Saturday 28 January 2017

28mm Pulp Aircraft: the Beech Model 18


Last week, I showed a small, 2-seater aircraft in 1:48th scale that I intend to use for Pulp wargaming: the Avia BH-11.  Whilst this will be useful, I really need an airliner for my next intended scenario.  However, an iconic 1930s plane such as the DC-3 has a wingspan of 95 feet.  At 1:48 scale, that's very close to 2 feet (60cm) across!  A German Ju-52 trimotor has almost exactly the same dimensions, so that's no better.

On a 3' gaming table, a 2' wide model would dominate, leaving little room for anything else.  Equally, the cost of such a large kit and the storage requirements of the completed model are offputting.  So, what to do?

Instead of looking for a medium-sized airliner such as the DC-3, I decided to search for much smaller twin-motor craft.  Here's one that I found...

The Beech Model 18

The Beech Model 18 (also known as the "Twin Beech", or "C-45 Expeditor" when in USAAF service) was a small transport aircraft that was produced in surprisingly large numbers.  It typically carried about 7 passengers (compared to the DC-3's capacity of 30 or so).  The Model 18 first flew in 1937, so it just about fits in the Interwar period that I desire for Pulp adventures.

Because the original is a relatively small craft, the 1:48th scale model has a wingspan of marginally under 1 foot (30cm).  That's much more manageable on a wargames table!  I've included a 28mm figure for comparison purposes, as well as a home made set of steps.

So, what can I tell you about this model?

  • It's built from a kit by ICM, though I believe that Revell have also released a kit from the same tooling.
  • The kit is fairly easy to find online; there are a number of sellers who offer it.  I paid around £20 for mine, which is significant but not prohibitive.  Your circumstances may differ, of course.
  • The interior is fully detailed, with instrument panels, controls and seats.  Normally, I would assemble a model fully before undercoating, painting and sealing it.  In this case, I had to paint the sections separately before final assembly - and then fill & touch up the paint around the joints.

  • No crew figures come with the ICM kit (& probably not with the Revell one either, I imagine).  However, I added a pilot from another kit.  He's just about visible in the left hand, front seat.  Apparently it's convention for the pilot to sit in the left seat for a fixed wing aircraft, but the right seat in a helicopter!
  • I've cut down the propellers and added "spinning disks" instead, as I want my model to be preparing for take-off.  Opinions in the scale modeller world on the effectiveness of this technique seem to be fairly negative, but it works for me.

  • For the most part, the pieces fitted together well.  However, two area were problematic.
    Firstly, the seats had some very thin and brittle parts (the frames/legs).  I broke quite a few of these when trying to cut them from the sprue and even had to replace one shattered seat frame completely with wire.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, considering the amount of effort I put into these), the passenger seats can't really be seen inside the completed model.
    Secondly, the undercarriage is composed of a large number of spindly struts.  Assembly of this was complex and I think that these are easily the most fragile part of the plane.
  • I haven't fitted radio aerials to the model; these would probably be in the way when wargaming and don't add hugely to the overall appearance.
  • The colour scheme and markings are entirely fictitious and my own work, though I did take inspiration from some real life airlines.


The ICM Beech 18 kit makes a nice model that is a very good size for 28mm figures and not hugely expensive either.  However, it is primarily intended as a scale modeller's kit rather than for wargaming.  Consequently it was a bit more intricate to build than I might have desired.  The big concern I have is how fragile it will be, though as a static centrepiece for a game it shouldn't have a lot of handling.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

A 28mm Pulp aircraft: the BH-11


Anyone who has been following my blog recently will know that I'm preparing to play more Pulp Alley, specifically Scenario 2 ("Final Flight") from the Perilous Island campaign.  That scenario is set at an airport somewhere in Africa, though it could just as well be Latin America, Asia or elsewhere.

I've been collecting figures to make the necessary crowd of agitated civilians (although I think my version will be quite a weeny crowd).  However if it's an airport then I'll need something else as well: terrain and aircraft models.  Here's the first of them.

The Avia BH-11

This is a 1:48th scale model of an Avia BH-11; a 2-seater Czechoslovakian sports/trainer plane that first flew in 1923.  As such, it fits well into my Pulp timeline (interwar, so think Indiana Jones - any time from about 1920 to 1940).

