Sunday, 29 April 2018

Travelling Man

After racking up over 1500 miles this week, I was back in the saddle yesterday and heading over to Newark and my first wargames show in well over 20 years.
"Hammerhead" was certainly worth the trip, since not only did I experience the mouth-watering display of games and trade stands, I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Roy and John from our little corner of the blogosphere.

Despite almost giving in to temptation on more than one occasion, I managed to leave the show with plenty of inspiration without adding too much to the painting queue, and more significantly - no additional "projects" (a minor miracle really since I was extremely tired and in a very susceptible state, and could quite easily bought into some new games!).
Without further ado, here's the mandatory "post show loot posting"......

A mini I spotted that was perfect for the "Bat Form" of the counts missus when she metamorphs from SqureHex

Two more flying witches to represent airborne versions of the 'Ladygate Coven' from Rapier Miniatures

A nice looking "Falcon" light gun along with a gun crew that caught my eye on the 1st Corps stand

A resin load for the two wheel wagon from Colonel Bills

I also picked up some paint and varnish that needed replenishing to add to my modest haul.

Thoroughly enjoyable day out, and hopefully only the first of more to come!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Seven Days On

(Well six, but nowt's going to change before tomorrow!)
Really not much to "show & tell" this week, the biggest news has got to be the marvelous change in the weather!
Warm and dry for a change, which allowed me to get some bamboo 'planted' in 5mm foamcore bases and taken outside to spray it with matte varnish to remove the bare plastic look.
Excuse the unpainted mini - I don't have any painted samurai to pose for size comparison.
This is the cheap stuff direct from China, sold as "100pcs Bamboo" and as seen in the photo the pack contains two sizes. The taller ones have a wire insert, while the shorter variant is just soft plastic. I think they look just fine for gaming without painting them, but definitely benefit from a waft with the 'anti-shine'

The only other thing I've managed this week is the "Bonsai" tree I'd started in the last post.
The foliage has replaced the horrible plastic 'leaves' supplied, and I've knocked up a sabot base (from a beer mat), but intend making a larger terrain feature for the tree that it will also be able to fit with its round mdf base.

Finally for this post, I've discovered that last weeks 'mystery object'.......
........ is taken from artwork by Simon Bisley ( famous for "ABC Warriors", and "Sláine" amongst other comic characters ).
But I still haven't found out who she is!

There is a game set-up on the table, but I just haven't had chance to play it. The way things are going, I'll be lucky if I get it played before "Hammerhead", but I'll seize any chance I get.

Thanks for visiting, and I can only apologise for the scant offering this time around - my boss has been running me ragged!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Butterfly Brain?

or Attention Deficiency Disorder??
I'm sure it's something that ALL gamers experience, but I seem to have really suffered with it over the last week and a bit!
I have an excuse (don't we all?!), and blame it on expansionism - I have simply too many projects on the go, and feel the need to keep them all progressing, not really to the point that they're "done", but done sufficiently that I can taste the fruits of my labours and enjoy playing the games I have planned.
Am I kidding myself?? At least I've maintained enough self-discipline to leave the "Test Of Honour" stuff untouched until I've 'cleared' the backlog!!

Anyhow, this week's game didn't happen, so there's no AAR because I maxed-out my hobby time on the modelling bench. In fact, I think this post is only getting done due to 'drying time' between the stages of tackling the eight sections of "Amera Plastics" river currently occupying the work space!

In the absence of any table-top action report then, here's what I've been up to...........

A new recruit joins the "Ladygate Coven". She's a three piece casting from Heresy Miniatures which is why she's been so long in the 'paint queue'.

 Another three part casting from Heresy, this is  what "The Earl" looks like when he's angry!

A trio of characters from Black Cat Bases - the goodwife looks like she'll take no nonsense from patrons, and the mysterious Chirurgian  has a reputation for examining dead bodies. The young lady seems quite keen to display a couple of her assets...

..... but  keeps one of them hidden!

These are the pigs from the Pegasus plastic set - I googled 17th century English pigs, and the "Berkshire" breed came up, which is what I based these on.

