Sunday 31 March 2019

Assorted 10mm fantasy chaps (and chapettes)

Having been re-invigorated by Of Armies and Hordes to expand the household's 10mm fantasy collection. First up are two units of goblin wolf riders from the company that shall not be named. While I generally want no truck with the afore unmentioned company, I've always wanted wolf riders and I managed to pick these up very cheaply second hand. The sculpts are... beautiful. This is the start of a new Steppe Goblin army led by King Snatters on his trusty wolf, Snowy.

The remaining units are intended to flesh out my lads Night Elves. First up from Pendraken are his corsairs or adventurers. 

Next, also from Pendraken, are a third unit of swordsmen (the unit on the left is the new one).

Lastly, from Magister Militum, some Night Elf scorpion demons.

Thursday 28 March 2019

First thoughts on Ganesha Games' Of Armies and Hordes

Last week saw me dip my toe in some relatively unfamiliar waters in the shape of Ganesha Games' Of Armies and Hordes. This is the fantasy mass-battle rule set which has been brewing away for a couple of years now, but was only released by Andrea Sfiligoi  in the last couple of months.

Coming in the familiar 6"x9" format that all Ganesha titles come in these days, Andrea produced a limited number of spiral bound hardback copies and I was lucky enough to pick one up. It is a fantastic product from a manufacturing point of view and of really high quality. Regular copies will be softback, perfect bound like usual.

To start of with, we went for small armies coming in at just under 1,100 points each. My Hearthshire halflings versus my wee lad's nasty Night Elves. Regular games would be double the size. The models are 10mm.

The army lists are pretty intuitive. If you've ever seen a Ganesha Game before you'd be familiar with the Quality test mechanism used to activate your models, except now it is used to activate a unit rather than a single character. Then each unit also has an Attack value which is a modifier on their attack rolls (rolling multiple d6s depending on the size of the unit), and a Defence value which represents a target number enemies have to roll in order to cause casualties. There are then a range of Traits which give special abilities.

There are a huge number of pre-generated profiles, and a free spreadsheet available to build your own if a unit of your choice is not already there. However, and it is a big-ish however, each player's army list needs to comply with a basic formula: <1/3 personalities, and <1/2 personalities and 'limited' troop types combined. So a minimum of half of the points value of each army needs to be made up of regular grunts with pointy sticks. That is perfectly fine, until you realise that any unit with shoots, or is mounted, counts as a limited unit. So.... no armies entirely made up of chivalrous knights, and no army entirely composed of pointy-nosed elven archers.

I did question Andrea on this and got the following (very sensible) response:
It's a balance issue. We want to avoid all shooter or all cavalry Armies. Of course the players can agree otherwise ... Nobody would take infantry. All would take small Armies of better troops and make them archer cavalry. It is the most useful unit in the game ... we wanted players to have a minimum of those [i.e. non-shooter, non-mounted] core units. All players will have a few core units that are essentially the same infantry then one third of their Armies will be of more characterful ... troops. And a smaller percentage will be devoted to heroic characters, monsters and magic.

So... definitely no nomadic hordes of goblin wolf-mounted archers then.

Unlike most miniatures games, battlefields in OAaH are made up of areas. There is no measurement necessary. Units occupy an area and if an enemy unit enters the area they fight. It is slightly more nuanced than that, but still pretty straight forward. At first I was put off by the idea, but having tried it...? Read on and see.

The table we used was broken up into 29 area, mostly open fields, with a village, a swamp, a lake and a few hills and woods. There are a vast array of different terrain types possible including ruins, grave yards, entrances to dungeons, enchanted forests, etc etc, each with their own special rules. Again, we started simple.

The halflings took up position n the village and the adjacent areas. The archers in open order among the houses, the formed militia outside to the left, beyond them the swine herders, and the cockatrice to the right. Their commander, Puck Goodfellow, was embedded among the militia. 

The Night Elves deployed opposite with their undead thralls and giant scorpion in the centre on a hill, spider riders to the far right (beyond the lake), and swordsmen with embedded commander on the left.

