Thursday, December 15, 2022

Supermarket find

At my local Morrison's the other day I spotted these:

My initial thought was, "those must be useful for something" so at £1.50 for a pack of three I thought it worth experimenting. If nothing else we'd have some more cloths to use in the kitchen!

They fold out into three 40cm-squarish sheets. The material is about 1.5mm thick, matt white and with a felt-like texture but slightly stiffer. They're certainly cheaper than buying those felt squares you can get at Hobbycraft. 

So far I'm envisaging three potential uses:

  1. As the water-absorbent layer in a makeshift wet palette (I'm trying this out and it seems to work with a layer of grease-proof paper on top),
  2. Cut into suitable shapes as snow-covered fields for 1/300th scale winter games, and
  3. Potentially to add a temporary layer of snow to the roofs of 1/300th buildings.
I guess the next job is to see how well they take to being coloured with acrylic paints. I'm not sure what additional uses that might open up but I'll report back here if I find any.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

More free stuff!

One of my ideas for Sharp Practice is to run a scenario that involves the Mississippi Marine Brigade assaulting Confederate defensive positions along the river. Along the front of the rebels' position would be a line of pickets in makeshift rifle pits.

Using bits from my stash of spare parts I was able to make these guys...

As with the earlier Confederate dismounted cavalry, the torsos are from the Warlord WSS Cavalry boxed set. A couple of the heads are from the Warlord Colonial Militia, while the rest were cobbled together by cutting down Perry Zouaves' heads and adding hats from the same company's ACW infantry. The Perry set also provided the muskets.

One figure has acquired a cavalryman's trumpet, presumably to augment the rebel yell when necessary. A chap in the rear rank has a repeating carbine from the ACW cavalry box while the chap at the centre of the front rank holds a beer bottle that I turned on a makeshift lathe from a length of wooden cocktail stick!

Total cost - negligible; probably the most expensive thing being the four round MDF bases. Even the two oval ones were cut out of spare material.

There are a few more cavalry torsos left in the spares box and I might have a go at using a couple of them to complete a US engineer bridge demolition team. Pictures to follow later!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Ostrich Riders

I'm thinking of running a Glorantha Song of Blades and Heroes game at Christmas. In considering which forces I might field I came across a unit of Praxian Ostrich Riders I'd made for Hordes of the Things. I thought I'd rebase them and maybe add a few more models to make a little SOBH warband.

The Ostrich Riders are pygmies and I'd made the original models by mounting HaT 20mm plastic Numidians onto 28mm white metal Ostriches (don't recall which manufacturer). 

Looking at them anew I decided they didn't look right. They looked like smaller scale models; not like shorter people of the same scale as my other 28mm guys.

I poked through the spares box and decided that 28mm heads transplanted onto the 20mm bodies might work. And I even had 28mm scale Numidian heads left over from building my Punic War forces!

The resulting models aren't great but they'll do. I've painted their skin using the Foundry "Dusky Flesh" triad.

I have a couple of other models on the workbench, one of whom will be a leader with a longer spear and a bronze helmet presumably traded for at one of the oases of inner Prax.

The Ostrich Riders prefer to fight by skirmishing with their javelins rather than by engaging in close combat. I'm thinking of rating the ordinary tribesmen as Quality 4+, Combat 2, Free Disengage, Long Move, Shoot (short range)

One might ask why I haven't rated them as Mounted. This is because Mounted gives a +1 in close combat to normal-sized, non-mounted figures. Because these guys don't end up any taller than a normal-sized human, I didn't think this appropriate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Steel Lard 2022

On Saturday fifty-odd wargamers (fifty odd wargamers?) gathered at Patriot Games in Sheffield for the third annual Steel Lard gaming day. We had twelve games in total from across the Too Fat Lardies catalogue. In no particular order:

Sidney Roundwood provided the smallest game with his The Lost Sword of Lord Akiyama. On a table only eighteen inches square, this game used Sid's own When the Last Sword is Drawn - a Lardy-style Samurai skirmish system. As usual with Sid's games, the presentation was excellent:

Thick as a Brick was Jeremy Short's game. Run using an adapted version of Dux Britanniarum, it featured Robin Hood, the Sherrif of Lardingham, Friar Tuck, and the minstrel  Jethro Tull. Jamie really enjoyed this game in the morning and I believe Friar Tuck was sent to meet his maker.

