Saturday 29 June 2013

Army Showcase: Captain Scarlet


As I browse the internet, I see websites for many companies that make 28mm miniatures.  A lot of these make very good product, but I don't necessarily have any use for it no matter how well made the models may be.  Just occasionally, however, I see miniatures that I like so much that I covet them, even if I have no immediate use for such figures.

So it is with Crooked Dice.  I've watched the company grow over time and have consistently thought that I'd enjoy painting and owning pretty much anything from their catalogue.  However, despite dropping hints before birthdays and Christmases, I never obtained anything from them - until recently.

3 weeks ago today, I attended the Glasgow Phoenix Club's annual show, "Wappinshaw" with my friend Steve.  There we charged the Light Brigade down the wrong valley at the battle of Balaclava (I was all but wiped out; Steve took relatively few casualties), fought giant bugs in a 1950's B movie and entered a futuristic motorbike race (I was in the middle of the pack; Steve won handsomely , even lapping the tail-ender in the process).  Also, we took the opportunity to do some shopping.  3 weeks later, here are some of the purchases, now painted up.

Timelift Security

Apparently, when I was very small, my favourite TV program was "Captain Scarlet".  I don't remember this at all (it was a long time ago), though I do remember myself or my brothers having a few of the Dinky toy vehicles from the series - long since lost, sadly.  Since then, I've watched a few episodes with my own children and they have enjoyed the show too.

It would probably have stopped there, but then some time ago Crooked Dice brought out their range of "Time Lift Security" figures.  These aren't Captain Scarlet models at all (no sirree!), but I thought that with a cunning paint job they could be made to look just like the characters from the show.

I was all for choosing some new and interesting colours for my Spectrum agents.  "Captain Orange"?  Hmm: sounds a bit like the advertising mascot for a company that makes kid's drinks.  "Captain Puce"?  Really?  Hands up all those who know what colour is "puce"!  My wife and children remonstrated with me and so I ended up painting the figures in more traditional livery.

Spectrum Agents

From left to right: Captain Blue, Captain Scarlet, Lieutenant Green, Colonel White
This picture shows the main characters in the TV show.  Captain Scarlet is the hero, of course.  He's indestructible and is always recreated even after being incinerated, blown up, gassed or otherwise killed.  Handy :-) .  Captain Blue is another field agent and is Scarlet's faithful companion.  Colonel White is the boss and Lieutenant Green is an aide.

In terms of the models, the Scarlet model came with a pointing finger; the pistol hand was an optional extra.  I'm now thinking that I could have just left him pointing as there are plenty of other guns on show in the squad (and he has another pistol in his holster anyway).

Lieutenant Green came with the option of a standard assault rifle or an unusual-looking high-tech "gun".  I chose the latter because it seemed more interesting and will give me more options for gaming with these figures.

From left to right: Captain Ochre, Captain Brown, Captain Grey, Captain Magenta
The second picture departs somewhat from the TV show canon in 2 ways.  Firstly, 3 of the 4 agents are women.  In the original 1960's show, all the Spectrum agents were men and all the Angels (Spectrum's fighter pilots) were women.  However in the 2000's animated remake (New Captain Scarlet), Lieutenant Green was a woman, so there is some precedent for this.  Actually, I don't really care; if Crooked Dice make female agents then I'm entirely happy to have them in my collection.  This is the 21st century, after all!

Secondly, I don't recall any of the Spectrum personnel being armed with anything other than a pistol, or on rare occasions with a "Mysteron gun".  Mind you, I'm no expert on this and am probably mistaken.  Still, having assault rifles seems fairly heavy armament for them.

The evil Captain Black
Finally, here's Captain Black, the Spectrum agent who was subverted by their arch-enemies, the Mysterons and is now the lead figure in most plots against the forces of the World Government.  This is a straightforward model; the only thing that makes it in any way different is that I had to paint a "5 o'clock shadow" on his face to make the character as sinister as he is on the TV.


Captain Black is confronted by all the Spectrum agents
I bought these models just because I like them and not with any specific intention of using them for gaming.  Having said that, I'm trying to work out how to incorporate Spectrum or the Mysterons into any of my existing sets of rules and figures.  I could just go for broke and use 7TV, which I also bought at Wappinshaw 2013, but that might necessitate buying more models from Crooked Dice.  Ah, what to do?

