Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Worst Job in the (Wargaming) World

OK, this could be many things, but my vote is rebasing. 

I've recently been looking at my old collection of 15mm figures as part of my Five Year rule.
A long time ago I played Warhammer Fantasy Battles in 15mm and built up quite a collection of several different armies.  I also collected some historical armies for Warhammer Ancient Battles.  Eventually I moved back to 28mm and gradually sold off the armies, keeping a few of the bits I was most pleased with (including my Empire army) and the usual gamer's box of lead.

When Mantic released their Uncharted Empires book I saw the opportunity to re use my Empire as League of Rhodia, if only I could work out what base size to use.

I wanted something that was easy to calculate, didn't need much in the way of new measuring, and gave bases large enough to fit the recommended number of minis on.  The small scale Kings of War Facebook group has recommended sizes (half the 28mm dimensions), but these seem to be mostly used for 10mm or 6mm (with lots of extra minis).  The few 15mm I have seen at their size look cramped, and/or short of minis.  So i would have to come up with my own.  As long as my friends had the same size, it should be fine.

Much experimentation later and a size of 3/5ths the 28mm dimensions seems to look good.  It's easy to calculate and looks good with full figure count units.  It does mean making measuring sticks, but you can't have everything.

So, here's a photo showing some of my rebased troops.  I've still to texture the bases, but it shows how they look.

Since these were already painted, I can't really put them in my monthly totals.  I hope I can get my Vanguard goblins ready soon though.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Vanguard Nears the End

Mantic Games' Kings of War:Vanguard kickstarter is in its last 24 hours now.  There was quite a bit of comment earlier about lack of value.  I think this has been well and truly addressed by now.
the 'sweet spot' pledge is the Giant level, which gets the rules, scenery and four warbands.  They have also funded a new harp plastic sprue of troops for the Nightstalkers army (sort of Mythos inspired creatures?) and a replacement for the oddly sized old Basilean men at arms.  The Northern Alliance has also seen it's debut, which is the part I am most interested in, as my tentatively started Elf project was themed around the Ice Kin (must get around to finishing that).
I'm currently painting up some sample warbands to give the game a try. The rules seem to play well, with ideas that won't seem too foreign to players of Deadzone, but it's not a slavish copy of that game with just the SF serial numbers filed off; much more a distinct game in its own right.
Give it a look.


Here's the Frostgrave warband I call the Sons of Empire (for fairly obvious reasons).
Spot the thief hiding in the shadows.

I haven't got names for them yet, but I am starting to think of some kind of background.
They are all GW plastic minis, mostly from the rather well designed old Empire Militia sprues.  There are far more that I need for one warband, but I wanted to provide some extra soldier types both for variety in warband make up, and for improvements when the gold allows.  That and its great fun coming up with ideas on how to use the sprues to make the different types.  I've already thought of a templar build and if I can source one of the old plastic chaos marauders I can have a barbarian too.
As they have relatively little in the way of cold weather gear they should work nicely as Ghost Archipelago crew as well.  

They are posing on some terrain I made for the current D&D adventure.  A set of ramps and platforms that make up various sized step pyramids, a feature of the current dungeon.  They will also make interesting blocking terrain for Frostgrave, and should be right at home in Ghost Archipelago.
They were all cut from pink XPS foam and scribed using first a knife then a pencil.  Texture added with a ball of scrunched up foil,  strengthened with Mod Podge then painted with tester pots of paint (much cheaper than model paints and fine for this sort of project). I may add a thin black wash to pick out the details and darken them a bit, but I rather like the stone colour.

Now how do I log the terrain in my challenge?  How about a separate category

Current totals for November
Bought 1 (the survivor)
Painted 11 (Frostgrave warbands)
Sold/traded 8 (5 dwarf berserkers and 3 lesser obsidian golems)
Terrain and modelling 1 ancient ziggurat set (11 pieces)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Ready for the Frozen City

Astute readers will have noticed two of my new Frostgrave minis demonstrating the use of clothes-pegs the other day.  Well that batch is finished now, so here are the rest of two Frostgrave warbands.
Firstly the Sons of Empire wizard and his apprentice.  Both GW plastic figures.  The chap with the rather fine dragon staff came free with an old White Dwarf and I believe was also used in a version of the Talisman board game.  His apprentice was, I think, from Advanced Heroquest.  If I can find one, I'd like to replace the apprentice with the wizard from the original Heroquest.

Three specialist troops for the Sons of Empire; thief, man-at-arms and crossbowman

The wizard and apprentice for the Men of the North.  These are actual Frostgrave minis from North Star.  I thought they fitted nicely the dark age/Viking look of the rest of the band.  I might even manage to use them in a game of Blood Eagle.

