Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bargain Buildings

For just £4 from the local flea market I picked up four rather splendid middle eastern buildings:

Three of them are marked with the logo of the Yemeni national airline and the gateway on the right is marked Bab-al-Yemen (approx scale 1/200th).  I guess they are all famous buildings in Yemen.  Sheffield has a large Yemeni community so it's not that odd a find.

I reckon these buildings could work in either 1/300th or 6mm scales.  I'll have to do some Google image searches of Sanaa.

Monday, January 27, 2014

On the Workbench - Atlantean Guards

This year’s record of “stuff bought and painted” shows that I’m currently (remember my year runs from September) ahead of the game in every category except 25/28mm miniatures.  So I’m trying to make some progress by finishing off these figures bought at the Penkridge sale (click to enlarge).

They are from Artizan Designs and they are listed as “Sharkmen” but I plan to use them as Atlanteans in some Pulp Alley games.  I have some vague ideas for the plot of a multi-game campaign that may involve lost pirate treasure and undersea kingdoms.

These guys are more or less finished apart from a protective coat of varnish and final spray of matt coat.  Oh and I want to have another go at the muzzles of the missile weapons; I was going for a cool pallet of colours apart from the hot inner workings of the flame guns.

I have another, older figure that I think will blend in reasonable with these figures.  The league will then be a single Atlantean leader with a large number of relatively poor-quality guards.  This should require an interesting change in style of play from the usual small group of more-or-less competent characters.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Who Won the Wars of the Roses?

It's a question my kids have asked a couple of times this weekend and the correct answer is of course, "Neither York nor Lancaster".  It was appropriate, then, that yesterday's large Basic Impetus game ended with a similar result.  Both sides lost!

I'd planned a four-handed game set in no particular phase of the wars (having units in an odd mix of liveries) with Richard of Gloucester and Richard Neville, earl of Warwick for the Yorkists taking on the duke of Somerset and the earl of Northumberland.  Each player was to handle a command roughly the size of a standard Basic Impetus army.

Unfortunately, one of our expected players had to cancel but we went ahead drawing lots for sides and Andy copped for running a double-sized Yorkist force against Jamie and me as the swinish Lancastrians.

The battlefield was fairly open.  The only significant terrain features were a wood if front of the Yorkist left and a cabbage field in front of the Lancastrian left.

The position at set-up; Lancastrian right wing in the foreground.
As Somerset I deployed on the Lancastrian right with a battle that was strong in archers and contained the only unit of mounted knights in the game.

Jamie, as Northumberland, took the Lancastrian left and centre.  He had a few borderers stiffened by a contingent of dismounted men-at-arms, a few retinue bills and bows and an organ gun, which in true medieval fashion never moved and never got into action!

A view from behind Jamie's battle.
Andy lined up a strong right and centre opposite Jamie and pushed forward some light horse, backed by Richard of Gloucester on foot against me.

A clump of Yorkist scurriers enter the woods (and pick up a
disorder marker - the shield on their base)

The Yorkists reach the woods.  That's the future
Richard III in leading the unit closest to the camera! 

Just before the main battle lines clash!

A couple of interesting rules questions came up during the fight around the woods.  Firstly, Andy ended up with a unit of archers astride the road flanked by a unit of my crossbow-armed, French mercenary skirmishers among the trees.  Andy’s troops also had a unit of Borderers to their front.  At whom should they shoot?  The skirmishers (represented here by a few singly based figures) who were closest and just edged into their firing arc or the Borderers who were the closest unit directly in front of Andy’s archers.  We decided on the latter.

Jamie rolls a 6 at the wrong time.  Andy's archers (red banner with white
diagonal cross) rout Jamie's borderers (to their front) just before they can
make contact.  The annoying Frenchies are in the trees at the bottom. 

The second incident occurred after Andy’s bowmen had driven off the Borderers.  They now found themselves disordered and sitting in the zone of control of the French skirmishers in the woods.  

The Yorkist bows were unable to move towards the skirmishers as the skirmishers weren’t in to their front.  They were unable to engage them effectively by shooting as they were at -5 dice (disordered, shooting at skirmishers, shooting a troops in a wood). And they were unable to move backwards as a rearward move isn’t possible for disordered troops.  All he could do was stand, rally away the disorder and hope that my shooting was ineffective and didn’t immediately disorder them again.

This seemed a bit hard on Andy but we justified it by saying that the archers were busy trying to sort out their formation whilst engaging the skirmishers with a little ineffective shooting.

Anyway, back to the battle.  The mounted Lancastrian knights drove off the Yorkist light horse and hit Richard Crouchback's men-at-arms as they pursued.  After a prolonged and bitter melee Richard and his men were routed and it seemed that Richard would be cut down but a fresh unit of Warwick's billmen intervened and chased off the exhausted Lancastrian knights. 

Casualties were mounting on both sides as the Borderers advanced into the teeth of a gale of clothyard arrows and several Yorkist units were routed from the confused fight around the treeline.

