Sunday 29 June 2014

Vikings, Apes and stuff


Just a quick round up of my gaming-related activities for the last few days:

Great Apes

I mentioned in my last post (The Jungle Lord) that I had a bunch of plastic animals that came from a cheap toy set.  Here are some of the apes, exactly as they come.  I'm a little unsure which type of ape they represent, as the head is somewhat like a chimpanzee or bonobo but the posture and body is closer to a gorilla.  Mind you, neither is a particularly good match.  Anyway, let's see what happens when I paint up one of these as an experiment...

Here's the 4th ape, painted and based.  I haven't converted him (or her?) in any way, though when/if I paint the other 3 then I might make some changes.  Perhaps I'll make one's head face a different direction, open the mouth on the second and reposition the arm (and add a torn-off tree branch as a club?) for the 3rd?

Finally, here's the painted ape beside Tarzan.  The animal is probably a bit too big, but maybe that's OK in the pulp world?  After all, a great ape should presumably be larger than life...

Now that I see these 2 models side-by-side, I'm annoyed to discover that I used my "dark" scheme for the ape's base, forgetting that Tarzan has the "light" scheme on his base.  That's careless!  I don't really feel like repainting it, but if I don't then it'll stand out like a sore thumb.


As promised in the title, here are some Vikings.  These exceptionally hairy warriors are from Foundry's "Svava's heroes" set.  They're the last 2 models from the pack that I bought at Salute 2014, so at least that's one thing I can cross off my "to do" list!

My "fine detail" brush was becoming a bit ragged recently, so the names on these models are a bit rough.  I gave up using that brush and got a new one just after this, when I saw how the lettering had turned out.

Bavarian Generals

Finally, I've completed 2 brigade commanders for my 6mm 1809 Bavarian army.  I realised recently that I only had a commander in chief and no subordinates, so I rummaged around for mounted figures in my spares box.  Fortunately, Heroics & Ros packs typically have an abundance of mounted officers and foot command groups.  I've added standard bearers rather than the more likely aides, simply because it's easier to remember who is who if the base has a national flag on it.  Also, H&R supply far more flag wavers than I've ever needed, so I have plenty available!

That's all for now, folks!  I'd like to post a new game report soon, but it looks like it'll be a while before I have time to do this.  If that's what you want to see then be patient; it will happen eventually!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Jungle Lord

The Lord of the Jungle

This'll be a one-figure post tonight.  I don't think I've ever done that before; all my other "showcase" posts have been displaying at least several models.  Still, you'll just have to put up with this for now...

"This is a knife!"
So here he is: Tarzan, the jungle lord.  He's a 28mm figure from Reaper.  The description in the Reaper catalogue suggests that he comes with a chimpanzee, though I don't remember getting an ape with this model.  Mind you, it was a long time ago and I may just have mislaid the sidekick...

Since Tarzan has little clothing, no warpaint and few artefacts, he's very straightforward to paint.  Just a basecoat of flesh with a wash over it, then a little detailing.  Possibly I made his chin a little heavy on the stubble, though?  Still, this is probably more realistic than the normal well-shaved and groomed Hollywood image (with just a hint of tangled hair to show that he's a wild man!).

Easy or not, this model has been languishing on my workbench for many, many months.  It was only really when I saw the responses to my recent article on Explorers that I decided to finish him off.

I've got a tub of 40 or 50 rubbery "wild animals" that I bought from a B&M store (a large discount warehouse, for those who haven't encountered the chain before) for £2.99 some time ago.  Although these are a wide variety of scales, perhaps half the creatures are usable for 28mm with a stretch of the imagination.  There are 4 oversized "chimpanzees" (?) in the collection; I hope to use these as Great Apes to back up the jungle man.  The first of them is undergoing experimental basing and painting even now, but isn't ready to be seen yet.

Awful Green Things

Actually, there's a good reason why this post is a bit rushed and I haven't got much to show.  I've spent a bit of time recently playing games with my sons instead of making models r writing blog posts.  Yesterday and tonight my middle boy and I played "The Awful Green Things from Outer Space" - a real blast from the past for me.

