Wednesday 31 December 2014

Reflections on 2014

As the year draws to a close and Auld Lang Syne gets dusted off for another round, I thought I’d make one final post for the year.

It has been a busy year, with a new job and far too much travelling. Much of my hobby time was take up with the production, testing and release of the second edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World’s End. This was a task made so much smoother thanks to the tireless efforts of the playtesters, especially Ian and Richard down in Kent, without whom it would be a far poorer set of rules.

Not content to sit on my laurels (spikey leaves you know), I also started development – or rather, re-ignited development – of my naval rules, now renamed Galleys & Galleons. These have been in the wings for some time and thanks to the encouragement of Messrs Hodgson and Bryant are now firmly back on the agenda.

The call out for G&G playtesters elicited a response so large that I had to turn quite a number of people away and the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive. It is still relatively early days, but it is my intention to release the rules on September 19th 2015 – coincidentally, that day happens to be International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Also in the pipeline is a little tongue-in-cheek chariot racing game which I am playing around with called Bread and Circuses. If you have ever wanted a fast and furious gaming aperitif or filler game, or fancied a night of whipping your mates till they lose all control, this might just be the game for you.

… and sure, don’t most of us have a burning need to buy more chariots?

On the painting front, I started off strong this year, spending quite a bit of underemployed time between contracts ‘finishing’ my Hail Caesar Seleukids and then painting up some Hellenistic Spartans for gaming amigo Conor. This I got a longer term contract and time sort of dried up with only little bursts here and there including a bunch of 10mm Romano-Brits and Irish for Dux Bellorum and my ‘…but I need these for playtesting…’ fleets for G&G. It really has been a year for the little chaps – I can’t think of any 15mm or larger figures that I painted this year.

Painting tally:
28mm              0
15mm              0
10mm              74
6mm                1325
1/450 ships      10 (+6 wreck markers)

As some of you will know, the war in Syria is a subject very close to my heart for both academic and personal reasons. When Song of Shadows and Dust came out in 2013, I decided that half of my royalties from sales through Ganesha Games (still just SSD for now, soon to be joined by G&G) would be donated to UNHCR, the United Nations body responsible for the care and protection of people fleeing war and persecution. Your support this year has enabled me to send another £70 to the Syria crisis appeal. To put that in perspective, £30 can provide thermal blankets to help keep a family warm throughout the winter, or £80 can provide field kitchens for eight families.

So before I run out of time, let me wish everyone a great 2015. May your real lives be filled with happiness and may your table-top armies use their conquered enemy’s tables as footstools.

Friday 26 December 2014

Galleys & Galleon's 'pursuit' game

In the lead up to Christmas I was able to sneak off to gaming buddy Jim's place for some G&G. We played a basic pursuit style game with my two 200 point fleets. I ran my Dutch merchant fleet as the defender, and Jim took the pirates and played as the attacker.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum...

What better way to spend a very quiet morning at work in the days before Christmas, than to send out the last of the Irregular Wars Chance Cards. 

Because there is a bit of a lead in time between placing the order and the manufacturer shipping out the products, I added a few packs on to the last order and had them shipped directly to me. These arrived yesterday and have now been packaged up ready for shipping out to the most recent orders at lunch time.

So if you are still waiting on Chance Cards arriving, you shouldn't have too long to wait!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Changes to Vexillia's sale of PDFs

Vexillia Ltd handle the sale of digital copies of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End. Changes the the way VAT is applied to digital goods within the European Union have meant that smaller businesses like Vexillia have had to reconsider how they will sell their products. The following post is an abridgment of several posts made my Vexillia through social media over the past month. I wanted to repeat these points here so that IW:CatWE players are made aware of how these changes will effect the pdf sales of the game.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Galleys & Galleons - more playtesting shots

I am delighted to be able to say that the call out for playtesters for Galleys & Galleons received a huge response (much larger than I expected) and over the last month comments, feedback and After Action Reports have been streaming in. 

I thought I would post a few photos to show various peoples' approaches to the game so far and some links to fellow bloggers' sites to share their thoughts.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Monday 1 December 2014

Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End - 2nd Edition is now available!

