Monday, April 18, 2022

Just passing by

Sir Harry Flashman VC in pensive mood - poor chap clearly hasn't been fed in ages...

I had to the pleasure of hosting a "proper" (i.e. in person) wargame for the first time in ages a few night ago.  I have been more active on Twitter than I have been here over the last two years and it was a delight to get one of my Twitter pals, Molloy the Younger, around the table for a Zulu War game.  The rules were "The Men who would be Kings" by Dan Mersey and the scenario was "Just passing by".  

This scenario is played lengthways with each force attempting to get their units across the battlefield.  There are points going for inflicting casualties, but the real prize is getting your force, as whole as possible, past the enemy. 


Their dressing leaves something to be desired.

This was the most basic of Zulu War games, though we played with slightly truncated forces as I didn't have quite enough Impi painted (something I'm going to have to rectify).  We used 18 point forces rather than 24.  

The Royal Mallows of great and august memory with an attachment from the Rifles, made up the British force. 

They were;
First Platoon led by Molloy the Younger, stout fellows all. Molloy was a calm professional who gloried in an an exceptional leadership rating courtesy of the randomly rolled Leadership traits table. 

Second Platoon led by "Slasher" Egan, a fire-eating Corkman who was as dangerous with a sabre as he was to the reputations of respectable gentlewomen. 

First Platoon, the Rifles, on attachment, led by "Dead-Eye" Cribb, a nice boy from Kent who was very good at shooting things.   

Molloy the Younger took on the mantle of the British commander, while I donned the head dress of the Chief Induna.  The objective was that we were each to get as many units as we could lengthways across the table in fifteen turns.  





"Sir, I wish to protest the lack of anchovies!"

Proceedings were occasionally interrupted by Colonel Sir Harry Flashman VC who launched himself on the table to bat the odd die around the table and complain about the messing facilities. 



Molloy took the initiative and hatched a bold scheme in the first few turns. He deployed First Platoon  and the Rifles in an abandoned kraal, while sending Second Platoon on a longer loping run up the flank with a view to getting them off the board. 



May the Heavens shake with the thunder of our coming!

Zulu regiments were much like regiments elsewhere.  They have a sense of pride and were distinguished (to an extent) by their shield patterns.  Their regimental titles were in Zulu and this may shock you, but I don't speak Zulu, so rather than trying to butcher a number of Zulu names, I decided to use nicknames instead. Nicknames are quite common in Zulu culture. I used some real regimental titles (The Wild Men, Shaka's Own, etc) and some of my own invention (The Dancers and the Bull Killers). 

My force was made up of units of Tribal infantry, some of whom were Fierce (i.e. had a bonus in melee) or were Veteran (more likely to follow orders). 

I rolled a more mixed bag of leaders than Molloy the Younger did.  I had three really good ones, who had great leadership scores, one of whom was a hero of the Kingdom (got an extra activation) and another was a great trainer of troops (+2 inch move).  Of the two duffers that I had, the first had very poor eyesight (couldn't shoot at long range targets, not issue for my spear armed infantry) and the other was an idiot who commanded "The Kickers". 

This meant that I had to roll a die each turn and on a roll of 1, Molloy the Younger would get to move him rather than me.  

This came back to haunt me - I certainly felt like kicking them. 



The Mallows take up residence in the abandoned Kraals, while the Rifles fall into a skirmish line out front.  Despite this formidable position, First Platoon were to take remarkably little part in the battle. 


Meanwhile, Egan and his troops double time it to the other side of the board. 



With Molloy splitting his forces, I thought that I could bring enough force to bear on his isolated platoon to wipe it out.  I sent three of my Impi to cut off and surround Egan's platoon, while my other two screened his forces in the Kraals. 




Disaster struck when my idiotic leader forgot his favourite snuff pouch and had to return to the main body to find it, this left The Wild Men to face Egan's platoon alone. 

They won't be happy in Montenotte. 