Men of the North thief and barbarian

Men of the North infantryman and man-at-arms
The Men of the North were a mix of Wargames Factory Vikings and bits box bits.  The rather sinister head on the thief is from the Frostgrave cultists box.  The Wargames Factory minis have less interesting poses than the Gripping Beast ones I used for the rest of the band, but they do have a useful leather armoured body.  The barbarian is an old GW metal Viking Berserker.  I used to have this mini years ago.  A good friend gave me a replacement, I altered it to have a double axe rather than a sword and shield.  These should all fit nicely into games of Blood Eagle as well as Frostgrave.

Although these took some time to finish, I really enjoyed painting and modelling them.  I didn't go for any form of uniform, but the Sons of Empire all have some yellow as a distinguishing mark.  I would think something like this is pretty important in the ruins of Felstadt.  
I'd like to call this project finished and move on to other things, but already I have had ideas for other soldier types for each warband.

Anyway;  current totals for November
Bought 1 (the survivor)
Painted 11 (Frostgrave warbands)
Sold/traded 8 (5 dwarf berserkers and 3 lesser obsidian golems)

Which puts me nicely ahead.  I've also got a simple modelling project that I'll get photoed and up here in the next few days.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Three Useful Things, and the Rule of Five

To start with, three useful everyday items (ish) that I find valuable in the hobby.

Clothes pegs; I tend to base my skirmish and role playing miniatures on clear bases now, and that usually means painting them unbased.  It is so much easier to remove the base before painting, especially if it is a non slota base, and less destructive to paintwork too.  I drill into the feet and glue in a couple of wire pins, which then come in useful for pinning to the new base, but of course make it hard to manage the miniature.  I tried bulldog clips, but they don't really stand up well. So, clothes pegs.  If the mini is top heavy, simply use two, one clipping the nose of the other.
Two of my Frostgrave minis waiting for the gloss varnish to dry.  The metal berserk needs two pegs to stop him toppling over.

Baking Parchment; This, or a similar product is great for protecting surfaces of course, but I find it most useful when I don't want something to stick.  I was recently gluing together some MDF ruins that came two sided.  Putting both pieces in a fold of baking parchment meant I could apply some weight to them while the glue dried without it sticking to anything with the inevitable leaking around the edges.

Hygroscopic granules;  What?  You will have seen these when you buy electronic equipment, or even new trainers.  They come in a little packet and are designed to absorb moisture.  Save them and put one in each figures box or other hobby container to absorb moisture, especially if, like me, you have to store some stuff in a cool environment.

Now, the Rule of Five.  I've come across this on several blogs,  most recently on  Too Much Lead.
Basically it states that if you have an army or similar and haven't used it in five years, you might as well sell it on.  I am in the process of thinning out my collection, and also looking through it for projects to finish, so I will start applying this rule (probably;).

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Challenge and Organisation

Like a lot of gamers I read many blogs.  I've linked a few at the bottom of the page, and I really should update that with some more.

One thing a lot of painter/bloggers do is keep a record of their painting compared to their purchases, often as part of some form of challenge.

I'm not quite organised enough to set myself a challenge, but I thought if I keep a record of my achievements it might motivate me to post more often and to get more stuff finished.  I'm much better at starting a project than finishing one.

I'll get onto this more seriously next year, but as a bit of practice, I'll begin with November.  See how I cunningly begin just after receiving a box of Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago stuff?

Only 'purchase' so far this month is a swap with someone on the Mantic Swaps and Sales Facebook group; I got a metal version of The Survivor mercenary for Deadzone.  He looks a fun and straight forward job, so I'll get him stripped (oo-er) and might even start painting him in between various warband stuff.

So here goes;  current totals
Bought 1
Painted 0
Sold/traded 0

One thing that does occur to me.  How shall I log the various modelling projects?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


It should be no secret to my reader(s) that I like skirmish games.  The small size of the forces is a definite plus; you can get playing that much sooner.  I also think it's easier to tell a story within the game, as the miniatures are more like personalities.
Frostgrave is one such, and a while ago I showed my warband made up of various prepainted minis, mostly from the old WotC D&D line.  This warband was only ever meant to be a 'get-me-by' until I got round to painting one from scratch.  Now I am well on the way to finishing two warbands, on the grounds that its easier to show the game to someone with a warband ready for them to play.
For 'reasons' I am theming each warband; this is what I have so far.
Warband 1 'Sons of Empire'.  These are made up of old GW figures, mostly the rather excellent Empire Militia (formerly the Mordheim humans).  These minis are ideal for Frostgrave, although perhaps they need a scarf or something.  They will also do for Ghost Archipelago, and D&D as well.  this picture shows four of the thugs, before I remembered that thugs are supposed to be unarmoured.  I'm sure if I make it clear what the are, no one will mind.

