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!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Late Romans

Back in the summer, when I was temping, needing money and had some time, a friend asked if I would paint his Late Roman army. Of all the gaming related enterprises I have done, commission painting is the only one I've ever actually made money with.
So I said yes.
He didn't get the figures to me until October however, and by then I was knee deep in Afghanistan grape fields and busy with cadets.
So I've only just gotten his first legion done. I believe that they are all Foundry figures. The shield decals are from Veni Vidi Vici. The red eagle on blue background makes these chaps the Legio Ioviani, one of the senior Legio palatina and part of the Italian Field Army.
Decals are fairly novel to me and I find them intimidating. Fortunately the customer provided spares and I only pooched two. There are a couple I would have liked a bit straighter, but fussing would have made things worse I think.
Legionary archers
Most of the figures came primed and glued to nails, but some late additions weren't, so a few got my PVA glue to a scrap of card for priming and painting.
Some close ups

Tribune and legionary

Back side
While I was applying decals I figured I should do some of my until now, marking-less WW2 vehicles, starting with German transport.

These are also the first to benefit from my new fixed painting area. I have set up a table near the bunny warren and Biggles and I share the light from my desk lamp.

In addition to the Coyotes and the extra LAV III, I hope to get another legion or a couple of auxiliary cohorts done in time for Hotlead.

Aaetius, Attila and Middle Earth

Just finished Simon MacDowall's Catalaunian Fields AD 451. 
This has me rummaging in my lead pile. It seems I have a lot of 15mm Goths etc.
But his reconstruction of the battle and the plate showing Thorismund, Prince  of the Visigoths, launching his attack into Attila's left wing to avenge his father and save the day makes me think of Theoden's speech before the charge of the Rohirrim at the Pelennor Fields.
The parallels between Middle Earth of the Third Age and Europe in the 5th century always resonate with me. I've always thought Goths would make very suitable Riders of Rohan and the Gondorim best portrayed by late Romans or Byzantines with sophisticated combined arms tactics featuring maneuver and fire power. I never liked PJ's depiction of the Gondorim armies. Archers in full plate? Really? I know, it's visual shorthand to impress upon the audience that Gondor is technically more advanced than Rohan and also to make identification easier. But for my tabletop I want better.
Besides, an army built around bow and spear armed mailed cavalry and infantry seems kind of cool.
The other races are of course always an issue. One keeps running into goofy cartoon orcs and dwarves with excessive spikes and horns.
This thread on Orcs and the Gamification of Tolkien speaks to many of my issues with trying game in Middle Earth, even though I love it so.
I am always in dread of my well meaning and overly enthusiastic friends bringing D&D or Warhammer Fantasy tropes back to Middle Earth. I want dark skinned uruks (big fighting orcs or hobgoblins) and snagas (little Orcs or goblins), not  bilious green skinned "boyz", " big'unz " and "Nobz".
This fellow's gorgeous photos of his 15mm Lord of the Rings project has also gotten me thinking and made me aware of the not bad Eureka Miniatures 15mm fantasy figures.
Lion Rampant sized contingents of elves and dwarves would be reasonable. Use historical figures for the armies of human kingdoms. One would probably need to build a Lion Rampant contingent of orcs for each contingent of goodly folk.
Hmmmm.... Things to think about.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Get Me to the Church on Time

Well one side effect of my solo Lion Rampant game earlier in the month was to remind me of a resin church I'd bought for ten bucks back in the fall of 2014.

So I decided that it was high time for my mediaeval village to have a church, like any self-respecting mediaeval village should.

Painting was simple. Light grey with a darker dry brush on the stone walls. The roof slates were black with a dark grey dry brush to highlight. The doors were dark brown, light brown highlight then a brown ink wash. Hinges, door pulls and nails picked out in brass. Done.

Lots of chipping and air bubbles and some casting flaws, but I'll live with it for the price.

The Bishop holds a marriage preparation class.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More Black OPS

Played another game of Black OPS Saturday night. This time with Patrick and Mikey. I kept the same orbat for the Taliban as in last week's solo game. For the JTF2 team I replaced the sniper team. With the freed up points each fire team now had 4 men, a UGL and C9 and a leader with the "medic" skill. The command team had a designated marksman instead of the C9, because I only have two.

I changed the table a bit; removing the mountain and adding a heavily bombed compound to that corner. With the quick reference sheet downloaded from the Black OPS Facebook page we set about an encounter game with both sides seeking a downed pilot. Patrick took the Taliban and Mikey and I took JTF2. Patrick won the die roll and opted to come in on the table edge the Canadians used last game, mainly because that's where he was sitting.

