Wednesday 11 November 2020

Remembrance

 In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.








Apologies for the delay: I was out at a friend's memorial service this morning. Rest in peace, Mal. 

Sunday 6 September 2020

Lessons learned from Virtual Hereward

 

So. That's Virtual Hereward done - I'm not going to say 'for the year' because I'm really hoping that by September 5th 2021 (shameless plug) we'll be able to run another in-person show :D

About now the Hereward team would be helping our traders load out and checking the hall for anything we've left behind... very different here this year!

Anyhow - things we've learned doing the virtual show:

The general:

In an ideal world, you should (stop sniggering at the back) be able to set up your entire show in advance if you choose to do it using pre-recorded videos, scheduled tweets and Facebook and/or YouTube premieres.

You won't. However appealing the idea of spending show day curled up on the sofa with a beer, the F1, the cricket and a very occasional glance at your iPad may be, it won't happen :D Scheduled tweets will fail to post on time or at all, you'll discover you forgot to set up one of your Twitter accounts on your tablet, things you thought were set to premiere won't be (and the iPad client won't work for fixing that), and you will need someone to field tweets, questions, yeet YouTube chat spammers into outer darkness et cetera. To be fair, most of your work will have been done before, but you're still going to have to have someone on the front lines to make sure it all runs smoothly.

By the time you're all set up, you are going to wish someone made a tool that allowed you to say 'here's a video, a title, a description and a time, please upload to FB and YouTube, schedule it for this time and tweet 10 mins beforehand...'. Sadly, it doesn't exist (unless, I suspect, you want to pay quite a bit for it), and for a show the length of ours you are going to spend most of the previous day watching upload progress bars and scheduling tweets and videos.

Both YouTube and Facebook do support mass upload of videos, so you can do all the typing at the beginning and then wait for it all to finish... But (and it's a big but) you are still going to have to watch it like a hawk, as Facebook browser tabs, in particular, are a bit of a memory and CPU hog, and if like me you have about 15GB of video to upload it may well silently die when you're not looking, and finding out what survived the death is tricky (see below).

Make sure any background music you use on your videos is copyright free (e.g. Apple loops, or stuff which is clearly marked as royalty-free). If you don't, both YouTube and Facebook's remarkably unforgiving automatic copyright detection algorithms will flag it and may either block your video and/or mute the offending portion. You can appeal this, but it can take up to a week with no guarantee of success, so just be careful, OK? 

(Aside note, from bitter experience with music at church: just because the artist says on their website 'for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic our music/videos are OK to use royalty-free', this almost certainly does not mean the big faceless copyright management company who actually oversee their rights are aware of this, or even if they are that the information has made it to YT/FB.)

The specific:

Twitter's scheduled tweets feature (for which you need an account at ads.twitter.com) is a bit of a pain to get initially set up (and you need to register a credit card, even though scheduling tweets is free). It also appears to only let you schedule tweets on the quarter hour, but in fact if you type in a time and hit return it will accept that. However, it does appear to only run its scheduler every 5 minutes, and it doesn't take much for, say, your tweet scheduled for 09:55 to actually post at 10:00 or sometimes later. So, tip therefore - if you want to post something guaranteed to appear ahead of a scheduled video premiere, give it 10 or 15 mins lead time just to be on the safe side, if it turns up at all (two of ours didn't). Also, don't rely on on-time 'just in time' scheduled tweets as your only Twitter promotional vehicle.

Facebook Creator Studio is an appallingly bad piece of web software. I know this may come as no surprise to anyone, but... here are a number of tips for managing video premieres on your Facebook page and getting round the disaster area that is Creator Studio: 

  • Bookmark https://www.facebook.com/YourPageHere/publishing_tools/ as it is a swine to find in the new Facebook UI (and sad to say not as well laid out in the new UI either).
  • Whatever you do, do NOT walk away and leave a video uploading: keep your screen active, don't let your machine sleep, and keep an eye on the upload window (move it into its own window rather than a hidden tab). Equally DO NOT close the window or quit the browser until it's done. If your machine goes to sleep, or your tab loses focus, there's a real risk the upload will silently die. As this is difficult to distinguish from the upload finishing successfully (the upload window goes away and nothing happens for 10 minutes while Facebook's copyright detection algorithm checks you haven't broken anyone's copyright...) you could be in for problems.
  • Finding yet-to-be-premiered videos is difficult. I finally discovered the link at https://www.facebook.com/YourPageHere/live_videos which actually shows what's scheduled, without which I wouldn't have discovered Facebook's one mis-scheduled and one completely missing premieres for our show... And as for actually editing any part of it once it's scheduled? forget it. 
  • If you're in the UK, the timezone FB displays when prompting you for a premiere date and time is 'Atlantic/Canary'. This is actually UK time (with the correct daylight savings offset), but really, Facebook?

YouTube's video premieres also have an interesting feature or two.

