Thursday 27 November 2014

28mm Greek Mythology: the Satyrs


I'm trying to get back on track with my twice-weekly postings; it's been slipping down to once per week recently.  Still, I should have enough time tonight to show some more mythological creatures.  They'll fight against (or perhaps ally with) Jason and the Argonauts, whenever I get round to staging such battles.

I'm wavering between using Song of Blades and Heroes or 7th Voyage as the rules for my mythological games.  I have both rulesets already and have used SoBH very happily for both my Witch Hunter and Robin Hood settings.  Although I still haven't decided for sure, I might give 7th Voyage a go this time.  After all, it's specially designed for exactly this type of game!

The Satyrs

Satyrs are often represented these days as half-man, half goat, though that's more accurately the appearance of the Roman faun.  Still, only a few people would recognise the traditional  horse-tailed Greek version, so I'm happy enough to use these models instead as Greek creatures.

In ancient mythology, the Satyrs have a deep connection with nature.  For the most part, they're the original party animals: carefree, drinking heavily and chasing women!  However, if they feel threatened or get too drunk then they can become wild and really mean.

The Leader

"My, what a big spear you have..."
My figures come from a Fae starter pack for the Fanticide game, though I believe that the models originate from  Eureka Miniatures of Australia.  They're all painted straight out of the packet, apart from Hylaeos, the leader.

As supplied, the head for this model had large, branched antlers on his head.  I didn't like this for 2 reasons:
  1. Antlers really don't fit with the goat aspect of the faun, or indeed with the horse features of the classic Greek satyr.
  2. On a practical level, the antlers would have stuck out a long way and thus made the model vulnerable to damage and hard to store.
So, I removed the antlers and replaced them with some curled horns from an old Games Workshop skeleton set.  This guy is clearly the boss: he's got bigger horns and a bigger spear than any of the other satyrs!

The Spearmen (spear-satyrs?)

There are 10 fauns with spears in the warband; 2 models each of 5 different poses.  I've used a variety of shades of brown and grey on the goat legs of these figures; there's very little else to differentiate them.

As with many of my figures these days, I've given them appropriate names.  Note that these models are very straightforward to paint; they have very little equipment and so it's just flesh, faces, hair and hooves!

The Archers

The other 8 members in the warband have bows, although 2 of them seem to have picked up rocks to throw.  This might be because they've run out of arrows; their quivers are empty!

Once again, there are 4 distinct sculpts, with 2 copies of each pattern in this group.  The extra equipment means that they took slightly longer to paint than the fauns with spears, but even so these are very straightforward models.


So, now I really have little excuse for not planning at least one game that involves Jason and the Argonauts.  I can see a scenario where the satyrs defend themselves fiercely against an accidental intrusion by the band of human adventurers.  I've also noticed that my Harryhausen-inspired giant cyclops model has some of the goat-like appearance of these guys, so perhaps he might even ally with them.  It's untraditional, but it might just work...

Next in this series inspired by Greek myth will be...harpies!

Sunday 23 November 2014

Tee Shirt Decals for 28mm Models


A few weeks ago, during the 4 weeks of Zomtober, I showed some 28mm zombie and survivor models that had decorated tee shirts.  These attracted some interest; most/all viewers guessed correctly that they were made with decals (aka "waterslide transfers").

I promised faithfully back in October that I would write an article that described my experiences of making and using such decals, but real life conspired against me and the article was delayed and delayed.  Well, no longer: here it is!  Read on and learn about the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of decorating model figures in this manner...

The Real World

Often,  at least in the more temperate seasons, people have pictures or slogans printed on their clothing.  Sometimes this is common to all members of a group (a school band, a hen party, a wargames club), sometimes it's about memories ("I <heart> NY" or that faded tee shirt from the Bob Dylan concert from last century), often it's just a design that the wearer finds entertaining (<smiley face>, or "I'm with stupid-->").  It doesn't really matter; the point is that such logos are very common amongst modern civilians and should therefore be represented on our models of such if we are to claim any level of realism.  Also, they're fun!

