Saturday, July 24, 2021

Woebetides Terrain Test

I thought I'd get some of the Woebetides terrain I've done so far set up for a photo shoot.

The Borno River seen from above AlHuq.
French naval landing force in the foreground.
French sailors storm up the beach having landed
from their longboat.
Their sharpshooters are already ashore heading 
for the rock outcrop beside the river.

French gunners have landed their piece from
a hired dhow. They haven't spotted Lt Streete
and Sir Warwick Bimble on a nearby rooftop.

A British waggon comes under attack as Woebetideus
tribesmen suddenly emerge from the elephant grass.

Who are these mysterious types emerging from the forest?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Some More Woebetides Characters

It's a lovely day outside so I thought I'd take a pic of some of the more recently finished denizens of the Woebetide Islands.

On the left we have Josephine de Pommefrite, the daughter of the French comptoir. She is a spirited young lady not above getting herself into trouble. Fascinated by the stories told by the Arab merchants visiting Port Charles, she has taught herself the local dialect of Arabic in an attempt to extend her knowledge.

In the centre we see Constanza, Countess Czerwinska. This Polish noblewoman was widowed on the voyage home from India. She finds herself stranded in Port James. She is vivacious and witty and has become a strong favourite among the local officers of the British East India Company.

Finally we have Sir Warwick Bimble. He has been described as "a man of no discernible talent".

All three of these will be available as support choices to forces of the appropriate side. They may (or may not) prove useful when the respective councils of war allocate tasks between the available forces.

Woebetides Terrain Update

I drew a map. It's not to scale but it shows the minimum major terrain items needed for September's Woebetides campaign weekend. The coloured in items are done.

The half- (or three-quarter-) hills around the void in the middle of the main table don't need to be exactly as portrayed - I just want something that will indicate to players that the centre of the main island is mostly impassible highlands.

A couple of days ago I decided to make a start at building something suitable:

I decided to make three 90 degree corner hills with profiles such that they can be combined to form a single 270 degree outside corner.


I tried different ways of building up the slopes with off-cuts of polystyrene. In the end, the best method (sadly not shown above) was progressively smaller slices alternating at 90 degrees to each other. Hot glue worked OK for attaching the polystyrene as long as I didn't leave the glue gun switched on too long. If the glue got to hot it melted the polystyrene too much.

I've now started covering the polystyrene with kitchen towel soaked in watered down PVA. I added a bit of cheap brown acrylic to the water/glue mix.

I've also tried a bit of filling with my usual tile grout mix and also some scrunched-up kitchen foil that might serve as a rocky outcrop.

I may paint the longer ridge (on the left in the picture below) as a pathway - for plot purposes I want three or four routes into the highlands.

Update when the first layer of groundwork has dried - it's scorching in Yorkshire right now so hopefully that won't be long!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

On the workbench

Most of my focus recently has been on getting terrain finished for the Woebetides. I've got the Wali of Smut's palace done - it's an MDF caravansaray very kindly sent me by Richard Phillips. Pictures when I can arrange a suitable photo session.

In between sessions on the palace I've managed to get finished some other 28mm stuff. The Crisis Point big game will need lots of Deployment Points and Plot Points and the latest are just completed:

This first one is obviously best suited to the native Woebetideus but might pass for Arab if need be.  The jars and baskets are Foundry, the duck is from a farmyard animals set I bought at Claymore (not sure of the manufacturer).

Next up we have a nicely generic scene of a goat browsing on the undergrowth.

Goat again from the farmyard animals set.

Lastly as far as plot points go we have this clump of elephant grass with skull.

The skull is from the same Foundry African village accessories set as the jars and baskets. The grass is from broom bristles.  Again a nicely generic one this.

I took delivery of some Pendraken 10mm models (for a project that'll appear here later) that Tom Davis added to an order he was putting in. When I picked up the 10mm stuff, Tom kindly gave me a few figures he had no use for (and at the same time I palmed off a load of 15mm toys on him). A couple of the figures are already done a couple of weeks later.

This chap with the Nock Volley Gun was already painted up as Sergeant Harper of the 95th Rifles. However the paintwork was a bit scraped and I've no plans to do the Peninsular War in 28mm as I've already covered it in 20mm. 

There is a plan, however, to do the 1812 Riga campaign with Sharp Practice. I therefore carved off the shoulder straps and repainted Harper as a member of a Royal Navy landing party. He'll be transferred to Richard Phillips to aid his Russians against my Prussians (when they're eventually painted).

Another figure from Tom was this Victorian chap.

I think he's another Foundry model. He was a joy to paint and I had him done within a couple of days of picking him up from Tom.  I'm running Cortina at Matamoros in November at Steel Lard - the first time the game's appeared to players not via Zoom link. I think this chap may appear among the civilians in the street to help remind players that 1867s Mexico doesn't entirely match the peons-in-a-village picture of The Magnificent Seven.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

More Woebetides Terrain

Among the events happening during the course of the Crisis Point Woebetides campaign will be the need to explore the islands searching for clues to solve an on-going mystery. To support this, I've started to build Plot Point markers (inspired by a mechanism in Pulp Alley).

