In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Unexpected Party

It's quite often very hard to get one's game on around here. I pine for the glorious golden days of only 5 years ago; a lot of friends lived nearby and we could get together between 2 and 4 times a month to game. We played a lot of different periods and had some really great games.

Now everything has changed; many have moved away or are too busy now to game very often and trying to co-ordinate our schedules can be frustrating.

But still, every once in a while the planets align and I end up with a bunch of excellent people in the basement for a game. It was one of our number's birthday so we clubbed together for a cake and put on the coffee maker and suddenly had a party. One friend, who's busy family life doesn't let him game much said the next day: "Man, I needed that. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time."

So onto the game.

American right wing; Rocketmen, sailors and Roughriders
The birthday boy opted for Victorian Science Fiction so we ended up with an alliance of Dutch and Russians on Venus versus a coalition of Americans and British. The AngloAmerican alliance have occupied an ancient Venusian temple, so to prevent a mass uprising among their Venusian Native Infantry, the Dutch with their Russian allies need to liberate it. There were enough troops in evidence, so I left General Wooster and my Anglo-Indian army in their boxes and helped run the very nicely painted Dutch instead.

View of Anglo-American lines; 7th Cav have occupied ancient temple

The American steamtank. It caused a lot of trouble for the Russians. But then the British steamtank caused a lot of trouble for the Dutch.

British hold center between 7th Cav and Roughriders

Part of the Dutch RW; mechs, steamtank and Venusian Native Infantry ("Parrotmen")

The Tsarist hordes advance on the left.

Parrotmen surge from the jungle.

Depleted British line awaits the Dutch onslaught.

Russians having trouble with American steamtank.

Dutch cavalry, both mechanical and normal charge the British Naval Brigade overruning them. A second charge against a square wasn't as successful.

Russian mechanical scorpions are cut down by American sailors.

Polly wants a cracker. The parrotmen charge the 7th Cavalry!

The fight comes down to a duel between the last Venusian and Gen. G.A. Custer himself.

It's a dead parrot.

Custer gets gunned down by a volley from the Dutch askaris however, who then capture the objective.

The Dutch King (with mechanical butler) surveys the captured temple.

The happy British Naval Brigade commander expresses the general feeling of the evening.

I think the Dutch and American steam tanks were from Iron Brigade miniatures. A couple were kitbashed from old toys. The Parrotmen are heavily converted Games Workshop Warhammer 40K Kroot. The mechanical cavalry are heavily converted historical cavalry riding mounts from Mageknight or one of those plastic collectible clicky games that I don't pay attention too.

The commander of the Dutch is posting a more complete (and accurate) After Action Report on the Lead Adventures Forum.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Some Early Medieval Figures

I have several medieval armies.

As I mentioned here, Medievals were my first lead wargames armies, replacing all the Airfix plastic Napoleonics and Rocco Minitanks of my youth.

I started with late Medievals, mostly 15th century but some 14th century creeping in as I found figures or had maybe read a book about the Hundred Years War. My interest was rather flighty, bouncing from the Swiss-Burgundian Wars, to the Wars of the Roses to the German Empire and Hussites. But mainly I just like sallets and gothic plate armour.

At the other end of the spectrum I also like chain hauberks, conical helmets and Norman style kite shields. So I've also built an 11th-12th  century, early Medieval army. Not quite dark ages but they could take on some Vikings in a pinch if they had too. The overgrown family squabble between Stephen and Maude or the many small campaigns of Henry II or Richard I as they built the Angevin Empire gives a lot of scope for battles and skirmishes and raids. Pretty great history to read too.

With this army I am indulging my desire to build an Imagi-nation though; the Duchy of Mantovia ruled by Good Duke Raymond and his Duchess Isabelle (who is a patron of minstrels and generous to the poor). They do of course have enemies. Fulk the Bastard, who is the Duke's illegitimate son from a youthful indiscretion, is always rebelling to try and take over, aided by the nefarious Cardinal Berengar and assorted bands of mercenaries.

So here are a few pictures of part of this collection. The knights shown above are a mix of Old Glory First Crusades and Norman milites.

Foundry civilians. The noble and his lady.