I deployed the Command team into a compound on the left. The JTAC with his UGL and the marksman moved onto the roof for the better lines of sight while the commander and the rifleman covered from the wall by the road.

Command team occupies the compound while the assault teams move into the pot field

Meanwhile the two Assault teams moved through the pot field and ruined grape hut to get to the irrigation ditch.

Moving through the ruined grape hut
On the other side of the table Patrick sent one cell of Tier 3 along the flanking irrigation ditch while the rest of the locals moved up to the grape fields. The Tier 1 cells moved along his right flank into the ruined compound. The sniper took up a position on the roof of the central compound.

Tier 3 Taliban move up the ditch on the flank
Tier 3 fighters move into grape field
Tier 1 Taliban move through ruins on other flank
Sneaking down the road
Seeing the two Taliban cells moving in the open, the JTAC called in his airstrike. I had thought about saving it for an emergency or to cover my withdrawal, but couldn't resist such a juicy target and the opportunity to take out Patrick's main strength. The airstrike was pretty effective this time, killing 4 of the 8 fighters and putting an impressive 9 suppression on them which kept their heads down for a while.

Airstrike! 4 hits and 9 suppression on the Tier 1 cells!
Meanwhile Mikey's teams were trying to finesse their way across the ditch. It didn't help him that he didn't see one of the two foot bridges, because a tree blocked his view. Fog of war I guess.

As his operators came up to the ditch side brush a shot cracks out! Patrick's sniper takes out one of Mike's C9 gunners.

My leader dashes over and making use of the extra activation leaders get and his 'medic' skill stabilizes the down man. My other rifleman then fireman carries the wounded comrade back to the LZ. The leader grabbed the fallen C9. Meanwhile the marksman on the roof draws a bead on the Taliban sniper through the trees and shoots him down from long range.

Ready to cross the ditch
Mikey's two teams then skirmish over the foot bridge and the fire team leaders enter the grape hut to find and retrieve the lost pilot. So far not a lot of fire has been exchanged.

Approaching the objective
Taliban advancing cautiously
More cautious moves
With the pilot in tow, the two teams start to retire. Mikey is trying to cover his flanks and is moving slowly in case Patrick rushes up. Seeing the objective being moved to my table edge did get Patrick moving more aggressively and he started pounding Mikey with RPG fire.

Pilot in hand (near the corner of the grape hut), starting to exfiltrate
This was starting to cause me a lot of worry as I had visions of Mikey's rearguard C9 gunner wounded and on the far side of the ditch when everyone else was trying to pull back. Fortunately a close burst from an RPG made our last man retreat (which we wanted him to do anyway) and covering fire cut down the RPG team.

As I was getting the Command team off the compound roof, Patrick rushed his Tier 1 RPG teams up. A near burst on my Commander caused him to retreat off table too, when his C9 would have been useful covering the others. But they managed to extract themselves without further fire by dropping off the roof behind the compound.

As Patrick's advance scouts closed on the compound, the last of our riflemen dashed from the pot field for the LZ and the helicopter back to KAF.

So much smoother this time. Only took 3 hours included pregame talk and referring to the rule book. Next game I'll introduce the 'stealth' rules and maybe do a raid on a Taliban HQ.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Solo Black OPS

Some time this weekend to carry on with my solo gaming initiative and teach myself Black OPS. I laid out a 4' x 4' table for an "encounter" scenario between a team of JTF2 and a mix of Tier 1 and 3 Taliban.

I wanted to include my sexy sniper team, so for 147 points I ended up with two 3 man fire teams, one with a C9 SAW, the other with a UGL, the 2 man sniper team and a 4 man command team of leader, C6 GPMG and no. 2, and a signaller with UGL.

The Taliban got a leader, a sniper, two 4 man Tier 1 cells with RPGs and PKMs and four local Tier 3 cells (one of which didn't get an RPG).

I'll let the pictures tell the story.

JTF2 on the left, Taliban on the right

Drone view of Canadian deployment

Local Taliban enter the pot field
Sniper in overwatch
Great view, can't hit a thing though!
Local Taliban move through a ruined grape hut
Tier 1 cell cross the ditch and start the fire fight
Team on left occupy a grape hut and engage the Tier 3 fighters across the ditch 
Taliban at foot bridge caught in a cross fire and cut down
More locals move up on the other flank
Fire fight across the irrigation ditch
Team 2 moves to lock down the right flank, taking out 3 of the 4 fighters
Team leader stabilises the man down
A good volley from team 1 and bad saving throws result in a lot of dead Taliban
But return fire takes down another operator
Air strike! Not terribly effective but dumped a lot of suppression on the fighters across the ditch forcing a dedication test which they failed
The remaining Tier 1 cell hiding in the bushes. I forgot to activate them!
GPMG sets overwatch and the casualty is hustled to the medevac
Getting their casualty out under cover of the air strike
Game end. Lower right Commander and Tier 3 Taliban fleeing the airstrike into the pot field. Sniper holding position on the ruined grape hut. Cell in upper left has been shot down. Tier 1 cell in the middle can't do much but cover the retreat. Canadians focused on getting wounded to the dust off covered by the sniper and GPMG.

