Allies of Gondor

Tony F paints some alternative Lord of the Rings figures.

When I first read The Lord of the Rings, many, many years ago, one of my favourite parts was the defence of Minas Tirith and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The cavalry actions particularly grabbed my attention, including the charge of the Rohirrim, and the sortie led by Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth (who sadly didn’t make it past Peter Jackson’s editing pencil in the films) to rescue Faramir and the defenders of Osgiliath. I painted up a box of Swan Knights of Dol Amroth for an Open Day game a couple of years ago, and I’ve always wanted to expand them into a full army.

Apart from Prince Imrahil and the Swan Knights, there are few other official figures available from Games Workshop for the fiefdom of Dol Amroth. There is a set of four Men at Arms with pikes, and some older metal foot knights, which don’t really match the new plastic mounted cavalry (which are much better than the old metal ones). Forgeworld also has a new set of very nice resin foot knights which are moderately pricey but are a better match for the new plastic knights.

A while back I came across pictures of another Dol Amroth army with lots of conventional looking warriors on foot. These turned out to be conversions from Gondor figures with new heads – after a brief bit of digging I found that the heads came from eBob Miniatures. So I bought 20 heads (at a very reasonable £1 for 4) and then set about getting some plastic men of Gondor from eBay. I won an auction for 17 already assembled figures – which then of course languished in a box in the hobby shed for over a year (I believe wargamers are like wine collectors – our purchases need to be laid down in a cool, dark place before they can be fully enjoyed).

Then lockdown happened. Unlike some people I was neither laid off nor furloughed (in fact I was one of those for whom lockdown was a very busy period), but there are still weekends, and since we couldn’t go out, the Dol Amroth idea was dusted off again. I started with the head swaps on the plastic figures. The existing heads were removed with a pair of side cutters and cleaned up with scalpel and files, before drilling a small hole with a pin vice for the peg at the bottom of each replacement head. The heads were superglued on, and then came some tedious filling with green stuff. I also had to resculpt hair on the back of some of the figures which had been damaged by the removal of the original heads. I also cut, scraped, filed and sanded off the sculpted-on White Tree motif on all of the shields, as I wanted to replace that with Dol Amroth symbols. I also created a standard bearer using a spare lance from the Knights box – I swapped the hand with a swordsman.

With the conversion work done, painting could begin. I mostly use Citadel paints of all types including shades, dry and the new contrast paints. I started with an undercoat of Halfords grey car primer, followed by spraying them with silver paint bought from the poundshop. I then gave them a black Nuln Oil wash followed by a drybrush of Necron Compound. This is a really quick and easy way to paint silver armoured figures en masse. I painted their tunics blue using a contrast paint (not sure which one, sorry) with a single highlight layer and their trousers with Black Templar (also a contrast colour). After this it was just details – faces, armour straps and belts, and some gold detailing on the helmets.

The shields were painted blue and them I applied some home-made decals; I’d found some suitable designs online which I resized and recoloured in Photoshop, and printed on white decal paper on a laser printer. I touched up the edges of the decals with paint to blend them in as much as possible.

Everything was then given a coat of Army Painter spray varnish, and the bases were finished off with a combination of flock and grass Tufts.

So my Dol Amroth force now had six mounted Knights and 17 warriors on foot. To this I added three Knights on foot and four pike-armed men at arms, all led by Prince Imrahil himself. the other figures were all painted in the same way as the other warriors, starting with their sprayed silver armour. As befits his status, I did spend a bit more time on their leader.

Overall it makes a solid 600-point force, and all from figures that had been in the unpainted pile for a while.

Delving Deep

Andy ploughs on with his Moria Dwarf army.

The second batch of Dwarves are now done. As mentioned in the last post I’m painting these up primarily for use with Dragon Rampant. Most foot units in Dragon Rampant have 12 figures per unit, so taking into account the odds and ends I’ve already painted I’m mainly painting up figures to fill out units to fit these rules.

This batch comprises the following (photos are work in progress):

Five warriors with two handed axes and three with axes and shields with green tunics; to make up two units of Heavy Foot, one of which will be upgraded to Offensive (those with the two handed axes).
• 8 archers in various shades of blue tunics; to make up a unit of Light Archers.
• 8 warriors with axes and shields also in blue; to make up a unit of Heavy Foot.
Two standard bearers, one in blue and one in green. These will replace a figure in a unit if I want to give them the banner upgrade.

