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Dormant But Active

Given the ongoing Coronavirus situation, club meetings are obviously suspended for the time being. However, the membership are making the best use of their enforced leisure time with a variety of modelling and painting projects, so the blog is as active as it has ever been.

We look forward to the time when we can return to rolling some friendly dice across the table – in the meantime, why not enjoy some of the club’s prolific output.

The Battle of Northampton – 10th July 1460

Stephen continues his refight of the War of the Roses…

This one was never going to go well for the Lancastrians.

This is the third battle in my plan to re-fight all major encounters of the War of the Roses. Like previous games I am using the Basic Impetus rules. There were a couple of important aspects to this battle that had to be reflected if it were to be a faithful re-fight.

Firstly, due to the rain (typical British summer) the Lancastrian artillery could not fire due to wet powder. They were in the line but totally ineffective. That was easily dealt with.

The Lancastrian Battle Line

The second, and most important thing, was Lord Grey’s betrayal of King Henry. As Warwick and the Yorkist army marched north they entered into secret talks with Grey and promised they would not harm him in return for his help. What happened in the actual battle was that the Earl of March (on the Yorkist left flank) advanced against Grey (on the Lancastrian right). As March’s retinue crossed the ditch and bank Grey’s men gave way and allowed them to roll up the Lancastrian line and capture King Henry.

This would have to be reflected. I was in two minds about how to deal with this. It didn’t help that this would be a solo game so I could hardly spring a surprise on myself. In the end, I decided that if March’s troops neither fired nor attacked Grey’s troops then Grey would give way when contacted (effectively counting as loses against the Lancastrian army). This, of course, would have a major impact on the Lancastrian army, but then that’s exactly what it had in reality!

Order of Battle

OK, so let’s get on with the battle.

The Lancastrian army had ensconced themselves in a bend in the river Nene on the opposite bank from Northampton. They had put a ditch and defences in front of their position. King Henry VI was with them but the army was led by the Duke of Buckingham.

The Yorkist forces were led by the Earl of Warwick with Lord Fauconberg on the right and the Earl of March on the left. With Warwick’s skullduggery and plotting with Grey, the advance of the Yorkist forces was led by March.

Armies Deployed

Like the previous two battles, this was little more than an attack on a prepared position. Therefore, I gave the Yorkists the initiative until things got within bow range.

The last thing the Lancastrians wanted was poor dice rolling. Being in a stationary position meant their fire should be more effective. But no. The God of Battles (the dice) were against them. Warwick’s troops in the centre got within bow range of the artillery and they soon sent the gunners packing.

Warwick Urges His Men Forward

March’s men started moving up. Now, it may seem like it would be a done deal – why would I engage the Lancastrian line with March’s men? However, I did decide that if the Lancastrians gave a good account and their bowfire proved effective, and the Yorkist looked like they would take a beating, that this would prove enough motivation for Grey to reconsider and then engage March’s troops. However, the poor rolls by the Lancastrians made that look unlikely.

Fauconberg also started exchanging bowfire with the Earl of Shrewsbury.

A couple more turns, and it still wasn’t looking good for Buckingham and his men. In truth, neither side was rolling that well for their archers, but the Yorkists had the edge. March’s men carried on with their advance, still holding back from loosing their arrows.

The First Casualties

Buckingham moved up his plate armoured men at arms and his billmen, hoping the Yorkists would have the decency to engage in melee rather then sit back and keep shooting.

March’s Troops Contact Grey’s

Finally, March’s men started clambering over the Lancastrian defences. No casualties had been caused to Grey’s men and so Grey dutifully pulled back and allowed March into the Lancastrian defences!

Across The Line They Go

It was now only a matter of time. It wasn’t a case of if the Lancastrians would lose but how much damage they could cause the Yorkists before they did.

March Engages Buckingham

Buckingham swung his billmen around to try and put something in the way of March’s assault. However, the levy spearmen in March’s retinue got stuck in and charged the Lancastrian archers. After a brief melee the archers fell to the spearmen.

