Monday, January 30, 2017

Slaughter By The Water: Dragon Rampant Meets One Hour Wargames

Here’s a quiet afternoon to report on a solitaire game I played recently, using Dragon Rampant rules but with a scenario from Neil Thomas’ One Hour Wargames.   I chose Scenario 5: Bridgehead, in which Blue is trying to cross the river below from left to right, while the Red army has units arriving from several sides of the table to the right of the river to try and throw Blue back.  Victory is achieved by there being no enemy units on the north bank of the river, within 12” of the bridge”.  North is the right hand side of the river in the picture below.

One of the interesting challenges in mating DR with 1HW is that the DR rules end a player’s turn when an activation is failed.  With the strictly limited # of turns in a 1HW scenario, I was curious to see whether it was feasible to play DR using a turn limit.

Using 30 points per force, vice NT’s six units per side, I came up with the following.


1 unit of 12 SP Bellicose Foot barbarians, 1 Unit of 6 SP Scouts, 1 unit of 12 Orc SP Light Missile Troops, 1 unit of 12 SP Orc Heavy Infantry, 1 unit of 6  SP Orc Heavy Riders, 1 Orc Shaman (lesser wizard treated as a unit of Light Infantry), and 1 unit of 6 SP Heavy Infantry including General.


1 Unit of 6 SP Elite Riders, 1 Unit of 6 SP Elite Riders with Bows, 1 Unit of 12 SP Heavy Foot, 1 Unit of 12 SP Light Missiles, 2 Units of 6SP Scouts with Sharpshooter upgrade.

The downside to Red’s force selection is that almost half of the points are tied up in the two units of Elite Riders, giving it a smaller force than Blue has. Also, with elite riders activating on a 7+ to move, this tendency to immobility may hinder Red given the limited time (15 turns) to react to Blue’s incursion.  

Blue can put one unit on the far side of the ford at the start of the game.  I opt for the Scouts.  On turn 1, Red, moving second, can bring on two units in one of three randomized locations.  The two units of Riders make their activations and are randomly placed bottom right of the river in the picture below.

The Bliue scouts have a good run and make it to the ruins.   The cover, plus the Scouts bonus of Hard Target vs missile fire, takes their Armour Class from 1 to 3, giving them lots of protection while they try to harass the Red cavalry.  Yes, those are my recently painted Vendel hlllmen, while the ruins were scratch built by my friend James.

Turn 3.  The Red Elite Riders are stuck where they started, but the Red Elite Riders with Bows are moving forward.  Blue makes an activation roll and brings on the Light Archers, moving them towards the ford.

Red’s scouts come on and they use their Ranger ability to flit through the woods, hoping to bring the ford under fire before Blue can start crossing.

Topper, Lesser Catbeast of Mordor, makes an appearance.   He looks a little sceptical about the Red plan, but like a good Observer/Controller, he is saving his comments for the AAR.

Meanwhile, the Blue archers are crossing the ford, while the Heavy Riders and Bellicose foot are coming on behind them.

By Turn 8, Blue has had good activation rolls and has four units on the North side of the river.   The scouts in the ruins have become battered due to the fire of the Elite Horse with Bows, but they in ten have taken one figure out of both of Red’s Elite Horse units, which was a profitable exchange for blue.  Red’s Scouts in the woods have taken a toll of attackers, but haven’t stopped Blue from crossing the ford.   The Blue bellicose foot are peeling off to clear the woods, while the Blue Heavy Riders are moving to face both the Red Heavy Infantry and Missile troops.  Blue’s archers are facing off against the Red Elite Riders, which have not had much luck making their 7+ to move activation rolls.

The Bliue Bellicose Foot surge into the woods.  Their Ranger ability means that they are not impeded by terrain.  The Red Scouts fluff their Skirmish roll and are butchered to a man (err, Elf) by the onrushing barbarians, who do pretty well for a newly painted unit.

By Turn 11, Red picks up the pace, its Elite Riders falling on the lightly armoured Blue archers and annihilating them.  Meanwhile, Blue’s heavy riders threw themselves on Red’s Heavy Infantry, supported by their archers.  The Blue wolf riders do some damage, but are wiped out in return.