My brave lads to close the distance under cover before going at the Mallows in a rush.  Despite taking a few casualties on the way in, they managed to make it contact and wipe of Second Platoon to the last Cork man. 



Meanwhile Cribb and the Rifles had been doing great execution against my infiltrating Zulus.  I hugged the terrain and mounted three separate charges against his line. 

Dead Eye Cribb managed to miss with an entire volley on the first round, but the only shot that told struck the Induna of The Bull Killers, who went down like a skittle.  This left the Impi milling about and leaderless and they were mown down by Martini fire as they tried to scurry back to cover. 


Trift Shop!

Flush from their success against Second Platoon, the Wild Men (note Induna at the back wearing a snazzy looted red coat) ran for the board edge.  With one British unit in the bag,  I knew that if I could get at least two of my units off the board,  Molloy didn't have a counter. 



From a distance you don't look anything like a friend. 

On the British left, I charged again at the Rifles only to blow the roll to close, which left me stranded two inches away from making contact.  

I need anything but a one and rolled with all the grim inevitability of Greek tragedy, a one. 

The Rifles did not let that piece of bad luck go unpunished and another Impi was sent running to the rear. 



Meanwhile on the Right the Wild Men, despite one tremendously lucky shot from Molloy at extreme long range that pinned them for a turn, managed to rally and make it off the board. 

The Kickers -again- fluffed their roll and ended up hanging around scratching their backsides.  We were only lucky that while the First Platoon's volley at them downed three warriors, they were able to gather themselves sufficiently to avoid being pinned and were able to keep moving. 

They don't like it up 'em!

My third charge was launched on the British Left and I finally made it contact with the Rifles.  

Sadly, to qoute an unnamed Zulu Induna "There was something wrong with our bloody spears today."

Molloy had managed to whittle me down to equal numbers with Martini fire, so my advantage was reduced, but Cribb's boys set to with swords with a will and actually saw off the Zulu attack. I couldn't roll for toffee and we only killed three of the Green Jackets. Our morale broke and we legged it for the rear.  

Thankfully, if my rolling in that combat was poor, someone (I can only hope a grizzled Zulu NCO) had managed to apply the business end of an Iklwa to the backside of the leader of The Kickers and got him moving.  He lead his men off the board bypassing the British position and securing victory. 



Molloy the Younger magnanimous in defeat

The game ended with the Zulu's victorious seven victory points to five.  Molloy had managed to destroy about 50% of my force, while I took a third of his in return, but we accomplished the mission we had been given and that was enough for victory. 

This was my first in person game in a while and I can't say how I enjoyed it.  Molloy though not a regular wargamer grasped the basics of the game quickly and the battle took about an hour and a half (including smoke breaks) at a leisurely pace.  The Men who would be Kings showed itself to be a simple and robust set of rules that gave a game of movement and decision in a satisfactorily short period of time. 

I look forward to playing it with Molloy more often, though I think he'd like a shot at some Napoleonics. 

Usuthu! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Evil Robots



A group photo for the album

I picked these guys up a few weeks ago for two reasons.

Firstly, I thought they looked really creepy.

And secondly, because I thought they’d do well as a sort of an undead analogue for games of Stargrave. My take on Stargrave is going to be effectively turning it into the light Warhammer 40K roleplaying game with miniatures that I’ve been scratching around for since the mid-nineties. I really enjoy the setting and while I love Blackstone Fortress, that game is a bit too limited for what I want to mess around with.




Us evil? A nasty prejudices caused by hurtful stereotypes about skulls

I had thought at first that these were conversions of old Space Crusade Chaos Androids with some Necron parts added, but looking at them more closely they seem to be a mixture of Marine parts and Necron parts with a few other odds and sods thrown in.



Those really are impressive claws

I’ve been messing around with Stargrave for a bit and it seems to be solid. I’m not completely sure as I haven’t played a face to face game yet and no game really survives until players have been let loose on it.

 



Dakka dakka dakka

I think this particular piece, the gun arm specifically, comes from the old Space Crusade Dreadnaught but I'm not 100% on that. It does occur to me though that a man who was concerned about verisimilitude in his Evil Undead Robots might wonder where exactly the ammunition hopper for those rotary cannon is.