Another google result told me that "official records indicate that the last Scottish wolf was killed by Sir Ewen Cameron in 1680 in Killiecrankie (Perthshire), but there are reports that wolves survived in Scotland up until the 18th century, and a tale even exists of one being seen as late as 1888." So they could have made their way down into England in the mid 17th century, and gave me an excuse to paint up these minis from the D&D Ravenloft boardgame!!

I managed to paint up a couple of  'plague doctors', since they'll probably be wanting to explore the mysterious goings-on in the Erewash valley before too long.

Why didn't I think of these before?! Laser cut MDF "Dial Counters" from Charlie Foxtrot Models under some more casualties - perfect for when the body count starts to ramp up!

Now, I know I said that I hadn't started on the Test Of Honour stuff yet, but the Cherry Blossom is out all over the place and everytime I do the cat litter trays I finish them off by raking them over in 'Zen garden' fashion - so I've had a go at a bit of terrain.
These are two types of cheapo plastic Bonsai trees from China. The first one comes in a little plastic 'pot' while the second comes 'unpotted' with some impressive looking roots.
The plastic foliage is awful (as 'tree leaves' but might come in useful for other 'scatter'), so gets removed and the bare tree etch primed. I've stuck this one on a standard tree size circular base.

This one is stuck on a piece of carved polystyrene along with a piece of stone from the garden. After a couple of washes on the trunk and branches I stuck on some "clump foliage" and gave it a spray with dilute PVA.

Finally for this post, while I was rooting about in the man cave, I found this old statuette.
I remember buying it from a Comic Shop years ago, but have no idea who she's meant to be or who the original artist is. Maybe Bryan or Simon will recognise her, but if anyone knows anything about her I'd love to know!

Many thanks for stopping by, and please do leave a comment if you feel so inclined!

EDIT: I forgot to mention, the above photo's are all taken on my new "grass mat" from Lidl - £6.99 for two 3ftx3ft gaming mats is a real bargain! (I plan on keeping one 'plain' and having a fiddle about with the other one)

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Background Information

or "Filling the gaps in my England Upturned campaign"

First off, a VERY brief history
In 1638 the vampyre Count Mikhail Lichtenfels and his partner the Countess Milyena Wittgenstein fled from the religious wars raging across Europe to the relative safety of England (who were no directly involved in the 30 years war), bringing along another kindred refugee, Jenya Ohlendorf, who they met before crossing the channel.
The Count's agents had found him a suitable property tucked away in a secluded part of the Erewash Valley, a region on the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and he wasted no time befriending the local witches coven - offering them the protection of his estates to practice their arts while they became his eyes and ears in the surrounding countryside.

In 1639 King Charles sparked military action against the Scots (First Bishops War) when he stubbornly tried to enforce the New Prayer Book on the Scottish Kirk. The cracks become blatantly clear between the King and Parliament, and Count Lichtenfels sees the possibility of trouble ahead.
In 1640 the political rift widened when parliament refused to grant the King funding to repel the once again rebellious Scots.
John Pym emerges as a leader for the dissidents, the Second Bishops War results in the Scots occupying Durham and Northumberland. Count Lichtenfels decides to slowly and carefully create a defensive ring around Fernbeck House, by introducing a mysterious 'plague' he hopes to maintain "The Masquerade" ( an organized conspiracy to convince the general public that vampyres don't exist. The Kindred fear that without it the kine {humans} would rise up and exterminate all the undead).

The current date in the campaign build-up is April 1642. The country is polarised between "Royalist" and "Parliamentarian", and the King has moved from Hampton Court to Windsor Castle for his safety.
Count Lichtenfels has completed his defensive plans and hopes to "sit out" the inevitable upcoming conflict in relative safety

Now onto the nuts & bolts
The campaign is at county level,  and represents the typical "garrison warfare" which took place all around the country throughout the English Civil War. To avoid clashes with the actual historical timeline, it's usual to create a fictional county for this kind of game but I've taken a slightly different route and placed a fictional region on the Notts/Derbyshire border.
The Erewash Valley is real, it's where I live, but my campaign version is a work of fiction based on some of the facts, and has been brought to life with the excellent "Battle Finder" system from "The Perfect Captain".

