Friday 29 May 2020

10mm goblin reinforcements from Cibo's Little Dudes

Before the age of pandemics and lockdowns, all-time-good-fellow Andrew and I placed a joint order with Cibo's Little Dudes, a independent sculptor/manufacturer in Switzerland. While the order arrived months ago - and Andrew has long since finished painting his ratman army - I only managed to get my hands on my little bit of the order over the weekend. Behold Skrotrot the Great Goblin on his wyvern, Skittles the shaman, and a goblin battle-wagon.

Technically sold as an orc warlord, I don't have any orcs in my army, so Skrotrot will have to assume the guise of great goblin in an 'under the Misty Mountains' kind of way. The model comes in several parts: the wyvern body with rider are all one, the rider's right hand and axe are a seperate piece, as is a feather for his helmet, along with the wyvern's head and wings. All pretty easy to assemble, although I added a little greenstuff around the wing joints as a precautionary measure, and some more around the head-neck joint where the join looked a bit... obvious. It is a lovely figure with great character. Some of the detailing on the rider was a bit shallow, but still clear enough to paint up.

Skittles is not a separately available figure. He's actually an additional crew figure from the battle-wagon, but I needed an extra magic-user for the army, so gave him a tiki mask and the feather from the wyvern rider.

I love this battle-wagon. It was a real pain to fit together, coming in seven separate pieces (including the three crew). For some reason my glue was sticking my fingers together perfectly, but I struggled to get it to bind the bits of the wagon frame. In the end I used more greenstuff to wrap around the joints. They were already sculpted with rope bindings, so I don't think it harmed the aesthetic at all. The overall model is just so characteristically ad-hoc and gobliny, its great. I'm not sure how it is propelled - the see-saw/pump handle doesn't connect to anything - but I'm willing to overlook that for the fun.

And here is an obligatory scale shot. From left to right: Warmaster wolf-riders, Cibo's wyvern and battle-wagon. and Polar Fox steppe goblins. 

Overall I love this range. The sculpts have great character and the scale is spot on - slightly larger than Warmaster goblins, slightly smaller than Polar Fox, but all three are compatible. My only issue is the price point which seems to be matched more to OOP Warmaster stuff on eBay, making it pretty pricey compared to the likes of Pendraken, Magister Militum, Eureka or Copplestone.

Monday 25 May 2020

First foray into 3D printed figures - a zombie dwarf

To compliment my Norse 'tribe' for Palaeo Diet, I wanted to pick up a draugr (undead warrior) as a tabletop predator - I will use the 'Mummy' profile to make him truly terrifying for my hunter adventurers. As my Norsemen are actually Viking dwarfs from Macrocosm, naturally, I needed a zombie dwarf as my draugr.

Looking around, I found this splendidly computer rendered chap at the Secret Cat Shop. The detail was amazing and I figured that as a one-off purchase, I could overlook the rather high price tag - £5 for a single miniature would normally make me cry a little on the inside. I also thought it would be a neat way to purchase my first 3D printed figure (printed by the manufacturer and posted to me, not a file to be printed by me).

Sadly, reality didn't quite equal my expectations. I'm not sure if it just shows my total inexperience with the new technology, but the figure that arrived showed far, far less detail than the render advertised on the website. In fact, it reminded very much of the old Matchbox Monster-in-My-Pocket, if any other child of the 80s remembers them. 

Painted up he looks OK, and the figure is definitely serviceable, but I can't help feeling that for the price tag I'm feeling a tad underwhelmed.

To rub salt in the ol' disappointment, he's also kind of huge. The top of his head comes up to the eyes of a Wargames Foundry viking, and they are large 28mm figures. Above you can see (from left to right) a Macrocosm dwarf, Secret Cat Shop zombie dwarf, WF viking and Copplestone yeti for scale comparisons.

Let Them Eat Cake: an SSD game in Pattayavium - part 2

What follows is part 2 of Mark's latest report from Pattayavium. Part 1 can be found HERE.


Turn 4:
Cicero now roused his faction to a pitch of anger against the iniquities of grain hoarding, and deftly pointed out that one of the leading offenders - Aulus Spiculus, the Civic Pontiff no less - had an opulent villa practically next door, bound to be  full of barns bursting with grain. With that, they were off (triple roll group activation). In the excitement of the moment they clean forgot to check for the rope trick distraction. The mob brushed past the doorkeepers and confronted Spiculus in the Gardens of Mus.