More of the 'Sons of Empire'.  (l to r) Another thug, a knight, borrowing a torso and shield from the Empire command options on the spearmen/handgunners sprue, and two archers.

Warband 2, 'The Men of the North'.  These are Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors and Archers.  (l to r) two thugs and two archers

More 'Men of the North (l to r) knight and three thugs.  More Gripping Beast.

The Men of the North will, of course, fit into my Blood Eagle games as well, so they are nicely versatile.  No wizards yet, they and their apprentices are still on the painting table, along with reinforcements for both bands.  That's the problem.  Once I start thinking of ways to show the different soldier types, I can't stop.  Already both bands have thieves, men-at-arms and infantrymen on their way to being finished.

These aren't for Frostgrave though.  That said, there's no reason why not.  This is the sample goblin warband for the alpha rules of Kings of War: Vanguard.  I rooted around among my KoW goblins and found what I needed, along with some reinforcements from Dungeon Saga.  Just about all these will find a place in my KoW collection as well as being good for Vanguard, so yet more versatility.

I like the look of the rules so far, and want to try them soon, though I have a DeadZone campaign to finish off first.  I suppose I should get an opposing force as well.  At around a dozen minis that shouldn't be too hard.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Vanguard Is Launched

Mantic Games' latest kickstarter, Vanguard, a skirmish game linked to their highly successful mass battle rules, Kings of War, has just been launched.

The starter pledges allow you to choose either Basileans or the new Nightstalkers.  Further warbands, including the intriguing Northern Alliance, have been teased.

The game also comes with terrain chosen from the Terrain Crate range.

Fun With Foam (part three)

The walls are finished enough to decide what worked best.  They are still to have textured bases, but the painting is all finished.
Cheap foam board, engraved side

Cheap foam board, embossed side

Thicker foam, engraved side

Thicker foam board, embossed side 

Pink foam, embossed side

Pink foam, engraved side

Whilst the pics don't show the colours to the best (rubbish lighting) the amount of detail is clear.
The pink foam holds the detail much better than either of the foam boards.  Even the embossed side, where I relied just on the texture created by the roller, holds reasonable detail.  An extra drybrush would bring this out further.

Both foam boards hold the detail reasonably well when I engraved the detail in further by going over the lines with a pencil.  There is little difference between the two, and if I had to make a choice it would be down to the thinner foam board as it was much easier to peel the paper off.

Neither held the detail particularly well when I relied just on the roller without any added depth.  In fact in both cases I found it difficult to see the detail once it had had a black undercoat, making picking a few individual stones out quite a chore.

In conclusion, I will stick to the pink foam as long as I have some.  An alternative would be the cheaper thinner foam board.  Where possible I will engrave the detail deeper into the foam (a good task for dull telly programmes), but in a hurry, or for very large pieces, I can make do with just the texture from the roller.

The eagle-eyed among you will not that I managed to mix up the pieces, so two wall each have a side of cheap foam board and a side of thicker foam board.  This doesn't alter the results.

Someone suggested on FaceBook that I could use heat to expand the detail.  I have seen this used on EVA foam to create excellent armour and props for LARP.  A cut is made in the foam surface then heat applied.  The foam shrinks back deepening the cut.  I might try this as an extra experiment, but the roller compresses teh foam rather than cutting it (unless I have added extra depth), so I am unsure if this will work

Monday, 30 October 2017

Fun With Foam part 2

Following on from part 1, the walls are now assembled with a coping added.  To speed things along I used hot glue rather than PVA. The coping was just a strip of pink foam, textured with a ball of foil, and some gaps cut in to show individual coping stones. 

They were then based on large 'craft sticks'.  These are essentially large lolly sticks 18mm wide and 149mm long. 

The walls  have been primed with a mix of Mod Podge and acrylic paint to both toughen the foam and provide a dark undercoat.

Pink foam, engraved side.

Pink foam embossed side.

Cheap foam board engraved side.

Cheap foam board embossed side

Thicker foam board engraved side.

Thicker foam board embossed side.  For some reason I couldn't get a good coat on this, maybe some of the adhesive from the card was still on the foam?

It's obvious that the engraved side (where I went over the embossed lines with a pencil) gives more depth to the detailing, but will the difference be enough to justify the extra stage?

