Friday, 1 September 2017

Finished Skald

Finally, the skald is finished, along with his boss, the Warchief Hagar.
Hagar is made up from Gripping Beast's Viking Hirdmen sprue.  I am not entirely happy with his shield design, but I can get back to it at a later date, as he was rushed somewhat.

The skald, details of his construction can be found here

From this angle the shield appears too big, but in real life it looks more appropriate.


Next up are a Berserk and a Veteran.  The former is a converted Wargames Foundry metal mini.  So old that I remember it as an old Citadel miniature back when they had a small historical range.

I have also been looking at a completely fantasy Viking band made up of Reaper Bones, horned helmets and all.

In the search for the perfect skirmish system I have recently looked at A Song of Blades and Heroes. I have heard much about this system, and it does have some appealing aspects, but I have yet to actually play, and it may lack some of the detail I expect.  Please comment if you have any experience of the game, either good or bad.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Opening of the Ways

Last night I pitted my Kingdoms of Men army against T'Other One's Undead in the Opening of the Ways; the fourth battle in Mantic's Edge of the Abyss summer campaign.
The armies assemble with the strange old tower and the petrified wood in between them.  Already the portals are beginning to glow in anticipation.

The Undead army (looks lovely, if that's the right word)

The Kingdoms of Men

The Undead advance.  
The men largely stay where they are, realising that if they can hold on to the portals nearby, they only need to grab one more.  Archers take the top of the hill in the hopes of peppering the mummies before them.

The knights on the left flank rise to the bait of the wights and zombies, meanwhile the cannon crew mutter about stupid cavalry blocking their path.
The wraiths have already taken out the handgunners (without them firing a shot, oh well), and then tackle the shieldwall.

Th mummies have eliminated the archers, and then charge the spearmen.  Meanwhile the knights have wiped out the wights and sneaked past the zombies.  In an impressive display of dressage, the scouts shift to their right to expose the zombies to the cannon.  Unfortunately the crew were less accurate with their shot.
On the right flank (and only partially visible here), the other knights fight a series of battles with the fast moving werewolves.
Excitement (and lateness) took over and the last phases of the battle aren't shown.  After the final Undead turn I was ready to quit, having lost all my objectives and seeing little hope.  However, T'Other One persuaded me to fight on, and my knights on the left flank destroyed the zombies, simultaneously denying him the objective and claiming it myself.  The cursed pharaoh managed to hold up my knights on the right, wavering them and preventing them trying for the objective behind the tower (already removed in the above photo, along with the soul reavers holding it).  Afterwards I realised I forgot to use their Headstrong rule, which might, possibly, have got them moving and allowed them to charge the pharaoh, and maybe even, with luck, over him and into the soul reavers.  Lesson learned.

So an undead victory.  Which might hasten Mantic to make the Nightstalkers army, as that was what was lurking behind the portals.

The game was great fun, my army performed well, hindered by some poor choices in deployment. The battle necessitated a broad deployment to control objectives, but that meant many of my units were unsupported.  The woods didn't help either, and the tower proved a challenge for maneuvering. 

Prior to the battle I debated taking an army standard rather than a second wizard.  In the end the wizard played, largely because he was painted.  Both wizards kept up a useful barrage of spells.

I'm always surprised at how fast the undead get into contact.  The combination of fast troops like werewolves and wraiths, and slower zombies and skeletons (but watch out for Dark surge) I find hard to counter.  Their Lifeleech (boosted in this scenario) also helped.
Fortunately, the men proved resilient and Very Inspiring is an excellent thing. They just couldn't quite make it at the end.


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

KoM on Down

As Granny Weatherwax used to say "I Ain't Dead".  I am still plodding on with various projects, probably too many at one time.  Some of them are projects I'd rather the players see first, so I'll keep them in reserve.

Anyway, I'm dusting off my Kingdoms of Men army (one time Warhammer Empire) for a battle against T'Other One's undead tomorrow.  We are playing one of the Edge of the Abyss scenarios, with my humans taking the place of elves.  I just have to decide which of two builds to go for.

Pictures and a report afterwards, and looking through the boxes, I really must get these finished.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Teller of Tales, Blood Eagle Skald

Inspired by my first couple of games of Blood Eagle, I have started my own warband.
I am using the Viking Raiders list for now, partly because I used it in the trial games, and partly because it gives me the chance to use one of my favourite saga characters, Egil.

One figure that impressed me in the first game was the skald.  A lore master, teller of tales and user of wyrd powers.  The Second Sight power was particularly useful in the first game, and I wish I had kept it.
The borrowed skald was a robed type with a staff; very Dark Ages wizard looking, but I wanted something that emphasised a youthful wanderer, quite able to take care of himself in the wilds if need be.  He also had to have the equipment listed (leather byrnie, shield and short sword).

Digging around I found the following;

Conquest Games Medieval Archers provided the body and the arms, the head was from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors set, the scabbarded short sword was from Wargames Factory, though any sword would do, I liked this one as it was noticeably shorter than the ones on the Gripping Beast Vikings sprue.  Mantic Games' elves provided a (slightly anachronistic) harp.

