Tuesday 28 December 2010

Gaming Plan 2011

So 2010 is nearly done which means only one thing - another gaming year ahead!

I've been a busy lad in 2010, even with an overseas trip jammed into the latter half of the year. Until now I've not really quantified my painting totals for a year so it is hard to be sure this was the biggest. From now on I'll have a much better idea of total output. I doubt it will ever exceed "input" but that's all just part of the fun! ;-)

So what's on the cards for 2011?

First up is more 15mm Napoleonics using Shako II. We're off to CANCON in late January for a decent sized demo game. I'm hoping to take 12 battalions of foot, 4 regiments of horse and 3 batteries of artillery. The painting is nearly complete so that looks achieveable. I'm also about halfway through a house set of campaign rules which Nug and I plan to use for an 1807 campaign in Poland. Following that there will be a third infantry division to paint and some more horse.

Cory and I have started up a 28mm Nappy skirmish project using Song of Drum and Shakos. When I say "we did" I really mean "I did and he didn't argue" since I bought the rules and offered to paint all his figs. We really only need about 20 figs each max so that will probably turn into 50 or so but to quote the ancient Japanese term of definace - sosueme.

I'm also working on a second 28mm HOTT army, Elves this time using mostly older GW plastics bought off eBay. I've got the majority of the figs now and will start painting after January. I may start a third army, most likely Orcs as we need some nasties. Or maybe I should do some work on the Conquistadors seeing as they sit accusingly on the painting table as I type.

Having sold my Russian Flames of War armour to Cory I'll be painting a replacement. Given it is only 30 or so tanks and armoured cars that should be a doddle to knock off. I may try and cut through some of the unpainted DAK as well.

Adam from WA twisted my arm (ever so gently as it as alreay 99% out of the socket) so I'm getting into 28mm Wars of the Roses skirmish using Perry plastics and metals and a modified set of GW Lord of the Rings rules. I've wanted an excuse to play with these for ages so hurrah for Adam. I scored a condensed LotR mini-rulebook off eBay and there are 50 or so figs in the post for my birthday. Mwahahahaha...

Other stuff to be (possibly) started and/or finished includes the 28mm Sudanese project using TSATF and mostly Perry plus a few Copplestone figs. I'm waiting on Perry plastic Mahdists before really kicking that off. My 15mm FoG Burgundians also need a few reinforcements, mostly knights which I've already bought. And then there's the 15mm sci-fi project I've been thinking about...

Is it just me or does this kind of planning really fire other gamers up too? I'm off to pick up the paint brush!


Thursday 23 December 2010

By the Emperor's Gingerbread Landraider!

In the grim dark future there is only sugar. And ginger. And cavities!

When grown men watch lifestyle television strange things are bound to happen. When those men are gamers then things will rapidly go from bad to, um, worse. Havign seen some admittedly "OK" gingerbread houses Millsy and Russ decided they could do better. But why build a house when the Emperor demands so much more?

Here' some pics of the landraider going from the drawing board all the way to completion. Thanks to Build 40K for the handy DIY landraider templates...

And now for the assembly. Twin linked? You fools!!!

Now all we have to do is eat it. Considering how much gingerbread, icing and other stuff we ate "because they're extras and we shouldn't waste them" that might take a little while. Like maybe til NEXT Christmas.

Merry Christmas all and may the Emperor's Blessings be upon you.

Starfuhrers Millsy and Russ.

Last of the 15mm Napoleonics (for now)...

Me again. French Napoleonics again! ;-)

This is the last batch for now until, as already noted, Mr Postman arrives. Or Santa. At least I know when he'll deliver I suppose...

These are the first two battalions of my second infantry division. There will be another four line battalions to complement these two lights. As I'm basing my army loosely around Friedland I thought I'd go with greatcoats for these lads for that wintery feel. These are Fantassin / Warmodelling miniatures ordered direct from Spain. More on that below where I'll provide a bit of analysis on their relative merits.

But first, the pics.

So now for a bit of opinionated discourse, otherwise known as a "review". As stated above, these are Fantassin / Warmodelling miniatures ordered direct from Spain.

Not bad but certainly not the best I have experienced either. The miniatures were posted roughly 2.5 weeks after I placed my order. The only communication I received was when I asked about the order status after two weeks with no word yet received. I was assured they would ship the next day. In fact they shipped 3 days later.