And that was that!

The Battle Is Over

A Yorkist win. It had been a convincing win at that – Warwick’s troops hadn’t taken a single casualty. Exactly how it happened historically. The real battle lasted less than an hour and my re-fight took only a bit longer.

Next up then, is the battle of Wakefield. Unfortunately I will have to bypass that one – Wakefield was a large cavalry engagement and I don’t have anywhere near enough cavalry bases. Shame, because the castle would make a great backdrop to the battle. This one would make a good club game when we can get back together.

Therefore, I’ll move on to Mortimer’s Cross…

Work in Progress Wednesday

First up this Wednesday we have some more 6mm Hammers Slammers from Mark.

The first detachment for Hammers Slammers

I’ll let mark explain a bit more about the paint scheme “My first Slammers section almost completed minus the infantry, this is a Zaporoskiye strike detachment painted in a Berlin Brigade inspired urban cameo scheme; given that I’ve used green in place of grey I guess you could say it’s semi urban.  This section includes my second prototype which has a lighter brown, feel the darker works better at this scale. 5 more sections to do then I’m ready for battle.”

Next up Paul has well … Paul can explain the madness. “I have had a rush of blood to the head and replaced my 1/200th WW2 and Post War Armour Infantry, with 1/300th. Currently finishing off 8th Army and US in Tunisia, good start on the 16th Parachute/Air Landing Brigade (for post war interventions) and a Japanese WW2 Independent Brigade.

We’ve all suddenly decided to switch scales, haven’t we?

Andy has got close to finishing his Dark Ages figures, with just some shield transfers and bases to do.

The Dark Age mob is almost finished

And lastly for this week I’ve decided to paint yet more 15mm Wars of the Roses Men at Arms.

Two more units of Men at Arms and a couple of commanders

I didn’t paint these originally because I’d already done two units and the Sword and Spear army list said that was the maximum. But I’m hoping to have enough units to field both sides in a battle, and so added these to the painting table.

See you next week.

You can never have too much terrain to hide behind!

Andy’s latest set of scatter terrain.

Around five years ago I bought a selection of Ainsty Castings trade goods, so it’s about time I painted them, after all you can never have too much terrain to hide behind! There’s one each of packs E (Timber stacks), F (Ivory, Skins, Furs), H (Supported bales), I (Stacked Sacks) and L (Mixed piles).

They were given a quick wash in soapy water, rinsed and dried. I then removed what little flash there was and undercoated them with Halfords grey primer.

What I should have done next was to paint the recesses between some of the components of the mixed piles matt black, but no, I forgot to do that didn’t I!

To give an idea of the size of the pieces, the grid in the pictures is 20mm square.

Trade Goods E, Timber Stacks

The timber stacks, crates and barrels were painted in various shades of brown. One of the timber stacks has what looks like sawdust, so these were dry-brushed with Dark Sand. They were then washed with Army Painter Soft or Dark Tone depending on the shade of brown used.

Trade Goods F, Picture, furs and ivory

The Ivory was painted Deck Tan or Beige and washed with Army Painter Soft Tone. The Lion skins were Brown Sand washed with Army Painter Dark Tone and German Camouflage Black Brown manes and tail tips. The smaller animal skins were panted a mixture of greys and browns. The wooden bases are German Camouflage Medium Brown or Beige Brown, liberally washed with Army Painter Dark Tone.

Trade Goods H, Supported bales

The supported bales were painted London Grey with Beige Brown poles and German Camouflage Beige rope.

Trade Goods I, Stacked sacks

The sacks were painted in various shades of grey, beige and brown, with suitable AP washes. The bases were painted grass green.

Trade Goods l, Mixed piles

The crates and barrels were painted in various shades of brown, and the sacks and wicker baskets in various shades of grey, beige and brown. The glass containers in the wicker baskets were Deep Green. The wrapped bale contents were Japanese Uniform and the wrappings Light Grey.