After gluing the figures to their slottabases I filled in any gaps in the base with, well, filler; and then glued a layer of sand & grit to the bases with PVA glue. Once dry they were undercoated with matt black spray. The bases were painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and drybrushed London Grey.

The figures were painted in my usual style, block painting followed by colour appropriate washes. Mail and plate armour were washed with AP Dark Tone, skin with Flesh Wash and hair with Soft or Dark tone washes. Bases were then flocked, and the figures varnished with a matt spray varnish.

The two standard bearers were simple conversions of a couple of warriors in fairly static poses with axe and shield. For one of them I cut the axe from his right hand, drilled the hand to take a wire pole, and glued the axe blade and shaft to his belt. For the other figure I cut back the shield boss on his left hand and filed this down to an empty hand and also drilled it to take a wire pole. After they were painted, I added paper banners.

Only 50 more figures to go!

Virtual Pulp Alley

Marcus reports (virtually) over a recent (virtual) game.

I have probably played Pulp Alley more than any other game in the last couple of years. Narrative, fun, good for solo games or multiple players, it is a skirmish game with a figure count per player typically ranging between around 4 and 12. A scenario can be completed in around two to three hours depending significantly on the number of players involved.

Did I say skirmish? Well, more or less. There is plenty of scope for pulp action fisticuffs and spraying bullets around. What is less typical of skirmish type games is the influence of fortune cards, which players can use to challenge their opponents with perils, or indeed, perils will also occur as players try to resolve a series of plot points on the table. A game can sometimes focus a little less on combat and more on the plot. Scenarios are can veer very much toward mystery or crime investigation and even social situations. Imagine James Bond trying to provoke a villain, gather clues and be generally charming in a Casino and you will have the idea, only you have a group of characters working together to accomplish this. The characters have various skills set at a combination of levels. The required characteristics and skills are: Health, Brawl, Shoot, Dodge, Might, Finesse and Cunning. Depending on the quality of the character these skills will have dice numbering from one to four and dice types ranging between D4 and D12. A roll of 4 or more is a success, but sometimes multiple successes are required, including difficult tasks.

The initiative changes over the course of the game. The last person to win a plot point or a combat steals the initiative from the previous holder. This keeps the game constantly interactive.

What can you play with Pulp Alley and what miniatures do you use? Well, almost anything you can imagine! The rules are remarkably adaptable. If it forms part of the pulp genre; 30’s archaeologists versus Nazi’s, fantasy, science fiction, westerns or lost worlds, anything in between and more. The list just goes on…Figures are widely available and in particular I like Copplestone Castings and Pulp Miniatures, Hydra Miniatures and Sally 4th, the UK home of Pulp Alley.

Fellow club member Alan set up this game over Zoom. While a degree of social interaction is lost over Zoom, it certainly played smoothly. I would have no hesitation in recommending Zoom as a tool for playing games like this. Perhaps the more limited social interaction actually sped up the game.
Alan set up two scenarios set in the late 30’s in the arctic. He deployed a team of Nazi’s (“I hate these guy’s…”) under Dr. Stalhelm, a dastardly figure in uniform and a fully enclosed face mask. I fielded a team of “stiff upper lip” Brits from the Long Range Arctic Survey Group (LRASG). This group had the perk of specialists 3 of the leaders skills were reduced by a die level to improve the other members of the party in one skill by one dice type. I had a couple of unusually tough academics, the Leader, Professor MacInnes accompanied by Dr. Kennedy with two military types and a couple of Inuit guides.

The Crash Site
Some unusual rumours of strange lights in the sky have been emanating from sources in the arctic circle. The LRASG have been dispatched to investigate. Aided by two local guides, Kallik and Allatok, the team approach a site of possible significance…

The table is difficult going, meaning that characters cannot move more than six inches without taking a challenge. There are four separate groups of wreckage distributed around the centre of the table. Due to some seismic activity, the wreckage is perilous and requires an automatic challenge. During the first couple of turns, the figures approach the wreckage from opposite directions in the swirling snow which limits visibility. MacInnes reaches one wreckage site but Alan plays a challenge card and MacInnes cannot manage the 3 Cunning or Finesse required and tumbles into a crevasse. However, he passed the resulting health check, so no damage done. Meanwhile the first Nazi minions reach some wreckage, but can’t seem to explore without experiencing serious hazards which prevent the search.