OAaH uses a fully developed reaction system, so looking back it's a bit hard to remember which units moved in which order. It makes for a very fluid game though - there is always something to do for both players regardless of whose turn it is.

In the opening turn, the halfling archers advanced beyond the village and the cockatrice advanced alongside them. The swine herders moved up towards the wood, but the halfling militia only scored a single success on their activation. Requiring two actions to climb a hill, they sat at the bottom catching up on a second breakfast.

The Night Elves managed to move their swordsmen up into the woods, as did the spider riders. Neither the thralls nor the scorpion manage to be motivated off their hill.

Undeterred, the Night Elf swordsmen continued to advance towards the halfling archers, the spider riders chittered forward, while the halfling militia managed to make it to the top of their hill.

Seeing the threat to the archers, the cockatrice sauntered over to stand beside them, just as the Night Elf commander led his swordsmen forward. And then it was revealed quite how well shooting is handled. The cockatrice glared at the swordsmen, turning some to stone, while the halfling arrows flew. However, having chosen to shoot, the halflings then suffered badly in the ensuing melee against the remaining swordsmen.

The swordsmen/elves suffered more casualties than the halflings and cockatrice so fell back. The halfling archers followed them up and destroyed the rest of the unit although the evil commander survived.

The night elf spider riders then scuttled forward into the woods where the halfling swine herds had set up an ambush. 

And then the swine herd were utterly brutalised! In the photo above you can see how powerful the mounted troops can be. Six spider riders roll 12 attack dice. In this case, needing 4+ to hit. The four wee piggie herds rolled four dice and only needed 3+. The spider riders took three hits, but inflicted nine back. Pigs no more.

Having escaped death at the hands of the halfling archers, the Night Elf commander skipped off and joined his undead thralls, sending the giant scorpion in against the archers. Although it avoided the smaller hail of arrow fire, the scorpion managed to inflict some more hits on the archers before it was, itself, dispatched.

In the centre, the Night Elf commander led his thralls up the hill to attack the halfling militia which had formed a defensive (triangular looking) square around Puck Goodfellow. Both units took a pointing, but both commanders survived. At this point, both armies had reached the point of breaking and we called it a bloody draw.

So, what to make of OAaH? It was certainly different to most other mass combat games. It flowed really well, even on a first play through. The area movement made sense, and removed the fiddly mm precision that you can find in other games. Unit facing plays a role, but only if your opponent is in a position (and has the successful activation) to take advantage of the situation. 

Terrain rules seem to work very well. I didn't go into it here, but different terrain types have different stacking limits which determines how many troops can occupy or move through the area.

You get to roll handfulls of dice for folks who like that sort of thing, but it still works well with multibased figures. We treated every 20x20mm square of base as one 'stand' and used counters to track casualties until such time as the base could be removed.

Mounted units and shooters are very powerful - I can see how skirmishers could be particularly effective in this game and can understand the reasoning for the army list restrictions within the framework of the game mechanisms. 

I suppose the final thing to say is that I'm really keen to introduce my regular opponents to the rules, and that says it all really. Well, that, and having just started to build a new 10mm army... ­čśÇ

Monday 25 March 2019

The bull and the shepherd - more 6mm L'Art de la Guerre

The Shepherd of the Sheepfold of Ur, and The Bull from the Sea, the Great Earth-shaker, got together for a 6mm L'Art de la Guerre rematch recently. Last time they fought, Lee's Sumerians decimated my Minoans. This time, I was rather hoping to turn the tables. Both armies had a pretty high break point of 27, so there was potential for a massive clash that could last all night. As it was, we did drag it on all night, but mostly thanks to the craic (and my wee lad being allowed to stay up late watching), rather than any grand strategies. 

I deployed with my Luwian command (using the Mycenaean list's Trojan options rather than the Myrmidon options this time) on the left, plonked in a marsh and on the slopes of a steep hill. Opposite them were ranged the best of the Sumerians: their heavy chariots and the ordinary heavy spearmen.