Final thoughts. Not bad, but a lot of flipping through the book referencing different tables. I need to print of the PRS and do some pregame prep like including ROF and ranges for each figure on the orbats. Also having things like the RPG gunners activate on the King card while the rest of the cell activates on the Jack makes it hard to coordinate movement and keep cells together, but maybe that's not a bad thing.

I was disappointed by the sniper team. The points might have been better spent on beefing up my fireteams or buying some skills like "medic" or another airstrike for the signaller.

For a first go at a more detailed very small group skirmish game it was pretty good. I can see this being a good set of rules for something like Firefly games with less role play and more shooting. I remain confident that once I get the basics sorted and introduce the stealth rules then this game will really shine.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Trying out Lion Rampant Solo

I had a goodly portion of my gaming Comitatus over Saturday for some beer and dice rolling. X-Wing and Star Wars Armada were both given a good going over by about 4-5 players per side plus we had Pasha Dan's new Franco-Thai War on the table for a test run.

I was too busy hosting to take pictures, but it was good to see the boys again. A few years back there used to be a lot of chaps around the table weekly or at least twice a month. But Keith and Brian moved down to Chatham, Scott C. moved out of town too and everyone just seems to be busier now. Especially anyone in automotive manufacturing where mandatory overtime seems to be a constant these days. So now it's weeks or months until people are free for a game. If I only get to play with my friends once a quarter I don't want to spend the session learning new rules. If I can do some solo games I can maybe teach myself the rules first, or just have some fun on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

A side benefit of playing host was forcing myself to give the Basement of Rabbits a really good cleaning and sorting out, freeing up a bunch of floor space. So with these thoughts rattling about, a cleared off table, and some binge watching of Game of Thrones, I decided to get out my feudal troops and my shiney new copy of Lion Rampant for a solo bash on Sunday.

I laid out some terrain and picked out two basic retinues featuring Count Raymond with some feudal levies versus Fulk the Bastard and his host of evil mercenaries, The Black Company.

Raymond on the right, Fulk on the left
Raymond and his knights flanked by mtd sergeants
Raymond's infantry on the right, 2 units of yoemen, foot sergeants and crossbows
Black Company foot sergeants
Fulk with his knights behind the Company cavalry (mounted sergeants)
The activation is very interesting and it took a couple of turns to get troops moving. The Black Company surged across the field, while Raymond's troops leaned on their spears.

As the Company cavalry (mounted sergeants) rushed through the village one company of Raymond's yoemen managed to form a schiltron. This really evened the odds for them and the cavalry fell back " battered".   But they rallied and came back only to succeed in impaling themselves on the yoemen's spears.

Yoemen are trembling
Doing well for themselves!
Ouch! Both hit on a 4+ and the schiltron ups the yoemen's armour to 3 so the sergeants don't kill anyone!
Meanwhile Fulk moved around the village and got within compulsory charge range of Raymond's foot sergeants. The activation rules mean that it's hard to get knights moving but once they're within range of the enemy they are keen to charge in and hard to disengage.

Foot sergeants recoil, but rally ...
... And Fulk's knights are defeated by the reformed schiltron. The next turn Raymond's crossbows wiped the rest out with a devastating volley.
Raymond's sergeants pin two companies of Black Company foot in schiltron and everyone can admire my resin hay stooks
Raymond and his knights finally get moving and charge into one unit but recoil, yoemen charge in too
The sergeants then charge in to keep the pressure on in a surprising display of good activation rolls, after this 1,2,3 punch the mercenaries routed
Raymond's mtd sergeants go after the other foot. the company sergeants recoil in a battered state. The sergeants charged in again pushing them back again, but surprisingly they kept rolling enough on their courage tests to not rout completely
End of game
I wasn't sure I would like the fixed unit sizes at first, but they seem to work. And they keep everything simple and easy to remember. Once you get onto the rules the game bangs along at a good clip and it should be pretty easy to run a big game with three or four 24 point retinues per side, making it a perfect party game.

The scenarios look amusing and I will start experimenting with the leader skills to give more flavour.