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!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Space Rocks! Have Glue Gun Will Travel

This past Family Day holiday, armed with a hot glue gun and craft knife, I decided to start knocking together some rocky terrain for Xenos Rampant.

This is how a lot of my terrain projects happen. An idea rattles around in my head for a while, months or years even, and then one day I just clear some space and say "Let's do it!" and I start hacking and gluing with little preplanning or measuring.

While I was at it I got some off cuts of foam and made a rocky hill.

Not sure WTF I'm doing

Sand on bases

Next weekend was mild ( -2 degrees in the afternoon), so I took everything outside to get a heavy spray of dark grey and then a light spray of light grey.

Quiet Sunday morning photo shoot to see how they look with figures.

Very pleased with the results. To make the entire playing area (4.5' x 5') rocky I'll need to bang up around 12 more pieces.

Monday, February 20, 2023

More Dwarves and a Not-Galadriel

It's taken a while, mostly due to lack of mojo, but I have finally finished my first full unit for 2023, a second shield wall of Dwarf warriors from Conqueror Models

The dwarves are all in a more aggressive stance with this unit.

For this unit's banner I went with a green field and a white mountain goat. I think anvils and crossed axes are just a rather tired clich√© now. 

For the decoration at the hems, I've found that there is less room between the edge of the mail and the hem of the tunic from the older Vendel sculpts, so it was more frustrating to try and do a simple design with these figures. I did manage to make the captain's tunic more elaborate though.

I've also incorporated more runes onto the shields to make them look more Dwarfy. Maybe they have talismanic significance, maybe it's just their way of marking their shield. The runes are just made up. I thought about being cute and using JRRT's runes to have them spell something rude if I lined them up the correct way, but that'd get old fast.

The big N with the axe/hammer through it is actually inspired by the badge for 'Nemesis', the bad guy in the rather bad superhero movie Samaritan starring Sylvester Stallone. 

I also put some paint on this medieval female character from Pulp Figures' new 1066 range. In history she was Isobel de Conches, daughter of Simon de Montfort, who lead her husband's knights in battle. It is a nice pack with Isobel mounted and armed, on foot armed, and on foot in court dress. I've painted the courtly dressed figure all in white as a not-Galadriel to help my Elves with some extra magic and leadership. I also wanted to practice my white.

The backdrops are free downloads from Jon Hodgson that I printed out and glued to some foam core.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Concerning Hobbits part 2 - An Unexpected Army

William Hupp of Thistle & Rose Figures, which now makes the Vendel fantasy miniatures that I like so much, contacted me about sponsoring the ancients tournament at Hot Lead this year. He had also seen my previous queries on the Wargaming in Middle Earth Facebook group about hobbits and asked if I would like some samples of his.

Of course I would, expecting a half dozen or so.

Nope, he's sent me a dozen each of rock thowers, archers, hobbits with spears and angry villagers with improvised weapons! Plus the original Vendel pack of the 4 hobbits from Lord of the Rings with swords and cloaks plus a charming vignette of Sam preparing a brace of rabbits by a camp fire while  Frodo sleeps.

This will make a nice objective, deployment point, camp marker or just a piece of scatter terrain. 

Original Colin Patten hobbits. Going to mix these in the other groups as leaders

The T&R figures come in packs of 6. The spear, archer and villager packs have separate weapons with cast on hands. This allows for some variation in pose, but the spears are quite delicate and you have to be alert to gluing the wrong hand on an arm. I did some creative arm bending to relieve the flatness of some of the poses.


Rock Throwers

Light spears

Angry villagers

Angry villagers part 2

The Thistle & Rose hobbits scale nicely with the Airfix HO figures and my Games Workshop Merry figure. The Airfix box should generate another unit of light foot, a unit of archers and a unit of skirmishers, giving me an Order of Battle looking somewhat like:

  • 2x light missiles with sharpshooter 
  • 4x scouts (I may house rule sharpshooter for them too)
  • 3x light foot possibly with offensive upgrade, and/or short range missiles 
So not a massive force, but easily enough for a ~30 point game. Very fragile, with no one wearing over armour 2, but fast moving and quite shooty.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

"All Out of .Gifs. God Save the King!"