In the centre was my block of heavy spearmen with a screen of skirmishers, facing the Sumerian mediocre heavy spearmen and mediocre bow.

On my right were the Minoan heavy chariots with medium spear support, glaring intently at Lee's camel-mounted Bedouin allies.

The Luwian flank held back, seeking to hold the rough terrain and prevent the Sumerians from turning my left flank. As the Bedouin camels raced towards my right flank, the King Minos III, the Great Bull, led his chariot command forward to meet them. 

In the centre, the Minoan skirmishers exchanged shots with the Sumerian bowmen, losing a stand, but causing a couple of hits in return. On the right, the camelry unleashed a rain of arrows, disordering the Minoan support infantry, but ignored completely by the heavily armoured Minoan chariots. The chariots, not really wanting to shrug off to many more shots, charged in against the smelly camelry.

The engagement on the right didn't exactly go well, but nor was it a total and immediate failure. On the left, the stand off continued much as before with the Luwians holding fast, and the Sumerians plodding slowly forward.

The chariots managed to drive off one unit of camelry, but the Bedouin returned the favour by eliminating a unit of mine too. The supporting infantry attacked the camelry at the bottom of their gentle hill.
And then the melee spread the entire way along the line. In the centre the Minoan spearmen charged and obliterated the wavering Sumerian bowmen, before being charged in-turn by the mediocre Sumerian spears. On the left, however, the Sumerian chariots decided that they couldn't ignore the Luwians on the hill and - to my great surprise - charged in against them.

My glee was a bit one sided though. Over on the right, my lord and commander, King Minos III,  followed the example of his forebears and led his men from the front. He had actually been quite restrained up to this point, but there was nothing for it. The king must die after all. Thank the Great Mother that the House of Minos is blessed with many sons!

And that, dear reader, was the end of that. I really must learn to be more responsible with my chariots; and my kings too. 

In the centre the Minoan spearmen were holding their own, and the Luwians were picking away at he Sumerian chariots. All this time, the Sumerian regular spearmen were sort of... sitting. They couldn't quite make it into the melee and were being quite neglected.
The Sumerian ordinary spearmen finally made their way into the central melee, attacking the left end of the central block of Minoan spearmen, but to no avail. It was far too late. The Minoans had lost 21 points from their break point of 27. The Sumerian chariots exploded to bring their own losses up to 29. Victory for the Bull of the Sea, except of course that he was dead. But other than that, victory!

Long live Minos IV!

Saturday 16 March 2019

'Aflings sir! Fousands of 'em...

With the recent release of Ganesha Game's army level rule set - Of Armies and Hordes - my much loved (and, curiously, often victorious) 10mm halflings have received a bit more love and some reinforcements. First up are another two bases of treefolk - treefolk themselves from Pendraken with a Magister Militum halfling ... guide/commander(?!).

Next up are some halfling battle hogs/swine. The swineherds and chefs are from Magister Militum, the piggies from Pendraken/Minibits.

And bringing up the rear, a wee tribe of allied Moorland Pixies.  Although these are actually 6mm goblins from Perfect Six miniatures, I'm going to be using them as tunnel building little people from the uplands.

Treating a 40x20mm base as two 'stands', and a 40x40mm base as four 'stands' (a stand being the generic building block of a unit in OAaH), I now have almost 3,000 points worth of halfling forces. A standard game size is said to be about 2,000 points, so I can chop and change units, of play out a large game. Hopefully I'll get a game in soon!

Saturday 9 March 2019

10mm Early Macedonians (c.650-359 BC) completed

I have, for now at least, completed my 10mm Early Macedonians. I was prompted by the forthcoming Men of Bronze to finally build a small force of pre-Philippic reform Macedonians - and army I always wanted but never got around to. MoB only uses a small number of units (4-6ish), but in order to have a range of options, I ended up with 10. By adding two commanders, I was able to make up a 250 point army for Hail Caesar as well - perfect for multiplayer games.  

