In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Strange Doings!

Had a nice games day with the Hotlead crew this past weekend.
The day was organised by Dave and Pete, who prefer games involving steam tech, odd characters and the supernatural. Or Star Wars. Whatever rolls your dice.

First up Patrick and I were test subjects for Pete to run through a game of Strange Aeons. 
Image result for strange aeons
I was busy playing and didn't take any pictures. My three Threshold Agents successfully defeated the party of Cultists and retrieved the 4 relics (although one turned out to be useless, an ancient recipe for hummus probably). But it was a bit touch and go as the Priestess put Harpul Singh my tough as nails Indian soldier (who took out half the cultists himself) under a spell and had him fighting with my party leader for a bit.

But nifty game. Lots of charts and pages etc. (really needs a better QRS) but an interesting campaign built right in. I could see one using it to play games with Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just have low level vampires as cultists and go heavy on the hand to hand and less shooting.
Related image
Gratuitous picture of Buffy, because well....
After we trooped over to a local bar for burgers and beverages, Dave set up his Victorian London for a seven sided game of In Her Majesties Name. I'll let the pictures (which aren't as good as I'm used too, I was using my phone) talk for me:
Dave's city contains many nice details, like this public loo

View from one end of the table, the fountain can actually work if he installs a battery and adds water!

Other end

More detail, lots of these news pillars with amusing posters and ads. They're made from thread spools with craft domes on top.

The Flashman Monument!

Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop, note the arterial spray inside the sky light

Complete with Sweeney Todd. Parties coming too close run the risk of losing a member.

The Pub. Named after Pete, who's nom du net is "Sterling Moose" on the Lead Adventure Forum

Rooms and stairs and details inside

Flashy again. Dave is a big fan.

More details

The objective; rescue HM the Queen. Who is apparently on the roof trying to summon the Torchwood Institute or Batman... that's Keith in the background

Strange Foreign Johnnies wandering the streets

Sneaky Buggers/Special Branch/Dave's Vampire Hunters
It was apparently Take Your Son to Work Day at Special Branch. The figure is named "Van Halfling" (Dave's Vampire Hunters are naturally lead by Van Helsing)

Big Game Hunters and Mounties

Prussians even!

The brave lads of K Division lead by the Consulting Detective and his friend the Doctor
I won the foot race to the building with HM trapped at the top. But it was a shoot out with the Big Game Hunters and the Mounties (caught between me and the hunters). But then Special Branch arrived and we had a big fight around the door, with my electro-truncheons giving me the edge in the brawl.

Brawling with Special Branch, as you do. Meanwhile the Consulting Detective is running upstairs to get the Queen.

Foreign Johnnies attack!

H Division arrives to clear the Foreign Johnnies from the square with volleys of carbine fire. Apparently still upset that they had lost the inter-Division tug of war and pie eating contest to K Division, they didn't care that my chaps were in the way!

Timmy goes down! But not after fighting the Dragon Lady for several turns.

With two Special Branch Agents covering me from the lads of H Division, Benedict Cumberbatch the Consulting Detective helps HM make an undignified escape out a window to safety.
Silly fun, lots of laughs. Although I don't like IHMN. I don't like how the mechanics work and the way modifiers are applied. I actually think good old Warhammer 5th edition would work better for a game like this. But the guys like it, so I just roll the dice and keep moving.

Then it was 10 o'clock and time to hit the road with my head all done in.

All in all a fun day.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Goblin Scouts

As noted in earlier posts my Orcs are lacking in maneuver and firepower.

Some wolf riders and swarms of goblin skirmishers seemed to me to be the way to go to fill this gap. I was bemoaning the closure of Sergeant Major Miniatures and the Mad Padre's and mine inability to get a last order in to a gaming friend at work. He says "I've got goblins. I could let you have some."

So the next week he brings in a big bag of Moria goblins that had been given a basic 3-colour paint job and some sand. For 10 I picked out two 6-figure scout groups, going heavy on the Brian Froud style helmets because they amuse me. I also included two spear carrying goblins in each unit because of the scouts Frodo and Sam encounter in Mordor.

In an evening I finished the painting (especially covering the green skin!) and basing.
This I hope will give the Angmar side some more tactical options. Now I just need wolf riders.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Firefly in the Expanse

Image result for babylon 5 earth force destroyer

My relationship with Science Fiction, and particularly Science Fiction Gaming, is complex like a jilted lover. We used to play it a lot as a group; Star Fleet Battles, Dirtside, Star Grunt, Epic 40K, Full Thrust.