All stuck together with green stuff to aid the position of his left arm and provide a neck; Gripping Beast and Conquest bodies and heads don't play nicely together without assistance.



Once everything is set and dry I'll get round to painting him.  He will get a shield slung across his back once he has been painted.

I am particularly pleased with his pose; not fighting, but proclaiming something.  No doubt he has just played a chord on his harp and is telling the saga of his lord.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Quest for the Perfect Skirmish

I have been searching for a long time for the perfect skirmish system.  By that I mean something that gives a fun, fast game, and ideally something that is adaptable to many different settings and backgrounds.
An experience or advancement mechanism would also be great (I have fond memories of the old GW Battle Systems in Middle Earth, specifically the Battle companies variant).
Recently I tried Savage Worlds' skirmish game called Showdown (available free on their website here).  I tried a game against my good friend 'Merlin' in North Yorkshire on one of our irregular gaming days.  He came up with the scenario and I brought the rules.  His elves were trying (ultimately futilely) to prevent my orcs desecrating a sacred well.

Elves and orcs face off across the forest glade

Elven bowfire initially seems ridiculously effective, wiping out a whole unit of orc archers.

The two forces clash

Now the orcs love of the fight comes to the fore

Eventually the elves are slain or driven off.  the death of their leader is the final blow, and the rest fade away into the woods.

The game was fun, and the scenario was excellent as it forced the elves to move to contact the orcs rather than just stand back and shoot, while the orcs had to stay close to the well rather than chase elves down in the forests.

However, the game took virtually all the allotted playing time, partly due to unfamiliarity with the rules, of course, but also there seemed to be a lot of overly fiddly bits.  I suspect this is due to the system's birth in the Savage Worlds Role Playing Game (an excellent system, by the way).

Somehow, it wasn't quite for us, and every time one of us thought of a way of simplifying the rules, the other decided it wasn't quite right.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we got another gaming day.  This time, at Merlin's suggestion, we tried Blood Eagle from the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare.

This ruleset is an adaptation of In Her Majesty's Name from Osprey.  This is a Victorian era Steampunk game, and one I bought some time ago, but have never got round to really looking at.  IHMN is itself an adaptation of In the Emperor's Name, a skirmish game set in the WH40K universe.

Blood Eagle uses (as far as I can tell) the same rules engine, but is set in the Dark Ages and focuses on small warbands with a basic alignment towards either Christianity or Paganism.

Merlin provided the figures from his collection, and I provided the table (and lunch).  We managed two games, both great fun and full of cinematic moments, such as the lone Saxon in the first game who just would not die, or my skald using his Wyrd powers to shatter a huscarl's shield.
Both games were simple 'slog-it-out' battles of Saxons vs Viking raiders. Honours even at the end of the day.  While we forgot some things (like Run, doh), we learnt more as play progressed.

Vikings advance through the woods towards the waiting Saxons, while the berserk flanks around the mead hall.

The Saxon archer takes aim while his colleagues wish they had known they could Run.  The rather overweight priest was the first to remember this.

More Saxons hiding in the fir trees.

The Saxon view of the invaders.

As the two forces clash, a Saxon Fyrdman is slain at the foot of the (obsidian, definitely not only undercoated) monument to Thor.

The second game was just as much fun, even though I got tabled.  I misplaced my camera for most of the game, hence only the one pic.

In conclusion, Blood Eagle provides us with a fast, fun play experience.  The rules are simple enough to learn, but complex enough to reward tactical thinking.  The force sizes are about what I was looking for, and the upsurge in plastic figures recently is great for this kind of 'wysiwyg' game.  

I will definitely dig out IHMN and some of my old EoD figures.  I am also thinking this might be the ruleset on which to base my ideas for a Boarder Reiver skirmish campaign.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What? More Bones?

Yes, Reaper launched their Bones 4 Kickstarter campaign yesterday.

As usual it was funded in moments, and already the total has climbed to a very respectable amount.
This time they have included one huge mini (a dragon) in the base pledge right from the start.  There is some very nice stuff in the core set, and the giants as add ons are definitely on my want list.

I suppose I should paint some more of Bones 1,2 and 3 before I get too excited about this though. Nah, reading the comments is far too much fun.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Bones III at Last

My Bones III order has finally arrived, nearly two years after the completion date and following some production issues in China.
I had forgotten the details of what I had ordered, but I thought the box would be bigger.  

Nevertheless, there is a lot of stuff carefully packed in here.

Here is everything set out while I check its all present.  Everything bar the expansions and Mal-Drakir that is

And a run through the core set, some very nice minis here.

This leads me to ponder what to paint next.  Actually I have some KoW  stuff on its way which should hit the painting table first, but I can see some of these getting paint on them soon.

I can't say which is my favourite mini yet, but the Froghemoth is certainly in the top five.  It might get a field promotion up the painting queue.

Bones IV starts next month, so now I have this lot (and once I have posted some off to others who joined in the fun) I'll start looking forward to that one.