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.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cold Wars 2014 After Action Report

Cold Wars has come and gone again. At least I was able to make it this year; last year's convention was pre-empted by an unavoidable business trip.

Things were still uncertain at the time that games needed to be scheduled, though, so I was conservative in what I signed myself up to do. I booked two sessions of the same scenario, a Dark Ages Saxon/Viking skirmish. This was an extended version of the one I ran as a solo game last summer. I elected to do one session at 2:00 on Friday, thinking that would give me a shot at doing my shopping first, and probably time to do a turn through the flea market as well, even if I had to drive up on Friday morning. I set the second session for 2:00 on Satuday.

Due to procrastination, and influenced by the work/school schedules of my sons, I didn't end up booking a room. I commuted up by myself on Friday, and then drove up with both sons on Saturday. Sunday is pretty quiet at HMGS conventions, so it wasn't worth going up for one game in the morning.

Anyway, I had my three scenery boxes and three figure boxes (two humans, one farm animals) stacked and ready to go, so I was able to be on my way at a reasonable time in the morning. After dealing with an issue about my badge and membership status, I set my game up.

I'm not quite finished in that shot, still needed to put out the two main farm buildings. After completing the setup, I hit the dealer's room for some serious shopping. I was a little disappointed to find that only one of the three or four possible dealers in 1/72 plastic attended, as my main objective was to fill out all the Greeks and Persians I want for my next project. I gave it my best shot, though, and came home with all but a few boxes, as well as several boxes of assorted 1/72 fantasy figures for the current small project. I placed an order after the convention to finish things off, and was a little distressed to find that HaT Persians are apparently not currently in production.

My first game of Athelric's farm went well. I had five players rather than the eight I had room for. Possibly this was due to the timing; 2:00 turned out to be the opening time for the flea market, always a large crowd draw. After much ferocious fighting, the Viking players eventually carried off the livestock, though at the cost of two of the three Viking leaders. Given that I had to drive home, I didn't really want to play an evening game. My Saturday game was the next game on the same table, so I packed the troops and left the scenery set up and headed home to meet the kids.

I remarked to them on the light crowd, wondering if I was started to exhibit the grumpy old man syndrome of thinking that things had always been better in the past. I will take this opportunity to say that I don't think that I am. Saturday was as crowded as one might wish, and we had a hard time finding a parking space at 9:30. I was glad that my scenery was already in place. I dropped off a box of flea market goodies which one of the other HAWKs agreed to set out on his table, and took my soldiers back down to the HAWKs room to set up.

Norman also had a 2:00 Saturday game, one of his award-winning Bronze Age chariot scuffles, as described in his blog. When we had things squared away, we took a look at the flea market. My best find was not miniatures related, but a nice crisp copy of 1st edition Gamma World. I have been having some fun with 1970s RPGs lately, and my copy had gone astray some time ago. Of the 1970s games I used to have, Gamma World has the dubious distinction of being the only one not legally available in a .pdf edition, so I was glad to scratch that itch at a reasonable price.

I didn't take very many pictures this convention, so I've only got one shot of my Saturday game worth posting:

Here the Saxons, aided by a few continental mercenaries hired by the local lord (generally to the right) defend their shaggy cattle against the Vikings. This game went better for the Saxons, who managed to kill the Viking leader and evacuate most of the livestock. I filled this game, and turned one walk-up player away, so the player/game ratio seemed a lot tighter on Saturday. I also found that I had somehow been listed in the program as a "kid friendly" game. I was using Knights and Magick, an old rules set that my group started playing when I was a teenager, so they aren't especially kid-unfriendly, but "kid" here means middle-schooler, or surpervised late elementary schooler, not pre-numerate five-year-old. After some discussion, I was also compelled to suggest that the game would not work for the aforementioned five-year-old and his father. I will need to look into this in the future and see what the algorithm for making this determination might be. I used to be on the other side of that conversation, so I would prefer that correct information is out there. But the kids do grow up eventually...

Overall, it was a good convention, and we all came home energized for our projects...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Song of Blades and Heroes again

William and I had a session of fantasy skirmish using SBH this afternoon...a few more pictures and my belated Cold Wars report soon, I hope.