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Full Thrust: Never Trust a Ferengi!


Lat weekend I played a small game of Full Thrust with my eldest son, primarily so that we could try out my Romulan fleet and see how the cloaking devices worked.  I took an amended version of the same scenario to the last night at the games club; that will be reported in due course.  In the meantime, here's how the tester went.

The Scenario

3 Ferengi warships are escorting a small merchant convoy through a dangerous region of space.  Their goal is for as many of the freighters as possible to escape (by reaching an edge in the furthest 1/3 of the board).

3 Romulan warships have just appeared (they can setup on any table edge in "their half" of the board) and are determined to stop the convoy.  Let battle commence.

How did it play?

In the very first turn, the Romulan ships fired a couple of plasma torpedoes at the convoy and then cloaked [scenario adjustment needed: start the 2 sides a little further apart!].  Many ships fired on the smaller torpedo and it was successfully dispersed.  However, the larger weapon detonated with full force, inflicting minor damage to the destroyer Bractor and crushing the medium freighter Marie Celeste.

Nothing much happened for another turn, as the Romulans were hidden.  The remaining ships in the convoy continued to accelerate in their attempt to reach safety, but that was about all.

Then, the Romulan ships uncloaked and, sadly for them, each was virtually on top of their opposite number in the Ferengi fleet.  The surprised captain of the heavy cruiser Krayton immediately opened fire, with devastating results.  The Romulan cruiser Dragon was hit in the engines and, just as bad, lost her torpedo launcher, while the light cruiser Decurion took hits to engine and cloaking device.  Ouch!

In return, the best the attackers could do was to inflict minor damage on the large merchantman Empress of Orion and to cripple the light freighter Ivanhoe [she lost 3 of her 4 holds.  Oddly, all of these were determined to be carrying personal grooming equipment - I guess those Ferengi really love their ear-lobe polish!  Ivanhoe also suffered a non-critical hit, which came out as "make it up yourself".  I decided that her robotic loading system had malfunctioned and was busy unloading the contents of the 4th cargo hold - desk lamps - into space].

To add insult to injury, the Bractor then gutted her opposite number - the Lorica - leaving the Romulan destroyer just a drifting, lifeless hulk.

Things just continued to get worse for the Romulans.  The next turn, the damaged Dragon attempted to fire on a merchantman, only to discover that it couldn't lock its phasers on target due to scanner damage.  At least the cruiser's damage control parties had managed to repair the plasma torpedo launcher...

...or so they thought.  However, when the Dragon attempted to fire another torpedo, the weapon malfunctioned and flew off in completely the wrong direction.

In desperation, the cruiser's captain ordered his chief engineer to push the damaged engines to the limit.  This gave him just enough thrust to turn round...

...and come straight into the sights of 2 Ferengi warships at close range.  The Romulan flagship didn't even manage to shoot before she was torn to shreds by fire from the Krayton and the Bractor.


The cloaking device and the torpedo use up a lot of the mass in these Romulan ship designs.  That means they really cannot go head-to-head with an enemy warship of about the same size; they just don't have the same number of phasers and the like.  Instead, they must rely on hidden movement to position themselves where they can shoot without much return fire.  That's not what happened here!

[scenario adjustment - in hindsight, the convoy escorts should have had less firepower.  Perhaps 3/4 or 2/3 of the points value of the attackers rather than parity with them.]

Romulan status:

  • Dragon (CA): destroyed
  • Decurion (CL): limping away, engines damaged, warp drive and cloaking device inoperable.
  • Lorica (DD): lost.  Drifting, bridge smashed beyond repair and all decks open to atmosphere.

Ferengi status:

  • Krayton (CA): undamaged
  • Letek (CL): undamaged
  • Bractor (DD): minor damage
  • Empress of Orion (large freighter): minor damage
  • Marie Celeste (medium freighter): destroyed
  • Ivanhoe (light freighter): destroyed - warp core breach.

