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 TĂȘtard 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.