In the first game, my son was doing really well as the crew, until he tried to trap a whole load of my things with an electric fence.  Unfortunately, the random effect for the fence was "1d6 fragments" and I rolled a lot of very high dice.  Suddenly, there were green things spilling out of the cargo hold in huge numbers!  2 of his crew eventually escaped in the scout boat, only to wander for 10 years before vanishing into a black hole...

Tonight's game was slightly different.  I took the crew and pretty much every weapon I tried just turned the green things into multiple fragments.  My son had me completely outclassed, but decided to let me rally my remaining people and escape just so he could see what happened next.  I set the self-destruct and abandoned ship with enough crew to score a technical win.  The 8 survivors then stole supplies from hostile natives on one planet before losing 6 of the crewmen to 2 bouts of disease.  The remaining pair did reach their home planet in due course, which is quite an achievement - even if the victory was a gift!

Sunday 22 June 2014

The Graveyard kit


I don't normally write articles about work-in-progress, though occasionally I have shown incomplete models as part of a blog post.  On this occasion I'm going to go even further, though: I'm going to outline some plans I have for a model which isn't even started.

Recently (well, for several years, at least) I've been thinking about expanding my terrain collection for 28mm gaming.  I have so many plans, but I never seem to get around to executing any of them.  Here are just some of the projects for which I have already acquired the materials, but haven't begun any work:

  • Modern hospital (for All Things Zombie)
  • Pictish/Scot village (for SAGA)
  • Paths, streams, coastline, forests (for 28mm Robin Hood, 28mm SAGA, 6mm Napoleonic...)
  • Old West undertakers & yard (for The Rules with No Name)
I could go on - there are so many more things that I'd like to do - but this small list should give an indication of my hopeless megalomania :-( .  Rather than agonise over how I'll never finish it all, I've decided that the best thing to do is just to start on one project.  Maybe it won't be as difficult as I imagine and can be done quite quickly?

The Gothic (?) Graveyard

Right, let's see.  I have (I think) all the parts that I need for my graveyard model.  Ideally I'll be able to use it for any European setting from witch-hunting in the 17th century up to the zombie apocalypse in the 21st century.  As with all wargaming models, it must be practical: I need to store it when not in use and be able to move figures around on it easily, without causing damage, when it is in use.

From a model-making perspective, the cemetery should be a place that gives a slight sense of fear.  It needs to add to the story that the game is telling, but how does one achieve the right atmosphere?  What makes a graveyard "Gothic"?  Does it need mist and fog, or should it be heavily overgrown?  Or maybe something else altogether?

I've already decided that my model will be made from modular tiles.  This is partly to make the model easier to store, but it will also allow me to vary the size of the cemetery from a token area to a sizeable necropolis.  It also means that I could add a church, crypt or similar features later on, just by constructing extra tiles.

So, here's the first part of the "kit": I've cut out a number of 6"x6" and 6"x12" pieces of 3mm MDF.  These will be used as the bases (obviously), though I might use some polystyrene foam to add slight rises to some parts of the graveyard.

I hunted for suitable fencing for a long time before I came across these lengths from Fenris Games.  Some of the pieces also have pedestrian gates in them, so I'll add a few small openings at various points on the boundary.  Mind you, I'm not at all sure how to make the fence look broken down and falling apart in places.

Note that I could have used a wall for the enclosure, or even a short wall topped with a fence.  Both are quite appealing from an aesthetic point of view, but I've gone with the fence alone.  Although a short wall topped with my fence does sound good, now that I reflect on this...

The lych gate (covered approach) is from Petite Properties; I mentioned it in a very recent post and there's not really anything new to say about it.  I'll use it as the main entrance to the cemetery, though I'm just wondering if I also need a separate vehicle entrance for hearses?

The last components for this project are some gravestones.  I've got 4 metal ones from Black Tree Miniatures, bought so long ago that I don't even remember, and a pair of the much newer sprues from Renedra.  In addition, I can probably find a few Games Workshop gravestones from my spares box.  Mind you, I haven't done the sums but I'm beginning to think that this won't be nearly enough for my project.  Perhaps some parts of the graveyard are as yet unused?


