Wednesday 27 February 2019

10mm Greco-Macedonian archers and commanders

To finish off my small 10mm Classical Macedonian project I have done up one unit of psiloi archers. Much like the Macedonian slingers, there are no literary references that I can think of which mention Macedonian archers. However, as noted with slingers, there is ample archaeological evidence that they were used extensively by Philip II (at Olynthos for example), and it is clear that Alexander the Great also made use of indigenous archers as well as their more famous Cretan colleagues (for example, Arrian Anabasis 2.9.2, 3.12). As with most of this army, the archers are from Magister Militum.

The army has been built for the forthcoming Osprey game, Men of Bronze. However, in order to field the force - now ten units strong - as a small Hail Caesar army (a mighty 245 points no less!), I needed a couple of commanders. These two are standard Magister Militum figures - spares from my cavalry and hoplite units - with head swaps. They fit the bill well and will do if needed.

When I get a chance I will take photos of the force altogether as I'm rather please with how the have all turned out.

Thursday 21 February 2019

A mid-season hunt

It is mid-term here in sunny Ireland, and my wee lad decided it was time for another Palaeo Diet hunt. He's only eight, so we kept it simple, but it was great to be able to game with him.


Rarr, Ogg, Tark and Frygga looked down into the valley at the small herd of mammoths. Rarr thumbed the blade on his newly knapped axehead, Tark flexed his bow, while the other two leant casually on their spears. 

The hunters knew that if they could bring down just one of the shaggy behemoths it would provide enough meant and skins to see the tribe comfortably through the rest of the season. However, they were not alone. There was an old wolves' den in the valley and it was unclear how many occupants it currently housed.

As Ogg and Frygga skulked down the side of the hill into the valley, Rarr ambled off down the far slope of the hill - away from the mammoths. 

Tark grumbled to himself something about hoping Rarr had a plan, but was then distracted by movement in the opening of the wolf den. He knocked one of his carefully worked arrows on the bow string, pulled back, and let the arrow fly. It soared like a falcon through the air, before clattering ineffectively to the ground near the cave opening. A clear miss, but whatever beast had stood there before, had run off, seeking shelter deeper in the den.

Ogg and Frygga identified their target and moved into position around the rear-most mammoth in the herd. Frygga decided the other beasts were too close and lobbed a stone at the next mammoth along. It looked up, startled from its contemplative grazing, and plodded off in the opposite direction. There was still no sign of Rarr, but to Ogg it looked like everything was going well.

Then Rarr tripped on a tussock of grass and started howling in frustration. The mammoth nearest to him took fright and trumpeted its own startled call in response. While Frygga looked on unimpressed, Ogg legged it out of the way. 

Tark scuttled down the hill, hoping to lend a hand, but then Frygga stepped on a twig. The alarmed mammoths spun around to see where the sound came from; they both saw Tark, and charged at him. Only his wits saved him as ears flapped and tusks and trunks waved wildly about his head.

At that moment, Ogg came back to his senses. He skulked forward and threw a spear. Not at the mammoth that he had previously identified, but at the beast furthest from it's mates. The spear flew true and wounded the beast. 

The scent of blood drew a wolf back out to the opening of the den, while the wounded mammoth turned and charged at Ogg, skimming his solid head with a tusk and filling the air with the smell of more blood. The wolf came closer.

Tark loosed another arrow at the wolf but again missed his mark. This time, the wolf lept forward with a fed-up-but-hungry expression and its teeth bared. 

There was still no sign of Rarr except his clumsy cries each time he tripped or stubbed his toes. Ogg was bleeding profusely from his head wound, and the rest of the tribe were getting anxious.

The wounded mammoth bellowed in pain and this time both Ogg and Frygga scarpered - in different directions. Ogg dropped into position to ambush the mammoth, while Frygga started to get into position to drive the giant grazer towards her wounded companion.

And then Rarr sprang forward from the head of the valley. The wolf abandoned Tark who was proving too hard a lunch, and launched itself directly into Rarr's back-swing. Furious fur met struck flint with a dull thunk, and the wolf slid to a halt, as inanimate as the rug it would soon become.

Encouraged by Rarr's sudden appearance - and no less by his bravado (luck?), Frygga threw one of her spears which lodged in the flank of the already wounded mammoth. The beast lashed out and its tuck passed within a finger's width of Frygga's own flank.

And then came Rarr, exhilarated by his recent kill and now howling like a rabbid wolf himself. Once more he raised his axe, and once more it came down to meet its mark. The flint blade embedded itself in the newly formed cavity between the mammoth's eyes, and the mighty beast crumpled to the valley floor.