Postage & Packaging
No issues with postage, all were neatly bagged up and sent in a well padded envelope. Postage costs were very reasonable indeed.

One bag was not as ordered which meant I missed some of the variety I deliberately worked towards. One or two other miniatures were mis-packed so I was short a couple of elite company figs. Fortunately the extras I bought covered for that. No explanation on the swapped bag so I would say that was an oversight.

Slightly cheaper than AB per firgure. Probably about the same or a bit under value for money when you compare everything else.

Figure Quality
Again, not the best but certainly good enough for the rank and file. At least 2 poses for most ranks means the units have a nice realistic look whilst still looking like a homogenous battalion. A couple of poses are a bit on the distorted side, possibly due to the molds being on the way out. Proportinally the figs are quite nice and despite what I have read elsewhere I didn't think the backpacks were too narrow really. I will say that the figs on the site appeared to have some in shakos with cords but all I received were covered shakos which was disappointing.

Fit with Other Manufacturers
These are on the taller side of 15mm and fit well with AB and Eureka at this scale, hence my willingness to give them a try.

Overall Rating
6.5/10. You're in a hard market when you're up against AB Miniatures (for that actual figs) and Eureka Miniatures for sales and service. Both are best-of-breed IMHO.

Would I use them again? Probably not given everything around shipping, packing, etc.
Will I keep them? Certainly. They look fine painted up and mix well with everything else.

That's all from me for now. If you're reading this (please Lord let me have a reader or three!) then have a merry and safe Christmas.


Wednesday 22 December 2010

Even more 15mm Napoleonics

Nearly there now for the big run of Nappy posts I promise. These are 4 units of DPS painted AB Miniatures, all touched up and rebased into 24s. I'm not sure what blue they use for French uniforms but it is a fair bit too bright. These look much better than before IMHO.

Next up is a couple of units of Legere in greatcoats which should be done later tonight. From there I'm having to go on hold (gasp!) until the postman is kind to me and delivers the next batch. Bugger...


Tuesday 21 December 2010

More 15mm Napoleonics

Well you can't say you weren't warned! Here's another batch of French stuff hot off the basing table. These are all AB Miniatures once again.

The Legere are commission stuff I had done by DPS some time ago, however I've increased the unit sizes, painting filler figs myself and also rebased them entirely. If you are interested you can read my little rant about DSP here.

The cavalry are the 2nd Dutch Cuirassiers before they received their cuirass. Later they were incorporated as a full French cuirassier regiment but for my army they appear in light blue and white with helmets only. At Friedland they formed part of Ney's VI Corps, along with the 2nd Dutch Hussars. They're next onto the painting table once the arrive from Eureka.

Comments welcome as always...


Monday 20 December 2010

15mm French Napoleonics

A bunch of us are off to Canberra for CANCON early in the new year. We're doing a demo game of Shako II with the glorious French army taking on the Russian scumbags from the East.

Here's a few pics of my recently finished staff and artillery. These are all AB Miniatures from Eureka Miniatures here in Australia. I've painted a lot of 15mm (these are really closer to 18mm) but I have never painted anything as lovely as these. The quality of the sculpting is better than many larger minaitures and there is certainly no comparison at this scale.

The light is very bright so the pics are a little high on the contrast side. Remeber to click for larger versions.




There's a lot of other material nearly finished as well so there will be a good few posts in quick succession as these get completed.


Tuesday 14 December 2010

TGN Blog Network

We've joined the TGN Blog Network, a great network of wargames blog sites which aggregates blog posts into one handy place. Wander on over and see what else is going on in the wargaming world...


Tuesday 7 December 2010

Nug's Eye Candy

Well I have been abused for not blogging my miniatures, so I have started taking some pictures and hope to add them to the site over time. I am currently working on Russian 15mm Napoleonics army which I will add in another post, along with FoG Mid Republic Romans, Ordanannance French, FoW Armoured Panzergrenadiers and others.

To start with though I have chosen something fun from Space Hulk - the Genestealer broodlord and the Librarian. They were both very easy and fun to paint but I really loved the poses for the genestealers they have a HR Giger feel (I know GW ripped off the movie Aliens but they did it well).