The really sad thing is that the attackers even had a Romulan Ale event card.  My son chose not to use this, in case it gave me new cards that were more useful than those I held, but this wasn't likely.  When fighting against Romulans, is any card more useful than a Torpedo Malfunction?!

[Update: we ran this scenario again, with minor differences.  Will it turn out any differently?  See here:]

Sunday 23 June 2013

Japanese Spaceships and Request for Help


A few weeks ago, I showed you my progress so far on fighters for the new 5150: Fighter Command ruleset.  That's fine as far as it goes, but I need some capital ships as well.  I've seen Bandai's "Space Battleship Yamato" [aka "Star Blazers"] series of plastic kits widely recommended for this role; HobbyLink Japan seems to be the most popular source for these.  I'm not a great fan of the styling of spaceships in Japanese anime, but I thought I should take a closer look to see why the Bandai kits are so popular.

Ordering from Japan

I quickly discovered that many (not all!) of the Space Battleship kits are a mere 180yen each.  That's about £1.20 (UK) or $1.80 (USA).  This seems too good to be true, but there are 2 other factors which affect international purchases a lot: postage rates and time-to-deliver.

I put together an order of 4 kits on the HobbyLink Japan site; the postage came to 680yen, or about as much again as the kits themselves.  That's not too bad; I figured that I could afford to take a chance for a little over £9.

So what about delivery time?  Well, I had a shipping confirmation notice 2 days after payment was made and a carton containing a Japanese customs label and other markings arrived some 6 days later than this.  I'd say that 8 days from start to finish was quite acceptable for goods from the other side of the world!

What's in the Boxes?

Each box contained 2 or 3 sprues of parts, coloured to match the predominant colour of the picture on the box (apart from the blue one?!).  What was more of a surprise is that 3 of the 4 kits also contained the parts for a second, much smaller spacecraft.  This wasn't at all obvious from the packaging or the online kit descriptions and came as a very pleasant surprise.  Instead of buying 4 models, I'd actually obtained 7!


Each kit was very easy to build; the parts fitted together well and there weren't huge numbers of them.  Because these will be used as gaming models, I left off some of the more fragile-looking protruding aerials and pylons.  I suspect that they would all have been broken the first time I transported these ships!

I also left off a few of the turrets, some of which I felt had very improbable locations (blocked by parts of the superstructure &c, with virtually no field of fire).  For the turrets that I did use, I cut down the gun barrels considerably; the Japanese style has excessively long, thin weapons for my taste.

The Results

I'm not sure of the original names or types of these vessels in the Space Battleship Yamato series, so I'll just refer to them by the kit numbers instead.  This is #15; it includes a large warship and a smaller vessel.  The big ship will probably end up as an alien capital ship in 5150.  The smaller craft looks somewhat like a submarine; I'm not certain what I'll do with that.

This one is kit #17.  It's a bit unusual: most of the Space Battleship models are long and thin, with more than a passing resemblance to World War 2 Japanese naval vessels.  However this ship is flat and wide, almost like a saucer, though it does still have the tall, multi-layer conning tower.

Model #26 is probably my least favourite.  It's undoubtedly a carrier, but behind the flight deck and narrowed waist is a somewhat boxy structure.  The smaller ship included in this kit is also rather ugly and not really to my taste.  It might be used as a civilian vessel or priority transport in Fighter Command, as it's clearly got a cockpit and is therefore a very different scale from its "mother ship".

Finally, we have #28.  I think this is the model that I like most from among the sets I bought.  It could play the part of a capital ship in Fighter Command, or perhaps it'll end up as a bulk carrier for my Full Thrust merchant fleet.  The smaller ship is probably destined for Fighter Command, maybe as an alien civilian vessel.


I will certainly paint up some of these models and use them in my games, though probably not in the "official" colour schemes as shown on the boxes.  The others?  I'm not so sure - there are enough competing demands on my time that the ships I like least will be some way down the workload queue.  Still, it was a fun experiment and hasn't cost a great deal of money or time so far.

