Sunday, 9 August 2020

Fantastic Battles - Ziggurat Dwarves vs the Ratkin of Vermantide

This week’s Fantastic Battles pairing saw Andrew’s ratkin of the Vermintide deploy opposite my Ziggurat Dwarves. The Mishaps roll following deployment was surprisingly inobtrusive as you can see in the photo. Only the two-company unit of ratkin assassins on the extreme right of the ratkin line (top left of photo) were delayed and forced to deploy further back. In the dwarvern ranks, all appeared equally calm – at least on the surface. The large battery of ballistae on the crest of the hill were badly hit by disease, and dissent in the ranks caused an entire company of the redshield shieldwall on the dwarvern right to desert the night before the battle.

The opening phases of the battle saw plentiful artillery fire – there were two companies of ratkin jezails and four batteries of dwarvern ballistae so missiles were firing thick and fast. The jezails concentrated their fire on an isolated ballistae battery on the right of the dwarvern line, while the ballistae spread their shots between one of the heavingly large four-company units of ratkin rabble in the centre and the avatar of the great horned rat-god who let the army.

The ratkin Verminguard and a unit of assassins pushed forward on the ratkin left flank leaving the great rat wheel and the horned rat in reserve. To a large extent, the damage caused by the dwarvern ballistae fire was mitigated by inspired rallying attempts from the ratkin leadership.

The dwarvern line was much shorter (no pun intended, but happily acknowledged) than their foes, so the dwarf warlord tried to reserve the right flank, threaten with the left flank, and lose all restraint with an all-out charge in the centre, send forward the elite axe-wielding Ziggurat Guard. 

On the left, the dwarvern blueshields found themselves in the worst possible situation – trudging slowly through a ploughed field facing a smaller unit of skirmishers. The ratkin gas globardiers opposite them proved incapable of causing any damage, but the very expensive and highly trained dwarves were badly mired. What the globadiers were able to do was scatter the unit of dwarvern flying carpet-riders, eliminating the only supports available to the blueshields. In the centre, while the ratkin rabble stood idle, the ratkin flame-belchers turned to pour rather devastating flame into the flanks of the Ziggurat Guard. It was about this time that the jezails managed to break the ballistae battery they’d been concentrating on and started to pepper away at other targets.

On the far side of the Ziggurat Guard, the ratkin wheel made moves to threaten the unit’s other flank and the Verminguard and assassins continued to advance towards the reserved units on the dwarvern right. In a stroke of madness, the captain leading the assassins decided to abandon his post and ran to take a ride in/on the great wheel. This left the assassins on the ratkin left flank out of command and was to prove rather disastrous.

First impact occurred in the centre of the line where the wheel (with captain attached) crunched into the flank of the Ziggurat Guard axemen before they could make contact with the rabble. The wheel was, in turn, charged in the flank by the dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu. At the same time, the Verminguard charged the (very lonely) djinn. 

Over on the left, the dwarvern blueshields – still struggling with the difficult terrain – made expedient use of a haste spell to change formation and charge straight into the flanks of the unwary ratkin assassins who had been steadily advancing past them up the flank.

Back in the centre, the rat-god charged into the flank of the dwarvern Lamassu, only to be blinked right back out of combat again by the djinn. One unit of ratkin rabble then charged forward, hoping to further pin the Ziggurat Guard.

On the dwarvern left, the blueshields reformed to bring their full weight to bear on the ratkin assassins, while just on the right of the photo the dwarvern redshields finally made their move. The ratkin assassins who had been threatening the extreme end of that flank rolled poorly on their impetuous action chart (the danger of leaving them out of command) and started to fall back. This gave the redshields the breathing space they needed to muck in against the flanks of the Verminguard.

By this stage, the dwarvern axemen of the Ziggurat Guard had managed to scatter both the ratkin rabble to their front (causing a pretty devastating ripple of Resolve loss through the nearby rat units) and the big wheel. They were badly bloodied themselves, but they are a super hard nut to crack and still had a lot of fight left.

On the dwarvern left, the blueshields scattered the assassins and were feeling pretty good – except that they were now on the far end of the line, still in rough terrain, facing the wrong direction, and many (so many!) turns of movement away from another potential combat.

Back in the centre, the second large unit of ratkin rabble now hurled themselves down the hill to attack the weakened Ziggurat Guard. The rat-god also sprung into action, battering into the exposed right flank of the unit while the ratkin magic-user riding the Bell of Vermintide crashed into the left flank.

The dwarvern warlord on his Lamassu had already ridden to the assistance of the djinn and the dwarves holding up the Verminguard elites. Thankfully, the ratkin assassins on this flank were still struggling with command issues. While they were no longer running away from the table, neither were they in a position to attack the rear of the redshields.

The battle was teetering on the edge as the elite dwarves of the Zigguratguard finally succumbed to their enemies. As they fell, the rabble ratkin facing them also broke and scattered. The dwarves were three companies away from their breakpoint, and the ratkin were only one company away from their own. The dwarves had several units with low resolve which the rat-god sought to capitalise on by charging into the rear of the dwarvern Lamassu. If he could kill the dwarvern warlord it might spread enough panic to break the Zigurrat formations. 

