Thursday 30 June 2022

10mm Death Coach

The Death Coach - sometimes the Silent Coach - is a lesser-explored feature in British and Irish folklore. A black coach decorated with skull lanterns and drawn by black horses, it is usually a harbinger of death; hearing or seeing its approach foretells of your own death, or the death of someone close to you. Once it manifests, death is inevitable and there is no power that can stop it. It even has the power to pass through locked gates and doors.

Here in Ireland, the Death Coach (Cóiste Bodhar) is said to be driven by the Dullahan, a headless coachman with links to the pre-Christian god, Crom Dubh. The Dullahan's most distinguishing feature - beyond the headlessness - is a whip made from a human spine. Obviously, this Death Coach from Forest Dragon Miniatures has a slightly different vibe, being driven by a more conventional Death figure with cloak and scythe, and sans spinal whip. Still, its a cracking figure!

This is the first piece of a small vampiric army I have planned for Fantastic Battles (where I'll be using the feast trait as a racial trope!). At the moment the plan is to use is as a vehicle with the ephemeral and terrifying traits. That should allow it to pass through terrain and cause appropriately phantasmagorical fear among my enemies!

Wednesday 29 June 2022

More tiny 6mm Hapsburgs!

It might be remembered that my 2020 project was a 6mm 1809 Austrian army. That was 'completed' by the end of that year and I have been adding to it, very slowly, ever since. The army has still not seen action, so there is no pressure, but every so often, it grows.

I am coming out the other side of my first bout of Covid (I am traditionally slow to adopt new fads) and found myself with a few moments to knock out another line regiment. The red facings on this unit suggest it could be the 8th, 20th, 44th regiment, or similar. With 96 figures a regiment, these are painful to paint, but rewarding to complete.

I also doubled the number of jäger in the army - the two bases on the left are new, matching well with the bases painted at the start of 2020. 

Two more command stands - for a (forthcoming) grenadier brigade and a new command stand for the avant garde brigade - their old commander was transferred to lead a light cavalry brigade.

An overview if the Austrian corp to date. On the left, a line infantry brigade with one large unit of Hungarians, one of  German veterans, two of German conscripts, and a large unit of landwehr, along with a battery of foot artillery. 

On the right from the top: a brigade of two regular sized grenadier units (forthcoming); the avant garde brigade with cavalry artillery, chevaux-leger, jäger, Archduke Charles Legion and forthcoming large unit of grenzers. Below them, a heavy cavalry brigade of three cuirassier units, and a light cavalry brigade of three hussar units and more cavalry artillery.

Saturday 18 June 2022

2000 points Wood Elves vs the Hairy Alliance - 10mm Fantastic Battles

This week saw a larger than normal game of Fantastic Battles down at Lisburn Gaming Club. Roger ran a 2000 point army of Wood Elves against an unusual alliance of diminutive furry folk - I ran 1000 points of beastlings led by the Red King on our right, along side Chris who commanded my 1000 point army of Ziggurat Dwarves on our left. We played on a 6'x4' table, increasing the deployment bepth to retain the recommended 10bw between the opposing armies.

Mishaps were surprisingly light on disease, although multiple units on either side of the table were enthusiastic; this battle had obviously been coming for some time. Only one unit of elves was late - an elite unit od stag-riders who deployed right at the back of the elven right flank. In the first turn, their impetuous action saw them take their leave of the battlefield. On the same flank, both an elven and a dwarvern shieldwall deployed forward and they continued that movement to start a melee by turn two. 

Two large blocks of spear- and shield-armed warriors crash into each other. The dwarves generally got the better of the ensuing melees, but the attached elven mage continued to bless his own unit ensuring the fight continued...

One company of enthusiastic mjowls (owl-gryphons in the service of the beastlings) flew impetuously forward towards a much larger unit of Wild Hunt (ghost wolves). Nearby, an enthusiastic unit of beastling levies also decided to throw themselves forwards, exposing their flank in the process. The plucky fools!

The elven arch-mage leading a unit of chariots burst through the woods and into a hail of sling bullets from the beastling skirmishers. The beastling captain consulted the priests in the settlement who revealed a very promising prophesy dice roll of 6. 

In the following turn, further shooting from the skirmishing slingers caused further upset when the prophesy dice was used to good effect to kill the elven leader. A ripple of resolve loss swept across the elven lines, and the chariots were left leaderless.  In the centre, the enthusiastic beastling levy were massacred in a melee against the wild hunt, with elven spearmen in their flank.

Over on the other flank, the dwarvern spearmen and axemen on the far left had started their slow advance towards the action, while the flock of great eagle led by an elven captain avoided the large dwarvern units and went for the djinn. The dwarvern shepherd-king on his lamassu wasn't having any of it though, and flew over to disrupt the mobbing. The small company of dwarvern highlanders managed to hit the flank of the elven spearmen, still locking in combat, but even their furious charge was not enough to break the elves.