A Request for Help

I've just started on the smaller fighters for my 3rd faction in 5150: Fighter Command.  However, I'm completely undecided on the colour scheme for this group.  Please, give me your thoughts and maybe I'll paint them up using your suggestion.  Here are some concepts that I've considered so far:
  • Yellow all over, with black nose and red markings.
  • 2-tone "camouflage", much as used by the RAF for the past 75 years.  Maybe green/brown, grey/green or brown/grey.  This might look good, but what would be the point of such camouflage in space?
  • Overall block colour (red?), but with "flying circus"-style markings.  The leader is just red, while others all have variations to distinguish them, such as black and white stripes on the wings, a yellow fuselage or a blue tail.
I look forward to hearing your ideas :-) .

Thursday 20 June 2013

5150: Gangland Misunderstanding


Long ago, I got myself a Combat Zone boxed set from EM-4.  This is still the cheapest 28mm all-in-one miniatures game I know, bar none.  It contains 30 miniatures (15 gangers, 10 troopers and 5 robots), rules, dice and scenery for just over £15, plus P&P.  Eat your heart out, Games Workshop!

Since then, my collection of gangers from various sources has grown considerably, but I still look fondly on the Combat Zone plastics.  I decided that at the Games Club this week I would play a gang-vs-gang game in homage to them.

Now, I could have just used the Combat Zone rules for this.  They're somewhat old school, but still give a decent game.  However, it's been quite a while since I last played them and I couldn't actually remember all the details.  Rather than re-read it, I decided to play the game using 5150 rules instead (note that I have the older 5150, not the updated offerings with the same name from 2Hour Wargames).


Creating stats for the 2 gangs was easy enough, especially as I didn't give the members any attributes (at 12 humans on each side, I was concerned that such detail would be forgotten in the heat of the action).  In addition, I wanted to give each gang a mech, or large bipedal robot - this is obviously a somewhat futuristic scenario.

There are no rules for robots in the 5150 rulebook that I have (especially for 8 foot tall autonomous killing machines), so this looked a bit awkward.  However, the Infestation supplement for 5150 does have rules for a similar machine.  I looked at this and decided that the Infestation 'bot seemed a bit too tough for my liking.  Also, if I've understood those rules correctly, you have a better chance of damaging it with a shot that doesn't penetrate than with one which does.

To cut a long story short, I used Infestation as inspiration for my own robot damage tables and capabilities.  In particular, I softened their resistance to bullets a bit; these 'bots should be tough, but not invincible.  Even moderate small arms fire (better than a .22 pistol, that is) has a small chance of bringing one down - though dedicated anti-tank weapons are much better!

So, here's the story: 2 gang leaders ("Big Tam" and "Crash Hodgkins") have agreed to meet at a ruined warehouse to discuss their respective spheres on influence.  In theory, both chiefs are supposed to come unarmed and bring no more than 3 henchmen, but each has a number of thugs hidden close by as backup.  And a robot.

The Game

Big Tam swore at the man standing on the other side of the road.  "We ain't doing business like this, you jerk!  You were supposed to be unarmed!"  Irony was completely lost on the big man; his people were not even attempting to conceal their own guns.  The group started to walk away from the rendezvous, back to the ruined compound where the rest of Tam's gang was hidden.
On the other side of the road, Crash gave a slight nod to his henchmen.  The range was too long for pistols, but Boxer and Casper raised their assault rifles and let rip.  Stunned by the treachery, Pinky went down, bleeding, others in the group dived for cover behind stacks of barrels and the cowardly Smiley ran off into the dawn.

With his leader pinned down, Buck provided covering fire from a corner while Porkchop and Big Paulie ran across the road to outflank the other gang.  Despite his bulk, Porkchop made it all the way, but Big Paulie wasn't as fast; she was picked off by Crash's snipers.

Porkchop's machine pistol made short work of the closest opposition, thus clearing the way for Clarice (and her flamethrower) to follow him over the road.

It's a Trap!

Just as this flanking movement was about to produce some real results, there were flurries of movement on the roads.  Police cars appeared from both ends of the main road and disgorged a number of blue-clad officers.  And a 'bot.