Turn 12, the battle for the ford is now fully joined.  For fun I decided to depart from my usual practice and leave the casualties where they fell.   I blame Ross Mac.  In the centre of the scrum north of the ford, Blue’s Heavy Infantry have formed a Wall of Spears to deter the Red cavalry, but are suffering from Red’s archers.  

Red’s Heavy Ifantry wade into their Blue opposite numbers to try and push them back.  It’s a tough fight that bleeds both units, but Blue stands longer than expected, as the Blue Orc Shaman makes a series of successful spell rolls and “heals” the Blue heavy infantry, bringing a dead figure back to life for three turns in a row and helping them pass their morale rolls.

Red’s Elite Riders, 4 figures left out of six and almost at half strength, crash into Blue’s last reserves, the general and his Heavy Infantry bodyguard, whole the shaman cheers them on.

The General and his bodyguards are pushed back, but Blue throws its Bellicose shock troops into the depleted Red Riders, now at half strength, and throw them back.

Game end at turn fifteen.  Red has a handful of infantry, its foot and horse archers, but Blue has two units still on the north side of the stream, and its Scouts still hold the ruins.  The Shaman intones a chant over the bloody field.

The game ended in a draw and I considered this experiment a success.   On its own, DR tends to end with one side wiped out, but imposing a strict turn limit and clear objectives on DR makes the experience a little more tense and focused.  It may seem cruel to lose a precious turn when a unit fails its roll, but it does force one to think carefully about what units one wants to try to activate first.

As I think I said above, putting so many eggs into the Elite Rider basket seems foolish in retrospect.   I don’t think I would use this troop type for an army based on expert riders, such as the Rohiirrim.  I think I would class them as Heavy Riders, with some units Light Riders with Bows upgraded as Sharpshooters.  But more on that anon.

This game was great fun to p;ay and very tense.  If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed it too.

Blessings to your die rolls,


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Portly Pasha Moustasha

I recently entered this portentous fellow in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as an entry for the Bonus Theme Round entitled "East".

A chap in a fez seems exotic enough to qualify as "East", to my mind, and I was relived that the estimable Sidney Roundwood agreed: " Nothing quite screams "EAST" to me quite like a capaciously large Pasha, a pair of Turkish slippers, a plate of delicious Baklava and an illicitly filled pipe of hashish. By the look of this chap, he's competing to fulfil all four of those..."

Exactly.   This sculpt is by Bob Murch of Pulp Figures, and was created by Bob as this year's Movember entry.  As Bob's many fans know, he has sculpted several figures for this charity aimed at fighting illnesses experienced by men, and if you send Bob your Movember tax receipt for your donation, he will send you the figure, charging only for postage.

Perhaps the Pasha was a veteran of Gallipoli, and now, as a senior Turkish politician or general, has returned for a ceremony, where he will doubtless give a fiery speech.

Another Turkish leader was Jon Freitag, proprietor of the Palouse Wargaming Journal, who played Turkey in my play-by-blog Diplomacy game in 2016, and who won quite handily.    As followers of this blog may recall, the game ended in 1907 when the German player conceded the victory to Turkey.  Jon, this figure will be going out to you by post next week, as promised long ago, to honour your achievement.  Well done.

There is still a prize still owing, to Ben (Johnny Rosbif) Gilmour who played Italy with brio and panache and won my very subjective prize for best diplomacy and role-playing.   Ben, I have decided on your figure and will start painting it this weekend.

With all that is going on at home, I don't see another online game of Diplomacy in the near future, but perhaps in the latter part of 2017 or early 2018.  

Blessings to your brushes!


15mm: Vehicles: 3
28mm:  Foot Figures: 32;  Mounted Figures: 2

Monday, January 23, 2017

Barbarian Prince and Champion

I entered this dynamic duo in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge last week and am finally showing them here.

I ordered these lovely 28mm figures from the UK’s Heresy Miniatures as a Christmas present to me, along with some of their other fantasy figures, and am very pleased with them.  The young chap n the right will be the leader of my force of Wild Men of Dunland, and his friend to the left will be the prince’s pet half-ogre champion.