Some 'Medieval baebes'. Foundry and Reaper castings.
Here is one of my companies of foot sergeants. Gripping Beast figures. I have a few companies of Old Glory mailed spearmen as well and one company of unarmoured foot. I really need more unarmoured spearmen. Lots. I'm wondering what the new Wargames Factory Saxon fyrdsmen would look like with kite shields. Other foot include crossbowmen, some old Ral Partha 'Scottish archers' which I got second hand from an old fantasy army and a bag of Old Glory Welsh spearmen. I imagine the Duchy of Mantovia to have some fairly mountainous regions and these rugged peasants are stalwart supporters of the Good Duke. Or they could be scruffy bandits hired by Fulk with the promise of loot too. Who knows? Tricky place to live in, the 11th century.

The fellow below is from the Old Glory Crusades Command pack. I think he's supposed to be the Grand Master of the Templars. I've done him as the evil Cardinal Berengar, who is constantly intriguing with Fulk the Bastard against Duke Raymond and the goodly folk of the Duchy of Mantovia. So he quite often hires my small Saracen army (see them in action here as the Wazir of Pakora's army on the North West Frontier) and The Black Company.

The Black Company can be seen in some of the shots in the recent Away Game. They were a bunch of second hand random dark ages figures I got with some pretty awful paint work. I had gotten them to be Varangians for a planned Byzantine army that never really got off the ground and almost got rid of them. But my friend Rico had a blast using them as a scruffy band of mercenaries, so I gave them a good black wash to cover the dodgy painting, added some other random figures and painted their shields and banners black. They now form the core of the Fulk's army and boast two companies of armoured foot and a squadron of knights.

The Duke is supported by the Bishop and an Abbess plus assorted other characters whom I need to get in front of the camera someday.

Since this project has a strong Arthurian theme I'm open to allowing small amounts of appropriate Medieval superstition and magic to creep in. Once they're painted Fulk will have the support of three witches (who will either inspire their own side or cause morale tests on the other side) and I did this figure as the Green Knight. He's a Games Workshop Rider of Rohan Royal Guardsman. But his armour looks archaicly gothic enough to look like he's spent a lot of time hanging about in an enchanted pool. I haven't actually used him yet, but someday he will appear near a water way to challenge all comers to single combat.

And finally there's the Fool who faithfully follows his liege, the Troubador "Golden Knight" around. The Lays of Mantovia are on the Top 10 play list at all the banquets. Perhaps the Medieval Baebes will record it someday?
He's a Games Worskhop figure from their old Bretonnian line.

I based these with a lot of singles thinking skirmishes are the way to go to get more characters into play, but I'm not sure. I may rebase the infantry and cavalry on the big 40mm squares. I'm still pondering it, individual characters could be added to a game with big multi-figure stands too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Away Game

 A friend likes to put on open participation games at his local public library. He tries to go small and skirmishy, with lots of colour to catch the kid's imagination. He's done WW2 a few times using the Too Fat Lardies Troops, Weapons and Tactics and western gunfights using his rather impressive western town. This time he asked if any of my Medieval armies were available to amuse the kids. Sadly I was busy yesterday unloading ludicrous amounts of sale merchandise at work, but I let him (and the kids) use my early Medieval army without me. Maybe I'm relaxing in my old age?

The librarian took some pictures of the action.
Explaining the rules.
It looks like Keith is using modified Black Powder for his rules. A good choice, I think they're simple enough for novices to grasp.
Charging past the rulebook!


"Don't just stand there gawking like you've never seen the Hand of God before! Charge!"

Table view and it looks like Dad is getting invovled too.

Yup. Dad's getting into the action.
I have no idea how it went or what happened, but it looks like people had fun and maybe Keith has gotten one of the kids enthused enough about the hobby to keep going.

I know I got hooked many years ago when the London Historical Miniature Wargames Society set up some games and displays at a local mall. My dad thought it'd be something I would like to see and took me. Clever fellow, my dad.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rabbitman and the Empty Nest

So life has taken a new turn.

We dropped my youngest off in her University dorm room two weeks ago. Some tears and angst on everyone's part, but so far the worst part has really been the long drive to get there and back.

My Snugglebunny and I are so far adapting to the eerily quiet empty nest. We still sometimes catch ourselves acting like the girls are asleep though. But it's nice not having to schedule around when you have to fetch a teenager from work. So last night we opened a bottle of wine with dinner since neither of us had to go anywhere. Another upside is our take out options are opening up considerably; tonight we had Chinese. The girls hate Chinese.