28mm wargaming figures are often regarded as about 1:56 scale.  There aren't any 1:56 scale model aircraft!  I'll probably regret being as definite about that, as someone may well point out an obscure range somewhere, but generally speaking it is true.

Aircraft modellers stick to either 1:72 or 1:48.  The former is really much too small for 28mm figures, though it would probably work well enough to represent craft flying high over a battlefield.  1:48 is a bit too big, but not impossibly so - especially if you stick to smaller real life aircraft.

Most of the pictures in this article show one of my 28mm pilot figures standing beside the plane.  Judge for yourself how compatible he is in size.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of 1:48th scale aircraft kits.  However, not many of them come from the Interwar period - and those that do are mostly warplanes.  The Avia BH-11 model is one of the few exceptions to this, fortunately for me!

This kit is released by SMER and has one overwhelming advantage, at least in terms of being my first 1:48th scale aircraft model: it was very cheap!  The model only cost me a few pounds, so if it turned out not to be suitable for gaming then I could afford the loss.

So, how was the kit to build:

  • Assembly was easy; parts are fairly chunky and fitted together very well.
  • A seated pilot was supplied as part of the kit.  I didn't use this as, quite honestly, it was an awful model, little more than a blob of plastic!
  • The undercarriage was slightly tricky, though not really difficult.  It's probably the most fragile part of the finished model though, so care will have to be taken when this is on the gaming table.
  • The wing struts add interest, but without being very complex to assemble.  Also note that this aircraft doesn't have any rigging, so no wires and braces are needed!

I've copied a colour scheme, semi-faithfully, from a modern restoration aircraft.  For my purposes, it doesn't have to be completely authentic, it just has to look plausible.  The decals for the lettering are home made, but based on the original plane.  I think it works well enough...


This is a nice, cheap and relatively simple model that will do well for games, as long as it's handled with a certain amount of care.  I can see it being the ride for an early round-the-world aviator, or belonging to a rich enthusiast who likes to visit the more dusty and backward parts of the world.  Alternatively, it might be the cobwebby, old banger left in a corner of the flying field, just waiting for the hero to use it in his/her daring escape!  You decide...

Saturday 21 January 2017

More Pulp Characters


We've started playing the Perilous Island campaign for the Pulp Alley rules.  Scenario 1 can be seen here and that was easy enough to set up because I already had all the figures and terrain I needed.  However, Scenario 2 in this campaign is set at an airport, with a large crowd on the verge of rioting.  I think I need some new scenery for this; also I'll need as many "crowd" figures as I can find.

I did consider making some 28mm standees for the crowd, either of individuals or of mobs.  However, my early searches failed to find any pictures that I felt were suitable for this purpose.  Plan B is to search through my spares boxes and paint up all the figures I can find which could plausibly be found at an airport in Africa, some time in the 1930s or so.

The Dapper

First up are a couple of very smartly-dressed gentlemen:

  • On the left is a figure from Copplestone's GN9 - Sleuths pack, in which he is named as "Nick Charles".  I believe that this is a model of the main character from "The Thin Man", but I'm not familiar enough with either the book or the film to know anything about the character portrayed.  He's obviously very smartly-dressed, though!
  • The miniature on the right is "Captain Citroen" from Artizan Miniatures' "Thrilling Tales" range.  He's obviously based on Captain Renault; the corrupt Vichy French police chief played so superbly by Claude Rains in the movie Casablanca.
    In my photo, it looks a little as if the model only has one arm.  That's not the case; his left arm is definitely present, though held close to his side.

The Gumshoes

Next, I present the remaining 2 figures from the Copplestone GN9 - Sleuths pack:

  • The first model is of "The Continental Op"; a fictional private detective created by pulp author Dashiell Hammett.  I don't know anything about the character other than what is readily available on Wikipedia, but the model will work well enough for my immediate needs.
  • On the right is "Sam Spade", another Dashiell Hammett private investigator and hero of the story "The Maltese Falcon".  In the movie of that tale, Spade was played by Humphrey Bogart - who was the same actor to play "Rick" in Casablanca.  Since Bogart wore an almost identical greatcoat in the last scene of Casablanca (at the airport), I think this model is unarguably suitable for my upcoming game!