Quite simply, this is an abstract mapping system comprising a 6x6 grid (printed on four A4 sheets joined together.), onto which the map 'locations' are placed. There's a variety of ways to do this (fully explained in the accompanying text that comes with Battle Finder), but the only hard and fast rule is that rivers must be continuous across the whole map.
The distances between locations (travelling along the grid connections) are variable to suite the choice of campaign style, and the "locations" are designed to translate directly as 4ft x 6ft wargames tables (so I'll get multiple tables per location!)
Campaign resource info is printed on the location card borders.

I actually found this map on the interweb, and its creator has cleverly photoshopped the location names. I've unashamedly taken it and it represents the western end of the "Erewash Valley"!

One map is all that's required for a campaign, but since I'm running a 'hybrid', I've also produced the eastern end of the "Erewash Valley"........

.... and the two maps/grids join together side by side to give my fictional region.
The "Battle Finder" system and components are available as a free download here:-
where you'll also find some other excellent free gaming systems, including a set of ECW rules ....

..... (but be aware that these are a supplement and will require the core rules "Spanish Fury Actions" to use them), and there's also a set of ECW campaign rules called "Tinker Fox" which I'll be using as the core of the management system for the military campaign.

Moving onto the tabletop
The rules for small scale skirmishes are Witchfinder General from Dashing Dice Games, so that's all the 'fantasy' encounters, but also squad / troop size encounters in 'historical' games (just leave out the fantasy elements and they're a cracking set of skirmish rules)
Yes, I know I said I was thinking about trying different sets of rules, but having seriously thought it through (which is why this post is so late at night), all I really want to do is give them a little more solo playability. I'm perfectly happy with the rules mechanics and 'flavour' so they're 'keepers' and I'll just try a few tweaks as I go along

In answer to the question from John (Vagabond) "How do witches fly?"
Well, it's only possible if they have a broom!
At the start of the game roll 2D10 to determine the total number of "broom moves" available to witches with brooms.
A "broom move" = up to 10" plus 10" per command in a straight line, plus turns of up to 90 degrees per command. The flying witch can gain /lose height (up to 10") during the move with no movement penalty.
A flying witch can attack with what's called a "slash and gallop" (as per mounted horse in the rules), which is effectively a 'fly by' as they lash out at their target with their war sickle.
If a flying witch is shot and not killed, they are knocked from their broom on a 4+ score on a D6, and will suffer D6 "falling damage"
(The 'broom rules' could port over to other rule systems very easily by giving them the same move when flying as normal mounted troops and give them the height advantage of being able to pass over all terrain less than 10" high.)

Large scale military skirmishes will use the "Pikeman's Lament" from Osprey.
I'm already familiar with "Dragon Rampant" from the same stable, which I find very enjoyable to play, and the activation system is well suited to solo gaming.
If the 'fantasy' games throw up an encounter which is too large for "Witchfinder General", I'll simply import the historical forces straight into "Dragon Rampant" and 'stat up' the fantasy elements.

For army size 'battles' my rules of choice are "Victory Without Quarter" from Quinda Studios.
Again, the card driven activation system is well suited to solo play and as is the 'random event' card in the deck. There are no points lists, so the armies can be selected to conform with the campaign system, and the good news is that these are another free download :-

And Finally,
a little personal history behind my ECW gaming, which might put my current choices in context - when I first started playing I used these......
....then 'post Wargames Research Group' tried these....
.......before moving on to these.
If I was still playing against a regular opponent on a 6ft x 4ft table I think I'd still use 1644 (the mini campaign in there is good for two players as well!).
I still have the Warhammer ECW and 1644 rules, and really wish I'd kept a firmer grip on the old Airfix book - it's yet another of those things that got lent out and never returned before I moved on to my next posting while I was in the Army.

I hope that's righted my wrongs, but if I've not answered any questions regarding the 17thC games please let me know - I'll certainly keep you informed of progress and any changes as I go on!

