Friday, December 2, 2016

Secret Santa Sadness

It is with much regret that I announce a total failure to fulfil my Santa duties as part of the two Secret Santa projects I entered into back before Mdme Padre fell ill and life got crazy.
If there is someone out there who was waiting for me to announce my wish list, it is substantially the same as the one I posted last year.  For the persons I owe gifts to, I promise to get them ordered this weekend and will communicate with you as to an ETA in January.   So sorry about this.
In better news, Madame is improving and may be home early next week, in time to supervise Christmas decorations and to reimpose order upon our cats, who have gotten totally out of hand.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Heartfelt Thanks

You folks are the best.   Mdme Padre and I are both so grateful for the outpouring of messages my last post received.   I have tried reading all your messages to her over the last two hospital visits and I still haven’t gotten to the bottom.   I can tell her sense of humour is strong because she keeps shaking her head and saying that I have a lot of weirdo friends - nice friends, but weirdos, she says,   Amen.

Kay’s condition has significantly improved this weekend and she says she feels stronger.  My hopes that she will be home soon, enthroned with cats.  Her oncologist says “Eat!  Eat!  You’re going to need it!”  I foresee a lot of pancake breakfasts.

There may have been some canoodling tonight.

Blessings to all of you.   Be well and love well.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Her Finest Hours Begin

Greetings friends.

It has been very quiet here and I am breaking radio silence to ask your prayers / good wishes / positive vibes for Madame Padre.

Longtime readers will know that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May and underwent chemotherapy through the fall and early winter.   She had some good months but sad to say her cancer has returned in an aggressive way.   Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@madpadre1) will already know some of this.  The cancer blocked her stomach, causing much damage to her bowel. Suffice it to say that Kay has undergone two major surgeries in the last week, and has been in hospital for the last fourteen days.    It will be a while before she is strong enough to undergo chemotherapy.  Fortunately, Madame’s spirit and kooky sense of humour remain undaunted, as you can see below, when she declared herself ready for tango lessons.


I am finding it hard to concentrate on much else, and have just bade farewell to Madame’s US family, who descended on the house this week and were absolutely marvellous, treating me to American Thanksgiving dinner. Today they headed back south to Dixie, leaving me with a massive smoked turkey.  Y’all come by for some.

So my girl is in for a hard fight, but we are ready.  The colours are unfurled, the battle line is braced with bayonets fixed and drums beating, and we are asking and giving no quarter.   The foe is fell and fierce, but his hard blows and malice will be returned in kind.  Hearts shall burn bright and not falter, ere the darkness fall.

If you would be so kind as to leave a message of encouragement, I will read it to her during my next visits.  Even the words, prayers and good wishes of strangers encourage her greatly, and she knows I have a great cloud of wargaming witnesses out there.

Blessings to your loved ones.  Be good to them.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Cat Came Back

Regular readers of this blog will know that Madame Padre and I are cat people, just one cat short of being crazy cat people.  One of our cats is a long-legged ginger sass-face called Luigi, who is a frequent adornment on my wargames table.   At some point, he got the nickname of the Fell Catbeast of Mordor.

Seven weeks ago, Luigi asked to go out on a warm night, and never showed up for breakfast the next day.   After a few days, we put posters around the neighbourhood.  No luck.   On Monday morning, during my morning run, I took down the last of those posters, and started thinking of the epilogue I would write here for a cat that I had gotten quite fond of.   Half hour later, over breakfast, I heard his distinctive meow in the back yard.  Who knows what he was doing for seven weeks, or where he was doing it.  Perhaps, as someone said, he moved in with Ms. Jones next store to make us miss him, and decided to come back when he knew he could get anything he wanted out of us.

Well, it’s started.   I tried to do some painting this evening.

Nope, Imma lie on your arm.  (He did this all the time when I was writing an MA thesis a few years back).

No paint, just admire my cuteness and pet me.

Tired of your arm, imma sleep on your paint table now.

Well, he’s back, and I couldn’t be happier.   I may be less productive, for a while, but I couldn’t be happier.

Curious creatures, cats.   If he could talk, I wonder if he would tell me what he did for those last seven weeks.   

Blessings to your furry friends.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Meanwhile, In Rohan - 4

My painting desk is still firmly planted in Middle Earth these days.   When I last posted, it was to show the growing host that Saruman the Wizard was assembling in Isengard, thanks to a score at the bring and buy, and also thanks to the first fruits of his recruiting among the Wild Men of Dunland.  Things looked pretty grim for the free folk of Rohan’s fair plains.

It may still be a dark time for the horse lords, but I was able to find them some last-minute reinforcements.  These six archers were hastily painted years ago, and are now properly repainted and based.  They are from GW’s plastic Warriors of Rohan set of figures.  The archers nocking and preparing to draw are a very nice pose.

