Friday 27 October 2017

The jötnar

The climactic final scenario of the Thorfinn's Saga mini-campaign will be Thorfinn's attempt to 'appropriate' a magic held by a jötunn, or troll. In regular games of Palaeo Diet they can be used as apex predators, but I have a mind to create a new profile for them to represent their more hominid aspects. These two beasties are Copplestone Castings Yetis, but they will do nicely for my purposes.

Jötunn no. 1. Although provided with 'modesty' fur in the front, both figures have characterful bare bottoms - and somewhat more surprisingly - scrotums. Funny, that the Blogger spell checker doesn't recognise the plural form of scrotum. Ho hum, lets move on.

Jötunn no. 2.

And the obligatory scale shot showing the Macrocosm dwarves with the Copplestone yetis. I think if Thorfinn and the lads ever get into this position, they should keep an eye open for the door of Valhalla.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Thorfinn Hardluck and his crew

I decided some time ago, that what I really needed was a couple of vikings. Not a whole warband, and certainly not an army, but just a few, to scratch that Norse itch. Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten gave me the perfect excuse! Mind you, they may also find their way onto a Song of Blades and Heroes table some time in the future. Allow me to present Jarl Thorfinn Hardluck, Thorvald the Touched, and Thorbjørn Bjarnason. All three are Norse dwarves from Macrocosm Miniatures - the pack is mysteriously called 'Ragnar's Crew', but I'm sure it has taken no inspiration from any TV shows...

I intentionally went looking for Norsemen with exaggerated features to fit in with the exaggerated feel of the rest of my Palaeo Diet stuff. These Macrocosm ones seemed to fit the bill, although there are presently no photos of them on the website. The sculpts are great, although some of the moulding lacked a little detail, only really noticeable around the ears and on the hands. I also note that while my pack had more than enough left hand options - it had one right hand too few. The jarl's sword hand was cut from the shield-maiden figure and reattached here. I didn't mind because I only wanted three hunters, and managed to put these together in a satisfactory manner. From my dealings with Macrocosm to date, I'm sure they would have sent me out a spare right hand or two had I asked for it. Thorbjørn's bow and quiver came from an unrelated plastic sprue.

As well as generic hunts, these hunters are destined for a Palaeo Diet mini-campaign that I am working on, titled Thorfinn's Saga, following the jarl's epic quest to find a magic ring and bring prosperity to his struggling people. Keep an eye out for more details on that in the future. For now, here are the lads:

Jarl Thorfinn Hardluck
Equipment: As appropriate for a man of his standing Thorfinn wields a well-wrought sword. The sword is treated as a Club (PDEE p.5). It can only be used against beasts or foes in base contact, but confers a +1 modifier to Thorfinn’s attack rolls.
Traits: Thorfinn is the ruler of his people and insists on leading from the front, an attitude that has made him Crotchety (PDEE p.13). Nevertheless, his experience (and the fortune of having inherited some armour) has forged Thorfinn into a formidable warrior, rendering him a Brute (PDEE p.13).

Thorvald the Touched
Equipment: Thorvald carries multiple axes which he throws at foes and wields in combat with equal skill. Axes are treated as Spears (PDEE p.5). They can be used against beasts or foes up to 1x Short distance away.
Traits: Touched by the gods and a little weird, Thorvald has knowledge of many natural and supernatural things. He is both a Healer (PDEE p.14) and a Thinker (PDEE p.14).

Thorbjørn Bjarnason
Equipment: Thorbjørn carries a bow. He may pelt beasts and foes up to 1x Long distance, but always suffers a -1 modifier to his pelting and attack rolls.
Traits: The youngest surviving member of Thorfinn’s household, Thorbjørn eager to prove his worth; he is therefore Excited (PDEE p.14). However, his skill with a bow is already spoken of highly, and Thorbjørn is known as a skilled Hunter (PDEE p.14).

Sunday 22 October 2017

The last battle of the Kalmar Union

We got in another game of L'Art de la Guerre this week - War of the Roses (Yorkists), against Medieval Scandinavians (Kalmar Union). All figures are from the 6mm Baccus late Medieval range, with a couple of simple conversions on the Scandi side. Andrew was leading his Yorkists, Jim was commanding the two Danish commands of the Kalmar forces, while I took the allied Swedish division. This was to be my last game with the Scandinavians as Jim has just taken them over - a palace coup!

On our right, Jim ran a heavy foot command of German mercenaries supported by skirmishing crossbowmen and hand gunners. The C-in-C (+2 commander) was in control over here.

Our centre consisted of Jim's mounted command - led by an unexceptional sub-commander. Two elite knights, two mounted crossbowmen, and two medium cavalry valets. They also had the light artillery field piece.

My left wing command was the allied Swedish force consisting of a unit of knights, some skirmishing crossbowmen and the Swedish mixed crossbow/pole-arm militia.

Each of Andrew's Yorkist commands were a real mix of foot knights, longbow, and bill. The two wings each had a mounted unit of knights in support as well. The command in the picture above was on the Yorkist right flank, opposite my Swedes.