Printing Decals at Home

Specialised decal paper is widely available for common home printers these days, but it is considerably more expensive than plain, white paper!  At the time of writing, I've seen A4 decal paper advertised at prices between £1 to £2 (GBP) per sheet.

Roughly speaking, each sheet consists of backing paper coated with a thin layer of water-soluble glue, which in turn is coated with the decal substrate itself (a bit like a thin film of varnish).  It's this substrate layer which receives the pattern from the printer and which ultimately becomes part of your model.

There are 2 decisions that need to be made before you buy paper for home decal-making: the type of printer and the colour of the decal paper:

Inkjet vs Laser Printer

Decal paper is specific to either inkjet or laser printers; do not use the wrong type!  At best, the decals just won't work well (and you'll have wasted some expensive paper), whilst at worst the lower-temperature glue on the inkjet paper could gum up a laser printer.

You'll need to use slightly different techniques for printing with inkjet or with laser printers.  Here's a very brief summary:
  • Inkjets: the ink in this type of printer is water soluble.  That means that you need to apply a fixative to the printed decals before they can be used.  Basically, once you've printed the designs you spray the paper with a special type of varnish or lacquer to seal it; this is an extra step in the production process that isn't needed for laser printers.
    Also note that the ink for inkjet printers is somewhat translucent.  You may need to print out using the settings for "transparencies" instead of paper; this will deposit more ink and should therefore give deeper colours.  However, I've had problems in the past with inkjet decal designs blurring.  This could be because I didn't let the ink dry thoroughly before applying the fixative, or it could be because the printer setting was wrong for the type of paper; I'm not sure.
  • Laser Printers: these fuse a coloured powder (the "toner") onto the surface of the substrate at high temperature.  There's no need for a separate fixative, but because the design is only a thin layer it can be vulnerable to scratches or cracking during handling.  Don't flex the decal paper!

White vs Transparent Paper

Home printers cannot print white!  There are a very few exceptions such as the fabled thermal-transfer "Alps" machines, but in reality few people have access to such a device.  This means that if your decal designs have white in them then you have one of 2 choices:
  • White Decal Paper: in this type of paper, the substrate is opaque and coloured white.  In theory, you can apply the decal over any background and the decal will keep its printed appearance.  However, it also means that you'll need to be very accurate in trimming around the pattern or else be prepared to paint over the white fringes once the decal has been applied.
  • Transparent Decal Paper: this has a transparent substrate, so the background colour will show through the decal.  For this reason, transparent decals should only really be applied over a white background - but at least you don't have to worry about trimming them quite as precisely!

Although I've used inkjet printers for decals in the past, my current setup is a colour laser printer (Lexmark C543dn).  I'm using transparent decal paper; it suits the designs I print a bit better, I think.

Tee Shirt Designs

A lot of tee shirt decals would fit on an A4 sheet of paper!
I scoured the internet for tee shirt designs; the most fruitful sources were some of the catalogues of "print your own" tee shirt companies.  Before anyone complains about copyright, I consider this to be "fair use".  After all, I'm hardly taking business away from such a company or bringing their business into disrepute.  However, if you weren't happy to gather such pictures then it wouldn't be too hard to design your own logos instead, especially the ones with just text or simpler graphics.

After collecting enough images (well, rather more than enough, really!), it was time to print them.  Initially I tried creating a single PowerPoint slide with all the images inserted into it.  This didn't really work, though.  When I printed it onto plain paper as a test, the resolution of the images in the PowerPoint slide was greatly reduced and all the nice designs were blurred and illegible.