I kept the fairly simple signature Rohirrim palette of greens and browns for these warriors.  Looking at them makes me wonder, should I give them the ability to form Shield Wall, if using the Dux B rules?  I would probably give it to Saruman’s Uruk Hai alone of all the forces of evil.

I went for a little variety  in colour for the cloaks.  I didn’t have much energy to try to clean the shields and try again, they are what they are.

The banner is from a coloured set once hosted on the GW website, but sadly gone now.   I gave it a gold trim as one of my so-called friends was mocking the poor job I did of glueing the two halves together evenly.  One day I will upgrade it -  I am much taken with this banner and shield transfer set from Gripping Beast/Little Big Man.  The moment it comes back into stock, I am sure I will order a couple, enough shield transfers to equip a box of the GB plastic Saxon thegns to flesh out my Rohirrim force.  I think they should blend in reasonably well.

Finally, my friend Bruce, one of the Barrie Old Guy Gamers (BOGG) picked up these painted GW Riders of Rohan at the same Bring and Buy, and then thought they might be better in my collection.   The style of painting is much more faded and weathered than are my fantasy figures, but I am delighted to take them into service.

Not counting these acquired Riders, the 13 foot figures can be added to my year to date totals.  Less than two months left to swell these numbers, let’s see what my brushes can manage.

Thanks for looking and blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2016 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 102; Mounted Figures: 10; Buildings: 3; Terrain Features: 2

20mm:  Buildings: 1

6mm:  Mounted figures:  36;  Buildings:  2

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Meanwhile, In Isengard - 3 The Hosts Gather

Recently my friend James (Rabbitman) and I went in together on an order of fantasy figures from Vendel Miniatures to flesh out our mutual Lord of the Rings project.  James opted for a mx of elves, dwarves and orcs.  I decided on orcs, as well as these shaggy, furry fellows.  I thought the Vendel Hillmen would be ideal for the Wild Men of Dunland, allies of Saruman.

"All Isengard must be emptied; and Saruman has armed the wild hillmen and herd-folk of Dunland beyond the rivers, and these also he loosed upon us”.  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.

They can be used as Light Infantry in Dragon Rampant terms, or perhaps Bellicose Foot. I used a black spray paint as a primer, and had a bad experience on some of the figures when it dried in a blobby, granular way.  You can see it on the shield of the chap on the right.   

Obviously, some of these shields are forged in Isengard and supplied to the Dunlendings.  

‘Yet there are many that cry in the Dunland tongue,’ said Gamling. ‘I know that tongue. It is an ancient speech of men, and once was spoken in many western valleys of the Mark. Hark! They hate us, and they are glad; for our doom seems certain to them. ‘The king the king!’ they cry. ‘We will take their king. Death to the Forgoil! Death to the Strawheads! Death to the robbers of the North!’ Such names they have for us. Not in half a thousand years have they forgotten their grievance that the lords of Gondor gave the Mark to Eorl the Young and made alliance with him. That old hatred Saruman has inflamed. They are fierce folk when roused. They will not give way now for dusk or dawn, until ThĂ©oden is taken, or they themselves are slain.’

I found this GW Saruman figure, half-painted and left over from when my son and I played the GW LOTR rules a lot.  I finished basing him and added some detail to the face and hair, so I guess that counts as a complete figure.   I am not sure why one needs a Saruman figure, as he basically keeps himself locked in his citadel of Orthanc.

So besides these thirteen figures, there are additional hosts on the march.   In my last post I described going to Council Fires, a local wargaming event.   I made the mistake of going too near the Bring and Buy table, and found this small horde looking for a new home.  On the right, 46 goblins, and on the left, 31 Mordor orccs.  A few of them have the white hand of Saruman painted on their shields.  I will have to change that to the Red Eye of Mordor.

Saruman meets his new friends, 31 Uruk Hai.


With the Dunlendings arriving for the fight, and more of them on the painting table, things look quite grim for the Free Folk of the West.

Not counting the miniatures purchased at the Bring and Buy, these figures bring my 2016 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 89; Mounted Figures: 10; Buildings: 3; Terrain Features: 2

20mm:  Buildings: 1

6mm:  Mounted figures:  36;  Buildings:  2

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monstrous Mayhem, Triceratops Tactics, and Brantford Battles: A Day at Council Fires

Council Fires is one of those small, regional wargaming conventions that keeps out hobby going in eastern Canada.  Each is a labour of love run by a small organizing committee, with a handful of vendors and, for the most part, the same familiar faces.   This event has been staged in various places and venues since I arrived in SW Ontario in the 1980s, but in its current incarnation in Brantford, it was worth the day.   I got up rather early on a Saturday morning for the two hour drive from Barrie after picking up Stephen M.  

$15 for a day of gaming goodness seemed like a bargain, especially as the fee included a gift figure from local manufacturers, Crucible Crush (partners with Bob Murch in the very lovely Flint and Feather Range) and RAFM.  I was delighted to receive this RAFM figure from their Air Pirates game, which I am sure I can use.