I'm comfortable when painting figures, whether they're 6mm, 15mm, 28mm or larger.  However, realistic scenery is not something I've practised much and I do feel quite daunted by the graveyard project.  I'm particularly concerned about how to make it look slightly overgrown and unkempt, without it being lost to the wilderness.  I don't want to end up with a perfect rectangle of completely flat ground with neat rows of headstones and smooth, monochrome flock for ground covering!

So all of this goes to show that I'm feeling very nervous about this project.  I can see it in my imagination but  I'm afraid that in reality it won't look anything like as good as I wish it to be.  If anyone has any good ideas, whether on model-making techniques or on overcoming psychological hangups, then I'd be delighted to hear from you!

Wednesday 18 June 2014

12 Syntha Prosthene Marines


Back in the day, there were 4 human factions for the VOID 1.1 Science Fiction game, as well as 1 alien race.  When the manufacturer, i-Kore, went bust, I bought heavily into 3 of the armies: the Junkers (despotic, brutal dictatorship), Viridians (fervent ecologists) and also the Syntha (technologically-boosted cyborgs).  Many people were selling off the VOID miniatures cheaply, which was great for those of us who just wanted to collect metal!  Note that these ranges are still available; they're now owned by Scotia Grendel.

Many of my figures from this period are still in blisters or shrink-wrapped.  However, recently I thought it would be useful to paint up some Prosthene Marines since my Syntha force is probably the smallest of the three armies.  No, I've no idea what "Prosthene" means.  I'm also unsure what makes these guys "marines", though I suspect strongly that the guys at i-Kore just thought it sounded cool...

Prosthene Marines

So here we have it: 12 Syntha Prosthene Marines.  These are fully-armoured, though I'd rate this as "light" protection in most sets of rules as it doesn't look especially thick.  Of course, a couple of soldiers have taken off their helmets, just to show that they are sergeants.  At least, right up to the point where a shell splinter or stray plasma bolt to the head turns them onto "ex-sergeants".

I've painted these up to "table" standard rather than my more usual "detail" level.  Mainly this is because I lost a lot of interest in the mini-project almost immediately after removing them from their blisters!  By that time they were taking up a lot of space and I have a new house rule (since January) that any model which goes on the workbench may only be removed when it is completed.  Consequently, I rushed the painting for these models a bit and skimped on some parts.

8 of the 12 marines are armed with the "pulse rifle"; a fairly standard oversized sci-fi weapon.  Arguably the background fluff makes this plausible, since these soldiers are supposed to be technologically-boosted humans with above average strength.  Make of this what you will...

If it wasn't for the rather large guns then I'd say that these models could quite easily be used in a hard sci-fi game, or even as near-future combatants.  Actually, there is another variant of the Prosthene Marines who are armed with the somewhat less bulky gauss rifles, so they'd work even better as "realistic" futuristic troopers.

The remaining quartet consists of a pair of rocket launchers and also a couple of "targeteers".  Now, having forward observation officers (FOOs) isn't in itself a particularly radical concept.  It does make a refreshing change from the normal sci-fi infantry support weapons of machine guns, rockets and maybe a flamethrower, though.

For me, the things that make the targeteers rather more interesting are that firstly they are part of the regular squad, as opposed to being a rare, attached asset from a different branch of the service, so they're very common.  Secondly, once they have "painted" a target, the massively parallel communications network in the Syntha army allows anyone or anything with smart weaponry to fire at that target immediately, whether they can see it or not, without any indirect-fire penalties.  That capability could lead to some very interesting tactics!

Sunday 15 June 2014

Petite Properties


Very recently, someone posted a link to their blog article on The Miniatures Page.  That's not unusual, of course (done it myself a few times!), but what caught my attention was that the author had collected links to a number of dolls' house manufacturers who made smaller-scale items.  I'm annoyed that I cannot remember the original author, in order to give him proper credit for inspiring me!  [Edit: Zabadak has correctly identified the original post as coming from Shedwars.  Thanks to both Zabadak and the author of Shedwars]  Here's what happened next...

