Monday 24 February 2014

Saxons in Swindon

Once more I find myself in a hotel room in Swindon.
And so I've bought some little metal fellas with me to help while away the time.
Twelve Musketeer Saxon archers for use in the Age of Arthur event in a couple of weeks time.
The lighting, even by hotel standards is feeble, so I've been painting in conditions that would have seen a cricket match abandoned hours ago.
This also makes for poor pictures. That and having to use a phone camera.
So here's the result of an hour or two of slapping on base coats while listening to 6 music

Saturday 22 February 2014

Battle of Keren - a Salute warm-up

On Thursday night, with the kids banished to the land of the Grandparents, I was at last able to return to the White Hart and have a game with James.
This was a warm-up of sorts for the game that James and Scrivs are staging at Salute and that somehow I have inveigled my way into joining.

The game is based on the Battle of Keren, in which British and Indian forces fought up some spectacularly gruelling mountains to dislodge the Italians and their Ethiopian allies. James has designed some jaw-droppingly good scenery which John Grant has helped him build and James and Scrivs have been churning out Perry 8th army men like they’re going out of fashion. So all is set for a splendid looking display at Salute. All that really remains is to drill the assorted helpers and hangers on such as myself in the intricacies of playing I Ain’t Been Shot Mum - the chosen rule set.

The following pictures show really only the detail of the battle – James wants to save the “big reveal” of the terrain for the event itself - and rightly so - so do try and get along, it does look amazing.
I took command of two squads of infantry with some support scaling the cliffs to assault Italians and their Askaris dug in in an old fort at the top of the hill. To my left Mark commanded a similar force whilst the fiendish axis powers were led by the two Jameses.

What ensued was a really good game, with lots of exciting incidents, dodgy Italian accents and moments of derring-do. Having not been enamoured of my previous experiences with TFL rules I have to say that I really liked how this set worked with this number of figures – the cards giving the right “fog of war” element and the results being (to my admittedly limited knowledge) pretty plausible for the events depicted.

Britsh and Indian support troops at the foot of the cliffs

The fortunes of the cards meant I was able to lay smoke to cover my advance, and so, although my progress was slower I was able to mount a more determined assault on the defending Italians. Mark’s squads made more rapid progress but were exposed and hurled back by the defenders.

 The British columns advance on the cliffs

Before commencing the gruelling climb

At the top Askaris and their Italian masters await them

 Mortar fire keeps the Askaris pinned down

 Fixing bayonets "Binky" orders his men to charge!

Cinema moments saw Sergeant Reg Cunk (a County cricketer in civilian life) attempt to hurl a grenade at a lurking Italian sniper who was holding up the attack, only to cop a bullet straight between the eyes, leaving the rest of his men to charge up the hill with cries of “Revenge for Reg!” on their lips. Meanwhile Lieutenant “Binky” Fortescue, abandoning his customary position at the rear, led the men in a final assault and fell to his doom down the mountain locked in a deadly embrace with the Italian commander Bruschetta.

Silhouetted against the smoke Luigi "Dead-eye" Rigatoni takes aim at the advancing British

The final moments of Sgt Cunk's unsuccessful bid for a VC

"Revenge for Reg!"

A great game with splendid chaps, good rules and stunning models and scenery – that’s the way to spend an evening!

Friday 21 February 2014

Sigmar's Blood (12) - The Whirligig of Astrakosh battle report

Kurtis Spangel shook his head, trying to clear it; the hum of the magical winds that constantly buzzed in his ears was being whipped to a tornado. He glanced to his left to the ranks of proud Nordland swordsmen who stood beside him, but could barely move his tongue to speak.
Glancing ahead of him he could see the reason why – a powerful vortex of untamed magic span in the landscape, sparks of raw power flying out from the centre. Gripping his staff Spangel forced himself to concentrate. He knew he must enter the vortex and speak the words of power, channelling the magical discharge through himself. Above all he must prevent other, darker powers from accessing the mighty forces unleashed by the vortex.

Even as he though this his eyes caught sight of movement beyond the pillar of raw magic. Called by the siren cry of the Whirligig like carrion to a corpse, the shambling warriors of Sylvania were intent on harnessing the magic to their own ends.