Following that, I reverted to using a thumbnail generator package for printing.  We've had ThumbsPlus (by Cerious Software) for a long time now.  It works pretty well for this job, though I dare say that other similar applications are available as well.  Basically, I use the application to select all of the image files that I want to print, select a size and tell it to print thumbnails (i.e. reduced-size versions of the images)

I experimented for a while, printing out the thumbnails at different sizes using plain, cheap paper.  Eventually I decided that for the models I would be using (see below), a custom size of 7mm x 6mm worked the best.

Generally speaking, the simpler designs have come out better.  The complex patterns, or those logos with very small text, often look a bit blurred.

Obviously, you could fit a huge number of tee shirt decals for 28mm models onto a single sheet of A4 paper!  Even A5 or A6 sheets would have quite a lot of unused space after printing the 100+ designs above.  I'm really hoping that I can feed the unprinted part of the A4 decal sheet through the printer again on another occasion.  Otherwise I'm faced with either collecting vast numbers of designs for all of my various projects before printing anything, or of having a considerable amount of wasted decal paper!

Decorating a model: a walkthrough

Studio Miniatures plastic zombie model suitable for "tee shirt" decals
Firstly, choose your figure wisely!  Although this might sound a bit glib, it's not really.  I found that very few models were suitable for tee shirt decals.  Look out for the following problems:
  • Clothing that has been sculpted with too many folds and ridges (you really want as flat a surface as possible for the decal).
  • Limbs or equipment which obscure the front of the torso and thus make access difficult.  That might be less of an issue if you want to decorate the back of the tee shirt rather than the front, I suppose.

Out of all my "usual suspects" plastic kits (i.e. the Wargames Factory Survivors [Men and Women], the Wargame Factory Zombie Vixens and the Studio Miniatures plastic zombies), I found just one body that was easy to use for decals.  A couple of others could be used at a pinch by sanding smooth the folds of clothing on the torso, though even then the target site was anything but ideally flat.

I'm using transparent paper for my decals, so once I'd assembled and under-coated the model, I painted the target area with white.

The decal was then cut out, soaked and transferred to the model.  Note: it is very important to ensure that the decal is sticking down properly, around all the edges.  You might need to apply some of the softening agents that model aircraft builders have been using for decades, just to get the decal to follow the contours of the figure.  If any part of the decal isn't stuck down properly then paint can seep under it and spoil the design.  Look closely at the following pictures and you may be able to spot where I had trouble with this model!

Now, I painted in the rest of the tee shirt in a matching background colour.  This requires a steady hand whilst going around the decal, so as not to overlap the design too much.  I've also found problems in matching the colour where the tee shirt isn't a straightforward black, white, red or yellow.  That turquoise decal may look lovely, but make sure you can find or mix paint of the same colour for the rest of the garment!

I think that this zombie just stepped in some dog poo...
Finally, paint the rest of the model as desired.  I'd suggest that you do not use a wash over the decal area for 2 reasons:
  1. As stated above, if there are any gaps around the edge then the wash will seep under the decal and could ruin the effect.  It's difficult to recover from such a mistake, take it from me!
  2. The decal will be raised slightly when compared to the surrounding area.  A wash will outline this very clearly, especially if you have a pale background.  Since you want the design to look as if it's a part of the garment, it's not a good idea to draw attention to the decal's edges like that!


If you have access to a reasonable home printer then decals are quite easy to make.  Although the specialist decal paper is much more expensive than regular stuff, it's not prohibitively pricey.  Just make sure that you know exactly what you're going to print before you commit to the special paper (practice with plain paper first!)

Making the decals is one thing, but applying them to models is quite another.  It's easy enough if you're working with a largish flat surface, such as the side of a vehicle or the wing of an aircraft (as long as they don't have any rivets or raised panel lines!).  However, applying small decals to irregular surfaces - even slightly so - requires a certain level of skill at model-making.

As for smaller, more irregular areas than tee shirts, I suggest that these are best left to the most experienced, dedicated model makers.  If you're looking for an easy way to do Maori facial tattoos or Yakuza body tattoos then I don't think that decals are a simple answer!

