Saturday 31 December 2022

This is Not a Test - Saving Private Snogg

For the last game of the year, Jim and I were hosted by Andrew for the seventh game in our This is Not a Test campaign. Having captured my tame hillman, Snogg, at our last engagement, Andrew's mutants had him caged, just challenging me to come and free him. But that was only a secondary objective...  

Andrew's mutants had taken over the market area of shanty town, stashed some water bottles there, and then gone off to raid further afield. Jim's mutants and the FMRC were attempting to sneak in and 'redistribute' the water, just as Andrew's crew returned. In the image below, the water stashes are circled in blue, and poor Snogg's cage is outlined in red. Two victory points for each water bottle in a warband's possession at the end of the game, one VP for wounding or taking out an enemy, and two VPs for taking out a leader. Jim chose Night Attack as his balancing ability to bring his warband value up to Andrew's level - I took A Little Bit of Luck. 

Hotshot used his ranger skill to delpoy at the water bottle behind the campervan in the middle of the table. The rookies Snake-Eyes II and Point II were deployed on the FMRC left with Pup, Doc was above them one the roof. Buckshot, Ogg and Frygga were on the right, covered bt Sarge and Heavy on the roof behind them. The plain was for Hotshot to secure the water and immediately pull back; Point and Snake-Eyes were to dash forward and to their right to secure the other near water, while Buckshot and his pet hillfolk went to rescue Snogg. What could possibly go wrong?

In the first turn, Hotshot - who is reckless thanks to earlier wounds - went into a frother and ran away from the water bottle he had deployed next to, running wildly along the campervan towards Andrew's mutants. In so doing, he unstitched the mission plan. Point ran up to secure the water Hotshot had abandoned while Snake-Eyes went for his own bottle alone. Buckshot, Frygga and Ogg started their cautious rescue mission.

As Point pulled back with the campervan water, Jim's mutant mondo, Mongo, came shambling up an ally way and Andrew's mutants started coming into view from the opposite end of the market. Hotshot regained his composure and legged it - running back to the shelter of the rest of the crew. 

Beeb-Boop, Andrew's Depend'o'bot led his outflanking force to swing around my right flank, leaning around cover to fire his large calibre shotgun to take out Frygga with a critical hit despite the poor lighting conditions. The robot would then go on to take out Buckshot without taking a scratch in return.

Following the FMRC's last night engagement, everyone with a gun was equipped with torches. The result was that in this night fight, while we ignored the dark, the torches lit the FMRC up for shooting from both enemy warbands. Hotshot went down early under fire from Gunnar, Jim's LMG-bearer. While Doc made up for his usual tendency to jam his gun by hitting a few of Jim's gang, he would also fall to mutant gunnery. Point had scuttled back into the partial cover of market stalls, but was pursues by Jim's mutant abominations and their tame trogs.

The trogs knocked out Point and stole his water before scurrying off into cover. Mongo went after Snake-Eyes who had been the first FMRC member cause a wound against the hulking ball of muscle. Snake-Eyes managed to extricate himself from the melee - carrying his water with him, and between his own shots and covering fire from heavy, took Mongo out.

Sadly, after all his efforts, Snake-Eyes was then attacked from behind by Beeb-Boop and taken out of action. The robot took the water, and by the end of turn four it looked like the FMRC were written off again. Only three rangers remained in play - Sarge and Heavy on the roof, and the hillman Ogg on the ground. The two mutant bands now had all the water between them, turned on each other, and took their eyes off the prize...

Of course they didn't - they kept their eyes on the prize and fought over the water. Jim's third trog hunted Mr Horny (Andrew's water-bearer) down and ally way, but was ambushed by Hatboy (Andrew's frenzy-prone sniper), who beat him down in melee. While Mr Horny then escaped with the water, the Heavy lined up the last FMRC shot in the skirmish and took Hatboy down with his LMG. Meanwhile, Ogg made a crazed dash at Beep-Boop the depend'o'bot and in a true holiday miracle took the robot out with his stone tools.