I looked through the catalogues for the various dolls' house manufacturers and filtered out most of them.  Either they were too expensive or they only had a very small range in a scale that might suit me.  However, one company really caught my eye: Petite Properties.  They have a large range of cottages, houses, churches and the like in 1:48 scale.  They also sell a lot of smaller items with which to furnish these houses or their gardens and surroundings.  Since the prices were fairly cheap, I thought that I'd buy a few kits as testers.

The remainder of this article describes the 3 kits I've build (or part-built) so far, though none of them are painted yet.  I've shown them with some half-painted "28mm" figures beside them so that you can judge the size and decide whether the 1:48 items are too large.  Note that I've used quotes around "28mm"; the young man with the suitcase (from Reaper) is more like 31mm base-to-eye.  The woman with the golf club (Wargames Factory) is a digital sculpt and is probably the truest shape and size of the 3 figures.

The Hen House

This is a sweet little kit with a surprising number of parts to it.  I don't think I'd recommend it for raw beginners (some of the pieces are very small), but it should be straightforward for most modellers.

Amazingly, the hen house even has a removable roof and detailed interior - a roosting bar and divided nest box!  The cost of this kit is £1.75.

The Old Lych Gate

A lych gate is a covered, gated passage often found at the entrance to churchyards in England (and elsewhere?).  I plan to use this as the way into a "gothic" graveyard - when I eventually get round to that project.

This is a much more substantial structure than the other pieces in this article, but for all that it wasn't too hard to build.  The walls were probably the most tricky - and that only because some blocks of 3mm MDF needed to be "doubled up" to produce 6mm thick parts.  Cost: £5.99

The Cold Frame

I haven't finished building this model, for the obvious reason that I need to paint some or all of it before sticking the windows together.  Acetate squares are supplied for the glazing, though I haven't shown them in this picture.

This was probably the simplest of the 3 kits to build; it's certainly the one with the fewest parts!  Once again, the cost is £1.75


I'm very happy with the way these models so far.  They're a touch big for 28mm figures, but of course the figures have a base which adds to their height and this helps to hide the difference.

As well as entire buildings and the outdoor elements that I've shown here, Petite Properties also make plenty of indoor furnishings including packs to furnish an entire schoolhouse or church.  I can see these being very useful!  The style of their ranges is very definitely centred around a slightly romantic 1930s English village, but I don't see why much of their product couldn't be used in other time periods or other geographical areas.  Have a look for yourself!

Thursday 12 June 2014

Showcase: Explorers of Africa


As a boy and a young man, I was very fond of the works of H. Rider Haggard.  Most people in the English-speaking world (and maybe beyond?) will be familiar with "King Solomon's Mines" and "She", but he wrote many other books as well.  A few of his books have other settings, but the majority of the stories occur in central or southern Africa during the colonial period.

H. Rider Haggard's books are probably best described as adventures with a touch of the supernatural.  Are the curses of a witch doctor real, or was it just bad luck that her enemies became trapped?  Do ghosts roam the ancient ruins, or is it just a cold draft and a sense of claustrophobia?  Is the beautiful white girl really able to see the future, or is she just exceptionally observant?

I also like the fact that in a number of Haggard's books, (black) natives are the heroes or heroines.  Indeed, white Europeans don't always play more than the most passing role; there are noble and villainous members of all races.

So, why does any of this matter now?  Well, when you add in similar types of stories such as Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" and Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth", not to mention the huge number of Tarzan books and films, there is an excellent genre of stories which inspire me to create games of exploration and adventure.

Which is all a very long-winded way of saying "have a look at my 28mm African expedition miniatures"...