Bottom line: the effects can be impressive, but these are not for the novice modeller.

Monday 17 November 2014

Battle Report: The Flames of Justice!


Last year, I reported on a game of Song of Blades and Heroes that was fought between my Witch Hunters and their deadly opponents, the Witches' coven.  This year, I intended to fight another such game on or near to Halloween.  Well, things didn't quite work out that way (especially with my wife's current eye problem).  We did manage to play the game, but it was a week late.  I'm now reporting it over a week after it was played, so this is at least a fortnight after I would have liked.  Still, better late than never, right?

The Scenario

One of the 3 witches in the coven has been captured by the forces of law and order.  She will be burnt to death at the stake - unless her sisters can rescue her, of course!


  • Both sides have the same number of points to spend on appropriate warbands.  We used 350 points each, though lower or higher should also work.
  • The witches have one extra witch for free.  She's currently chained to a stake in the centre of the board and cannot take any actions or be attacked unless she is released from her bonds.  Note that she could be burnt to death before this, though (see special rules, below).  If she is freed then this witch can be used in the same way as any other figure in the witches' warband.
  • The witch-hunters set up first; they may start with 1 figure in contact with the pyre.  All other models must be placed at least medium from it.
  • The witches set up second.  Their models may be placed anywhere desired, but at least 15" from the stake and pyre.
  • The witches take the first move.

Victory Conditions

  • If the witches free their sister and move her off the board then the witches win.
  • If the captive witch is freed, but cannot move off the board (due to being killed, perhaps?) then the game is a draw.
  • Otherwise (i.e. the captive is never rescued), the witch-hunters win.

Special Rules

  • To free the captive witch, another witch must be adjacent to the pyre and must devote 3 activation successes to breaking the chains.  These successes can be all in the same round or split across several rounds.
  • Either the witch-hunter general or the magistrate may attempt to light the pyre.  To do this, they must be adjacent to it and score 2 successful actions.  That will result in a single fire marker being added to the pyre.
  • A witch may use magic to extinguish a burning pyre.  If successful (i.e. within the range allowed by the number of successes rolled) then all fire markers are removed from the pyre.
  • If the pyre is alight at the beginning of the witch-hunter band's turn then it attacks the captive witch with a combat value (C) equal to the number of fire markers.  Recoil and Knocked Down results are ignored; only kill or gruesome kill have any effect.  After resolving this "attack" against the bound witch, the fire may spread.  Roll a d6: on a 5 or 6, add another fire marker to the pyre.

Our Game

In our game, I played the witches and my sons commanded the witch-hunters.  I spread my forces so as to approach from all sides (possibly a mistake?).  Black Agnes and 3 ghouls would creep down an alley on the southern edge of the town.  2 hell-hounds would approach along the road to the north-east, whilst Agatha flew over the wall to the north west.  My band was completed by a ghost which roamed the woods to the north; hopefully it would terrify the soldiers near the pyre and allow one of the witches to get close enough to release the chained Meg.

Things don't always go to plan, sadly.  For 2 complete rounds, I threw nothing but '1's for activation, which meant that the witches and their allies stood frozen to the spot in a mire of uncertainty.  During that time, one of the musketeers on sentry duty happened to look down the alley.  Seeing shadows at the far end, he called out "Halt!  Who goes there?  Identify yourselves!".  Not receiving a satisfactory answer, this likely lad then opened fire.  The musket ball hit one of the ghouls and knocked the evil creature to the ground.

The local magistrate was just around the corner.  He reacted instantly to the gunshot by calling on several nearby musketeers to form a firing line and move forwards ("First rank, fire!  Reload!  Second rank, advance and present!  Fire! ...").  Black Agnes and the ghouls fell back in disarray before the ferocity of this attack, completely unable to advance.

