Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Robin Hood and the Abduction of Marion


A little while ago, I published a Song of Blades and Heroes battle report entitled "Robin Hood and the bishop of Lichfield".  It was always my plan to play more games in this setting, so here is another one.  Actually, we played the scenario twice, since the first game was very short.  Read on to find out what happened...

The Scenario

The Sheriff of Nottingham and his dastardly men have taken Maid Marion prisoner.  It's not important for the game how this occured - perhaps she was hiding out in a local nunnery, or maybe she was in disguise and visiting a sick aunt.  Anyway, Robin Hood has heard about this and is giving chase through the forest, along with some of his men (the others are away on a raid elsewhere in the county).  If the Sheriff can just drag his captive to within sight of the town of Nottingham then Robin's band won't dare to follow any further.  Will Robin catch up and rescue the lady?  Or will the Sheriff succeed with his nefarious plans?

We decided to play the Kidnap scenario from Song of Arthur and Merlin.  Roughly speaking, one warband has captured someone important and must escort their prisoner from one side of the board to the next.  They have a 1-turn head start over the rescuers, who are pursuing them.  One figure from the kidnapper's band must spend an action every turn to keep the captive under control; a second action may then be used to move the prisoner and captor together.  If the captive ever becomes uncontrolled then the rescuers may move that model as part of their warband - if thy make the requisite action rolls, of course!

Victory is determined as follows: 5 victory points to the kidnappers if they move the captive off the far table edge, or to the rescuers if they move the captive off any other table edge.  1 VP is also scored for each 50 points value of enemy figures lost.  Since we were playing with 400 point warbands, this would give an absolute maximum of 8 points in the unlikely event that the enemy's warband was slaughtered to a man.  The fate of the captive was more likely to determine who won the game!

The Forces

The Sheriff's Men

  • The Sheriff of Nottingham: moderate fighter, leader, evil
  • Guy of Gisborne: good fighter, armour
  • Yorik the Jester: poor fighter, dodge, distract
  • Lesser Knights (Sir Stanley, Sir Walter): moderate fighter, armour
  • 4 crossbowmen: modest shooting, rabble
  • 13 men-at-arms: modest fighter, rabble
  • Lady Marion: captive!

Robin's Men

(Sadly, I didn't have enough personality points to field both Robin Hood and Little John - Robin is a very expensive character!  I suppose that Little John is leading a different search party somewhere else)
  • Robin Hood: good shooting, good fighting
  • Friar Tuck: modest fighting, inspire
  • 9 Merry Men: modest shooting
So, Robin and his band are outnumbered by about 2:1 .  On the other hand, most of his opponents are rabble; these are much easier to scare off or kill than normal.

Game 1

In the first game of the afternoon, the Sheriff (my youngest son) chose to bring on his band of ne'er-do-wells in one corner of the table and advance down the edge.

Guy of Gisborne scouted ahead, whilst the other knights and the jester dragged Marion forwards.  The Sheriff started marshalling his crossbowmen behind a small clump of trees, whilst most of the men-at-arms didn't move.

It proved remarkably difficult to bring any of the rescuers onto the table at all [the Song of Blades system allows you to roll 1, 2 or 3 dice per figure for actions - but if you get 2 failures then your turn is over.  I tried rolling 2 dice usually, but had a stunning number of double failures].  After 2 turns, only 3 outlaws, Friar Tuck and Robin Hood himself had arrived.  Rather than bring them on close to the mass of men-at-arms, I chose to try to outflank them and run for the knights and the prisoner.

With the Sheriff encouraging them, the crossbowmen shot bolt after bolt at the nearest outlaws.  Over the course of 2 turns, they killed 2 of them outright.  Then, the 3rd man slipped over whilst dodging one bolt only to be hit by another missile in a very sensitive place.  He writhed about the ground screaming, before collapsing to the ground in a fountain of blood [i.e. a "gruesome" kill].