Next to it is the Librarian. The Terminators really rock but the Librarian was a cut above. There is so much detail and variation on each minitaure they cry out for extra love and attention.

No doubt I will in the process of my blogs affront Cory with my camera skills (or lack of) and Mike by my poor grammar but old people are easily upset :o) Russ will back me up.


Sunday 5 December 2010

Napoleonic progress report

Nothing to photograph today as nothing is quite finished. I feel bound to report some progress though to keep the blog ticking over.

I've now finished painting almost all my staff for my 1807(ish) French 15mm Napoleonics. The remaining two staff are sitting downstairs with the undercoat drying as I type.

That brings the force to the following (glued to bases but as yet "unbased" if you know what I mean):
  • 1 x C-in-C
  • 2 x General of Division
  • 4 x ADC
  • 1 x 12pdr line foot battery
  • 1 x 8pdr line foot battery
  • 4 x line infantry
  • 2 x light infantry
  • 2 x dragoons
On the painting table:
  • 1 x General of Division
  • 1 x 2nd Dutch Cuirassiers
In the post on Monday from Fantassin (or so I've been told!):
  • 4 x line infantry in greatcoats
  • 2 x light infantry in greatcoats
All of the existing line and light infantry are re-based figs I had painted by Dragon Painting Services. They were in 16s and I've painted up the odd figs to make them into 24s. Overall the DPS quality is OK but having now painted a reasonable number for myself I think they are definitely not worth the money for what you get. I can do better at a pretty speedy rate (although probably not the speed DPS paint at).

For some strange reason DPS also refuse to charge a different price for unbased figs which is really odd. Surely that requires a lot less effort and materials? More importantly, you have extraordinary difficulty in understanding your requirements. When I placed my order I supplied a very detailed document which even included all the picture references they needed, most based on units they had already painted. Somehow they still managed to completely bugger it up and had to repaint the whole force. To be fair they offered to paint  two units of dragoons for free in recompense but then buggered up the basing on those too! I can't see myself ever using or recommending their service again.

Anyway, enough DPS bashing. I've rebased and fixed their painting errors and hopefully that will be the end of it. Can't wait for the Fantassin stuff to arrive. Almost as nice as AB in terms of sculpts and cheaper to boot.


Sunday 28 November 2010

Life in the fast lane

After a good few years of service we've finally retired the old Canister & Grape static site in favour of the blog you're reading now. We've also updated the look, getting rid of the 90's theme. It's almost like we know what we're doing. Almost.


Saturday 27 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the Third

It's done!

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth during the building, but all's well that ends well.

As you can see, the Gorger is all painted and based up now, and I think he's turned out OK, all things considered. Given his muscular definition, and the fact that he's a subterranean monster, I've tried for a high-contrast sallow-skinned look, with purplish shading and a sickly yellow tinge to the highlights.

In recognition of his vague resemblance to a certain star of 70's metal bands and reality television, I couldn't resist adding a little something to the base, viz, a decapitated bat. Here it is clutched in his right hand...

....and here's the bit he spat out.

So Ozzy's done and dusted - at long last!

So let's review the army so far;

  • Tyrant
  • Butcher
  • 6 Bulls
  • 4 Ironguts
  • and the Gorger.
I think we have enough characters for the moment, and I'm getting a bit sick of mucking about with metal, so let's have a change of pace.

A bunch of the little guys, a unit of Gnoblars, is next up. It'll do me good to see another regiment through to completion, so I'll make a start on the 40 or so of these I have stashed away. Although they're crap at fighting, get enough of them and they act as a sort of speed hump (or at least a rucked-up green carpet) for any more mobile enemies that might want to cause problems for the big lads. If they get steamrollered, who cares?

More later.

Sunday 21 November 2010

HOTT Elven Archers

These are a bunch of plastic elves I picked up for a song on eBay - GBP4.99 including shipping to be precise. I bought them to finish off my HOTT "Friends of the Wild Wood", as metal halfling miniatures are proving more than a little difficult to acquire.

Here's how they looked when they arrived. Fortunately there was not much in the way of existing paintwork. I've not seen white(ish) plastics from GW before? Were there ever that many made?

A couple of afternoons later and here is how they look now. Four stands of shooters, 2AP each.

I really must make myself a light box for taking photos as the lamp I use to paint is a very ordinary photographic tool indeed.