But that would the thought of a churl and a nincompomp and therefore is beneath consideration.

A skull bathed in eerie orange light? That must be Henry

I suspect these fellas will be appearing on some sort of desolate planet or in a deep dark vault or possibly in a derelict starship stuffed with secrets that man was not meant to know.

 

"Whirr - clank - evil cackle"




They really are quite big

I could see these working quite well in some sort of solo scenario as they could be pre-programmed to act in a particular way, perhaps with cards or a simple table of instructions that you roll on to select what happens.


The elder lemon


(click to embiggen)

This chap is a Space Crusade Chaos Android. These were in the dim and dark past of Warhammer 40k corrupted robots possessed by demonic intelligences crafted by Squats that had been seduced by Chaos. They never had official figures behind these plastic Space Crusade figures and some Epic figures, but I've always had a weakness for them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Mixed Bag

Something grey and stoney

I am blessed with some truly remarkable and extremely generous friends.  I'm currently running a game of Rangers of Shadowdeep for some pals at the moment and game requires a few ruins for them to explore.  My friend Siskey was kind enough to use his 3D printer to run up a few.  The result were very impressive.  



Something a bit more Mediterranean

I painted these using tan colour as a base and then adding a bit of variety to the stonework with a mixture of brown, greys and other tans.  Interestingly though the two buildings look quite different the only actual difference is that I put a black wash on one and a burnt umber wash on the other.  

I'm quite happy with the results, though I think I prefer the more Mediterranean looking burnt umber wash myself. It's such a change from the usual grey fantasy stone. 




Another view


The top lifts off


Positively Maltese

I've always quite fancied going to Malta. It looks beautiful in pictures and there's lots of history to look at it.  I'd imagine the food it pretty good too.  

Painting these more Mediterranean looking building did put me in mind of Malta.  I think these could do with just one more drybrush as a highlight, but I'm really pleased with them.  

I tried making a couple of washes up from recipes I found on the internet, but when I tested them out on the building they didn't look quite right.  In the end I settled on a mix of Daler Rowney Burnt Umber Ink mixed 50/50 with Matte Medium and the resultant mixture diluted about 50/50 with water.  

The result ran into the pointing of the stonework in a very satisfactory manner and I intend to do the rest of the buildings with it. 


Wargaming with the Kinchlets

The Kinchlets are much taken with space at the moment.  We can recite all the planets in the solar system and have just about figured out the concept of the Universe, Galaxy and Solar System and how each fits inside the other. 

They also wanted to play a game with some of Daddy's toys, so I pulled out the mat and ships from Richard Borg's Space Alert.  The game was simple.  The Kinchlets were given some ships.  They were allowed set them up anyway they liked. They were allowed two shots per turn and could  flick a counter any of their ship at their opponents. Any ship hit was removed.  Each ship could move two hexes before shooting, if they wished.  

The result is a fun, bloody little game that at least gets them used to the business of taking turns and winning and losing.  It's also less likely to drive Daddy to distraction than Snakes & Ladders. 


Strelets Chasseurs tangle with Zvesda Guard Cossacks

I wrote a piece on wargaming in 1/72 and why it is a good idea for the most recent issue of Miniature Wargames.  While taking some shots for the piece, I had a few left over and I thought you might like to see a few.  These are Strelets Chasseurs of the Guard facing off against Zvesda Cossacks of the Guard. 


A bold officer

I really love the animation of the Zvesda figures,  they have a bounce and lightness to them that is hard to find elsewhere.  I really must get some Napoleonics on the table sharpish. 






Thursday, April 1, 2021

T-62 - Soviet Heavy Metal


Somewhere in Germany circa 1979

Courtesy of my pal Tamas, I took delivery the other day of three Grubby Tanks T-62.  This brings my count of T-62s to six now, which with three left to go - is almost a full combat.  

