Friday, October 25, 2019

Painting: 1/72 fantasy individuals

Posting time has been a bit limited this the previous post were pictures of the figures I finished up on Columbus Day.  Last Friday was not a scheduled work day, so I was able to sit down and do something with paintbrushes.  Most of the time, I find that trying to ignore the Muses doesn’t come to a good end.  So, having finished a nagging project in 1/72 scale, I found that I was inspired to paint a few more figures just for fun.  Here are two Caesar adventurers, two Caesar 13th century knights, and a Reaper Bones “saproling” done up as a 1/72 tree-thing.  Attempting to freehand the lion’s head on the central figure was a bit chancy, and the shield on the other knight was pre-embossed, so more practice on 1/72 heraldry will be coming up.

With this additional handful of figures, I feel like it’s time to play some sort of single-figure game with them. 1/72s are about at the limit of the practical for individual figure games, in my opinion. My basing system should probably have been designed to put a little more weight into the bases, to encourage the figures to stand through minor table bumps and so forth.  I am looking over Rangers of Shadow Deep as a possible near-term game, but haven’t done an order of battle to ensure that I have most of the miniatures needed yet.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Painting: 1/72 Dark Ages and 25mm Dux Bellorum

 Monday was a holiday, and I was able to finish up a couple of things on my work desk.  I have had 12 of the 16 figures wanted for two stands of spears for my Cold Islander army (Dark Ages mostly Vikings) for the Northlands/Portable Fantasy Campaign, and I finally received the inspiration (thanks be to Calliope) to finish off the last four.  They have been stalled for many months at this point.  However, as usual, once finished I usually have no trouble getting them based, varnished, and logged in my painting register.  That completes the originally planned Cold Island army (3 heroes, 2 blades, 6 warbands, 2 spears and 2 shooters in Hordes of the Things), and I can now move on and start working toward fielding the other two incomplete armies.

I also finished up and based a stand of 8 Romans (or Romano-British) from various Prince August and Dutkins home casting molds.  At this point both the Saxons and the Romano-British have some options in a Dux Bellorum game, so I am looking forward to an opportunity to get that on the table, hopefully before Christmas.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Encounter at Terril’s Tavern, part 1

I hope this will be a preliminary report, to be followed by some version of fiction.  I have had a battle in my solo “Northlands” campaign pending for a couple of months, and I was baking some bread this morning.  That gives me about three hours to wait while things rise and bake, so it seemed like a good time to resolve the battle.
Different hobby project

Overview of the field near the end
 The background for this is a raid launched into enemy (Darmis) territory by the King of Verdance, while Darmis was occupied with an invasion of Cold Islanders.  The last game played resolved the Cold Island invasion (in favor of Darmis), so the raiders were generally looking for one good score before heading for home.  As luck would have it, my battle generation system generated a skirmish (to be played with Dragon Rampant), and the forces turned out to be fairly general medieval groups. I therefore decided to use a scenario from Lion Rampant, the Dragon Rampant scenarios being not terribly generic.  I ended up with a convoy action (what else, eh, Ross?). Darmis, with a force of three knights (elite riders), an archer and a scout unit, had the convoy, and the Verdance raiders (a knight, an offensive heavy foot unit, an elite archer, a regular archer, and a scout) had the task of preventing them from getting it across the table.  The convoy player is allowed to attach his three transport elements to any unit, so I put two with the archers (carts I painted in August), and one (an Airfix Maid Marion as a Darmish noblewoman) with a unit of knights.  Having a transport element keeps a unit from being issued attack orders.  It’s not clear whether a countercharge should be allowed, but the Darmish situation was bad enough, in my opinion, that I thought I’d better allow it.  As a solo game, I knew the opponent wouldn’t complain...

As is usual for a Rampant-series game, there were a few turns where initiative turned over quickly, but they pretty much balanced out.  Both sides had their commander with a unit of knights, and lost them to repeated wild charges.  It might have been worth paying the extra points for the command units to be rated as “steady”, not subject to the wild charge rule.  At the end of the game, the Verdance raiders had both of their units of archers pouring arrows on the Darmish archers, who failed courage checks for casualties twice and rallied both times before ultimately routing.  It did prevent them from effectively returning fire.
Last of the Darmish units fails a morale check and abandons the convoy
 So, with the noblewoman and her attendants captured, I expected that the raiders will be heading home in the next map move.

Near the end; Darmish archers attempt to shoot their way through the roadblock without success
All in all, it was an entertaining little game.  It fit in well with the baking, and advanced the campaign a bit, which is pretty good for an afternoon’s entertainment.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Works in progress

With Barrage preparations having been taking most of my attention this past week, I didn’t get around to posting some recent work pictures.  I am halfway through a stand of 8 later Roman auxilia for the Dux Bellorum project.  The lead group is seen here along with a random Foundry Norman finished up one day when I forgot to bring more Romans to where I was painting.  I’ve still got a dozen or two Foundry Dark Ages figures which have been on sticks for handling, and primed, since about 1998...