The Airmen

My last 2 figures for today are both from Artizan Designs, again from the Thrilling Tales subsection:

  • The model on the left is "Captain Withnail", presumably a reference to the film Withnail and I.  Since that isn't in any sense a pulp or adventure movie, I'm somewhat puzzled by the association - unless someone else knows better?  Anyway, the figure wears a greatcoat and carries a revolver and a bottle; I've painted him up to suggest a hung-over and somewhat disreputable RAF ground crewman.
  • Finally, we have "Midshipman York", who I think must be modelled after Michael York's character from the movie Zeppelin.  As it is, I got this model second hand and the right arm (with pistol) was missing.  I've replaced that with a spare plastic arm from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors set; he now looks as if he could be swinging a propellor to start a primitive aircraft engine or something like that.


Why are these characters at the airport?  Are they trying desperately to get on the last flight out of the country?  Perhaps they're trying to arrest a fugitive, or they're spies who are shadowing someone?  Maybe they just work at the airport?  Who can tell?

6 figures isn't really a crowd.  Even if I add all the other miniatures I have which are vaguely plausible for this setting, I'm not sure that it'll really look like a mob.  But I've got to try...

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Tintin Two!


It wasn't so long ago that I finally made a start on collecting some figures for a Tintin league, probably for use with the Pulp Alley rules:
At the time of the latter, I bemoaned the fact that 1st Corps had hinted they would release some "not Tintin" figures in the near future - just after I'd gone to a certain amount of effort to find a suitable figure to represent Captain Haddock!  Well, for completeness (and because they have produced a lovely model of Professor Calculus) I just had to have some...

1st Corps Nosey Youth and Companions

For the very reasonable price of £5 (plus postage, of course), 1st Corps now produce this set of 4 models.  I'm not going to pretend: they do look a great deal like Professor Calculus, Captain Haddock, Tintin and Snowy to me.  However, they are listed in the catalogue as "nosey youth and companions", so if you want to find them then search for that instead.

I'm not very familiar with 1st Corps as a manufacturer and so I have no idea if these are representative of their sculpts or not.  Overall, I'd rate this set as "good" rather than "excellent", I think.
  • Professor Calculus: This is easily my favourite figure from this batch.  He has a goatee & glasses and is wearing his trademark coat and hat.  One hand is holding an umbrella and the other is reaching for his fob watch; quite the absent-minded academic!  If I had any criticism at all, I'd say that I always thought of the professor as a rather small man, whereas this miniature is of average height.
  • Captain Haddock: A perfectly acceptable figure; the captain is slouched and listless with his recognisable large, flat nose and slightly shapeless clothing.  Possibly the trousers have too sharp a crease for the not-exactly-elegant Haddock, but that's a bit nit-picking, really.  I'd have preferred the model to be carrying a bottle rather than a gun, mind.
  • Tintin: Of the three humans, I think that this is the least successful sculpt.  Whilst it's immediately identifiable as the boy reporter, the head is a bit too much egg-shaped for my taste.  Also, Tintin's ears are overlarge and his eyes too high to be believable.  Mind you, I'll still use the figure; he's good enough for my games!
  • Snowy: Finally, we come to the dog.  Snowy is a Fox Terrier; this model is usable as such, but it isn't brilliant.  In fact, it's a bit of a blob.  I'll use it anyway - I'm not over-fussy - but purists might seek elsewhere.


For the record, here are the earlier figures that I painted:

This previous Tintin is from Copplestone Castings (now sold through North Star) and my Captain Haddock is a converted fisherman from Black Cat Bases.

So, now I really need Thomson and Thompson - but models of bowler-hatted, moustached city gents seem very hard to find...

Sunday 15 January 2017

Batrep(Congo): The Last Queen


At last, we played a game of Congo!  In a sense, this is something that I've wanted to do for several decades, ever since I discovered a large cache of books by H. Rider Haggard at Newington library in Edinburgh, when I was a student there.  Those tales sparked an interest in the exploration of Africa by Europeans that has abided to this day.  However, Congo was only available to the general public some 5 months ago.

Since August 2016, I've built enough forces for a small game, but didn't have an opportunity to use them for real - until about 2 weeks ago.  After playing the game, I've been putting off this report for a variety of reasons.  Until now, that is (obviously!)...

The Scenario

Scenario 1 for Congo is entitled "The Last Queen of Aksoum".  A White Man Expedition has discovered an archaeological treasure (the ancient crown of the monarch from a long lost realm), but they may have overstretched themselves.  Tired and exhausted, their camp is attacked by another force who do not want to see the crown carried off.