In the centre, the mixed foot were supported by both light and heavy artillery. You can see here Andrew's rookie mistake of breaking up his foot with the big guns. This meant that trying to advance this division with minimal CPs proved tricky.

The Yorkist left flank of mixed foot units and a lance of mounted knights, opposite Jim's German foot.

The end of the opening turn. Jim and I both sent forward our skirmishers, although the rest of my Swedes remained pretty static. Happily, my commander had agreed to support the Kalmar Union this time around and was reliable. His opposite number commanding the Yorkist right flank rolled a 1 for CPs in the first turn and became unreliable. It seemed that this flank was going to be Andrew's undoing.

Danish hand-gunners and crossbowmen creep out of the plantation to start peppering the end of the Yorkist line.

As the Andrew's Yorkist right flank (bottom left of the photo) remained uncommitted, my Swedish militia cautiously advanced, screening the redeployment of my Swedish knights and crossbow skirmishers towards the centre of the table. You can also see our Scandi mounted command advancing swiftly in the centre. The Yorkist left flank occupied a low hill and waited for the slow and steady German foot.

The Yorkist heavy artillery pays its way, destroying a unit of Danish valets.  
The clash of lines. The Scandi C-in-C leads forward the heavy foot against the Yorkists on the hill. He is supported by the mounted division which likewise hits the Yorkists on the plain. Taking advantage of the gap caused by the immobile heavy artillery, the two units of mounted crossbowmen (heavy cavalry) embrace a unit of foot knights. My Swedish knights are on their way!

Unfortunately, the Yorkist foot knights cleave straight through the mounted crossbowmen to their front, kill the Danish divisional commander, and turn to face the flank attack. Before my Swedes can quite make contact with the exposed knightly rears, they are in turn hit in the flank by more foot knights. That was not well planned apparently.
The long view of the battle. The Yorkist right had finally decided to commit and have just engaged in a shoot out with the Swedish militia. In the centre, the Scandi cavalry are holding their own, while up on the hill, the German infantry have managed to turn the Yorkist flank and have started to roll there way down. York's flag over the north of England is starting to look shaky at this point, and the the Scandinavians start planning where to set up their flat-pack trading emporia...

Arrows and bolts fly down by the river side.

The Yorkist foot knights rout the mounted crossbowmen and plow on into the flank of the remaining unit of valets. My gallant Swedish knights turn the tables on their foes (the Yorkist foot knights) and the Swedish skirmishers start laying into the advancing English mounted knights.
At this point in the game, both sides had suffered some pretty bad losses (including the entire mounted division of the Kalmar Union army!). Break points were thus - Kalmar Union: 16/22; Yorkists 17/19. My Swedish knights charged headlong into the unprotected Yorkist light artillery.  All we had to do was ride down the gunners, or just disorder them, and one other unit in one of the many combats of the turn. Victory was assured!

... Except that's not how the game works. Seemingly, you need to roll dice and stuff. And sometimes the dice don't want to play nice. My Swedes did manage to disorder the light artillery, bringing the Yorkists to within one point of breaking. But the other melees all went one way and the Yorkies held firm. In that one turn we lost six break points and the game went to Andre and his Yorkists. Just.

It was a great game, and looked really well. Andrew was on the back foot from the start, with an uncommitted, unreliable commander, and poorly deployed artillery. However, English shooting was rather effective, and the battle on the hill supremely hard fought. One particular unit of household longbowmen stood their ground throughout against the German foot, not even suffering a single loss of cohesion.

It is a little sad to see the Medieval Scandinavians go to their new home, but I know they will be well loved, and it widens the pool of potential opponents. In this period, I am left with my Anglo-Irish army which morphs seamlessly into War of the Roses Yorkists (more of them!), and late Hundred Years War English. I sort of needed the storage space occupied by those Scandis too - for my Minoans. :)

Saturday 21 October 2017

Ludi Hetairoi - Bouts 3-6

Following on from the first three bouts of Edu's Ludi Hetairoi, using my card-driven Blood, Sweat and Cheers gladiator rules, I'm very pleased to be able to direct you through to the next three bouts.

Bout four saw Amandus the thracian take on the hoplomachus Simplex.

In the fifth round of fights, the murmillo Actius fought the laquearius Germanus.

And for bout six, the two scissors, Ingenuus and Satur went head to head.

With two bouts to go of day one of the games, I am, rather surprisingly, top of the leader board vis a vis the wagering system that Edu set up for the games. Having placed 100 sestertii in bets, I have so managed to make 185.6 in winnings. We'll watch what happens next with care, but if this keeps up, I might have to have a party, or run for public office, or buy some more slaves, or something...