The latest is this skeleton propped up in the corner of an old ruin somewhere in the interior.

The skeleton itself is from a box that my son Charlie bought years ago but never did anything with. It took a bit of hacking and bending to get it off its original base and into a suitably slumped position but I think it works. I've added a hat from the Warlord plastic War of the Spanish Succession infantry box and a jar from the Wargames Foundry African village accessories. The wall is from foamcore with the paper layers removed and stonework carved in.

Next up we have a magazine from the French fort under construction on Petit Woebetide.

Like the docks seen here previously, the main structure is from Firedragon Games stamped XPS foam on a PVC board base. The earth banks surrounding the structure are from layers of foamcore with my usual Tetrion coating.Door frame and door from thin card and MDF off-cuts.

Finally we have this cave entrance. I think it may have appeared here before but it now has the back blocked up with black card and looks a whole lot better in a decent photograph.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Woebetides - the Factor's Residence

I've just completed a building to form the centre-piece of either Fort James or Fort Charles in the Woebetide Islands. 

It's Sarissa's Administration Building. They intend it to be used in North Africa, for Tobruk perhaps, but I think it works OK as an eighteenth century house to act as the residence of the either the British Factor or the French Comptoir. In passing it's worth noting that I could use it as a building in Matamoros for my Maximilian Adventure games too.

I've built the model straight out of the box... bag... erm... clingfilm packaging.  Finishing was done by painting the whole with Standard Paints Earth Brown and then stippling on progressively lighter colours from Vallejo - Middle Stone, Cork Brown, Dark Sand, and Iraqi Sand.

Now I just need to come up with another house for the side's leader!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Andreivia: an imagi-nation (part three)

Between 2010 and 2012, my attentions wandered away from Andreivia. During this time I'd started up Crisis Point, a gaming weekend taking place once a year near Sheffield. We first played large games of Cold War Commander and for a couple of years, getting together with fellow wargamers to play big games of CWC steered me away from developing my imagi-nation. 

However, I eventually came to the conclusion that we'd taken CWC as far as I was interested in going and arguably further than it would comfortably go in terms of game size. I decided that I wanted to take Crisis Point in a different direction and Andreivia seemed like a direction worth pursuing. Fortunately I managed to persuade a number of the regulars to transition to a new ruleset, a new scale, and (for many of them) a new setting!

Crisis Point 2014 was to take us to Andreivia and the fighting for control of the capital city Tcherbevan. As a result of the previous game, we knew the layout of the airport and that the Russians were, just about, in control there. We also knew, from the timeline originally developed for the Tuzkhur Valley game, that NATO forces were attempting to get through to Tcherbevan from the south. 

This allowed me to propose the following layout for a game to take place over Crisis Point weekend in spring 2014. A single, very large, table would represent the whole of the Andreivian capital and some of the surrounding area. 

Among the previous Crisis Pointers prepared to give the new approach a go was Richard Phillips who would go on to play a very significant role in the development of Andreivia, not least because over the next few months he constructed much of Tcherbevan city centre!

It was obvious that the action at Crisis Point would feature particularly fierce fighting between the Turks and the Armenians. I needed a name for the main road between their respective Quarters and it was here that a joke from the aftermath of the first Andreivia game came to fruition.

I'd published a "Cast List" following the Tuzkhur Valley action as a way of thanking those who had contributed. In the small print at the bottom of the credits I'd included a copyright notice on behalf of the Andreivian Ministry of Culture with an address on Culture Ministry Boulevard. In retrospect, it seemed only appropriate that Culture Ministry Boulevard should form the boundary between the two factions' territories.  Richard Phillips even provided the ministry building to go at the northern end of that fine avenue, once known as the Champs Elysées of the Caucasus.

Before we got to go ahead with the main action at Crisis Point, I managed to get in a practice game at Christmas. A number of Andreivia fans fought a prequel action between Andreivian Armenians and Andreivian Turks.

Foreign Mujaheddin fighting alongside the Andreivian Turks
move forward from the Old Fort to the rear of an apartment
block on Culture Ministry Boulevard

This game allowed us to identify a couple of locations where the border between the rival areas wasn't as clearly defined as it might otherwise have been!

In fact I managed to squeeze in another Andreivian game just after Christmas. Robin Phillips was visiting family in the Sheffield area and we got together so I could demonstrate Arc of Fire to them and hopefully encourage them to come along to Crisis Point.  The game would indeed meet these aims but it would also plant the seed of events in Andreivia over the following two years.