The tribe would eat, and the new mammoth skin would be used to fix the two shelters, damaged during recent storms. And to top it all off, Rarr had a new wolf-skin rug.

Meanwhile in Kilikia ... part 2

Meanwhile, in back again to 1st century BC Kilikia, the shipyards have continued their output with a few more 1/600 Xyston vessels I have been working on for a little something new. Still, eminently suitable for Galleys & Galleons. 

A trireme

A pair of merchant vessels - but are they grain ships or do they carry the Ptolemaic payroll?

Saturday 9 February 2019

Pyrate King of Traitor's Atoll

Captain Andrew, Ghost-captain Lee and I got together again this week. In a bit of a departure from our recent 6mm ancients-fest though, we got some wee ships on the table for a spot of Galleys & Galleons.  Playing the Pyrate King of Traitor's Atoll scenario, we each commanded a small 100 point force, and strived (strove...?) to be the player with the vessel closest to the centre of the table at the end of each turn. 

Unfortunately the lighting was bit rubbish, so my photos are worse than normal. Sorry about that. Andrew took a sloop and a cromster, I commanded a brig, a jacht and a flotilla of boats, while Lee chose a ghost ship. Watch out for those islands and the surrounding shallows lads. 

In the first turn I tried to get my swift jacht and boats into the centre, making the most of their shallow drafts to skim over the shallows. The wee jacht fired a broadside across the bows of the ghost ship, but tiny cannon ... long range ... ghostship ... you know how it ended. In return, both Andrew's sloop and his cromster opened fire on my brig, leaving her with slight hull damage and knocking out one of her masts for good measure.

While Lee coasted slowly forward towards the centre - having to work around an island - my boats darted forward to grapple and board Andrew's sloop. Unfortunately they didn't count on the sloop's crew rolling higher than them.

The sloop cut the grapples fixing them to the sloop and made its way towards my jacht and the centre of the table. Having been freed up, my boats then rowed on and grappled Andrew's cromster, while my brig - still dragging one of it's masts - came up and grappled the cromster from behind. Meanwhile, the ghost ship sailed straight on and somehow managed to ruin it's hull by sailing into shallow water.

Exchanging fire, Andrew's sloop took a pounding, while my jacht was also damaged. My jacht sailed on around towards the boarding action taking place on the cromster, but was not really necessary as the brig and boats had already forced her to strike her colours. Poor ghost captain Lee then rolled to activate his ghost ship, managed to roll a 1 on one (was it both Lee?) of his damaged dice, and promptly surrendered. Obviously the curse which animated his crew was a fairly mediocre affair and had worn off.

Then Andrew failed to activate his sloop which sailed straight into the curse-less ghost ship, ruined itself in the collision and sunk. And thus, dear reader, with Lee having surrendered, and Andrew's vessels either captured of sunk, I managed -quite by default - to find myself being crowned Pyrate King of Traitor's Atoll. 

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Engel's African Palaeo Diet

Meanwhile in Sweden, Engel has been having his own fun with Palaeo Diet. You can catch up with his first few games over on his blog by clicking the links below.

While everyone else has really been focusing on Eurasian or American prehistory, Engel has gone with an African theme and, I think you'll agree, its really effective.

 First Steps.

 The Hunger Games.

The Schadenfreuds go Cretaceous

Rounding off Mark's recent bout of Palaeo Diet adventures, allow me to introduce the Schadenfreuds:


Time for another excursion into the distant past. Professor Dr Herbert Schadenfreud and his wife (Frau Edith) and daughter (Fraulein Elke) are taking a dinosaur hunting safari, courtesy of the Utterley-Barkinge Corporation. Their Utterley-Barkinge guide, David Attenborough, is behind the camera.

The rules are a slightly modified version of Palaeo Diet - Eat or be Eaten (Nic Wright / Ganesha) as used for the Grey Wolf Clan mini campaign posted in the last few days. The mods are:

* Guns can shoot 2xL.
* A hunter can take an aimed shot at +1 at a cost of 2 actions.
* For each shooting hit roll 1D6. On a 5,6 the hit causes an extra wound.
* A gun is not a bow.

The Time Service steam drone duly deposits our little party near a swampy waterhole, just the kind of place dinosaurs would come to drink. It’ll be back to collect them after five turns. The Schadenfreuds hope to pot at least five different species including an apex predator. That’ll impress the folks at home, especially those hoity-toity Wittgensteins!