  • Again, DO NOT close the tab or quit the browser till your upload is done.
  • YouTube only lets you schedule videos at :00, :15, :30 and :45 past the hour, and there is a 2 min preroll, so your video will actually start at :02, :17, :32 or :47. Bear this in mind if you want absolute sync between the Facebook and YouTube premieres.
  • There is a very odd bug with some channels where it will only let you schedule at :15 and :45. As of the time of writing, this has been known about by YouTube for over two weeks (a lot of churches were the first to trip over it), and as yet it remains unfixed. If your channel falls victim to that there is a workaround: change your scheduled timezone to Chatham Islands time, which is GMT+12:45 (weird, I know, but right now, really useful!), and schedule your video appropriately. For example, schedule a 10am Sunday BST video at 9:45pm Sunday Chatham Islands time, or a 6:30pm Monday video becomes 5:45am the following day. There are tools online to help you do the timezone arithmetic if you need them, or you can check once you've scheduled it, as it will display the premiere time in your original timezone.
  • If you want live chat on your premiere, you have to mark the video as Not Suitable For Kids. Also note that live chat stops when the premiere finishes and people close the browser, and further discussion has to happen in the comments (although the live chat can replay along with the video).
Running panels as Zoom calls. 
  • Zoom will let you record locally or in the cloud - I haven't played with the latter so I can't comment, but local recordings are certainly useable for pre-recording panels.
  • The sound quality isn't brilliant - it's liveable, but it is a bit at the mercy of bandwidth constraints between each of the participants and you. If any of your panellists have bad internet (jittery/freezing video and Dalek audio), it's better to get everyone to turn their video off and go sound only. Of our two panels, one was perfect, but Dr. Harry had somewhat iffy internet on the other, and the only cure was for us all to turn video off.
Video battle reports... are hard work. I learned a lot from recording our Battle Of Stilton video, but I'm going to put that in a video/post of its own. I would note that Grahame and Andrew were wearing wireless tie-clip mics for the sound, which seem to have been a great investment. 

So - that's it for another year. Hopefully we're back in the Cresset in 2021!

Virtual Hereward 2020 - it's a strange day!

 

It's Sunday September 6th.

Were this a 'normal' first Sunday in September, I'd have been up since 6, and I'd have been standing outside the Cresset waiting for the duty manager to open up at 7. By now I'd have already walked about 7 or 8 thousand steps checking the table layout, making sure all our game runners and traders are happy, and handing them all free coffee/tea vouchers, and I'd be sat behind the front desk with probably Pippa, Anne and/or Carl checking people's paper tickets or taking their money with the second or third very large cup of tea and a Cresset bacon sandwich. Yesterday would have been spent printing paper show guides, drinks vouchers and extra floor plans, getting the two show award trophies engraved, fielding last minute questions...

Of course, due to lockdown and the COVID-19 virus, I'm not. Instead I'm sat in my office here with windows open on Facebook, TweetDeck and YouTube, discovering all the little annoyances I didn't know about (like scheduled tweets not being instantaneous, and forgetting to set up the club twitter account on my phone), and generally being at the hub of a collection of pre-programmed posts that should in theory run themselves. Yesterday I spent editing and uploading the best part of 5 hours of video (as well as running and recording a Zoom panel with 4 very enthusiastic and talkative people!) and then trying to get the aforementioned 'should run themselves' bit actually working.

It's very odd!

But anyway - we're up and rolling! The schedule is at http://www.hereward-wargames.co.uk/virtual-hereward-2020-schedule/ if you want to drop in and see how things are going. 

Monday 27 July 2020

Virtual Lard 2

I spent Saturday 'at' (virtually) VL2: in the morning I ran an IABSM Lite game, with a couple of twists that were only possible on Zoom, and I played SP2 in the afternoon. For a much better report than I can provide for the latter,. do check out Richard Crawley's blog on the subject - great fun and outrageous French accents abound.  Many thanks to Richard for umpiring - excellent game.

I ran a small IABSM scenario set in my favourite corner of WW2 - northern Italy. I nicked an idea from Bloody Omaha in that the Germans were a very small, well dug in force (a section., two '34s, a Stug, a PAK40 and a sniper) run by me as the umpire, and the four  (reduced to three, sadly) players took a cut down British company - 2 sections, a carrier section. 4 Sherman IIIs.

The other twist was that they got a briefing and some recce photos, and from then on (as they were all connected via Zoom) they were restricted to a units-eye view (using an iPhone on a custom stand).
The British reccee photos: an overhead pass and, to quote, "One of the PRU Spitfires made a low pass over the valley this morning. Took MG fire from the church doing it, so the pilot really hopes you appreciate the effort."

They are attacking from the left (south). 

8 Platoon make it across the river, and flush out some Germans in front of the church, as well as an MG34 in the nearer farm,

7 Platoon meanwhile are being very wary of the main farmhouse, in which they keep spotting movement but aren't sure what. CSM Moxon is kept busy yelling for more smoke from the 2".

"Gunner - Jerry tank, right of the pine tree... traverse... no, further right of the wall... fire... GOT HIM!"
We didn't finish, in part because I had three relatively new to IABSM players and was wrestling a bit with the tech. I'd love to run it again: definitely a fascinating game,. and the players seemed to think the viewpoint idea worked.