Hearing the commotion, the witchfinder-general applied flint to steel and tried to light the pyre.  Even though he fumbled his first attempt, he was successful at the second try - and still the witches' warband hadn't made a single successful activation roll.  This was not working the way I had hoped!

The Assault

Finally, the witches had some successes, albeit minor.  Black Agnes abandoned her ghoul pack and flew away from the line of musketeers.  Opposite her, Agatha approached the hedge, wondering whether to fly over it and attempt a rescue on her own - but there were soldiers everywhere!  To the north, one of the hell-hounds wandered along the road slowly.  Although this caused consternation amongst the nearest musketeers, the animal seemed to be in no great hurry.  Meanwhile, the ghost continued to haunt the same spot as before, moaning quietly without moving.

Back in the alley, the firing line of musketeers continued to gun down the ghouls enthusiastically.  As far as I was concerned, this was now a sideshow; the ghouls were as good as dead already and I had no intention of wasting any activation rolls on them!

In desperation, Black Agnes flew forwards towards the pyre.  She had barely cleared the building when she was spotted; a musketeer turned round from facing the approaching hell-hound and fired hurriedly at her.  The shot hit her broomstick and as it staggered in mid flight the witch clipped the ground and fell off [Darn it!  These musketeers are just too flipping lucky today!]

Seeing the witch prone in the dirt, first Brother Matthew (the mad monk) and then Sir Jasper (the magistrate) charged up and tried to finish her off.  In desperation, she somehow fought them both off and even managed to regain her feet...

...only for the musketeer to reload, take careful aim and shoot her in the back!

In revenge, the hell-hounds sauntered up the lane and tore apart one of the musketeers.  The nearest soldier ran for his life, which was probably the smartest thing he could do when faced with the 2 huge, vicious animals.

The second musketeer, whose shot had killed the witch, was so elated with his success that he never even looked over his shoulder.  Presumably he thought that the hot breath and low rumbling sound was one of his friends coming over to congratulate him?  Anyway, he barely felt a thing as his head was ripped off - and at least there were no other soldiers nearby to see this second gruesome death!

Meanwhile, back at the pyre, the fire burnt sullenly, resisting all attempts to spread it further.  Despite the general lack of flames, the captive Meg was surrounded by thick smoke and started to choke.  Within a couple of turns, she succumbed and fell away, lifeless [how unlucky was that!  The witch was C2, the fire was only C1 at this stage and she needed to be doubled to perish.  Predictably, I threw the necessary '1' (for a total combat score of 3) at the same time that the opposition threw a '5' or a '6' (for a total of 6 or 7 - I forget which)].

In a truly suicidal attempt at revenge, Agatha flew over the hedge to the north of the pyre.  She had barely landed her broomstick when the witchfinder-general strode up to he and fired both pistols at short range.  The poor old woman didn't have a chance and was killed on the spot!

This just left the ghost and the 2 hell-hounds.  The ghost finally looked up from its misery and decided to act [I think I'd failed every single activation attempt for this model up to that point in the game!].  It dodged the witchfinder-general and charged at one of the soldiers.  The poor lad cried out "Mummy!", turned and fled - never to be seen again.

Before the ghost could repeat this success, however, Brother Matthew came rushing towards it.  This was bread-and-butter to him [he ain't afraid of no ghost!] and the poor spirit was summarily banished from the world.

By rights, the hell-hounds should have fled at this point because they are animals and the last non-animal member of their warband had perished.  However we didn't remember this at the time and played on.
The continued play didn't really change the result in any way, though: the first hell-hound was surrounded and it was then only a matter of time before the beast perished.  Although it took a couple of soldiers with it, eventually Brother Matthew delivered the coup-de-grace with his jawbone-of-ox-on-a-stick.  I called it a day and the second hell-hound slunk off, the only survivor of a truly doomed rescue attempt!