I’ll be rolling dice at the start of each new turn (ie before any figures have activated) to see what dinosaurs appear, and where. There is a small chance of a nasty surprise leaping from ambush.

The above photo shows the hunters approaching the waterhole. Three harmless herd grazers are enjoying a drink.

The hunters advanced and blazed away (except David Attenborough who is not allowed to intervene unless a customer is in immediate danger). Two dinosaurs were wounded and the herd fled.

Here’s the start of Turn 2. At L a pack predator which had been stalking the herd grazers has switched its attention to the hunters. And at R a triceratops and calf (Giant grazer + herd grazer) have trundled into the picture.

Fraulein S, closest to the triceratops, took a shot at the adult and wounded it. The animal promptly charged her. It didn’t have the speed to make contact, but the charge justified Attenborough taking a shot, and he took the dinosaur to three wounds. Prof S remained fixated on the retreating herd grazers, and this time brought one down. First kill. No-one had paid any attention to the lurking pack predator.

At the start of Turn 3 a couple more herd grazers ambled up behind the triceratops. Fraulein S finished off the adult triceratops. Second kill. Her mother came up and took a shot at one of the newly arrived herd grazers, wounding it and causing it to flee (off table). Prof S turned his attention to the pack predator. He shot at it twice but missed, and the animal attacked. Attenborough had already activated (tactical error, remember to activate him last) so could not intervene.

The next photo shows the start of Turn 4. A second pack predator has appeared behind the first, apparently it had also been stalking the original herd grazers.

The turn began badly as Prof S took another shot at the pack predator attacking him, wounding it but causing it to charge into contact. He was wounded but a lucky second shot finished off the predator. Third kill. Fraulein S came up to help her father, and shot at the second pack predator, wounding it and causing it too to charge. Attenborough finished it off from close range as it charged last him. Fourth kill. And Frau S completed the quinella by killing the herd grazer near the baby triceratops. Fifth kill.

The Schadenfreuds have achieved their goal of killing five different dinosaur species, including a Giant Grazer (triceratops), two different herd grazers, and two different pack predators. But no Apex predator. With only one turn remaining before the drone returns them to their own time, Attenborough secretly invokes the Uttlerley-Barkinge “keep the customer happy” policy. He blows a high frequency whistle that is irresistible to Tyranosauruses ...

The last photo shows the start of Turn 5. A Tyrannosaur has emerged from the jungle behind the party, and it looks mean and hungry.

Total FUBAR ensued. Frau S was the first to react, she failed to activate (terrified no doubt) and the Tyrannosaur obligingly went into “predate” mode and advanced towards the nearest carcass. Prof S likewise fluffed his activation and the Tyrannosaur stalked up to the carcass and started to devour it. Fraulein S then took her shot, missed, and the monster attacked her but failed to cause any damage. Attenborough stepped up to shoot, and also missed.

We’ll have to extend the safari by one Turn to see what happens. The drone can’t risk coming in to a hot LZ anyway.

In fact it took two more Turns (of activation failures, shooting misses, and beast “attack” reactions) before the Apex predator was finally felled, by Fraulein Schadenfreud. But not before her mother had been attacked and killed. The Tyrannosaur really spread fear and panic among the hunters! Good to see. So the family S have achieved everything they wanted, but at a heavy cost. What will the neighbours think?

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Exiles of the Grey Wolf Clan (part 2)

Continuing the journey of the little (and diminishing) group that has broken away from the Grey Wolf Clan and trekked off to find its own territory:

The survivors settled in to the camp site of the Trout Clan family. There were changes ... with their own hearth the band no longer needed a fire carrier so Smokey traded in his torch for a spear. And the young hunter Boy also graduated to a spear wielder. Hannah was chosen as Leader to replace Grendel. And they became the Ibex Clan after finding mysterious old drawings of this totem on an inner cave wall.

All well and good. But there were two niggles. First, they need to confirm their ownership of the territory by successfully hunting a Giant Grazer and offering it to the spirits. Second, the campsite they had taken over was clearly in use by more people than they had defeated. So where were they?

(3) The hunt at the salt lick 
Within a couple of weeks all the hunters of the Ibex Clan set out to kill a mammoth. More easily said than done, as they cannot afford any more losses and hope to survive as a group. Sure enough, a small herd was found gathered at a salt lick, half a days march from the campsite. The first photo shows the tabletop with the herd in position and the hunting party checking them out. Note the ibex at L.