At this juncture, with one turn officially left in the game, we had reached an impasse. The FMRC had control of one water bottle - the one that had been picked up by Snake-Eyes, and passed to Ogg via Beep-Boop. Jim had two water bottles, held by the trogs and his own Doc. Andrew also had two bottles. Neither wanted to move from their positions to risk their own gains, and the FMRC were certainly in no position to be rash so we called it there. Despite only getting one bottle of water, and coming nowhere near rescuing Snogg, the FMRC managed enough kills to win the game! Only their second victory out of seven games, but a valiant one.

The rookie Snake-Eyes II sadly died of his wounds, and three other FMRC members were badly banged up, but otherwise, a real success. Jim and Andrew's crew's also suffered further casualties, including Hatboy, Andrew's sniper who has been with his gang from the beginning. It was a sad evening for the muties, only somewhat tempered by being able to spit-roast Snogg.

Friday 30 December 2022

2nd Battalion (von Bruxelles') Württemberg Light Infantry

Having started Project Württemberg back in August, I have finally finished the first full battalion of the fancy buggers. I love the result, but hate the process. I will need to work out a better/faster approach to painting the rest of the brigade. 

These have been painted up as the 2nd Battalion (von Bruxelles') Württemberg Light Infantry; the 1st Battalion (coming next) are identical but for button colour which will be gold rather than silver. Based up for Black Powder (2nd ed), the two flank companies can be deployed as a skirmish screen out front, or pulled back into line.

von Bruxelles' brigade at Borodino consisted of both Württemberg's light infantry battalions and the two jäger battalions. At this rate it will take me a while, but at leat I now have at least one useable unit!

Saturday 17 December 2022

This is Not a Test - A Near Run Thing

The Flores Minor Ranger Corps carried out their sixth mission this week in our This is Not a Test campaign. Once again they took on Andrew's band of mutants - this time in a very seasonally appropriate winter wasteland setting. We played the 'Cold Vengeance' scenario with no additional frills. 

The mutants deployed within the two abandoned buildings on the left, while the bulk of the FMRC (Snake Eyes, Heavy, Buckshot, Pup, and the three hill-folk Ogg, Snogg and Frygga) deployed behind and old liquid storage tank (lower left). The three snipers started on roof tops: Sarge on the tallest building on the FMRC right flank, Hotshot in the centre of the table, and Doc on the FMRC left, above the liquid storage.

Early in the skirmish, Sarge advanced and took up a position overlooking one entire side of the table - but a side of the table with no mutants. Activating first, both Doc and Hotshot went into overwatch, while some of the front-line rangers advanced along the ground. Tiny, the hulking mutant bog boy, came through the door first and both Hotshot and Doc took the shot. Doc just missed instead of jamming for a change, but passed his bad luck onto Hotshot whose rifle misfired. The muties then sent forward Beeb-Boop their depend-o'-bot who walked into Hotshot's line of fire, scanned his presence, and took the sniper down in a single shotgun blast. The game was off to an all too familiar start... 

Tiny, Rick&Morty and Handy advanced to the centre of the table, only to skulk in the building's shelter. It was another couple of turns before Andrew realised that Handy had died of wounds in an earlier game and wasn't actually there... 

Snake Eyes and Pup took up a partially covered position to watch over what would soon become the killing ground - the open area between the liquid storage and the central building. Snake Eyes had become a hard-bitten and scarred veteran and was the perfect ranger to hold the position with Pup for back up.

Sadly, that was the last anyone ever saw of Snake Eyes, at least while he was complete. The muties surged around the corner into the killing ground. Between grenades, blunderbuss shots, acid spit and a flamethrower, the rangers and their pet hill folk dropped like flies. But it was not without cost as the rangers fought back as good as they got, and mutants too were taken out of action at a rapid rate. This was the first game in a while that we have played to the completion of eight turns. Both forces dropped well below 50% of their starting number of characters, but neither side was willing to concede defeat.

In the end, victory points for kills were even. However, the scenario penalises the warband who takes the first shot - in this case it was the FMRC opening fire at Tiny. So technically the FMRC lost again, but it was a near run thing and given the pretty big disparity in warband value at this point in the campaign, I would say they excelled themselves.

In the post game sequence it became obvious that the bits of Snake Eyes that were recovered could not be reconstructed into a living ranger. He joins the growing list of fallen rangers who have given their all for the Corps over the campaign so far. 