Once painted (and the weather outside suitable) they were all varnished with spray matt varnish. The Glass bottles were then given a coat of gloss varnish.

The Falling Tower

Stephen describes his latest building project…

I just fancied making a ruined tower.

And what gamer doesn’t love a ruined tower, eh?

The basis for this were some Wills Scenics embossed styrene sheets stuck to two layers of 5mm foam board to give the walls thickness. I cut the styrene and windows before sticking to the foam board because it would make it easier to both cut the styrene and so the styrene would act as a template when cutting the foamboard

The four wall sections

The next step was the render the inner walls. The inner walls of medieval stone buildings often had some kind of plaster on the wall and were then painted. So roughly applied Milliput on the inside would look like plaster rendered over rough stone. The broken edges of the walls were covered in Milliput as well and then jabbed with a bit of balsa to create a rough finish.

Once done, the walls were glued together and stuck on to the base. I also put a broken arch into the ground floor. When the glue was dry I finished off the Milliputting.

The assembled tower

As it was going to be a gaming piece I wanted some floors on it (let’s not worry about how the floors would have stayed up) and some detritus on the ground floor, but not so much that it prevented moving models around.

The floors

The wooden floors were made from balsa sticks.

The ground was given a sprinkle with some coarse sand with broken bits of plaster and cork in it. I then stuck on some Milliput bricks I’d made, and some broken balsa sticks to look like wooden rafters.

That was essentially it for the build.

With rubble and fallen floorboards added

So on to painting.

I use Humbrol model spray no.29 ‘Dark Brown’ for most of my undercoating, be it miniatures or models. This was no different.

This was then given an all-over wash with dark brown (GW’s Agrax Earthshade). I decided to paint the model to look all fresh, and then go in and weather and distress it afterwards.

My usual stone colour is a mix of brown and grey. I tend to make the first dry-brushing in a khaki colour. I then add a drop of grey to take off the brownness, but careful not to make it grey either – a sort of ‘is it/isn’t it’ colour. Successive blobs of white are then added in subsequent dry-brushes.

Castle interiors in medieval times were quite gaudy affairs. Although this is a ruined tower, I envisioned it being used in medieval/fantasy games, so probably a period not long after it had fallen to ruin. So some of that interior decoration would still be intact. The interior walls were all given a heavy dry brushing with a beige colour. This was then lightly dry brushed with white – not too heavy – I want to leave the beige showing beneath to make it look dirty. I then made a compromise. Medieval interior walls really were VERY gaudy affairs full of colour. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I kept it simple and just some red dado railing.

I had to be careful with the wooden floors. As wood ages in the weather it tends to go a grey colour. But I’d used a mix of grey and brown on the walls so didn’t want to repeat that. So I just kept it with brown and white. Once the paint was dry I superglued the floors in place.

Painting completed and floors added

Now to make it all grubby. Dark brown washes in the corners to re-establish them were done, as well as on the outside. Then a dark green added to look like moss and damp. I thought that it would be likely that some of the interior plaster would have come away, so in some places I repeated the exterior stone colours – a dark brown base colour and then follow the same steps of brown/grey to match the tone of the exterior wall. I did this by stippling the brush to try and create some kind of texture.

And then the final phase: flocking.

Nothing special here, a coarse mix of railway ballasts first and then some static grass on top. I also added some bits of clump foliage to look like thistle and plant growth.

And there it is – a ruin worth exploring.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It’s another Wednesday and here’s what the club members have been up to.

First up Marcus has completed the spaceships he’s been working on with some lovely paint schemes. These I believe are from Ground Zero Games with the one in the main picture being from Zandris IV.

The Fleet Gathers

Next up John has painted some 3D printed ships.

3D Printed Venetian Galleys

You will rcognise these from the blog post on Monday about first experiences of 3D printing.