As the dark shapes closed in on the magic source, Spangel and the witchhunter Ingwer marshalled the Imperial forces forward. The handgun armed men of Nordland swarmed into the tower to take up shooting positions whilst the rest of the army advanced. Trailing deadly sparks in its wake a rocket lit up the darkening skies and plummeted to earth amidst the foul winged monsters lurking on the flank of the Sylvanian army. With a horrified cry Ingwer drew the wizard’s attention to spectral horsemen that galloped in front of the magical vent. Summoning the winds of magic into himself the young light wizard cast forth a powerful net of magic to ensnare the deathly riders, but the presence of the nearby vortex overloaded him with magical energy and sent him reeling, his mind wiped blank of the knowledge of spellcasting.

 Forward my proud knights!

Ride them down!

Stiffening his resolve Ingwer urged the men forward – if the incantation could not be cast he must ensure that the followers of darkness did not access the power for themselves. The field began to echo with the sound of black powder weapons discharging as the handgunners poured shot into the advancing dire wolves and the rockets blazed against the undead hordes. The militiamen from Middenheim formed up to block the advancing vampiric horrors whilst the Empire knights prepared to ride down the skeletons. Alas at the last their courage failed them and they flailed uselessly against their bony foes before fleeing, to their eternal shame!
However all was not well for the Sylvanians as with a crackling of energy the misshapen form of the Necromancer was flung from the whirligig amidst a storm of magical feedback.

Despite the damage wreaked upon them by its nightmarish rockets the howling forms of loathsome ghouls fell upon the ill-prepared crew of the Hellstorm and ripped them to bloody tatters. Whilst the shrieking form of an undead maiden struck knights from the saddle with her unearthly cries. Ingwer unleashed his pistols at the cowering Sylvanian magic user but to no avail as the vargheists tore through the men of Middenheim before hurling themselves on the handgunners in the tower and forcing them from the safety of its thick walls.

 Squawk,crash, thump,munch!

Try again.

Ingwer cursed as the forces of darkness began to close in. The incorporeal knights flew again and again through his men, leaving lifeless corpses in their wake. The knights of Sigmar’s Blood ran regained their valour and ran down the remaining skeletons but it was all too little to stem the tide. Clutching his hammer amulet and brandishing his pistols the witchhunter looked to sell his life dearly as the Sylvanian’s closed the circle about him….

This was a good fun game that allowed us to get a bit more to grips with the forces.
The early miscast by the light wizard did rather put paid to any chance of holding back the ethereal troops and the Vargheists proved tricky to stop, so it turned into something of a slaughter for the stout men of the Empire (no prizes for guessing which side I was in charge of).

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Search term surprise

I was checking my stats today and was amused to discover the second search on my keywords list

I do hope he wasn't too disappointed!

(Readers of a sheltered disposition are advised not to Google fleshlight toys)

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Sigmar's Blood (11) - another warm-up game

With the forces fast coming to completion we decided another warm-up game was in order to familiarise ourselves some more with the armies and keep up enthusiasm.
So I came up with the following scenario.

The Whirligig of Astrakosh
A mighty upheaval of the earth caused by a passing warpstone comet has revealed the Whirligig of Astrakosh, a mystic wizardry thingy.
Von Carstein has dispatched his loyal necromancer to speak the black words of power that will unleash the power of the Whirligig. The light wizards of nearby Grunhafen have become aware of the presence of the Whirligig and, after much pleading with the local count have secured a small force to investigate.

The Empire
Kurtis Spangel lvl 2 Wizard of light
Stephan Ingwer witchhunter
The Knights of Sigmar's Blood, 8 reiksguard knights full command
The Drunken Wolves 20 militia full command
The Spears of Nordland, 20 empire spearmen with shields
Nordland Shootists 10 handgunners
Hellstorm Rocket

Vampire Counts
Nimitz Vulkmist lvl2 necromancer
10 Dire wolves
20 Ghouls
20 skeletons with spears
5 hexwraiths
3 vargheists

Set up
Use a 4x4 table
Place the Whirligig in the centre if the board.
Add a further d3+3 pieces of scenery to the board
Roll a dice, the highest scorer must pick a corner of the board and place a unit within 12" of the corner.
Units are then deployed alternatingly, all within 12" of the corner
Then roll a dice, the highest scorer takes the first turn.

Special rules
Only a wizard may enter the Whirligig . If the Whirligig is unoccupied the wizard must enter by making a normal move or marching into the Whirligig
If the Whirligig is occupied another wizard may assault the tower and if he wins he replaces the existing wizard in the tower.
The losing wizard may be placed anywhere within 2" of the Whirligig.
No other characters or units can penetrate the mystic sigils that protect the Whirligig and so may not attempt to assault it.
War machines have no effect on the Whirligig or models inside it.