At the south end, all hell broke loose.  Buck fled, leaving his underlings in the lurch.  Porkchop went down, while 2 officers approached Clarice from behind and attempted to arrest her.  She heard them coming and ran back across the road, only to be cut down by a long range shot from BoxerGoofy came round the concrete wall and shot the 2 arresting officers.  Lestrade, the police detective, was obliterated by the Street Tiger II 'bot (don't stand still, in the open, in clear sight of a heavily-armed death machine).  The other 2 officers exchanged fire with Pony and Goofy, but came off worse.  This left just the police dog, Bandit, at the southern end of the board.

Bandit wasn't put off at all by the loss of all his comrades.  He charged at Goofy, who fired at the approaching dog and missed.  In true police-dog fashion, Bandit quickly disabled the ganger before turning to charge at Pony.  The second ganger didn't wait for the dog's attack, though - he turned and ran for his life!

'Bots and Cops

In the north, the police 'bot "Robocop" stomped straight down the road as fast as it could.  Sally waited patiently, carefully aiming her recoilless (anti-tank) rifle at the road.  As the robot appeared past the wall, she pulled the trigger.  The shell bounced off the 'bot, disorienting it.  Its upper torso swiveled round like lightning.

"DROP THE WEAPON, CITIZEN" blared out from the 'bot's speakers.  "FAILURE TO COMPLY WILL BE MET WITH DEADLY FORCE!  YOU HAVE 5 SECONDS: 5..6..7..2..1".  Without giving the woman a chance to respond, the machine opened fire with its own autocannon and recoiless rifle.  When the smoke and dust had cleared most of her friends had ducked for any cover they could find, but miraculously none of the gang was hurt.

On the other side of the road, Flash peered round the end of the concrete wall.  "Suck on this, pig-bot!" he screamed, as he aimed his rocket launcher at Robocop.

The missile flew true and hit the 'bot squarely on the torso.  Robocop disintegrated in a violent explosion!

The police officers at the northern end huddled together in the cover of a stack of freight containers.  "There's something round the corner.  We all go together, on my mark...GO" ordered their leader, Callahan.  There was indeed something: Avenger 500 stood patiently, watching the yard for any sign of movement.  The 'bot opened fire immediately, dropping one of the cops and forcing the others to crawl back round the corner, out of sight.

Callahan's patrol crawled across the yard, away from the stationary 'bot.  Instead, they stood up and looked over a wall towards the other gang's location.  Immediately, Chopper and Damage opened fire with automatic weapons.  Only the police star, Callahan, was left standing after the massive volley.  He fired 2 quick shots, both of which hit Chopper in the head and killed him, before himself ducking back.

Most of the remaining gang members had slunk away by now.  In the final drama of the game, Street Tiger II advanced and came into sight of Avenger 500.  Both 'bots exchanged a lot of fire, though in the end Street Tiger II suffered a power loss and shut down temporarily.  Before we could work out whether it would recover, we had to pack up.  This is yet another of my games where you'll just have to work out what might happen next for yourself!


My 'bot rules worked reasonably well, I think.  I sometimes forgot that they should take "to hit" penalties if they fired both weapons at once; this would have reined them in a bit more.  A bad mistake was the rule on movement: either move in a straight line or turn up to 90 degrees.  That made them very sluggish; it would have been better to allow them to move and turn in the same activation.  I'd still keep the straight-line movement and the maximum turn of 90 degrees, though.

In 5150, it's virtually impossible to break cover against a foe with a heavier weapon, it seems.  I hadn't appreciated just how limiting this might be and although I thought I'd provided plenty of cover, it seems that there were enough automatic weapons to cover almost all the gaps.  It's just as well I played this scenario with (mostly pistol-armed) gangers rather than with military types, mind!


  • Crash and many of his gang escaped, though at least one was left behind and some of the others were badly hurt.
  • Big Tam died, as did many of his mob.  Others fled for their lives or were captured by the police dog, Bandit.
  • The cops were devastated.  Only Callahan and Bandit were unhurt, even though they held the field at the end of the game ('bots excepted!).  Next time, bring a bigger SWAT team!

Sunday 16 June 2013

"Not-Star Trek" Romulan Fleet


What do Romulans mean to most Star Trek fans?  I'd say that for such a large empire, they are little-known and secretive.  Their politics, likes & dislikes, aspirations and technologies are clouded in mystery.  Intriguing!