John Savage can always be relied upon to produce a good-looking and immersive game. This time it was The Sands of Shah Wadi Wadi, a Mahdist Revolt-themed game using the Sharp Practice rules with some adaptations to cope with repeating rifles and later-nineteenth-century tactics.

Also run using Sharp Practice was my own A Spy in the Suburbs the development of which you'll have seen documented here over recent months.  That this was the first running of the game with the intended Russian figures was due to the heroics of Richard Phillips, who got off his sickbed to drive them over the Peak District from Staffordshire. Richard, if you were a Hordes of the Things element you'd have a combat factor of +5 and would always count as mounted.

It was a tremendous pleasure to run the game with such enthusiastic players.

In two run-throughs, the French spy was captured by the Russians on the first occasion and managed to escape to the Prussian lines in the second game.

On the next door table I also "ran" A Bridge Too Far Up River, a Woebetides Sharp Practice scenario that had previously seen the light of day at Virtual Lard in July 2020. 

Originally Richard Clarke had been scheduled to run a Chain of Command game but recent health concerns led to him withdrawing. We decided to take advantage of Richard Phillips being semi-available (he and I were going to work together on the Riga game) and have him run a Woebetides Sharp Practice scenario of his own devising.

Unfortunately as we know, Richard P went the way of Richard C when he contracted a nasty gastro-bug from his grandchildren. Fortunately I'd already printed off the player briefings for the old scenario and put enough terrain in the car just in case.

Great honour is due to the allocated players who demonstrated good humour in running their own game as I was inevitably focussed on the more complex Riga game.

Jim Catchpole and Simon Mann in particular seemed to relish the opportunity to get to grips with learning Sharp Practice. Thanks guys!

If Sid's game was the smallest in the venue, Ken (Yarkshire Gamer) Reilly's game was definitely the biggest. Using the less-well-known If the Lord Spares Us First World War set, Ken ran the battle of Um At Tubul from the Mesopotamian campaign. This was a single game run throughout the day and seemed very popular with those involved.

Also in a Middle East setting was Graeme Atkinson's A Box Near Tobruk. This used Chain of Command rules and lovely terrain to simulate an Italian attack on a defensive position near that beleaguered North African city. 

Graeme's expert modelling captured the dry desert so well that it was like watching an episode of SAS: Rogue Heroes. I expected to hear the strains of AC/DC at any moment!

Meanwhile, back in the temperate north, Ken Welsh ran Mission to Croquette - another Sharp Practice game, this time set during the French and Indian Wars. 

I believe this may have been Ken's first time running a game at an event. If so he did a great job!

Alex Sotheran ran Up the Arras: Bloody April 1917. As the name suggests this was a First World War scenario, in this case using the Algy Pulls It Off variant of the Bag The Hun aerial dogfighting rules. 

Unfortunately unphotographed was Tom Davis's Havana Take Your Island. In my defence this game didn't actually involve anything to photograph. Set during the Seven Years War, this was a Kriegspiel - effectively a role-playing game - about British efforts to capture the island of Cuba from the Spanish. Tom spent most of the afternoon running about between multiple tables where different national command teams were based. I've had some really positive feedback on this one.

There were two more games that I'm afraid I didn't get pictures of as they were only run during the morning session and had been put away by the time I finished in Riga.

Charley Walker ran Red Hot Frigate Action off Le Coup de Cheveux, 1795. This was a Kiss Me Hardy game with Charley's really nice French Revolutionary War ships.

Finally, Mike Wilkins ran The Eagle Has Larded - a Chain Of Command game based roughly on the old TV series Allo Allo. Again, I didn't get to see this much but it was great that Mike stepped into the mix late on to allow some of the other games masters to spend some of the day playing rather than refereeing.

As a new venue for Steel Lard, Patriot Games was very well received. The gaming space is pretty much ideal, the in-house café is excellent, and the staff were uniformly terrific. Only the presence of on-site parking could have improved things and as we didn't have that at the previous venue we didn't miss it too much.

