Thursday 30 July 2020

Excellent Miniatures - 10mm elf scale comparison

I recently received a package of sample 10mm miniatures from a German company, Excellent Miniatures. For full disclosure, I paid for most of the postage, but I did not pay for the miniatures. The package contained an assortment of figures from different ranges that they currently sell.

In this post, I am going to concentrate on the two ranges of elves that were in the sample - Elven Nobles and Elves of the Wood. I believe both ranges have been produced by Forest Dragon on patreon and Excellent Miniatures have a license to 3D print and sell them commercially. 

Here you can see the Excellent Miniatures elves alongside examples of other assorted (nominally) 10mm miniatures. The first thing to note is that the quality of the sculpting is quite remarkable and the printing leaves them clean and crisp.The Noble Elves (on foot) are slightly smaller than all the others, but the comparison is a little unfair as these examples are not on the strip base that they would ordinarily be printed on. That strip base would raise them up a couple of mm. Even so, the Noble Elves are closer in size to Warmaster figures and the historical ranges of Pendraken and Magister Militum than those companies' fantasy lines.

Here you can see the Noble Elves between Magister and Pendraken ranges. Even with a strip base, they would still be a tad smaller, but the beauty of 3D printing files is that Stephan at Excellent Miniatures has said that they would be happy to adjust the size if required. It should be noted that colour scheme is for my wee boy's blue-skinned Night Elf army - akin to Dark Elves, but with less nudity and S&M because he is only nine... 

The Elves of the Wood stag-riders are pretty special; special enough for me to place an order so I can paint up a small army for Fantastic Battles. The sample stag-riders were printed in a quick-print test plastic and were rather brittle and I lost two antlers in transit, but the commercial prints will use the more robust plastic that most of the rest of my sample bag were printed in.

Finally, I wanted to see an example of how they take paint, so I painted up one of the Noble Elf command figures as a Night Elf Captain. She is obviously smaller but so much more detailed than her peers. While I love Magister and Pendraken, I've always found their elves lacking in ... elfishness. Magister elves are robust rather than fine, while Pendraken elves are really tall and a bit stiff. I have to say that these 3D printed elves are rather exquisite. 

Monday 27 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Men of the Byzernian Empire vs Halflings of Hearthshire

This week saw two playtests of Fantastic Battles here in Ulster. The first between my Ziggurat Dwarves and JB's Dark Elves, and the second between my Hearthshire Halflings against Jim's Byzernian Humans. 

Rolling for Mishaps, the halfling line (bottom of the photo) was moderately impacted. One unit of treefolk was delayed and deployed to the rear of their designated position, the kitchen militia were too enthusiastic and deployed forward, and both the archers and hearthguard units were suffering from disease - or was it bad salmon mousse served the night before? The Byzernians had invested in a 'quartermaster' who positively modified all their Mishap rolls meaning they only had one enthusiastic unit - skirmishing kern on their right flank (upper left in the photo) - and a late unit of drunken bonnachts. The Byzenians had also purchased the 'ambush'  strategy allowing their rogue to lead a unit of light horse prickers ahead of their line on the left (top right of the photo). 

In the early stages of the battle, the two lines advanced steadily towards each other. The halflings in the centre tried to re-establish a sold line with their enthusiastic kitchen militia who blessedly were happy to sit and wait while their commanders caught up to them. Rosie, the halfling rogue, led the poultry scouts forward to try to hold the Byzernian prickers on the hill, allowing Captain Fishwick to bring up the mounted yeomanry to drive back the assault on the halfling right flank.

Unfortunately for Rosie and the poultry scouts, Fishwick was not fast enough and they had to receive a charge from the prickers unsupported.

On the left of the halfling line, Puck Goodfellow was not taking his time to move his painfully slow treefolk forward. He had a large four-company unit in front supported by some halfling game wardens, and the smaller two-company unit of late-comers bringing up the rear. Before them were the Byzernian kern and two wagon-mounted flame-throwing warmachines. In the background, the drunken bonnachts can be seen lazing around, drinking and taking in the sun on a crisp winter's morning.

The two centres stare at each other across no-man's-land.

On the halfling right, Fishwick's yeoman cavalry were charged by a mass of galloglasses. In a bit of a bind, Fishwick called in the support of the Hearthshire's friendly neighbourhood chicken monster cockatrice. However, without the support of the yeomanry, the poultry scouts, and their bold leader, were quickly overwhelmed by the superior height numbers of the Byzernian cavalry on the hill.