Everyone else survived without too many brutal injuries. Snogg, Buckshot's hill-folk pet, was sadly captured by the mutants in the confused aftermath of the fight. It is not clear whether his bright eyes and enthusiastic facial hair will be seen again. Among the mutants, Beeb-Boop sustained too much damage to function again, and another mutant, Mr White, also died of wounds recieved. 

The FMRC walked away with a tidy haul of barter script, while the mutants won a strength challenge in a local bar and recovered an LMG from an abandoned point defence system.

Saturday 10 December 2022

6mm Black Powder Napoleonics - Big battalions of tiny people

This week, Andrew and I settled down for a learning game of Black Powder (2nd ed.) with our 6mm Napoleonic forces. It was a long time coming - I've just looked back and seen that it was January 2020 that we decided on 6mm Naps as a project and this is the first time they have seen the tabletop.

We only ran two brigades each - Andrew running a French line infantry brigade supported by a brigade of dragoons, while I ran my large Austrian line infantry brigade supported by a small vanguard brigade - 1809ish. We also only used basic formations and just tried to get a handle on the rules. Andrew has played a couple of group games in the past, but the closest I have come was playing loads of Hail Caesar many years ago.

Playing in 6mm, with 80mm as a standard battalion width in line formation, we used cm rather than inches. We also tried halving movement and musketry ranges.

Deployment was a bit throw-down. The French (on the left) had the infantry on their left and dragoons on the right. The Austrians (right) had the line brigade facing the French infantry, and the vanguard to their right facing the French 'goons.

The French cavalry were very aggressive from the offset which made the Austrian commanders a bit nervous. The infantry in the vanguard - jagers and the Archduke Charles Legion - advanced and formed into squares, as did the two conscript infantry battalions of the line brigade. The French artillery focused fire on one of the conscript squares. Both Austrian batteries fired on the advancing dragoons.

Being especially bold, the dragoons charged into the centre square - the Archduke Charles Legion - repeatedly. Even though the Austrians failed to cause much distress to the cavalry, neither shooting now in melee, the French could not quite manage to break through. Behind the squares, the single regiment of Austrian chevau-legers stood nervously on their light horses, adding moral support...

Over on the other flank, the French infantry were greatly slowed by the ploughed fields except for one battalion in the centre of the table which sped on ahead to fire away at my Bohemian landwehr at close range. In return they received fire from the landwehr and a battalion of Austrian veterans while the single battalion of Hungarian line charged forward into a vicious melee with the leading French infantry emerging from the fields.

Disgracefully, the Hungarians were put to flight and the landwehr were disordered from close range shooting. Over on the far flank, the Archduke Charles Legion in square were also broken on the fourth dragoon charge. Two dragoon regiments were shaken in the process, but it was all looking very grim for the Austrians.

The victorious French 'goons then pushed their luck too far. They decided to charge through the new gap between the squares to overrun the Austrian chevau-legers. The Austrians counter-charged and showing great pluck, defeated their heavier equipped opponent and left them shaken. The Austrian light cavalry then advanced with a sweeping charge into the supporting dragoons and, while the last melee left them spent, they again won and their opponents retired shattered.

All dragoon units were now shattered and the French cavalry brigade was forced to withdraw. With such small forces, that was then half the French army gone so we called it an Austrian win, even if it was far from one sided.

It was a great game, though unfamiliarity led to much page flicking. In retrospect, halving movement and musketry did not add anything to this game - infantry units in line had a depth of 40mm, and close-range shooting was just 30mm, so it was all very fiddly. Next time we will play all measurements as standard, simply using cm rather than inches.

Friday 9 December 2022

Fantastic Battles version 1.2

I'm very pleased to say that Fantastic Battles version 1.2 is now live!

The new version makes a very small number of rule amendments and clarifications, and introduces two new relics and ten new unit traits to help you build your fantasy army. There are also four new asymetric scenarios included, as well as rules for playing out seiges on your tabletop. 

Even though the example armylists in the original release were only ever intended as guidelines, they did prove popular, so they have been updated and more lists have been included in this version, bringing the total up to 36 different factions.