In the evening we enjoyed the traditional beer and curry. This may be the subject of work to improve next year's offer but it looks like I may be organising the event again in 2023!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Riga - some late additions (updated)

When we discussed the Riga game after the last playtest session, my mate Gus suggested a couple of improvements.

First up was the possibility that troops searching the ruins might find things of interest (other than their main scenario objective). There are limits to how much of that I can handle because of some of the unique rules mechanisms in this scenario but I have come up with something.

This small base represents some soldier's hidden stash of looted items. Its made from bits of card and plasticard painted in colours that match my cobblestones terrain mat. The two canvas sacks are from Green Stuff and the box and valise are from a Dapol model railway set.

This treasure trove will initially be hidden under a broken piece of barn door made from coffee stirrers and matchsticks.

Gus also thought that some sections of pavement would be a good idea to break up the evenness of the terrain cloth. He's not wrong but I don't think the time allows me to create this in a way that I'd be happy with at this stage. It did however set me thinking. I'd like to hint at there perhaps being some higher areas "off-camera".

A few hours in the workshop today resulted in this...

It's clamped in the vice at the moment while the glue dries but what we have is basically a raised, stone-paved area surrounded by stone walls and approached by a stone stairway. I'm thinking of it as perhaps leading to a churchyard on a slight rise above the otherwise flat land alongside the Daugava River. There's chance it might mark the Prussian Deployment Point for Saturday's games.

The platform is large enough to carry one of my eight-figure line infantry sabot bases. Tomorrow I'll at least get it undercoated.

And now it's tomorrow and the staircase and platform is undercoated and indeed painted!

Monday, November 14, 2022

A random figure

As I think I've said here before, I'm currently really enjoying painting figures just for the hell of it - no wargaming aim in mind. The latest product of this is one of the random chaps in the bag of bits I bought at Wargames Emporium.

When I opened the pack I looked at the long gaiters and thought, "Oh, that's a First World War American infantryman". However, having looked at the details of the uniform, I decided he's more likely an early Second World War American - perhaps one of the defenders of Wake Island? 

That's what I've painted him as. He wants varnishing and basing and then he'll probably go into my figures-that-might-be-useful-in-Pulp-games collection.

So far, painting the contents of the bag of bits, which remember cost me a fiver, has produced:
  • a few 6mm Napoleonics that went to Dex McHenry after he was incautious enough to suggest that he might be tempted by that period and scale,
  • a 28mm model of John McClane from Die Hard,
  • a 28mm WW1 German officer,
  • three 6mm scale aircraft for WW2,
  • various 6mm ancients that appeared in last Christmas's HOTT game,
  • three 6mm Hummer ambulances, 
  • three BT-7 tanks that will be sold eventually, and
  • some 6mm scale defensive positions that have joined my terrain collection.
As well as the chap above. Not bad!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Last Riga Rehearsal

Andy and Gus came over on Sunday and I was able to run through a final practice game before running A Spy in the Suburbs at Steel Lard.

I can't give too many details here as I don't want to forewarn players about the details of the scenario but I'm happy that a two-player variant of the four-player game worked reasonably.

The table layout is finalised and I just need to number the models under their bases to speed up the process of setting up the game on the day.

Unfortunately Richard P was unable to join us with his Russians so it looks like the first run-through of the game with the right figures will be at Steel Lard. Jamie's French Revolutionary Wars models (and a few of my Woebetides sailors) were used to stand in for the absent Russians and Royal Navy types.

For example, here we see some French militia types standing in as Cossack skirmishers...

They seemed to quite like spending time knee-deep in Riga's open drains. As this particular drain runs between the market's pigsties and cattle corral we can make an informed guess as to its contents.