TOS Warbird
TNG D'deridex
Their ships are also some of the most-changed designs between The Original Series (TOS) and The Next Generation (TNG) time frames.  At least the Federation and Klingon ships (ignoring the "Bird of Prey"-style vessels) show similar design features between these series, whereas the Romulan vessels are utterly different. As a once-upon-a-time player of Star Fleet Battles (SFB), I greatly prefer the TOS "warbirds" over the newer green monstrosities and it's that style which I have chosen for my Romulan fleet.

Design Philosophy

Warbirds are known for 2 main features in SFB: the cloaking device and the largest possible plasma torpedo which will fit in the hull!  There are no existing designs in any of the Full Thrust fleet books that come close to this, so I've had to create my versions from scratch.  Indeed, there are no rules for plasma torpedoes in Full Thrust - or at least, not as such.  However, the Phalon "plasma bolt" is very close in spirit and so I've pinched this alien technology to fit into an otherwise standard design.

I have to admit to a great degree of trepidation about this fleet.  I've never played a game of Full Thrust that involved ships which could cloak, so it might be quite hard to create suitable scenarios with reasonably balanced victory conditions.  Truly, we're into the unknown here; this is a new and untested fleet!

The Ships

There are official ranges of old-style Romulan starships available from Amarillo Design Bureau, but once again I decided to go my own way on this.  However, unlike most of my previously-documented fleets, I couldn't find a single manufacturer who made an entire range of such models.  Instead, I've chosen a mixture of the ever-reliable Studio Bergstrom for the larger ships and various Shapeways models for the smaller ones.  I'm really missing mid-range ships, though!

In The Original Series, Romulan ships had a "bird" pattern painted on the underside.  I've taken the liberty of transferring these designs to the top of the ships instead, since I didn't fancy going to the effort of painting a decoration on the models which would hardly be visible!

For those who are interested, I've made the following SSDs available to download.  The file is in OpenOffice Draw format (.odg).

ManufacturerPictureFull Thrust SSD
Studio Bergstrom: Firebrand ROM Warbird
Studio Bergstrom: Firebird ROM Warbird

Shapeways: S'ten Vastam

Shapeways: Tiberian Pugius destroyer

Wednesday 12 June 2013

HOTT: The Tower in the Wastelands


So, we're playing Hordes of the Things this week at the games club.  As usual, I'm providing all the forces and the terrain, which gives me the right to decide exactly how to set up the game.

When we last saw them, my Goblin army and my other 'evil' army, The Cabal of the Black Hand, had both been roundly defeated by the forces of good.  Now they are both combing the wastelands, looking for a new base from which to plot their nefarious schemes!

In the same area as the wandering armies is the Dark Tower, home to a very powerful hermit wizard.  Conveniently, the wizard has just died (probably caused by something he summoned) and thus the Dark Tower is vacant, protected only by whatever traps and enchantments he may have left there.  This would make an ideal base for any evil overlord, so all armies in the wastelands are heading straight for it as soon as the news reaches them.


This will be another big-battle game, with 3 commands of 24AP on each side.  Special rules as follows:
  • Neither side has a stronghold of their own.  Instead, the Dark Tower is placed in the centre of the board.  It counts as a stronghold and can be attacked by either side.  Victory at the end of the game (i.e. when time runs out and we have to pack up) is decided solely on possession of the tower: the last side to capture it will win!  Note that the tower cannot be garrisoned or make attacks of its own, but will always defend at full [stronghold] strength.
  • Before deployment, each side rolls a single d6.  The winner can choose to start setting up first and take the first turn, or to set up second and move second.  When deploying, each side takes it in turn to place one command at a time, anywhere along their base line or along their left flank (but not within 12" of any already-deployed enemy unit).  Any returning hordes or heroes escaping from ensorcelment  will come back at this position as well.
As can be seen from the picture above, the Goblins spread their forces along their own baseline and their extreme left flank.  In contrast, the 3 commands of the Cabal army were tightly packed (and in some very unusual formations as well!).

The Game

In their very first turn, the masses of Goblins surged forward.  Their rider general and his bodyguard reached the Dark Tower, defeated the protections and raised their standard from the highest point!

