Tuesday 29 September 2015

Act II, where Eric gets all the laughs

So after last week's debacle, and I don't mean the rugby, I sat down and wrote out version 2 of the ACW rules and have just completed a 2nd play test. The rules are posted here
Generally they work pretty well but I'm still undecided about the consequences of failed morale tests and I need more units. A single line doesn't cut it and was not how battles really worked. More ACW to paint. Also these rules need 20 figures per unit, or similar, and I painted these as 18s to go with a different rule set. Will probably add 1/2 a brigade each side as that will not overpower the table top.
Also formatting is a total pain in the helmet when converting from word.
No pictures,but there is a link.to how I spent my Christmas evenings as a child. Basically this is an unashamed attempt to get my monthly hits above 1000, 955 last month.

Saturday 26 September 2015

The rules wot I wrote

So today I cracked open the ACW armies I painted during the Analogue Hobbies challenge last winter. Can't believe that I hadn't done so before. I had been looking at rules for a while but couldn't really settle on a set I liked. I like chance to move the troops around. I like regiment level tactics, battles that are more attritional and not those that end all of a sudden, IGYG turns and I like lots of dice - Warhammer does that to a man.
So I decided to write my own. I start with a very simple set of rules and then play test them to make them work.
Today was the 1st play test so armed with some very simple terrain, a page of rules and a note book I set my self to a couple a days of very casual play whilst watching the rugby and listening out for the Port Vale score.
Set up

Set up is using blinds with 50% blanks. Blanks can be moved at infantry column speed.Once blanks have moved then all unmoved cards are turned over and the units placed. That ends the turn. The plan was for the confederates on the left to take the hill at the top whilst the Union side were planning a wait and see. With this in mind the Union side left 4 unseen unit cards off the table to bring on later as reinforcements.
1st turn  saw confederates advance towards the hill and Union towards the wall.

4 units of Union figures deployed whilst the Confederate right is very bare with only 2 cannon and a veteran Zouave regiment in centre. There will be a lot of rebel infantry on that hill. plan seems to be working
Turn 2 and the rebels advanced as 3 blinds onto the hill  with Cavalry on the flank and 2 regiments by the woods,while the Union uncovered 2 more infantry and a cavalry unit. No photo but looking very promising for the rebs, a definite numerical advantage which is a factor in morale in my rules. If they can not get overrun on right then should be able to sweep around the Union and roll them up.
Turn 3 and Union moves first and gets very close to the rebel blinds, can't fire as on wrong side of the hill. Confederate turn reveals 3 regiments in column on the hill (all blinds reveal as marching column) and pretty hopeless in battle. They are too close to the Union infantry and need to get the first more next turn

Turn 4

Union gets 1st move and advances on the Rebels in column. Only 3 casualties inflicted but the columns now have to redeploy under fire and 2 of the regiments fail to do so and are disordered. What would you do if you were less than 1/2 charge distance from a very messy line. Yip charge bt that is for next turn

Turn 5 and the Union wins the initiative roll again and elects to charge the rebs. I'm no Hannibal but that was obvious. All 3 Union regiments pass their morale test for charging and all 3 rebel units fails theirs and route taking a random unit to the right with them. Union follows up, should the hill have been rough terrain or just a gentle rise

The rebel phase shows 2 units failing to rally,is is  although one needed a reroll from the general and leave the field whilst the other 2 recover but are disordered and are about to be annihilated.
 What did I learn, advancing blanks is good,advancing blanks too far is dumb ass. The cannons worked well but need to remove the save. The firing was fine, 3 stages - Fire each eligible figure with 1 being a misfire, hit - 5 or 6 with range modifier and save -6 with cover modifiers.
Overall very promising but ended very very quickly and only took 2 hours from blank table to end. Will tinker and play again tomorrow.
Also there is a 1/2 price army sale at Dixon and I'm very tempted
This is the only Civil War song I know and the original is no longer acceptable as the singer is a nonce

Tuesday 22 September 2015

A Sparrowhawk for a Priest

This fellow popped up in my garden today and explains the piles of feathers routinely found in the garden

I also did some frostgrave painting. First up a couple of magicians and a thief from Midlam Miniatures

Next up I had a Northstar lucky bag last week, basically 20 figs for £16 inc postage. These mainly contain figures I can use and I love the excitement of the random selection. This pack included 2 archers and a couple of spearmen. Added a couple of shields and we have spell fodder

Finally a completely unknown figure. He is wearing a suit, has some form of fur hat, moccasins or slippers, a telescope and a musket. No idea what he could be, possibly Turkish or Robinson Crusoe on his way to a dinner paty. Like him though and he will make a fine mountain man