But it went rather sour for me. A combination of factors came into play. Overly gritty rules for SFB and Dirtside, being unable to break out of the background fluff for Epic, and ship min-maxing with Full Thrust. At the time I wanted to play games inspired by Falkenberg's Legion and Frezza's A Small Colonial War with maybe a bit of Babylon 5 thrown in (those Earth Force destroyers just look really cool),  and wasn't getting any satisfaction. Of course trying to share an imaginary world with others is fraught with disappointment. That must explain why all of the popular SF games come with a backstory and factions. But buying into the factions has made me shy away from games with intriguing sounding mechanics like Infinity or Firestorm Armada or Halo Fleet Battles.

But I still like Science Fiction, or at least good Science Fiction. There's a lot of bad stuff out there too, especially in the military sci-fi sub-genre, so I went away from it for awhile. Recently I started reading The Expanse novels (starting with book 4 because it was there) because I was intrigued with ideas about how society and humanity would change when we push out into space. As much as I think that Firefly is brilliant, the Old West with laser pistols is amusing, but how realistic? The Expanse is equally good, combining well thought out technical details about life in space with good characters and a ripping story. The space battles are cool too.

So this has got me once again brain-storming on SF games as my next project. So bear with me as I think out loud.

  • Space ships or figure skirmish games? Or both? Or bigger?
  • What scale? 28mm? Expensive. 20mm? (Elheim Figures do some figures that could work nicely in a low tech Firefly setting.) 15? Loads of choice there. 6mm? Believe it or not, 6mm skirmish games were recently suggested to me! I guess you could do a reasonable station or space ship interior at that size.
  • Background? Warring states? Rebels and pirates vs. a central authority? Corporate special forces operators hitting rival facilities?
  • Setting? For ground action are we in hard vacuum on asteroids or a colony world? Are we in the tunnels of a colonized asteroid? Desert? Jungle? Urban? Arctic? How do I make it different from my Afghanistan stuff?
  • Space ships? Make or buy? How big? The big capital ships from Ground Zero Games just seem too big to me, plus they are hard to keep balanced on the base. I think maybe a maximum of 4-5 cm for a big ship, so what is called "fleet scale." I like blocky ships too like Brigade Games British or Neo-Soviet, rather than the more spread out 'flat' ships like these
  • These ships from Shapeways  (all by Irrational Designs) are cool too. ISN Light Cruiser 3d printed All the ISN ships so far.Federal Gunship 3d printed Gunships with the Federal Light Cruiser.Image result for the expanse ships
  • I also like the idea of scratch building my own. My space balls of doom were crude but unique back in the day when they did battle against the wall anchor fleet. Next time I'm thinking of using craft beads for smaller hulls.
  • Aliens? Yes? No? How do you make them truly alien but still gameable?
  • FTL: easy (Think Star Wars where a single seat fighter is capable of interplanetary travel) or hard? (only big ships have the power for the warp drive so FTL carriers deploying sublight gunships are important)
Obviously I think too much and keep letting ruinous logic get in the way. But for me things have to make sense or it detracts from the story.

So after a few days of pondering while reloading my anodyzing machines at work I've come to some tentative thoughts:

  • do both fleet scale ships and 15mm figure skirmishes (going heavily with Ground Zero Games, he's got quite a variety of looks and has most things thought out)
  • the background will be heavily influenced by The Expanse; so a couple of states, rebellious Belters, pirates and several large corporations with private security/special forces
  • perhaps with some Firefly thrown in and colony worlds of varying climates (I can do desert and temperate, jungle is quick enough with some Dollar Store aquarium plants and a glue gun)
  • the idea of doing the interior of a ship/station and fighting boarding actions really appeals. A friend recently purchasing a set of 3D printing files will help with the furnishings
  • I'll let much of the outlying stuff grow organically as I add forces and terrain, but I'll start with hardsuited types shooting it out in a ship or on an asteroid because it's different
  • Aliens; leave them out for now
OK, so the initial planning is done. Now to wrap up Middle Earth.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Battle at the Tower of Echthalion

Had the chaps over Saturday for a game. The objectives being to roll dice and put my new terrain and trolls on the table. I like a natural looking table and often try and build as interesting a table as I can which will then point me to a scenario. So my village and new grain fields were at one end and the new hills were at the other. Beyond the hills from the village was the ancient well and statue, a relic of ancient Numenor or perhaps some fallen Elf Kingdom? Obviously a source of curiosity for the local children (warned away by stories of faeries snatching errant youngsters no doubt) and a place for lover's trysts.

The Uruks and trolls made a nice 48 point force. My new trolls I organized into four 2 figure units of Bellicose Foot with shiny armour. The Uruks were four units of light foot with missiles. There was also my unit of four smaller trolls, acting as more bellicose foot. Their objectives were to burn the village, secure the crossroads and capture the ancient watch tower.