The poor outlaw's horrible death unnerved Friar Tuck; he took a few steps away from the grisly sight.  Robin Hood also had to take a morale test [because he was within "Long" distance of the kill (just)].  It shouldn't really have been a problem, but he rolled 3 failures and promptly legged it off the board.  Oh, man!  How could I possibly recover from this - I don't think that Friar Tuck was going to tackle all of the baddies on his own and even if more Merry Men had arrived, there was no certainty that they could catch up with the prisoner or overcome the escort.  Game over, man!

Or was it?

In the excitement of shooting down the outlaws, the Sheriff hadn't yet spent an action to keep the prisoner under control.  The last crossbowman rolled 2 activation failures; thus signalling the end of the turn for the kidnappers.

As the knights jeered at the famed Robin Hood for running like a bunny rabbit, Maid Marion slipped from Sir Walter's grasp.  She immediately ran in the opposite direction [Marion activated on a 5+ and was 2 moves away from the side edge of the table.  If I could roll 2 activations out of 3 dice then she was off and safe - but I only rolled 1].

Only Yorik, the jester, was quick-witted enough to grab for the fleeing damsel.  He almost had her, but was then wrong-footed by a sudden jink.  Maid Marion disappeared into the edge of the dark forest and was lost to sight within moments [At 3+ activation, Yorik had a good chance of recapturing the prisoner; he would need one move to reach her and a second activation to subdue her.  However, out of 3 dice he only threw 1 success, thus allowing him to draw level but also signalling the end of the baddies' turn for the 2 failures.  Marion then took another turn, threw 3 successes out of 3 and ran like the wind off the table edge].

Well, that was unexpected.  Final scores: 3VP to the Sheriff for vanquished foes, but 5VPs to the Outlaws for a prisoner escape.  Victory to the Merry Men!

Game 2

Whilst it was satisfying in some ways, the first game was over so quickly that we had enough time to play the same scenario again.

This time, the Sheriff's men entered the table rather more in the middle of the edge.  Even if Marion managed to escape, she would have much further to go to reach either side [and with only a 5+ activation, it seemed unlikely that she'd make it without being recaptured].  Also note that both she and the Sheriff were surrounded by soldiers - my son wasn't taking any chances with his 2 most valuable models!

Again, the Merry Men were slow to arrive - and when they did come on, it was in dribs and drabs.  One outlaw fancied his chances in hand-to-hand combat against the Sheriff's rabble, but was quickly dispatched.  The others tried to keep moving parallel to the kidnappers whilst waiting for reinforcements to arrive.  Marion did indeed struggle enough to break free when she saw Robin arrive, but she was quickly surrounded and caught again.

In a surprisingly aggressive move (or perhaps it was a cunning delaying tactic?), the Sheriff sent small numbers of men-at-arms to engage the would-be rescuers, whilst the knights and the jester dragged Marion further across the board.  Initially, the rabble had some success: the standard bearer killed one Merry Man and the other 2 soldiers had Friar Tuck on the ground and in trouble.

With a flashy piece of archery, Robin shot down the standard bearer [another gruesome kill].  One of the men who was attacking Friar Tuck fled at the sight, though the other wasn't so easily impressed.  Still, this did allow Tuck to regain his feet.

However, the reprieve was temporary.  With a howl of fury, Guy of Gisborne charged the poor friar and swept his head from his shoulders with one mighty blow [gruesome kill, again!].  Robin Hood was so taken aback at the fate of his friend that he retreated a few paces.

Guy followed this up with a ferocious charge at Robin, pushing the outlaw back until he was almost off the table.  This was his undoing however; the moment there was a slight gap between them Robin put 3 arrows into the knight in quick succession.  Guy's armour wasn't enough to save him from the master bowman; he sank to his knees and was out of the fight.

Meanwhile, the lesser knights and the jester, encouraged by the Sheriff, were crossing the table alarmingly fast.  The Merry Men really couldn't afford to hesitate if they were to have any chance of rescuing Marion.

While Guy of Gisborne had been on his rampage, more outlaws had arrived on table.  The strung-out men-at-arms had attempted to stop them on occasion; sometimes they had succeeded in delaying the Merry Men for a while, but in the end they mostly died or ran away.  The Sheriff didn't have many men left, but the knights were close to the table edge with the captive.  Could they drag Marion away before Robin could rescue her?