These fast play wargaming rules recreate the smaller actions so common at the fringes of the European world: Britain, Ireland, colonial and native forces in the New World, the East Indies and the Eurasian steppe.

Now in its 2nd edition, the 90 page rule book includes scenarios, a campaign system and 48 army lists.

A new cities built in the name of Shadows and Dust

If your French is even half as good as mine (and that's not saying much - but sure, you can always use Google translator [vel sim.]...), you should pop over to Ch'ti Eric's  exciting blog and see the fine work that is being done in preparation for playing Song of Shadows and Dust.

Sunday 30 November 2014

SSD faction building suggestions from Saskatoon

Tim from Saskatoon has just posted some handy ideas for building 28mm factions for Song of Shadows and Dust - if you haven't already had a look, check out his excellent blog!

Tuesday 25 November 2014

IW2 Chance Cards - now taking orders

Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in purchasing a deck of bespoke Chance Cards for the 2nd edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World’s End. In order to keep the purchase price as low as possible we have decided to have these produced on a print-on-demand basis and shipped direct to you from the manufacturer.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Lets hear it for the left handed gladiators!

Although I am a right-hander myself, I've been blessed/plagued by left-handers my whole life. My dad, wife, numerous friends and bosses - all of them of the sinister persuasion.

Anyway, it is always a joy To find references to lefties from the ancient world. I saw this (probably 2nd C AD) funerary inscription during the week in the University College Dublin Classics Museum. I thought it might be a bit of inspiration for all those gladiator fans out there.


Friday 14 November 2014

Galleys & Galleons - playtesting call out

While I wait for my proof hard copy of Irregular Wars (2nd ed) to arrive in the post, I thought I'd start making moves to get some playtesters together for Galleys & Galleons.

What is Galleys & Galleons?
Galleys & Galleons is a new naval wargame being written for Ganesha Games (the guys who have brought you Song of Blades and Heroes, Song of Shadows and Dust, Flying Lead, Mighty Monsters etc). The game uses a slightly granulated version of the basic Song of... mechanic, and is probably mid-way between the basic Song games and Mighty Monsters in complexity.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End 2nd edition launch update

(Martin from Vexillia Ltd and I) have finalised the launch date for 01 Dec 2014, so we  thought this was a good time to provide an update on progress.

Saturday 1 November 2014

A daring sloop and strange shores

I've had several photos from Galleys & Galleons playtesting games sitting on my desktop for a couple of weeks now so I figured I should probably post them. 

Irregular Wars 2nd edition - publication day -30 (or near enough)

The countdown for the publication of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End (2nd edition) has most definitely begun.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

IW (2nd ed.) Chance Cards - some market research

The 2nd edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End is on track for a release in the first week of Christmas. The rules will be available as a softcover book from Amazon (all the Amazons, whether you use .com,, .jp, .de, .nl of whatever). Alternatively, you will be able to purchase the rules as a pdf file downloadable from Vexillia Ltd. Existing customers who have previously bough earlier versions of the rules will be able to upgrade to the 2nd edition pdf for a special reduced price (under £2).

Sunday 19 October 2014

More ships and boats for Galleys & Galleons

Even though I have not found much time for wargaming of late, this weekend I was able to work on some more vessels for my Galleys & Galleons playtesting fleets.

An Irregular Wars 2 update

Things have been pretty quite on the blog these last couple of months. Work has been getting busier and I've not had much free time to work on anything worth putting on here. 

However, in the next week or two I hope to receive the last edits for Irregular Wars 2nd edition. After I put those through, there will be a final proof read and then I'll be uploading the manuscript onto Amazon Createspace. I am still hopeful that the second edition should be available by the beginning of December, as a pdf from Vexillia Ltd, or as a paperback hardcopy from Amazon (all Amazon websites, .com, .de etc etc). 

However, Amazon is not able to do the premium quality Chance Cards, so these will have to be ordered separately, either from myself or, perhaps from Vexilia (I'm sure Martin will pass any orders on to me that are placed through him anyway... we'll talk it through).

Stand by for imminent progress reports!