Anyway, that pretty much finishes this army off for the time being - 28 points or so now. I really enjoyed painting these and have been lurking about on eBay looking for more stuff to do a full Wood Elf army. This is almost certainly a BAD THING as I have two other HOTT armies sitting ready to go, one of which is High Elves anyway.

Part of what is tempting me is the fact I've finally managed to get my hands of a big bottle of Simple Green, sworn by many as the primo plastic mini paint stripping drop of choice. The thought of being able to pick up any old tat and give it new life is almost too much to be resisted. Will I manage to restrain myself? Only time will tell...


Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part 2.5 - Gorger in Progress

The Gorger proceeds apace, and what an ugly chap he is.

I'm actually feeling more optimistic, and have even given a little thought to dressing him up still further. Basic skin work is done, face roughed out, and assorted bones found and browned as a basecoat.

Here's the story so far;

I decided to give the right thumb a tweak so that he could clutch something in his hand, and I've added something to the base as well. What is it? Ah, that would be telling!

More later.

Monday 15 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the Second: The Gorger

This has been one of the most difficult builds I've ever done. I said last time that this could take a while.

I chose to make the Gorger because he was of a manageable size, and filled a potentially useful slot in the potential Ogre Kingdoms army list. It was either him or the Slavegiant for the rare slot, and I have some big plans for the big guy; but he stayed in the box, and I went with the Gorger instead.

I realise now that "manageable size" does not necessarily mean "manageable". While struggling to drill, pin, cut, fill, and base this monstrosity, I couldn't help paraphrasing Obi-Wan Kenobi, muttering to myself in Alec Guinness-like tones, "He's more green stuff than metal now..."

I finally ground out the torso socket so that the lower half could fit, pinned the join, and ended up with a highly visible seam. It also turned out that top and bottom didn't exactly line up, so lots more cutting, and green stuff, and discreet sculpting of the musculature later, I went on to attach the left arm.

The pose on the model as bought seems curiously stiff, operating in two rather than three dimensions. I decided to try and impart more of a sense of movement by cutting into the elbow and bending the forearm forward and to the model's right. I was quite pleased with the result. This was fortunate, since, as it turned out, it only got harder from here.

OK, let's attach the head; again, pinning to secure the rather pointless ball-and-socket arrangement thoughtfully provided by Citadel's finest. Oh, joy, a seam running right behind the start of his hairline. OK, green stuff, do your... green stuff stuff. I model some straggling hair over the offending joins, but wherever I look, there seem to be more defects to cover. Keep piling it on! Practical upshot, while the joins are now concealed, he's looking more like Ozzy Osbourne by the minute. "Sharon, 'ave you seen my bat...?"

Only the right arm remains to be attached... Bugger it, it won't fit, his right knee is in the way! More cutting, pinning, repositioning, gluing and puttying, and I end up with the Gorger's right hand at a lower level than his right foot. How the f....? When the putty finally hardens, some serious filing will be in order. I like a challenge, but this is ridiculous.

As luck would have it, well-known army painting machine Millsy has published on the topic of basing, so he can back me up on this when I say that a dramatic base can rescue even the wonkiest figure! Now, I know that if I place the Gorger on something elevated, at least the hand can hang over the edge. "Oh yes, I was going for that look the whole time..."

Unlike most of GW's large metal castings, the model lacks the usual peg on the foot to stick him into the base. With a model of this size, this is a recipe for disaster, doubly so given that he's rather top-heavy. So drill and pin the feet, and create a pair of platform clogs out of green stuff to raise him above the base so we can build some rocks around him. The pins stick out of the base of his 'platforms' so that they can be secured to the base.

Now for the rocks. The weather is hot and humid, and the superglue is more like water than an adhesive. I'm sticking my fingers together more often than not, but I eventually get the rocks arranged more or less to my liking. A bit of sand and some decorative whimsy, and he's finally assembled.

So after an hour or so of painstaking basing, he's standing on a rocky outcrop, about to leap upon his prey. Except he looks more like he's lurching up drunkenly after the landlord has called last orders ("Mine's a pint of the black stuff!").