The Explorers

Richard Lillewhite, Professor Contender, Doctor Deadrock, Sir Morton Acrington, Kasiturah

Like all of my explorers, these models are from Foundry.  Indeed, most of these models come from a pack of well-known real life explorers, but I have my own names and characters for them.
  • Richard Lillewhite is a gentle-natured insect collector.  His satchel is probably filled with jars and notebooks and it wouldn't surprise me if he had taken the bullets out of his revolver in order to store some prized specimens in the cartridges!
  • Professor Contender is a strong-minded and physically powerful academic.  He's completely loyal to his friends and unrelentingly hostile to those who believe in different theories.
  • Doctor Deadrock is a famous missionary who keeps going off into the depths of the lost world on his own, then being rescued in a fanfare of publicity.
  • Sir Morton Acrington leads well-financed expeditions with a great deal of firepower.  He doesn't use a weapon himself as he has plenty of people to blast away for him.  It would be undignified to get carried away and join in!
  • Kasiturah is Professor Contender's gun-bearer.  He's not too bright really, though he tries hard to do the right thing.

Gouvimale, Piete Roode, Sir Reginald Utterly-Barking, Knut Hausen, Bakhari

I'm somewhat dismayed to notice that many of these models have chipped and scratched paint.  Maybe their box was shaken about some time, or perhaps they're just packed too tightly?  Either way, here is another set of models:
  • Gouvimale is a sly, lazy and thuggish rogue.  He'll follow or plot with anyone, but only as long as he thinks there's something in it for him.
  • Piete Roode is a weary and cynical Boer tracker.  Piete is an excellent shot and tracker, but has lost faith in most human beings.
  • Sir Reginald just wants to be a hero, though really that means proving he can conquer anything to which he sets his mind.  Whether it's crossing arid deserts, destroying nests of slavers, intervening in tribal wars or killing fierce animals, he's the man to do it or die trying!
  • Knut Hausen is a Danish adventurer who wants to see as many different sights as possible before he dies.  He can't settle down to any one thing.
  • Bakhari is Sir Reginald's faithful servant.  He's loyal and trusting, but also intelligent enough to be able to recognise and moderate some of the Englishman's more extreme behaviour!

The Bearers

Of course, any expedition needs a large collection of porters to carry all their tents, spare Holland & Holland elephant guns, cases of gin, journals and so on.  These figures are from Dixon miniatures, from the Dahomey Wars section.  They're a lot cheaper than the Foundry bearers and just as useful!


Usually these models have fought against my prehistoric mammals (some of the large beasts are here: megafauna, though I have a lot of smaller critters as well).  What I'm lacking at the moment is much in the way of human opposition, though I do have some Neanderthals and a few figures that I could use as semi-fantasy slavers.  To get properly into the pulp adventure spirit, games should also include plenty of traps such as quicksand, man-eating plants, hornet's nests and improvised bridges over ravines.

Oh, I do also have a not-Tarzan model, though he's only part-painted at the moment...

Sunday 8 June 2014

28mm Rioters


It's been a while since I posted much in the way of zombie or apocalypse-related miniatures.  Looking through my boxes of figures, I noticed these rioters and thought that they were worthy of a public airing.  They're perfect for some of the games in Haven, the scenario book that can be bought as an add-on for the All Thing Zombies rulebook.  As well as their value in forming a mob, I've also used some of these as individual characters in my games.  So, without more ado, here are some 28mm rioters...


The first 5 figures are all from Wargames Foundry.  Four of them are from SV055 Street Thugs; I don't recall which pack the other figure was in (but I'm fairly sure that he is indeed a Foundry model).

There are no great surprises when these miniatures are seen from the back.  Bomber should be familiar to anyone who has followed my ATZ campaign; he's one of the 2 principal characters and has proven to be a very tough guy.

Offensive Miniatures

For custom-made rioter figures, Offensive Miniatures is the place to go!  All of these models come from Offensive's "Hairy Mob"; they've mostly armed themselves on the spur of the moment with whatever they could find.  This is in contrast to Offensive's skinhead mob, who appear to have come on to the streets already prepared for trouble!

From the back, their names are clearly visible, as is the tyre which Mickey is wielding.

Here are another 5 models from the same set; mostly tedious hippies or revolting crusties.  Again, most of their weaponry suggests that the riot was not premeditated.

So what has caused these decent, upright citizens to become so angry?  I don't know; I'm not even sure that they know themselves!  As Marlon Brando's character in "The Wild One" says, when asked what he is rebelling against: "What have you got?"