The figures themselves are resin and metal and have their problems.  There's a bit of bubbling in the resin, which I had to attack with green stuff and I'm not sure the game was worth the candle. Regardless Tamas has done a lovely job on them and hopefully they will be storming across the North German Plain before too long.  

The T-62 equipped units in the 62nd Shock Army, which is the unit I'm sort of modelling.  Armed with substantial armour and a powerful 115mm gun, they were a match for the Centurions and M60s they were arrayed against.



Steel beasts unleashed

I had five minutes and threw a bit of set dressing together to snap some pics.   If there is one piece of advice I can give the budding Cold War gamer it is get yourself some toy cars in your preferred scale because they dress a battlefield like nobodies business. 

I had originally collected these with a view to using them with Battlegroup Northag, many many moons ago, but lost interest when they decided to shift to 12mm figures.  I've run a fair bit of Cold War skirmish stuff using Savage Worlds, Force on Force and Black Ops.  Of those Black Ops is the best wargame, but it is firmly a skirmish wargame and doesn't lend itself to tanks. 

Tom is making noises about Seven Days to the Rhine which is very much a tank heavy game and I do have a copy, so I might have a look at that.  Though between COVID and everything else, God knows when these will finally see the field. 

Not the best picture I've ever taken

I wasn't going to use this picture, because I'd framed it badly, but it does at least give you a decent view of the tanks. 


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Sabre Toothed Lion


The new Rangers of Shadowdeep expansion “Menagerie” calls for all sorts of beasts including lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  The scenario actually calls for a tiger, which for some reason doesn’t sit right with my slightly grubby 12th century kind of Fighting Fantasy Allansia vision of the Kingdom of Alladore where the game is set. 

I have no idea why a sabre toothed lion makes more sense to me as an exotic animal to find in the setting,  but it does and here we are 




The figure itself is from Northstar and is a crisp one piece casting that’s a joy to paint.  I had a look at some pictures of real sabre toothed lions and they were quite spotty.  I couldn’t make that work - so I started again. 

Base coat is Vallejo Khaki with a drybrush of GW Screaming Skull.  Any warm off white will do. 

Then I added a couple of coats of old GW Flesh wash to bring out the colour. I concentrated it on the rougher parts of the fur. 



That all done I used GW Wyldwood contrast paint to colour the muzzle, add shadows under the tummy and to defund the musculature a bit.  I edged the “mane” and used the paint thinned with medium to do a gradually darkening colour going towards the end of the tail. The face and muzzle got some highlights with Screaming skull again.  

I through a mix of red and wyldwood contrast paint into the mouth. Then picked the teeth out with screaming skull. Agrax Earthshade at the base of the teeth and then a highlight with whatever white I had to hand. Much the same story with the claws.

All in all, a nice model given a quick paint job.  Pleasant to do and none too demanding. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Tower on a distant planet - Cheap Sci Fi Terrain


A Robot, a squat and a blind psychic walk into a bar. 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. 

The Squat is an old Rogue Trader figure, while the psychic is from the Astropolis Kickstarter.  The Robot is a privately produced model that I picked up via the Oldhammer Facebook group and he is just lovely. 


I picked this up in Lidl for about the price of a pint.  At the price it seemed foolish not to.  I actually picked up two.  With Stargrave just around the corner I’m hoping that I’m going to be able to get some science fiction games in. 

Rangers of Shadowdeep has hit just the right kind of role playing game with miniatures feel that I really like.  I’m hopeful that Stargrave will scratch that itch.  I’m aware it’s more of a competitive skirmish game - but Frostgrave is very easily modded into a semi-RPG,  so I’m cautiously optimistic. 



The kit itself went together in about five minutes and actually scales well with 28mm figures.  To be honest, while it's not perfect - it's actually pretty good even without a lick of paint and wouldn't disgrace any tabletop it was on. 




These guys are old Rogue Trader era Space Marine Scouts painted by my pal, Kriztian Takacs.  I popped them up here to get a sense of scale and they seem to fit right in.  Which reminds me, I must do something to dolly up those bases. 