Robin played a unit of Mujaheddin operating from a village in the Turkish-held Southern Hills (the hills south of Tcherbevan - the Andreivians can be very literal in their geographic nomenclature). They had to sweep the edge of their territory looking for a troublesome SAS forward observer team.

Mujaheddin sweep the woods

By leaving a covering team in position while the observer team proper withdrew, I managed to get two SAS men captured by the Islamists. These two MIAs would go on to provide the excuse for several recon and rescue missions in future games.

By the time Crisis Point 2014 came around, the idea that Andreivia existed just to enable me to use my pre-existing collection of assorted modern military materiel was recognisable as the delusion it had always been. Now I was buying miniatures and building terrain specifically to explore the history of Andreivia.  

At this point I really need to give huge thanks to the Crisis Point attendees whose contributions of units to the games went a long way to contributing to the look of Andreivia. Ian Shaw, in particular, added to the gaiety of the nation by designing a number of very convincing-looking local modifications of T-34 tanks. 

Tcherbevan at Crisis Point 2014 was deemed a great success and so we decided to continue the action the following year. This time however, I developed plans to include the players more actively in the development of the story.

With plans to switch to a multiple table approach, I expanded the geographical scope of the game and created a regional map.

This was substantially built on "facts" established in the previous games. The Dvimin Military Academy exists because, early in Andreivia's history, I'd painted up some really old (type one) Airfix WW2 German infantry in khaki and grey uniforms and said that they were students of that venerable institution.

The smaller place names came largely from a few minutes on Google Translate. Kopru (albeit lacking a few diacritic marks) is Turkish for "bridge" while Küçük is "small".

This more informative map was created to give a starting point for the Andreivia players who were to create background for the 2015 weekend by means of a Matrix Game over the preceding couple of months.

The Matrix Game would be played by email. Players representing the various factions in the campaign (the Russians, NATO, the Andreivian Government, the Andreivian Turks, and the Andreivian Armenians) presented arguments as to events occurring in Andreivia. As umpire I assessed the strength of each argument and rolled an ordinary six-sided die to see if it succeeded (from very strong on a 2+ to very weak on a 6+). Every time an argument was successful it would establish a new fact in the history of Andreivia. 

An interesting wrinkle here was that sometimes the likelihood of a proposed argument would depend on the attitude of another player. For example, when NATO proposed a UN resolution that would significantly increase their strength in Andreivia. In reality the Russians would have a veto on the vote so I sought the views of the Russian player (Tom Zunder in his only Andreivian involvement to date). Given Russian opposition, I declared the argument to be very weak - it would only succeed if there was some last-minute horse trading at the UN or if Yeltsin was even more of a loose cannon than normal.

This process saw the Russians land an amphibious force near Mdinar but also suffer a disastrous collision between ships from their task force. This would limit the forces available to them during the game.

The Andreivian government tried (but failed) to gain international support through resolutions in the UN and NATO similarly failed to gain UN support for increased military resources in the south. Part of this effort saw the deployment of an Italian special forces unit to Tcherbevan. They would go on the play a significant role in the fighting.

The Andreivian Armenians and the Russians got involved in an escalating series of arguments with the Armenians spying of Russian deployments and the Russians trying to sow dissension in their ranks. Andreivian leader Serj Benkian rose to increased prominence during this period.

On the construction side, I wanted a centrepiece for the capital city and if it could be ridiculously impressive then I'd be pleased. The Andreivian Television tower was the result.  

At Crisis Point 2015 the tower would be the scene of a fierce little gun battle. On the Saturday afternoon the player commanding the Italian component of the NATO forces told me he wanted to infiltrate a special forces observer team (their presence previously established by a Matrix Game argument) into the restaurant at the top of the tower. The following morning, as we began day two's action, the commander of one of the Andreivian militias decided that he too wanted to control the tower.  Clearly the Italians had got there first and, as a result of a few die rolls, they were able to ambush the militia arriving at the top of the tower. The day began with a short, sharp firefight with all of the players looking on and a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary battle honour was added to the history of the Italian Army. 

When my models and Richard P's were laid out together we had a really impressive city!

View down Culture Ministry Boulevard with
the 1991 monument and the Ministry of
Culture Building at the far end

The 2015 leg of the fight for Tcherbevan resolved a lot of issues. NATO had a fairly secure logistic corridor from the Turkish border to the capital, the Russians controlled the bridges over the Krupnehr River, and the various Andreivian factions had fought each other to a standstill.

In the last hour-or-so of the game, elements of the American 101st Airborne arrived by helicopter in the southern suburbs. In a neatly choreographed operation, they stopped and searched a civilian car approaching their perimeter. The car contained the Andreivian Armenian leader Serj Benkian and a couple of bodyguards. Faced by overwhelming American firepower the Armenians surrendered and Benkian was taken into protective custody. This event would provide the seed for the next chapter but we'll cover that in part four.