Tiny but well details ships from a freely available 3D print model

And lastly to go with my city ruins I’ve had a go at general rubble piles. These were made by crushing up the remaining plasterboard pieces and dropping them into a watered down PVA solution.

Rubble to go with the ruins

I then simply poured the solution out and left it to dry. Nice rubble if you can get it.

See you next week …

Experiences with a 3D printer

Club member Colin takes us through his first attempts at 3D printing.

The idea of 3D printing has always interested me. Being able to design and make your own models easily and quickly appeals from the point of view of having total control over the modelling and wargaming experience. Its therefore been interesting to watch the 3D printing technology evolve and see how early adopters have used the technology in the wargaming space.

1/200 scale tanks – free download from thingiverse.

As a casual observer and follower of the 3D printing scene it can seem a bit of a daunting area. There are lots of helpful youtube videos and other content on the internet to inform. But you do come away with the impression that it is still a complicated area to get into with choice of printer, associated software to drive the printer, and then setting everything up so that it just works seems non-trivial.

However this Christmas I thought lets give it a go and get hands on to see what its about. The first decision point is the type of printing technology you want to work with and there are two methods to consider here – Firstly there is filament printing which involves a roll of plastic which is then fed into a print head where it melts and is deposited in layers to build the model.
The other option is resin printing where liquid resin is deposited in layers and cured into a solid layer by UV light.

Filament printing is not as precise as resin printing, but tends to offer scope for bigger models, is faster and generally a more simpler experience. Resin printing is more suited for detailed models such as miniature figures but requires dealing with liquid resin which produces odours, has to be stored correctly to avoid exposure to UV light and then when the model is completed, it has to be cured and washed – a more messy experience

Initially I was thinking resin printing was the way to go but then decided filament seemed a lot more straight forward as I dont have access to a dedicated workshop area and just wanted to get up and running with as simple a process possible.

Renaissance galleys – free download from Wargames Vault. Wargame Lepanto with 400 ships for a couple of pounds.

The printer costs between the two technologies don’t seem to differ much and this then drives the next decisions – how much to spend and which printer to buy.

There seems to be three cost categories of printers – Professional £1,000+ , top end hobby £600+, and entry level hobby between £150 and £350 with many supplied as self assembly in this category.

One of the best known brands in the entry level category is Creality with their Ender product range. The Ender 3 is promoted as that offering the best and biggest community support. I’d come across it before and seen some of the youtube content explaining how it works and comparing the various revisions. It so happened when I was looking to buy that Creality had just announced the Ender 3 V2 which came with some significant enhancements to the previous version such as a heated print bed and so I decided to go with this. The printer is made in China and stocked by Amazon for about £250.

6mm block ancients for big battles – free download from thingiverse.

So come Christmas day the printer was revealed from Santa’s sack and the challenge with constructing it began. Its a kit model and suggests a couple of hours are required for assembly. As i say above there are lots of supporting community videos with guidance here. My advice in retrospect to anyone attempting the construction would be to spend some time in advance and watch some of these videos. I just ploughed on, with the instruction manual which can be a challenge and really needs a decent translation into English but on the whole it is fairly navigable as far as the actual construction is concerned. Every now and then I got stuck and had to quickly google for a helpful video just to make sure I was on the right lines.

Eventually I had the machine constructed and powered up and I now attempted to do an initial test print. Thats where the fun started. Before printing the machine must be calibrated in terms of the print bed position and the dispensing end of the filament. The manual explains how to do this using a piece of paper as a feeler gauge to setup ready for printing. However there seems to be a fundamental instruction missing from the manual regarding calibrating what is termed the z-stop. This is a switch which tells the printer where the bottom of the z vertical access is in relation to the print bed. If this is incorrectly set its impossible to go through the software driven instructions from the LCD panel on the printer. This was probably the biggest obstacle to overcome and eventually the right youtube video was found which clarified how to manually adjust this ready for calibrating the print bed.

Jutland at 1/5000 scale – free download from thingiverse.