Yorik the jester was now the rearguard; he had considerable success in distracting the pursuers with his tricks and jokes.  Robin ran as fast as he could, ignoring the sideshow and firing occasional long-range arrows at the sheriff - but the kidnappers just had too great a lead.

Sir Stanley kept firm hold of Marion, whilst Sir Walter protected his back and the Sheriff of Nottingham encouraged them from the side.  Robin could do nothing to prevent them from escaping, as Marion was dragged away, biting, kicking and cursing in a most unladylike manner!

Result: 6VP to the Merry Men (for casualties caused), but 7VP to the Sheriff (2 for casualties cause and 5 for the captive).  The bad guys win, Lady Marion is captured!


This was a very interesting scenario and one that was quite difficult for the pursuers.  In both games, the Sheriff's Leader ability was critical, mainly for the +1 Quality for activating nearby followers but also for the ability to issue group orders.  He was able to keep the kidnappers moving fast and while Robin and his men dispatched hordes of goons in the second game, they were delayed just enough that the captors could escape.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Amera Amphitheatre


A couple of weeks ago, at Salute 2014, I bought a couple of bits of terrain from a company called Amera Plastic Mouldings.  They make vacuum-formed pieces and while this technique limits the sharpness of detail that can be achieved, their terrain is incredibly cheap.  I've had my eye on them for some while - the long-defunct Bellona range of vac-formed terrain is a very fond memory of my childhood - but until now I'd not bought any of Amera's product.

Of the 2 pieces I purchased at Salute, I've now finished one.  I have special plans for the other (F218 Temple Ruins); it won't be finished as a temple if my ideas work out - but that's for the future.  For now, here is a description of the model that I have completed.

The Amphitheatre

This piece appears in the Amera catalogue as "F208 Amphitheatre".  Officially it is in the 28mm Fantasy section, but I see no reason why it couldn't be used for historical settings or indeed for 15mm or smaller figures.  Other than the depth of the terraces and possibly the size of the stone slabs, there's not much to indicate scale on this.  Indeed, the "orchestra" (the circular space in the middle for the performers) averages 78' (23m) in real-world Ancient Greek theatres.  For 28mm figures, this equates to rather over 1' (30cm), which would be a prodigiously large terrain piece.

So, my amphitheatre is going to be a small, provincial affair rather than one associated with a busy city.  However, it has a wealthy patron, so the orchestra will be paved with marble rather than just packed dirt.  This is really just an excuse for me to try out a circle-cutter that I got for Christmas (from a pound shop or similar "bargain" store, so not a very expensive tool at all!).

I cut out a disk from plasticard that was embossed with paving.  This is really sold for scratch-building model railway layouts and is scaled for OO layouts, so the paving is perhaps a bit small for my project.  Still, it'll just have to do.

I also cut out a slightly larger ring from plain plasticard, to be used as a border.  I used a triangular file to mark out the stones on it by cutting a slight groove every 1cm or thereabouts.

Fitting these new parts to the model was easy - or at least it would have been if I'd applied the super glue to the correct side of the plastic!  If the finish looks a bit rough then that's because I had to wipe off the embossed side very quickly, wait for the remnants to dry and then try again.

I also took the opportunity to shape the rim around the bottom, thus removing any straight lines.  It's my opinion (not backed up by any science of which I'm aware!) that straight lines draw the eye more than gently-curved ones.  My intention is for the base to blend in with the table a bit better.  I really don't know if this works or not, but there we are.  Hmm.

Actually, I did consider removing the base rim completely, but I decided that it probably added some structural strength.  I also thought of packing the reverse side to enable the model to take heavy figures.  However, it's made from quite thick plastic as it is and barely flexes when I press down in the centre of the orchestra.  In the end, I decided that such reinforcement wasn't needed.


The amphitheatre was coated with my usual grey undercoat (Halfords spray body primer, for cars).  The circle of marble was painted in a much paler colour and then all the stonework was washed with black.