We arrived at 9, just in time to get in on the  game of Frostgrave.  Never played Frostgrave before but was curious. This was the setup that awaited up to six players, each taking a different faction.  The blue tokens indicated a treasure to be picked up, with the best treasure belonging to the frost giant in the centre.   Some lovely scenery with a winter-themed map (by Cigar Box, I think?).

The frost giant.  Since my war band started in the centre of the table, closest to him, and since I had a bunch of stout-hearted dwarves, I decided to take him on.   A magical grenade, well placed on a natural 20, helped take him down.

Part of the lovely scenery on the table.  A rival war band consisting of tree spirits, as far as I could tell, are climbing this tower to get the treasure therein. Shortly after this was taken, a third rival war band used a Crumble spell to collapse the walkway and drop one of these figures to a horrible death.  I quite liked the magic system in Frostgrave.  Spells are not automatic, and failure to cast one can take a toll on the wizard’s health.   Each war band has a wizard, who are reasonably adept at casting spells, and an apprentice, who is, well, less adept.

Two more of the rival war bands brought packs of dogs to the fight.   It was kind of an off-leash park for giant killer dogs.


My dwarves were able to kill the frost giant, but just as we were about to seize the treasure, the evil Bruce teleported his wizard in to seize the treasure. The tokens are made by Six Squared Studios, who sponsored the game.  They have tons of useful products.


So we killed Bruce’s evil wizard.  However, every time someone grabbed a treasure, there was a chance that a horrible creature would be summoned from the void.  This demon grizzly bear appeared and shambled towards the centre of the table.  One of my dwarves was so intent on grabbing treasure that he got cut off in this ruined tower.  Terrible decision.  He got a big bear hug for his troubles, and another one, and another one, and then he sort of ied.  A horde of other rift creatures closed in on the survivors of my war band, who also being attacked by several other war bands.  My high-risk gambit of going after the frost giant’s treasure did not pay off, but it was jolly good fun while it lasted.

Frostgrave had some very clever ideas going for it.  The activation rules are clever, and the magic system is creative and fun without being overpowering.   Because it uses d20s and uses opposed die rolls for its combat resolution, there ca  be some wild swings of fortune.  Fun if you like that sort of thing, but perhaps a little chaotic for some tastes.

In the afternoon I got involved in an ACW skirmish game by GM Kirk D, using his lovely figures and the Brother Against Brother skirmish rules.  Here’s Kirk’s table, featuring some first rate bespoke buildings.


I had a plan of trapping Mike’s infantry on three sides in the centre of the table, but the trap rather got closed on me and my chaps got bushwhacked in three sides.  I didn’t think touch of the rules, I confess.  If I wanted to play an ACW skirmish game, I would want to play Sharpe Practice


I noticed this interesting Mexican-American War game, laid out on a sheet of disruptive pattern camouflage fabric.  Rather hard to see the figures, one might think.

This War of 1812 game was one of the nicest at the show, I thought.

American cavalry from the same game - beautiful figures.

In the evening, Stephen, Bruce and myself, as representatives of the Barrie Old Guys Gamers (BOGG), pooled our resources to put on this Dragon Rampant game for six persons. The big flat thing was a lost temple that could possibly bestow advantages to magic users.  Whoever controlled the  village in the centre would win.  We had six factions and four players, so Bruce and I got to run a faction each.


Andrew, our youngest player, drives his armoured triceratops packed with lizard warriors into Bruce’s Orks on Pigs, in one of the many kinds of fights that makes Dragon Rampant so glorious.  Most of the figures on the table, including these, were old Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy figures.


Goblin warband marshals its skirmishing light cavalry, mounted on (of course), giant spiders. Giant spiders …. ick.

Human cavalry in elvish service engage the spiders and drive them off.  Unfortunately, by this point the goblin wizard got onto the temple and blew the horsemen to smithereens. 

 There was more chaos raging elsewhere on the table.  The Orc army I brought was wiped out by, well, a rival Orc army with help from some nearby rampaging mastodons.  It all happened so fast, I didn’t get photos.  Sorry, but Dragon Rampant can be a bit like that.  Perhaps it was overambitious to have six players, each out for their own interests, but for the last game of the day, it was agreeably silly, and I think we Barrie Old Gamer Guys put on a good show.

I mentioned the presence of Six Squared Studios at Council Fires.  I like these guys for their creativity.  Besides doing some nice laser-cut bases, they are kind of the Canadian Litko, as they offered an interesting range of gaming tokens.  I picked these up quite cheaply as patrol markers for Chain of Command.  Pity the British markers are not coloured, but I can live with that.

From their line of resin scenics in various scales, I picked up these resin haystacks and a horse watering trough for my Rohan village.

I did get some other items if loot, which can wait for another post.   I hope your gaming weekend was as much fine as mine was.

Blessings to your die rolls!  MP



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