Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Gaming 1 - Lion Rampant

Long-time followers of this blog will know that I generally try to get some gaming in over the Christmas and New Year holiday period and this year has been no exception.

I'd asked for a copy of Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant for Christmas and in the hope and expectation that Santa would deliver, I printed off some Teutonic Knights and Baltic pagans from junior  So the evening of Boxing Day saw what is surely the most old school game ever to appear here.

The Christmas tablecloth and a couple of off-cuts of astroturf formed the battlefield.  Over this snowy expanse fought two units of mounted men at arms and one of foot sergeants for the Teutonic Order against one unit each of foot men at arms, fierce foot, and bidowers for the Lithuanians.

The field of battle.  The Lithuanian knights are off-camera to the right.
 The Teutonic serjeants started with 11 men as one of their number had been eaten by the puppy.

The fierce Lithuanian tribesmen charge the Teutonic Serjeants, attempting
to catch them before they can finish crossing the bad going.

Meanwhile the Lithuanian bidowers enter the other area of bad going.

As the first unit of men at arms approaches.

The foot serjeants roll spectacularly...
... and throw back the fierce Lithuanian warriors...

... with three casualties.

The warriors' Courage Test is disastrous and they rout.
Somewhere hereabouts I lose track of one of the units of mounted knights.  I think they rolled badly after taking casualties from Lithuanian shooting.

Meanwhile the Wild Charge special rule sees the Teutonic Knights charge
the enemy Bidowers.  Not a great idea what with them being
in bad going and all.

Despite the disadvantageous terrain, the Knights drive off the Bidowers
but are then hit in the flank by the late-arriving Lithuanian nobles.

Whilst over the other side of the field, the foot serjeants roll badly when
attempting to rally.  They must rout off the table.

The Bidowers return to the fray and cause some casualties as the Knights
continue to wallow in the poor going.  Alas, though, this is not enough
and the gallant skirmishers rout...

... leaving the Lithuanian and Teutonic knights to fight a final combat.
I'm not going to dignify this little action by giving winners or losers - it was a trivial exercise in getting to know the rules.  

There was more back-and-forth than the above account captures.  I think playing properly designed scenarios on nice terrain, these will be great fun to play.  

I plan to follow David Sullivan's lead and use the rules to play some Late Roman actions when I've recruited the appropriate toys.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Pressies

I must have been a good boy this year.   Stella bought me Lion Rampant, which I've been itching to try and of which more later.  I also got some fine pointed tweezers and a pack of Pulp Figures.

Finally, Jamie bought me two packs of Baccus 6mm Hun horse archers.

Friday, December 25, 2015

God Jul!

It's Christmas morning and I'm experimenting with annotating JPEGs using the Mac's Preview programme.

Best Wishes of the Season to all of you from the Goths, Huns, and Franks, from the giant hand of the gods, and from me!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Civil Unrest

Last week I ordered some 20mm figures from Irregular's Riot range.  The following, rather hurriedly painted, are the first results.

They'll see action in a forthcoming Andreivia game along with this Irregular TV crew and interested riot policeman.

Finally, this pair of plastic figures will see action as MI6 agents in another game.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On the workbench - Saxon Dragoons

In the early 18th century the thrones of Saxony and Poland were united in the person of Augustus the Strong.  That's my excuse for adding a unit of Saxon Leibregiment Dragoons to my 6mm scale Polish army.  That and the fact that again had a few figures that needed using up.

Again I've had to sculpt a couple of casualty figures to bring the unit up to strength with the Dragoons in my Russian army.

As usual, the four 30x30mm bases will form a unit for Maurice or Black Powder.  More pics when I get the groundwork done.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mysterious Stranger

Purchased on Saturday, painted, varnished and based by Thursday evening.  That's pretty good going for me when it comes to 28mm figures.

I needed a figure for the Christmas Pulp Alley game to represent Gerald Faulkner, a shell-shocked former Grenadier Guards officer now wandering lonely Denley Moor in Yorkshire.  This Artisan figure looked OK for the job.

