Monday, 28 February 2022

HAHA SAGA Escalation League - 5

Introduction

Over 2 years ago, the Helensburgh Alternative Hobby Association (HAHA) set out to run an escalation league for SAGA.  We managed the first two of our planned monthly meetings, in January and February 2020 - then Covid-19 struck.  Since then we have been through lockdowns, isolations and other inconveniences, but as of a few months ago we re-started our event.  This is a momentous post, because WE FINALLY COMPLETED THE LEAGUE!

For descriptions of the league rules and the five planned events, see here:

The plan was always for a climactic, every-man-for-himself battle at the end of the league.  In this, each player would field the entire 4-point SAGA warband that he (or she) had collected over the duration of the campaign.  Although we started with seven or eight players, due to the lengthy delays we only finished with four.  The others had all moved away from the area and were unable to continue participating.  I hope they are still enjoying SAGA as much as they did in the first two events, wherever they are now!


Armageddon

Usefully, the SAGA "Book of Battles" has a scenario for exactly the kind of grand, chaotic game we had envisioned: it's called "Battle Royale"!  This scenario has an alternating placement anywhere on the table.  Victory conditions revolve around Survival Points and successful charges.

We read the rules slightly incorrectly and gave the VP only for a charge which caused more casualties than were received, rather than any charge that made contact.  In the end this wouldn't have made any real difference to the results, though.


Deployment

Initial placement was quite simple: the Skraelings filled the marsh and the wood with bowmen, planning to move all their warriors onto the hill (and not appreciating that the gentle hill gave no defensive bonuses at all).  The Anglo Saxons, Normans and Crusaders mostly kept to themselves and deliberately didn't interleave with their enemies.


Fighting

Much of the action in our game revolved around the foreground hill.  Although the Skraelings climbed it, they were then sandwiched and harried by both the Crusaders' and the Anglo Saxons' elite troops.  Skraelings don't do too well when defending and their forces just melted away.


The other early action was between the Crusaders' crossbowmen and the Normans' spearmen.  The crossbows proved deadly, both at range and in melee (though by the time the melee occurred, there weren't too many spearmen left!)


Little action occurred elsewhere, except that the Norman archers' volley fire was a constant, if minor irritant to anyone in range.


Finally, the Norman knights decided that they'd find out how squishy the nearby Skraelings were.  It turns out that the swamp didn't slow down the knights enough to save the archers and yes - the Skraeling levy were exceptionally squishy.


The game ended after fierce fighting left the Crusader warlord as "King of the Hill".  He had triumphed over all opposition, including all the Skraeling warriors, their warlord, the Anglo Saxon chief and all of his hearthguard.  He did have a little help in doing this, but the Crusader lord had been all but unstoppable!


Results

For this particular battle:
  • The Crusaders scored an impressive 17 survival points.  Much of that was due to successful charges, though many of their units still existed at the end of the game - albeit sorely reduced.  For such a clear victory, they score the maximum 3 league points!
  • The Anglo Saxons and the Normans scored 11 and 12 survival points respectively.  Mostly this came down to the units they had left, rather than scoring for charges.  Decent second places, so both are awarded 2 league points.
  • The Skraelings were hammered by everyone else (though the others all swore that there was no conspiracy against them!).  They gained a mere 2 survival points for the single unit of levy hiding in the forest.  At least the league rules grant 1 league point for just showing up, so their sacrifice had some purpose...

The HAHA Escalation League Conclusion

After all the points have been added up, the standings are as follows:

January 2020
Starter for ten
February 2020
Powers of two
March 2020
October 2021
Long live the peasants!
April 2020
November 2021
Bonus round
May 2020
February 2022
Armageddon
TOTAL
Byzantines11(damaged)(absent)(retired)2
Anglo Saxons3313212
Normans121(absent)26
Jomsvikings12(retired)(retired)(retired)3
Anglo Danes3(absent)(retired)(retired)(retired)3
Skraelings123219
Crusaders221139

Congratulations are due to the Anglo Saxons, who won 3 of the 5 rounds outright and thus achieved an unassailable number of league points.  They are the champions!

It's been a long campaign, but we finally got there.  I'm immensely pleased that we completed the schedule, whilst at the same time I'm saddened that it took so long and that we lost so many participants along the way (again, not due to lack of interest, but rather because "real life" got in the way).

Would I do something like this again?  Certainly I would - like a flash!

Friday, 28 January 2022

Frostgrave: the Giant

 Introduction

Among my purchases at Carronade 2021 was a model giant; part of the Reaper "Bones" range.  I stated at the time that I intended to paint him up for use in games of Frostgrave.  Well, I finished this model a few weeks ago and have finally managed to find enough time & enthusiasm to post a quick article, so here he is!