The remaining dwarvern ballisatae fired into and destroyed the ratkin flame-belchers meaning the rats would break at the end of the turn regardless. Everything came down to the final combat around the beleaguered Verminguard to see whether the ratkin would pull a draw/mutual destruction from the jaws of defeat. But it was not to be. The dice gods were angry and the melee results were mediocre at best. Despite the best effforts of both the rot-god and the rogue leading the Verminguard, the dwarvern warlord remained alive and the Vermintide hordes melted away to the gathering darkness. 

Saturday, 8 August 2020

More Excellent Miniatures - 10mm scale comparisons

Following on from my previous review of Excellent Miniatures 10mm elves, I placed an order for a small wood elf army - now prepped and ready for painting - and recieved a few more samples as well. This follow-up post provides a few more comparative shots of some of the different ranges.

As I noted last time, the Excellent Miniatures 'Noble Elf' line is scaled to match Warmaster figures. Stephan at Excellent Miniatures confirmed that he could scale them up to be more in line with Magister Militum and Pendraken, and this photo is the result. At first sight they still appear slightly shorter than their metal counterparts, but that is because they lack a basis. From toe to eye they match Magister very well and, once based, you wouldn't question them being on the table with Pendraken.

Here is an example of the 'Elves of the Wood' archers. I've chosen to show the same strip twice (they come in strips of two) to illustrate the small vertical supports that they are printed with. The strip to the left has had the supports removed, the strip to the right still has them. These are shown with comparative elves from Magister and Pendraken, and a Magister Classical Greek archer. Again, they match Magister fantasy for heft and height - although the actual details are rather finer.
Elves of the Wood archers and stag-riders along side Pendraken high elf cavalry and Magister Classical Thracian cavalry. The stag-riders are just about spot on  size-wise with the archers. They are smaller than the Pendraken elvish cavalry, but larger than the Magister historical line.
Another shot to show the same strip twice, with vertical supports removed to the left, and 'as printed and posted' to the right. It is easy enough to remove the supports with a stanley knife or scalple, but it does take a little time. 
My wee army will be led by this stag-rider hero. She is in scale with the rest of the range, but her mount is a big boy! 
... and for completeness sake, I've included the giant eagle that will support my force. Again, both the eagle and the hero are shown with the vertical printing supports still in place.

I am hugely impressed by this range, and by the service and communication of Stephan at Excellent Miniatures. Removing the vertical printing supports is a slight inconvenience, but the print quality is just superb - especially when compared with some of the finecast and bubble-pocked resin models I have seen produced recently. In truth, my wood elves will almost certainly skip to the front of the painting queue as I'm really keen to see them with some colour.

But not to be overlooked... I was also sent a sample of some as-yet unreleased human knights. While the Elves of the Wood are being produced under liscence, these knights are digitally sculpted in-house by Excellent Miniatures. The quality of the sculpts and the printing is pretty damn impressive.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Excellent Miniatures - 10mm elf scale comparison

I recently received a package of sample 10mm miniatures from a German company, Excellent Miniatures. For full disclosure, I paid for most of the postage, but I did not pay for the miniatures. The package contained an assortment of figures from different ranges that they currently sell.

In this post, I am going to concentrate on the two ranges of elves that were in the sample - Elven Nobles and Elves of the Wood. I believe both ranges have been produced by Forest Dragon on patreon and Excellent Miniatures have a license to 3D print and sell them commercially. 

Here you can see the Excellent Miniatures elves alongside examples of other assorted (nominally) 10mm miniatures. The first thing to note is that the quality of the sculpting is quite remarkable and the printing leaves them clean and crisp.The Noble Elves (on foot) are slightly smaller than all the others, but the comparison is a little unfair as these examples are not on the strip base that they would ordinarily be printed on. That strip base would raise them up a couple of mm. Even so, the Noble Elves are closer in size to Warmaster figures and the historical ranges of Pendraken and Magister Militum than those companies' fantasy lines.

Here you can see the Noble Elves between Magister and Pendraken ranges. Even with a strip base, they would still be a tad smaller, but the beauty of 3D printing files is that Stephan at Excellent Miniatures has said that they would be happy to adjust the size if required. It should be noted that colour scheme is for my wee boy's blue-skinned Night Elf army - akin to Dark Elves, but with less nudity and S&M because he is only nine... 

The Elves of the Wood stag-riders are pretty special; special enough for me to place an order so I can paint up a small army for Fantastic Battles. The sample stag-riders were printed in a quick-print test plastic and were rather brittle and I lost two antlers in transit, but the commercial prints will use the more robust plastic that most of the rest of my sample bag were printed in.

Finally, I wanted to see an example of how they take paint, so I painted up one of the Noble Elf command figures as a Night Elf Captain. She is obviously smaller but so much more detailed than her peers. While I love Magister and Pendraken, I've always found their elves lacking in ... elfishness. Magister elves are robust rather than fine, while Pendraken elves are really tall and a bit stiff. I have to say that these 3D printed elves are rather exquisite. 