Can't find him in the Northstar catalogue so any thoughts welcome.
Time to get your CSI hats on

Sunday 20 September 2015

Brave Blossoms

The Rugby World Cup has started and Japan have produced one of the greatest shocks in sporting history - said to be comparable to the Miracle on Ice in 1980 - by beating 2 times world champions South Africa with the last move of the match. Generally there are no flukes in rugby and they were awesome

Otago Daily Times

Would have been nice to post some samurai but instead we have some VBCW Anglican league figures. These are great figures with very expressive faces and I tried a slightly different approach to painting faces with no washes but different shades of flesh. Worked ok in real life but on the photos makes them look like Adam Ant. Think the figures are Footsore Miniatures bought via Col Bills

Finally a Mutton Chop Lord Percy to command my Kingdom of Northumberland faction

I now have a ridiculous number of figures - enough for 3 - 4 factions and it's time I planned a winter campaign.
The painting made me think of this song - nothing if not predictable

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Foreign chaps

I continue to plough through lots of odds and sods, trying to clear the decks for a winter of painting Republican Romans and Carthaginians.
First up a squad of Volksmarines from Scheltrum and a random sea captain from the collection. These are OK, 2nd tier quality - good poses and faces but only OK casting. These will enter the VBCW forces as,,, well I don't really know yet. I have a thought for an international brigade,

Dodgy Photgraphy though

Next up is a studio miniatures apocalypse survivor. This is definitely 1st tier and purchased, like all today's figs at the border reiver show. He will work well in the international brigade

Finally a Victorian Horror from SHQ. I recieved my replacement figures from them today and although still big the Sherlock Holmes set will work well with the Phantom of the Opera Would be a 1st tier figure but a little large (32mm)

This song could be written for the Phantom

Thursday 10 September 2015

Things that go Bump in the Night

My last 2 days off before University starts. Off down a lead mine a Nenthead on Saturday, a particular interest of mine and Nenthead is one of my favourite spots in the Pennines. The painting is continuing at a cracking pace and I've completed some of the SHQ figures I purchased at the Border Reiver. Peter from SHQ got in touch to swap the mispurchased figures, I do love great customer service.
First up is a Victorian werewolf, this is a great figure properly howling at the moon

Next up a couple of mummies, SHQ with the the jewelry, and a foundry one via Col Bill's. 

Finally the most terrifying thing of all. Armed men in skirts

I bought these at the Durham show and are Reiver castings VBCW scots.

This is a fairly dark song Curse of Millhaven

Monday 7 September 2015

Solving the Scottish Housing Crisis

In my last blog I posted a couple of Pict houses from Scheltrum I purchased at the Border Reiver.

These are cheap and well made but I thought I could make some of my own; so here we go, my 1st how to tutorial.
I made the huts from normal polystyrene packing material that i cut to shape and size using a heated polystyrene cutter.These are cheap on ebay, mine was about £10 and it's a proper piece of tat but it works. It is important to use a cutter for 2 reasons. Firstly it makes much less mess than a knife. The second and most important reason is that it gives a smooth surface to work with that doesn't fall apart.

The next step is to draw on the bricks, the classical techniques of using a biro works best as it gives indentations in the polystyrene. If you have used a heated cutter then it's like writing on the sole of a slipper with a biro.

I cut a door into one end and added a poorly made door made with a lollipop stick.
Finally the paint job. The boulders are different shades of grey, chose a much darker of lighter shade for a few to make it standout. The spaces between the boulders was painted in black. The doors are Vallejo Mahogany Brown, my favourite and the brownest brown, undercoated in burnt umber, my favourite dirty colour.
The turf roof is a dark camo green with a dry brushing of lighter camo green and yellow. This didn't really work well so I gave them a light coating of flock to simulate the turf.

The central house has a missing boulder. One thing I've picked up about these houses is that they are rubbish places to live, crap doors, gaps in the walls and worst of all no chimney. I've been to Scotland and its cold and damp and that's the summer.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Cutting in

Started to paint up some of the toys from yesterday (this post was originally going to be called "Can you tell what it is yet" but that now means something completely different now (if you don't know google Rolf Harris)

First up are the couple of Pictish houses. There are some issues with photography today with the light being a little weird and the camera picking up a diffraction effect. The consequence of this is that much of the shading has vanished - the stones are 3 difference greys for example

Next area couple of temple dogs, again shading dissappeared

Finally a witch in a basque (not sure who's the creepiest figure designers or their customers). shading more visible here. With the blue skin she is either Rogue Trooper or Scottish. 