As the goblin cavalry swept on past the tower, the Cabal's response was disjointed.  Two necromancers rode out from the central command so that they could cast black magics (ineffectually) on a far-off troll.  This had a couple of consequences: firstly it used up most of that command's PIPs and so nothing else in the centre could move.  Secondly, the pair of magicians were now obstructing the corner command, so its infantry couldn't move to where it desired.

The North East

The wolves from the goblin flanking force and their troll raced forward, eager to catch the nearest Cabal command in the flank.  Low command rolls and an awkward deployment caused real problems for this undead brigade, but they did manage to defend with some skeletal horsemen as a stopgap.

Soon, the goblin warlord from the central command joined in, bringing his wolf riders with him.  The Cabal's magician general was forced into melee in a desperate attempt to survive.  Yet, even though the situation looked hopeless, he somehow managed to find the occasional reinforcement, win the important dice rolls and otherwise hold on until the end of the game.  The goblins were furious at being frustrated in this way!

The South

Separating himself from the tangled mess of deployment, the Cabal's only hero galloped to the top of the central ridge.  He reached the feature just in time to see the plains on the far side boil with approaching goblin hordes.  Anyone fancy a game of "King of the Hill"?  One undead lord against half the goblins in the world!

At the other end of the ridge, there was a troll.  It started to climb the hill, only to find itself face-to-face with some spirits.  I guess that trolls aren't imaginative enough to believe in ghosts; the resulting combat was predictably indecisive as neither side was able to hurt the other.

The wraiths drifted through the troll and carried on down the hill.  Near the foot, they encountered and attacked one of the goblin generals and his bodyguard.  Large swarms of giant bats joined in from all sides and the goblin chief was terrified into an early death!  The bats then flew off elsewhere.
The goblin bodyguard spent a number of turns trying to exact some revenge on the phantasms, but were completely unable to touch them.

The troll, on the other hand, just shrugged as the spirits moved through it.  Instead, it carried on stalking the wight who was busy ploughing through hordes of goblins.  This time it was the behemoth that had a height advantage; he flattened the undead hero with one swing of his huge club.  Moral: if you're going to play "king of the hill" then stay on the top of the hill, not the lower slopes!

The goblin right wing then poured over the hill; only a few desperate magicians were close enough to try to hold them up!

The End

As the battle came to a close, the Cabal's forces looked increasingly beleaguered on all fronts.  Apart from a few outliers, they were being driven into an ever-decreasing perimeter.  As this happened, their remaining forces became more and more constricted - if they were in each others' way before then they were even more so now!  But...

In the very last turn of the game, a base of ghosts (which could move through any enemies) and another of bats (which could move over enemies) slipped past the goblin stragglers and assaulted the Dark Tower.  This wasn't the first time in the game that the Cabal had attempted to take the stronghold, but all previous attempts had been by individual units and had failed miserably.  Everyone held their breath and predictably enough, on the last dice throw of the game, the sneaker captured the tower.  Victory to the Cabal!


Well, that was unexpected!
  • Firstly, I had imagined when setting these 2 armies against each other that there would be vast blocks of horde troops slugging it out with each other.  However, both sides relied almost entirely on their non-horde units, only moving the latter when they had a surfeit of PIPs (command points).  So the battle was really fought between beasts and riders, behemoths, magicians and heroes and so on.
  • Secondly, I think the goblins took their eye off the all-or-nothing victory condition.  Despite some terrible deployment (from which they never really recovered), the Cabal made very effective use of their more mobile units; the sneakers and flyers.  The goblins didn't really have any counter to this.
Man of the match (I use the word "man" in a figurative sense only!):
  • Goblins: probably the southern troll.  He (or she?) stalked and destroyed an undead hero and then led a ravening horde on a wild charge.  It also wasn't scared of no ghosts!
  • Cabal: definitely the last base of sneakers.  Even though other such phantasms had been chased off without achieving anything useful, this one gave a heart attack to a goblin warchief and went on to capture the stronghold (admittedly with assistance on both occasions).  It also said "boo" to a troll, only to discover that trolls don't really know about ghosts.