On turn three, MacInnes successfully negotiates the wreckage and locates a plot point a short distance away. The Inuit’s move toward the Nazi’s while the rest of the LRASG spread out between the two closest wreckage sites. The Nazi’s continue a very unsuccessful search and Stalhelm has to jump away from a peril. The Inuit’s move in on them. One of the Nazi’s, Weber exchanges fire with Allatok.

MacInnes keeps working on the plot point on turn four. He successfully negotiates the treacherous ground and shifting visibility. With one success in recovering some clue from the snows. He is loosening it from the ice… At another site, Dr. Kennedy gets a bit disorientated in the swirling snow. Nearby while the Nazi’s continue with a frustrating search, Allatok and Webber exchange fire again and both are hit. They fail health checks and are out of the scenario injured. Another Nazi, Schneider, opens fire on one of the LRASG’s military types, Lt. Baylis.

Turn 5 and MacInnes keeps working to free the clue from the ice. Suddenly, he takes a hit from Nazi gunfire and is stunned. Baylis fires back to no effect. Meanwhile Dr. Kennedy finds his way back to the wreckage, makes a search and finds a perilous area: the ice shifts under the wreckage which is in danger of falling through into a lake below. However, Lt. Booth, (the Brits other military type) successfully locates a plot point himself. Muller shoots Kallik who fires back, but he goes down too. Baylis shoots Schneider, but he dodges.

On turn 6 MacInnes gets the final successes and frees the clue from the ice. A cache of “Top Secret” documents! Schmidt now attempts a plot point and successfully discovers an injured crewman. With that first success, Alan becomes Director (initiative), deciding the turn order. Booth and Fischer exchange fire. Baylis brings down Schneider who is out of the game, after failing a recovery roll, while MacInnes and Stahlhelm exchange fire. Elsewhere, Kennedy successfully deals with the plot point and discovers: an experimental bomb sight. Booth closes with Muller and gets into a punch up, but Booth gets knocked out cold (quite literally).

At this point the two sides disengage as the wreckage shifts and slips below the icy surface of a frozen lake. A success for the Brits who recover two plot points to the Nazi’s one. They collect two Gear points as a result: Some smoke grenades which Dr. Kennedy carries and Gadget X, carried by Mac Innes, which automatically allows passing one plot point instead of rolling.

A Secret Nazi Base…Where Else?

Scenario 2 saw the LRASG tasked with recovering the aircraft’s inventor and destroying the Nazi base. Approaching from some woods the Brits use the trees to mask their approach and their smoke grenades in turn two to reach the gate, despatching the sentry. The base remains oblivious. However, it all kicks off in turn three when MacInnes is forced to shoot a guard dog which attacks them and Baylis shoots his sentry/handler. They move toward a group of huts while Booth and Dr. Kennedy move along the fence to discover a plot point. The alerted Nazi’s get out of a truck and move toward the huts in turn 4.

Kennedy and Booth successfully locate a plot point and pass it: a wire cut hole in the perimeter fence. Someone else has already broken in! both teams converge on a stack of supply crates. Fischer and Muller push toward a plane on the airfield while Schmidt and Booth exchange fire in the location of the huts and crates. Both shrug off hits.

MacInnes discovers explosives already on the crates and lighting the fuse, sprints away. A new plot point appears in a hut near the gate. Stalhelm. Fischer attempts to deal with a bomb on the fuel drums near the plane, but fails.

Fischer suffers a peril on turn 7, possibly electrocuted as he tries, inexpertly, to deal with the booby-trapped explosives on the plane. Fischer goes down! Meanwhile MacInnes and the Nazi scum exchange furious fire, but the Nazi’s pass 3 hits! Muller is trying to disarm another bomb in the corner of the far corner of the airfield, at a fuel dump. About to attempt it he suffers misfortune as Marcus plays a fortune card and Muller falls, failing his health check.