In the centre, the halfling hearthguard engaged in a pike-measuring activity with their Byzernian equals, while the squishy kitchen militia received a charge from both the Byzernian heavy cavalry and an angel. To my great delight they managed to soak up a lot of damage, but not break. In the following Action phase, they passed around some cold chicken drumsticks and a few pickled onions, restoring enough Resolve to keep on fighting.

Unfortunately, following the defeat of the poultry on the hill, the Byzernian light cavaly prickers had free reign over the halfling right and were soon engaged against the kithen militia's flank. Faced by the fierce gallowglasses and seeing their friends break, the halfling yeomany fled, allowing the galloglass unit to reform against the cockatrice.

On the halfling left, the wardens pinned the Byzernian kern in place just long enough to allow them to be caught by the lumbering tree folk. The Byzernians could not stand before the wall of walking wood and fled, their captain dying in the process. In the Byzernian background, the drunken bonnachts finally decided that this battle wasn't for them and wandered off to tour a nearby distillery. The Byzernian right was now leaderless and the flame-wagons defenceless. Tired of being hit by the flame-throwers, the treefolk were on a rampage ...

... it just happened to be a painfully slow rampage. The treefolk were desperately needed in the centre of the battle, but they were far off on the left flank. The kitchen militia eventually reached the point were there was not enough quince jelly in the world to keep them in the fight and they too scattered. The Byzernian angel skipped across to attack the halfling archers (now in column) and the day was looking pretty grim. Faced with Byzernian spearmen to their front, and elite Byzernian heavy cavalry to their flank, the halfling Hearthguard fought their final stand until they could stand no longer.  

Technically speaking, in both the spirit and the letter of the law, that was the end of the battle. Look at the halfling Warlord all alone there ... he knows it. With the Hearthguard broken, the halfling army was reduced to below half strength and should have withdrawn. However, the halfling player - whose name shall not be mentioned else he incriminate himself - may have been overtired and miscounted the number of loses. The battle continued into overtime.

The Byzernian rogue went off to attack the halfing catapults and would have actually been killed by a freak roll of a 6, had the Byzernian prophet not foreseen the event and allowed the dice to be swapped for another he'd prepared earlier.

The halfling archers reformed to face the angel, and were immediately hit in the flank by the Byzernian heavy horse. Miraculously, they drove the angel off, turned to face the heavy horse...

... and then were hit in the flank by the Byzernian spearmen. Those spearmen were, in turn, charged by the halfling truffle-hunters who were empowered by the Magic-user Hamfist and rolled 11 attack dice! Needing 5+ to hit, the wee walking sausages managed to roll 10 hits. Bless 'em!

Still, it was not to be, the spearmen reformed and drove off the truffle-hunters, just as the horsemen finished off the halfling archers.

In the end, only Puck and the treefolk remained on the table. The battle was well and truly over with a well-deserved victory going to the men of Byzernia. 

I'll leave Jim to have the final words:

Sunday 26 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Ziggurat Dwarves vs Dark Elves

This week saw two playtests of Fantastic Battles here in Ulster. The first between my Ziggurat Dwarves and JB's Dark Elves, and the second between my Hearthshire Halflings against Jim's Byzernian Humans

As noted elsewhere, all our testing to date has been with 10mm armies based on 40x40mm bases, but the game itself is scale agnostic so long as all companies on the table are based the same way.

Rolling for Mishaps saw one unit of Ziggurati shield-bearers (the red shields) and the flying carpet-riding priests suffering the impact of disease, and the other unit of shield-bearers (the blue shields) arriving late and being forced to deploy behind the ballistae on the hill. The Dark Elves mustered all of their elite elvish units on their right (top left of the photo), and had three large rabble units of expendable thralls (all on stimulants) on their left. One of the units of thralls was wracked with disease - a devastating impact on rabble - while another was overly enthusiastic and deployed far too far forward.

The opening turns saw all four batteries of dwarvern ballistae and the flying carpet-riders opening fire on the only unit within range - the poor but enthusiastic rabble unit of slaves. Only requiring six hits to break the rabble, the dwarvern shooting was remarkably successful and the slaves broke and fled. Meanwhile, the late unit of shield-bearers changed into column formation and started the very slow process of maneuvering back to where they should have been in the first place.

The elves were a bit rattled by the speed with which their advanced unit was destroyed and spent several turns trying to consolidate the rest of their line, the Warlord flying back and forth rallying where necessary.

This delay allowed the dwarves to adjust their own lines, shifting the focus to the dwarvern left to face the elite elves, rather than worry too much about the remaining slave units.