Mat by TinyWargames, buildings by Empires at War, Battlefront and I think SHQ, figures by Battlefront, Shermans by PSC.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Dux Brit updates

While you're all waiting for me to stop being busy, and a) finish the Compendium and b) start the Linnius Campaign again, please allow me to refer you to Leading Lead's "The Rhegn Campaign" which is just starting up and being chronicled on their blog.

As those of you who made it to Virtual Lard will be aware, I managed to run two games of Dux over Zoom, which went pretty well - Rich Clarke (despite being 7 years rusty with the rules) in particular had a great time in the morning game, and we had players as far afield as Australia and Colorado USA.

The Compendium is progressing - I think my playtest group has pretty much laid the gremlins to rest in the various scenarios (thank you very much, folks!), so as soon as I get the last few bits edited I'll be looking for proof-readers. Sadly... actually, no. For once I am not Over-Commitment Boy... There are a limited list of people at church with my skill set, and pretty much 2/3 of my free time goes on that at present.  Fortunately, I am learning to delegate and train, so hopefully that will ease. And I am taking a week off in July, of which part is to record a long overdue album, but voice and fingers won't let me do that all day everyday, so the rest of the time is going on Dux.

Saturday 27 June 2020

Weighing in on the current debate

Assuming you've being paying attention, you are probably aware of the somewhat acrimonious goings on involving TMP and TFL of late.

I've dipped my toe in enough to know on which side of the fence I come down, but this isn't about that. Yes, our hobby needs to be inclusive and free from bullying, and I personally want no part of a site which appears to actively promote, condone and practice the latter.

But.

We both have to be better than that, and be seen to be better than that. Both because it hands people ammunition, and because, frankly, we should be better than that. By all means call out bad behaviour when it occurs, but we don't need to resort to personal attacks, directly or indirectly, on members of TMP staff for who they are, nor do we need to make bullying/threatening noises to manufacturers who advertise with them.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
 
 

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Dux Brit Compendium playtest update

Lots of great feedback and testing happening - huge thank you to the playtest team. Still dying to see how one group are managing on Tabletop Simulator! (I did just find some figure assets originally designed for Saga that might be interesting to use....)

In between answering questions (including a couple of 'well, yes. It says so in the rules... actually, that's weird. It doesn't. But that's how everyone plays it, isn't it...' moments) I'm finishing off the last few sections, and should be up for proof-reading Real Soon.

Thursday 16 April 2020

State of the Mike

Knackered...




Oh, wait, you want more. :D

Ok, so. Last week, for those who pay attention to the Western ecclesiastical calendar, was Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday, and I have been editing videos every day (literally every day) for church (and for a fair chunk of the weeks before, while we were debating whether we were still going to be allowed to stream from an otherwise empty church). This has actually been pretty useful, since it's amounted to a free basic training course in Apple's Final Cut Pro, which is always a handy thing to go on the CV.

I'm also now officially Mill House Studios Ltd (site update IS on the todo list) as I also have a new job from the end of April as a contract developer - for now, I'd prefer not to say who for, if that's ok. Either way, there's a certain amount of organisation involved in getting that up and running, and it does mean I have a handy vehicle for putting the money I make from other projects through.

And then my wife has gone and done her knee in. Again. Because, as usual, she's too stubborn to remember she's already done it in once, and there are other people in the house who can do stuff for her. *sigh* I love her dearly, really I do. :D

I've also been writing a few blogs (per various people's requests) on assorted topics in gaming and setting up Discord etc. And trying to keep the Dux Compendium moving amid all this - the difficulty is that while I was hoping the time off after the previous job would allow me to focus on it, the stuff I have left really requires what programmers call 'flow', the ability to shut off outside distractions, get your head down and do stuff without breaks. And that has been in short supply.

Normal service is being resumed, slowly, honest. I have dumped my todo list into OmniFocus, in the hope that I don't drop anything on the floor.

The hobby streak, sadly, is toast - you'd have kind of thought not, given the circumstances, and if I was really trying I could have probably found something hobby related I've done every day to maintain it, but there are some days that it would have been a real stretch ("I read gaming Twitter!").

So anywhere, that's where I am. Well, actually, here's where I am....


Stay safe, folks!


Playtesters needed

(Boy, sure wish we’d got this far before lockdown!)

Ok. Looking for play testers for the new Raid and Battle scenarios in the Dux Britanniarum Compendium.

If you are reasonably experienced with Dux, and have the time and patience to run through a few scenarios, solo or (in some suitably socially distanced way) with a friend, over the next week or two and send me feedback, please drop me a mail at mike@altrion.org and let me know. 

Edit: OK - that’s enough for now! 

Huge thanks to the folks who replied: playtest packs will be out today.

I will be looking for a few proofreaders and sanity checkers of the full document when it’s finally done - watch this space. 