For the dirt parts, I under coated with a mid yellow-brown paint to which some sand had been added (for texture).  A couple of successively lighter dry-brushes completed this.

Finally, the edges of the stonework were highlighted and I added some static grass and clump foliage.  This theatre might have had a rich patron once upon a time, but I think it's fallen on hard times more recently and the weeds are starting to take hold!

The End Result

It occurs to me that I haven't mentioned the size of this model amphitheatre yet.  Well, it works out at roughly 30cm wide and 21cm deep, or perhaps slightly larger than this.  Even if it's really too small for a historical Greek theatre in 28mm, it's still quite a big model!  The figures seen on it are some of my "Jason and the Argonauts" project; I don't think that the skeleton warriors summoned by the evil King Aeëtes are part of the show at all!

The cost of the amphitheatre is a mere £3.50 (plus a little for the materials I've used on the model).  I'm very happy with the way it has turned out and I can certainly see myself buying more products from Amera in the future.  Now I've just got to work out how to store this piece...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Showcase: Junkers Sandrunners


I've been falling behind my intended posting schedule a bit, recently and I can't quite put my finger on why this is so.  Sure, I've been busy with work and family - but that's always the case and so it isn't any real excuse.  Perhaps I'm spending too much time reading other people's blogs, instead of updating my own?  Possibly, but surely there's time enough for both?

Anyway, here's a description of some models I've had for some time.  This is part of my ongoing plan to document my collection (though I doubt very much that it's realistic to photograph and describe everything I've collected over the years).  Still, I've got to try!

Without any further ado...

Junkers Sandrunners

The Junkers were one of the 4 human factions in the VOID 1.1 Science Fiction game.  Originally these models were produced by I-Kore, though the range was obtained by Scotia Grendel when I-Kore folded (actually, that's simplifying the history a bit, but I can't remember all the ins and outs of it).

I bought a lot of the Junkers, Viridian and Syntha figures cheap when the game fell out of favour.  The VOID 1.1 rules are nothing very special, I think (just a d10 "Warhammer 40,000" knock-off), but I like a lot of the models and they can easily be used with other rules such as 5150 or FUBAR.  Although I've painted a fair number of my VOID models, I have many more just waiting...

As written, the background for the Junkers was a harsh, militaristic dictatorship.  Some elite forces were pampered and equipped with the best that money could buy, but many brutal penal legions also exist.  Think of a cross between House Harkonnen from Dune, the Soviets under Stalin and the Roman Empire.  Within their army, the sandrunners are scouting forces that consist of melee-armed troopers mounted on bad-tempered, 2-legged giant lizards.  How could I resist!

Within my sandrunner collection, I have 2 different commissars or enforcers.  These are there to enforce discipline and ensure that no-one has any unpatriotic thoughts (by blowing their brains out should anyone start thinking for themselves)!  I doubt that I'd ever use both of these enforcers at the same time, but either could be used alone as a lone spy, scout or post-apocalyptic nutcase, I think.

 Of the 5 troopers, the sergeant and 1 of his men have short swords.  The other 3 guys have thermite lances - basically an explosive charge on the end of a long stick.  In theory these can eliminate anything up to (and including) a main battle tank, but first you'd need to get close enough to charge the enemy and secondly you'd have to hope that the back blast didn't kill you.  Life is cheap in a sandrunner patrol!

Here's a view from the other side.  You can see that the lead swordsman is left-handed; this is quite unusual amongst wargaming miniatures.  I approve thoroughly of this, since I'm corrie-fisted myself.

I see these guys as tasked with patrolling remote areas or backwater planets to keep down native resistance, rather than being thrown into a main battle line.  They have simple equipment that doesn't need much maintenance or fuel, so they can be fairly self-reliant.  There are examples of this role in many places, such as the initial Star Wars film on the desert planet and indeed in the later colonial empires of Britain, France &c.