I can't abide the thought that players need to fork out more money for updates that I have decided to make to the rules - so they don't. If you previously bought the digital copy of the rules from Wargame Vault, you'll find that you now already have the updated files there waiting for you to download.

If you bought the physical copy from Amazon or in-store, there is a free .pdf file which gives you all the new material, available to download from HERE, from the Facebook Group, or by contacting me through this page.

For new players, the completionists among existing players, or those just wishing put my wee lad through school, a physical copy of version 1.2 is also available through Amazon. Just in time for Christmas!

There will also be a very limited, deluxe, hardback version of Fantastic Battles with nice silky pages. The content and page setting will be identical to the softcover available from Amazon, but obviously more expensive. These will be available directly from me  soon (I am waiting on a schedule from the printer). There will only doing a print run of 20 copies, so when they are gone, they are gone.

Sunday 4 December 2022

Fantastic Battles - 10mm Night Stalkers vs Ghosly Pirates

Roger made his way up into the hills this weekend to lead his Ghostly Pirates against my vampire-led Night Stalkers on their first outing as a completed army.

Both armies had taken Night March as a strategy, but when Roger saw how far forward the Night Stalkers deployed, be chose to deploy back towards his base edge to make the most of his shooting capacity. I was hoping to get in fast and make the first bite count - the pirates wanted to shoot me down before I made contact. Mishaps were negligible on both sides with only minor outbreaks of disease.

By the end of the first turn, the pirate cannons had blasted away scoring hits on my ghouls with every attack dice! Regardless - or perhaps because of the hammering in the shooting phase - the Night stalkers raced across the table. The impulsive ghouls managed to cover 5bw in one turn, while the ghost-pirates - almost to a man - stood still and waited. Only the behemoth/ghost whale on the ghostly left moved slowly forward through the woods.

By turn two, the ghouls were in combat! The combined shooting from the cannon batteries and the ghost pirate shot to their left was again quite devastating and it was only the use of prophecy dice that stopped the ghouls scattering before charging home. The ghouls only managed to cause two hits on their ghost-ogre-pirate foes, but that was enough to kill the pirate captain commanding them. Sadly, the ghouls were then scattered and the ogres feasted on their fetid corpses, restoring their lost Resolve.

On my right, the ghost whale slunk out of the woods to charge the vampiric knights in the flank; the whale looks side on, but that is just a pragmatic measure to allow the mini to fit. This was the point of (perhaps) my greatest error for the match; the countess commanding the knights had the Titanic Diadem of Foresight which would have allowed her to pre-empt the flank charge, but I plumb forgot about it!

Across the battlefield, the Night Stalkers were closing in. The Death coach swung around to threaten the flank of the ambushing ghost whale; a move completed in the following turn resulting in the destruction of the whale, but consuming two of my most expensive units for too long. Meanwhile, on the far flank, the dire wolves and werewolves closed on the kraken.

The lupine units attacked the kraken from the front and flank causing Roger some consternation - but not for long. They failed to cause more than a couple of Resolve loss, while the werewolves were scattered in the first round of combat!

In the centre, my succubi flew down on the ghost shot unit and while they did not cause the damage expected, nor did they suffer much in return.

Sadly, in the following turn, the ghostly mage-lord and magic -user both summoned units (another whale, and three companies of bilge rats) into the succubi's flanks and rear. The succubi routed their initial opponent - the shot unit - but were destroyed in the process, sealing the battle as a rather devastating defeat for the Night Stalkers/

So, continuing my sorry run of defeats, the Night Stalkers must withdrawal to lick (and suck) their wounds. The army is very much a proverbial glass cannon, and if they don't cause enough damage in their first round of combat, they lack staying power to continue the fight much longer. 

Saturday 3 December 2022

Onesie Wearing Wasteland Weirdos - Bedtime's Children

Generally known as the Onesie Wearing Wastland Weirdos, they call themselves Bedtime's Children. Survivors of the Great Fall, they are ever prepared for the inevitable long sleep that comes to everyone in the end.