Between that and the more normal hours I'm working at the Buy Food now as the Grocery Manager (4 day shifts and only one evening a week and most Sundays off) I almost feel like regular people.

Now if I can just leverage this into more painting time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More SYW ponderings

So since my last posting on Black Powder for the SYW and my experience using the rules in various battles I've been able to reread Duffy's Armies of Maria Theresa.

I think trying to add too much gritty detail and 'national characterisitics' is totally opposite to what Black Powder is aiming for and the route to madness. I mean how many Napoleonic rules have made my eyes bleed? Even (especially) the oxymoronically titled Fast Play Empire?

The same Austrian commander who in the summer of 1757 handed Frederick the Great a nasty defeat at Kolin was later that same year given a very nasty defat by Frederick at the Battle of Leuthen using exactly the same tactics. So maybe in the second battle he just had crap staff rolls?

In our first Colonial game, I gave Dan a potentially very strong brigade with Highlanders and Gurkhas and a staff rating of 9. But his staff rolls were appallingly bad and he only ever got one unit of Gurkhas moving the entire game. So I think giving everyone the same staff ratings and letting the dice decide is the way to go. I think I'll keep the unit ratings outlined previously though and apply them to all armies. The 'unreliable' rule as applied to my Freikorps last game gave a satisfying result and would I think work well for the Reichsarmee or the newly raised Austrian regiments at Mollowitz.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ah Crap...

Just got this in my email. Crap.

I've been banging away on my own ancient rules; Legion and Empire, Miniature War Gaming in the Roman Era for a few years now. Got them all done and playtested to death. Core rules, army lists and scenarios. Trying to find a publisher has been the tough part. If the latest one falls through I may just sell it as pdfs over the internet.

But now Warlord has to bring out their own with all the fancy eye-candy, flash and hutzpah that the Perry Twins and Warlord can generate. And as Games Workshop amply demonstrates every day, it's flashy marketing that sells, not good rules. But then I rather like their Black Powder rules and if the ancient rules are anything similar then they'll prove popular.

Of course L&E is probably too detailed for the type of player who wants a Black Powder sort of game anyway. I never expected to get rich and there is always room for niche products for those who deliberately eschew the flash, popular rules.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My first miniature!

Well maybe not my first miniatures. That honour I think, goes to some old Der Kriegspieler "Orcs of the Misty Mountains" figures that I no longer possess.

But here are some of the oldest miniatures in my collection.

The fellow on the left is an old Citadel FRPG character figure. He's my first medieval miniature. I bought him when my wife was getting me a 25mm late Medieval army for Christmas.

He's painted in enamels. I used the (very) dirty thinner as a wash! No one had heard of inks back then.

But he's got loads of character. I use him as a captain for halberdiers or other rough, ignoble heavy infantry types.

Next is a bunch of dismounted Men-at-arms with assorted polearms. They're mostly old Citadel and Naismith figures but I think I see a RAFM and a Minifigs in there, back rank on the left. Notice the old balsa wood bases which I've since replaced. Again painted in enamels.

This company of Naismith Italian Wars pike gets a lot of action. They've also been rebased onto 40x40mm squares. Pikemen on individual bases with 15mm frontages just don't make any sense!

These units were part of my first lead army. Back when we were starting out, the wife wanted me to have a proper lead army to replace my Airfix plastic Napoleonics. But which period? I was smitten by a Wars of the Roses army using Citadel figures on the cover of Wargames Illustrated, so I settled on the late medieval/Wars of the Roses period. We heard that a history professor at the university was selling some extra figures so I went over to his office to select a nice little starter army of 80 odd figures. After I got them home the wife made me wait until Christmas before I could open them. So I packed my paints when we went up to the in-laws for Christmas and started painting them Christmas day!

They've seen a lot of service in the last 25 years though. My painting has gotten a lot better and some are a bit worse for wear, but I still use them all when my collection takes the table as either a Burgundian or English WotR army.

When I get their new bases flocked I'll try and get another picture for you. Perhaps during a playtest game for the new version of Blood & Chivalry I'm pecking away at.