Sunday 14 September 2014

Galleys & Galleons - A tabletop wargame for wee ships in the Age of Discovery

I have been working on new a naval set of wargaming rules for Ganesha Games which will see ship-to-ship combat played out on your table top with an average of 1-5 ships per player.
These rules are founded on the sea-borne adventures of the so-called Age of Discovery, the 16th and 17th centuries, when men were men, maps were only half drawn and death by sea monster was a real possibility. Within that theme, the game plays fast, fun and free. It is a naval wargame, but not a simulation.

As you'd expect from a Ganesha game, vessels and fleets are fully customisable, and acts of piracy and war at sea are abstracted in such a way as to leave players with the taste of briny sea in their mouths, but with little risk of actually catching scurvy.

The working title for the rules was All at Sea. They take elements of my old naval game and integrated them with a Ganesha skeleton to create a much better game. However, it was then drawn to my attention that a WWII naval game beat me to the title. Together with my crew of salty sea dogs and a couple of polls (on TMP and Friendface) I decided to go with Galleys & Galleons.

We started playtesting the game using fleets of 1/2400 scale galleons, but I have always  had my eye on the 1/450 scale vessels produced by Peter Pig. This game was the the perfect opportunity to pick a few up.

In these shots you can see the small pirate fleet that I have recently painted. The larger vessel and the rowing boats are from Peter Pig, the smaller vessel is from Ral Partha Europe (with Peter Pig crew). I previously did a size comparison post with these which can be found HERE.

For non-campaign games of Galleys & Galleons, we recommend having between 50 and 200 points per player - we have been playing games with 2-4 players. Of the 30-odd historic ship profiles which will be included in the rule book, the cheapest, a shallop, will cost you 5 points, while a war galleon will set you back 76 points. The little fleet above costs 100 points and consists of the Brig Oberon, the Pinnace Jezabel, and a couple of cutters. 

Sunday 31 August 2014

Irregular Wars 2nd edition contents and sample pages

As the second edition of Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End nears completion, I thought I'd post up a few sample pages to allow people to see what they're in for. 

The rules have been formatted in the publishing programme and are now receiving a final round of proofing (so that means that these pages are not necessarily in their final form). You'll be able to see from the contents page below that this book will consist of 30 pages of rules, a campaign system and 46 different army lists.

I am planning on having the rules available from both Vexillia Ltd (downloadable pdf) and Amazon (hardcopy) for the start of December. If any surprises are thrown up during the proofing I may have to delay release until the start of 2015, but the plan is for December 2014.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Acropolis now.

I have been following the AARs for Song of Shadows and Dust posted by Tim from Saskatoon with great interest and enjoyment recently. If you haven't come across his (much better than my) blog before, I'd certainly encourage you to check it out HERE

Re-invigorated by seeing somebody else enjoying my game so much, I decided I needed to add something to my mini-city, Antiocheia Mikros. Looking around the house, I grabbed some spare insulating foam from the roof space and decided that I could add a touch more three-dimensionality to my city with an acropolis, or 'upper city'.

Using a black marker I outlined a rough shape on the foam, sufficient to house my temple or a few houses and started carving with a breadknife.

I made sure there would be a couple of ways up to the top, with a small ramp, a broad ramp and a small area allowing models to climb up in two stages.

I slapped on a bit of left over house paint testers (left over from paining the buildings for the city) as a base coat.

Then a bit more (though I had to buy some more testers)...

And some highlighting...

And a little static grass...

And Bob's your proverbial uncle. A new terrain piece costing a grand total of £2.50 and a day's pottering.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Irregular Wars - Colonial Spanish vs. Hollanders

Another game of Irregular Wars was played out on our dining table last night. This time the Spaniards were faced by a few ship loads of Dutch merchant adventurers.

My Hollanders (the force at the lower half of the table) were attacking and I thought that I had drawn an excellent selection of chance cards. I had a quartermaster general who should have made my army less susceptible to disease and other deployment mishaps. I also had a rain card (allowing for the chance of a rain storm) and the sodden ground card (which means that a rainstorm can turn all open ground into muddy difficult terrain).

The poor Spanish drew less well, ending up with a lord who was both uninspiring (penalty when rallying troops) and nauseous (allowing me to take advantage of his stomach complaints and upset his orders once per game). The other card was kept secret.