Fischer recovers in turn 8 to disarm the bomb on the plane, but unfortunately for the Nazi’s Muller again fails a peril and a health check. Fischer however gets up and removes the explosives from the plane. MacInnes blazes away at Schmidt, who goes down and joins Bush and Kennedy in cover close to the gate. Kennedy moves to the plot point near the gate and passes it; the inventor! Dr. Stalhelm lurks in the proximity…but Booth engages him in fisticuffs.

In the final turn, Booth manages to land a blow on Dr. Stalhelm and rushes to the gate. Both MacInnes and Dr. Kennedy both open-up on Dr. Stalhelm and also escape. While the Nazi’s try to deal with the explosives, they detonate, destroying most of the Nazi’s secret lair.

So, as the credits roll the Brits return from a successful mission, with the Nazi’s vanquished again; which is how it should be. Inevitably since Alan rolled some appalling dice and Lt. Booth passed more recovery checks than he had any right to. An enjoyable mini campaign all organized by Alan with some great scenery and miniatures, all played very entertainingly via this new-fangled thingy; Zoom…Bang! Bang!

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 4

Me 110G-4s scramble

Our Treasurer has just realised that he had omitted to write up the fourth session of our campaign from the end of last year – still better late than never!

This session began with an attack by the Me110s of 3.NJG5, which had just infiltrated the tail of the bomber stream as it left Berlin.  The Me110s weaved backwards and forwards across the bomber stream using their on-board radar to detect and attack targets.  John La was first onto the score sheet, detecting ‘Q for Queenie’.  He missed the target on the first pass, but sent the bomber down on his second.

As the bombers headed off to the northwest, 3.NJG5 stuck with them and continued their attack. Three bombers went down in quick succession, the first, ‘O for Oboe’ to John, then ‘P for Peter’ to Andy and finally ‘N for Nab’ by Marcus in his first combat.  However, the bombers then struck back, as first Steve took damage and was forced to break off in an attack on ‘M for Mother’, then worse still Marcus was shot down by ‘L for Love’.

Lancaster MkI/IIIs of B Flight, 460 Squadron RAAF. Letters ‘J Jig’ to ‘Q Queen’

Now another Me-110 unit, 4.NJG3 of Steve’s 2.Jagddivision was able to infiltrate the bomber stream.  However, their attack got off to a poor start as the alert gunners of ‘K for King’ shot down John’s attacking fighter.

The bombers were now re-crossing the German defensive radar line and the Me-110s of 3.NJG3 were successfully vectored in to attack from their overwatch positions.

At this point we ran out of time for the day, leaving the raid to be concluded in a fifth and final session, which will be a catch up to bring all players up to 2 sessions played.

At the end of session 4 the points scored were as follows:

Andy (4JD)                        +1             +1 for Lancaster shot down

Steve (2JD)                        +1            +1 for GCI Intercept, +1 for tame boar                                                                                  infitration, -1 for fighter damaged

John La (7JD)                       0             +2 for Lancasters shot down, -2 for fighter                                                                     shot down

Marcus (3JD)                     -1             +1 for Lancaster shot down. -2 for fighter                                                                        shot down

Tony (1JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows, with Steve just passing Dave at the top of league table, as he has shot down more bombers (4 to Dave’s 3).  1 JD keep their lead in the team competition with 11 points:

Steve (2JD)                      +6         2 sessions played (4 bombers downed)

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played (3 bombers downed)

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           2 sessions played

Marcus (3JD)                     -1           1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -1.5       2 sessions played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

Society Quiz 22-07-2020

Marcus presents the questions (and answers) to his rather fearsome quiz.