She can be her Mum's apprentice

Saturday 5 September 2015

Border Reiver 2015

Today was the Border Reiver Show at Gateshead International Stadium (images of fat bald middle aged men doing the high jump are not appropriate here so stop thinking about them - although the pole vault would test Newtonian physics to breaking point).
It is a pretty small show but there is plenty of space and some really cool games (obviously I didn't take any photos). Think it's about time I joined a local club.
I was supposed to meet with Darrell for the 1st time but failed to do so - hard to find another short fat bald guy in a room of short fat bald guys and I also didn't see Roy of Roy's Hobby Blog either and I appear to have been blocked from his site, must have been something I said.
I had some things I wanted to buy, some Frostgrave wizards and some Pictish biuldings from Scheltrum Miniatures. Otherwise the plan was to buy what takes my fancy - I go with a cash only budget and leave when it's spent.
There was plenty on show and I bought some cool things plus some bases, casualty counters and dice but you don't want to see pictures of them do you.

2 Pict huts from Scheltrum Miniatures and a couple of temple dogs from Ainsty

2 apocalypse survivors from Studio Miniatures. I buy these a lot via Hasslefree and it was good to meet the man himself. These 2 are a modern day robin hood and a hippy tank commander called Donald. No idea where he gets his ideas from.

31 Old Glory Pathans for £20, 2nd hand I think from one of the gaming shop's stalls - bargain

Wizards and thieves from Midlam

Mummy and a witch in a basque from Col. Bills (Rapier and Wargames Foundry)

Deep sea divers from Col Bill's (Wargames Foundry). don't know why I wanted these but I have done for ages.

Volksmarine from Scheltrum - good for VBCW

These victorian monsters - werewolf, phantom of the opera, mummy and crazy old lady - are from SHQ miniatures and will work well with a Victorian Frostgrave.

And finally another SHQ set, these were supposed to be Holmes and Watson and a couple of Rozzers but they gave me the wrong pack and I got a Flashman set. These figures are large 32mm and don't fit with my other sets so  will email them and see if I can swap them

I nearly bought this monster - a Scheltrum 28mm Imperial Land Leviathan but it was £70 and I didn't have the dosh. No idea what to use it for but it's now on the list.

Generally it was a good day and I'm off to prep new toys

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Jungle Grave

So my Frost Grave rules came at the weekend and after a weekend on a farm getting drunk and playing cricket (for Americans that's baseball in 4 dimensions) I played a tester game yesterday. I'm pretty short of wizards and so I fought Amazons vs Africans

Thieves (Foundry nymphs painted in the days of gloss varnish) 

Witch and apprentice

Thugs and archers

I selected the Amazon wizard to be an illusionist. The Africans were to be witches.

African Witches

 African Thief

African Thugs

Obviously I needed a warmer environment to fight over

This is ruined Greek style temple in a jungle setting that I made a couple of years ago. The pillars are wedding cake decorations from M&S - cheap and plaster. The forces started from opposite sides and quickly made their way to the front. The Amazons had selected Write Scroll and got Fleet Foot which was used on one of the thugs to get to the centre quickly.

She quickly advanced and engaged an African archer and she was promptly killed (Glitch 1)

The sides continued their advance to centre with the African Thief capturing a treasure chest and making off with it. It was obvious that the action would be in the temple and to the front of it.

The African apprentice and support engaged with 2 Amazon thugs and an archer.

Meanwhile in the centre the Amazon illusionist casts Blinding light on the African witch. This is a cracking spell and leaves the target a sitting duck, even if a single African thug comes to his aid.

Turn 6 and the blinded African witch is killed by the Amazon illusionist and the African Apprentice by a thug. This is pretty much it, although 2 Africans did make it off the table with treasure the rest were butchered. 

So what do I think? It was great. I loved it. It is fluid, dynamic, quick and unpredictable. Its been a long time since I cast a spell and so it turned into a fight more than anything else. My warband kept getting too far from the wizards, my fault. My use of spells is naive and should be better.
I only have one real gripe and that is the points system for the retinue. It is too restrictive. I had unarmoured archers and thugs with shields - neither allowed in the rules. It would be better to give a points system for weapons and armour and restrict types to certain levels. Then the soldiers could advance along with the wizards.
I'm a fan of this and can see a wide variety of uses from ancient Greece to colonial Egypt with necromancers and mummies fighting plucky foreign legion types with crossbows replaced by rifles.
This is the only possible song Jungleland