What a disaster for the witches (but oh, were my sons chortling with glee at having beaten their dad)!  In hindsight, I think there were several issues that really messed up my day:
  • I don't normally like to blame the dice for my losses, but I was barely able to move any models at all for the first half of the game.  Thereafter, my attacks went in piecemeal as only a small part of my band was activated in any given turn.  Truly the witches must have been in despair before setting off on this suicide mission; their troops were so dispirited!
  • Perhaps I should only have taken 1 witch, or dropped the ghost?  I wanted to have 2 chances to rescue the captive, but these models are quite expensive and this meant that I couldn't afford much in the way of other figures to shield them or to act as a diversion.  Hmm.
  • My deployment was really poor.  Since I was outnumbered considerably, attacking from all sides was just stupid!  It meant that there were always troopers waiting and ready for each of my forces, without the defenders having to spend any activations to move them there.  Next time I'll come steaming in from a single direction, in a big group with the witches protected in the middle...

Sunday 9 November 2014

Dreadball: the Pink Ladies


Another week has gone by without a post.  It seems increasingly difficult to keep to any kind of schedule, though the immediate reason will pass in due course (my wife has a problem with one eye that has necessitated 4 out-patient hospital visits in the last 2 weeks.  Since she cannot drive at present, that means I have to ferry her to and fro; the travel time and the waiting-around-the-hospital time is really cutting into my hobby hours.  So be it; I promised "for better or for worse" and after all, this isn't remotely the worst that could happen :-) ).

Whatever the cause, I find myself without much time for tonight's article.  I have spent some effort preparing for my overdue "tee shirt decals" article - but that's still not ready yet so please be patient.  Instead, here are some pictures of my 3rd Dreadball team: the "Pink Ladies"

The Pink Ladies

Here's the entire team of the Pink Ladies in one shot.  The team are, of course, built from the official Void Sirens models, but I didn't like the name so much.  I kept the colour scheme pretty much intact, though!

I was having some trouble with the camera  and the flash would sometimes fire and sometimes not.  So if you see some variation in the brightness of the pictures, it's because I'm not going to go back an re-take the photographs!

The Guard

The Pink Ladies have just a single player in the Guard position.  She's quite solidly built and more heavily armoured than the others.  This was quite an awkward model to build; she came in 4 parts, if I remember correctly.

The Jacks

I think that the "official" pictures of the Void Sirens (and other teams too, I suppose) on the Mantic website and in the rule books might be of larger scale "master figures".  There are some very minor differences in the sculpting that I think I've noticed between my versions and those in the books.  Additionally, I don't see how it's possible to paint a 28mm figure to the standard shown on the website!  I suppose it's just about possible that they have a very talented painter to do the job; if so then I am completely envious of that level of ability.

The Strikers

Strikers are the specialised ball handlers in Dreadball.  As such, they wear the lightest armour and are fast and nimble.

The Star Player

Finally (and somewhat unusually for my current rosters), the Pink Ladies have an MVP or "star" player.  Her name is "Wildcard" and she seems to be quite a common model (I got mine as a free offer with some other purchase).  Wildcard's in-game special abilities kick in when her team is losing, thus making her quite an interesting equaliser.

The figure has a somewhat awkward pose, I think - though it makes more sense if she's fending off an opponent whilst preparing to throw the ball.  Anyway, I'm not sure that I'd want to wear platform boots whilst playing a sport...

Monday 3 November 2014

SAGA: Macbeth's Revenge


I spent all of yesterday visiting my friend Steve; both of us brought our younger son to the gaming session as well.  The two boys have the same first name, which caused occasional confusion.  However, we played a lot of games.

There was a game of Dreadball between the 2 children, where the humans got an early lead of 4 points and held onto it through the game.  This was mainly because the opposing goblins were very unlucky with their shots at goal and missed every single time (and they had multiple chances!).  In the final rush, one goblin was sprinting down the sideline, deep in enemy territory and quite unopposed, when a random event caused the ball to shatter and fall apart in his hands.  Such was typical of their luck.  However, some honour was salvaged when one of their Orc guards killed an opposing human - the first fatality we've seen in our games of Dreadball.