Mind you, I still don't know how the troopers manage to ride the lizards without being eaten.  They're some of the most bad-tempered critters I've ever seen used as cavalry mounts!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Crossed Lances: a Review


For a long time now, I have been looking for a set of wargames rules that will allow me to portray a medieval joust.  I want knights charging at each other with blunted lances whilst the lords and ladies watch from the galleries and spectators of the lower social orders shout raucously!  The look and feel that I am after is very much that portrayed in the lightweight (but fun) 2001 film "A Knight's Tale".  It's a sports game, with winners and losers, underdogs, heroes and villains!

There aren't many suitable sets of rules for jousts about.  I am aware of maybe 3 or 4 different commercial titles, along with a number of medieval or fantasy skirmish rules which have at least some provision for jousting.  None of these really meets my requirements, which are primarily:
  • Must be intended for miniatures (i.e. placement of the models has at least some significance).
  • Must offer tactical choices (i.e. not be just a dice-rolling exercise)
  • Must have some "role-playing" elements - especially the differentiation of knights' skills and a "campaign" system.


It was with great interest that I heard recently of a new set of rules entitled "Crossed Lance's" [sic].  The authors of this have gone to town with support; as well as the rulebook on their website you can buy miniatures of knights, squires, heralds &c, transfers/decals for heraldry, game accessories (cards and tokens), scenery (tents, grandstands, tilt barriers and the like) and so on.  All of this is very impressive, as is the promise to produce another volume of rules for other parts of the tournament.  I believe that this second volume will contain rules for the archery competition and the foot melee.  I thoroughly applaud this level of dedication!
So, what about the main offering: the jousting rules?  Physically this is an A4 book of 46 pages, coloured as if it were old parchment.  The covers are soft and I believe the correct term for the way the book is constructed is "gum binding".  It's not going to be easy to open the book flat without breaking the spine.

Within this booklet there are actually rules for 2 separate games:
  1. The Jousting rules take up 8 pages
  2. 12 pages are dedicated to rules for the Grand Melee (a form of enormous mounted brawl).
This is less than half of the booklet; the remaining 26 pages are for forewords, introductions and a short historical overview.  Nearly half of the pages in the book are game components which may be cut out, though in my copy there was a large set of replacement inserts and a small note that explained that the original components couldn't be used double-sided due to a registration error when they were printed.

The Jousting Rules

So, at the simplest, here's what happens.  2 suitable models of knights on horseback are placed at opposite ends of the tilt.  According to the rulebook, the tilt barrier should be at least 18" long; it's convenient if it is discreetly marked off in inches.  The central 6" (or 4" in some paragraphs?) is the "attain" zone, where strikes may occur.  Note that a "lesser attain" may be scored if the knights have passed each other and moved beyond this zone without making full contact.

A joust comprises 3 runs, though this may be cut short if either knight is unhorsed.  If neither knight has achieved such a victory after 3 runs then the winner is decided by the number of points scored.

At the start of the joust, each player draws 3 "shield" cards and plays them face-down in the order that they desire.  1 such card is revealed at the end of each run, when it is used to adjust the number of points awarded for the run (from +3 to -3).  In addition, each player has a single "Lord" card, again with a hidden value from +3 to -3, which may be played only once, on any of the 3 runs.

For a run, each knight rolls 2 dice of different colours.  Their model is moved forwards by the sum of the dice, whilst the individual scores on the dice are used to determine the strength of a hit if contact is made.  Since the average score for 2d6 is '7' and since this movement will take a knight from his starting position into the attain area, the majority of runs will be resolved with a single throw.  A second round will only be needed if either knight rolls very low on their first round.

Once contact occurs, the outcome is determined by the dice already rolled.  Any double will unseat an opponent, with high doubles also knocking down the opponent's horse.  Otherwise, the dice are used to look up a chart and points are awarded (or lost, in the case of a foul) accordingly.  Points are adjusted by the shield card played for that run and optionally by the player's lord card as well.  And that's it...

The only provision for differentiating a knight's skill is by having a different pool of shield cards on which to draw.  I suppose that a better knight's pool might have more of these tokens with a value of +3 and fewer with a -3, whilst a poor jouster would have a collection of shield tokens that tended to be lower in value.