Spiculus could be in trouble. The contingency roll to see if one of his household slaves slipped away to summon Brasidas & Co was negative. No help is in the offing.

Meanwhile Brasidas and his men are enjoying the delights of the Eros: listening to a reading of Homer, comparing Falernian with Cyprian vintages, and discussing the Concept of the Self and the Other.

Barabbas and his gang, just at this moment, enter the table looking for trouble. They come on at the west end of the via Umbris and head straight towards the temple, stopping to shake down a couple of civilians they encounter.

And Catiline starts to lead his mob out of the red light district. His plan (well I have to call it something) is to lead them across the table and off the Khlong Mapyailia edge, towards the Prefect’s villa and admin centre (basilica) off table. I’m letting this happen as a single group move even though there are more than 5 figures involved.

Here, Barabbas and his gang are robbing two women they have encountered.

Meanwhile, Aulus Spiculus is also being bailed up, by Cicero and his followers, in the garden of his villa.

Turn 5:
Cicero and his mob, and Spiculus, have to undergo a sequence of contingency rolls now, to find out what happens next. Here’s how it went: Spiculus, ever the coward, failed to use his Dynast hauteur to threaten the crowd, and instead tried to make a run for it through a door in the garden wall behind him. You can see a bottom corner of it in the photo). But someone in the mob, most likely Orestes, a small farmer (Artisan) swindled by Spiculus, split his head open with a hoe, and the Civic Pontiff fell dead in front of the door. Blood everywhere. The individual mob members then all had to pass Q tests (1D6) else have second thoughts and slip away. Only two passed, plus Cicero, so most of Cicero’s following were removed from play and returned to random street positions (dispersed). But Cicero and the remaining two hardliners began searching the villa for the grain stores ...

Barabbas and his men finished their sport with the women and moved on, swaggering along the via Umbris towards the temple. They paused near the fountain to extort money from the stall holder who had an awning there and decide what to do next.

Catiline and his followers continued their march, watched by bemused bystanders. They have crossed the via Umbris and entered Khlong Mapyailia. The photo shows their triumphant progress ...

Turn 6
... which could be about to be rudely interrupted. Victor at the head of every available man from the Prefect’s Guard enters the table on the Mapyailia side. With him is the Prefect himself. They know about Catiline’s rabble-rousing from the informer, and also that Brasidas and Cicero are working the area, from the report of Teres and Senex, but that’s all. 

Catiline and his people turn the corner and find the street blocked by the Guard. All must pass Q tests now they are facing a decision about whether or not to clash with these feared guards, all veterans of Roman army service in Palestine, in a Thracian auxilia unit. Four decide to slink away, and are removed, same as Cicero’s waverers. The others line up ready to take on the forces of authority. Catiline though, edges into the back rank. Here is the scene. 

Barabbas and his crew have been distracted by the Rope Trick street performers near the fountain, and are temporarily out of play.

Brasidas and his gang emerge from the Eros and, nursing headaches, make the short walk back to the villa of Spiculus, to take up their guard duties. As they approach the main door, terrified household slaves run out with the news ...

Turn 7Poised at the entrance to the villa, Brasidas hesitated (failed 1/3 activation dice) and he and his gang ended up advancing cautiously into the garden. There, they confronted Cicero and his much smaller faction of hardcore followers, now weighed down by loot. Against the odds, no grain had been found.

Barabbas and his gang didn't move. Rolling one activation dice each to break the distraction effect of the Rope Trick, 4/5 characters, including Brasidas, failed! Maybe they’re hoping to pick up tips for housebreaking through upper floor windows.

The Prefect’s Guard was all set to charge into Catline’s mob, but Victor failed his activation roll and so the troops held position, but took a short run and launched a volley of javelins. The shooting wasn’t very good though. One rioter was knocked down, another was pushed back. As the civilian (but not artisan) rioters have the Rabble trait, they are “killed if beaten in combat”. Is being whiffled by a javelin “in combat”? I ruled yes, and so one rioter was killed.

The Prefect also failed his activation this turn, but he also rolled to determine his Heavy Drinker characteristic: he is a Combat Master for this game.