Having scattered the beastling levy, the wild hunt were pinned in place by the continuosly enthusiastic mjowls who charged into the flank. The beastling chariots reformed into line, while the elven spearmen advanced the bog trolls who had taken up position on the hill.

Back on the right flank, beastling wyrd sister led the moohemoths into battle against the elven glade riders, summoning forth a legion inf shroomlings in their rear. The moohemoths were, in turn, charged in their own flank by a unit of stag-riders. Beyond them to the right, the leaderless elven chariots refused to move, suffering more sling bullets for their hesitation.

On the left, the djinn was being savagely attacked on two sides by eagles, while the eagle-riding captain was matched against the dwarvern shepherd-king. The clash of spears ground on... and on... Meanwhile, a unit of bears charged into a unit of dwarvern axemen, only to be charged in the rear by the dwarvern flanking force.

Back with the beastlings, the moohemoths and stag-riders broke simultaneously, while a veritable horde of elven archers charged, and were repulsed by, the second unit of beastling levy. The elven chariots finally had enough of being sitting ducks and charged and broke the beastling slingers.

And at that point, sadly, we had to call the game. The dwarves had lost on a single company - the djinn - but the beastlings were only one away from their natural break point. The elves were well bloodied, with many losses and a few units close to scattering. Roger was happy to declare his own inevitable defeat, but it could easily have been a truly bloody draw.

The rules hold up well to these sorts of asymmetrical multiplayer games. As the elves were one large army, any elven activation chit could be used anywhere across the table. The allied forces each had a different coloured chit, so command was more restrictive. However, having two warlords greatly helps with command and rallying. The payoff ends up pretty even, and that makes for a delightful game.

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Fantastic Sieges...

Andrew and I playtested another Fantastic Battles siege game last week. The result - a new approach to sieges is necessary.

Back in December I produced a free pdf document as a thank the community at large for the initial support that Fantastic Battles recieved. The document included new relics, traits, a few scenarios and, something asked for by quite a few folks in the Facebook group, work-in-progress ideas for sieges. It has taken a while to get back to working on them, but polishing the siege rules is my current priority as far as rules creation is concerned.

After three test games, all against different opponents, it is clear that the approach that I had taken is not the way forward. I had attempted to create what might be termed a 'full siege'; simulating the attrition of sieges over weeks or months, with players needing to worry about supplies, foraging, engineering, and sallies etc. 

While that approach can be done, and it can be done in some detail, it does not make for a fun game. The attritional phases of the siege dragged on. They were too crunchy, with too much record keeping. Real life sieges were historically boring affairs filled with dysentery, and taking this approach to play out a tabletop siege was a bit too realistic.

Thus, back to the drawing board. Sort of. The rules already developed for the actual assault are relatively sound. The game just needs to be reframed so that the attrition is abstracted through siege-specific pre-game mishaps, leaving more time for the assaulting of the walls, and less time for the armies and players to poo themselves to death...

Sunday 5 June 2022

Seige equipment for Fantastic Battles

Preparing further for more Fantastic Battles siege playtesting, I've finally finished the wee order of siege equipment I made with Kallistra months ago. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when they arrived and lost any enthusiasm to get them done. They just seemed a bit ... lacking. And the ladders would do for 28mm rather than 10mm, but that's another matter. However, now that I've done them, I'm not sure why I was disappointed! I'm quite happy with them for all that they are!

Siege towers allow units to attack enemies on the top of defesive structures, and negates the enemy's defensive modifers.  

Battering rams are good for knocking down gates, and perhaps punching through light defensive structures like palisades.

Ladders - these ones have been cut in half - are cheap to build, and allow the beseiger to scale walls, but don't make life any easier than that for the poor sods who have to scale them.

Saturday 4 June 2022

Additional armoured units for the Elysium Trading Company

While waiting on a new (small) army for Fantastic Battles to arrive, and 10mm fortifications to be built by Dark Architect Designs, I painted up a few 6mm sci-fi pieces I've had sitting idle. The photo above shows all the assets available to the Elysium Trading Company to date - walkers, tanks, artillery and snipers.

I previously had a single small walker - an old GW Epic Eldar deadnaught (I think?). That has now been supplemented with two more, to give a nice little selection of walkers for 6mm games.

Also freshly painted are a platoon of medium tanks - these are Hunter medium tanks from Alternative Armies. Three sport a nice double barrelled turret. The fourth (on the right) has a longer single barrel, and side guns.

Thursday 2 June 2022

Håkon's snekkja crew

With the completion of Håkon's hallions and the shield-maidens, I now have enough hard-bitten vikingr to crew a snekkja, the small, fast, Scandinavian longships used extensively to raid up and down the coast. I only got the last of them varnished yesterday, so thought I'd take the opportunity for a group shot.