Monday 23 March 2020

Creating a Discord server

As various communities I'm in are looking at ways of doing Virtual Un-distancing, I've started a series of posts on my personal blog on various technologies you can use. First up, Discord.


Friday 20 March 2020

Discord server up!

Ok, so, two job interviews (for the same job) and a lot more tidying and stuff later, where are we?

The "Miller's Tale" Discord server is UP!

If you want to join, the invite link is here - you can sign up in a web browser, or if you have the Discord app installed on your tablet, smart phone or computer, the link will take you to the server. There are a number of chat channels, as well as the potential to set up voice chat for online games. or even one to one or small group video chat. I'll be there as TroubleAtT'Mill.

Have fun - treat it as an adjunct to all your current social media, with maybe the advantage of being a little more real time and not subject to the vagaries of what the system thinks you should see on your timeline. Also, voice chat? :D

I dunno if anyone else has noticed, but Amazon's Prime service is creaking a little under the load of a lot of people wanting stuff delivered (remember they run an Amazon Pantry food service which is probably breaking at the seams like all the others). Sadly, this means a couple of bits of kit I need to be able to do a pukka job on the Dux Britanniarum online game aren't going to arrive till possibly Tuesday, so I'm going to regretfully defer that to Saturday 28th March (Chillcon day, were it sadly not cancelled).

And now. on with the Compendium, once I've checked my tame cartographer (James) has done the maps I asked for.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Online game of Dux Britanniarum on Saturday

Assuming I can get the cameras etc all setup, I propose to run a game of Dux Britanniarum in the studio on Saturday. The intent is to have two players or teams in separate channels on Discord running each force, who will communicate their moves/intentions to me so I can move their forces.

Anyone interested, watch this space.

EDIT: due to delays in Amazon deliveries, this is postponed to Saturday March 28th.

Discord server/online gaming convention

I am in the middle of setting up a Discord server for online gaming and chat. This is not intended to replace Twitter, as that's a happily thriving community that I'm not interested in superseding or competing with (I am not an idiot).

However, it's going to contain at least the following:

  • Chat area for wargames, board games and RPGs
  • A business area where small companies can both advertise and chat to customers (I will probably require you to prove to me you're a gaming related business before you get to represent as such, and obviously I will require things to be kept civil and positive :D).
  • The games area - a channel where you can arrange an online game, and a support channel where you can ask technical questions about doing so
  • A channel with a dice-roller bot (never know when THAT'll come in handy!)
  • Voice chat. I'm not setting up any channels as yet, but I have plans: they will if nothing else be useful to allow voice chat while playing wargames via (say) Tabletop Simulator
The server invite link will be up later today or tomorrow, once I have things locked down and bots created to my satisfaction. 

Friday 13 March 2020

State of the Mike

I'm starting to think I should have "I Aten't Ded" as a tag on this blog (sounds of typing - oh, wait, I do!), although to be fair if you've been following me on Twitter you'd be aware I've been busy.

So: to catch up,

I came down with a rotten cold (no, not Covid-19!) the last two weeks of February, for which my brain was typically getting about as far as 'Good morning" for the first week and then giving up - it took me a week before I had a day without a sinus headache or migraine. Sadly, not enough brain to string coherent sentences together for DuxB... Once I recovered, life has been a combination of catching up on work (as *another* of our team was leaving, deadlines were looming...) and finishing up tarting up the Dead's Army boards, which, if you HAVE been following me on Twitter, now look pretty bloody awesome, and you can see them at Hammerhead tomorrow!

We are (after a last panic to assemble the Rubicon telegraph poles I'd bought and forgotten about) now done, and I was looking forward to a weekend off at the O2 for my annual pilgrimage to Country2Country and then finding some time to finish the Compendium.

Fate has other plans. Just about every US country artist has fled the country in a Covid-19, Trump-induced panic, so C2C got cancelled. And on Thursday, my boss called me to tell me they were letting me go with immediate effect. If you want the gory details of the latter, feel free to DM me on FB or Twitter, or ask me at Hammerhead, but my opinions probably shouldn't be aired anywhere permanent and public :D

So - here we are :D

I have various agencies looking out for things for me - if anyone knows of Perl developer vacancies, particularly short term contracts or even part-time ones,  especially if they allow telecommuting (not that they might have much choice soon!), feel free to let me know. However, I do have most of a month pay in lieu of notice, and a couple of small contract jobs from CricketArchive to extend that with luck, so, the short term plan:

  • reformat the work MacBook and wait for them to tell me where to send it. Dead prawn in the battery bay tempting but unlikely.
  • tidy the s**t out of the office and workshop (already in progress, the labeller is earning its keep)
  • set up the studio for game videos etc
  • Finish the Compendium. 
  • Start podcasting again (possibly two)
  • Start writing the next batch of gaming stuff, which includes CoC scenarios and some D&D stuff for the DMs' Guild (quick wins for money as they're already hand-written up in the dread Green File Of Gaming)
  • Look at starting a Patreon or other ways of further monetising this so I don't have to go back to work full time as a developer.
  • Remind Anne that all the above is potentially paying work and that doesn't mean I have time for DIY 

Comments, opinions, good wishes welcome.



