Friday 29 November 2019

Back onto the Compendium

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

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

Thursday 28 November 2019

Redoing the river boards

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

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

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Wednesday terrain building session

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Another rather fragmented (if somewhat better) day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh boy, did the Finns have a sniper.

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

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

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

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

Sunday 24 November 2019

It's been a day...

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

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

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

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

Suggestions for a name welcome.

Battle Reports - 23 Nov 2019 - Dux, Steel Lard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 22 November 2019

One last bit of terrain for Steel Lard,...

I wasn't sure I was going to finish it, but hey, I appear to be on a roll.... I have now talked myself into running two different scenarios tomorrow at Steel Lard, I think :D

Several stones from the gravel outside. 
A bit of blue foam Tetris...
A foam board lid, and some filler.

Several more stages, a weekend off for Omaha, and who knows what else later.... The stones are held in with a combination of Loctite Power Grab (which I can't get over here and have almost run out of) and filler. 
We get to here! Usual WWS static grass in layers, some Javis moorland scatter in front of the opening, some Noch and Woodland Scenics stuff... Initially held down with PVA (for the scatter and dandelions) and superglue (for the tufts) and then given a heavy spray of WWS layering spray to hold it. 
It's a bit shaggy but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  I may round the corners off the tile. If you see this or the white horse at Steel Lard, have a peek at just how long the static grass layers are (I'll have a small tester piece with me as well).

Thursday 21 November 2019

Now it's not a shapeless brown lump....

 So, in a nutshell, it's a cut out from a Google Image search
of the Uffington Hill horse stuck down on a 'chalk' painted
area of the hill (with Citadel Wraith Bone spray), and used as
a mask so grass won't stick to the hillside.
Putting some finishing touches to the chunks of pink foam that Andy cut for me on Saturday and Sunday, and I started work on yesterday.

Yes, it's a hill with a white horse :D

Usual approach, although in the absence of any 3mm hardboard the hill is stuck down on 3mm foam board to hopefully keep it from getting scuffed at the corners.

Grasswork is the usual. If you've missed out on this, there is a video (yes, you actually get to hear me talk) on a previous post here.

The end result.
Note this fits Andy and my standard hill geometry - in fact the
right hand end is one small extra hill and a spare from the
Omaha Beach build.  
One aside - the layering spray in the pump bottle does tend to gunk up with dried glue if you're not careful, so you really do need to do what they suggest and spray warm soapy water through the nozzle straight after you're done (just unscrew the lid, dip the business end in a cup of warm water and washing up liquid and squirt a lot). I didn't last time I did this, so I had to buy a couple of cheap spray bottles off Amazon to decant the otherwise perfectly good layering glue into.

Anyway, here's the process:

  • WarWorld Scenics's 2mm summer grass, on a layer of Hobbycraft PVA, using their static grass applicator;
  • WarWorld's layering spray, while the previous layer of grass is still wet;
  • More static grass, this time WWS Autumm 4mm, with the applicator;
  • More layering spray, again while still wet;
  • More static grass - WWS 6mm dead
  • More layering spray
  • a light dusting of WWS 2mm field straw in a few places
  • peel off the mask, pat self on back :D
  • various grass tufts, and Noch flowers.
  • A couple of rocks out of the garden.
And there you go. 

If you're at Steel Lard, you may well see it. Or even play on it.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

More scenery...

...but no photos, as I've locked up the workshop and gone indoors, and it's bloomin' cold out :D Besides, there's a finite limit as to how excited you're going to get over two big bits of pink insulation foam and filler painted Sandtex Bitter Chocolate and left to dry. Look. It's a brown lump, ok?

It'll be worth looking at by the end of tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday 19 November 2019


There's a fair bit of tidying up to do after Omaha, and it's taken me a good hour to get all the figures and bits in the right boxes... Apart from anything else, I have a barrow and a hill to finish for Steel Lard for the weekend, and I need the workspace, so the tiles will have to get tidied away before tomorrow evening.

Should I be worried that while I was clearing up I had at least three thoughts for things that need doing before I next run Bloody Omaha? Since you ask:

  • I'm not happy with the two German defensive outposts: they're not historically accurate in a number of ways, not least that the two bunkers should look more across the beach than out to sea, and have blast walls protecting them from bombardment from offshore. Fortunately, the defences are only on three small bits of craft foam.
  • I'd really like a backscene along the rear of the board - needs to be low enough to reach over, but something that allows me to take low-angle photos and not get bookcases in the background!
  • some means of marking wire as cut that doesn't require removing whole 6" sections.
Stop whimpering, Andy! It's not till 2024!