I found Heresy a pleasant company to deal with, their order was shipped promptly and contained three peppermint humbugs that looked suspiciously like eyes of Sauron.  Creepy.  Their figures are crisply sculpted with a minimum of flash.   The big fellow ships with an assortment of weapons and parts to position in his arms in various positions.  I am a little spatially challenged and so I could not get the arms positioned to mate with the hands sculpted to the two-handed weapons, so I opted for the sword and clenched fist look

In Dragon Rampant terms I think I would count the big fellow as a six Strength Point single figure unit, probably rating him as Bellicose Foot along with the rest of the Dunlendings.

Several other Heresy fantasy figures came with my order and I look forward to getting to them soon.  I am very pleased to have discovered this company.

The barbarian reminds me of a young officer I served with, whose blonde mane of hair was a thing of beauty if somewhat non-regulation, and who could usually be found during the workday in the gym with a protein shake in one hand and a sixty-pound barbell in the other..   I was delighted when he confirmed on Facebook that it was indeed a good likeness.

This completes my Dunlending project, though I may get another pack of eight archers to give me two units of twelve missile troops each.  Here Saruman poses with the graduating class of the Isengard Infantry School, serial 17-1.  

Thank you for looking and blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:

15mm: Vehicles: 3

28mm:  Foot Figures: 31;  Mounted Figures: 2

Thursday, January 19, 2017

First German Units Report for Barbarossa

So the good news is that Madame Padre is back home and doing well.   And there's also some less important hobby news to report.
Amidst my Tolkien-inspired efforts of late, I took a small sideroad to get a start on a German early WW2 force in 15mm to oppose my Soviets.

These three models are by the Russian manufacturer Zvezda, sold as part of their Art of Tactic series.  They were kindly given to me by Steve Whitesell, the proprietor of an excellent blog with a WW2 and WW3 theme.

Zevezda kits are compatible with other 15mm models, and while they are less detailed, they are easy t assemble.  For these two tanks, the track and road wheel assembly is all one part that glues onto the bottom of the hull.  Easy peasy.

These two PZ 38s and the tiny tank (sorry, the SdKfz 222) armoured car make the nucleus of a recce unit (sorry, aufsklarungsgruppe) suitable for early war.   I was pressed for time, as I wanted to get an entry into the Armor theme bonus round of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  There were some fifty entries riffing in various directions on this theme, and it is well worth your having a look here.  If you look at nothing else there, go admire the talented Michael Awdry's wonderful Grail Knights homage to Monty Python.

My effort was paltry by comparison.  The German Gray is a base of  a Vallejo primer, brushed on as I did not have time to break out my airbrush.  When dry I hit them with Citadel Nurn Oil or whatever it is called (I far prefer Army Painter Strong Tone but am currently out) and then did some rust and chipping.  Most of the weathering got obliterated when I drybrushed on some craft store tan paint to suggest the dust of the Russian roads.  Bases are MDF, handcut, with some plastic wood texturing and then flocking.  The crosses are by Battlefront and the Pz38 turret numbers are by Dom's decals.

I have five Plastic Soldier Company early model PZIIIs assembled and painted, another pack of five PZ38s with the option to build as the Marder variant, also from PSC, so I may build a zug of three Marders for later war and give two of the 38s to this unit.

It's a start.

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:
15mm: Vehicles and AFVs: 3

28mm:  Foot Figures: 29;  Mounted Figures: 2

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Kindness Of A Friend Not Yet Met

So Madame Padre is in hospital again, getting a nasty bug flushed out of her blood so that she can get back to chemotherapy and kicking cancer’s ass.  She’s doing well and getting stronger again, though the bug knocked her flat last week.

One source of her recovery was a care package that arrived from England yesterday, provided by one of the nicest ladies I have yet to have the pleasure to meet.  Cath Willey.  Cath of course is the genius behind the Secret Santa project, and her lucky husband is Ian, who runs the excellent Blog With No Name where his small-scale goodies beg to be admired.  Cath and I were exchanging emails about Secret Santa and she learned that I had been delayed in my gift project because of my wife’s illness.  Tell me about your wife, Cath wrote, and what she likes.  Well, err, that’s very nice, I said, ummm, cats, plants, knitting, crime novels ...