The Grand Melee

Since my main interest is the joust, I've not put as much effort into reading or trying out the second set of rules in the book.  However, here's a quick summary: each turn a knight secretly chooses 3 hex move cards.  These can take the form of an advance, a 60 degree turn or a halt in place.  When it's that knight's turn to act, the 3 cards are played in the chosen sequence and the actions on each card are enacted.  If any models come close enough then they fight each other: 2 dice are thrown and the result is read off a table.  Typically this will result in a number of hits to an opponent (this may be adjusted by playing a lord card), though it is also possible to lose a helm or shield or to be unhorsed.

My Opinion

So far I've restricted myself to describing the game(s) in a factual manner.  However, I cannot end this article without giving a personal reaction to Crossed Lances.  I really wanted to like this set of rules, but there are 2 areas in the joust that need to be mentioned:

1. The proof-reading in this publication is terrible!  It seemed that about 1 sentence in 2 either had grammatical mistakes in it or was just unclear to read.  If I hadn't had the games demonstrated to me at Salute 2014 then it would have been difficult to work out how to play from just reading the rules.  Here are some examples:
  • The title of the game should be "Crossed Lances" and not "Crossed Lance's".
  • On page 10, the first paragraph gives the attain area as the central 6" of the tilt.  The second paragraph states that the attain area is 4".  Which is correct?
  • Here's the first sentence from the top of page 11, exactly as printed: "The player with the highest roll is the winner of that run through his speed of and charge and scores 1 point."  Huh?
    Sadly, there are many, many more such examples.
2. In theory there is some decision-making to be had: each player must decide in which order to play his/her 3 shield cards.  In practice, this seems irrelevant because:
  • Most jousts will end with one or both knights unhorsed (the odds of neither knight rolling a double on any of 3 successive runs is very low).  There's little chance that the 3rd shield card will be needed, so why do anything other than play the best ones first?
  • The shield cards do nothing apart from act as modifiers for the number of points scored.  It doesn't matter whether I lose -2 points in the first run and gain +3 in the second, or if I gain +3 points in the first run and lose -2 in the second: either way I score the same amount.

I don't think that "Crossed Lances" is completely unplayable.  I certainly do like the idea of having a large tournament with a multitude of different events - jousting, grand melee, archery, foot melee - but for me there needs to be a bit more tactical play.  I'm already pondering house rules such as allowing the shield card to modify the dice roll (either for movement or for combat result) rather than the points scored.  That might make it more interesting.  However, I'm disappointed that I feel the need to change these rules before I can use them.


Components: 3/5 .  All the necessary cards are present in the rule book and are promised as PDF downloads as well.  I have some doubts about the durability of the thin paper and gum binding of the rule book.
Support: 5/5 .  There are clearly many plans to support this game with excellent miniatures and terrain, play aids and future expansions.  The authors appear knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Playability: 2/5 .  The result of a joust appears to be little more than chance, though the grand melee probably requires more positioning skill.  Rules are poorly written and often contradictory or difficult to comprehend.
Value for money: 2/5 . At £20, this is a very expensive rulebook.  I could accept this if the rules were a bit meatier and the book was a hardback, but as it is I think it's only for the serious collector of tourney rules.
Overall: 2/5 .  I'm very disappointed that this isn't the set of jousting rules.  Perhaps the authors will produce a revised edition sometime soon?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Back from Salute...


By now, everyone else who was there seems to have put up their blog posts about Salute 2014.  I'm slightly later because it took us most of Sunday to get home (what with the distance being a bit further than for many) and then I had to go to work as usual today (Monday).  So, now that I'm back from work and the younger kids are in bed, I've just got time to put together a short report.

This isn't a general show report and I don't have any pictures.  Instead it's simply a quick record of what myself and my 2 boys did on the show day.