OK, I've seen worse, but a commercially-available figure with this many major gaps and basic lapses in quality control is pretty shabby. Yes, I know that the poor workman blames his tools, but I'm convinced that only an extremely confident modeller (one much more confident than myself) would be able to rescue this from mediocrity. Don't get me wrong, the concept is good, it just seems to have failed in the manufacturing process somewhere. By comparison, the Ogre Maneater figure (the piratey one, also on the to-do list) is cleanly moulded and all the bits fit where they should in the dry run. It's not like Citadel can't produce a decent casting.

I've done all I can with the modelling and basing, perhaps the paint job can give it a lift.

Maybe I'll give him a rest and go back to putting the finishing touches on Briss the Butcher. I'm not that happy with Ozzy right now, so perhaps stepping away for a bit is the best solution. Still, I'm actually building and painting stuff for the first time in ages, so that's got to be a positive!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Painting is Only Half the Job...

I've been working away like a mad man this weekend, modelling like there is no tomorrow in between various domestic tasks and projects. One of the major jobs completed was the basing for two Armoured Rifle Platoons and HQ for my Flames of War (Late War) US Armoured Company. I'll post some pics to back up this post when the light is better for shooting.
All that painting and basing means I had a lot of time to think, keeping the mind busy while the hands were at work. That brings me to my point: basing is just as important as painting, especially with smaller miniatres, say 15mm and under. To my mind there are a number of reasons this is the case. Here's the key ones from my perspective - feel free to add your own as comments.

Pimp It Up!
A miniature is a lot like a car. Anyone can own a plain old sedan but how many people do you know own a car with chrome mags, chop top, fully tricked block and leopard skin apolstery? Maybe that's an exaggeration but you get the point. Make an effort on the base and something ordinary becomes quite extraordinary.

Even better, effort invested in basing can compensate for average painting skills so if you're not the best painter in the world or you want your miniatures painted quickly then decent basing is the go.

Visual Drama
Every miniature's base is an opportunity to add to the drama of the model(s). A paint job says a lot about the model - who or what it is, where's its been before now and more. What it cannot do is put the model in context now. A base does that because it tells a story about where the model is at this very moment and what is happening around it. By chaning the basing style you can change the time, place, season, even the planet!

Decent Miniatures Deserve a Decent Base
You spent a lot of hard earned wonga on those models right? Hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Why would you skimp on the basing when you invest so much elsewhere? It's very easy to make an expensive, well painted model fade into the background with a dull or half finished base.

Basing is Cheap
The core materials for basing are glue, sticks, rocks, sand / plaster and paint. Most of that is either FREE or available at very little cost. All the natural stuff is right outside your door (assuming you live outside a city and even there you can hopefully find a park). The rest is mostly available in discount shops and hardware stores. As an example I use sample pots of paint for basing. One 250ml pot will last years, even at the rate I go through the stuff.

Basing is Easy
The hardest part of basing is the effort of doing it. The actual skills required are simple, easy to learn and can be executed quickly and in a production line method. Some people are a bit better at arranging figures and terrain on a base to reflect an interesting or realistic situation but anyone can space things out, balance materials vs. miniatures, etc.

Bring It All Together
Where there are dfferent units or miniatures in an army the basing is an opportunity to bring the whole force together. That leaves you room to experiment with different paint schemes between units without things looking like a mad woman's breakfast.

Ego Massage
Let's face it, one of the best parts of being a gamer is showing off that new toy to your mates. How much more impressed will they be when the base is every bit as good as the paint work? There's nothing more encouraging than compliments and every time you get one it will spur you on to even greater heights.

Vive la Difference
Unless you're lucky enough to be able to scuplt you're going to be stuck more or less with the same models everyone else has, me included. Even some conversion work or green stuff can only make your miniatures so much different from what everyone else can buy. Not so with basing. Your bases are entirely your own, bringing a uniqueness to your models. Every single base can be different in hundreds of ways from materials to composition.

And That's Enough...
I can think of a good few more reasons to base well - re-sale value, protection for the miniatures, simple enjoyment and more but that wil do for now. Hopefully if you've read this it will encourage you so make a bigger effort next time you're basing your miniatures. If you do get stuck in please leave a comment and a link so others can enjoy and get inspired. Thanks for reading!


Thursday 11 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the First

I'm not what you'd call an efficient painter of figures.

I never seem to have enough time to paint an army to completion these days, and as a result, I have a lot of half-completed armies lying around. The last army I completed was a Warhammer Empire army back in 2000 (now lost), and since then I've accumulated figures for various others without really settling on one particular target.