Q1A What is widely regarded as the first battle in recorded history and/or cited as “the beginning of modern history” (“A History of Israel” Theodore H Robinson 1945)? Megiddo
Q1B What year did Megiddo take place (within 50 years)? 1479 BC

Q2A What famous actor played King Osric in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)? And also featured not only in the Star War saga, but also at least two other well-known science fiction films? Max Von Sydow; Star Wars:The Force Awakens, (Lor San Tekka, 2015) Flash Gordon (Ming, 1980) and Judge Dread (Chief Justice Fargo, 1995)

Q2B Which other Robert E Howard character received a film adaptation released in 1997, in a script originally intended for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third outing as “Conan the Conqueror”? Kull of Atlantis in “Kull the Conqueror”

Q3A After which battle of 297 BC was it reputedly said (Plutarch) “One other such victory would literally undo him” or “One more such victory and we are undone”? Asculum
Q3B To who is this quote attributed? Pyrrhus of Epirus

Q4A The naval battle of Actium allowed who to consolidate power over Rome and her dominions? Octavian
Q4B In which year was Actium fought? (within 10 years) 31 BC

Q5A Which major battle of the Great North war was fought in 1709? Poltava
Q5B Can you name either commander? Charles XII of Sweden/Tsar Peter 1st (The Great) of Russia.

Q6A What major innovation in ship design was launched in 1905 (which ship)? Dreadnought
Q6B What nationality was the naval architect credited with the concept? Italian (Vittori Cunniberti)

Q7A What chain of islands were the scene of major air, sea and land battles in 1942-3, including Guadalcanal? Solomon Islands
Q7B New Georgia Sound, pictured on the map below is bounded by Choiseul, Santa Isabel and Florida islands to the north and New Georgia and Russel island to the south. How was this stretch of water colloquially referred? “The Slot”

Q8A WW2 oddities. Can you name this aircraft? Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (“Arrow”)

Q8B Can you name this early version of a drone? Goliath

Q9 The Korean War’s most iconic fighters, the MiG 15 and F86 Sabre were both based on German design from WW2. For one point each, can you give the name of the design company who created the design on which each aircraft was based? F86 – Messerschmidt. MiG 15 Focke-Wulf or Tank

Q10A The first nuclear powered surface warship was also the first to shoot down an aircraft with a SAM. Can you name the ship? USS Long Beach (CGN-9)
Q10B The USS Nautilus (SSN 571) was the first submarine to make a submerged transit of the North Pole in 1958. In 1964 the nuclear powered cruiser Bainbridge (CGN-25) and the Carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) accomplished a similar feat. What was it? Operation Sea Orbit. The task group sailed around the work without refuelling.

Q11A Can you name this missile? Colonel Robin Olds was so disgusted with its performance in Vietnam that he ordered his whole wing of F4D’s rewired to revert to Sidewinder missiles as an unauthorised field modification, which was later made official. AIM4 Falcon

Q11B A development of the missile, known as the AIM 26 had a notable feature not shared with any other guided air to air missile (at least as far as I can determine). What was that feature? A nuclear warhead.

Q12A Who wrote the 1959 book “Starship Troopers”? Robert Heinlein
Q12B What “anti-war” science fiction book published in 1974 was described as a reaction to the perceived sci-fi militarism on “Starship Troopers”? “The Forever war” by Joe Haldeman.

Dim Sum’s First Foray

John Lambert plays with his junks.

I scouted around for a suitable set of rules for Chinese Junk Warfare. I wanted a set that would allow ship v ship action during the age of Discovery in the Far East. I saw that a set of Solo play instructions were available for the Galleys and Galleons ruleset and so took the plunge. After three play test games, I’m glad I did. They fit the bill well and whilst they may not appeal to purists they appear suitable for other theatres. As they are quick play, with a minimum of reference tables you could easily play large scale encounters such as Galley battles in the Mediterranean, Armada battles or pirate adventures in the Caribbean prior to Line of Battle tactics.

Play Area and Measurement
The rules are designed for 2ft, 3ft, 4ft square table options. All ranges and movement distances are measured using measuring sticks scaled to the play area.

Vessel Stats
There are example stats for 36 different vessels in the rulebook and 27 individual special rules you can use to build your own ships using a downloadable fleet builder to tailor your own designs and calculate a points value for the vessel. Each vessel has two common stats these are Quality (Q) and combat (C). C can never be more than Q+1. The lower the Q value, the easier it is to activate a vessel and it is likely to carry out more actions in a turn though this is likely to be disadvantaged in combat compared to a larger vessels which are likely to have less actions in a turn though the use of the special rules can add combat bonuses so for example a Race Built Galleon may have a Q value of 2 and a C value of 3, add trained Gun crew and Master Gunner special rules and you have a tough customer though this comes at a point cost. Points costs re used to provide a balanced game.