The Frost Giant

I suppose I could have painted this model in human flesh tones - probably as a pale Caucasian rather than anything else.  However, I really wanted to mark him out as something different - a creature firmly rooted in the icy wastes.  To emphasis this, I chose a cold, pale blue for the skin and an even paler blue for his extensive beard and hair.


As a warm contrast (and to avoid iron), I used gold, brass and bronze for the metal parts of the giant's armour and weapons.  The non-metallic parts of his equipment are a dark grey.


Finally, the furs he wears around his shoulders and boots are also very pale.  I think the paint I used for the middle highlight (i.e. the one which adds most of the colour) was called "linen" or something like that.  Whatever it's name, it is a very pale brown with just the slightest hint of green in it.


So, just how "giant" is this model (I hesitate to call it a miniature, because it really isn't - at least when compared to most of my other figures)?  Well, here's a photograph of the frost giant alongside a 28mm human.

As you can see, he's maybe 2.5 or 3 times taller than a man; also this giant is very solidly built.  I'm really glad that this is a plastic (PVC?) model, as if he were metal then the figure's weight would be substantial!


Conclusion

I've wanted to have a frost giant in my collection for some time.  Well, now I've got one!  The model was relatively cheap and (I think) painted up nicely, with only a slight bend in the shaft of his axe to hint at the soft plastic material.  He'll do nicely!

Monday, 3 January 2022

Japanese pirates: Scheltrum Miniatures' Wako

 Introduction

For some years now, I have been searching for more Sengoku-era Japanese bandits with which to populate my games of Test of Honour.  Some models are available from the usual suspects (such as Perry Miniatures, Warlord Games & Footsore Miniatures), but I want more variety.

Scheltrum are a long-established model manufacturer in Scotland.  They have a wide range of figures for some fairly unusual genres - but they really don't do the internet at all.  Eventually, I managed to track down this elusive company at last year's Carronade show in Falkirk, where they had a large stall.

I was curious about Scheltrum's Wako models - feudal Japanese pirates - and so I purchased one of the several available packs.  I thought that these would be suitable for use as generic bandits.  Read on to find out whether I was right!

First Impressions

There were 8 models in the pack I had bought.  Two of these were unique and three were pairs of duplicated figures.  Six of the eight had open hands for weapons, whilst one pair of figures were moulded with exceptionally large swords.  Other than the separate weapons, the models were just a single piece.

The supplied weapons were all spears with a variety of lengths.  Some of the longer poles had attachments just below the head; I'm guessing that these were "fire lances" - primitive gunpowder weapons.

A few of the figures had noticeable amounts of flash on them, but this was easy to remove (and quite soft metal as well).

Finished Figures

It took a while to paint all my Wako.  In the end, I replaced a fair number of the weapons with spare spears and swords from another manufacturer (AW Miniatures, if I remember correctly?).  This was because I didn't wish to have my bandits armed with fire lances, even though the supplied weapons were perfectly acceptable parts in all other respects..

The entire set.  What a bunch of ruffians!


Two figures with "half helmet" (not sure how else to describe this?).  The sword (from AW Miniatures) looks a little odd, perhaps - but I didn't want to make them both into spearmen.


The pair of swordsmen from the Wako pack.  I've converted the one on the right by removing the sword and replacing it with a spear.  In my mind, these both look a bit odd, as the remaining sword is huge and the overarm spear thrust is not something I associate with Japanese/samurai fighting styles.


Two bandits with spears, headbands and partial armour.  Good, serviceable figures.


The two unique models from the pack:
The left-hand figure - with the hat - would work fine with either a spear or (as shown) a naginata.
The right-hand figure is perhaps the most generic model in the set: there's nothing about him that makes me think of Sengoku-period Japan (maybe the hair style?).

Conclusion

There is a distinct lack of information about Scheltrum's products available!  Hopefully, this article goes some small way towards fixing that.  Note that their Wako range has several other packs as well; these have greater or lesser amounts of armour, I believe.  Indeed, one model even has a Spanish-style helmet, presumably looted from some unfortunate sailor!

The style of these models is definitely a generation or two behind the best available today.  I've already mentioned a bit of flash on the castings; as well as that the figures are anatomically a bit exaggerated (the heads & hands are big, for starters).  Add to that the soft metal and it all screams "old fashioned".

Having said that, I think they are perfectly acceptable crowd-fillers.  These models will help to bulk out the back ranks of my bandit warband and add some welcome variety to such motley crews.  I will most certainly use them in my games.

Addendum

Because there seems to be some interest in contacting Scheltrum, I have scanned the part of their catalogue that has contact details.  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any of the forms of communication printed there; all I can say is that this comes from a paper catalogue which was handed to me in person at the Carronade show in late 2021.

Note: I do know that they have (at the time of writing) no website.  There is an old website name floating around for Scheltrum, but it seems to have been abandoned for a long time.