Sunday 16 February 2020

A good day on the Compendium

...when I wasn't dealing with work (ugh) and not-work-but-work (don't ask, but fun)....

I've sorted out a bunch of stuff (with the inevitable 'damn, I've added a page feed near the top of the document, and now several sidebars are on the wrong page!'), and there's probably two evenings work left (not including the index and drawing a map), which will probably be Tuesday and Thursday, with luck.

Saturday 15 February 2020

No More Nails 2, Foamboard 0

Fingers crossed, anyway. The first two bits of foam board seem now to be stuck flat where they're meant to be, and I have stuck the last one down with the aid of five large household paint cans as weights.

In other news, thanks to AndyM and the guys, the TV is now up on the wall of the studio (that actually happened on Wednesday) and I spent some time today setting up the Apple TV properly so I can toss a primary or secondary display from an iPad, iPhone or Mac to it. The uses of this are many, from D&D initiative trackers and map displays, through watching the Test Match to showing me what the camera or cameras see when I'm shooting video. (This also makes the latter one step nearer!)

Friday 14 February 2020

More Dead's Army terrain

...and much swearing, as the extra bits of base for the church and graveyard have decided to warp.

It's not as bad as it could be, as we'd already decided to glue them to the terrain tiles: cue a bit of a panic and a whole bunch of sorting and tidying until I found my No More Nails (and happily, my hot glue gun which I've been looking for for AGES!). So I've stuck two of the three extra bits down with NMN and weighted them with large paint pots and we'll leave those to see if they hold :D

Thursday 13 February 2020

Wednesday Terrain Building

Yesterday was back to Wednesday terrain sessions, now I'm back off vacation.


Some issues with the Salute game - apparently Andy picked the WIP up to bring it and a lot of the bits fell off, so he didn't bring it :( We'll be switching to hot glue next week, and seeing if that holds better.

We did get the Dead's Army church renovated, and some work done on both the cricket field and the graveyard: specifically Myk modded some Ratio station fencing by attaching pins to it so we can stick it in the foam terrain tile, and we undercoated the graveyard 'sabot' base and trimmed it, as well as sorting out what's going where.

Today I managed to find the white AP spray and undercoated the fences white (rather than green). I also worked out a force list for the first episode of the club's Kings of War/Vanguard campaign, which may mean I have to rebase my Shieldwolf shield maidens on 20mm bases (and paint at least a few more).

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Dux Britanniarum - British Shock Cavalry - some thoughts

British Shock Cavalry are tough as nails. They're technically only available either as the very last couple of reinforcements for the British, or as a starter option for the Gwŷr y Gogledd in Raiders.

The former isn't really so bad, as to get them you have to have won four battles or raids by 5 or more as the British, by which time the Saxons are either fleeing across the North Sea like whipped curs or have also had about that many wins and have piles of Warrior Group reinforcements and skirmishers.

The latter case, as an alternative for the Gwŷr y Gogledd, is, I think, a little problematic if you're facing the Saxons (more so than with other forces). Shock Cavalry roll double the number of dice in combat (and the rule is 'calculate the number of dice including bonuses, then double it' per a clarification from Rich) and on top of that do double Shock. Lets do the maths:

  • 4 Elite Shock Cavalry = 4 dice
  • Champion = 2 dice
  • Lord = 3 dice
  • Hero of the Age = 3 more dice for the Lord (remember, it's in the British starting hand) + 1 for the dragon-suited card
  • total = 13
  • Doubled = 26

With no other dice, that's an average of 13 hits. Against Elites, that's an average of 2-3 kills and 8-10 shock (because Shock is doubled). With an Aggressive Charge or Artorius (which is not unlikely, and something the British player will be looking for and hanging on to), the cavalry are hitting on 3's and that suddenly becomes 20-21 hits, 3-4 kills, a metric boatload of shock (14-16) and busted Amphorae all over the shop.

Meanwhile the 12 Saxon Elites, Lord and Champion they are (in the best case for the Saxons, attacking) have 17 dice, for an average of 2-3 kills and 4-5 shock. To be fair, that is likely to break the cavalry, but that is their worst case opponent - two lots of Warriors and a Level 2 Noble will have 14 dice and probably not break them, although they will likely incur excess shock while vaporising the Warriors (4-5 kills now and 8-10 Shock). Against a single Group and Level 2 Noble in the Border Tower raid the charging cavalry would automatically capture (3:1 dice odds).

The tactic for defending against Shock Cavalry is to keep them at range and fill them full of missile weapons, so they have too much shock (any at all) to charge. The other forces in Raiders have 12 or 16 missile-armed troops in their core force, so the Gwŷr y Gogledd going against them do at least have some chance of being held at bay. The poor Saxons have 4.

I'm teetering on the edge of deciding they're overpowered for game balance, and the rule should perhaps either be double dice OR double Shock, not both. I'm also wondering if woods are too lenient in terms of movement restrictions for Shock Cavalry (charging knee-to-knee at speed in a wood?)