He's from their Dead Man's Hand range and is meant to represent Wyatt Earp.  I carefully removed his tin star and spurs before I painted him.

Gerald will form the Main Plot Point in the game I'm intending to run on New Year's Eve.

Next job is to source and paint a dog to accompany Gerald.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How Many Systems?

I popped into the Wargame Store at Brimstage on Saturday as I was over in Wirral visiting my Mum and needed a figure to represent a key character in the Pulp Alley game I'm running at Christmas.

While there I got into a brief conversation with the owner and another customer about how many systems we play.  The local view was that the gamers in the upstairs room at the store probably play no more than four systems and don't really want the hassle or expense of moving beyond those games.

Gates of Antares was cited as a particular example.  This was seen as sitting somewhere between Warhammer 40K and Bolt Action (which, given that its designers had both of these in their back catalogue, is not unreasonable).  Local gamers didn't see the new system as adding anything particularly unique to their current repertoire of games.  Some of them had already bolted BA mechanisms onto W40K.

"But I must play about a dozen systems", I said.  I started counting them off on my fingers and got to ten with no problem.  Afterwards, though, I thought more about this. What are My Systems? What rules do I actually play often enough count myself a regular player?

Happily, this is the kind of question I can answer because I keep a brief record of all the games I play or, more often, umpire.

So in 2012 I played 12 different sets of rules at least once.

  • Arc of Fire
  • Basic Impetus
  • Basic Impetus Fantasy
  • Blitzkrieg Commander
  • Cold War Commander
  • HOTT
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Munera Sine Missione
  • Polemos GNW
  • Second Fleet
  • Sharp Practice
  • Song of Blades and Heroes
By 2013 this had come down to 11:

  • .45 Adventure
  • Arc of Fire
  • Basic Impetus
  • Bolt Action
  • c18th POW
  • c19th POW
  • Cold War Commander
  • HOTT
  • Pulp Alley
  • Rapid Fire
  • Song of Blades and Heroes
In 2014 nine:

  • Arc of Fire
  • Basic Impetus
  • Black Powder
  • Cold War Commander
  • HOTT
  • Maurice
  • Perfidious Albion
  • Pulp Alley
  • Song of Blades and Heroes

And by the time we reach the end of 2015 it will be a mere eight:

  • Arc of Fire
  • Cold War Commander
  • HOTT
  • Pulp Alley
  • RenPOW
  • Saga
  • Sharp Practice
  • To the Strongest!
A few thoughts occur to me about these lists.  First up, the mix of big battle rules vs skirmish rules hasn't changed significantly.  

Secondly there are a few rules that I have tried and rejected.  .45 Adventure lost out to Pulp Alley, Bolt Action wasn't for me, and Basic Impetus is currently second choice to To The Strongest!

The 18th century big battle scene is interesting.  The Principles of War set for the period is definitely rejected - I sold on my copy of the rules.  Likewise the ambiguous and too-complex Polemos GNW.   Maurice I love but as someone who most often puts on multi-player games for my mates, a game that's specifically for one player a side isn't going to get played too often.  As a result Black Powder seems to be the default choice, though it's not a game I'm in love with.

So which rules have survived throughout?  Arc of Fire, Cold War Commander, and Hordes of the Things are the only three. Is this perhaps because in Crisis Point, CP6, and Berkeley there are events that allow me to meet up with a bunch of gamers outside the normal Saturday Afternoon Wargames crew?  Wargaming is, for me, essentially a sociable activity.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015


It seems that with the recent Broo I've begun a program of completing half-finished projects.  Next up are these SdKfz 234/1s.

Both conversions of the Matchbox Puma, they are definitely rough-and-ready wargames models.

The one on the left has a turret from an Italeri (I think) SdKfz250/9 that I built as the standard open-topped variant.  The hull came from a friend and has a thick teenage enamel paint job.

The one on the right has a turret I scratch-built, probably not far off my teenage years.  This model has sat, more or less complete, in a storage box for decades.  Only now has it acquired a suitable colour scheme to join my mid-war Germans.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I've finally finished the Midlam Miniatures beastmen I bought at the Edinburgh show in August 2014.