Both Foundry and Offensive Miniatures produce further rioter figures, or at least low lives who could be used in a rioting mob.  This article is just an introduction to the subject, not a definitive list!

It's also worth mentioning that there are other manufacturers of such 28mm models as well.  The most obvious one that comes to mind is WarmAcre's "No Go Zone" line of miniatures.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Showcase: Koralon snakemen


I don't often sell off any of my models; I prefer to hold onto them just in case I find a use for them.  Very occasionally I do decide to sell off stuff, though.  One such case was my collection of i-Kore Koralon aliens (the versions done for VOID 1.1, not the later, re-modelled figures).  I had a very large number of these, but most had stayed in their blisters for years and it became obvious that I wasn't ever going to paint them up.

Once I had decided that I didn't much like the sculpts, I sold off almost all of the unpainted models (though I think I've still got a small number left).  However I did keep the ones that I had already painted.  Generally speaking, these were models that I liked better than the rest anyway, which is why I'd been interested enough to paint them.  Anyway, one such group can be seen here...

Snakemen (and women)

I cannot remember what these models were originally called [Edit: I've just looked them up on the Scotia Grendel website, where they are still available.  They were called "Arakto Brood"], but I think of them as just "snakemen".  There are a couple (I think) of special characters in with the grunts, but again I'm not really interested in distinguishing them.

Although officially the Koralon are a science-fiction faction, their predilection for melee weapons and lack of clothing or other obvious artifacts means than many of the models could just as easily be used in a fantasy setting.

Most of the rank-and-file figures had grotesquely ornate swords and I didn't like these at all.  I've put in a lot of work with a Dremel grinding tool to reduce these to slightly more plausible blades, though the hilts still bear traces of this fussiness.  Mind you, the over-muscled torsos and (still) huge weapons make them look very top heavy even with the amount of metal that I've removed.

It's interesting how the (presumably) male models above have armoured torsos, while the snakewomen ... don't.  Now don't get me wrong: I like a bit of boob as much as the next man, but in context.  To me, this is completely gratuitous and not at all appropriate.  Still, I painted the figures anyway, so what does that say?

The big guy has a pair of small critters on the base behind him.  It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Jason (the Argonaut) faces a large snakeman
These are large models - they're not mounted on the common 25mm round slotta-bases.  Rather, most of the snakemen are on 30mm bases, apart from the leader who is on a 40mm base.  This picture should give some idea of how they tower over a regular 28mm figure.

I really hope that wasn't a relative whom Jason has killed - the snakeman does look pretty annoyed!


Once upon a time, I quite liked the Koralon range, if only because they weren't particularly anthropomorphic.  Over time though, I've changed my mind (with a few exceptions) and I wouldn't buy them again.  Still, I'm going to keep the ones I've got!

Sunday 1 June 2014

SAGA: Heroics at the Holy Wood


In my last post (The Battle for the Falten Pass), I mentioned in passing that Steve and I had played another game as well as our 6mm Napoleonic one.  We did indeed; this was a 6pt SAGA game, using the Sacred Ground scenario.  In this scenario, 3 terrain features of cultural importance to both sides are placed on the table.  Points are scored at the end of each enemy turn for friendly figures that occupy any of these features. Obviously, it's a good idea to move your own troops into these sacred sites and also to kick out any enemies who are there...

The Forces

For this game, I fielded a Viking warband as follows:
  • Warlord (free): Leif Gunnarson
  • Bard (free): Kraki
  • 4 berserkers (1pt)
  • 4 hirdmen (1pt)
  • 2 x 12 bondi (3 pts)
  • 1 x 12 archers (1 pt)
Steve took my newly-completed Anglo-Danes.  I'm guessing that these came from Northumbria or thereabouts, rather than further south, but we didn't specify that:
  • Warlord (free): Thurstan
  • 2 x 4 huscarls with Dane axe (2 points)
  • 1 x 8 huscarls with other weapons (2 points)
  • 2 x 8 fyrd (2 points)
So, the Vikings hard considerably more men, but the Anglos were better equipped and trained for the most part.  I also had a bard, which meant that I/Lief would score extra points for heroic slaughter (as long as Kraki saw it!), but couldn't join another friendly unit in a fight.  Lief's victories would need to be unassisted!