Catline in response rolled two activation successes and his whole mob surged forward, eager to come to grips with the guards. The narrow street was wide enough for only three combats. Catiline has 2 artisans and 1 civilian in his front rank. The rioters get Plebeian solidarity, and also count as either Armed or Rabble. All guards are Armed. Each side won 1 melee (push backs) and there was 1 draw.

Here are photos of the two confrontations now under way.

Brasidas and Cicero face off in the villa garden. Aulus Spiculus’s body has been discreetly removed by his valets, and stripped of valuables.

Catiline and his rioters, and the Prefect and his guard, get stuck in. That’s Catiline in the red and white clothing at lower L. The Prefect in purple and white is at upper L. 

Turn 8
Although Cicero and Brasidas were a bit more than S distance apart, I ruled that Cicero could attempt to suborn the gang to join his faction. After all, Spiculus the gang’s employer is already dead, and there is this big villa full of loot ... Cicero duly rolled three activation successes. The entire gang, including Brasidas, then failed their Q test rolls and threw in their lot with Cicero. Let the looting begin!

Barabbas broke free of the rope trick distraction, and collected his men together. He decided to head back down the via Umbris, away from the temple. More civilians were in the street now, all potential victims. And sounds of fighting could be heard, coming from somewhere over there. Worth investigating.

In the battle between Cataline’s rioters and the Guards, the rioters moved first. Two of them and one guard fell. When the Guards’ turn came, they killed the two prone rioters, and their own prone man got back up. The Prefect then rolled three activation successes and used them to move up to Catiline (exposed by the loss of the followers in front of him) and attack him with a power blow. Catiline fell to the ground. Victor, the guards officer, then moved up and finished off the prone Catiline. His two surviving followers rolled their morale tests. One turned to flee and was cut down in a free hack. The other fled. 

Bodies (except for Catiline) have been removed in the photo above.

Turn 9
It’s late afternoon now. The Prefect and his guards decide to check the neighbourhood, and move out into the via Umbris. As they enter the Main Street, they spot Barabbas and his crew through the trees. 

And the bandits spot them too. The fate roll decreed that the bandits decide to push off to pastures new. They pass some stunned civilians without robbing them, and scurry along to put distance between them and the guards.

Just at this time, Captain Feisal and his crew appeared, at the end of the red light street, possibly intent on whiling away an evening there. As the game is so close to finished we’ll let them go about their business. There has been no sign of Levi and his zealots, they have failed to make an appearance.

Cicero and Brasidas and their followers are continuing to loot the villa, joined by the more adventurous household slaves. Some fires have started smoke is rising, probably to be spotted by the Prefect and his Guards as they check out the neighbourhood. But that’ll have to be another game ...

Here are some final photos.

Feisal and his crew saunter up red light street towards the brothels (identified by their lurid paint-jobs and exterior signage). Ozymandias the security guard, and his attack baboon, keep an eye in them. Have a good time gents, but no trouble please. In the distance, smoke rises from the villa of Spiculus. Perhaps the gardeners are burning dead leaves?

The scene on via Umbris as Barabbas’s gang, and the Prefect’s guards, spot each other through the avenue of trees. The bandits have decided to fight another day, and are heading off past the potter’s shop. A carpet shop and animal hide shop can also be seen further up the street as I add fine detail to my street scapes. But what I really need are some 28mm animal carcasses so I can set up one or more butcher shops. Any suggestions? 

From the Prefects POV order has been restored with minimal damage to life or property. Even (looking forward a day or two) the elimination of Spiculus has a silver lining, as Marcus never liked him and can now appoint a more useful replacement. And confiscate the villa as the ‘proceeds of grain speculation’ - a politically popular move.

Neither of the Demagogues has succeeded in their primary aims. Catiline is dead, definitely not a success (unless you’re a Christian). Cicero has achieved a personal triumph in winning over Brasidas and his gang, but has not actually liberated any grain stores. His followers, arms full of loot, are happy though. For now.

Spiculus of course, along with Catiline, has had a bad day.

Quite a long AAR even by my standards, and not a lot of dramatic action. It took four days to play (in between home schooling, splashing in the pool to avoid the oppressive heat, and other interruptions). Probably at the upper practical limit of complicated contingency / fate dice interactions though.