During recruitment, the Spanish predictably recruited a larger army, while my Dutch were generally of much better quality. I had companies which should have been better in the shooting phases, while he had better cavalry. I planned on getting in range before the rainstorm and then hoping that the sodden ground would keep him at bay while I showered him with shot.

As it turned out, the Spanish rolled very well during disease and mishaps and even with my quartermaster, his troops still got the better of the pre-game rolling.

Unfortunately, God was siding with the Papists this game and when I played my rain card, he played a card to clear the skies which meant that my rain storm would not happen. It was about then that my plan unraveled.

Although I did my best to blow him back to Madrid with terrifying volley fire, it ended up having little effect. After this photo I got too engrossed in my impending defeat and seem to have stopped taking photos. Drat. It was actually a very close game once the lines closed. In the end, the Spaniards seized the initiative at just the right time and a charge of their hidalgos took my army in the flank. The ripple of lost resolve, combined with a sweeping and seemingly unstoppable cavalry attack spelt my ultimate doom.

A fantastic game which turned up no new issues and left me defeated but satisfied.

... but I though you said your 6mm Seleukids were finished ...

No, no, I certainly can't recall ever saying my Seleukids were finished. I have to wait until someone starts to produce decent Hellenistic Thracians before I'd really consider the army finished - and that is a long way off. 

In the interim, and while the Hail Caesar shelf in my warchest gets dangerously full, I decided to paint up a few more bits and pieced.

First up, I've added a couple of commanders recently, including an Elephantarch - I'm sure you'll be able to tell which one he is in the photo. I have six commanders now meaning I can split the army into two competing branches of the royal house for a Seleukid civil war.

I expanded my Arab units to be able to field an entire Arab division (two light infantry warbands and two light horse units). These guys are, beyond doubt, the finest 6mm figures I have come across. They are from the 19th century Mahdist range but in the absense of a designated pre-Islamic Arab range, the will suffice nicely.

Depending on the context, their commander is either a sheikh with Macedonian adviser, of a Macedonian officer with a camel mounted guide/messenger/escort. They will support my Seleukids admirably I think, and should I eventually build a Parthian army, they can help out there too!

And lastly (for now), a little light artillery to add a touch of funky fire support. In the recorded Seleukid battles, artillery was only used in sieges and at Thermopylai (where they were set along a refurbished defensive wall. However, we know that they were available, and Alexander the Great had used them against the Skythians in Central Asia, so their use by the Seleukids is not out of the question.

These warmachines are scorpions from the Marian Roman range, crewed by artillery crew from the greek range and commanded by a Macedonian officer (with scroll) and a Roman civilian engineer (in toga). I love them!

Saturday 9 August 2014

Irregular Wars - Caribs vs. Colonial Spanish

Last night saw an army of Caribbean natives match up against a force of Colonial Spanish using the (almost complete) second edition of Irregular Wars. The table was terrain heavy which should have favoured the natives who do not suffer from movement modifiers, but some statistically unlikely dice rolling left the Caribs lagging in the first half of the game.

The Spanish (slowly) advanced their pike militia across the ford while the native scouts went out early to pepper  them with arrows. Unfortunately for them, the dice gods had abandoned them and they had little success.

Much more accurate fire from the Spanish across the river started to reduce the resolve of the Carib defenders while the pike continued their excruciatingly slow advance. Behind them, Spanish colonists in a great mass, both foote and horse, crossed the ford.

Once the Spanish cavalry were across the river the match became a bit of a forgone conclusion. With pike blocks to their front and horsemen plowing into their flanks, the natives scattered and abandoned the field.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Peter Pig 1/450 vessel size comparison with RPE Empire galleass

One of my gaming comrades as been developing his own set of naval rules called Broadside - initially focused on 20th century engagements but I believe the intention is to adapt it later to deal with the 18th and 19th centuries as well. After playtesting Broadside I  received an enthusiasm boost to return to All at Sea, my ship-on-ship game set in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

My 1/1200 scale galleons were irreconcilably damaged during the big move two years ago, since then I have been using 1/2400 scale vessels for my own play testing. These paint up fine but, admittedly, are really just gaming pieced at that scale. 