Activations
To start with three ‘white’ dice are rolled for a designated vessel and compared to the Q value. Any roll equal to or over the Q value allows an action. All sailing ships get a movement action but if they fail to succeed any activations rolls, they continue on the current setting even if they sail over the edge of the world or into shallows. These vessels which have the Razee special rule have been lightened and can move an additional short move – good for chasing down an opponent. All movement distances are based on the type of rig – Square Rig, Galleon Rig or Lateen Rig and attitude to wind. Other special rules include Yare which allow an additional change of direction and shortening sail – important to avoid those rocks. When a player fails to activate a vessel or completes his turn, initiative passes to the opponent.

Combat
This is a straight D6 roll with C value added and any other combat bonuses depending on gunnery or boarding action. Additional actions allocated to combat can boost these too or are required to deliver a stern rake broadside and during boarding, so timing of a boarding attempt is critical. When a vessel is damaged, it has to roll on the critical hit table (2 x D6)

Effect of damage.
If vessel is damaged, usually by combat a ‘white’ dice is replaced by a ‘red’ dice. If a 1 is rolled on the ‘red’ dice, bad things happen. Of course, you don’t need to roll a ‘red’ dice but your actions are limited. Quite neat.

Scenarios and campaign rules
There are five scenarios of which I’ll use four in my games and simple campaign rules for a Mercantile or Pirate player. There is also a section on Fantasy beasts – a Kraken and Leviathan which have some appeal. One of the drivers for me was the Korean film ‘Pirates’ where a huge whale swallows the royal seal of the Emperor and the ‘plot’ centres on it’s retrieval.

Playtest
I pitted Dim Sum’s Pirate ship against a Merchantman using the introductory pursuit scenario.

Dim Sum’s Junk : Q3, C2 lateen rigged, reinforced hull
Merchantman : Q4, C3 lateen rigged, reinforced hull, Chaser Guns (360o), Merchantman (not so good at firing or boarding actions).

In this scenario, the defender Merchantman sets the play area and wind direction with terrain items to bog down the pursuer. The objective for the Merchantman is to cross the play area diagonally. The pursuer can select one of the other three corners to deploy on and starts with the initiative.

Dim Sum choose to broad reach around the shallows and get at the Merchantman as soon as possible. Dim Sum’s lower combat value and reinforced hulls would make damaging the Merchantman difficult. When activation dice are rolled and there is a double, the wind changes direction. Mid table both ships traded desultory boardsides at long range to no effect but in the final third, Dim Sum managed to get three successful actions and was able to move into position to deliver a stern rake broadside at close range.

The Merchantman had been doubled , taking a damage and having to roll on the Critical Damage table, 2 D6 (avoiding an 11 or 12)

Oh Dear! The Merchantman’s magazine has exploded and Dim Sum had his first victim.

On Farthest Tides

John Lambert prepares to sail the Oriental tides.

I’d been interested in doing this for some years and with Lockdown decided to take a closer look. I’d considered the ruleset Galleys and Galleons last year and collected information on junks. A solo adaptation of the rules was available on line and I decided to scratch build the ships for variety. Here’s how I got ready to play.

Sea Mat

I decided to make my own based around the smallest playing area in the rules 20” x 20”. For this I used Weed Control Fabric from Poundstretcher and Acryllic Caulk from Wickes. I spread one layer of caulk thinly to one side of the fabric and when this was dry (overnight), flipped it over and applied two layers. When this dried, I painted the surface with acrylic Hobby Craft paints which I blended using a J Cloth. I added Pthalo Blue (a really great intense pigment) as a wash and when this was dried, I dry brushed white on any raised areas. Finally I sealed it with Wilko lacquer spray. This last step was a mistake as the surface remained as tacky as a dodgy pub carpet!

Terrain

I made shallows and whirlpools using the same method as above. I made islands from some old polystyrene tiles and made Karst Columns and a cave from carved polystyrene covered with filler then fine sand, then added flock and clump foliage.