Next time I might break with tradition and play one of the scenarios from the SSD rules. Abduction, or Arson, perhaps.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Let Them Eat Cake: an SSD game in Pattayavium - part 1

I'm pleased to be able to share another cracking game report from Mark in Thailand - this time we return to Pattayavium, the apocryphal Greco-Roman outpost in the Indies. Its a bit report, so I've split it over a couple of posts on Mark's request. Part 2 can be found HERE.


The prologue:
In this remotest outpost of the Graeco-Roman world, where we set our stage, the year of the Squirrel is not going well. The southeast monsoon is late and maritime trade (the raison d’être of the settlement) is at a standstill. The harvest has been poor again. Grain prices are rising with the temperatures. Those who can have left the town, for their country villas or their family villages. Those who have nowhere to go are in a dangerous mood. The times suit rabble rousers who know an incendiary grievance when they see one, and Pattayavium is not short of either ...

The principal players:
Octavius Catiline (politician)
Q2 C2 Demagogue, Dynast
A leading slave trader and member of the Trader elite, he is actually going under from gambling debts and on the verge of ruin. He plans to tell everyone who will listen their problems are all caused by the Prefect (who he fantasises is responsible for his own woes).

Iunius Cicero (rabble rouser)
Q3 C2 Demagogue, Plebeian
Well known as a street corner stirrer around the town, tho normally tolerated by the authorities as a bit of a joke. But he has realised how the grain shortage can be turned to his advantage.

Aulus Spiculus (Civic Pontiff)
Q2 C1 Coward, Dynast, Slow, Threatening
One of the inner circle at the top of Pattayavium society. Looks down on Catiline and the Prefect as parvenus, though he himself was once a slave to the Governor of Syria. Notorious as a grain hoarder and speculator. He is the author of the comment about eating cake, in response to pleas from many quarters to sell grain at affordable prices. He is determined to survive and hold onto his wealth.

Marcus Incognitans (Prefect)
Q2 C2 Dynast, Heavy drinker, Leader, Lucky, Threatening
Ruler of Pattayavium for the past five years. Not popular, but widely feared and generally regarded as better than any alternative. He must survive and restore order with as little destruction and mayhem as possible (unless to remove threats).

The supporting cast:
Brasidas and his gang: usually to be found hired out as “security” by one merchant or another. At the moment they are being paid by A Spiculus to guard his granaries. They are loyal up to a point but Spiculus is a scrooge about paying wages.

Barabbas and his gang: the most feared bandits in the area, they commit robberies and are standover specialists, and sometimes operate even in broad daylight. There are ugly rumours they have high-level protection.

The Prefect’s Guard: Led by their officer, Victor, many of these men came east with Marcus, and they are personally loyal to the Prefect. But there are not many of them.

Levi and the zealots: Levi is a distinctive figure around Pattayavium as he always wears the full ceremonial dress of a Hebrew priest. He has a small entourage of zealots who attend him and obey without question.

Captain Feisal and his crew: The captain and crew of the vessel Mariamne are stuck in port because of contrary winds. They’re armed to the teeth (necessary to survive at sea in these waters) and foreign even by Pattayavium’s loose standards. And bored. Who knows how they will react in a crisis.

Assorted artisans and civilians: Artisans are armed civilians, being farmers, hunters, retired veterans and so on. They mostly carry weapons such as farming implements, but a few have swords, spears and missile weapons. They are Armed, and not Rabble, but still Plebeian.

One new figure debuting this game is Ozymandias (security guard) and his trained baboon: Q3 C3 Animal, Disarm, Protect. “Have you seen the size of that thing, and the canines?”

Setting the stage:
Here are some overhead shots of the area around the temple of Buddha Optimus Maximus where the trouble started. 

Looking North. The centre of the table (L to R) is occupied by the avenue known as via Umbria, which leads to the main civic temple. In front of the temple is the new Spiculan fountain, a recent liturgy of Aulus Spiculus. On the S side of the temple are the Gardens of Mus, part of Spicula’s villa. The frontages of the via Umbria are lined with shophouses. Behind them on the N side is part of the Khlong Mapyailia, one of the poorest quarters of the town, home of immigrant workers mostly. On the S side are most of the town’s brothels and bars, including the “Dolphin”, the “Eros”, the “Dryad”, and (largest of all, over on the Mapyailia side against the N wall of the temple) the “Bacchic Revel”.