The Spell
Incantation is a power 16 spell.
If successfully cast the wizard gains +2 on all future spell casting attempts he makes for the rest of the game whilst in the tower in addition the wizards side will gain 200vp
If the wizard miscasts while casting the incantation, resolve the miscast then place the wizard 2d6" away from the Whirligig in a random direction. The incantation is not successful and the wizard does not gain any VP
If any other spell is miscast while the wizard is on the Whirligig the spell is cast and the miscast resolved as normal, then move the wizard 2d6" from the Whirligig in a random direction.
If both sides cast the invocation then each gains 200vp

Tune in tomorrow to see how it played out...

Monday 17 February 2014

Sigmar's Blood (10) - Dire Wolves

They're finished.
They're horrid.

We used them in a game the other night. My chum (who gave me them to paint) asked me at the end of the game if I wanted to take them home.
"You touched them last" was my reply.

Saturday 15 February 2014

New Toys

Last week I realised that Scrivs' Age of Arthur event is approaching fast.
I always like to use events like this as a spur to painting up something new for my army.
My Saxon force is pretty complete as far as blocks of troops go, with enough for a large WAB army, or a small Hail Caesar force. However it is lacking in the missile department. The slingers I use are from the Gripping Beast range and though they're nice models they're not as nice as the rest of the force which is (mainly) Musketeer Miniatures models. However I didn't want to just replace one lot of figures with another, where's the fun in that - the army isn't growing - so, having been on the receiving end of some deadly Scrivs archery in the last few games of AoA I've played I thought a unit of Archers might be just what I needed.
So I ordered a unit of twelve on Thursday morning and they arrived first thing on Friday. Great service from the Gripping Beast boys (who distribute the Musketeer range).

Lovely models they are too, although I've been warned to make sure the bow hands are glued on firmly!
I've got a week in Swindon at the end of the month, so the plan is to prep, assemble and spray them before I go and then basecoat them in my hotel room. I'm living the rock and roll dream, just like Led Zeppelin.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Sigmar's Blood (9) - Reiksguard Knights

Here are the finished unit of Reiksguard Knights for the Sigmar's Blood campaign.
When getting ready to paint them I looked in the Uniforms and Heraldry of the Empire book and discovered the Knights of Sigmar's Blood. As well as giving a different way of painting the models it rather tickled me to have Knights of Sigmar's Blood for the Sigmar's Blood campaign.
In the end they're not exactly right but I was too lazy to do the full paint scheme. They're also waiting on shields which again won't have quite the right symbol, but will suit me. I'll use them either as Reiksguard (as in the campaign) or just as Empire knights.

The leader bloke isn't glued onto his horse. I remembered after assembling eight horses about the special horse head for leaders that comes on the sprue. At some point I'll add another couple of models to the unit and swap the horse then.

Both flag man and horn bloke really need some sort of skull and laurel leaves design, but, well, eventually.

Pretty simple painting using Plastikote silver spray to give them a base, then simple washes and a bit of drybrushing.

I think they look rather fetching en masse

Monday 3 February 2014

At the Sharp End

The Too Fat Lardies have released a supplement for their very much flavour of the month Chain of Command rules. Now I didn't enjoy my experience of Dux Britanniarum, and despite Scrivs having played and enjoyed the CoC rules, what I've read elsewhere leads me to believe that some of the same things I found irritating about Dux Brit will again be present here. Besides which 28mm WW2 was only ever supposed to be a minor diversion and I've already got the Bolt Action rules which seem to give me a perfectly adequate game. So despite the high praise from some quarters I've remained resistant.
However the one element of Dux Brit that I did enjoy, and kept me trying to enjoy the game far longer than I should, was the campaign system. So, given that At the Sharp End promises something similar for WW2 games, and that it costs just £6 for the instant gratification of a PDF download I've parted with my cash and got myself a copy.
So far it looks promising. There's clearly some elements that are designed just to work with CoC, but the structure of the campaign seems simple and the background generating parts are all quite jolly. So I think with a little tinkering I should be able to get a workable Americans in Italy campaign sorted out and maybe get a few more games of Bolt Action in.
But all this has to wait until after Sigmar's Blood is out of the way.