Ships

For the hulls, I used 30 thou card for the basic hull (white) and 20 thou for the sides(black) and then on some ships I detailed the sides with microstrip. For the sails, I started with 10 thou card (white0. I then added battens from 20 thou rod. On the front of the sails I added strips of 20 thou (black) and when dry, sanded down to form the sail profile. I used cut down pins for the masts. I based the hulls on mounting board adding the sea texture from filler and painted the sails separately before fixing with superglue. I didn’t make the ships to a set scale, I just worked on what the smallest I could make was then scaled up from there.

Player Aids

All distances in the game are measured using measuring sticks appropriate for the play area. I used a Bamboo skewer for this. I copied the weather gauge from the ruleset and laminated it. I bought a wind direction indicator, some coloured dice and fire arc from Warbases. After this I was ready to play.

For Lancaster!

Stephen reports on a clash between the Yorkists and Lancastrians.

I had myself a game of Basic Impetus the other day – a Wars of the Roses game.

The table was set up with the Lancastrians being led by the Earl of Oxford and the Yorkists led by Lord Stanley.

Oxford set up his Welsh archers in the yard of St Botolph’s church, his household troops (men at arms, billmen, and archers) in the middle and on his right flank, amid some trees, were some Welsh spearmen and some Flemish handgunners.

In response, Stanley had arranged his troops in a line. On his right flank, opposite the church, were some archers and a pair of ribaldequin (multi-barreled cannon). Stanley had also put his household troops in the centre and on his left flank were some Genoese pikemen and archers.

Battle begun.

Stanley’s tactic on the right was obvious enough – use the cannon to pester the Welsh archers. Either they would be dispersed or they would have to come forward out of the cover of the churchyard. Which is what they eventually had to do. The Yorkist left flank made an early advance because the archers had some difficult terrain to negotiate and the sooner they got going the better. In the meantime, the centre was a bit tardy and made slow progression.

In response the Lancastrians initially decided to get involved in a missile exchange using their archers in the churchyard. To start with, though, they were out-ranged by the Yorkist cannon so they had no choice but to advance. The rest of the Lancastrian line made quick progress. The handgunners and Welsh spearmen moved into the woods, to what would prove to be a commanding flank position. Oxford urged his men forward, the billmen and archers being particularly keen, whilst his household men at arms were a little more cautious.

The Genoese pikemen were the first into the battle line. However, they found themselves in a precarious position – the Welsh spearmen threatened their flank, as did the Flemish handgunners. This made it difficult for them to be too aggressive or else they would be charged in the flank. The billmen of both sides eventually came to blows in the centre. It had been a cautious contact though, due to the risk of either side outflanking the other. The slow advance of the Lancastrian men at arms finally prompted the Yorkists to push the attack before they could join in.

Meanwhile, over by St Botolph’s, the Welsh archers had advanced beyond the hedges so they could get the Yorkist artillery in short range. Though the cannons had been pouring steady fire at the archers they had little effect. And once the archers were in range the artillery crew fared poorly against the weight of arrows falling on them. Off went the artillery! They’d done their job though – they’d drawn out the Welsh archers into the open where the Yorkist billmen could now advance on them.

The battle in the middle carried on. The pikemen were sent packing, but the Yorkist archers, who had to cross some rocky ground at the start, finally came up and a unit of billmen also turned to threaten the handgunners and Welsh spears. The clash between billmen and men at arms went back and forth with neither side really getting the upper hand. Then the Yorkists had a lucky turn with some demon dice rolling. The Lancastrian billmen were routed and things were starting to look dicey for Oxford.

But two can have luck! The Lancastrian men at arms showed their mettle and, with Oxford personally leading them, took the charge into the Yorkist men at arms, who were also being led by Stanley! Dice were rolled, and only one side could come out victorious…

Against the odds, the Lancastrians achieved an unexpected victory, routing the Yorkist men at arms and killing Stanley. It would be Lancaster’s day.

Looking at the result would give an unrealistic idea of how the battle went – Stanley’s men had taken far more casualties, but it hadn’t felt like that. For most of the battle the Yorkists had been in a commanding position, but the Welsh spearmen and Flemish handgunners had been in a good position, securing that flank, and Oxford’s men at arms had rolled some good dice. That proved more than enough.