For the Forces of Light I deployed Naleth the Wise (elite foot plus wizard) with two units of Elven archers (light missiles with sharpshooter upgrade) and decided to use some men for a change. The troops from the Kingdom of Arnor had two units of elite riders, one of heavy riders, two units of heavy foot and one of scouts (all pulled from my early Feudal/Norman/1st Crusades troops).

I didn't take any pictures during the game but restaged a few key moments after wards.

The trolls died spectacularly. Their bad defensive rating means that charging in is the best way to deal with trolls if you've got elite riders. A unit of heavy foot had quite an evenly matched tussle with one pair of trolls near the village as they bashed each other back and forth through the grain field. Elf archery rather tied down one flank in the hills. One company of knights charged down the road into some trolls and uruks. The trolls were routed and the uruks pushed back. In the centre the heavy foot and scouts pushed through the village and fields to hold off more uruks and trolls. Meanwhile the other unit of knights and the sergeants swept around the far side of the village.

Angmar on the march!


Other view

Knights crash into trolls and then the uruks. They eventually broke but not after securing the crossroads

Elves aided by Naleth's magic shoot up trolls and support the knights

Fighting around the village. Scouts use their javelins to keep uruks at arms length and help the heavy foot fighting the trolls in the grain fields.

Sergeants (red banner) took on uruks and were destroyed. Knights bundled the trolls back across the field until they fled

Elf archers win the race to the top, but never loosed a shaft. Once the elves were in position the uruks below slunk off through the woods, the last evil unit left on the field.

Tactical lessons, knights working with heavy foot and archers are really effective. Also don't lead with the trolls. Send them in once the uruks have softened up the enemy with a combination of archery and spear fighting. Also take advantage of the trolls abilities and maneuvering in rough ground to avoid the knights and elven archers.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cheap Trolls

The armies of the Necromancer have been lacking heavy hitters and every self-respecting evil warlord needs trolls. Big, tough, scary, handy for smashing things or pulling siege engines. The Games Workshop trolls fit my aesthetics but not my budget, being ridiculously over priced.

However, the very talented Simon on his Iron Mitten blog used some very economical plastic "1/72nd" scale "Battle Trolls" made by a Ukrainian company called Dark Alliance. They aren't that much smaller than the GW trolls and 1/20th the price! I found a box on eBay for £10 with only £1 shipping. So that came to Cdn$18.80-something for 8 figures, which is a lot better than other options.

So a couple of weeks later, these show up:

Two each of four different sculpt. Lots of nice details with the straps and buckles keeping the armour on including cloth under the arm pieces to prevent chaffing. The skin is nicely done and made me think of scaly elephants or rhinos. Sadly there was a lot of flash which even with a sharp blade was hard to remove, so I'll be avoiding close-ups on these.

Of course, now that I've finished I had the thought of using a pair of fine, slightly curved scissors that I have from a job I had 15 years ago trimming flash from rubber auto parts.

After gluing to washers and priming, I painted them the same way as my Vendel trolls: brown base coat, Vallejo khaki grey skin, and other colours blocked in then a wash with brown ink.

Because their bases are bigger, and to disguise the steep break between the figure base and the washer I added some tufts of dead grass.

I'm going to initially try these as two figure units of bellicose foot with shiny armour. Maybe give them a cause fear too? Or I could have a lot of lesser warbeasts!

But here they are in a photoshoot trampling my new grain fields.

Can't wait to get these in a game.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dreams of Fields

My medieval village has been lacking grain fields as well as animals. I've been admiring those lovely ones made from coir mats. To that end sometime last year, I ordered a big coir mat from Amazon having had no luck finding any in hardware or housewares stores.

Now I should have ordered a rubber backed mat that could just be cut apart, based and given a bit of flock around the edges. But I got the "100% natural" mat, which turned out to be quite thick with the coir stitching holding it all together.

Very thick and that edging won't do

With edging removed

Chunk of mat, still too tall
So nothing for it but to remove the tufts, trim an end flat and stick them in glue. My medieval farmer with his scythe is helping me with the scale.

Occasionally pushing everything down and compressing the clumps together seems to help. Having a pile of tufts pre-trimmed also helps. With a large base you need to work in sections.

Once everything was glued down and set, I painted the base brown and then flocked around the edges. On the one base I did a bit of cut or trampled grain. That got some sand which was dry brushed a lighter brown before trimmed fibres got glued over top.

Very laborious, but looking good in the end. I've barely touched the mat so I can make loads more some other time.