With the completion of the last of the onesie-wearers I have at hand, I thought it was time to do a group shot and make a start on the backstory for, what I think you'll agree, is a rather colourful tribal warband for This is Not a Test. The photo above shows all nine in the collection. I am aware of at least three or four other suitable miniatures out there, but I really need to push on with other projects, so this will do for now.

Here are the two newcomers - Yuki and Nando, adding some more melee punch and flaming goodness to the tribe.

Nando is the third of the figures I designed using Heroforge, and then had printed by Crisis Actor Minis. He's a big lad with an unnecessarily large flamethrower (and a pistol strapped to the back of his pack for good measure).

Yuki was a really fun miniature to paint. She is another digital sculpt sold as a 'monster jammie' (as in pijamas?) by Twin Goddess Miniatures - I bought her as a 3D printed figure from Etsy. She'll be used as a tribal warrior with two hand weapons.

Sunday 27 November 2022

The is Not a Test - The Caravan

The Flores Minor Ranger Corp were out in the wastelands again this week, this time seeking to ambush Andrew's mutants as they escorted a caravan through an abandoned settlement. Unfortunately, they weren't the only ones. Mike joined in the campaign bringing a fourth warband into the mix; sadly, also mutants. So now it looks like a thin blue line of the FMRC (vainly) attempting to hold back a wave of mutant warbands from destroying what remains of humanity. 

Following on from the skirmish in the northern woodlands, the FMRC were accompanied by a new K9 - Pup - and the three hill folk adopted by Buckshot - Ogg, Snogg and Frygga.

Andrew's muties were now a veritable horde, especially when seen alongside the trade caravan. They started on the central road through the settlement, the FMRC were waiting in ambush on the right, while Mikes muties were in ambush to their left. 

Having to deploy on the very board edge was a bit disadvantageous to the FMRC given three of them have sniper rifles and another had a minigun - all of which are move or fire weapons. I split them roughly in two groups to pass through the left and right gaps in the fence line on my side of the settlement. However, the true kicker was when Mike decided to make it a night ambush, thereby negating every one of my crew's strengths by reducing shooting range to practically chare range. Mike's muties, it should be mentioned, are super-charged melee fighters.

The left group ducked forward to harass the flank of Andrew's convoy as it advanced. He sent that wretched mutant dog abomination to attack me again and between Heavy blasting away with his mini-gun and a shot from the back by Sarge, we managed to finally take the damn thing out of action for the first time in the campaign. 

Then a horny mutant with a blunderbuss scrambled forward and took out pup, another mutie knocked out Ogg, while Trench (a mutant with a grenade launcher,) scored a hit that took out Heavy, Demo and Snogg!

Meanwhile, Mike's mutants were ripping into the convoy from the other side. Hotshot lined up a shot at Mikes leader, but the huge beast just shrugged it off.

By this point it was clear that while Andrew's warband had the highest rating, Mikes were the bigger threat and I focused what remained of my crew on trying to take his leader down. As Andrew's mutants bottled it, Buckshot and BT29 blazed away at Mike's boss who then turned around and took them both down in melee. Once out in the open, both Doc and Hotshot tried to snipe him once more, but again he barely flinched as the sniper rounds pinged off his bulky body. At that point, the FMRC too bottled, leaving the spoils to Mike's muties.

In the post-game, poor wee Demo and my bot, BT29, could not be revived - two of Andrew's crew also died of wounds received. Both of my hill folk who were taken out of action, Ogg and Snogg, were banged up, while Heavy was mugged as he lay unconscious and woke up wearing nothing but a headache. The FMRC managed to recover a few barter script, but Mike's muties recovered a deactivated depend-o-bot.

The FMRC did not earn enough BS from the mission to replace its losses (poor wee Demo!), but Heavy replaced his equipment - now wielding an LMG rather than a mini-gun), and the entire squad did manage to go to 'Light Up The World', the flagship local torch store, to buy torches for every ranger with a gun. Henceforth, torches will be standard issue for the FMRC. I'm not letting THAT happen again.

Sunday 20 November 2022

10mm Fantastic Battles - the goblin horde vs ogres

I made my way down to Lisburn Gaming Club this week to lead my goblins into battle once more, taking on Roger's mighty ogre army for a game of Fantastic Battles. Now, my goblins are not the ideal army to take on something as monstrously tough as an ogre army, but I wanted to try out the new optional horde rule, so goblins it was.