In due course, an envelope containing knitting needles, yarn,  a pocket diary with a cat theme and a crime novel about a cat arrived.   Cath quite skillfully covered all the bases.  As you can see, Madame was quite delighted, and when I said goodnight to her was busy starting to knit.

Cath, you are a lovely and kind person, and we can’t thank you enough.  The extraordinary thing, in my experience of the war-game blogging community, is that this degree of kindness is not unusual.  Kay and I have received similar kindnesses since she started fighting cancer, and we are always moved and deeply grateful.  Kay said to me, “I can’t believe that someone who I’ve never met would be so nice to me.”   I can believe it.  We have already paid it forward.

Be kind to one another.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Pulp Project Work In Progress: The Rockies Ablaze!

Picking up on my last post, here is a preview of where my 1930s Canadian Pulp Project, The Rociies Ablaze, is going.   First, here’s what I’ve done thus far, artfully arranged on top of a roll of Christmas Village snow from the local craft store (Michaels).  It rather looks like dry ice at a rock concert, but it does give an impression of snow and thanks to post Christmas sales, I have rather a lot of it. 

 The Mounties mix well with the Bob Murch Yukon types I’ve painted so far.

“I’m telling you, Sergeant, it were a big balloon, and it passed south over Dead Man’s Pass."

 Here’s the big balloon (sorry, not a balloon, an AIRSHIP - step outside!).   Obviously it’s not to scale, but it will serve as a backdrop over the picturesque Rocky Mountains, if I can devise some sort of stand for it.

 The Zeppelin crew - Bob Murch Zeppelin Troop scrulpts/  They look a little more Imperial than Nazi, but no matter, they are darn cool, and they may need some sort of bridge mocked up for them to hang out in.

 Zeppelin troop landing party complete with oxygen tanks.

 Zeppelin troop landing party in gas masks.  Some sort of gas might be useful to allow them to secure their primary objective, namely capturing a werewolf to take back to the Reich for crossbreeding and research.  If I was tasked with capturing a werewolf, I would want to have lots of sleeping gas on hand.

 More Zeppelin troops in gas masks.  I probably have enough Zeppelin troops now.  There is a question of how they will get to the ground … either fast roping or perhaps some smaller airship that can tether to the zeppelin mother ship, in which case I need to scratch build something.   Perhaps my friend Dan H, the master of scratch building disaster, can help here.  Thoughts?   

 i picked these guys up from a bring and buy table earlier this year.  They are BEF early WW1 signal troops, which appealed to me because the Mounties might need aid to the civil power from the Canadian Army Permanent Force, doubtless Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry from the Calgary garrison.  Certainly a command and signals group would be useful in giving some admin support to the Mounties’ command post.

If I want to flesh this out a bit, I have some suggestions thanks to the stout chaps at LAF, including what look like early WW2 BEF Tommies in greatcoats from Gorgon Miniatures, or some minis from Tiger  Miniatures from their Winter War series, about the 1919 Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War - while slightly primitive sculpts, the troops have greatcoats and fur hats and look like they would fit in with the Pulp Figures stuff.  There is also a pack of late WW1 British infantry in greatcoats from Great War Miniatures which could pass easily for interwar Canadian troops.

 Finally, for no particular reason, but just because I adore Bob Murch sculpts, I felt the need to allow for a canoe chase between a mad trapper who is quite possibly a werewolf ….


… and the Mounties.  Note that neither Sgt. Prestown nor his amazing dog Cuddles are wearing flotation devices.  Terrible examples, Bob. 


Well, chaps, that’s the project for now, slowly taking shape.   Given that the last months have been pretty rough, I am not sure when I will have something playable, but as long as I have fun.   Now, where did I put my trusty shoeshoes?   <whisltles>  Come along, King, there’s work to do and bad men to catch.  Stay vigilant, chaps!



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Meanwhile, in Canada 2 - Moose Meets Mounties

Happy New Year!   I hope 2017 is off to a good start for you, dear reader.

