Saturday, March 31, 2018

AHPC VIII - Ev's Challenge; The Final Roundup

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is over for another year, and what a roller coaster it's been!

Here are the final figures, the rest of my output for this (northern) winter's event.

First up, the Bonus Theme Round, "Childhood"; some Reaper Bones Mouslings to entertain my grandchildren. These were a lot of fun to paint, and the emphasis is on bright, eye-catching colours.

The next Bonus Round was '"Monstrous", and I put together a tribute to the man behind the Challenge, Curt Campbell, aka The Snowlord. This figure will soon be winging his way to Canada as my price of admission, the Curtgeld.

He's a Reaper Bones Frost Giant Jarl, and he was a pretty big subject. Of course, his sword has been swapped out for a paintbrush. I hope he finds favour in his new home in the frozen tundras of Saskatchewan!

My production ramped up marginally in the last week of the Challenge, and I was able to get a couple more of those Reaper Bones monsters out there. Gotta say, if you want a big impressive beastie for a reasonable price, then the Bones range is the way to go. Some of the detail can be a little soft in parts, but a black basecoat followed by a drybrush of grey at the start really helps highlight areas that need attention and ensures you don't miss anything.

The Marsh Troll was a fun figure, part stegosaur and part crocodile with a killer underbite. I really went for it with the basing, finally getting some use out of a bottle of model railway water effects for the ponds of stagnant water. I like him a lot.

Next up, the iconic fantasy monster, the Dragon.

Reaper Bones AGAIN (and no, I don't have shares in the company). I tend to go a little crazy with the basing on these stand-alone figs, but in this case a little extra height was called for to allow the tail of the monster to follow a more natural curve rather than get pushed upwards by resting on a flat base.

Lastly, some of the women warriors of the Dwarven Kingdoms, courtesy of Scibor Miniatures (see disclaimer above re shareholding).

They're so damned characterful and packed with detail that I think I'll be giving this company my custom for a good many years yet.

So let's review; the theme of the Challenge was, broadly speaking, 'Monstrous', and I managed to get at least five monsters completed, while dwarves, ogres, orcs and goblins also got a look in. But this year, no humans at all, despite a late stab at getting an Imagi-Nations regiment started.

Better clean and prep those pulp adventure figs for next time, to say nothing of the assorted Bronze Age figs left over from the Challenge before last, and of course, there's a bunch of ECW stuff as well, oh, and a shedload of 40K Orks still to assemble...

This may take a while, so I'll say my goodbyes and see you all again soon!

Stay tuned...


Saturday, March 24, 2018

For King and Parliament is on sale!

It's done! My latest Cobalt Peak Game Design commission job is finished and Simon has the rules on sale now in his BigRedBatShop. In Simon's own words...

TtS! “For King and Parliament” is a simple set of wargames rules for the Civil Wars in England (and Scotland and Ireland) of the mid-Seventeenth Century.

Written by myself and Andrew Brentnall, they use mechanisms that will be immediately familiar to players of the popular “To the Strongest!” ancient and medieval rules. Using For King and Parliament, a battle can be fought and won (or lost!) on a dining room table in less than two hours. The same rules, however, also support huge battles, involving thousands of miniatures and up to five players a side. The use of subtle grids dispenses with the need for measurement- and consequently play moves along at a cracking pace.

A unique activation system driven by playing cards or numbered chits introduces uncertainty; in some turns a regiment will fly across the battlefield; in others it will stubbornly remain rooted to the spot. The same deck is used to swiftly resolve shooting and melee; no dice, whatsoever, need be rolled! Special rules model the various firing systems used by the foot, and the occasionally uncontrollable nature of ECW horse.

The rules are written in plain English, and illustrated with appropriate diagrams, photographs and period images, sample army lists, examples of play and an introductory scenario.

Having read the rules in detail myself whilst doing the layout I can attest to the quality of the writing and attention to detail. Simon and Andrew are to be congratulated on delivering a streamlined, highly playable set of rules without sacrificing any period flavour. I was so impressed that before the layout was even half finished I'd already embarked on a new project of my own, all set up to play using For King and Parliament.

Thanks again Simon for the opportunity to be involved. As always it was great fun and tremendously rewarding to help you bring this to life.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Scottish Project

Ah, the heady delights of a new project! This week the last bits and pieces arrived so I can now begin work on [drumroll...] The Scottish Project! That's right, a new year and a new project. Not to say that the 55 Days at Peking project or the Warhammer Fantasy Empire project and going to be neglected, just um... "sharing my attention" with my new baby.

Like a certain play be Shakespeare I cannot speak it's name. Actually that's complete bollocks, but it was a good opening so what the hell. Anyway, my new project begins today - recreating the Battle of Auldearn in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in 10mm and using Simon Miller's forthcoming For King and Parliament rules.