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Fall of Briskhill

The Earl of Fernbeck (aka Count Mikhail) had gradually continued with his plan to create a defensive ring of "plague villages" around Fernbeck House. After King Charle's misguided "Scottish War", the Earl is worried about the increasing levels of religious and political unrest affecting the country, which could well affect his safety if he relied solely on maintaining The Masquerade. This means he needs to take over the last adjoining village as soon as possible and fill it with walking corpses.
This rough map shows the plague infected areas shaded in red, and the green scribble denotes the extent of a waterlogged valley known locally as the "Suff Marshes" - a natural obstacle that helps to protect the eastern and southern approaches to Fernbeck House.
Once Briskhill completes the ring, Fernbeck House should be isolated from any wandering unwanted visitors.

Unknown to Mikhail, some of his Transylvanian mercenaries have been visiting the village of Briskhill - can't blame 'em, it's the last place where they can get a decent drink, but unfortunately, trooper Vasile ended up in a drunken brawl with a couple of locals and shot one of them.
He was duly arrested and tried for his crime where he received a suspended sentence - he's to be hanged at dawn tomorrow.
Miriana, the Earl's spy, was evesdropping on the proceedings and duly slipped away to report the incident to her master.

Mikhail is furious and despatches Nicholas Delcroix with a squad of guards to bring back trooper Vasile, and subjugate the village. He sends Mirianna to enlist the help of some of the local coven.
The 'plague bearers' will be let loose in the village as soon as the job is done - not only is he intent on keeping unwanted strangers out, but also errant members of his retinue IN!

Early the following morning, the militia provide an escort for the prisoner to protect him from the angry locals as he takes the short walk to the long drop

The Briskhill Volunteers have to get Vasile to the gallows, where his charge will be read out, a noose placed around his neck, a preacher will read from the good book, and the ladder will be kicked from under the prisoners feet.
Meanwhile, the family and friends of Vasile's victim will be trying to extract their own revenge and get through to the captive........

and of course, at some point Vasile's 'rescuers' are going to show up - which they did on turn two!
Nicholas Delcroix with his squad of guards approached unseen by the road from the south,

while two members of the Ladygate coven launch an aerial assault from the west.

The militia are taken completely by surprise and the leading musketeers fall prey to the razor sharp sickles. The rest of the matchlock armed troops fire wild shots at the fast moving targets but the witches are unharmed,

and complete their "fly by" with an elegant left banking manouvre.

Meanwhile, the Earl's troops have reached the edge of the cover provided by the market hall and the leading trio give fire with their pistols, killing two of the villagers.
Nicholas has made his way through the open hall....

and shoots Vasile's guard at point blank range - things are going very badly for the escort party......

...... and none too rosy for the gallows detail, as they now come under airborne attack from the broom riding witches!

While his mates frantically try and reload their muskets, one brave chap charges Nicholas, swinging his firearm as a club, while everyone else is attempting to flee for their lives and attempting to find cover.

Nicholas calmly raises the second of his brace of pistols and fires into the face of his attacker,

and his unfortunate assailant lies dead at his feet.

As quickly as the action started, it's all over, and Vasile is led away.
"Can I get my shoes back?"
"I wouldn't want to be in them - and anyway, Mikhail wants you back in time for dinner, and he said you could attend informally"

The rest of the defenceless villagers were either cut down or rounded up by Mikhail's squad, who held their prisoners for the arrival of the "plague cart".
To the outside world, Briskhill was now just another of the villages stricken with the strange sickness.
The rumours say it's down to a pestilence emanating from the Suff Marshes, but of course, that's just what the Count  Earl wants people to think!

On reflection, having the "angry mob" slowing down the hanging procession was perhaps a mistake.
The vampyre's forces were going to arrive on a random turn after turn one, and have to 'race' to the gallows (probably would have been the witches job).
Ah well, we have to play the cards we're dealt, so the action at Briskhill was short and bloody - I'm going to try a different set of rules for the next game in the campaign.

Hope you've had an enjoyable Easter weekend, and many thanks for dropping by.
As always your comments, suggestions and criticisms are most welcome.