A new addition this time was this Tangent Models figure of Major Ducos (or B-stard as they call him) from the Sharpe TV series. In our case he was standing in as Colonel Têtard de Crapaud of the French Imperial Guard. He was purchased at Fiasco last weekend and needs another coat of matt varnish before I'm entirely happy with him.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Golden Hind

I'm currently enjoying building models and painting them regardless of any future gaming usefulness. Yesterday saw me dig out two rather battered old examples of the Airfix Golden Hind kit. This is the old kit that dates back to the mid-1950s, not the newer 1/72nd scale kit they produced in recent years. I reckon this model is about 1/350th scale so it could in theory work alongside my Great Northern War 6mm armies.

The two models, which had been built probably in the late 1970s, were both somewhat damaged but I managed to get one half-decent model out of them.

I did consider having a go at rigging the model but in the end I decided against as I don't have any suitable thread and I'd rather just get the model done to a useable wargaming standard.

I haven't added any flags at this stage as I thought it would be good to keep it as generic as possible until I have a scenario that needs a ship. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Pictish cavalry

A recent addition to the Pict force is this unit of horse.

They are Gripping Beast's generic Dark Age Cavalry modified by the addition of various parts from their Dark Age Picts set.

The modifications are straightforward - just swapping out heads and shields mostly. For a bit of variety, the chap in the purplish tunic has a beard added from Green Stuff and I replaced his spatha with a shorter sword from the Pict set and added the appropriate scabbard from the same source.

These models complete the set I need for a planned Lion Rampant 2 play through of the old "Ambush!" scenario from an ancient copy of Military Modelling magazine (or was it Battle for Wargamers). When I've done that I might have a go at re running it with Infamy Infamy.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Getting my head around X Corps

Having recently found Edward Foord's Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812 on Project Gutenberg, I thought I'd have a go at updating my homemade timeline of the Riga/Livonia campaign and really getting a handle on what happens when and, more importantly, where.

I've laid out the map of Latvia I bought when we visited the country in 2006. 

Naturally life is not simple. The map is double sided and the actions of Grawert's Prussian Division in the Mitau-Riga sector are on the opposite side from Granjean's 10th Division around Dünaburg.

Add to that the fact that everywhere has two names (Mitau/Jelgava, Gross Ekau/Iecava, Dünaburg/Daugavpils), most Russian commanders have at least two English transliterations of their names, and all events happened on two different dates depending which calendar was used by the people recording them.... I think I may need to go and lie down soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

More architecture for Riga

I've finished a few more bits of 1812 Riga including the partly burned-out house I showed previously.

As usual (for me, nowadays) this is foamcore and balsa wood on an expanded PVC board base. The base is scribed as flagstones using an old ball-point pen. The stable block is roofed with Merit pantile sheet while the main house is laser-cut tiles mixed with home-made equivalents after I ran out of the commercial ones.

Also from foamcore and PVC board is this cluster of pig pens. I'll probably addd some gates to the individual pens made out of thin wood from the wooden boxes that camembert cheese comes in. 

Finally, as one side of the Riga board seems increasingly to be representing an area of former animal market, I've created a couple of mostly depleted haystacks.

As I said in the previous post, these are made from wooden rod, a couple of map pins and sculpted Milliput.

I think Riga is pretty much finished now. Anything else I add is purely for decoration and won't play a significant role in game play. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

On the workbench - sort of

Further progress of terrain for Riga...

A bit hard to see as the sun is quite low in the sky over my usual photography spot but this is another cluster of buildings for the suburbs. I've just spray undercoated it and will start on painting tomorrow.

Also under way is this pair of haystacks. I'm assuming that the area of the suburbs that has animal corrals for the market (one of them features in my terrain set) would have some space for animal feed. I'm working on a small piece of muddy ground (left over from my experiments in making terrain cloths) and these two will stand on it when complete.

As you can see the structure is built around a piece of wooden rod. I topped both rods with a round map pin for decoration. The shape of the mound of hay is built up from foam core offcuts. I then added layers of Milliput caved into a believable pattern with a craft-knife blade. This is basically an adaptation of the approach I use for thatched roofs.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Picts Finished!

The recently acquired box of Gripping Beast Picts is done. I now have four units of Pictish warriors and two of skirmishers for use with Lion Rampant.

There were 25 models in the box and they can be made up with a mix of axes and spears (oh and one sword). That was fine to give me two units of twelve tribal warriors.