The Day

We arrived about 20 minutes early and had to wait in what seemed like an enormously long queue.  Younger son (A.) was getting a bit bored with this until some Star Wars re-enactors walked along the line.  For some reason they all seemed to be bad guys: we saw an Imperial naval officer, Boba Fett, one of the pig-like guards from Jabba's palace (Gamoreans?) and several stormtroopers.  Mind you, A. informed me that one of them was a sandtrooper, not a stormtrooper.  Hmm, they looked much the same to me...

The queue moved very quickly once 10:00 arrived, so that wasn't a problem.  We then spent the next hours looking at the many tables, playing some games and making a few targeted purchases.  General observations on the show:
  • Many of the stalls (but not all) were mobbed and it was very difficult to approach them with 2 children in tow.  I don't know what the traders could have done about this and maybe things quietened down later (I'm not sure), but it did mean that I saved a little money.
  • All the games I remember looked good and some were really stunning.  There were huge differences in the approach of the people running them, though.  The best clubs reached out to people who looked interested, drew them in and involved them in the game.  The worst participation games are the ones where we would hang around, maybe ask a few questions and yet the people running them would all but ignore you.  Come on guys; if you're going to go to the trouble of putting on a public game then make sure that the public get to play it!
Here's a list of the games that we did play (at least, the ones that I remember).  The show theme for this year was "D-Day", so a number of the games were oriented towards that:
  • Crossed Lances: I've been hankering for a decent jousting game for a while and am hoping that this might be it.  I won't be really sure until I've read the rules and maybe played a few games of my own, but the guys who are promoting it were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  We ran a few courses; firstly A. knocked J. (older son) off his horse.  Then I knocked A. to the ground.  Still got it...
  • D-1 Paratroops: I'm not sure of the proper name for this game, but A. and J. took small squads of US paratroops who were lost after the drop during the night before D-Day.  They were trying to make their way across the table to a rendezvous point, but kept bumping into cows, owls, German sentries, wounded colleagues and the like in the thick terrain.  An excellent game which both the boys enjoyed thoroughly (and it was a draw: J. got further across the table and scored more points for this, but he was penalised for leaving one of his wounded men behind).
  • Hobart's Funnies: This was a rather silly game in which goofy Sci-fi tanks from different arms suppliers tried to demonstrate their superiority to potential purchasers by making a beach landing.  Each player was dealt a hand of 4 cards every round; different cards could be used to move your own vehicle, destroy obstacles or place hazards near the other players' tanks.  Both boys enjoyed this enormously; at one point it looked as if the 2 of them were well out in front and close to winning.  Then the other 3 players started to block their route with minefields, hedgehogs and the like.  Eventually they came in 4th and 5th (of 5)!
  • [Edit R/C Tanks: There were some radio-controlled tanks in a roped-off area of the hall, with upturned cardboard boxes for buildings.  All three of us had a go, though we found controlling the vehicles much harder than we had hoped.  J.'s King Tiger and my T-34 ended up ramming and shooting each other to bits, so A.'s Sherman was the winner]
  • Firefight Normandy: A very detailed man-to-man skirmish game in thick hedgerows, using larger models.  The people running this were friendly and enthusiastic, but it seemed that much of the game was spent in calculating percentages and tracking injuries ("10% damage to the left arm", for example).  After a while we had to bow out, else we wouldn't have seen much else of the show.
  • Ronin: I've had these rules for a while and am somewhat tempted to build some warbands for Samurai skirmishes, so I was keen to see how this would work.  A. took a small group of warrior monks whilst J. opposed him with a slightly larger force of bandits.  Highlight was definitely one of A.'s initiates taking on 5 bandits at once.  I think he killed 3 or 4 of them before he was himself pulled down.  Lowlight: A's archer was hopeless; we figured that he didn't know which way round to put the arrows.  J. won in the end, but enough blood had been spilt to satisfy both of them.


Finally, here's the obligatory loot picture.  Bear in mind that it's probably 14 years since I last attended Salute:
I'm not going to enumerate everything in it, but here are some keywords: Vikings, harpies, rules, prospector, Daredevil pilots, Amera.  2 of the books and the Airfix kit are for A.; J. has already snaffled his book (so it doesn't appear in this picture).