Macedonian 'fast' division consisting of hetairoi cavalry, peltasts and archers. 

Macedonian 'heavy' division made up of the hoplites, Illyrians and slingers. 

I've previously posted a range of photos and details of the different units. For more information, click on the links: 

Breaking the army down into Men of Bronze forces, I am guestimating that I could run a large Macedonian army, or reasonably field two smaller forces.

 Argead (Lowland or Royal) Macedonians with heavy cavalry, hoplites, peltasts and archers.

Highland Macedonians or Epeirotes with hoplites, peltasts, slingers and Illyrian mercenaries/allies.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Palaeo Diet Outfolk

Following on from the last post, and casually sauntering across the steppe, a small party of outfolk have wandered into the traditional hunting ground of Ogg, Urg, Herc, Frygga and the rest of their tribe. Here you can see Loogi the spearman, Flingi the slinger, and their leader Mumma Mamu, together with their hound Grrr.

This second shot is to give a size comparison next to my existing hunters. They are taller than Snogg and Bow, but shorter than Herc. However, they are much more ... robust than the others. Clearly another tribe. It is even quite possible that they're another species of hominid all together.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Palaeo Diet - hominid mission creep

I have been looking for some additional prehistoric figures for a while now to compliment my existing tribe of hunters, mostly converted from the (now defunct?) Flytrap Factory 'cavemen' range. Unfortunately, these fantastic sculpts are bijou to say the least, only standing about 20mm to the eye, and of course they are also very much caricatures rather than realistically proportioned modern hominids. However, I was particularly interested to see if I could find an additional tribe member who looked a bit shaman-esque.

While looking at various 28mm 'pygmy' ranges - incidentally, the most characterful and, arguably, least racist seem to be from EMP Games and Bend Sinister - I stumbled across the awesome Lost Horizons jungle goblins from EMP Games shown above (photo 'redistributed' from their website).  I thought the little mask-wearing chap in the middle might be suitable and, as they weren't too expensive, I ordered a pack on spec.

I was really pleased that I did, because the figures are great! All three bodies are headless and missing their right hands, and you get two spears, a skull wand/mace, two goblin heads and the wee masked head. I popped a spear-wielding, mask-wearing chap together and noted with some satisfaction that he scaled very well against my existing tribe. However, his costume was really very distinct and, more of an issue, his spear was completely different. He was the right scale, but clearly a different tribe.

So that got me thinking about making up a small band of outfolk as competition for my existing tribe. I thought I could probably do all of them wearing the masks, but while I waited for a response from EMP about whether masks could be bought separately, I started fiddling with what I already had...

Starting with the goblin heads, I cut off the large ears and the end of the nose, and removed the sticking up tooth from one of the lil' gobbos. I then fixed them high up on the neck-pin-bit (it is supposed to be inserted into the head) to give the figures a bit more neck that you get with a common or garden variety goblin. I also removed the wand from one of the hands, drilled it, and inserted a piece of bent paperclip.

The gaps around the neck joins were filled in with Milliput, and  the paperclip was built upon to turn it into a sling. I'm not really happy with the shape of the sling as it doesn't seem to hang naturally, but overall I am happy with the weapon conversion. I then went a bit out on a limb and sculpted tiny boobies for the mask-wearer (the goblin body on this one was narrower around the chest, curving out at the belly and hips), and also gave her a thick plait hair to hang over her shoulder.

After allowing the Milliput to harden, I went over all the areas with a knife to smooth them off, added nipples, increased the depth of the existing grass ruff to make it look like the it flowed over the top of the left beast, and went to work on the rest of the hair. The female had her plait integrated so it comes out from the back of the mask, while the other two got thick hair covering over their missing ears, and facial hair. A soul patch-cum-goatie for the spearman, and muttonchops and a moustache for the slinger. 

Frontally, the slinger seems to be channeling my dad which is a bit of a worry...

Not shown is the tribe's faithful hound which will be another Black Cat Miniatures dog I've had sitting around for a while. They are all not undercoated and eagerly awaiting some paint.