There are also a few crossbows and one spare figure left over. Could I possibly find a way of cobbling together a unit of skirmishers too?

Digging through the piles of leftover bits I found a half-completed figure I'd built out of Greenstuff and spare parts. He was originally going to be a generic Dark Ages archer but the Medieval longbow I'd used just looked too big. I cut off the hand holding the bow and replaced it with a crossbow from the Gripping Beast box. Two down, four to go!

Then I found some unused GB Dark Ages Warriors left over from when Jamie was building his Saga warbands. A couple of white metal short bows and scratchbuilt arrow quivers and I was up to five figures (I left one of the figures with a spear - I don't see the Picts as organising themselves into differentiated units by weapon type).

Finally, a white metal wolf left over from a long-ago Hordes of the Things project enabled me to add a sixth figure to the unit in the form of a hunting dog.

This gets me to a 20 point force for Lion Rampant (I'm using David Sullivan's Crepusculum Imperii variant stats). I might see if I can cobble together a light cavalry unit to complete the picture.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Reinforcements arrive!

I popped down to Wargames Emporium yesterday to make sure I had some models to keep me going for a few more weeks.

The Victrix French artillery (or at least one of the three teams in the pack) will be converted into Westphalian artillery for use in our 1812 Livonia campaign.

I've decided I far prefer the visual impact of 28mm for Sharp Practice. I think I'll probably sell off my 20mm Napoleonics.

The Picts will get based up for Lion Rampant to join the metal ones I finished recently.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Ebor Lard 2022 Report

On Saturday Tom Davis kindly drove Alex Sotheran and I up to Green Hammerton (near York) for the annual Ebor Lard games day. As usual there was a feast of gorgeous looking Too Fat Lardies games on offer.

In the morning I played in John Savage's The Eagle Has Landed 55BC, an Infamy Infamy game in which a Roman landing party attempted to make off with the captured British king Churchilliax in a coup de main aimed at paving the way for Julius Caesar's invasion.

As usual with John's games the terrain was lovely.

I took on the role of commander of a party of Roman marines holding the beach while centurion Octavius Steinerus) led a strike force bringing in the captive.

Unfortunately, however, the Romans hadn't had time to scout out the wooded area either site of Steinerus's route and we were soon up against "Britons... fahsands of 'em" (if I can briefly switch filmic references).

My marines had, perhaps foolishly, deployed into column as I thought I might be able to rush them forward and close down one of the British ambush points. The front group of Marines was immediately routed having been reduced to half strength.

Fortunately, I rolled a relatively low score on the dice to see how far they fled and this left the two Marine Leaders handily placed to join the one remaining group on the edge of the beach. This would prove crucial as events developed.

Meanwhile the Roman force under Steinerus was being swamped by ambushing Britons.

From this point onwards the battle was remarkable for the continued resistance of the second marine unit. With two officers they were able to continue rallying off shock for turn after turn...

... even with British cavalry in their rear!

In the end, after we'd been convinced for ages that the jig was up for the Romans (they were on 1 point of Force Morale turn after turn) Steinerus managed to reach the headland above the beach... and that was it - with escape in sight the final point of Force Morale was lost and the Roman mission had ended in failure.

The game was hugely enjoyable despite (or perhaps because of) the late defeat. If you get the chance to play in one of John Savage's games at a convention I'd strongly recommend it.

My afternoon game was Jeremy Short's What Sins Have We Committed? This was a Dux Britanniarum game featuring the full cast of Arthurian characters. I played the aged Arthur!

The set-up was very pretty!

I have to say I found this game somewhat frustrating. Dux Brit is one of the older Too Fat Lardies games and in my experience they seem (like first edition Sharp Practice) to get the balance wrong between player control and chaos. At most points in the game I didn't feel in control of my own troops and when I was able to get them to do what I wanted, the result was distinctly disappointing. And yet, when we came to tot up the victory points Arthur had won!

As usual the other games were equally gorgeous looking...

I strongly recommend your getting along to a Lardy day if you get the opportunity.  

Steel Lard takes place in Sheffield on 19 November 2022. If you'd like a place, please let me know by commenting here.