We played a couple of games of Race for the Galaxy, which is a brilliant card game of empire building amongst the stars.  I won one and my son won one; it takes a little while to get into this game and the hosts were still finding it a bit difficult to come up with coherent strategies, I think.  That's not intended as any mark of disrespect to them and I'm sure they'll be better prepared next time...

The big game of the day was SAGA, though...

SAGA: The Confrontation

Thurstan of Northumbria had led his men north to meet with King Macbeth of the Scots.  They were supposed to discuss mutual security - in other words, both leaders wanted the other side to stop raiding them whilst still continuing surreptitiously to steal cattle in return.  The peace conference didn't go well, insults were traded and then the leaders drew their weapons.  Nobody could be sure who broke the peace first, of course...

In the tan corner: Macbeth and his Scots
The Scots warband consisted of:
  • Macbeth (Hero of the Viking Age)
  • 1 x 8 thanes on foot
  • 1 x 4 thanes, mounted
  • 2 x 8 warriors

In the green corner: Thurstan's Northumbrians (Anglo Danes)
This was the first time that I had used my Anglo-Danish warband.  I took the following:
  • Thurstan (generic warlord, great axe)
  • 1 x 6 huscarls (great axe)
  • 1 x 6 huscarls (spear), with a banner
  • 2 x 8 warriors
  • 1 x 12 levies (sling)

We played the Challenge scenario.  In this, each warlord can take 12 hits (instead of the normal 1 + resilience).  The aim of the game is simple: you have 7 turns to slay the enemy warlord!  All other casualties are irrelevant, at least for determining victory.

All On His Own

I won the dice roll to start deploying first, which meant that I had to place Thurstan in the centre of the table.  Macbeth ended up slightly nearer his own lines.  This wasn't a disaster for the Anglo Danes, but then the Scots finished deploying first (they had fewer units) and so would move first in turn 1.  Thurstan was feeling quite isolated as the Scots thanes all advanced on him.

Indeed, Macbeth felt brave enough to have a lunge at the stout Northumbrian.  Blows were exchanged and a few cuts taken by each side.  However, Thurstan won that encounter, causing Macbeth to step backwards into the safety of his lines of bodyguards.  (From a tactical point of view, I would have been delighted to lose a wound or two in exchange for being able to retreat towards my own troops.  But Thurstan just wasn't prepared to give an inch...).

With a roar of anger, the Northumbrians advanced to assist their beleaguered leader.  All, that is, apart from one group of warriors behind a hill who hadn't realised that the battle had started (or maybe they were just shirking where no-one could see them - I don't know for sure).

Now the battle got going in earnest!  The Anglo Danes had loaded their battle board with a die on the Intimidate ability, which could be used to cancel an enemy's dice used for activation.  I was hoping to use this to prevent Thurstan from being attacked by the Scots.  Instead, Macbeth used his automatic leader's activation (determination), we obey and side-by-side to take his large units of thanes into combat with my smaller unit of huscarls.  "Come on, lads!  With me!", he called as they cut down 5 of the 6 Northumbrians.  At least 1 of my men survived, so I'd still get a SAGA dice for the unit!

Simultaneously, the Scots cavalry advanced menacingly towards my slingers.  I used Intimidate on them, but they came on anyway (by using a second activation die).  At least the slingers managed to shoot down one of the horsemen.

Then, the cavalry charged!  They were fatigued by this time and only managed to cut down 2 of the Northumbrian slingers.  As these withdrew, the Scots horsemen were horrified to see that the levies had been masking a group of Huscarls.  They in turn charged from the trees into the tired and dispirited horsemen and slaughtered them all without loss (that's the second time I've seen my Scots cavalry models used in a game; they performed dismally in the first game as well!).