Looking South. Of the main characters only Aulus Spiculus is present. He is standing on the front steps of the temple, gazing complacently at his fountain, and giving orders to Brasidas the foreman of his enforcers. Other civilians can be seen going about their business. A two-man patrol of the Prefect’s Guard has just entered from R and can be seen just above the red striped awning along the R Table edge. 

The other leading players and supporting cast will make their entrances as Turns revolve and the dice rolls decide. Except that maybe, perhaps, some are already on stage but concealed by scenery (ie inside brothels).

Turn 1:
Octavius Catiline enters from the S side, in the area of the brothels. It turns out that, as Dynasts go, he is Loathed, tho this is not expected to affect his forthcoming career as a demagogue. The career paths of Dynast and Demagogue are mutually exclusive as a rule, tho not for those named Catiline perhaps. Like all players he gets three free activations on first taking the stage. He also come with three followers attracted by speeches he has made elsewhere this morning. He takes up a position near a grain shop and starts his spiel. Very successfully, as two more followers join the cause.

Iunius Cicero enters from the opposite side of the table, in Khlong Mapyailia. He brings two followers, He decides not to make any speeches immediately tho, and instead heads for the Spiculan fountain.

The two-man patrol of the Prefects Guard (Teres and Senex) proceeds along the via Umbris towards the Temple. They find themselves a few paces behind Cicero and his followers. 

Lastly, Brasidas’s gang members come out of the Bacchic Revel gentleman’s club and join their leader in front of the Temple.

The next photo shows Catiline speaking outside the grain shop. Ozymandius and his baboon will not get involved as there is - currently - no threat to the brothels he is hired to protect.

And the next photo shows Spiculus (who turns out to be Respected as a Dynast - who knew!) standing on the temple steps, and Brasidas and his gang clustered below. The Bacchic Revel is the green building with the potted palm. Cicero and his followers are just coming into view at the near end of the via Umbris. The Guard patrol are off-shot to the L.

Turn 2:
As the morning wears on more civilians and artisans appear on the streets.

Cicero arrives at the fountain and starts to speak. This attracts three nearby civilians - mainly folk on their way to draw water from the fountain. For the moment, the attraction of hearing Cicero outweighs the potential distraction value of the nearby rope trick.

The Guard patrol move up and, across the open space, spot Brasidas and his gang plus Spiculus. That’s what is called a suspicious circumstance in the handbook, and Teres and Senex move in for a closer look.

Catiline is still in the red light district, and another five civilians are showing interest. He is gathering quite a crowd.

All the action fits into one photo this time. Cicero and Catalina are drawing sizeable crowds and the Prefects Guard (seen just above the Temple) tho focussed originally on Brasidas’s gang, are listening with disquiet to what Cicero is declaiming.

Turn 3:
Teres and Senex are smart enough to know something is up, and that they need to report it. They head off as fast as they can, through Khlong Mapyailia, to report to their officer, Victor.

Catiline continues to wind up the crowd in the red light district, they are beginning to mutter anti-regime sentiments and there are a few cries of “down with the Prefect” and “redistribute the land”. Catiline is turning out to have a talent fir this new calling, at the end of this turn he has nine actual adherents. But, in the bustle, one civilian (the humble porter) who was tempted, but passed his activation roll, then passed a second roll and so set out to inform Authority and claim the standing reward for informing on subversion.

Cicero failed a triple activation attempt so his own recruitment efforts have temporarily stalled.

Brasidas and his men have been grudgingly paid their weeks wages by Spiculus (who walks off into his villa) and, after sine discussion, they decide to visit a new brothel (the Eros) and head off towards it.

Here you can see the humble porter sneaking off at top R. Brasidas and his men are entering the street at bottom R.

To be continued ...

Saturday 23 May 2020

10mm Goblin bat-riders

So... I over the past couple of years I have fallen in love with goblins (those cheeky chappies). And more recently, I have been rather taken with green stuff and all the creative possibilities inherent therein. And then my wee lad was going through a bat phase for a few weeks there. One thing led to another, and I now have a company of goblin bat-riders! 

The bats are both 28mm giant bats from Northstar Miniatures - yet more of their Frostgrave range. The fatter rider on the bigger bat got his head and right arm from a spare Warmaster wolf-rider. The rest of the body is prosthetic green stuff.

The smaller bat needed a smaller rider. He is a completely new sculpt whom I nicknamed Dobby for absolutely no copyright infringing reasons. 