Our Game

"Granddad, Auntie Svava says that you knew Leif Gunnarson and that you saw him fighting.  Is it true?"
The old man looked up from his seat by the fire, where he had been whittling a stick.  He considered for a moment, debating internally whether he had the energy to deal with 3 boisterous children right now.  However, he'd been a bard and a storyteller all his life and he couldn't resist the possibility of enthralling yet another audience.
"Yes, that's right - I sailed with Lief when he went a-Viking"  He paused to let the words sink in, but the children were too cunning to interrupt.
"It happened like this.  We had returned to a place near Yorvik, in Northumbria.  Leif's father had erected an enormous runestone there to commemorate his deeds.  Biggest runestone I ever saw.  Huge, it was and covered with the most intricate carving."
Kraki shifted his position, trying to find a comfortable spot on the sheepskins that his daughter-in-law had dutifully provided for him.  Not that they were as good as the furs he had in his youth, but what could you expect from today's generation?  They just didn't know how to do anything properly.  He turned back to the expectant ring of faces.
"Well, we discovered that the followers of the White Christ had put up their own cross near to Leif's stone.  More than that, a party of them were on their way to pull down the runestone.  When Leif heard that, he was furious and swore a deep oath that he would kill all the Anglos or die trying..."

For some reason, the 3 pieces of sacred ground were slightly closer to the Viking party than to the Anglo Danes.  On turn 1, the Vikings moved first and force-marched:

Viking warriors occupy Runestone Hill
Berserkers disappear into the depths of Holy Wood
A mass of Viking archers take up position on the Knoll of the Cross

The Knoll of the Cross

Thurstan's Christians weren't going to stand by idly and let the Vikings get away with this!  However, they hard rather further to go to reach the sacred sites, so evicting the enemy would have to be done piecemeal.

First blood went to the largest unit of huscarls.  The Anglo Dane elite charged towards the Viking levy and were in amongst them before any of the archers could shoot.  Result: 8 archers dead for no loss to the Anglos (apart from some fatigue).  As the Viking player, this was not at all how I wanted things to happen!  Still, I scored quite a lot of points for my men in the other 2 terrain features this turn.

Well, this wasn't good enough!  "Get them, lads!" I called, and 12 powered-up Viking bondi counter-attacked.  They killed several of the huscarls and sent the remainder reeling back off the knoll, though some Viking warriors fell as well.

Sadly for the Vikings, this wasn't the end of it.  Thurstan himself rallied his remaining huscarls and charged with them back up the hill.  They killed 2 bondi without loss and the Vikings lost a further 3 warriors when Thurstan and the huscarls used The Push ability from the Anglo-Dane battleboard [this adds extra casualties to a disengaging enemy].

OK, keep your stupid knoll, then.  See if I care...

Near Runestone Hill

Over on the other side of the field, the 4 Viking hirdmen decided to pre-empt the Anglo Danes and charge one of their warrior units.

The Viking attack killed 5 Anglo Danes, but the hirdmen lost 2 of their own number in return.  That's only slightly better than break-even, so I wasn't best pleased.  Kraki strode forward to take a closer look.  Perhaps he could use this in a new saga?

Making sure that the bard was watching, Leif leaped forwards, killed the 3 remaining Anglos and then walked back to his own men.
"What did you think of that, Kraki?" he asked.  "Impressive, eh?"
The bard replied "Are you kidding?  Killing 3 tired peasants?  Hardly the stuff of legend, I think!"
Leif glowered at him, but didn't say anything else.  Skalds were a tricky bunch; they often appeared blasé about one's deeds until they were paid to sing of them.

While they were arguing, another large group of Anglo Dane warriors charged the last 2 Viking hirdmen and slew them.