Thoughts?

(Partial) battle report - 10 February 2020 - Dux Britaniarum

As well as a club general Meeting last night, we got to play Dux Brit. Very much a playtest rather than a raid - testing two things:

  • Raids where the British attack the Saxons (because reasons :))
  • More testing whether the British Shock Cavalry in the Dux Raiders Gwŷr y Gogledd force are overpowered against forces that don't have much in the way of ranged attacks.
Carl had (with some trepidation) the Saxons, I had the British. 
British forces advance to take a Saxon-held village. Standard raid scenario, just with the rôles reversed.
...and here come the British Lord's companions... 
Carl tries to shoot them, fails to do enough shock to stop them charging.
Carl then tries to hit the cavalry first, falls 4" short even with a Bounding Move.
The cavalry activate first next turn, with this fat fistful of Fate goodness - perhaps it's a little above average for a Fate hand, but it's not unreasonable... remember the Hero of the Age comes in the starter hand.
That's a very painful 16 dice. Doubled for Shock Cavalry charging, doing double Shock after that.

We paused there, once we'd rolled for effect, and talked through a few things, ran the 'what if the Saxons had charged home' test'... 

I'll document our thoughts in the next post.

Monday 10 February 2020

Not dead :D

Been away for a long weekend, having had house guests all week.

Did manage to scrape some hobby activity every day, though, just:
  • Thursday - site updates for Hereward Wargames Show
  • Friday - more of the above
  • Saturday - interesting and quite long discussion about the relative merits of some Arthurian fiction: more mental notes taken for the Bibliography section of the Compendium 
  • Sunday - managed to listen to two more chapters of "Worlds Of Arthur"
Running the last Dux playtest tonight. Also back at work, which isn't where I'd like to be :D

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Compendium Rules clarifications...

Yesterday I also put the rules clarifications from the Dux Britanniarum Compendium out on Dropbox for people to comment on. A huge thank you to Derek Hodge for collating the wisdom of the Mighty Dux himself...

Today's hobby activity has included dealing with the first piece of feedback, which did require a bit of thought :D 

Another I hate computers day....

Well, actually yesterday. I hate it when my hobby streak for the day turns out to be IT.

Sorting out a mailshot to the club, which should have gone out by the forum's newsletter mechanism... which decided that it would de-queue 5 emails from its outgoing queue to the local mail server and then toss the rest down a black hole. 

Grr.

Eventually got a list of members active enough to be eligible to vote out of our treasurer, dug each one's email out of the forum database, and sent them by hand. But not my idea of fun at all :D



Sunday 2 February 2020

State of the Compendium

Busy weekend with a gig for the band. Did some more work on the Compendium yesterday, so here's where we are. Today, mostly prep for club EGM on Monday.

Raids:
Done, ready for beta playtests

Revised Battle Scenarios, rest of Battles section:
Done, ready for beta playtests

Characters Section:
Non-nobles/hirelings section needs writing, rest is done.

Assorted imports from TFL Specials:
Done

Bibliography: 
part finished, more suggestions welcome :D

Sample Multiplayer Campaign:
part finished, needs a playtest for one concept, needs map

Campaign Progress flowchart/reference:
part finished (mostly needs a cleanup and making sure I haven't missed anything)
(Should this go on the back cover to match the QRS on the main rulebook?)

Collected faction progress charts:
British done, rest to do (basically to include stuff from Raiders, Compendium in one place)

Master Terrain table:
Raiders fortification values to calculate

Rules Clarifications:
Need Rich's check (or him to wash his hands of it :D)

Copyable Record sheets:
two more to do

Formatting, fillustrations:
Yes that is a word.
I'm formatting as I go, but I will do a final pass once done and I can figure out where to add fills. I may be looking for people with nice hi-res photos of Dux forces.

Index:
*whimper*


Friday 31 January 2020

Home sweet home, and more Dxx

Also. more whisky, which forestalled posting last night :D We're now back in England, unpacked and fed (and the cats, too, who would like to assure us that James was horrible and mean and never fed them at all... (yeah, right)).

Added a new section to the Compendium yesterday with some multiplayer campaign ideas and a minor variant British force and career path. Today I listened to more of Guy Halsall on the flights home - he's progressed from criticising John Morris to having a go at Gildas (which seems only fair, since the latter himself appears to have had a fairly big axe to grind in his writing!). Once home I moved yesterday's notes across to the main file, edited and added some more, cleaned up some formatting issues.

I'll see if I can get that section finished tomorrow, and then it's bits and pieces and (shudder) the index.

[Amusing discoveries department: it's possible I went to the same primary school as Guy Halsall, as he was born in my village a year after me.]

Thursday 30 January 2020

Hereward Catchup

First batch of traders up on the website yesterday. We’ll be introducing them, as is our wont, one at a time over the next few days then as they roll in.