So now with it ready to print you need something to print. This opens up the other side to the activity which is using software to design and build the 3D models for printing. A micro SD card is the storage mechanism used by the printer to access the models, and an LCD panel with a navigation button is used to initialise the printer and select from the SD card the model you want to print.

A 2mm village designed on tinkercad in half an hour with half an hour to print

The printer comes with an SD card loaded with some sample models and a USB adapter for plugging the SD card into a computer and downloading models created there. And its here that the whole area comes alive. There are thousands of freely available models to download for free and print with many wargaming examples. www.thingiverse.com is the leading site here and is a great starting point for finding ready to go models.

Taking a step back if you want to design your own models the process starts with 3D computer aided design software. There are free applications here which are very professional and full function such as Blender. And there are easy to start with services such as tinkercad.com which runs in the browser and allows you to design using very simple building blocks with next to no learning curve required. The output from the 3D CAD application is an STL file.

Costing just pennies

In order to send this to the printer it has to be sliced, and for this another computer application is required. The Ender printer supplies an application called Cura, but there are others available for free. The slicing application asks what printer you are using and adjusts settings accordingly, you import the STL file which has been created by the design software (or downloaded from thingiverse for example), and then the slicer splits the model into slices on the x-y plane which the printer can understand and print. The output from the slicer is a GCODE file which you then transfer to the printer via the SD card.
Within the slicer app you can adjust the model in terms of scaling it up or down or cut and paste to create multiple models.

The first models I attempted to print were some wargaming items from thingiverse and this brought me back again to some of the issue with the printer setup. Bed adhesion seems to be the main topic of conversation on the community sites. If the print bed is not precisely level then the model will not adhere to the print bed and will slip at some point in the build process and ruin the print. With the early printers a common solution is to put down a layer of masking tap on the bed and start the print on that. Or use glue on the print bed or even hairspray. The heated bed on my model of printer aimed to solve this problem but because the bed levelling is a manual process there is scope for not getting this quite right. I struggled with a couple of initial prints here, and then after the usual search for an explanation on the internet just resorted to putting down a layer of spray glue which solved the problem and successfully produced my first prints. I subsequently resorted to a Pritt stick which works well and eventually graduated to no glue prints.

The other thing to mention with the output from the slicer app is supports. Because the printer works with layers from the bed upwards it needs a degree of continuity from one layer to the next and can only cope with overhangs of around 45% to the vertical. For models which fall outside this constraint the slicer app introduces supports as part of the build which can be removed after printing. The type of support, density etc is a complicated subject in its own right but for those aiming to build complex models is a key necessary understanding and often comes down to trial and error. With block type structures such as tanks you can get away with simple supports and/or re-orientating the way the model prints – so gun barrels are best printed vertically for instance.

Its worth mentioning at this point the economics of the subject. Along with the printer I got a 1kg reel of PLA plastic. This cost around £20. So 2p per gram of print material. A lot of the models I mention below are produced with 1 or 2 grams of material. So the potential for building models at a few pennies each is clear.

Conqueror Model Dwarves

Stephen gives us the lowdown on his latest painting project…

When Lockdown Part 1 kicked off I decided that I would not be buying loads of new miniatures since there was no knowing when we would be meeting again.

I bought some odds and sods to fill gaps in collections but wouldn’t be starting any new projects. And I’ve kept to that.

However.

Just before Christmas I saw Conqueror Models’ range of 28mm dwarves. These were of the same style as the original Vendel Miniatures dwarves. There’s a good reason for that – same sculptor (Colin Patten). Years ago I bought a few of the Vendel dwarves and always intended on buying some more. Before I could do that Vendel stopped selling them and they just disappeared.

I was absolutely gutted.

I’ve always liked the idea of a dwarven army but hadn’t really liked the style of dwarves that have been available up until now – I’m really not a fan of that GW cartoon style where it’s all belly and no legs.

So seeing the Conqueror Models range I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s what I want!’

