Monday, April 14, 2014

1/72 fantasy project: buildings

I will take a proper picture when I have the last three buildings I've planned, but as an interim, here is a shot of my fantasy village in progress. These are Dave Graffam buildings printed at 65% of their original size, the recommended reduction for 20mm. At that size small details such as chimneys are becoming a little difficult for me to work with, so I prioritized buildings without too many extra parts, and those with smaller footprints. The latter allows some additional visual compression when grouped as a village. The buildings to be built will include another one story hovel, another two story building, and one larger footprint low building for some visual contrast.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Looking Ahead: Huzzah Preparations

(It's my turn for technical difficulties...the pictures are posted as separate blog postings...)

For the past couple of years, my long-time collaborator Ross Macfarlane and I have split the difference in the distance between our homes, and met at Huzzah in Portland, Maine. I hope he'll be able, some day, to return to a Cold Wars or a Historicon, hauling his horde/hoard of Not Quite Seven Years War figures for another megagame. In the meantime, though, Ross has us signed up to run an American War of Independence game using his With MacDuff to the Frontier rules. I haven't played a MacDuff game in a couple of years, having been distracted with other periods, and Ross has been tinkering with the rules in the meantime.

Thus, I was glad to have the opportunity to virtually drop into Ross's gameroom yesterday for a playtest session of the convention game.

Yesterday turned out not to be a particularly good day for the Internet, and we had some technical difficulties with the videoconferencing capabilities of Google Hangouts (rather than Skype). This left me with a bit of fog of war, as can be seen from the screen capture above. Neverthess, Ross was a good sport about moving the camera around as necessary.

The scenario involved two groups of settlers racing for a fort in an attempt to avoid Loyalist and Indian raiders, reinforced by some Hessian jaegers and grenadiers.

In case any potential Huzzah players are reading, I will not discuss the scenario too much. The key to the game, as far as I can tell, is that it is more likely to go well when your troops actually arrive on the table... The scattered raiders attempted to intercept the wagons, but never achieved local superiority and were eventually driven off piecemeal.

Remote games run a little more slowly than live games would, not counting the technical difficulties, but it still makes for a pleasant experience, and I'm rateful to Ross for hosting this time around. My turn next time...

Inspired by the game, I combed my French and Indian War collection for my contribution to the Huzzah scenario and mustered them in a Really Useful Box, in preparation for the trip. The figures, as usual, are a mix of Irregular, Sash and Saber, Prince August, and Nuernberger Meisterzinn.

Screen capture

Huzzah figures

Saturday, April 5, 2014

More 1/72 Orcs

I put the final spray coat on another batch of 1/72 orcs today. These are still from the Dark Alliance Orcs 2 set, and this gives me enough to try a 1/72 Song of Blades and Heroes game.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

1/72 Fantasy Painting Progress

I have been meaning to post some additional pictures of the progress on my 1/72 scale fantasy digression. My sons, being adept with the brush, have inspired me to try to do these to a somewhat higher level than most of my 1/72 massed armies.

There isn't a lot to say about this project. The figures are intended to provide a portable set of props for a D&D travel kit, and double for portable skirmish games. So far, I have 12 different poses of Caesar adventurers finished, and 5 Dark Alliance orcs, from their Orcs 2 set. I picked up Orcs 1 and 3 at Cold Wars, so I could be at this for a while.

So, here we are, front and back views in groups of three for the adventurers.

The barbarian with the sword and shield is a conversion of one originally armed with a massively oversized axe. I replaced that with pieces from a Caesar Celtic Warriors box.

The orcs (of the Red Hand, mixing Saruman and Morder in Tolkien flavor, and not really referencing Ulster) so far:

For the skirmish gaming aspect, I hope to have a handful of cavalry. Here's the first human, a Strelets sculpt.

I painted a Reaper Bones ghast as a troll.

For the curious, here's a look at what the photoshoot set up looked like. My 3x3 ground cloth draped over some books served as the backdrop, and I put my camera on the tripod, for convenience with exposures running up toward a second. There's a large window behind the camera for light, which isn't too harsh since it's overcast. I used a 28mm manual focus lens, at f22, with a +4 diopter supplementary lens to permit the close focus. I haven't had the photo widgets out in a while ...

"Hillow Fight" -- Song of Blades and Heroes Day

Chris Palmer came over yesterday for a session of fantasy skirmish gaming using the Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) rules and Reaper figures. Chris's warbands are entirely composed of figures from the first Bones Kickstarter. Mine are a mix of Bones I, Bones figures available before the Kickstarter, and some Reaper metal figures. As much as I like Reaper overall, they are not very compatible with my older "true 25" fantasy figures, so I am keeping them separated into their own games.