Today, however, is a Dux day. :D

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Fort Charlotte

As a change from Vikings (however contemporary the Up Helly Aa festival actually is) yesterday we detoured by Fort Charlotte in Lerwick, which is a naval fort overlooking the bay and the use of Bressay. This is actually its third incarnation, as it was built and rebuilt during both of the Anglo-Dutch Wars before being rebuilt AGAIN in the 1700s - the latter incarnation is the one that mostly stands today, although it never saw action despite being manned throughout the Napoleonic Wars.

Small, but atmospheric, and an interesting little site.





Monday 27 January 2020

Working on the Compendium

I’m currently up with Anne in Lerwick for Up Helly Aa, visiting friends: you won’t see much blogging, but I’m attempting to wrap the Compendium this week and next (both of which I have off work). First on the list are working my way through Guy Halsall’s “Worlds of Arthur” and adding a campaign section o the Compendium based on some discussion on Facebook and some ideas I already had kicking around.

Friday 24 January 2020

Bernard Cornwell and Dux Britanniarum

I have always felt (and I think Rich has said) that the world of Dux does fit in very well with the Bernard Cornwell "The Warlord Chronicles" series (as well as the likes of Rosemary Sutcliffe's "Sword at Sunset").

With that in mind, a couple of things:

First, fans of the Cornwell books may be interested, if they have missed it, in the announcement that Epix have bought the TV rights. The fact that this is being produced by the same team as did the BBC's recent "His Dark Materials" series gives me a certain amount of confidence in the result, as well as hope it should be better than "The Last Kingdom" adaptation.

Secondly, I've been working on the Compendium, specifically battles, some more, and added a new Cornwell-esque pre-battle option to those already available. Like all Compendium stuff, it will be optional.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Dux Britanniarum battle research

Since we've been working on battles for Dux, today's hobby activity has been some interesting listening for the pre-battle phase, namely "The role of contests and rituals in ancient battle" from those nice folks at the Ancient Warfare Magazine Podcast.

As ever, recommended listening.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

More work on the Dead's Army board

Myk and Carl were round for a scenery Wednesday, so we had a meeting of minds to debate what to do about the warped graveyard board... Having resigned ourselves to the fact that no amount of applied PVA, paint and/or brute force was gong to fix the warp, we debated either embedding it in one of the foam tiles or essentially building it a foam core 'sabot' base that we could use filler to hide the last bits of warp.

Et voilà, as they say in French. We went with the latter approach, and a big piece of 5mm A0 foam core - technically it's about 6mm narrower than the boards, but this won't be an issue.

We also rather brutally removed one wall, to address my objection that village churchyards in England really don't generally have separate cemeteries, and the spare bits of wall will get reused to extend the churchyard.

Next time, we'll filler the edges where they need it, cut some more foam for the rest of the churchyard and landscape it. Usefully, this being foam core, we can pin it to the underlying blue foam terrain tiles.

In addition, I added some climbing roses to Godfrey's cottage. Flowerpots to follow :D

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Posts page, and some club updates.

Yesterday was mostly club business - if you follow me on Twitter you'll have seen that the Hereward trader form is up. We also did some serious rearrangement of our scenery cupboard at the club.

Today I was reminded, by pointing someone at one of my post series, that I have several series of posts on here that are quite useful reference material, so I have created a Featured Posts page so you can find them!

Sunday 19 January 2020

A bit of Dark Ages research

I caught this on YouTube and have been watching it again (having seen it a first time when it originally aired).

Some interesting new archaeological stuff on the Age of Arthur, Saxon Britain and Tintagel, among other things, presented by the ever engaging Prof. Alice Roberts. Worth a watch, although there are a few places where it felt a bit dumbed down (like, tin in Cornwall is really not a revelation!), and I'm not sure how much it adds to the useful Dux Brit references, though I do wonder about a campaign where a Lord in Tintagel tries to strike East and reclaim some of Britannia as the attacker.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Hereward update

The form for games submissions for this year's show is up. The trade form will follow soon, but we're redesigning it slightly, so please bear with :D There'll be a site update when that happens.

Also note that advance admission tickets are now purchasable (and have been for a while) for the princely sum of £3.

Friday 17 January 2020

Reducing the sprue pile...

No brain tonight, after a long day at work, so I grabbed a couple of sprues out of a Mantic grab box I acquired a few years ago and had earmarked for painting for D&D/Battlesystem playtests, and also to try some fun and games with Contrast paints.

The Mantic Goblin Spitters have a reputation for not being among Mantic's best - they're very odd in that they have hunched shoulders and the face (not really the head) fits on a plug on the front of the torso. They look weird, but somewhat characterful.

Anyway, two sprues worth assembled, and undercoated with AP Greenskin. That'll do for today.

Thursday 16 January 2020

More gardening and a shopping list (comments welcome)

Although not a lot to show for it, since today's hobby activity consisted of a couple of coats of paint on the Sarissa shed and a trip to Trains4U for some (small scale) flowers and vegetables from one of the model railway ranges. Godfrey's cottage will have tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages, some climbing roses and a few pot plants. Also pondering whether to rebuild the graveyard...