The whole box and (quite literally) dice. Everything I need to get cracking


Fortunately for me Pendraken Miniatures have a comprehensive and quite lovely range in 10mm which fulfills all my needs to cover both sides of the conflict. I'm starting, as any loyal subject of the King would, with Montrose and his forces.

One of the benefits of 10mm is cost and I was able to source all the miniatures and most of the flags required for under A$130 including shipping. Last night I spent an enjoyable hour or so divvying everything up into units.

Orders of Battle

With Simon's help and plenty of reading I've assembled an order of battle for both sides. The units involved won't change much from here although the unit stats might get tweaked a little over time once I've seen how things play out on the table top.

The Covenanters are numerically superior but inferior in quality and short on commanders, meaning the additional units will be less effective overall and harder to manoeuvre as well.

Basing Arrangement

One of the strengths of For King and Parliament is the lack of off-table record keeping and I've stretched that to the max in how I'm basing and recording data.

Units will sit on a single 90mm x 50mm base, with miniatures occupying the front 2/3 of the base and the rear 1/3 reserved for unit name and dice holders for recording experience/hits, ammunition and dash (if cavalry). The right-hand (7mm) dice holder will contain the hits dice, green for "raw", yellow for "seasoned" and blue for "experienced". The one or two left-hand dice holders will contain the ammo and dash dice.

Basing Style

I want a really atmospheric highland feel for the bases so I'm going over-the-top on tufts and bushes. This is the look I'm going for...

Photo credit "Must See Scotland - Flowers of Scotland"

Martin from Tajima1 very kindly did a custom order for me (in record time no less!) and created heather tufts in a matched purple colour using his "moss mix" tufts as a base. Combined with the same moss mix tufts I should be able to get a close approximation of the dense highland ground cover above.

And that's about where I'm at right now. Time to kick on and actually paint something!


Sunday, February 18, 2018

First Boxer Rebellion Games! Pic heavy!

At last! Today my good mate Cory from our regular gaming group came over after lunch we managed to get a couple of 55 Days at Peking games played out.

We had an absolute ball with both games, the first being a comfortable-ish relief for the legation defenders and the second a real nail-biter with just three German Seebatallion surviving when the relief arrived. We used The Natives are Restless Tonight colonial skirmish rules by Paul Ward a.k.a. Matakishi, freely available from his wonderful website and they worked a treat.

Action was fast, bloody and there was always something happening. In game one we broke or killed off 11 units of melee armed Boxers with several more on the table when relief arrived. In game two it was 13 units of Boxers, including several with firearms, before the relief arrived.

Here's a pile of photos I took with my phone. Not all the best quality but things were moving so quickly we didn't want to spend too much time on photography. Anyway, enjoy the images and at the end there's some conclusions and thoughts for future games.

The International Gun in action

Stout Japanese. They died to a man. Twice!

Big trouble in Little Britain. They're inside the walls!

Boxer artillery breaches the British legation compound wall! 

Kansu Braves preparing to chagre

Last ditch defence! German Seebatallion firing line defends the breach.

Russian reinforcements

"Pasha Tojo" in waiting. He earned his name with his second death...

Pasha Tojo assailed by hordes of Chinese fights to his last breath atop the stairs

Charlton Heston, going down fighting...

What a relief! The last of all the legation forces left alive in game two

Some thoughts...

The rules worked *really* well. They produce fast-paced games with a good balance of hordes of Boxers vs relatively few Imperial defenders concluded in around 90 minutes. With 50 Imperials and approximately twice that (at least) in Boxers that's a brilliant outcome.

Bigger games will produce some activation challenges. The most actions currently allowed for per turn is 3 for aces and 2 for court cards. This means in bigger games some units won't act very often if at all. Easy enough to fix by tinkering with the card activation to make some cards worth more activations or perhaps introduce a second deck.

Isolated legations don't last long. Historically these were abandoned and forces concentrated within a perimeter centred on the British Legation and this is how the game plays out too.

I'm not sure the Tartar Wall is necessary. It's fundamental to the history, being key to the defence but that was over a period of 55 days. I'm not sure how much value it would add for a 90 minute game and it will be a big build at even something like the right scale. Maybe smaller and still included is the answer?

Some plans...

I need to build another couple of legations but that will be it for buildings apart from the Palace of Prince Su (a small walled complex) and some other small bits and pieces, mostly set dressing. I have enough Boxers to support a game of that size and it will enable more players to participate. Some more Imperials will also be required.

I'll probably buy some sabot bases at some point to facilitate pitched battles outside Peking or at least large sizes skirmishes. That would also allow me to add some Imperial cavalry, and Chinese regular forces, and maybe a gunboat, and a railway, and... well you get the picture :-)

Anyway, that's enough for today. I was suffering a bit of project fatigue with all build / paint and no play. Now I've my enthusiasm back in spades!


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