I'm quite pleased with how they've come out.  They are a bit well equipped for feral Broo.  Maybe they are followers of Ralzakark or Lunar mercenaries.

They'll see action in a future game of Song of Blades and Heroes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Battle at the Mansio

Edited to introduce an annotated picture of the battlefield at the end of the action.

Our latest game of To The Strongest! this weekend was a fictional affair that pitched Roman against Roman with Goths, Franks and Huns along for the ride.

Phil and Andy commanded the Western Roman army with its Goth foederati whilst Arthur  commanded the Eastern Romans and Gus led their Frankish and Hun allies.

The field of glory was largely flat with the most obvious feature being a Roman road and a mansio; a roadside inn of the kind used by long distance travellers and Imperial couriers.

I try to always have a new terrain piece in every game and this time the mansio was it.

The building is a very slightly modified Leven Miniatures Mediterranean building (basically I just removed the drainpipes).   The walls and (not visible here) haystack and well in the rear yard are scratch built.

The Westerners advanced most aggressively.  In the photo below you can see that their line (on the right) has reached the Mansio.  The Roman infantry is this side of the mansio, beyond it is the Goth infantry, and beyond that the Goth horse.

On the eastern (left) side,  the Roman forces are again in the foreground, the Franks are just beyond the road, and the Huns are furthest from the camera.

Western Roman legionaries and auxilia

Impressive Eastern Roman cavalry

Both sides showed caution in the early stages, neither wanting to be caught off balance.

The hand of some Gothic god points the way to the Hun light cavalry.
Some of the Franks are in the foreground whilst far left are the Hun nobles.
The heavier Goth horse were able to drive the Hun light cavalry before them and soon threatened the Eastern Romans' left flank.

Meanwhile the Western Roman cavalry massed on the opposite flank.

And were faced by their Eastern opposite numbers.

At the northern end of the field a fierce melee developed between the two Roman armies' cavalry commands.  Below we see that one of the Western (heavy) cavalry units has become disordered...

Meanwhile on the southern side, one of the Hun light cavalry units was about to be driven from the field.

The Hun nobles charged in and disrupted the formation of one band of Goths.

Both sides fell foul of the luck gods. Gus tried to his deep unit of Frankish warriors out of the bad going to charge a Goth shield wall but drew a one and then another when his General tried to keep the attack moving.  A minute or two later another one stopped the Hun nobles in their tracks.

On both banks the Westerners threatened to swing in behind the flanks of their opponents but all the while the Easterners were inflicting a steady stream of casualties.

As more and more units became disordered (canted units in the pic below) it became easier to get kills.  Soon the Westerners were down to just three remaining victory medals whilst the easterners were on six or seven.

In the end we ran to of time to finish the battle.  When various commanders had to make their way back to their respective homes, we decided that night had fallen.  The Westerners had cavalry forces well advanced on both flanks (their forces are outlined in red below) and in a couple of turns could have made a dash for the easterners' camp.  On the other hand they had taken some serious casualties.  Losing a light unit and then having a General fail an unlucky save could have seen them beaten at any moment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New basing concept

Having played a few games of To The Strongest with multiple players on each side, I decided I needed to invest in some more activation counters.  I contacted Simon Miller and he very kindly split the usual packs to sell me just what I needed; two lots of activation chits:

Being the fine chap he is, Simon also enclosed a bag of 10 disorder markers:

... and most interesting of all, a sample of his new line in MDF bases.

These take advantage of the fact that  exact base sizes are not critical in TTS!  As you can see the base above is about the right size for one of my 28mm scale Wars of the Roses foot units (12cm by 6cm).

In addition, the bases come with ready-cut holes into which Simon has stuck rare earth magnets such that your completed unit will ride safely in a steel tool box or a filing box lined with steel paper.

At the moment I use my WOTR collection to play Basic Impetus, which is base-size critical, so I don't know whether this approach would work for me.  I suppose a Blutac-ed down unit in a test game is called for.   Then again, I should also get around to test driving TTS! as a WOTR game.