Near the centre of the battle, Northumbrian warriors attacked the fatigued Scots thanes, whilst Thurstan and Macbeth glowered at each other and caught their breath.  The Northumbrians may have though that they'd caught their enemies at a disadvantage, but the Scots weren't fazed and repulsed the attacking warriors bloodily!

Now that Thurstan was unsupported again, Macbeth ordered his remaining 2 thanes to attack.  The Scots were rolling well and had plenty of choices with their SAGA dice, but they now discovered a particularly vicious combination.  By activating Hold the Ground and Counterattack together, they could generate an extra 11 attack dice for a single melee!

The pair of thanes between them inflicted another 8 hits on Thurstan, taking him up to a total of 10 of his 12 wounds!  Ouch!  The battered and bloodied warlord did manage to slay one of his attackers, but this was small comfort.

To add insult to the injury, Scots warriors slaughtered most of the nearby Northumbrian warriors, once again leaving Thurstan exposed and unsupported.  One of the Northumbrian warriors did survive and was sent scuttling for the hills, so at least I didn't lose a SAGA dice for the massacre.  Oh, well...

To and Fro

I took some small comfort by using my remaining Huscarls to steamroller the last remaining Thane; he never stood much of a chance.  At the same time, a lucky set of SAGA dice allowed me to use Trapped to fatigue all the remaining Scots and then Exhaustion to cause 2 of the Scots warriors to fall by the wayside.  But it wasn't enough...

Macbeth personally led his reserve warriors in a retaliatory attack on the huscarls.  Although both sides took some losses, the Northumbrians came off worse and retreated.

Another clash saw more losses on both sides, but the Scots were held at bay, for now.  Maybe, just maybe the Northumbrians would have enough time to rouse their last fresh unit of warriors from the other side of the hill and save the day with them?  At least it looks as if the last huscarl is blowing his horn with all his might in an attempt to summon aid to his lord!

However even at this late stage in the game and despite having lost 2 entire units, the canny Macbeth was still rolling 6 SAGA dice every turn (due to his special "Hero of the Viking Age" ability).  He managed a particularly handy set of stags and ducks in turn 6 and loaded up the battle board as seen above, (plus a couple of activations, if I remember correctly).

Firstly, the Scots warriors used reach to take out the last Northumbrian huscarl.  The bodyguard didn't even get a chance to strike back as he was pinned down by their long spears.
Then, with a bloodcurdling yell, Macbeth himself charged at Thurstan.  The wily Scotsman used the same combination of Hold the ground and Counterattack to boost his attack to 16 dice.  Even though Thurstan braced himself for defence, this was only going to end one way...

These are the dice from part way through the combat between the leaders; 1 dice for each hit, with a 5 or 6 needed to save it.  Macbeth took only 1 hit and even managed to save it.  Thurstan took so many hits that I'm not even going to bother counting them!
Surrounded by his enemies, Thurstan fell on top of the bodies of his loyal household troops as Macbeth hacked and hacked at him.  The confrontation was quite decisive and it was a dark day for the Northumbrians.  After all, Macbeth is famous, but who has ever heard of Thurstan before?


As the Anglo Danes, I never really felt that I got going in this battle.  My troops were fed piecemeal into a mincing machine, all in the vain attempt to protect a warlord who was too proud to retreat even a few steps!  For the first half of the game, I just about held my own, but I suffered badly once the Scots got more used to their battleboard.

We've not used any Heroes of the Viking Age before; I think that having Macbeth really helped the Scots towards the end.  In any other game, they would have slowed down as units were destroyed and caused the loss of SAGA dice.  Not this warlord; he just kept on coming, with 6 dice giving him plenty of options!

Incidentally, the Anglo Danes had most of their units left at the end of the game; they lost only one!  However that hides the fact that 2 units were reduced to 1 figure each, the slingers (whilst numerous) were somewhat useless and the final unit of warriors never really got moving and were too far off to affect anything.  Lazy, cowardly dogs!