It was a very full, but very tiring day.  We left Salute about 45 minutes before the doors closed, having been there for many hours.  Even so, I don't think we saw everything...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Clearing the Decks!


We're going to Salute this year!  My boys and I will be visiting London for a few nights to do a little sight-seeing and to visit the biggest single-day wargaming event in the world.  It'll be quite the adventure for them, I think!

It's not the first time that I've ever been to Salute, but it will be the first time since I moved back to Scotland in 2001.  When I lived in Bristol, London was just a 2 hour train ride away and I would occasionally go there.  The last time I went to Salute, the show give-away was a Warlords "Demon Dice".  A few moments on Google suggests that this must have been the year 2000, so quite a few years ago...

Clearing the Decks

Now, here's a problem.  My workbench is already full of clutter and I think it's just possible that I might want to buy some fresh toys at the show next week.  There won't be anywhere to put new purchases!

I've tried to spend much of this last week in knuckling down and painting some of my existing models.  If I'm successful then that would free up some space.  I don't think it'll be enough, mind you, but I've got to try...

So, here are the results of my recent labours so far:

Actually, these figures aren't recently painted.  Rather, they're samples of previous work; I've got them out whilst painting more figures for the same forces so that I can match the styles and colours.  At least they don't need any finishing off before they can be put back into storage.

This quartet are almost done.  I need to add some grass to the bases and then varnish the models.  Neither of those tasks is very onerous, though it will probably take a day or two for the glue and sealant to dry.

This pair are a little further off from complete, as both lack some minor detailing.  The armed zombie needs the base to be finished, whilst the cavalier will get work on the hair and hat.  I should be able to complete both models without too much difficulty, I think.

Slightly more effort will go into the next trio.  Although large parts of these models are finished, they have a substantial number of details still to do.  Bases, shirt & tie, shields, swords, helmets, hair...

This group are even further behind.  They have most of their block colours done, but not all the big areas are textured, washed or shaded.  Obviously, details that sit on top of the block costume colours (belts, mostly) haven't been started either.

Finally, I might struggle to finish this set before Salute.  They have some of their base colours, but there are still large patches of undercoat, or perhaps colours that I'm thinking of changing.  Still, they are a long way from "just under-coated" and there is at least a slim chance that I'll paint them in the next 3 days.

Maybe I should just get on with the job, rather than sitting here writing about it?!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Greek Gift

Yesterday, when I returned home from work, I discovered that there was a parcel waiting for me.  Now this was something of a surprise since I wasn't expecting anything.  It was still more of a surprise when I saw that the package had come from Slovenia.

Now, I only know one person who is in Slovenia and that's Mathyoo, a fellow blogger who runs the Necroleadicon .  We share an interest in zombie wargaming and recently we've been discussing Jason and the Argonauts after my post on the subject (here).  It turns out that the Slovenian version of this tale differs in some details from the tale that I know, but it is equally fascinating.

A few weeks ago, I sent Mathyoo some spare parts from one of Wargames Factory "Apocalypse Survivors" kit.  Mostly these were assault rifles of various sorts; I have little use for these as I prefer my civilians/survivors not to be armed with military-grade weapons.  However, Mathyoo is modelling an insurgent force who all need such guns.  It cost me almost nothing to post these parts so I put them in the mail and thought no more about it.

So, what was in the parcel I received?

This is the figure of Jason that was given away at Salute 2013.  For anyone who is new to this, "Salute" is possibly the largest wargames show on earth and the organisers have a tradition of giving away a free figure to all who attend.  Last year, the theme was "Jason and the Argonauts", which I didn't know until very recently.

Not only has Mathyoo sent me a Greek hero, but he's even painted the miniature for me (because of a chance remark that I had too many projects already, I think).  How cool is that?!

It gets even better.  I'm a collector of dice (see here) and Mathyoo included a die as well.  The 6-spot is replaced with the Slovenian "mountain, river and sea" symbol, thus making it fairly unusual.

So, to Mathyoo, a very big Thanks.  Definitely one of the good guys!