SBH nominally calls for the use of a 3' by 3' table for most games. (That's about 90cm square for those of you living outside the last bastion of Imperial measurement....) Therefore, I left my card table set up from the game I had with William earlier in the week. Chris and I played two rounds of 300 point warbands, then we added William for a three-handed cutthroat game, and William and I had one more game, using 450 point warbands, after supper. The main scenery elements used were my newly acquired "hillows", double-sided hills of fabric over upholstery foam, woods (with trees on steel bases encouraged to stay in place by spotting them on woods outline cloth cut outs with circles of magnetic material, and a stream. While I ordinarily use loose sand scatter for roads, I am considering cutting some fabric roads out of more quilting print material to go with the general cloth theme of the table.

The first game pitted my favorite human warband (leader, magic user, two elite archers, barbarian, and two warriors) against Chris's undead warband. Looking over the table, we decided that the struggle was for the haunted tower.

Chris is still working out tactics appropriate to his undead collection. I've been trying to keep my warriors together as much as possible with the tactical objective of outnumbering the enemy whenever in contact.

Nevertheless, occasionally things got away from me. We had a demonstration of Chris's cold dice when his wraith finally managed to attack my isolated magic user. Despite having a d6+4 for a combat roll to my d6+1, the magic user knocked down the wraith, and it was dispatched shortly thereafter. With nothing left but a few skeletons, the humans were left to take possession of the tower.

We rearranged the scenic elements a bit for the second game, and replaced the tower with the Great Stone Head, since we decided to set aside the high quality warbands and slug it out with two groups of orcs.

Chris's orcs were a typical band of savage orcs, backed up by a few reluctant goblins and a swarm of rats. I used an ogre and a band of gregarious kobolds (reskinning a ratman example profile from the book rather than pointing out something new). Chris's orc and goblin archers were handily overrun by the swarm of kobold mercenaries, who turned out to be small but extremely vicious, and a gruesome kill sent his leader fleeing from the field in a dismal morale failure. Chris was getting a bit discouraged, since he hadn't killed a figure in two games.

After some chatting about the rules, we invited William to join us for a cutthroat treasure hunt scenario. The objective was to find a cache of treasure hidden in one of three places on the board and drag it off the table. Naturally, possession of the treasure had a tendency to unite the opposition against you. Chris frequently does this sort of scenario with his Blood and Swash tavern brawls, and picking up the treasure first in one of those is not usually a winning maneuver.

Chris used his undead band again, I stuck with the orcs, and we let William use the humans.

Chris quickly checked the first hiding place and found that it did not contain the treasure.

William got to the second hiding place and found the treasure. Immediately the fearless barbarian picked it up and headed for the edge of table, picking his way carefully down the rocky hillow. Unfortunately, the orc leader, seen holding the standard below, was able to unleash the kobolds. This delayed the humans, but in the fighting the orc leader fell, and the resulting morale test sent most of my force reeling back to the ford. This left the undead in possession of the treasure.

Gamely, they started dragging it back toward their entry edge, harassed by the few surviving humans and the orcs, now down to an archer and a few kobolds.

At one point the humans had possession of the chest again, but in a confused melee the kobolds (now down to two) finally killed the last human and disjointed the last skeleton.

We thought that William had the ame won early, but it eventually developed into an epic struggle...

After dinner, William and I returned to the table one more time, to see what would happen if we increased the warband sizes. He took a band of mostly humans, with a centaur archer and a dwarf wizard, and sunk most of his personality points into a paladin, which we statted as an Elven commander from the book. I had orcs, kobolds, a small dragon, and a troll.

Despite his quality advantage, William got into trouble when the red shiled warrior below was gruesomely killed by an orc. The resulting morale checks caused one of his engaged figures to break, and that figure was killed as he ran. The centaur was swarmed by the kobolds.

Eventually a confused melee developed in which the commander attemted to come to the aid of the warrior in blue.

I threw my troll in, in a bid to eliminate him, but the paladin knocked him down, and dispatched him in three quick blows, despite his toughness.

In the process, though, the numbers of orcs eventually undid him. After being knocked down with a lucky (or unlucky) blow, he was dispatched by an orc, and we decided to call it a night.

There is a lot of luck in SBH, but I think that I am starting to get a feel for the tactics, and I was reassured to find that a mid-quality high numbers band did have some sort of chance against a smaller elite band.