Stilton in 2014 (as well as at a couple of shows), we've run Cropredy twice, once in 2011 and once in 2012 (both with WECW), and of course we ran Bridlington the other week.]
Initial deployments, Parliament on the left. My rough guess is there's a bit under 1000 figures on the table.
Initial advances in the centre. Hampered by Pippa (as Tiller) having rotten luck with activation rolls, and AndyM (Lord Fairfax) and Shawn (Baille) not doing much better.
Gary (Black Tom Fairfax) starts his assault on the right.
Parliament's right wing continues its advance while Rod (Goring) attempts to deploy in response. 
I (Rupert) do a quick head count and realise the right is in trouble, so send Rupert's two units of Horse (including his rather beefy Lifeguards) to Rod's aid.

Nothing's actually happening on the Royalist right, as neither Dan (Cromwell) or Ash (Byron) appear to be able to throw anything under a 9 for activation! 
Rupert's Horse arrive. But possibly too late.
Make that definitely too late. 
Serious cavalry action ensues on the Royalist right. Tom's stray unit of commanded shot get caught in the crossfire, but somehow manage to repel a charge from some Roundhead cavalry. Twice.
I (Newcastle) bravely elected not to form hedgehog with the foot facing Dan's cavalry, and despite being pushed back...
...survived, clearly inspired by the commanded shot to their right. Dan's front rank falls back for the first of several breathers. 
The astute will notice there is no left flank cavalry of a Royalist persuasion remaining. Told you Rupert was too late :(
Tiller's second rank of foot wheel and mount a sterling defence of the hedge line. 
...while Baille and Lord Fairfax decide the time is right to attack the centre.
...leading to a bit of a meat grinder.

Over on the right, Dan wades in again, and eventually the Royalist right breaks.
Gritty defence of the left, still, but it's only a matter of time.
And there we called it - a resounding win for Parliament, and a great game.

My one lone gripe, which has always been the case for the Warlord mass combat rulesets, is that it is very easy to fluff one roll and end up doing precisely nothing for one or more turns with an entire brigade/battalia. While I laud their attempt to add some friction to the rules, IMO it can be a little bipolar, especially if you're attempting to move a large chunk of units as one and you miss the roll.

That said, it only detracts a little from an excellent day. Even if Parliament won :D

Saturday 5 October 2019

Prepping for Sunday

Gary from our club is putting on a recreation of Marston Moor using Pike and Shotte tomorrow.

Lucky (?) me gets to be Prince Rupert, so I spent a chunk of the afternoon having a quick read up about the battle and tidying up my small collection of Warlord ECW figures. Looks like I need another KR Multicase box, although this one might have to include a fair bit of pick and pluck to fit the pikes ;D

Friday 4 October 2019

Review: Feed Me Games

If you've been around Twitter or the right parts of Facebook or other social media, you will have noticed mention of a new gaming site - Feed Me Games.

Essentially, it aims to pull together games of all kinds (roleplayers, wargamers, boardgamers) onto one social media site, free from spam, harassment and general idiocy. Since I fit all three of the first categories (and hopefully none of the second three :D), I signed up - you can find me there, predictably enough, as TroubleAtTheMill.

What do I think?

Mostly, I think it suffers from not having hit critical mass yet - starting this kind of thing is always difficult, as without enough people interacting, it won't take off. Witness Google+, which, with a much less laudable and focussed aim and a much bigger company behind it, never really took off, and ditto Google Wave (which I think was criminally underused and absolutely brilliant, and I wish Google had kept it going, but that's by the by). Traffic is slowly ramping up - my D&D 5E discussion group is acquiring a half dozen or so members a day.

It's kind of a bit of everything - it looks and feels as if it's derived from Facebook, with a front page news feed of all your interesting stuff, plus groups, personal blogs, messages and events - and ads, which might make it the one social media site on which I wouldn't bitch about ads, because they're actually relevant. It's not perfect, and I think jaytee and his partner are well aware of that - there are always going to be teething problems (trust me, I'm a web developer) with a site like this - but what there is for the most part clean, pretty robust, properly secure and usable.

I know there's already plenty of places for us gamers to be social - Twitter, Facebook, Blogger etc. I'm loath to move lock stock and barrel to  FMG (hell, I'm damn proud of my page view count here!), but I do think it has the potential to be a good home for discussions, and for cross-pollination between the various strands of the gaming hobby. I certainly intend to give it my support, and I'd like to encourage folks reading this to do so as well: if enough of us do, it has the potential to be a really good place.

[Note: this is going to be one of the very few posts I cross-post verbatim to The Sage DM]

Thursday 3 October 2019

Boxes to put things in....

Postman delivered my KR Multicase order this morning :D

Have removed the Saxons and British from their Really Useful boxes, and pretty much filled the box with foot and a few cavalry that haven't made it on the table yet. Also flagged a bunch of stuff for repair, which is going to be Saturday's project, I think, if I can find enough small shields and wire spears :D
Look. A box! With lots of
blue foam trays in it.

I also basecoated some 28mm boxes from the TT Combat Venice set - strictly I suppose they're crates but who cares. They need some drybrushing and in a couple of cases picking out rope handles, but all in all they're nice resin models. And I have a pile more coming from Annie at Bad Squiddo tomorrow!
Smaller scale boxes!

Wednesday 2 October 2019

If this is Wednesday, it must be....

....scenery night.

Andrew and AndyM dropped by tonight, so while Andrew painted stonework and shutters, Andy and I set to work on the grape-box bridge.

Bridge ramp design - using Apple Pages as my decent CAD package doesn't run on the studio MacBook. The black line is the 5mm foam board decking, the green (bounded by the yellow) marks the side plates, and the lower blue triangle the supports...
...yielding a pair of templates like so. 
And here's the finished result. 
Also note the detailing on the sides (card cutouts), and the guttering on the deck (a side effect of the way the box is made :D)

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Lining up Dux....

Spent lunch time adding the changes to the Rescue raid scenario to the master Compendium. We'll probably play it again a couple of times as both Andy and I want to check that it's winnable for the British without more tweaks.

Also decided I'm fed up of keeping easily breakable figures (with spears etc) in Really Useful Boxes, so ordered some trays and a case from KRMulticase (which did involve a fair amount of figuring out which trays to get!). Given they're regulars at all the shows, picking up more should I need them (especially as it's likely to be just core trays, which they carry all the time) should be easy. Pro-tip, though - buy the bundle with a case, it's loads cheaper!

I'm happy to keep the FoW-based infantry in RUB's for now, I think.
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