Friday 22 May 2020

Fantastic Battles - WIP front cover teaser

A work-in-progress teaser from the Fantastic Battles front cover. I'm delighted to be continuing my working relationship with Greece's foremost wargaming rules illustrator (and a most talented artist despite it all), Orestix Ermeides. 

Thursday 21 May 2020

Palaeo Diet summed up on a plate...

This awesome terrain piece was posted in a wargaming group on Facebook yesterday. Aside from the fact that it is a lovely, and very flavourful (pun) landscape piece, I was also thrilled to see it was built for Palaeo Diet Eat or be Eaten. Then I read the comments... brilliant. 😁 

Sunday 17 May 2020

28mm Swashbucklers - Cacique Chipotl's War Party

The last of my three planned factions for swashbuckling games, I finished up my generically indigenous pulp native war party this week. Although I took inspiration from the indigenous populations of Mesoamerica, northern South America and the Caribbean, there is nothing intentionally specific about these gentlemen and no cultural disrespect is intended. The figures are all from a single plastic sprue of Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago natives, so they have more than a touch of fantasy about them.

Saturday 16 May 2020

Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles - unit basing and unit profiles

In this second post introducing Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles, we will look at two of the fundamental aspects of any game - the basing system and unit profiles.

Unit basing and measuring distances
The basic unit in Fantastic Battles is the company; companies may act independently or be grouped together into larger formations. Each company is represented on the table by a number of figures on a single base. Companies are an abstract representation of a large body of men (or orcs, or lizardmen, or elves etc ad nauseum), perhaps numbering in the hundreds or thousands. There is no figure removal to represent casualties, the exact number of figures per company is unimportant – players should base their units in the way that looks best.

We recommend square 40x40mm bases for companies of 6mm-15mm scale figures, or 60x60mm for larger scales. However, the actual base size used is irrelevant to the game mechanics as long as the same base widths are used across all companies on the table. While square bases are recommended, rectangular bases are feasible with minimal adjustments as will be noted throughout the rules.

Characters may act as individuals or attach to companies. A character’s base can be any shape and size appropriate to the figure, but should be smaller than a company and easily identifiable.

In the game, all distances are given in generic units of measurement (u) based on the width of a single company. Therefore, in a game using companies on 40mm bases, 2u would equate to 8cm while 3u would equate to 12cm.

Table size 

A standard engagement between two forces of between 750-1000 points each is 30x20u (i.e. 1200x800mm if using 40mm bases). Smaller games could be played on 20x20u tables, while larger games would need to have the table size adjusted accordingly.

Company profiles
Every company in an army will have a profile which dictates how it behaves on the battlefield. The example below is for a company of goblin warriors. Detailed guidelines for customising company profiles will be dealt with another time.

The ‘Character/company’ column gives the company an identity. All companies start out as one a set number of generic base profiles (elite, formed or irregular companies, fantastic beasts, dragons, batteries or vehicles) and are then customised using traits.

Resolve (RES)
A unit’s Resolve is perhaps its single most important factor. It indicates a unit’s willingness to stand firm in the face of danger. During a battle, pre-game and in-game events such as being shot at, taking damage in melee, or seeing friendly units flee degrade a unit’s Resolve, sometimes sending a cascade of panic through a player’s battle line. The retention, loss and restoration of a unit’s Resolve is key and players will find that quick thinking or clever Resolve management can often be the deciding factor in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

A single company of goblin warriors has only 3 Resolve. However, grouping multiple companies together into a single larger unit stacks their Resolve factors. A unit formed from two companies of goblin warriors (as in the photo at the start of this post) would therefore have 6 Resolve, while a large group made up of four companies would have 12 Resolve.

Move (MOV)

The Move column indicates the maximum distance a company may move in a single action phase. In this case, goblin warriors may move up to 3u in a single turn.

Melee (MEL)

The Melee factor shows the companies martial abilities and indicates how many attack dice are rolled during the Melee phase. Each company of goblin warriors may roll three attack dice under normal circumstances.

Shooting (SHT)
The Shooting column represents a company’s capacity for long range attacks, shown as two numbers divided by a forward slash. The first number represents how many attack dice are rolled in the shooting phase against targets within short range (2u) – it may represent close range shooting, thrown weapons or brave but ill-disciplined warriors dashing out of formation to launch individual attacks on enemy units. The second number represents true long-range shooting and indicates the attack dice rolled against targets within long range (5u). Each company of goblin warriors may roll two attack dice against a target within short range, or one die against a target within long range.