Monday 16 October 2017

Duchy of Cheddar 2, vile skeletal hordes 0

Way back in 2011-2012 I put together a force of late 17th century ratmen - the army of the Grand Duchy of Cheddar. They won me a couple of prizes in the Pendraken painting competition, and I led them to one glorious game of Hordes of the Things. Then I moved country, and found a deficit in 15mm HotT players. Unable to part with the wee furry beggars, they have lived in their box ever since. That is, until this weekend, when they returned to service in my first ever game of Kings of War.

It seems that while I have been distracted with my 6mm Minoans, some of the lads have been exploring 10mm fantasy ranges and experimenting with Kings of War. I happily took the opportunity to be shown the ropes, and the chance to get my ratties back on the table. Turns out I already have around 1600 points worth of forces (we used the Dwarf list). My foes, once more, turned out to be skeletons. Fousands of 'em.

I was more concerned with learning the rules and readjusting, so I didn't keep a very good account of the battle itself unfortunately.

 My rat dragoons savage some skeletal cavalry.

A skeletal horde charges Roquefort's Guard regiment. In the background, the Ducal Dirigible floats along. We stated it up as a flying magic user.
The steamtank/behemoth takes on some more skellie horsemen .

My fairly conservative tactics involved holding the line and shooting. The undead tactics involved a steady is macabre advance, with a few units surging forward thanks to necromantic magic.

Although I was taking a few hits, my stand and shoot approach was taking its toll on the skellies.

At the end of turn seven we agreed that the day had gone the way of the rats. Cheddar had lost three troops of shot and a gun battery, while the undead had lost a bone giant, a horde and two regiments of skeletons, two troops of horse, one troop of archers and a catapult.

My overall thoughts? 

Pros: KoW gives a pretty decent game, it is certainly fast, easy enough to pick up after a couple of turns, and allowed me to put a favourite and underutilised army on the table.

Cons: None really. After only one game I can't really say that many things stood out as 'wrong' with the rules as such. However, KoW is so very different to the large battle games I normally enjoy so much and it is those differences that I really noticed. There is no command and control friction and it seems to use an unnecessarily vast number of dice. I used to think Hail Caesar was guilty of this, but KoW is in a whole different league. In one particularly savage charge (my wolf riders against the undead artillery piece) I was required to roll 76 attack dice. Suffice to say I didn't, and we just removed the catapult.

Would I play again? I have already statted up my army properly (using the Kingdom of Men list) and am preparing to put in a small Pendraken order to flesh out my Cheddar forces, so I suppose I will. 😎

We finished the evening with a wee game of Cousins' War, from Surprised Stare Games. Great little game in which the unfortunate Lancastrians came out ahead at the end of turn five.

Thursday 12 October 2017

6mm Mycenaean cavalry? Sure, why not...

Late Helladic horsemen, from Kelder (2012) fig.4
The Mycenaean army list (no.30) in L'Art de la Guerre allows for a single unit of mediocre cavalry. I've always felt a bit iffy about the use of cavalry in Bronze Age in general, and among the Aegean states in particular, but then I thought, "What the hell, they are permitted, they are mediocre (so hardly a game breaker), so why not?" ... and of course, there is also THIS from Kelder.

So for my 6mm Minoan army, where to start? I thought that Rapier Miniature's new Assyrian cavalry (above) may well fit the bill, so I ordered a pack along with my small Sea Peoples/Myrmidon order. Unfortunately, the Assyrian cavalry have bows and quivers on their backs, so I abandoned the idea.

Late Minoan horseman, from Kelder (2012) fig.8
For a few days anyway. Then I got to tinkering. If I could cover up the bow and quiver, the Assyrians still might work. I played around with a few different ideas until I decided that I could carve away most of the bow etc and cover the mangled remains with a small shield. There is some evidence to suggest that the unusual Mycenaean cavalry may have carried shields, so that seemed to work for me.

So what I've ended up with, are these wee chaps. I appropriated the shields from some unused Sea Peoples javelineers, and to make the unit fit in better with the Myrmidon command, also did a few head swaps to have a few figures in the unit wearing the Sea Peoples headdress.

Of course it also leaves me with these poor headless, armless corpses... never mind.

And here is the result, the most mediocre Myrmidons ever to grace a table top. I'm pretty please with the way they turned out, but - given my penchant for excellent cavalry - I'm not sure that these particular lads will impress on the table top.

In related news, I had a parcel waiting waiting for me when I got home. I guess it's time to start the heavy lifting and paint one or two Minoan spearmen.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Ludi Hetairoi - The games have begun

The first three gladiatorial bouts have been played by Edu and co. over at Hetairoi Wargames. For those that missed it, the rules were posted HERE. In the first bout, Hilarinus took on a bear. The blow by blow account using Blood, Sweat and Cheers can be read HERE.

The second bout used Palaeo Diet: Eat or Be Eaten to simulate Mamertinus' brave struggle with two tigers. The full account can be read HERE.

The third bout returned to Blood, Sweat and Cheers (with a minor tweak to allow ponies) to play out the clash between Maternus and Habilis. You can find the full report for that game HERE.

Stay tuned to the Hetairoi Wargame blog, as there are plenty more bouts to come!