Also pondering the next bits of kit to pick up for the workbench. The plan is to move the 3D printer out from the shelf over my head here (I'm in what used to be my office in our music room, as I've locked up in the office/studio/workshop for the night) onto the long counter in the workshop, and use the rest of that counter for what could best be described as 'maker tools' for scenery builds, since I'm starting to figure that that's probably where a lot of my talent lies aside from writing.

Things that would be nice to have on there, if First Direct finally cough up my PPI claim:

  • the 3D printer with a dual reel/head kit so I can print with dissolvable supports or in two colours - mine's the single reel version, and the upgrade is not cheap
  • a resin 3D printer such as the AnyCubic Photon (for figures etc)
  • a Proxxon hot wire table and the better fence from Shifting Lands (if you want to see the amazing things you can do with this and XPS foam, check out Black Magic Craft on YouTube)
  • a spray booth - this presupposes I can find my bloomin' airbrush.
  • a MDF laser cutter. Low on the list, as Trev from the Rift has one I can feed files to.
  • a die cutter - been thinking about one of these as an alternative to the laser cutter for things like tile strips etc, and also because anything that saves ME having to try and make straight cuts, even with a steel rule, is a win :D
  • and (given some of the items on the list generate stuff one shouldn't breathe in) some air extraction 
Comments?

On a more immediate note, I'm out of PVA (would you believe, my 3L supply from Hobbycraft went MOULDY????) :D



Wednesday 15 January 2020

Back to Wednesday scenery evenings

Starting work on tidying up and prettying the Dead's Army boards and bits, as they're going to a few shows this year. Myk was building the Sarissa shed, Andrew painting the bandstand while Carl and I worked on removing the warp from the cemetery board and garden planning for Godrey's cottage.

Watch this space, as they say. 



Tuesday 14 January 2020

Jackdaw folders

I picked these up the other day for a fiver each from Abebooks. Henry asked what was in the Peninsular War one, so here's a bunch of pics (in between writing last night's battle report).










Battle Report - 13 Jan 2020 - Dux Britanniarum

OK - battle playtest, Carl and Colin, playing the British defenders, Myk and Rob (complete Dux newcomer) the Saxons.

The observant will note from the photos I've switched to Universal Lard Tokens to track shock - there are reasons for this :D

Onward.
We 'rolled' defence of a watchtower this time. Carl set up with a formation of Elites + Warriors defending the tower and a very annoying group of slingers up top.
Advancing from bottom right are Rob's Elites (centre) and a unit of Warriors coming round below the hut.  
The Saxon elites pile into the defenders. On the good side for the British, they do actually do more kills than the Saxons.
On the bad side, the British take ridiculous amounts of shock, and the four surviving Elites in the front rank break due to busted amphora, run away through the rear rank (doing 5 shock on their way past)...
Four figures, and count 'em, 8 shock. Buh-bye....
Had this been a campaign battle, the British may well have withdrawn here.
(Photo by Reuben Turner)
Another round of combat chases off the warriors at the tower. Meanwhile Myk's Saxon warriors come in from the British left, and after duelling Step Forth cards, in which they give the approaching Saxon levy a bloody nose, the British Warriors (centre of the table, just to the left of the watch tower, charge the British elites....
...and manage to roll a 4. On 3 dice.
It all went even more downhill for the British from here - Colin had some awful dice as the Levy and the Saxons fought another round, and the Levy broke, having no place to stay.
British morale definitely going down now.

Again, had this been a campaign battle, the British would have withdrawn here if they hadn't already.
We continued for another round, and the Saxon Lord card came up before the British. They smacked into the waiting warriors, and that was pretty much it...
A good game, perhaps marred a little by the British having bad dice when it mattered, and the Saxons having bad dice when it didn't :D Thanks to my loyal playtesters as ever, and I think we're calling this workable!

Sunday 12 January 2020

More downsizing, and some KoW elves for sale

That's all of it. Really Useful Box is yours
if you buy the lot, and I'll buy Merv some
cake.
After some thought, I'm switching back to building a human fantasy army for Kings of War, since I can also use it to test out Battlesystem 5E and also in my D&D campaign world.

As such, I have an awful lot of KOW Mantic Elves to shift. I may keep some so I can have a small force, but I really don't need THIS many :D

  • Mage Queen - metal
  • Palace guard Prince - metal
  • King - metal 
  • 5 bolt throwers & crew
  • 24 scouts
  • 110 bowmen 
  • 90 spearmen
  • 10 cavalry
  • 20 palace guard
  • 3 forest shamblers - metal
  • 1 of the last metal Dragon Riders ever made (with note to prove it from Ronnie R)
  • GW Finecast big greebly treant thing (Sylvaneth Treelord)
  • 3x Malifaux smaller greebly treant things (Waldgeist)
There's around 4000 points here. At reasonable eBay prices, I'm looking for around £200 for the lot, I think (working on 50p a figure for the common stuff), but I'll consider offers. Happy to split this, but ideally in to no more than two or possibly 3: there is essentially enough here for two decent sized armies or clearly one insane one. 
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