Note that in the scenario as written, the attackers are Zanzibari slavers.  Since I don't have such a force (yet), we used my Forest Tribes band instead.  We also changed the setting from savannah to jungle.

In the middle of the night, Professor Forester's exhausted expedition was awakened rudely.  The two sentries were shouting loudly and excitedly.  Everyone piled out of their tents or open-air sleeping places; white men, Sikh soldiers, ascaris and native auxiliaries - all chattering and confused.  It took Major Forbes' bellow of "SILENCE!" to restore some level of order.  The retired officer then called to the sentries "You!  Report!".  Abashed at the chaos they had caused, the shorter of the lookouts answered "Voices, sir.  We heard voices and movement all around.  There are men in the jungle, close, very close"...

As the White Men, I would score a lot of victory points for carrying the crown off the table in a nominated direction.  Steve (the Tribal leader) would score quite a few points if he could capture the artifact.  Either of us could also gain a few points for each enemy unit eliminated or for finding loot.

The Game

With a shrieking of war cries, tribal warriors broke through the undergrowth and charged the encampment.  They were also having a hard time of it in the dark; several units had taken small amounts of stress tokens and one unfortunate warrior vanished before the game had even started.  Nevertheless, they made a brave showing and the initial shooting from the camp's defenders was completely ineffectual.

The next volleys from the expedition were more effective, however.  Professor Forester's group of ascaris were trying to reposition when they heard sounds from behind the camp.  Fearing a flank attack, they turned around and fired with devastating effect, killing four of the five warriors who were creeping up on them.

Around the camp perimeter, rifle fire from the adventurers killed one attacker and (more importantly!) inflicted a red "need to rally" stress token on the native unit.  However, the Sikh soldiers still failed to do much - and the tribal champion continued to urge his followers on at speed.

Although in theory the crown of Aksoum could have been held by any one of four figures in the Expedition side (Professor Forester, Major Forbes or either of the 2 bearers), the tribal leader had quickly pinpointed it with Major Forbes.  It barely seemed worth the effort of hiding it...

Now it was the forest tribe's turn, as they streamed through the tents and attacked the intruders.
  • A last minute volley from the Sikhs devastated one unit of warriors, but the chieftain himself led another group of warriors into melee with the stalwart soldiers.
  • The champion's unit attacked the native auxiliaries, killed one and forced the rest back.
  • Finally, another group of young warriors attacked the adventurers.  They killed the attached bearer (a classic "Look out, sir!" moment, if ever there was one), but failed to do more than scare the white men into retreating.

The expedition went backwards, but it was a fighting retreat: more musket & rifle fire devastated the forest tribes' forces.  Only the champion's group still had enough power to assault Professor Forester's ascaris, killing two.

By this time, most of the tribal groups were looking much reduced in numbers; there weren't nearly as many warriors now as there had been.  Although the expedition forces had taken some casualties, these weren't particularly numerous.

In a slightly surreal moment, a sleepy gorilla charged from the nearest patch of thick trees.  The creature made a beeline for the tribal chieftain and his remaining retinue (they had been hanging back from the assault on the campsite after being targeted early on).

On paper, the gorilla looked to have a good chance of killing the men, or at least some of them.  However, this chieftain obviously didn't achieve his position solely for his good looks; he and his bodyguard made short work of the ape and took enough trophies from it to score 2 victory points!

In the foreground, one of the tribal warriors tried (several times) to loot a tent.  His efforts were not only unsuccessful in finding loot, but actually angered the white men enough to give them extra Totem cards each time!

Sensing that the end was near, the expedition's native warriors and ascaris charged forwards to drive the tribesmen from the camp.  They were successful in this, but not before a few thrown spears had killed one of the white adventurers and another of the Sikh soldiers.

Meanwhile, small elements of the expedition's forces took pot shots at the sole survivor from the tribe's flank attack unit.  After all, if he could be downed then the expedition would score 2 victory points!  He proved surprisingly elusive, however.

Suddenly, everything went quiet as the remaining tribesmen disengaged and took to their heels.  The campsite was a litter of bodies, broken tents and drifting smoke.