Next time I'll get them painted up and we will see.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Kings of War: Vanguard

Mantic have just released the test rules for their new skirmish game set in the Kings of War world.  If you check the Mantic blog and sign up for the newsletter you should be able to get it (it might be on their blog by now)

A quick read through suggests that it plays like a combination of Kings of War and Deadzone, in a good way.  This could be great fun, and I'll get some of my Dungeon Saga minis out and put together a force to try the rules out.

The Kickstarter starts on Tuesday november 1st.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Fun With Foam (part 1)

The ruined watchtower textured with Greenstuff World rolling pins seems to have gone down well, on FaceBook at least.  Posting it sparked a lot of suggestions and questions, so I have decided to do a bit of experimental crafting to answer a couple of questions.

The Black Magic Craft video that inspired me suggested that foamboard might take the impressions at least as well as pink or blue foam.  Given that it's generally easier to find, I thought I'd try it out in a comparison test.

I am making three walls, each around 150 mm long, to fit on a wide crafting lolly stick.  Each wall is 20 mm high, though I will add some sort of coping on the top.  One wall is made of two sheets of pink foam, each 5 mm thick, one is made of two sheets of cheap foam board about 3 mm thick, and one is made of two sheets of better quality foam board around 5 mm thick.

Each wall is two sheets thick, partly to avoid the tendency to 'iron out' the pattern on one side when embossing the other, and partly to allow me to treat each side differently.  One side of each wall will simply be embossed with the greenstuff world rolling pin, the other will have the embossing emphasised with a knife and/or sharp pencil.  I am interested to see if merely using the roller gives enough definition when everything is painted up.

The first problem was the thicker foam board.  It was tricky to strip the outer layer off.  even soaking for a couple of hours didn't do the trick.  Perhaps hot water would work?  Or maybe a heat gun?  Eventually I peeled most of it off and had to slice the rest away, leaving a chavelled surface.

The six strips cut to size and embossed.  Cheap foam board at the top, then pink foam and thicker foam board at the bottom.

The six strips after pencil work on three of them.  Again cheap FB at the top.

The samples are currently drying after being glued together ready for the next stage.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


Yes, I know,  it's been a while. A combination of real life and starting (but failing to complete) many projects has kept me from posting.  But enough excuses.  This blog was supposed to encourage me to finish things, so here goes.

I hope to start a Frostgrave mini campaign soon.  My D&D group have expressed interest, so I've been getting stuff ready, whilst sorting through the myriad boxes of old figures.  This got me to look at older minis with a view to painting up some warbands.  Part of the idea is to have stuff that will do for more than one system, so a Norse themed band was a must to work for Blood Eagle as well.  More on these later, as I am short of a wizard or two.

Terrain is also a big part of both skirmish games and roleplaying.  I have made cardboard ruins (DM Scotty style) before, and even used pink foam with brick carved in.  Then I watched this video from Black Magic Craft.  Soon a couple of rolling pins were winging their way to me, and I am impressed with the results.

This ruined tower or watchpost will make great scenery for Frostgrave, and any other skirmish game I happen to try.  I am still not sure about adding loads of snow to truly 'Frost' it.  That restricts its usefulness.  I'll try to resist adding too much in the way of vegetation though, so it still hints at a cold climate.

In other news, I just got my copy of Ghost Archipelago.  This looks at first scan to be great fun, but I'll concentrate of FG for now.

Also Mantic Games have announced that their Kings of War skirmish game, called Vanguard, will be kickstarted beginning November 1st.  There is more information on their blog (see list below).  One very nice feature is that it is designed to tie in to larger Kings of War battles, so the results of a Vanguard game might affect the resources available for a KoW battle.

I'll get some pictures of the Frostgrave warbands up soon.

Oh, and a 'no-prize' if anyone recognises the inspiration for the watchtower (though I've changed a few details, such as window shape).

Monday, 25 September 2017

Ghost Archipelago

It's a while since I've done anything Frostgrave related, although I do have plans...

Anyway, there is another Nickstarter, this time for a new stand alone game using the same rules (with a few minor tweeks) and set in the same world.

The game focuses around 'Heritors'.  Beings with sort of inherited super powers.  They are exploring a mystical jungle land for the source of their powers, accompanied by Crew (because you cant have too many pirates).  The Crew are the plastic multi part kits for the game, with snake people and tribes folk to come in the future.

I should mention that the Nickstarter is also available through Bad Squiddo games, and there is a very active Facebook group to support the game.

Time to stock up on aquarium plants.

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.