At around half past four the crisis was reached.  In a single game turn first the Yorkists and then the Lancastrians reached their breaking point.  We decided that in the confusion, both sides, fearing that the day was lost, had determined to pull their troops out of the battle.

Andy removes the final Yorkist casualties.
The game was great fun and I'm pleased with how impressive the figures look en masse with the Impetus basing scheme.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Wars of the Roses Foot

I’ve just completed a couple of new units for today’s Wars of the Roses game.  Based for Impetus, they are a unit of fairly generic men-at-arms or dismounted nobles, and a unit of bowmen in the livery of Lord Fitzwater.

The longbowmen were an attempt to apply the approach set out by my friend Simon Miller in a recent article.  I’ve used old figures acquired from a variety of sources.  They’ve had a partial repaint to make them look a bit more like a coherent unit.

I chose Lord Fitzwater because, although he doesn’t fit with my current plan to focus further acquisitions on the Barnet-Tewkesbury period, I do have some livery badge transfers for his men.  

Unfortunately the transfers, from CitadelSix Custom Design (I won them in a raffle) proved rather difficult to use and I ended up with only one of them in place on a figure.

The men-at-arms are deliberately left rather anonymous though there is a member of the Harrington family in the rear rank.  They are mostly a mixture of metal and plastic figures from Perry Miniatures.

Next up, I’ll probably do either earl of Oxford’s or the duke of Exeter’s men.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Ruined Cottage

The cottage from the old Airfix Command Point set had been sitting half finished in my workshop for several years.

The garage on the left is a foamcore box with cardboard doors, roof and coping stones.  It's covered in brick-paper.  The cottage itself is surrounded by rubble made from tile grout, small stones and some bricks from 4 Ground.  The bricks are too large and the walls of the Airfix model are too thin but I can live with the effect.  The garden walls are a mixture of grout-covered foamcore and parts from a Matchbox scenic base (from the Char B1 bis kit I think).

Sunday, January 12, 2014


One of the more challenging modelling tasks I've attempted recently was gluing together this:

It's the Koenigstrasse building from Commission Figurines that I bought at last weekend's Penkridge event.

This is the first laser-cut MDF building of any size that I've built.  Much of the construction involves what are effectively lots of small mortise and tenon joints.  When you're tying to join two side walls to a corner floor unit that has to slot into both simultaneously, whilst keeping the similar construction you've just completed in the opposite corner and trying not to get excess glue over the nicely engraved exterior of the building... aaaargh!

Oh and none of this is helped by the parts being laser cut meaning that the tenons are very precisely sized with little or no 'wiggle room'.  I had to trim a few of mine with a very sharp scalpel blade to get them to fit at all.

The advice (for what it's worth) of one who has just built his first of these is:

  • use PVA glue (sparingly) applied between the tabs with a cocktail stick
  • do all the walls first
  • consider a configuration where the corner floor sections are in opposite corners so you end up slotting together two L-shaped half buildings
  • slot the completed building onto its base last (while the glue's still wet).

Now to acquire some grey spray paint!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not Something I'd Usually Buy...

... but this month's Railway Modeller Magazine has a free 1/76th scale lineside hut kit on the front.

I suspect the kit probably costs a fair percentage of the magazine's £3.95 cover price in the shops. It'll come in hand to add a little detail to 20th century 20mm scale games and there might be some useful ideas in the magazine too.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The English Church

In the heart of Tcherbevan's Armenian Quarter stands the "English Church".  It was built to serve the spiritual needs of British merchants in the 18th century.  Now it forms a sanctuary for many of the foreigners trapped in Tcherbevan by the fighting.

Of course as soon as she saw it my former-archaeologist wife pointed out that the graves should all be oriented east west in line with the church itself.  I can only suggest that the gravestone near the front gate has been moved to make way for some past development.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Shopping Trip - Penkridge

I had a trip over to Staffordshire today for my first visit to the Penkridge wargames table top sale.   My Christmas spending money went on some bargains, some really useful stuff, and some silly purchases.

At the back are three vaccuum-formed terrain pieces I was kindly given by a gentleman who just wanted rid of them.  In a fit of goodwill I bought the four blister packs (right) from him even though they've added to my unfortunately large unpainted 28mm lead pile.  They are Sharkmen and Host Alpha and Host Omega Shock Troops from Black Tree (under licence from Old Glory in the US).  They might prove useful for Pulp Alley.  I think I'll see if Millie wants to have a go at painting them.

I also bought a box of Warlord Games 28mm Sarmatian Cataphracts.  This was entirely Simon Miller's fault.  He keeps making me look at beautiful pictures of magnificently painted ancients.  Even though I'm doing late period Romans in 6mm scale I can't resist doing some in 28mm for Impetus too!

In the middle are a couple of ready-made T-34/76s.  At £6 each these were too good a bargain to pass up.  I'm working towards playing some of the scenarios in the Skirmish Campaigns book Grossdeutschland at Kursk and will need up to ten of these so I'm picking them up as the budget allows.