Dux Bellorum later Romans
 The weather was good back on Sunday the 22nd of September, so I set up my casting gear outside and ran up a couple of dozen additional infantrymen (and parts) for the French Revolution project.  That should give me enough pieces to potentially fill out my planned order of battle over the winter.

Results of the most recent casting session

Monday, September 30, 2019

Barrage 2019 Report

The Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers (HAWKs) ran our annual game day/convention, Barrage, this past weekend, 27 and 28 September.  This is the second year that we have extended Barrage to a second day, and the experiment seems to be working out.  Unofficially, it was looking like we had about 190 attendees, up about 30 over last year.  We wanted to make sure that there were enough games to keep everyone playing, so our event organizer encouraged us to offer something extra.  I signed up to run three games, two 54mm medieval skirmish games, and one 40mm Not Quite Seven Years War game.  My elder son, Norman, volunteered for two sessions of mass fantasy battles with his home rules using 1/72 scale plastic figures.

Norman’s fantasy game on Saturday

Since this is only the second year that we have had the extra day, I was unsurprised to find that attendance built a little slowly on Friday, so I cancelled my first medieval skirmish game and jumped in a guest GM’s modern microarmor game, with a NATO vs. Russians scenario.  (Norman ran his six-player game for two players about that time.) The tank scenario was a night action, so spotting was difficult and ranges short, giving it the flavor of a knife fight in a phone booth.  It was interesting, and not my usual cup of tea.  I was absorbed enough in the play that I forgot to take any pictures, but the GMs had pre-assembled the battlefield from hexagonal tiles in a traveling case, a very clever technique.

As the afternoon progressed, more attendees were arriving, so I was able to run the second scheduled session of my skirmish game with all six positions filled.  This was done using my home rules, “Medieval Mayhem”.  The whole project was originally built in 2003 for the HAWKs’ Battles for Beginners Contest, a showcase of things that one could do with a limited budget—one hundred 2003 dollars, equivalent to about $150 in 2019.  I ran games with it regularly for quite a while, but the figures hadn’t been on the table since Historicon in 2014.  I’ve added a few bits and pieces since then, and I have a few more left to do, so I’d like to get this back into the rotation for conventions.  The only difficulty in that is that the 54mm terrain is bulky, so I can’t really take it too far away unless I’m driving. I used my usual scenario for this game, involving a group of French soldiers attempting to prevent an English foraging party from returning to a besieged castle (which is off the table).   This was a bad day for the English; their longbowmen were generally ineffective, so only a single knight from the foragers made it off the table on the castle edge, which that player considered to be a personal victory, given the circumstances. I discussed the rules with Ross Macfarlane before the convention, and have edited a slightly updated 2019 version, which I’ll try to figure out how to post here.  Mostly, though, the rules are still the same as the prototype version we wrote on a napkin over dinner just before the convention in 2003.

Medieval Mayhem game in progress

 After a night’s rest, I loaded up the car (with assistance from Norman) with all of the Not Quite Seven Years War figures we needed for the game.  The scenario was a riff on a game I fought with second son William a couple of months ago, in which a relief army (provided in this case by Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wachovia representing the Pragmatic Coalition) needs to seize a set of three objectives defending by the besieging army (provided by the the forces of the Western League) in order to raise a siege.  We used A Gentleman’s War for the rules, setting it up with one of the recommended multi-player techniques—using one activation deck per pair of players. I was kept busy shuttling from one end of the table to the other refereeing, so I don’t have a good grasp of the overall action, but none of the three Coalition columns took their objectives.  After two and a half hours of play, the attackers were pretty thoroughly depleted, and we called it a resounding League victory.  I was unsurprised to find that one wing and the center ended up in an overlapping battle, and the players concluded that they needed to be on one activation deck.  They took care of that without my intervention, showing that they had a firm grasp on the rules by then.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but I feel like I could do a little better on the rules explanation.  The melee system is the fussiest part of a fairly simple set of rules, with three steps necessary (determination of advantage, melee, casualty recovery and results).  None of them are especially difficult, but it did seem to be the cause of most of the refereeing, so perhaps more practice on the explanation would help.

Norman finished his second fantasy mass battle game before I was done with the NQSYW, so he was able to help me clean up quickly.  We had some extra incentive to do that, because we were both signed up to play the next game on the table: Matt Kirkhart’s Bridge of Khazad-Dum.  Matt makes amazing miniatures from bits of wood and craft foam, and has been coming to Barrage since 2009 or so.  He started off doing ancients with these figures (styled “crafties”), but has brought fantasy lately.  Last year his dungeon crawl feature the idol from the cover of the AD&D 1st edition Player’s Handbook, and this year he went full Tolkien with two Moria scenarios, Balin’s Tomb and The Bridge of Khazad Dum.  Unfortunately I missed seeing the first.