Monday, 27 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Men of the Byzernian Empire vs Halflings of Hearthshire

This week saw two playtests of Fantastic Battles here in Ulster. The first between my Ziggurat Dwarves and JB's Dark Elves, and the second between my Hearthshire Halflings against Jim's Byzernian Humans. 

Rolling for Mishaps, the halfling line (bottom of the photo) was moderately impacted. One unit of treefolk was delayed and deployed to the rear of their designated position, the kitchen militia were too enthusiastic and deployed forward, and both the archers and hearthguard units were suffering from disease - or was it bad salmon mousse served the night before? The Byzernians had invested in a 'quartermaster' who positively modified all their Mishap rolls meaning they only had one enthusiastic unit - skirmishing kern on their right flank (upper left in the photo) - and a late unit of drunken bonnachts. The Byzenians had also purchased the 'ambush'  strategy allowing their rogue to lead a unit of light horse prickers ahead of their line on the left (top right of the photo). 

In the early stages of the battle, the two lines advanced steadily towards each other. The halflings in the centre tried to re-establish a sold line with their enthusiastic kitchen militia who blessedly were happy to sit and wait while their commanders caught up to them. Rosie, the halfling rogue, led the poultry scouts forward to try to hold the Byzernian prickers on the hill, allowing Captain Fishwick to bring up the mounted yeomanry to drive back the assault on the halfling right flank.

Unfortunately for Rosie and the poultry scouts, Fishwick was not fast enough and they had to receive a charge from the prickers unsupported.

On the left of the halfling line, Puck Goodfellow was not taking his time to move his painfully slow treefolk forward. He had a large four-company unit in front supported by some halfling game wardens, and the smaller two-company unit of late-comers bringing up the rear. Before them were the Byzernian kern and two wagon-mounted flame-throwing warmachines. In the background, the drunken bonnachts can be seen lazing around, drinking and taking in the sun on a crisp winter's morning.

The two centres stare at each other across no-man's-land.

On the halfling right, Fishwick's yeoman cavalry were charged by a mass of galloglasses. In a bit of a bind, Fishwick called in the support of the Hearthshire's friendly neighbourhood chicken monster cockatrice. However, without the support of the yeomanry, the poultry scouts, and their bold leader, were quickly overwhelmed by the superior height numbers of the Byzernian cavalry on the hill.

In the centre, the halfling hearthguard engaged in a pike-measuring activity with their Byzernian equals, while the squishy kitchen militia received a charge from both the Byzernian heavy cavalry and an angel. To my great delight they managed to soak up a lot of damage, but not break. In the following Action phase, they passed around some cold chicken drumsticks and a few pickled onions, restoring enough Resolve to keep on fighting.

Unfortunately, following the defeat of the poultry on the hill, the Byzernian light cavaly prickers had free reign over the halfling right and were soon engaged against the kithen militia's flank. Faced by the fierce gallowglasses and seeing their friends break, the halfling yeomany fled, allowing the galloglass unit to reform against the cockatrice.

On the halfling left, the wardens pinned the Byzernian kern in place just long enough to allow them to be caught by the lumbering tree folk. The Byzernians could not stand before the wall of walking wood and fled, their captain dying in the process. In the Byzernian background, the drunken bonnachts finally decided that this battle wasn't for them and wandered off to tour a nearby distillery. The Byzernian right was now leaderless and the flame-wagons defenceless. Tired of being hit by the flame-throwers, the treefolk were on a rampage ...

... it just happened to be a painfully slow rampage. The treefolk were desperately needed in the centre of the battle, but they were far off on the left flank. The kitchen militia eventually reached the point were there was not enough quince jelly in the world to keep them in the fight and they too scattered. The Byzernian angel skipped across to attack the halfling archers (now in column) and the day was looking pretty grim. Faced with Byzernian spearmen to their front, and elite Byzernian heavy cavalry to their flank, the halfling Hearthguard fought their final stand until they could stand no longer.  

Technically speaking, in both the spirit and the letter of the law, that was the end of the battle. Look at the halfling Warlord all alone there ... he knows it. With the Hearthguard broken, the halfling army was reduced to below half strength and should have withdrawn. However, the halfling player - whose name shall not be mentioned else he incriminate himself - may have been overtired and miscounted the number of loses. The battle continued into overtime.

The Byzernian rogue went off to attack the halfing catapults and would have actually been killed by a freak roll of a 6, had the Byzernian prophet not foreseen the event and allowed the dice to be swapped for another he'd prepared earlier.

The halfling archers reformed to face the angel, and were immediately hit in the flank by the Byzernian heavy horse. Miraculously, they drove the angel off, turned to face the heavy horse...

... and then were hit in the flank by the Byzernian spearmen. Those spearmen were, in turn, charged by the halfling truffle-hunters who were empowered by the Magic-user Hamfist and rolled 11 attack dice! Needing 5+ to hit, the wee walking sausages managed to roll 10 hits. Bless 'em!

Still, it was not to be, the spearmen reformed and drove off the truffle-hunters, just as the horsemen finished off the halfling archers.

In the end, only Puck and the treefolk remained on the table. The battle was well and truly over with a well-deserved victory going to the men of Byzernia. 

I'll leave Jim to have the final words: