Sunday 31 July 2022

10mm Giant Vampire Bats!

Another vampiric baron, and two companies of giant vampire bats - both from Forest Dragon, for my all-things-bitey Fantastic Battles army.

Saturday 30 July 2022

Another Fantastic Battles Siege game

Andrew, Jim and I met for another playtest of the Fantastic Battles siege rules this week. The changes implimented as a result of the earlier testing (compressing the attrition into a modified mishaps roll and focusing on the assault itself) have certainly cleaned the game up a lot and led to a much more dynamic experience. 

The game saw just over 1,000 points of ratfolk besieging just over 500 points of goblins. The goblins bought various siege strategies to aid in their defence, and the rats built siege machines, a mine, and paid off a traitor to open one of the fort's gates.

The traitor, true to his nature, proved treacherous, and failed to unlock the side gate to the fort, and the mine was equally poor, meaning that the left flank of the fort was still secure at the start of the assault. 

However, two turns of artillery shooting away meant that the gate was blown off its hinges, and the ratfolk giant wheel careened inside, to attack the defenders while the giant rat-god and army warlord attacked the same defenders from across the wall.

While both the goblin defenders and the rat wheel were promptly being destroyed, the rats attacked the other flanks of the fort en masse, bringing battering rams, ladders and a siege tower to bear. The goblins revealed one of their strategies was to drop boiling slops over the attackers; this caused significant distress, but not enough to turn back the tide.

At the end of the day, the overwhelming numbers of the rats - entering through two gates (thanks to artillery on the flank and battering ram to the front) and scaling walls - secured their victory.

It was a really enjoyable game and the core mechanics are close to being fixed. Now it is just a matter of determinging the right balance for the different force sizes and strategies.

Monday 25 July 2022

(Scratchbuilt) Galeasses for the Prince of Songkhla

More hobby time from Mark:

I’m adding two galeasses to the navy of this regional power in my imagi-nations world of mid-C16 South East Asia, for use with the Galleys & Galleons naval rules.

Inspiration came from Alan Saunders, who’s comment on an earlier shipbuilding effort pointed me to something I should have known - there were South East Asian vessels broadly comparable to the galeasses used in European waters. These vessels were used in the Aceh region (northwestern end of Sumatra), during the C16-17. The Wikipedia entry (“Galeass”) says they seem to have been intended primarily for boarding fights, though with heavy bow guns.

Here’s construction at an early stage. The first vessel, Banda Aceh, has the superstructure largely complete. The pairs of balsa wood beams on the top decks will support awnings, to be added after painting. The second vessel, Hat Yai, is still only a hull blank. I’m not sure yet if it’ll be a close copy of the first, or significantly different. 

The guide lines on my cutting mat are at 50mm intervals. Construction materials used so far are: 3mm MDF (bases), cardboard (various thicknesses including ‘cereal packet’), balsa, toothpicks. Glue is PVA and superglue.

Here are both ships, after spray priming. When the primer has dried thoroughly (could be a while because of the humidity) the remaining stages will be: painting the hulls and superstructures, fitting the awnings, fitting (and painting) sails and pennants. And last of all, the sea bases.

Hull painting done, awnings and sails fitted (textured paper). I’m not going to add the sweeps, mainly because I forgot to make the bases wide enough. D’oh!  I made the same mistake with my Ming assault ships (Peony Pavilion & Lotus Blossom). So assume the sweeps are stowed. The awnings will be getting a sepia wash to bring up the woven texture of the paper.

All finished.

Here is Banda Aceh alongside another Songkhla vessel, the galley Srivijaya. It’s a Grumpy 6mm Turkish Galley, bought from Eureka.

And lastly, a view from a nearby galley.

The stats will probably be:
2 x Galeasses (56)
Banda Aceh, Hat Yai
Q4 C5: Drilled soldiers, Heavy bow chasers, High castles, Square rigged, Sluggish, Sweeps, Veteran NCOs

Not sure when the next G&G game will be, but it’s a good bet these two ungainly monsters will be in it. The Portuguese will be running a diplomatic mission in to Ayutthaya in the next few months. That sounds like a provocation to me.

Cheers from Pattaya

Sunday 24 July 2022

Dabbling with Barons' War

In recent weeks, Andrew and I have been dabbling with Barons' War. We both read the rules cover to cover, and have played two games with the same 500 point forces. This post has been a long time coming, because our short-form conclusion is that the rules are ok. And that is a little disappointing.

In both games - one a straight clash, and one a scenario from the back of the book - we used the same retinues themed around Anglo-Normans in Ireland, but using the standard retinue raising rules. I have to say the flexibility in building retinues in Barons' War is great. I really appreciate the freedom to create a band of veteran sergeants, militant monks, green levies, and everything in between.

However, not all things are created equal, and it feels that the points values are not necessarily well balanced. Indeed, although the game is only recently released, there have already been official errata circulated to start correcting some of the imbalances. Spear and bills seem very effective, while the positives of using a two-handed weapon in no-way make up for the negatives. Shooting is very effective.

It was clear in the first game that we did not have enough terrain on the table. We thought we had rectified that with game two, seemingly not. Literally every piece of 28mm terrain at hand still didn't seem to help. I would expect this much terrain on a true skirmish game (with up to a dozen figures per player), but at this large skirmish scale of gaming, this really should be enough.

The scenarios themselves, and the supporting material including the campaigns, are brilliant! This is where the rules really shine and the obvious effort put into them bears fruit. There are plenty of them, and they are clearly written. 

The general game mechanics are perhaps more crunchy than we would normally go for. It's not that they are hard to understand at all, but rather that elements that could be very straightforward are more involved that they need to be and have multiple steps. The flow chart for declaring and making an attack (below in low res) is a good example of where a theoretically simple process is made more complicated than necessary. There is also a lot more record keeping than seems appropriate in a large skirmish game with multiple different tokens needed (I think there are eight? different statuses to track).

Horses for Courses
In conclusion, the game - for us - is a real mixed bag. These are just the thoughts after a couple of read throughs and a couple of games. The rules are beautiful to look at, force building is flexible, and the scenarios are a great resource. However, some of the points seem unbalanced and several of the mechanics are overly crunchy. I know some people like added crunch but, as always, it's horses for courses. Will we play again? The jury is out.

Saturday 23 July 2022

10mm Fantastic Battles - 3000 point Battle of the Unholy Alliances

This week, seven of us sat down at Lisburn Gaming Club for a game of Fantastic Battles with 3000 points a side. The photo above shows the game early on. To the left, the Unholy Alliance consisting of (top to bottom): 1000 pts Undead, 500 pts Vampires, 500 pts Goblins, and 1000 pts Undead; to the right, the other Unholy Alliance of (top to bottom) 1000 pts Wood Elves, 1000 points Celts, 1000 pts Dark Elves.

At the left of the Undead line, Neil's skeletons were bested by Roger's Wood Elves. The massive ripple of resolve loss caused by the Undead mage-lord's death (should that be his most recent death?) meant the end of the reanimated legions. 

In the centre, my new Vampiric force along with a small body of Goblins commanded by Brendan took on Dave's Celts, generally getting the better of the wild and hairy ones, but suffering badly at the hands of the Celtic ogres and their heavy melee weapons. The vampires and ghouls performed well, and feasting on the corpses of the slain was fun, but sadly my countess (warlord) was felled by an ogre's maul towards the end of the battle. Dave's warlord also died, but to the sneaky hands of the Goblins. Some of Brendan's units, including his own warlord spent much of the battle attaking the flank of the Dark Elves down the line.

At the end of the line, Bill's Undead (supported by Brendan's Goblins) took on Chris's Dark Elves, giving them a bit of a mauling.

With 6000 points worth of units on the table, it was obviously a bit hard for me to keep a handle on everything that happened. However, with the Celts and Dark Elves defeated, we were happy to call it a win for the forces of Undeath (with their green-skinned auxiliaries). Neil's skeletons may have faired the worst, but sure, they can just be reanimated again! The game worked very well with seven players, coming to a satisfactory conclusion in about two and a half hours. 

Wednesday 20 July 2022

10mm Werewolves

Leaping forward into the next phase of my Fantastic Battles vampire-led army of all-things-bitey, I have added a two-company unit of werewolves. In-game, I plan on using these as elite companies with feast (as a racial trope), fast, and forester. For the last of the optional trait slots I could go a number of different ways, but I think that giving them stimulants will reflect their savagery, along with the uneasy relationship that werewolves are often shown to have with vampires.

There is a surprising scarcity of these horror staples on the market in 10mm - indeed these were the only 3D printed ones I could find. Sculpted by Varus Miniatures, they are nice, but lack the deep detail of Forest Dragon's figures. I needed to resort to my usual basecoat-wash-basecoat-highlight-highlight approach in order to paint them, rather than the assortment of thinned paints and drybrushing that has proved so effective (and fast) when painting the Forest Dragon elements of the army.

The Varus Miniatures werewolves are also pretty big when compared to human-sized miniatures from Forest Dragon; much bigger than I would have expected. Here they are between a company of vampire knights and a vampire captain. I suppose if you wanted you could probably have them printed smaller, but that might further obscure some of the very fine details.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Faustus Furius at Aberdeen Wargames Club

I was recently contacted by John from Aberdeen Wargames Club to let me know that the club had instigated a club FAVSTVS FVRIVS competition. The photos below show the track from the final race (held earlier this month). 

I am reliably informed that Carlos came in first and Andy got the wooden spoon. ­čśŐ

John goes on to say "We have also developed a version of the game which we call Faustus Furious Mechanicus Podicus, based on the pod racing scene in Star Wars -The Phantom Menace. There are a couple of variations  from the basic rules like snipers and sand worms but it is 98% FF as written. We are planning to put on a participation game at the Claymore Show in Edinburgh in August." There are a few more photos below of the trial pod racing game that they  will host at Claymore. The group's original challenge was to build the pods from no more than 5 items bought at a pound shop, but that has since been expanded to include any pieces of junk that people have kept in their boxes of bits.

The game looks fantastic, so if you are visiting Claymore, drop on by and say hello!

Saturday 16 July 2022

10mm Vampire Nobs

Finishing up the first 500 points of my Fantastic Battles Gothic-Noir/County-Dining-Association army are the Countess (warlord), and a few aristocratic vampire followers. As with everything else in the army showcased so far, these are 3D printed miniatures sculpted by Forest Dragon. I have to repeat that I am really loving building this army!

The Countess herself, along with a baron to serve as one of her captains.

Two elite companies of vampiric knights; these have been built using feast as the army's racial trope, along with the mounted and furious charge traits.When I expand the army I will add the proud trait as well to represent their dismissive attitude to lesser beings. 


Making up for lost time, we've just returned from a family trip to Copenhagen - a wonderful and gorgeous city, although not over-easy on the wallet. I plumb forgot to bring Four Against Ragan├Âk with me for a promo shot, but it was ever in our hearts...

I can't say enough positive things about the city in general, but I wanted to flag up the National Museum to anyone who happens to pass through as a brilliant resource and source of inspiration for wargaming any number of theatres. We spent more than four hours there, and still didn't get to the Iron Age, High-Late Medieval or Modern galleries. The images below are just a taster of what's on show really.

Mycenaean weaponry. The detailing on that gold pommel doesn't really show up, but I was impressed!

Sub-Saharan African shields and swords from the Ethnographic collection.

Mesolithic paddle, bow, and axeheads.

Neolithic casualty (bone-tipped arrow through the nose), and Late Neolithic flint dagger.

Bronze Age 'Egtved Girl' burial, and a reconstruction of her costume.

Bronze Age swords and helmets.

Viking-age/Early Medieval weaponry.

Now, I've already got 20mm prehistoric hunters, a 10mm army of Angles, a 28mm Early Medieval vikingr crew, and a 6mm Late Medieval Kalmar Union army, but I'm not sure I'm living up to the wargaming potential of Denmark. I wonder where this will lead, and who's to say where it ends!