“Funny looking mammoths” muttered Boy. Still it was agreed they were mammoths of some kind, and acceptable to the spirits, so the hunt could go ahead.

The hunters split into two groups, one would work around each flank of the herd. Boy and Smokey went L, Hannah and Brand went R. Cricket was left behind but disobeyed Mum and ran up behind the L flank hunters. Things didn't go too well. Lots of arrows and spears, no hits at all. And Hannah has been wounded by an aggressive beast (the others graze on mostly ignoring these insects!). The ibex went home in disgust.

Things went even more downhill after that. These might be dodgy-looking mammoths but they sure knew how to take on a hunting party, especially one that had forgotten the first rule of hunting giant grazers: stick together. Three beasts (including the large calf) received two wounds each (enough wounds to have killed a single beast if the hunters had their act together) but - disaster - Hannah and Boy were both killed. 

The survivors, Brand and Smokey, had the wounded calf  as their closest quarry. Their blood was up and they signal each other to concentrate on this target. Because it’s a calf it has Bulk of only 3, so one more wound will finish it. The young boy Cricket was hoping  to slip away from the enraged bull that was busy trampling Boy, and come to help the others.

In a desperate end game, Smokey was wounded by the calf but managed to bring it down. But there are now only three surviving members of the Ibex Clan (if you don’t count the ex-Trout Clan women back at camp) celebrating their offering to the spirits. In return, what will the spirits do for them?

(4) We want our valley back
Brand, Smokey and little Cricket face a bleak future. Realistically there’s no chance they can survive as an independent group until their conscript Trout women produce offspring, and those grow up to hunter age. Reinforcements from the Grey Wolf Clan are not coming. And somewhere out there, are more Trout folk with a bad attitude.

When Smokey has recovered (it was only a scratch) they reluctantly decide to retreat back to their original home. Maybe the Elders will let them back after suitable groveling, especially as both troublemakers (Rurik and Grendel) are dead.

But as they set off another party of the Trout folk appear and block their way. There are four hunters (2 spears, 2 clubs) and they clearly mean business. The Ibex Clan knows it’ll have to fight. It can’t run away. Surrender means becoming the dinner menu. A seemingly impossible victory is their only hope. 

For this game the Trout folk will be Hunters and the Ibex folk will be the Outfolk. However, in view of their desperate, nothing-to-lose situation I’m giving them (the Ibexes) 1 extra Bulk each and adjusting their Savagery by 1 (so they cause a wound by rolling ‘3’ rather than ‘4’, and Brand the archer disregards the ‘-1’ for shooting.

It wasn’t enough. Here’s the sad photo of the last stand of the Ibex Clan. Smokey killed one Trout hunter, and Brand wounded another, but they were both clubbed to the ground. The boy Cricket is still alive, but realistically his future seems likely to be short and involve kebabs.

So the Grey Wolf renegades have failed to establish a new Clan. With hindsight it was always an ambitious target with such a small group, especially as they lost members at every step. Becoming Leader of the group turned out to mean certain death! If the hunt at the salt lick hadn’t cost two hunters’ lives they could still have defeated the Trout counterattack, but there would only have been a stronger reaction next season, or the one after, if they had tried to stay in their new territory...

Monday 4 February 2019

Exiles of the Grey Wolf Clan (part 1)

I'm delighted to be able to publish some more prehistoric fun following the travels and travails of Mark's Grey Wolf Clan.


It’s February already, which means it’s time to visit the Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten rules and the Grey Wolf Clan again ... Avid readers may recall that at the end of last season we left the Grey Wolf Clan after a successful winter-provisioning hunt, with plenty of biltong to last until spring. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. Plenty to eat and nothing to do during the winter led to bickering between the Elders and a breakaway group of young hunters led by half-brothers Rurik and Grendel.

And now as the snow melts the renegades prepare to leave the Clan and strike out into the unknown. The Elders agree they can take the supplies they will need, anxious to see them on their way so normal life can continue. This seasons set of games will see if the breakaway party is successful.

(1) Into the unknown
Here is a shot of the party as they cross a stream and head toward an area of steep bluffs and maquis thickets. They’ve been on the march for several days into unknown country and food is running low. 

In front are the two hounds belonging to Rurik and Grendel. The foremost hunter is Rurik (club) followed by his wife Hannah (spear) and young son Cricket (stone, counts as spear but attacks at -1). Grendel (spear) is on the left flank. Smokey is the fire carrier. The two young hunters at the back are Boy (knife, counts as club at -1) and Brand (bow).