At this point, Terror attacks were used in earnest.  The expedition managed to kill the last figure remaining in each of 2 separate tribal units (so that's 4VP to the white men), but the tribe's response managed to terrify only one of the remaining two native auxiliaries.

Sensing that the game was all but over, Major Forbes and his surviving soldiers started to run for the edge of the table.  If he could escape with the crown then this would be a stunning victory.

He hadn't calculated correctly, however.  The tribal champion looked to be too far away to interfere, but a melee card backed up by a giraffe (extra movement) totem card allowed the last tribal unit of any significance to catch up with the soldiers.

The ensuing melee was very one-sided; the tribesmen inflicted two casualties on the defender's three models.  Now here's a thing about Congo: a character must remain attached to a unit; he cannot operate independently.  Since there were only two soldiers left, if they had both died then Major Forbes would also have been lost.  Instead, I had to take Forbes as one of the casualties, thus leaving the last soldier to hold on to the crown.  They killed the Major!

In a moment of light relief, the tribal chieftain tried to sneak away through a thicket of trees.  One of his entourage stepped on a sleeping warthog and even though the animal fought fiercely, it was swiftly dispatched.  So, as well as gorilla bits, this guy will be bringing home the bacon tonight...

Some further skirmishing carried on in the last turn as the Professor's ascaris tried to drive off the champion's warriors for good, but this was all inconclusive (apart from protecting the last Sikh soldier who was carrying the artifact, of course).


That was a fascinating game and very enjoyable to play!  The tribesmen's initial charge was frightening, but didn't have quite enough oomf to destroy the camp, helped to no small extent by the devastating volley against their surprise flank attack.

For most of the game, we were very wary of doing anything which would attract stress tokens.  However, these are all removed at the end of each turn, so in hindsight I think that we were a bit too cautious about this.

Neither of us realised until very late in the game how hard it was to kill off the last figure of a unit (and thus score points for it) if that unit just went into hiding.  In the end, terror attacks seemed to be much more successful than shooting though even these were a bit unpredictable.

Equally, the attackers might have scored a few points for looting the camp.  They had the opportunity and did try to pillage one tent (this is potentially a very useful job for units that have been reduced too much to be risked in fighting any more), but were very unlucky in the results.

Neither side scored many victory points; the major goals relating to the crown of Aksoum were not achieved by either force.  Instead, what few points we made came from loot and destruction of enemy units:
  • Forest Tribes: 2VP (for killing a gorilla and taking the impressive bits as trophies)
  • White Man Expedition: 4VP (for destroying 2 opposing units).
Even though the White Men technically scored more than the Forest Tribe, the points achieved were so low that I don't think they're worth counting.  In my mind, the loss of Major Forbes redresses the balance anyway, so I think that overall I would consider the game to be a no-score draw.

Will we play Congo again?  You can bet we will!

Monday 9 January 2017

SDE: The Witch Queen


I'm supposed to be writing up a battle report for my first game of Congo, but it's taking too long.  Battle reports are a lot more work to prepare than other types of blog article!

In the meantime, here's a model for Super Dungeon Explore that I completed a few weeks ago.  I've been meaning to show it ever since then, but just haven't got round to it.  Oh, well, this one won't take long to publish...

Beatrix, The Witch Queen

Beatrix the Witch Queen is a boss-level villain, sold as a separate expansion for the Super Dungeon Explore board game.  She comes with 6 little ghosts that are used in the game as a form of Creep; they're not deployed alongside her and consequently I've not bothered to show them this time.

Beatrix rides on top of a wheeled pumpkin that is drawn by two black cats.  I think that the camera flash has picked up something strange in the cats' paint, because they appear to be medium grey in some of these pictures.  In real life, they are much darker than that.

This is quite a large model; it's a puzzle to me how the designer managed to fit so much onto a standard, large-sized SDE base.  Some of the nooks and crannies were quite hard to reach with a paintbrush, especially around the underside of the pumpkin.

I would prefer my models to come unassembled, but these more recent SDE pieces are glued together and "ready to play" out of the packet.  That can lead to some strangeness, such as the cats' feet not touching the ground.  I did consider trying to glue them down (using clamps), but in the end I decided that the tension on the model would be too great and something would probably break if I did that.  in the end, I decided that the witch's magic probably allows the cats to fly through the air!

So, Congo next time, OK?