After several turns of maneuvering, the lines started to close. The elven Warlord on his dragon, flying above the slaves soaked up a lot of dwarvern ballista fire, but the Warlord managed to rally most of the Resolve loss away and thereby neutralised the damage that the war machines could have been doing to the rest of the elvish line.

In the end, it took a charge from the cream of the Ziggurati forces, the elite, heavy weapon-wielding, Ziggurat Guard to dispatch the next unit of Dark Elf thralls. As the Ziggurat Guards cleaved their way through the thralls, the final slave unit advanced up the extreme right of the dwarvern line, occupying a hill and receiving ballistae fire and shooting from the flying carpets for their efforts. Both slave units crumbled and scattered. So far, the dwarves had destroyed 10 companies in three big units with next to no casualties themselves. The stunties were on a high, and the pointies were feeling low. Both emotions proved to be short lived.

In Fantastic Battles, armies break when all of their characters are killed, or when more than half of their companies have scattered. However, expendable troops (like all those thralls) are ignored, so thus far in the game, the dwarves had made no headway towards breaking the elven army at all. In the centre of the remaining elven line, a witch with a pet golem and a cauldron full of blood was leading a menacing pack of poisonous and berserking witch-elves and monstrous lizard-riding noblemen. The fight was not over yet by a long way.

The entire unit of Ziggurat Guard were pinned in place by a single company of elven crossbowmen; the red shields were assaulted to the front by the witch elves and the golem. While near-impregnable to the front thanks to their shieldwall and long spears, the shield-bearer units have very soft flanks. The red shields now had exposed flanks and that terrifying unit of lizard-riding elvish nobles loitering nearby charged into their left flank. In the distance, the blue shields were charged in their flank by the elven Warlord on his dragon.

Despite the Ziggurati djinn rushing to their aid and attacking the lizard riders, the red shields couldn't stand before the combined elvish onslaught and broke. The berserking witch elves next charged at the dwarf lord, Gargamesh, on his lamassu who evaded, falling back as the witches surged on towards the ballistae battery. 

The blue shields reformed to present the Dark Elf Warlord with their shieldwall and pointy spears.

Having seen off the djinn to their flank, the lizard-riders were next harried in the rear by a company of plucky dwarvern highlanders. An elf rogue jointed the fight, called out Lakish, the dwarvern captain, and in the ensuing duel, killed him. The highlanders scattered, leaving the lizard-knights free to find a new target.

By this stage, the Ziggurat Guard had defeated both companies of crossbowmen sent to slow them down and were ready to face off against the elves and lizards. The witch elves, furious at the lamassu's evasive manoeuvres, charged into the dwarvern ballistae, and were then attacked from behind by the Warlord and lamassu for their ill manners. 

Both armies were very close to breaking - the elves had fought on ferociously despite having lost all of those thrall units in the opening stages of the game. The flying carpets flew around to pin the elven Warlord and dragon in place for the blue shields to fight. At the same time, in a truly frantic combat, the witch elves managed to destroy the artillery before turning to kill the Ziggurati Warlord just as the reached their own physical limits and broke themselves. 

This brought the Dark Elf army, finally, to its break point and the remaining pointy-folk withdrew from the field of battle. The Ziggurat Dwarves were left victorious, but badly battered. Of the five characters who led the dwarves that morning, only Akkad the Magic-user remained alive when the day was done. 

Thursday 23 July 2020

6mm Napoleonic Austrians - Archduke Charles Legion

Continuing to plug away at my 1809ish Austrians, I am please to have finished the last unit of my Advanced Guard Division, the Archduke Charles Legion. The legion (six battalions strong) was raised by Archduke Charles (Erzherzog Karl) in 1808 from Bohemia and Moravia to provide bodies of light infantry for the Austrian army. Unlike the more numerous battalions of the same name raised in 1800, the 1809 legion seems to have been uniformed in brown coats with red facings and pike-grey trousers. The entire first battalion seems to have worn the Corsican hat (like regular jager battalions), but only the light companies in the other battalions wore the same, other companies wore a shako. This unit, with skirmishers wearing the Corsican hat but the rest wearing a shako, will nominally be the 2nd battalion which saw action (and took heavy casualties) at Aspern and Wagram in 1809.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

10mm 5th-4th century BC Macedonian commanders

With arguably too much time on my hands just now, I converted a couple of spare Magister Militum figures into additional commanders for my 10mm Classical Macedonians. The mounted chap with the Herakles-complex was a Thracian horseman (I have been converting them into hetairoi). The photos below show the green stuff lion-skin. The gentleman on foot is a peltast figure with a couple of simple green stuff feathers added either side of the plume. This brings the army up to 20 units and four commanders so far; about 180 points worth of an ADG army, or more than enough to play Hail Caesar, Dux Bellorum or even Fantastic Battles.