The armies were very different in composition: my goblins had 23 companies - so a breakpoint of 12; the ogres had only 15 - so a breakpoint of 8 - but clustered in a few large units. The centre of the ogre force was a unit of four elite companies with the monstrous, doughty and heavy melee weapons traits - so 32 Resolve in a single company! My hoard of six irregular companies only had 18 Resolve!

Mishaps were negligible for both armies - one of my two units of wolf-riders enthusiastically moved forward, and the spider-riders and a giant on the far right were diseased. Among the ogres, their unit of cannoneers were delayed (behind a cyclops). Roger also kept a unit of yetis off the table on a flank march.

The opening moves saw both forces try to close the gap. Given the small size of the orge army, the goblins tried to apply pressure across the front, whilst sending units around both flanks. I wanted to pin the nasty elite unit in the centre, and pick off the weaker units. Of course, the term 'weaker' is all relative. Every orge unit had more resolve than anything in my army!

Early in the second turn, the yeti's arrived on the battlefield, arriving on the goblin right flank and hampering any thought of a wide outflanking manoeuvre on that side of the field.

On the left flank, the two units of wolf-riders were more successful, making a swift run around the far side of the settlement there. The ogres sent their cyclops to try to pin them in place, but he is slowed down passing through the settlement.

As the wolves continued their long march, the goblin battle-wagon trundled into the settlement to take on the cyclops.

On the right, the yetis charged into the flank of the spider-riders but were, in turn, outflanked by the giant.

The spider-riders were very quickly scattered - taking the flank's captain with them - but the giant managed to cause the yetis significant harm.

In the centre, pitiful shooting from the goblin horde left them little alternative than to charge in against the elite ogres. Charging into the front of the ogres, the horde was supported by a giant who charged the ogres in the flank; sadly the giant was then charged by the ogre hand-gunners.

In the tight spaces of the centre, the ogre mercenaries fighting for the goblins prepared to square off against their cousins, while the goblin king on his wyvern flew in to spew poison into the rear of the enemy. An impetuous unit of goblin redcaps had been vacillating between the yetis and the battles centre, but at least they too managed to get some ill-aimed shots off. Hard to see in this shot, a unit of goblin bat-riders flew over the elite goblins to drop down for an inconclusive fight against the unattached ogre warlord.

Roger's unengaged ogres attacked my own to the centre right of the battlefield, but the great battle in the centre continued to be inconclusive. The resolve loss was stacking against the ogres, and both the goblin horde and the giant were holding on - but only just. The goblin king flew his wyvern into the elite ogre's other flank, while the goblin bat-riders and rogue flew on to attack the ogre artillery to the rear and the wolf-riders finally made their approach for a rear attack.

As the goblin horde and their giant ally finally scattered, the wolf-riders charged into the rear of the elite ogres while the trolls slogged into their front. To the right, the yetis also managed to best the other giant, but were then charged by the goblin madcaps.

On the left, the goblin battle wagon and the cyclops continued to smash up the village, but eventually the cyclops got the upper hand (literally) and the wagon broke down.

On the right, the madcaps finally earned their rations by scattering the awful yetis that had so messed up my battle plan.

In the centre, both sides were counting up the resolve loss...

... and then the accumulated casualties proved too much across the battlefield. The elite ogres scattered, as did the ogre artillery, bringing Roger's ogre army to breaking point. However, the ogres and trolls fighting for the goblins also broke, bringing the goblin army to breaking point as well.

The battle was savage, and exciting, and I was sure the goblins were fighting a fool's battle against such a tough foe, so I was delighted (perhaps unreasonably so) with a bloody draw.

Over on the neighbouring table, Dave and Chris were also testing out the horde rule in a Celts vs Dark Elves battle. I wasn't following their battle too closely, but the Celtic horde proved a touch more successful than my own goblins. 

All players agreed that the horde rule is certainly viable as an alternative way to use irregular companies - it grants an added resilience and strength, but also weaknesses; it is in no way are they overpowered. Hordes are, in short, here to stay!