Wednesday 4 January 2017

HotT: Night of the Bats!


We've played more games than usual recently.  Indeed, this last Christmas/New Year holiday period has been quite busy in that respect.  The practical consequence of this is that I'm falling behind in writing my reports!

Maybe you're thinking "Why does it matter?  Does every game need to be written down for posterity?"  Well, I do wonder this myself sometimes.  Here's my thinking: I wish to describe what happened as a (hopefully) entertaining tale, but I'm also recording the scenario used, the figures available to each side and the way the terrain was set up.

These data enable me to decide what worked well, what needs improvement for the future and so on.  In addition, the historical record permits me to calculate how long it has been since we played a particular set of rules.  Finally, if such tales of glory and woe are appealing to you (the readers) as well then that's a very welcome bonus!

What I've described in the paragraph above is (I think) part of the creative process.  For miniatures-based games, that is a large part of the hobby, for me at least.  This introspection helps me to understand what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Note that I do not attempt to document board or card games such as "Race for the Galaxy", "Cluedo" or the like.  These aren't in the same category as miniatures; board & card games are fully-formed in themselves and have no creative input from me.

On with tonight's report!

Night of the Bats!

Our visitors (Steve and his son) had enjoyed our last game of Hordes of the Things so much that we decided to play another.  This was a straight-up fight between the Knights of Lyonesse and the Cabal of the Black Hand - Necromancers and their undead servants.  Each side had 3 x 24AP "armies", so this was definitely a big battle variant of HotT.

The Knights of Lyonesse

All 3 brigades were very similar in composition, dominated by Knights (strangely enough) and with a significant scattering of Heroes, Paladins and the like.  Oh, and a few yeomen as well (Shooters, Spears or Riders), just to cheer on the better sort of people!

The Cabal of the Black Hand

The Cabal's 3 forces were quite different from each other, though all included magicians and at least a few hordes of zombies or skeletons.
  • Aerials: The northernmost force had large numbers of bats (Flyers), plus a Lurker and a Dragon.  Note that these latter two elements aren't deployed on the table initially, but instead require some occurrence to trigger their appearance.
  • Infantry: A huge number of Horde elements!
  • Cavalry: This command was a mixture of (anti-)Knights, Riders, an evil Hero, Sneakers and the like.

How It Played

From the very beginning, the knights charged forwards, mostly leaving their infantry and lesser cavalry behind (wow - who saw that coming?).  Some sparks of evil magic disrupted their lines slightly, but this was not much of a hindrance to the impetuous chivalry.

The men and woman of Artenay over-reached themselves, though.  The end of their first attacking line was flanked by undead cavalry and destroyed.  Following this, the evil Hero beat the Paladin in single combat, casing the latter to leave the table [Paladins are extremely powerful in HotT, but they take umbrage at being bested in a fight.  Rather than just giving ground and continuing to fight, as almost anyone else would do, they tend to stalk off the battlefield in shame, perhaps to seek penance at some remote monastery or to flagellate themselves for not being worthy enough].

The magicians were all delighted to see the Paladin go; the presence of Saint Florence of Artenay had a subduing effect on black magic.  Her absence should enable them to be a bit more destructive!

On the other flank, the Knights Errant charged forwards towards the undead Hordes.  As planned, the first line of bats leap-frogged them, thus putting themselves into position to sandwich the foolhardy men and destroy them next turn.  Still no sign of the bone dragon appearing, though.  That would have been quite useful right about now.

The power of the knights' thunderous assault caught the undead hordes completely by surprise, if indeed they were capable of feeling any such emotion.  Most of the ghouls and zombies were simply ridden down by the young knights, who pursued right into the magician general himself.

OK, that is something of a setback, but it's now the Necromancers' turn.  Time to roll for PiPs/command points: a '1'!  If ever there was a bad time to roll that low, this was it...

[For those readers who aren't familiar with Hordes of the Things, it costs 1 PiP to move a contiguous group of most types of models.  However, if the figures are flyers or magicians then it costs 2 PiPs instead.  With only 1 PiP available, almost all of this command couldn't move for the entire turn].

The Knights Errant took every advantage from this lapse of concentration by their enemies.  They couldn't touch the high-flying bats, but they carved their way through the Magician general and the last remaining ground troops in the Aerials command.  With their leader destroyed, the Cabal's right wing brigade became demoralised and started to slip away.  [I guess that the bone dragon won't be arriving after all...].