Social Media. It's supposed to bring us together. It's supposed to make the sharing of ideas and creating connections across the globe easier. I've made some good gaming friends over Social Media that I would otherwise have never met, and thanks to things like Virtual Lard, I even get to play with some of them sometimes.

Sometimes it doesn't though. People have opinions and like to share them. We like to share our hobby and exchange ideas and enthusiasm too. But folks can hold their opinions very strongly. You think something is fun, so it's hard for some people to understand that not everyone has to enjoy the same things, or in the same way.

It all started with newsletters and magazines. Type written and run off the office Gestetner. Stapled and folded and mailed out. Back when production costs were reasonably low and there were no other outlets for the enthusiasm. But we still argued. I had a multi issue argument with the writer of Napoleon's Battles in the letters column of the now gone MWAN. I was a cheeky bugger.

Newsletters have pretty much died. I think even digital newsletters like Bell of Lost Souls have trouble gaining traction since they tend to be very focused to a specific game or region and are actually very work intensive to generate for little to no income. Must Contain Minis is a labour of love and enthusiasm, but I wonder how much attention and ad revenue it garners? The creators have to keep flexing their other Social Media presence to direct people to their newsletter.

Magazines seem to be in a death spiral. As production and mailing costs rocket they become less viable. Especially in North America were our expansive geography makes life hard for the small companies so they have even less money to buy advertising. Wargames Illustrated has stopped sending physical copies overseas. Digital is the obvious solution, but I find Digital magazines hard to read on small screens and honestly I forget about them. I've got a few issues on my hard drive and rarely remember them. Since I don't read a magazine in one sitting, they're easily forgotten and left unfinished when I get up from the computer. Not that I want to read a magazine sitting at my computer.

My library of old magazines which I still dig through on occasion.

The one I subscribe to. Good balance of interesting articles and eye-candy.

E-mail Listservs. Remember these? They weren't bad, but gosh was it easy to get into arguments in those early days of social media when we were all unaware of written versus spoken tone and discovering that our sarcastic sense of humor was often lost in the translation. I'm happy to have less in my email in box anyway. I'm still on one for Two Fat Lardy games. Not sure why.

Forums. I'm a member of a few forums. I forget to go visit them. You can get good in depth discussion and build threads over weeks and months as you add to a project, which is cool. But sharing photos is clumsy since you have to have a photo sharing site like Flickr, which all want money nowadays. Or older posts (and the archived posts are part of the appeal) get broken as those photo links break when the author drops older pics from the free photo sharing site because they've hit their memory limits.

Blogs. Well, you're here reading this aren't you? A few folks have talked about the death of blogs, but I'm sticking with them. I like the writing. I can share my stuff, write battle reports, reviews and more in depth musings than is appropriate for a Tweet. I can turn the battle reports into short stories when I get the creative inspiration. I suppose this post might fall into the "TL;DR" category. I'm sure it won't get as many hits as a game post with lots of pictures. But this is my public access gaming diary. I will often go back to older posts to refresh my memory about what I did, or just to enjoy an amusing story I wrote. So I'll stick with blogging. As Oscar Wilde said so well:

Facebook groups. Easy for quick shares of painting and battle reports. There is a Facebook group for any game system or genre that you want. Probably several. Of course anyone can join, so you do run into the occasional idiot. Most Administrators are good, but I left the 15mm Science Fiction game group because of politics. Got into a slight argument with a button counter on one of the Napoleonic groups too. "Hide" and "mute" are essential to keeping one's sanity and not getting dragged into flame wars. But you aren't going to see anything new that is outside of your interest.

Vlogs and Podcasts.  I'm not really into the YouTube, but from what I hear from those who are, it seems to be an awful lot of grief from trolls just to make your painting or history video. But even the trolly engagement generates traffic and ad revenue so I gather it's a careful balancing act. I don't watch videos much unless I want a quick primer on a historical topic or a game play through to see if I want to buy a new set of rules (a trio of game play videos sold me on Xenos Rampant and helped with learning O Group and General d'Armee). I don't understand how people can watch a Youtube video while they paint. I'm too focused on my hands to pay attention. Ironically I'm on Youtube, some of the CWP (see below) has been published as video. But I don't often watch it to be honest, because I'm painting.