Having been stung by the Vendel range disappearing I decided that I wasn’t going to let this lot pass me by. And so, since Christmas was on the horizon and because I realised that, on balance, this year I had been a good boy, I decided that I would treat myself and buy myself lots of dwarves – enough for a whole army, just in case the same happened to these.

Since they were of the same style as the Vendel ones, and since I had some Vendel dwarves, I mixed them in with the units I bought.

I decided to build these in Dragon Rampant sized units. Although, given their ‘historical’ style in arms and armour, I think I will be tempted to use them with the Anglo Dane battleboard in Saga as well (yeah, I know there’s Saga Myth & Magic, but from what I’ve heard that falls in to the same trap as nearly all fantasy rules – lots of ‘special’ rules that are exceptions to the main rules and just tie it in knots).

Anyway.

Conqueror actually do unarmoured dwarven fyrd as well, but I didn’t get any of them. To my mind I wanted my dwarves to comprise predominantly heavy infantry in mail. I bought a few packs of the spearmen which, when mixed in with the Vendel models with hand weapons,, would give a good mix to the unit. I also chose to buy the thrusting spear poses (you can get them upright) because they make the unit look more dynamic. I did two units of 12 each having the same shield design and a war-banner.

Warriors 1
Warriors 2

Conqueror do armoured and unarmoured archers (we’ll come to them in a minute), but I went with crossbows to make two units of heavy missiles.

Crossbows 1
Crossbows 2

Then came the axemen. I swapped the axes that came with the models (because the axe head looked a little large) and used some spare Gripping Beast dane-axes I had. These axemen can be used in one of two ways – either two units of elite infantry or as a single unit of heavy infantry (with the Offensive Weapons upgrade).

Daneaxes

And so on to the archers. I bought a pack of the unarmoured archers to use as dwarven scouts/rangers. And because of that I painted them in suitably earthy/green tones.

Scouts

Leading this bunch are the heroes and commander. I did a couple of weapon swaps here. One of them came with a daneaxe but I decided that I would put in a spare two-handed sword for variety. Other spare Gripping Beast hand weapons were used on some of the others.

Commander and Heroes

To round things out are a couple of beast units. First up is a pack of wolves (lesser warbeasts) and to scare the enemy is a Reaper Bones warbear (greater warbeasts).

Wolves and Warbear

That’s my dwarven army done. I can muster about 50 odd points (in Dragon Rampant terms) which means I can have a dwarven civil war or put together a single large dwarven host for a big smack up.

I love these Conqueror dwarves. Stylistically it’s just what I was looking for. They’ve been a real pleasure to paint as well – not too many fussy extra bits, nice areas to add a few designs to, and good poses. Definitely painter’s models. I’ve finally got the dwarf collection I’ve always wanted. It’s my army d’jour.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Well it’s snowing outside, so what better way of keeping warm than making progress on those hobby projects.

Tony is up first having managed to finally get some paint on some roads and tracks. Much discussion was had regarding how a horse and cart should actually leave three tracks (we have such fun at this club!).

Nice set of roads to advance your tanks down

Next up Stephen has managed to turn a toy into a great looking space ship.

Nice conversion of a toy to spaceship

After a bit of a pause Andy has continued to slap some more paint on his assorted dark ages miniatures.

Almost there for the dark ages

And finally for this week John has out the finishing touches to his warehouse that took a back seat while he finished off the Flour Mill.

The classic warehouse found in all apocalyptic settings

Next week I should have my Wars of the Roses units and more rubble that I didn’t quite get done for this week.

Nature vs the Resurrected

Andy reports on a game of Dragon Rampant organised by Jeremey to follow our AGM, played in an MS Teams meeting. With observations and comments from Stephen and Jeremey.

Jeremey organised the forces and set the terrain, and arranged 3 different cameras to show the battlefield. Having to provide both armies allowed him to use his Celtos undead army and his completely scratch built Rock and Wood army.