Back in May, I offered a first look at a pulp project I was calling The Rockies Ablaze.   It will involve stout adventurers, occult investigators, mad trappers, werewolves, Nazis and possibly a zeppelin, and will be a tie-in or prequel to my Weird War Two project. It sounds like so much fun if I can get it off the ground.

During my Christmas leave period I finally finished the Pulp Figures minis by two-fisted Canuck sculptor Bob Murch.  This is the look I was going for, and this journal from 1934 is pretty much spot-on for the time period I am thinking of as my setting.

"Pardon me, folks.  Have you seen anything out of the ordinary?  Nazis?  Werewolves? " The second period illustration has the gauntlets that match Bob's figures.

Here's the whole group of finished work, plus four more winter terrain stands.

Bob's mounted and dismounted Sgt. Prestown figure.   His faithful dog sidekick has gone missing somewhere in the lead pile - chased after a Tomb King skeleton figure, no doubt.   I will find him in due course.

I am reasonably happy with the way the scarlet tunics turned out, thanks to the good advice I got in response to my last post on those guys.

Flashheart of the Mounted.  This is "Captain Krustache", Bob's Movember figure from 2015 - donors to the Movember charity got him for free as part of a very kind incentive to donate.  With the blond hair he looks a lot like Rik Mayal.   "Drop that gun now, before I decorate this snow with an interesting colour called Hint of Brain.  Woof!"

Flashheart and his comrades - the other figures are part of Bob's Scarlet Patrol pack.  I like the fact that half of these figures are packing Lee Enfields - it situates them nicely in the pulp era.

Constable Eddy Nelson.  Annoying prone to burst into song at any moment.

Mordechai Moose.  Thanks to Pete Douglas for the suggestion, which I like slightly better than Justin.  Moose are ancient enemies of werewolves, and I suspect that Mordechai will have a role in helping our brave heroes.  I'm treating him as a mounted figure for my own painting totals.

"Men, I have a dangerous assignment, but first I need you to stop singing the lumberjack song."
"Sorry, Sergeant, I have to report back to Fort Calgary for some top level shagging. You know I always get my woman."
"Shut up, Flashheart. You know you're missing part of your uniform."
"Hat.  I said hat, sergeant.  .... Git."

Thanks for looking.  In a few days I will offer some exciting previews of where the project goes next.

Blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:
28mm:  Foot Figures: 29;  Mounted Figures: 2

Friday, January 6, 2017

Meanwhile In Isengard - 5: Yet More Vendel Barbarians

Here are yet more scruffy, nasty, flea-bitten, root in-tootin, cattle steelin, mean feel in, smelly, yelly and generally unpleasant barbarians, the last of the Vendel Hillmen from my big order this year, and my second entry in this year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

This group includes four more archers, including two of the feared Teddy Bear Guardsmen:

Eleven chaps with spears.  Included are some more high tech metal shields with the White Hand device supplied by Saruman’s quartermasters, though the Dunlendings, being conservative folk as are most barbarians, generally prefer their hide shields.

Stab for Saruman and a Free Dunland!

And finally a musician and six fellows that I equipped with choppy things.   After I upended a tray containing all the spears supplied by Vendel with the figures, I was inexplicably short six, and after multiple searches decided on raiding the sprues in my bits box to find some orc swords and a Gripping Beast axe.  It give the force a pleasing variety, I think, as I had already finished twelve spearmen from the original test group back in the fall.

Vendel figures are clunky and don’t have a lot of fine detail, but they paint quickly and with a little wash and dry brushing, I think they look fine en masse.   As I was saying on the AHPC site, I worked hard to give them some variety in terms of hair colour and the colour of the skins and furs they are wearing, rotating through a palette of five different base colours.  I think it worked fairly well.  I currently have some of these figures on my gaming table for a solo game of Dragon Rampant, where they are scampering through woods and kicking elven arse as Bellicose Foot.   I think Saruman will be very pleased with the money he spent to influence the election of the new President of Dunland, as it will pay dividends.

I am currently working on two personality figures from Heresy Miniatures who will be the leaders of this motley crew, and when they are done I’ll take some shots of the whole Dunland force.  Let Rohan tremble!

Blessings to your brushes!
These figures bring my 2017 totals to:
28mm:  Foot Figures: 22

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