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.


Thursday 3 June 2010

BFG Blackstone Fortress

My final BFG model is complete, a Blacksone fortress. Bob has a Blackstone as well and his paint job is very much like the GW pics, so a dark grey drybrushed white, it looks good but I've always thought that that paint job is the pre "activated" one, when they are still under Imperial control.

I wanted my Blackstone to an evil activated one, so I painted it purple, inked it blue then blood red, dry brushed the detail either gunmetal or aluminium. I finished it off with sepia ink and then gloss varnish. I'm pretty happy with it, as it looks pretty sinister.

The only downside is the extremely dull name, anyway I present to you Activated Blackstone Fortress IV

Pics taken on Pentax K-7 using a 28-90MM F3.5-5.6 Macro with a cable release and a 4 sec exposure on Tv



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