D'Alencon's forces in the centre were also making steady progress, crunching through hordes of skeletons as if they were no more than stalks of corn.  Even as they did this, a strange vortex surrounded the Red Knight.  When it ceased to shimmer, the hero had vanished, ensorcelled by the Cabalites.

The hero didn't stay captive for long, though.  As the forces of D'Alencon continued to press forwards through the disintegrating hordes, the Red Knight burst free from his prison!

He might have chosen a better time to make his escape bid, though.  As soon as he had left the Dark Tower, the necromancers raised fresh hordes of skeletons from the ground around him.  Even the mightiest hero is in danger when surrounded.

In a shattering series of combats, the brigade of D'Alencon was savaged.  Both the evil magicians zapped and obliterated their over-eager foes and the Red Knight fell beneath a mound of undead warriors.

Slightly surreal: in the centre of the battle line, the Knights couldn't beat the [supported] Ghosts.  The undead spirits couldn't affect the knights either, even though they won the fight [Sneakers cannot affect most troop types; they're really only useful against Generals].  This carried on for quite a few rounds of combat, with both sides deadlocked.  I suppose that knights just don't have enough imagination to be afraid of ghosts; they just keep on swinging their swords ineffectually at the phantasms!

By now, most of the nice, neat starting formations had disintegrated.
  • The Knights Errant were sweeping forwards towards the Dark Tower.  Although this appeared to be undefended, fresh hordes of undead were springing up constantly as the central necromancers poured most of their energies into replenishing their forces.
  • In the middle, the forces of D'Alencon were teetering on the edge of collapse; they had lost many fine nobles to the unspeakable black wizards.
  • The Cabal's cavalry wing and the army of Artenay had all but fought each other to a standstill.  Losses were heavy on both sides; it wouldn't take much to push either side into despair.
  • In a final flourish of magic, 2 necromancers co-operated to cast a black web over Roger the Castellan, D'Alencon's last hero.  He was dragged away by spectral furies, screaming all the way to the Black Tower's dungeons.

The Knights Errant charged the stronghold, but fresh skeletons clawed their way out of the ground to oppose them.  Time and time again this happened; whenever the knights retired to regroup, more enemies would appear in the spots they had just vacated.

Then, like a ray of sunshine appearing from between dark clouds, Sir Alain de Fleury swept in on his mighty winged horse.  He smote the nearest magician so hard that the necromancer was split in half down to the waist.

By now, only the only forces still fighting were the almost undamaged Knights Errant (for Lyonesse) and the very battered infantry and cavalry brigades (for the Cabal).  Either of the latter could have broken at any moment if they suffered casualties; only the continued raising of fresh skeletons - that were destroyed as fast as they came on - was keeping this force together.

Again and again, the Knights Errant surged forwards, but they were just unable to breach the tower's walls.  Every time they fell back, more defenders would arise to take the place of the fallen.  Just how long could this go on?  Quite a few turns, it seems...

In the end, it was Sir Alain de Fleury who triumphed.  The hero and his winged steed led a further attack by the Knights Errant and the Dark Tower fell, its defences finally exhausted and overcome.  Victory (at a price) for Lyonesse!


As the leader of the defenders, I planned for the infantry and cavalry wings to hold up the attackers whilst the aerial wing obliterated its immediate opponents before using its incredible mobility to attack the remaining forces of Lyonesse from behind.  It didn't quite work that way, though, did it?  So, my bats and dragon refused to engage and the knights stomped all over my ghouls, whilst the terrified necromancer just stood and watched!  Bah, humbug!

Oh, well.  It was a well-deserved victory for the good guys.  We gave them a run for their money, I think.  The first two brigades of Lyonesse were pretty much stopped dead in their tracks, although the middle one very nearly reached the defender's stronghold.

And there's also this: as the knights went through the tower's innumerable chambers and rooms, they came to one that was far from sunlight and fresh air.  Huddled in a corner was what the victors at first took to be a pile of rags, but which turned out on closer inspection to be a person.  He flinched from lights and shrank from human touch; his speech was slurred and broken.  In all ways, the man seemed a shadow; barely a remnant of a human being.  It took the rescuers a long time to realise that this husk was all that was left of the captive hero, Roger the Castellan...