Battle Report - 18 Nov 2918 - "The Second Battle of Newbury" - Pikeman's Lament

Newbury is top right of this board,.
The final game in our club Pikeman's Lament campaign - the Royalists are fleeing towards Oxford and have been caught on the hop by a night march and pincer movement by the forces of Parliament.

Grahame set this up as two battles on back to back 8'x4' tables - on one side 3 Royalist players (Shawn, Tom, Pippa) against 3 Parliament (Colin, Tony, AndyM2), on the other 4 Royalists (me as Maurice, Carl as Goring, Ash, Alan) against two Parliament (AndyM, Grahame), both with double size forces. There was an option for Parliament to cross from one table to the other (across the main road to Oxford) if they broke through the lines.

Donnington (and a regimental gun which must
have taken some effort to get up there)
bottom left.
Each named commander had chits they could cash in for an activation re-roll: our cause wasn't helped by Goring (and his supply of re-rolls) getting killed in an early cavalry fight on the left wing, resulting in me having to bail out Carl's terrible dice rolling in order not to have AndyM (as Cromwell) simply roll up that flank.

I held on reasonably well in the centre - Grahame played his usual cagey waiting game which meant we were both dying the proverbial death of a thousand cuts from long range musketry. A fight I always seem to lose in the long run. Ash and Alan between them held off Parliament around Donnington keep....

Over on the other table, Shawn did a superb job of keeping Colin out of Newbury, but unfortunately, AndyM2 (we have too many AndyM's, never mind Andy's, at the club) managed to break through the Royalist left with a sizeable force, and at the point we called it was sitting astride the road to Oxford and threatening Ash's rear and the Royalist baggage train.

So - a win for Parliament, much like in history :D

Add another to our long list of ECW battles the club has refought! (Edgehill, Marston Moor, First Newbury, Bridlington, Stilton, Cropredy Bridge (twice)...)

Sunday 17 November 2019

Ok, not quite the final time.... Andy and I decided to see what would happen with Wave 3 of the US landing craft this afternoon.

Answer? Mopping up is really, really hard when the things you're trying to mop up are in hard cover behind barbed wire and they have lots of razor sharp 7.92 mm teeth!

After about three hours, Andy had reduced the Germans to two manned MGs and a pair of 5cm Granatenwerfer. and we called it a day.

A number of interesting takeaways from the game as a whole - most I'll share in the article I've just finished for Lard Magazine, which you'll have to buy :D I was, though, amused to realise I'd been being slightly lenient to the Americans in a couple of rather important places as regards firing at German positions. I don't think it would have affected the outcome of the game, but I think they'd have had to figure out how to concentrate their forces at a weak spot more to get ashore and inlands.

There's more photos for your delectation on my Twitter feed.

Saturday 16 November 2019

For the FINAL time in 2019, Bloody Omaha

Having promised Per and his young lad M that I'd run the game for them, since they missed it at Salute, and likewise AndyM, who's missed every public showing of the game, I arranged to put it on today. Sadly, one other couldn't make it, but I will probabaly arrange another run sometime next year for him and a couple of others. We didn't quite finish - Per had a train to catch - and Andy and I are going to run the arrival of wave 3, seeing if Robert Capa makes it back to Blighty in time for his press deadline and how hard the Germans get clobbered tomorrow afternoon.

I'm not going to write a full battle report, as frankly I'm out of brain after that! (and hopefully Per has many more photos and will write a better one!) Much fun was had, many bizarre dice rolls happened, many photos were taken. For the context of many of them I suggest you check my Twitter feed (man, I have had SO many likes and retweets today), but I'll caption a few in the gallery below. A number have been cropped and adjusted to look like period shots from Robert Capa :D

Huge thanks to Per, M and Andy for playing, and to my wife for... well, not resisting the temptation to bake - those maple apple scones were a) still warm and b) amazing! And as ever to Rich and Nick for the scenario and the rules.

First dice roll of the game on the first activation. Sherman DD fires at bunker. M rolls double 6. Boom.
For an encore a bit later he rolled 5 consecutive 1s on a d6. 
Andy handling disembarkation from a Higgins Boat.... 

Managing the chaos on the beach....
...aka 'this is why all bases are clearly labelled!'

The Butcher of Omaha,

HE pins. Stonks from 4 105mms pin A LOT.

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