6mm Napoleonic Austrians - Moravian conscripts

It has been very slow going - I find it psychologically challenging to paint 96 figures, all in the same uniform, at one time but I refuse to break single units up into batches - but I have finally finished another large unit for my nominally 1809 Austrians for Bataille Empire. I am hoping to be able to field my full 200 point army some time... this year, surely... we shall see. I'm not enjoying the painting journey for this army, but I do love the result.

Friday 17 July 2020

Fantastic Battles: Ziggurat Dwarves vs Byzernians

This week my Ziggurat dwarves had their first outing, taking on Jim's Byzernians (supported by a small halfling allied contingent) in a 1,000 point game of Fantastic Battles. Unfortunately the war correspondents did a lousy job capturing a full report of the battle, so we can only provide on summary reflections from the sources close to the respective warlords.

Thoughts from the dwarves:
  • Lots of artillery is not a game breaker, but don't charge towards it with heavy horse. 
  • Shieldwalls are hard as nails, don't charge them with light horse unless you are hitting the rear or a flank. 
  • The drilled trait is super useful, even if it doesn't appear all that special at first sight. 
  • Playing with randomised objectives was a nice bit of fun, but it didn't dominate the game. 
  • We've been doing independent character charges all wrong. In the rules as written, independent characters were never supposed to get any melee modifiers on top of their basic profile, but we've applied them in the last couple of games and it has reinforced that they should not be used.

Thoughts from the Byzernians:
  • Oh, I won a stunning moral victory last night. I was defeated. But not just as badly as we thought I would be going in at half time. 
  • A second half resurgence saw me kill Nic’s general, see off some ballistae and have a halfling magic user riding a gerbil bring down a flight of flying carpets! Don’t use your independent characters to kill Nic’s stuff or you will see a rule change/clarification! ­čśë­čśë
  • Winning some fights but not the battle, and killing a warlord, grants me the moral victory, in my mind.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Fantastic Battles army showcase - Ziggurat Dwarves

The next example army for Fantastic Battles comes in the form of 1000 points of Ziggurat Dwarves. These are all from Cibo's Little Dudes in Switzerland - most are from his range of Evil Dwarves, but some pieces are regular dwarves and the flying carpets are made from greenstuff. 

The Ziggurat Dwarves are an ancient people from an arid land broken by fertile flood plains. Living in walled city-states, they build huge stepped monuments reaching into the sky. Some travellers believe these to be a memorial to an ancestral mountainous homeland far to the north, others feel the dwarves may simply be overcompensating for short-comings in other areas. To represent their steadfast nature, the 'doughty' trait (+1 to a company's basic Resolve factor) has been adopted as a racial trope.

By far the smallest of the armies showcased to date, these dwarves favour quality over quantity mustering only five characters and 18 companies (intended to be fielded as eight or nine units).

The command element of the army - the Warlord Gargamesh mounted on his city's lamassu, flanked by the Captains Lakish and Uruk.
The magically inclined characters, the Magic-user Akkad, and the Djinn. The Djinn counts as both a character and a company and should be able to hold its own in battle, as well as casting wee spells to help the army along.

The temples provide a cadre of specialist priests to support the Ziggurati with carpet-riders. In such a slow army, the carpets provide a highly mobile reserve as well as limited fire-power as the priests throw down assorted fireballs and lightning bolts.  

The Ziggurat Guard are the elite unit in the armies of the Ziggurati cities. Equipped with two handed axes, they should be able to make short work (pun intended) of any unit foolhardy enough to stand before them. 

Shield-bearers make up the bulk of Ziggurati armies. Lacking the punch of the Ziggurat Guard, Shield-bearers are, however, almost impervious to frontal attacks as they present a solid shieldwall bristling with spears.

Lacking warriors with regular missile weapons, Ziggurati armies usually march to war supported by plentiful war-machines. These ballistae are equally capable of breaching enemy formations or fortifications. The grand battery would usually be broken into smaller groups to spread its shooting capacity along the entire dwarvern line.  

The last unit in the army is a company of dwarvern highlanders, less sophisticated than their lowland cousins, they serve as scouts and foragers for the army on the march, and crucial flank support in the line of battle.