I'm too easily distracted, and by the time I get home from work, my energy levels are just about up to cooking dinner and sitting back with a good documentary or movie. And now I'm all out of excuses.

A few years back, I chanced upon the GW Ogre Kingdoms figs. I thought they're nice big figures, suitable for painting by a chap with failing eyesight, they're mostly plastics, so the price is kept down, and if by chance I ever get to play with them, I won't need a horde to make an army. Genius!

I began my army and got as far as a Tyrant, a couple of regiments of the big lads (6 and 4 figs respectively) and got started on some Gnoblars, whose tiny size meant that I was stuck at that stage for quite a while.

Well, what with the eyesight having deteriorated to the point where even Ogres were getting to be a big ask, and getting married, taking an overseas honeymoon, and setting up a new house together at long last with my lovely wife, the whole army thing kind of moved to the back burner. And yes, well-spotted, more excuses right there.

So a couple of months ago, I decided to get some new glasses. Multifocals are a revelation; my close vision is restored, so no more holding books at arm's length! Even better, I might be able to get started on the army once more...

So that's where I am now. The army as it stood a couple of weeks ago consisted of a Tyrant (Army general and pretty much the ultimate multi-wound combat monster when tooled up properly), 6 Bulls (standard Ogre footsloggers), and 4 Ironguts (heavies with 2-handed weapons).

This motley crew has now been joined by an overnight wonder, the Butcher. I was going for a look of ground-in dirt and blood on this guy, and I finished him from undercoat to this point in the course of a day. Clearly revelling in my new-found vision, I even gave him a couple of Gnoblar assistants.

I think he needs a little more work, most notably on the exposed skin, to give it a bit more highlighting. Needs to look a little more unhealthy, perhaps? We'll see how that goes further down the track...

Next project, the Gorger, an unbreakable killing machine who arrives after the battle has kicked off to take the enemy in the rear (cue Frankie Howerd leer).

This one isn't as straightforward as the Butcher (and he certainly needed a lot of putty gap-wise). The Gorger has a lot of flash, and in some awkward places. It's nearly impossible to shift without a drill, since the socket for the upper torso is almost completely blocked. You get the same problem with the arms and head, so there's a lot of cleanup work required before he's ready for assembly. Pinning is definitely on the menu as well, since I don't trust the way he's put together.

I hope this isn't an ongoing problem with Citadel's metal miniatures; their plastics have been improving all the time, but I'd hate to think they've dropped the ball with the bigger multi-part metal castings.
I'm probably going to be a while with this one...

Sunday 31 October 2010

HOTT "Friends of the Wild Wood"

Wow! Almost 4 months since my last post. I do have a pretty decent excuse though - I took the family on a 5 week UK holiday and had an absolutely brilliant time.

Since I've been back I've been doing a lot of clearing up and planning projects. All that is more or less completed for the time being, meaning can get back to actually turning out some stuff. I'm almost finished my first HOTT army - Friends of the Wild Wood. This will be a force of humans, hobbits, elves and hangers on, all dedicated to protecting the wild wood from nasty folks.

The starting list will be a full 24AP:
General (spears) x 1 - 2AP
Forestal (hero) x 1 - 4AP
Wizard (hero) x 1 - 4AP
Hobbit horse (riders) x 2 - 4AP
Elven bow (shooters) x 2 - 4AP
Satyrs (beasts) x 1 - 2AP
Ent (behemoth) x 1 - 4AP

I'm currently bidding on a cheap lot of plastic Wood Elf bows which will give me enough for 3 bases with a couple of extras. Today I finished off everything apart from the elven bow. Here's the army so far...

A bunch of very old Essex 25mm hobbits I bought when I was in my teens. These are amongst the first miniatures I ever bought and I've stripped and repainted them at least 3 times now including this time.

Another old Essex fig from the same batch. He's meant to be a ranger but does well enough as a forestal, taking "gentle care" of the wood with his massive axe!

Essex again, and much improved. He originally had a hideous grimacing disc-shaped top to his wand. Fortunately that "fell off" at some point. I've replaced it with a flame from my Mordheim bits box.

Hobbit horse
Some cheeky Essex hobbit riders and accompanying dog handlers.