And here’s another shot showing the tabletop as a whole. The group has to cross the table and exit off the far side (following travelers’ tales about how to reach the sunlit uplands). Before leaving they must kill at least three bulk of food, otherwise in their next game they’ll be weakened (no loping, all attacks at -1).

At the start of each new turn (in this game) when at least one group member is on the table, I’ll roll 1D6 against the following table: 1,2,3 nothing happens. 4,5 a small group of herd grazers is found. 6 roll again: 1,2,3  pack predators appear; 4,5,6 an apex predator shows up. Animals will be positioned in LOS but at least 1xL away.

So the hunters crossed the stream and moved forward at an easy pace, though Smokey stopped to look for fish and fell behind the others. Then a cave bear popped up to see who was coming, and Rurik signaled everyone to stop while Smokey dropped his fish and came up quickly (three successes rolled for movement). Luckily the bear fled from the threat of fire. Then a small herd of deer were sighted. 

To R, the cave bear beats a retreat from the fire but is still on the table and could decide to get aggressive. To L, lunch awaits but will need to be stalked. How will Rurik and Grendel and their folk handle this sticky wicket?

Not all that well, it turned out. While Grendel and most of the rest of the hunters stalked the deer, Rurik took Smokey and went after the cave bear. He thought a cave bear kill would demonstrate his prowess to the band and consolidate his leadership. The cave bear was quite willing to retreat, especially from the fire, but Rurik provoked it into returning to attack - twice - and the annoyed bear obliged by killing him. Elsewhere the rest of the hunters managed to wound a deer but were a bit unlucky and the herd fled. 

But then things got better. Grendel and the other hunters (unaware of Rurik’s demise) didn’t give up and with help from Grendel’s hound (let’s call it Beowolf) brought down two of the deer (4 bulk of food). Just in time too. Anyway the band of hunters regrouped, butchered the deer, buried Rurik, ignored the warthogs who had appeared and moved off to find a safe resting place.

(2) Nice valley you’ve got there
Some days later our re-provisioned and regrouped party, with Grendel leading, entered a highly desirable valley with a little late snow still on the ground. All agreed it would make a good Clan territory. Regrettably a plume of cooking fire smoke from one of the bluffs announced it was already occupied. Undeterred but cautious the hunters approached to see how the ground lay.

The next photo shows our party looking towards the folk who have preempted them for ownership of the valley. The Grey Wolf exiles recognize them as Trout Clan “others” and know very well what happened last season when the two last encountered each other: three GW hunters were killed and eaten.

But there seem to be only three Trout hunters - and some women (Trout Clan women are non-combatants). It doesn’t take long to do the maths, and the hunting party advances with conquest aforethought.

This game is going to be all-hominid so I’ll be using the “Outfolk hunters” stats and reaction table Nic has thoughtfully provided in p23 of the Palaeo Diet: Fireside Tales supplement. The Trout Clan will be the Outfolk (and thus react to the GW hunters actions) this time.

The next photo shows how the attack on the Trout Clan camp unfolded over 2 or 3 turns. Two of their hunters moved back from the stream, but one rushed across to attack Grendel’s hound and wounded it, receiving a wound in return. Grendel himself joined the attack but the valiant Trout hunter wounded him too. Other hunters from Grendel’s party have moved up to the stream, and Brand the archer has wounded one of the hunters who are hanging back.

The vicious little fight continued. Grendel was killed by the Trout champion hunter, but he in turn was then killed by a spear thrown by Hannah. Brand the archer killed the hunter across the stream he had wounded previously. Only one Trout hunter was still standing, and he fled.

So it seems our little group of refuseniks has fought for and won a new, rather promising territory. But both the leaders they started with have been killed: Rurik by the cave bear, Grendel by the redoubtable Trout Clan hunter. Their hounds have also deserted following their masters’ deaths. But there is a bonus, two Trout Clan women have become the property of the group. So with Hannah included there are three women and three men, plus Cricket the boy. He will doubtless be OK (despite losing his father) but any younglings in the Trout Camp are toast.

But it’s not over yet ... see the next installment coming soon (I hope).

Sunday 3 February 2019

Meanwhile in Kilikia ... part 1

Meanwhile, in 1st century BC Kilikia, the shipyards have been alive with the sounds of industry... Here are the first few 1/600 Xyston vessels I have been working on for a little something new. Also, eminently suitable for Galleys & Galleons of course. ­čśë

A pair of hemioliai.

A trihemiolia

A quadreme.