"Right, I'm on again" cried Leif.  "Watch this!"  The warlord strode forward and laid about the enemy with his sword.  5 of the warriors fell beneath his blade before the last man backed away fearfully [Leif was well boosted for this fight by abilities from the Viking battle board.  In fact, I was somewhat disappointed that he didn't kill all 6 of the enemy, as the survivor would still count as a unit when calculating SAGA dice for the Anglo Danes].  This time, even Kraki had to admit that the Viking chieftain was quite impressive in a fight.

Nearby, three Anglo Dane axemen had been skirting the side of Runestone Hill.  They now decided to charge the bondi who were protecting the monument.  Even though the trio were heavily outnumbered, they hoped that their fearsome axes and better armour would see off the Vikings.  It wasn't to be; the Anglos were wiped out in return for killing just a single enemy.  I guess that the Vikings were pumped from watching their warlord's heroics!

Back in the middle

Realising that there were no more Anglo Danes left on this side of the table to challenge the Viking occupation of the hill now, Leif and Kraki moved into Holy Wood to find out how the rest of his band were faring.  He was just in time to see a desperate quartet of Anglo Dane axemen finally pluck up enough courage to challenge the berserkers, who had been alone in the wood (and scoring points for it every turn!) since the start of the game.

"Wait for me!" he called, but it was too late.  Both sides fell upon one another and annihilated each other in a frenzy of chopped limbs and blood.  There was no chance of any survivors; Kraki was certainly getting plenty of first-hand material for the saga he was creating!

The End Game

Now at this stage, I (Leif) could just have sat out the rest of the game in Holy Wood.  The Vikings were well ahead on points and there was no realistic chance that the Anglo Danes could catch them.  I would have amassed even more of a points advantage by just staying where I was.  However, that just wasn't  heroic enough...

Followed by the faithful Kraki, Leif moved out of the wood and charged at the remaining Anglo Danes.  Thurstan and his boys had spent the second half of the game posturing and chasing off the remnants of the archers and bondi who were near the knoll.  One of the Viking archers actually managed to shoot a huscarl, which is why there were only 3 of them left.  Anyway, Leif caught them by surprise and cut down one of the other huscarls before the Anglo Danes knew what was happening.

There was a lot of chanting and shouting of insults as Thurstan and the 2 remaining huscarls faced off against the nearby Vikings.  Meanwhile, Kraki sang a rousing battle song to keep his lord's spirits up.

When he felt the moment was right [i.e. the right dice were on the battle board!], Leif charged at Thurstan.  He fought like a wildcat and so fierce was his onslaught that the Anglo Dane warlord was hard pressed.  Leif landed one blow that would have felled a lesser man, but Thurstan's armour preserved him [a warlord can save 1 hit for free in each melee].  2 more blows would have finished the Anglo Dane lord, but his 2 remaining huscarls valiantly leaped in front of the fatal blows and died to protect him.  Thurstan fought back and struck Leif with his axe, making the Viking's helmet ring [free save for Leif].  Finally, both warlords struck each other a death blow simultaneously and collapsed in a tangled mess.


Victory in this game was overwhelmingly with the Vikings, by something like 79 points to 38 (I forget the exact amounts).  One Anglo Dane was left (the lone survivor of the warrior unit which Leif had devastated near Holy Wood), but there were 15 or so Vikings still on the table.  The Anglo Danes suffered greatly, both from starting further away from the objectives and because this was the first time we had used them [i.e. we weren't familiar with their battle board abilities].

During the last fight, I could have chosen to have Kraki, the bard, take the last hit instead of Leif.  This would have left the Viking warlord alive, but there wouldn't have been anyone left to sing about this last exploit.  It seemed more characterful to die gloriously on top of a pile of my enemies!  [Final tally to Leif was 12 Anglo Danes killed personally, out of 25 in their starting force.  Kraki was ecstatic!]

"and that's the saga of Leif Gunnarson at the Holy Wood" finished the aged bard.  Two of the boys were looking up at him with glowing faces, completely rapt.  The third one looked less impressed, though.
"Is something wrong?" Kraki asked, puzzled.  "Didn't you like the story?".
"You mean that you were there, but you never even drew your sword or killed anyone yourself, granddad?" the child replied.  "Huh..."