In The Bridge, the nine chararacters of the Fellowship were played by five players, and Matt played the opposition, making it a co-op game.  I had Merry and Legolas.  The Fellowship simply had to cross a hall and the eponymous bridge, which looked easy enough until goblins started swarming everywhere.  Things looked grim as Gandalf was felled early on by a lucky hit by a goblin arrow, leaving us with nothing which would actually wound the Balrog, which presently showed up.  As can be seen from the pictures, he was an impressive bit of crafting, standing nearly a foot tall.  As we retreated step by step across the hall, cowed by the menace of the Balrog, we were lucky that the Balrog couldn’t roll a good die...we just ended up being pushed back, and, in fact, nobody was wounded.  Eventually, eight of the Fellowship made it out the door, just as in the clearly they must have told Galadriel a tale with a few, um, embellishments, to give us the story that we have today.

After that, it was all over for me except for the clean-up.  One wind-down game of Roman chariot racing was going on as we broke down our tables, but everything was well in hand when I pulled out at 9:30 or so.  I needed to unload when I got home, but left things in piles until this morning. Running two different games with big figures and big terrain really tested my loadmaster skills with respect to my Toyota Yaris...Norman remarked that I should consider writing a sequel to our earlier book, Big Battles for Little Hands, which I should title Big Battles for Little Cars.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

More Dux Bellorum Saxons

I have been intending to get back to working on the French Revolution project, but I have actually spent the last few painting sessions finishing another project already primed on my desk. I've been working intermittently on Dux Bellorum for a few years, and recently reached the point where I could field the whole Saxon force out of various home cast figures.

In a burst of enthusiasm after that game, I built and primed four more stands of troops, but then set them aside while some other project got done. This week it was their turn...

I am hoping to get back to metal work preparations soon.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Triumph of the Orcs

As mentioned in the previous post, it was my plan to get a game on the table with the "new" Middle Earth figures, and my brother was able to give me a hand by commanding the orcs remotely.  We played using Dragon Rampant, and tried the "Death Chase" scenario, basically an ambush.  We surmised that the orcs ambushed the allies while the latter were marching between Dale and Laketown, or some such...

My brother had a unit of elite foot (the goblin king and bodyguards), two units of better orcs (light foot with bows mixed), one unit of lesser orcs (light foot), one unit of wolves (lesser warbeasts) and  one unit of goblin scum (ravenous horde).  I had the elf king and bodyguard (heavy foot), two elf foot units (light foot with mixed bows), one human foot (light foot), and the dwarves (elite foot with magic weapons).  We rolled for leader special characteristics and both rolled a 9, giving us the ability to ignore fear.  Since there were no fearsome units in the game, we promptly forgot about that.  I rolled to see if the dwarves' magic weapons were effective, which they were not.  

With Norman remoting in, we kept the board simple, so that my forces were basically just trying to get down a road, and the only piece of terrain that got involved in the action was a small patch of woods on my right.

The basic set up can be inferred from the overarching shot (3rd picture) below.  I had, from left to right, humans, elves, elf king, dwarves, and elves, and the orcs were split into two detachments (per the scenario instructions) with a better orc, the lesser orcs, and the goblin scum to my left, with the balance, the wolves, the other better orcs, and the goblin king to my right. 

My brother consults the rules, with his view of the table inset on the left
The ambushed side cannot, by the scenario special instructions, attack or shoot in the first two turns. One of those was quick, as we each failed to activate early in the turn, but, unlike some Dragon Rampant games, we didn't have many turns with sudden shifts of fortune related to activation failures.  We had plenty of turns in which all units successfully activated.

Armored goblins, in their first outing as a full unit
Norman's basic plan was to sweep in with his two detachments and block the road.  The light foot predominating on both sides is better defending than attacking, and I had the obligation to attack him to push through to the far table edge, so it was a good plan. 

As the battle develops; note the wolves lurking in the woods

As can be seen above, by a few turns in, each side ended up in a U.  The red marker on the humans above is a battered marker; they were routed early by the shooting of the armored goblins.

The elvish foot on the left stands off the lesser orcs
In the center, the lesser orcs attempted to drive back elvish foot, but failed, and were eventually routed by bow fire.  Unfortunately for me, the elves soon went the same way...

The wolves make little impression on the dwarves
The dwarves advanced straight up the road, and were first hit by the wild charge of the wargs.  They successfully repelled the wargs, and then went toe to toe with the goblin king.

The dwarves withstand an attack by the goblin king
By that time, everything else on the goodly folk side had routed, leaving the few remaining dwarves to attempt a heroic charge up the road into a somewhat reduced unit of better orcs.  Unfortunately, the orcs shot well, and the last few dwarves perished under a hail of black-feathered arrows.

At the end, all allies fled, the dwarves final charge at the orcs

So it was another sad day for the good folk, and there was celebration in the tunnels of the Misty Mountains.

It took us about two hours to play the game, and Dragon Rampant works pretty well remotely.  The 3" required spacing between units and the one unit at a time activation mean that exact positioning is seldom important, so command is made a little easier for the remote player.

These figures are likely to be back out again as soon as a few additional units are painted...