A long shot

In brief, these were an excellent buy for the money and while I might do something with them in future, they look fine to use as is, for the time being.  I might also need to invest in a new backdrop for my figures.  I can't imagine whatever God forsaken planet this is having blue skies with fluffy white clouds very often. 




Thursday, March 4, 2021

Boars & Bears!

This bear is partial to bacon sandwiches

The last few weeks have been packed.  Work has been demanding and family life in lockdown is a bit of a juggling process. Add that I'm doing a course at night and the whole thing is getting a little bit overheated.  My gaming for the past little while has been devoted to producing articles for Miniature Wargames and while that is fun, it's nice to do something that is just for my own amusement. 

Rangers of Shadowdeep has been my casual game of choice for a while now.  The latest expansion for the game "Menagerie" involves the players taking on a sinister caravan of evil animal tamers. 


A grumpy bear in pursuit of a boar

The expansion came with a list of animal figures that were required and I wombled over to Northstar Figures to ordered a few.  These bears and the boar are from their Wild West range, but they work perfectly for Rangers of Shadowdeep.  They are lovely clean castings and the customer service from Nick at Northstar is top notch as always. 

I painted these over a couple of evenings while doing other things and I'm quite happy with them. 

The running bear is a big chunk of pewter that has a pleasing heft in the hand. 



Northstar Bear rearing

These required the minimum of prep and were painted using a mixture of Citadel and Vallejo colours.  I undercoated the bears in white, then gave the figure an all over coat of Citadel Contrast Wyldwood (a dark brown).  They then got a drybrush of Citadel Tallarn Flesh all over concentrating on the top down. I then hit the upper parts with a light drybrush of Vallejo British Uniform Highlight (any cream or off white would do). 

The whole thing then got an all over wash of brown wash.  I used Citadel Flesh wash because it was what I had to hand and my Agrax Earth shade was in the other room and I am the laziest man that ever stood in shoe leather.  I let the wash dry over night, then hit the raised portions again with the Vallejo British Uniform Highlight. Added some Vallejo dark wash to the eyes to darken them up a bit and a dab of Citadel Contrast fleshtearers red to the mouth to lighten it a bit. 

Et voila. 


Quite happy with the detail on the face

I'm quite happy with how this bears face turned out.  I wanted to keep the look simple and not too cartoony and I think I succeeded. 

"Rawr!"

A Boar

The boar was a puzzlement.  I had originally intended to go with something quite close to European boar, but they were quite monotone and also this chap had a much pronounced mohawk than his real world contemporaries. 

Ultimately I decided I'd try something a bit starker than with the bears. Again working from a white undercoat I gave all his fur a lash with some Citadel Contrast Goregrunta Fur.  This did the job like a trooper.  I did his snout and other fleshy bits with Citadel Bugman's Glow. His trotters got a quick dab of Citadel Contrast Skeleton Horde and threw some Citadel Flesh Wash over his snout. I then left him to dry overnight. 

He then got a quick drybrush of  Vallejo British Uniform Highlight on the top parts, just to add a little tonality and bring out the mohawk.  There's probably a name for that part of the boar now that I think of it. 


Making a quick getaway

I highlighted the face and snout with Citadel Tanned Flesh and gave his mouth a little Citadel Contrast Fleshtearers Red. I then highlighted the trotters, tusk and teeeth with Vallejo British Uniform Highlight  and declared victory. 


Prussians

In one of my madder moments,  I decided that in my copious amounts of free time I would contribute to a noble project that is taking place under the umbrella of Waterloo Uncovered.  This is the building of a massive Waterloo diorama in 1/72.  My contribution is a measy fifty Prussian Landwehr, but it's nice to be a part of something like this.  So while I was waiting for my bears to dry, I kept knocking off a few Prussian fleshtones and overcoats. 

My contribution is a very small one and there will be tens of thousands of figures used in the diorama. If you want to get a proper sense of the scale of this project, uou can see some pictures here at General Picton's blog