One of the camera views captured by Andy

The combatants were Stephen, with Mother Nature’s Finest lead by a Rock Lord; and Andy, with the Army of Darkness commanded by a Necromancer. Both sides totalled 35 points.

Mother Nature’s Finest

      • The Rock Lord: Greater Warbeasts, Cunning, Mystical Armour. (10 pts)
      • Rock Trolls: Lesser Warbeasts.(4 Pts)
      • Mini Ents: Lesser Warbeasts, Cunning. (6 pts)
      • Light Rockmen: Light Foot (3pts)
      • 2 x Heavy Rockmen: Heavy Foot, Offensive. (6 points each)

Army of Darkness

      • The Necromancer: Elite Foot, Spellcaster (10 pts)
      • Skeleton Scythes: Elite Foot, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Zombies: Ravenous Horde, Undead/No Feelings (1 pt)
      • Skeleton Sickles: Light Foot, Offensive, Undead/No Feelings (5 pts)
      • Skeleton Spearmen: Light Foot, Undead/No Feelings (3 pts)
      • Wraiths: Bellicose Foot, Fear, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Flesh Eaters: Bellicose Foot. (4 pts)

We decided that Jeremey would roll unit activation and courage tests, but that the generals would roll their attack and defence dice (Jeremey – we also decided that Andy and Steven were not allowed to moan about my dice rolling!). (Andy – Oh no we didn’t!)

Once the Armies were deployed the two Generals rolled for their Traits. Stephen’s 3D6 scored 13, lucky for him, this gave a result of Boneshaker, allowing him to automatically pass one Attack order per turn. Andy (or should I say Jeremey rolling on Andy’s behalf!) only scored 5, making his Necromancer Cowardly, no Attack orders for him. Well, there’s a certain narrative logic there.

After rolling for first turn Andy ordered his unit of Flesh Eaters (on the left flank) to advance to outflank Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen, needing a 5 or more on 2D6. It was not to be, sadly Jeremey rolled low and the Flesh Eater went nowhere. End of Andy’s first turn.

On Stephen’s turn all his movement activation rolls were successful (thanks Jeremey) and he advanced on a broad front.

The Skeleton Sicklemen occupy the hill

On Andy’s next turn he managed to advance a unit of Skeleton Sicklemen on the right flank to occupy a hill in front of Stephen’s Rock Trolls, but then failed the next activation. Back to Stephen.

Bonsai charge into the Zombies

Stephen’s Mini Ents (otherwise known as ‘Bonsais’) were now within movement range of Andy’s Zombies and were required to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed, so steamed in to the Zombies killing (?) 8 of the 12. The Zombies promptly failed their Courage test despite the proximity of the Necromancer, scoring less than 1, so they promptly routed of the board. Ta Jeremey.

The Wraiths counter attack and devestate the Bonsai

On Andy’s next turn the Mini Ents were now within Andy’s Wraiths move distance and following a Wild Charge Test the Wraiths went in, turning two Ents into kindling and causing the Ents to also catastrophically fail their courage test. One unit down on each side.

A wild charge sees the Rock Trolls hoping to take the top of the hill

On Stephen’s next turn his Rock Trolls were now within move distance of Andy’s Skeleton Sicklemen occupying the hill, they were obliged to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed and went in. One casualty on each side, both passed their courage tests and had taken equal losses, so the Rock Trolls bounced back leaving the Sicklemen controlling the hill. This would be replayed a couple of times, with the Rock Trolls throwing themselves at the Sicklemen and bouncing back until eventually they forced the Sicklemen back off the hill. The Rock Trolls followed up and eventually both sides had taken enough casualties for both to fail their courage tests and rout.

Heavy Rockmen infantry charge the Skeleton Spears

On the opposite flank, Stephen had advanced his Rock Lord to within Andy’s Flesh Eater’s move distance so they also had to take a Wild Charge test, which they failed and stayed rooted to the spot. Andy did manage to get his Skeleton Spearmen to form up in Shieldwall, expecting to be charged by the Rock Lord.