Eureka Miniatures satyrs, bought recently to bring some variety to the army. Lovely miniatures and a doddle to paint up.

Finally my ent. Eureka Miniatures again and a really nice miniature, not to mention about the only half-decent priced ent I was able to find! He has a bit of an affro going on, maybe it's spring?

That's it for now. I'm keen to get these guys squared away so the elven bow will be straight onto the table assuming I win the auction. I've already started a second army - Eureka Miniatures Conquistadores - more of that later.


Saturday 26 June 2010

The Sword and the Flame

I've been interested in colonial gaming, specifically British colonial gaming, for years. Some of my favourite films are The Four Feathers (1939), Khartoum, Zulu and Zulu Dawn. I'm fascinated by the idea of a few indomitable men battling relentless hordes of angry natives, desperately defending a dot on a map thousands of miles away from the heart of Empire and the Widow at Windsor.

Having just read Armies of God: Islam and Empire on the Nile, 1869-1899 I found I could no longer restrain myself so I finally caved in and bought The Sword and the Flame (TSATF) 20th Anniversary Edition by Larry V. Brom.

TSTAF have been the default rule set for colonial gaming since almost the dawn of time. The majority of gamers who play in this period start out with TSATF and a considerable proportion stay with them. Having now read the rules cover to cover I can see why. The rules are simple but not simplistic. They are clearly designed to produce a fast flowing, entertaining game where individuals take on a life of their own and perform heroic feats to be talked about years after the event. At only 15 or so A4 pages they will suit Friday nights where brain power is on the wain.

Once aspect of TSATF I particularly like is the departure from strict UGOIGO turn sequencing. Players draw cards from a deck and the card drawn determines which unit acts (from either side). Randomising the turns between individual units on each side means you cannot guarantee a certain unit will move and fire when you need it to. Desperate actions, last ditch defences, mad rushes and heroic charges are all possible.

I've started looking around at various lines of miniatures for the Sudan. At present I can't go past the Perry Brothers great range of both British and Allies and Dervishes.


Copplestone Castings also has some few choice pieces including a particular favourite - British Naval Brigade in sennet hats!

I'm debating cutting the standard TSATF unit sizes in half. At 20 figs per unit they seem a bit large for one-to-one skirmish gaming. That will also reduce the budget and allow me to indulge one of my chief gaming vices - buying lots of different figures and owning two complete opposing forces.

So here I go, off at last to ensure the sun never sets...

Private Thomas Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we're 'ere lad. Nobody else. Just us.


Sunday 20 June 2010

Dark Age Skirmish - Norse Raid

We kicked off our Dark Age Skirmish project last night. We're using Mordheim rules with custom warbands and scenarios (written by me with some assistance from the lads). The buildings are scratch built, the longship is a plastic kit (and a somewhat a-historical one at that) and the miniatures are a mixture of manufacturers including Gripping Beast, Foundry and Black Tree Design.

The first scenario is a Norse Raid on an Anglo-Saxon settlement. A "warband" of villagers attempts to hold up two warbands of Norse Raiders until the local Anglo-Saxon noble can arrive with his Fyrd warband. You can download the scenario here if you're interested.

The Norse came ashore on turn one and two. The alarm raised by the local shepherd boy was a while coming, meaning the Fyrd would not arrive until turn five. Was he asleep at his post? The shepherd boy was also slow to run and was eventually shot in the back, then caught and killed halfway back to the village. He'll never make that mistake again!

The Norse advanced relentlessly on the village in two groups whilst the villagers hastily brought in their sheep and formed a defence of sorts. How long could they hold out against such a well armed and ruthless foe?

Strung out in a line across the open fields before the village the defenders faced off against the Norse. Poorly armed and trained they were slowly isolated and killed in twos and threes. The Norse suffered hardly any losses.

As the battle progressed the Anglo-Saxon Fyrd arrived and began to make a difference. The villagers were killed to a man but the Norse were now suffering casualties at a much faster rate. Norse attempts to abduct women and steal cattle were thwarted by the need to continually reinforce the melee against the Fyrd. Eventually both Jarls were killed, one Norse warband fled and the other withdrew in disarray having failed in their raid.

On reflection we may have to make the villagers slightly cheaper or slightly stronger. They were almost no threat to the Norse and unbalanced the game to an extent.

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