Podcasts. Well I'm co-hosting one aren't I? Find it here at The Canadian Wargamer Podcast. I'm starting to think that I don't really have anything new or novel hot takes on the hobby. When I do think I'm onto something, someone smarter says it better somewhere else, so I'm mainly there to have a friendly chat with my bestie Mike and whoever we get on to interview. Talking about wargaming is always fun anyways. This blog post is really me just organizing my thoughts for an upcoming Podcast on the subject. 

App based sites like Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, Hive and Mastadon. I've been trying all these as alternatives to Twitter, as that site is breaking under a billionaire's egomaniacal mid-life crisis. Instagram and Tumbler you can't have really good conversations. Instagram is for me, really only good for watching cheering cat videos. Hive and Mastadon are very siloed and it's hard to get conversations going. Tumbler, well it seems to be full of lonely people screaming into the void and pornbots.

My little corner of Twitter is full of amusing fellows with similar attitudes to games and miniatures. Maybe it's an echo chamber, but I'm there for miniature gaming, not political philosophy. But the easy banter and .gif humor is good, which is why so far I've stuck with it. I've certainly discovered some things that I wouldn't have heard about on Facebook as some of my connections show off their interests. 

So I'm sticking with Twitter for the moment. I carefully curate who I follow and what I interact with. Regularly use "Block" and "Mute" and avoid interacting with political posts, even if I agree with them, to keep my feed pretty gaming and history focused. It mostly works. But Twitter wants to keep pushing stuff at you, which is super annoying.

But that is the tension isn't it, as we learn to manage staying connected with people while avoiding the trolls and keeping Digital Big Corporate Brother's hands out of our wallets and data.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Raid on Hyperion Redux

I had some time on Sunday evening to have a third game, so I thought I'd give the Orbital Drop scenario a try and have my MMC Marines in power armour assaulting the Forward Operating Base I made out of the old Airfix Coastal Gun Emplacement. 

I played this a few times earlier with my homebrew rules. I even wrote a good story from one game here, Raid on Hyperion

The Martians got Heavy Weapons, and Demolitions,  which I figured would prove useful attacking fortifications. I also deployed the MMC in Reduced Model Units of 3 figures in each fireteam. So a big game with 65 points worth of MMC attacking about 40 points of UNMC defenders. 

Which is only 1.5:1 odds for attacking a fortified position. 

UNMC Fireteam patroling the Belter settlement 

Stand to! Half of the UNMC platoon is in the FOB itself. The other half are on perimeter patrols to cover the 6 drop zones.

Point Defense Gun is a Support Weapon. Missile Launcher is a Support Weapon with Artillery 

Trying vehicle rules with my gunship

First team gets to the objective 

Rest of strike force closing in, ignoring the outlying patrols 

Point Defense Gun taken out after it has killed a few Marines

Brutal trench clearing. Missile launcher is taken out with grenades 

Assaulting the HQ Bunker 

Last defenders die hard 

It was fast, furious and fun. The MMC lost 6 out of 30 in the strike force. The UNMC lost 5 captured and 19 KIA out of a garrison of 30, plus the HQ Bunker with its vital intel was captured.

I learned a few more things.

I realized when I went to attack the Bunker that I'd been getting an important part of the elite infantry wrong. "Move" isn't one of their free actions, "Attack" is. Oops. Their assault wouldn't have been nearly as coordinated. So I need to make a better, easier to read reference sheet of all the unit profiles like I gave for Dragon Rampant. 

A few more ideas on how to better handle the fortifications for better play balance.

I'm also wrapping my head around the subtleties of shooting and the different upgrades.

I also really need more rocky scatter terrain and some better hills.  The cloth draped over foam doesn't lie down enough, so slopes are very tippy and badly defined. Plus it just looks too exposed, even though hills are supposed to count as cover.

And I'm not sure that the olive drab for the UNMC really works for me. Maybe light grey?