One of Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen (AC/DC or Van Halen?) units then charged Andy’s Skeleton Spearmen, who managed to beat them back. Andy then charged his Wraiths into the Heavy Rockmen causing a few casualties on each side, but both passed their courage tests.

The Wraiths and Rockmen exchange blows

Stephen then sent the Heavy Rockmen back into the Wraiths, this time both units failed their courage tests and routed from the table.

The Rock Lord charges the Flesh Eaters

The Rock Lord finally charged into the Flesh Eaters, causing enough casualties for them to fail their Courage test and flee the field.

As the battle drew to a conclusion Andy only had his Necromancer on the table, whereas Stephen has both his Rock Lord and Light Rockmen (Heart and Bon Jovi fans).

The Necromancers fate is sealed

Totalling up the losses, and comparing successful Quests, gave a Stephen a total of 10 Glory, and Andy -2 Glory as none of his Quests were achieved. A decisive victory to the forces of Nature.

The Necromancer will skulk back to his lair and set about reanimating another army.

The view from the other side of the hill (or Stephen’s viewpoint):

The final Glory totals don’t reflect how close the game was – for most of the game it looked like Andy the Necromancer would win. I often had to use my units in pairs, sending in one unit to soften the enemy up and then sending in another to finish things off. Both Andy and myself were cursed with Jeremey’s bloody woeful dice rolling for Courage tests (Jeremey – we agreed not to moan about my dice rolling) (Andy – No we didn’t). Andy was also beleaguered with poor Activation rolls at the start, which allowed me to advance on him and put him on the defensive (he seemed to spend most of his time forming Wall of Spears – probably needed to increase the armour of his skeletons).

Playing via Teams worked OK. There’s always going to be compromises – some of them could be seen as fog of war. The fact that Dragon Rampant is a simple game and we all knew the rules helped. Ultimately, it was a good opportunity to play soldiers with friends, no matter what the results were.

Jeremey – for this game I deliberately picked a ruleset we knew, went for a small battlefield and only one unit had any ranged attacks. This was all to allow the game to flow with the players only able to see the battlefield from the camera views.

Sticking the Sticks

Jeremey discovers one of his previous projects that he never told anyone about.

After playing a number of Lord of the Rings games down the club, I kept seeing pictures of the official Ent miniature in the rules and thought it looked far to cartoonish compared to the rest of the miniatures. I also saw the price of it and that got me thinking.

So on my travels I started collecting sticks that had fallen from the local trees. I only wanted the sticks that had already come off the tree as these were dry and unlikely to change over time.

I probably collected more than necessary for this project

When collecting the sticks I tried to find ones that had natural bends in them to represent joints and movement in the figure. First task though was to wash the collected sticks, this was important because I’d picked them up from the ground. A good scrub with soapy water and an old toothbrush did the trick and didn’t rehydrate the wood.

Nice walking pose with some suitable sticks

To stick things together I used the trusty hot glue gun. If I did this project over I would drill holes and pin the sticks together for extra strength. But the glue gun worked well enough.

Arms and Legs done now to get creative on the head

The arms came next but I had to work out how to create a head for the Ent. I decided early on not to go for something like a carved face or small pieces of wood to act as eyes, nose etc. I thought that would end up looking like Mr Potato Head.

Head completed and additional branches being added

In the end I made a medieval style helmet from pices of bark I had also collected. The bark also worked for armour plates on some of the joints and as fingers  on the hands. That was the basic figure done but it didn’t look enough like a tree and so I started stcking smaller branches to the back of the figure. I arranged these like a normal tree looks and made sure they extended above the head of the Ent. This also helped to strengthen the joints of the figure by having these additional branches stuck to the joints.

Finally I added some of that scenic lichen railway modellers use to make trees. The final model stands about a foot tall which isn’t bad considering it cost next to nothing to produce, and even if I do say so myself it looks better than the official one.

The finished Ent with two 28mm vikings for scale