Defence (DEF)
A company’s Defence factor gives the target number required by an opponent’s attack dice to cause the company to lose Resolve. Goblin warriors have a Defence of 4+, so enemy attack dice against the goblins would need to roll 4s, 5s, or 6s to reduce their Resolve. Any rolls of 1, 2, or 3 would be ignored.

Traits represent the various features that differentiate units. Each unit may be customised with up to three traits, plus a possible fourth trait representing a racial trope. For this example, we are saying that all goblins have unreliable as a racial trope. Generic units of goblin warriors also have the shooting (mixed unit) and wild charge traits.

Points (PTS)
The Points column shows the cost to recruit the company. A more expensive company is usually more reliable, better equipped or trained, or has more resolve than cheaper companies. Goblin warriors cost a modest 23 points per company.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Introducing Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles

In February 2011, I released Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World’s End. Originally inspired by the Elizabethan wars in Ireland, the rules were written to be suitable for all asymmetrical clashes around the fringes of the European world in the 16th and Early 17th centuries. A 2nd edition followed in 2014 which streamlined many of the rules to make the turns flow more smoothly and which earned fan-made supplements to cover ancient, medieval and fantasy genres. Since then, I have written 10 further rules sets and expansions, all published through Ganesha Games.

As I approach the 10th anniversary of writing rules fit for public consumption it feels like the right time to return to the Irregular Wars system. Rather than releasing a 3rd edition of Conflict at the World’s End –which still serves its niche admirably – I have embarked on a more broadly applicable set of rules for fantasy mass-battles, Fantastic Battles. The title is a play on words do you see, ‘cause the genre is fantasy games, and the battles will be fantastic – as in ‘great’ or ‘enjoyable’, or at least a moderately good laugh ... oh, never mind.

Central tenets of Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles

  • Engaging rules. The rules need to keep both players engaged at all times with randomised initiative and play passing quickly between players.
  • Command friction and fog of war. The rules need to limit the omnipotent control a warlord has over their army and the battlefield conditions.
  • Setting agnostic. The game must be applicable to any fantasy (or even pseudo-historical) settings.
  • Flexible army building. As a game of fantasy battles, why accept restrictions on your fantasy? A flexible army building system allows players to create armies to their own tastes.
  • Scale agnostic using multi-based figures. All measurements are expressed in distance units (u), where 1u is the width of one company base. Any size bases are possible, as long as all companies are based in the same way.
  • No individual figure removal. All units have a footprint and are represented on the table as a complete unit. When a unit loses its resolve to fight, it is removed from the table in its entirety.

In Fantastic Battles, armies consist of a number of characters and companies, custom built to suit the player’s vision of their fantasy faction. For pick-up games, we recommend 500-1000 points per player which should allow for somewhere in the region of 12-24 companies. The company forms the building block of the army. Each company is built using one of seven base profiles and can be allocated up to three distinguishing traits – identical companies may be grouped into larger units which become more robust at the expense of maneuverability. Armies may also be given an additional blanket trait known as a racial trope which applies to all companies of the main race in the army. Each army must be led by a single warlord and may also include a number of other individual characters chosen from captains, magic-users and rogues.

The rules are still in the closed testing phase – the Covid-19 pandemic has really slowed testing down. Over the coming months, I’ll be posting more information on different aspects of the rules, from example armies, to pre-game mishaps, game play, random events, and the campaign system. Do drop me a line or leave a comment below if there are any particular features you’d like me to cover.

Saturday 9 May 2020

28mm Swashbucklers - Cacique Chipotl

The final part of my swashbuckler diversion will be five 'trope' natives. They are all built off a single plastic sprue (again from Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago), and are not overly historical. However, they fit the bill for generic natives as featured in in the likes of George MacDonald Fraser's The Pyrates, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I got as far as finishing the cacique above, and started to feel a twinge in the back, so am going to have to pause painting for a few days.

For less culturally insensitive inspiration I conducted a quick search for Arawak, Taino and Carib images. I can't guarantee which of the images below genuinely show these peoples (I suspect some show indigenous people of the Amazon), but I know the first one at least is an 1813 painting of a Carib family by Stedman.