I looked around for alternatives and kept coming back to the Peter Pig Pieces of Eight range, 1/450 scale 17th century vessels. While being slightly later than my previous forays into naval games (very much the 16th century), I decided to order a couple to see how they paint up. 

I also came across the Ral Partha Europe range of fantasy ships in my search. While these are intended to be used as fleet markers in a fantasy campaign game, the 'Empire' vessels are clearly inspired by 16th century vessels. Paul at RPE wasn't sure how they scaled and was good enough to send me a sample. 

I was sent a galleass, the middle sized of the three Empire ships made by RPE. This is a two masted, galleon-like model with no oars. It was clear that it couldn't serve as a historical galleass, but could it be used elsewhere? The answer to that, when the sample arrived, was a resounding yes.

In this shot you can see the hulls compared: from left to right, a large merchantman,  medium sized merchantman (both Peter Pig), the RPE galleass, and lastly a Peter Pig rowing boat. I would say, as an estimate, that the true scale of the RPE range must be somewhere between 1/600 and 1/1000. There are cannons cast on the deck but they are rather tiny.

However, if there is no pressure to use the RPE vessel as a galleass, it will serve beautifully as a 1/450 pinnace! In this second shot you can see the Peter Pig large merchantman (I'm going to use her and an East Indiaman) alongside the RPE galleass/pinnace with their respective masts in place. Between them is a stand of the Peter Pig crew. By using the same sized deck crew on both vessels, I think they'll be very compatible. I'll post again when they have some paint on them.

Irregular Wars 2 - Chance cards

The new edition of Irregular Wars is designed to be played with a deck of 52 chance cards. Playing without the chance cards is certainly possible, although we feel that their inclusion will add a little more period flavour to the game. They represent different personal traits of the lord, specialist officers, unusual battlefield conditions and other random events such as the chance of a rain storm to ruin your plans, or the presence of traitors in your enemies camp.

Three cards are drawn randomly for each lord after they have decided upon their faction, but before they have begun recruiting their army. Some cards are revealed as soon as they are are drawn; these cards generally effect the pre-game phases such as recruitment, terrain set up or deployment. Others are be kept secret from the opposing player(s) until such time as they are used. 

The text for all of the cards will be provided at the end of the rule book. Players will be free to copy the text as they like and apply it to an existing deck of playing cards. However, For those aesthetes (like myself) who would prefer a customised deck of Irregular Wars chance cards, I have designed a deck that can be produced on demand and made available at cost price plus postage.

Friday 18 July 2014

Great Ganesha! Multiplayer fun had by all.

Last night I was greatly delighted to play two very enjoyable four player games. (un)Fortunatley, I had so much fun that only a very few in-focus photos were taken of the games - all the guphawing makes my hands shake and I can't take photos...

The first round was a 900 point a side game of Mighty Monsters and Samurai Robot Battle Royale which saw the humans of the European Empire take on three kaiju who were holidaying in a distopian future Paris. 

It didn't end up going well at all for the imperial forces. The infantry and their air support were all either fumigated to death by one enormous fishy-poison cloud from Dagon (fishman kaiju), or else suffered from his oh-so-acidic spit. I.R.N. Mech was finished off by a well aimed punch from a rather crippled Mantis, and the Goliath tank and Grendal (furry kaiju) more or less exploded each other to extinction. There was much close range bombarding from the tank which caused a lot of damage to everything in the vicinity including itself, its friends, the kaiju and buildings.

The second game was a four player Song of Blades and Heroes battle to the death, pitting a warband of nasty Greek myth inspired creatures, satyrs, Greek gods and furry critters against each other.

We were using a phenomenal scuplted gaming table which was a real pleasure. Here, Apollo gets ready to go head-to-head with the minotaur.  

Amid much laughter (hence the blurry photo), the heroes of Wyldewood advance to join the fray.

Bypassing the melee between the nasty creatures and the two gods, the furry critters embarked on an all out assault on the satyrs across the bridge. It started badly when statistical differences left individual critters exposed (like our dashing polecat friend above). Later on, a beaver-mole partnership would see several satyrs slain before Pan, the satyr's hero, joined the fray and finished off the furry ones.

The last couple of turns saw a duel between Pan and a witch which ended with a badly wounded Pan eating off her face... But oh such a good game.