Finally, front left, is a flat-pack laser-cut building from Commission Figurines.  It's their Koenigstrasse building in 20mm scale and it's going to go straight into use as one of the ruined buildings along Culture Ministry Boulevard in Tcherbevan.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Holiday Gaming part 4 - Arc of Fire Again

Not really holiday gaming this because I've been back at work a couple of days but on Friday evening Russ Phillips came over for an introduction to Arc of Fire.

I laid on a simple scenario in which Russ, commanding a small platoon of well-motivated and reasonably trained Mujahideen had to sweep the edge of an Andreivian forest for an SAS forward observer team hiding in the undergrowth.

To demonstrate some of the less frequently used elements of the rules I gave the SAS a half-battery of three 105mm guns in direct support (i.e. treated as if they were at platoon-to-battalion level in the AoF rules).  In addition the SAS had extended spotting and were spotted at half normal range due to expert camouflage.

I didn't take many pictures because I was busy explaining the rules to Russ.  He had to move out of his village base (below) ...

... and sweep the woods (bottom left in the picture below) where, unbeknownst to Russ, two two-man SAS teams were hidden.

The game was fun and the craic was a great antidote to the return-to-work blues.  I love the way the combination of card-driven sequence of play, passed or failed TAC rolls and random events tell an emerging story in AoF.

The Mujahideen were of high morale and pushed on despite taking casualties from artillery and, eventually, small arms fire.

Although realistically the SAS would have bugged out before the Mujahideen got too close (I'd carefully positioned them to make this possible) I decided to leave them in place so we could try out close range fire and even close combat.

Outnumbered 2:1 the SAS protection team was wiped out and we left the game with the Forward Observers bugging out to safety.

Russ really enjoyed the game and I think we both came out of it with enthusiasm renewed. Russ is now down as a definite for Crisis Point III where he'll be joining Jamie as part of the Russian force.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Holiday Gaming part 3 - More Pulp Alley

The second gaming session of the Christmas break period saw three more games, this time all of Pulp Alley.

On New Year’s Eve, I refereed a mini-campaign for Millie, Jamie, Gus, Richard, and Andy.  The idea for the plot was stolen from, sorry inspired by, a scenario in the rule book of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  Betsy Baker, a nerdy Sunnydale High School student, spurned by the cooler kids, sets out to get revenge by summoning fictional enemies from across the universe to wreak havoc in the town.

We initially played two games.  The first was a two-handed game between Buffy and her friends (run by Jamie) and an enemy league consisting of Angelus, Spike and Drusilla (run by Gus).  This was another chance to use my dungeon terrain; to act as the tunnels and sewers so beloved of the writers of BTVS.

Scenario 1 set-up

Simultaneously, the League of Super Evil (Millie), the crew of the Heart of Gold (Richard) and a group of Pan Tangian pirates led by Jhary-A-Conel (Andy) found themselves in a mysterious, misty, ruined city (my Pavis terrain) battling for control of a dimensional gateway that might lead them back to their home worlds. 

Scenario 2 set-up

The Tunnels Under Sunnydale scenario went quickly as the characters sped through the tunnels.
Angelus arrives late - delayed by a scenario event.

In the Ruined City, Millie's League of Super Evil (in the form of Jessica von Troken) quickly captured the first plot point and with it a key to the Dimensional Gateway.

Jessica von Token achieves the first Plot Point.

Richard (rear) and Jamie (right foreground) sport the I-have-the-initiative
hats for their respective games. 
The main Plot Point for Tunnels Under Sunnydale was the Field Generator; a piece of high tech equipment wired up to a strange, crudely sculpted statuette.  There was also a small area of standing water which, if explored would have revealed the presence of a previously unsuspected ladder leading down into the main chamber of the tunnels.  The latter Plot Point was never achieved so no-one had the option of an additional entry point for our afternoon scenario.

Buffy and Willow examine the Field Generator whilst Giles consults
his books for how to avoid a Scorpionman (perilous area).
On the other table, Jessica von Troken managed to activate the Gateway and members of all of the leagues ran to take advantage.

The Pan Tangians dash for the Gateway

After lunch of chestnut soup and homemade bread we started the second scenario.  This saw all five leagues in the tunnels attempting to find the hidden door leading to Betsy Baker's control room.

Game 3 set-up 

This third game proved a bit long-winded with the profusion of extremely hazardous areas, centred on creatures summoned by the Field Generator, causing serious delays.  Infighting between the leagues didn’t help progress.

Davros and a Dalek prove troublesome to members of three
separate leagues.
In the end, Willow managed to open the secret door and Buffy destroyed Betsy Baker’s consoles only for the demon powering the equipment to emerge into the control room!

Willow opens the secret door...

... leading to Betsy's control room.
For a long time Angelus made repeated attempts to murder Jimbo the Monkey (from Millie’s league).  Eventually, Jimbo fled towards the control room where his Gadget X could be used to defeat the Demon and win the game.  

Unfortunately for Millie, Jimbo was suddenly caught and despatched by Trillian who, taking the Gadget,  sneaked past the brawling Buffy and Jhary-A-Conel to defeat the Demon and gain Richard a campaign win!

Buffy and Jhary duel for the right to attack the Demon