The War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Tony F delves once again into his archive of Middle Earth photos.

Following the defeat of Sauron’s minions in Osgiliath, Phil and I went several hundred years into the Middle Earth timeline, to the war between the Dwarves and Orcs in the latter part of the Third Age. Actually, the real reason was that I’d bought some shiny new Dwarf models from Forgeworld and wanted to use them…

We took a scenario from one of the Middle Earth sourcebooks, involving a force of dwarves defending a human village from marauding Orcs. This needed a bridge, so it was also a good excuse to finally paint up a really nice resin bridge, also from Forgeworld, that had been languishing in the loft for nigh on ten years.

Again, I don’t remember too many specific details of how the combat went, except that dwarves are hard – really hard. Only one of my new, heavily armoured, pike-wielding Iron Hills chaps was killed and they saw off a cave troll to boot. Even a normal dwarf warrior is a tough little bugger, so this was one game that the Orcs just weren’t going to win!

The Laird of the Western Isles

Last meeting we had a game of Saga based around control for the western isles of Scotland. Whoever came out victorious could crown their warlord the Laird of the Western Isles.

The idea was that we would play two games. Each player would keep the same warlord but could change army composition between games. We would be using warlord experience from the Book of Battles. Players were allowed to use warlords who already had previous experience. Players and their warlords were:

Jeremey – Uhtred Siggurdson (Viking)
Tony – Boe Vandradson (Norse Gael)
Eric – Sigvald Ironhelm (Viking)
Stephen – Siward Dunbar (Scots)

Each player would keep a running total of their victory points across both games. The player with the most at the end of the day would win.

The first scenario we played was the Battle Royale – all against all.

This was only the second time Eric had played Saga so he was naturally a bit cautious as he worked out how to use his Saga dice and the subtleties of the game and the use of the Battleboard.

Boe Vandradson leads his men from behind

Boe Vandradson had deployed his troops quite wide apart, threatening both Uhtred and Siward. The wise and wily Uhtred, a veteran of the battle of Lintonsfjord, had been equally cunning and had managed to get some of his bondi around the back of Boe’s axemen.

Siward Dunbar’s men deployed between some rocks, which the norse gaels had occupied and some woods, which were also home to some skulking norse gael hearthguard. The Scot’s archers went forward and showed Sigvald’s raiders what they were made off with a deadly flurry of arrows. Sigvald moved his men slowly forward, using some of his bondi as a spearhead to chase the norse gaels out of the rocky ground, presumably with the intent of occupying this himself so he could harry the Scots.

A steady, unspoken, truce existed between the Scots and norse gaels, who saw the vikings as the greater threat to their lands. How long this truce lasted is a moot point – eventually the norse gael hearthguard came out of the woods and charged the Scots archers!

Exhausted Scots archers after a hard day shooting vikings

Boe Vandradson showed his heritage by taking the fight to Uhtred and his men. This wouldn’t pay off though, as Boe was cut down by the vikings and had to be carried off the battlefield with grievous wounds.

At the end of the game the results were close but the winner had been Sigvald.

The second scenario we played was the team game. Since Eric had won the previous game then he could choose another warlord to swear fealty to Sigvald. He turned to his fellow Dane, Uhtred, and the two viking armies formed an alliance. This left the norse gaels and Sots to unite against the invaders.

Things moved a bit quicker this time. Uhtred had left his bondi back at their longboats to guard their plunder, with just him and his hirdmen to fight this time. Siward moved his archers forward again and they once more let fly at Sigvald’s troops. Sigvald was a little wiser this time so moved his troops up quickly to get into combat with the Scots sooner than later.

Scots and Vikings come to blows

Boe Vandradson, having recovered from his wounds from the previous encounter, kept up with his aggressive reputation and repeatedly charged into the fight, with his bodyguard doing all they could to keep up with him. Uhtred was happy with this and he and his hirdmen drew their blades and joined in with the fight.

Sigvald, exasperated at the casualties his men were taking from the Scots archers, acted rashly, and out of fury charged forward of his men toward the Scots. The archers were defeated and fell back but this left Sigvald out on his own. Seeing his chance, Siward took firm hold of his spear and charged the viking warlord. The last that was seen of Sigvald was him falling under Siward’s blows.

When finally the dust settled and the ravens had glutted themselves on the corpses it was time to see who would reign.

Victory had gone to the norse gaels. The lands had a new master – Laird Boe Vandradson of the Western Isles!

The game had been a close one. No one was trounced and no one had an easy time of it. We all had our bad dice rolls and we all had our good ones. How long Vandradson will keep his title as Laird remains to be seen.

The Siege of Osgiliath

Tony F returns us to Middle-Earth.

For the second of our Lord of the Rings games, we chose to depict a small part of the Siege of Osgiliath. Phil took on the task of creating some scenery for the game, and we both put together a 500 points force. Again, it’s too far back to remember too many details, but I do remember using Faramir’s Rangers as a pretty lethal sniper unit, there was one heck of a scrum around a tree inside a courtyard, and the final act of the game involved Phil’s leader, Gothmog, alone and surrounded.

The Road Goes Ever On

Webmaster Tony sorts through his photos and tries to get organised…

Since the Games Workshop Middle Earth rules first appeared to coincide with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy (way back in 2001!), Phil and I have been amassing an ever-growing collection of figures. I don’t know about Phil, but I’m well over 1000 now (although I’d rather you didn’t ask how many were actually painted…). We used to play quite regularly – in fact, the very first game report on the then fledgling club website was a battle between Rohirrim and Uruk Hai. But as with all wargamers we moved onto something newer and shinier, and the figures had been gathering dust in our respective lofts for a while.

At a loose end two or three years ago, we decided to dig them out again and have a game. Since then we’ve been putting on a regular game at the club every six months or so, including one at the Open Day last year. The idea has been to do something different each time that required us to paint at least a handful of new figures. I’ve always taken plenty of photos but never seem to get around to writing them up, so now I’ve decided to sort through the hundreds of photos and put up a report for each game. Actually, they’ll be more of a photo gallery, the actual reports for each game will probably be quite brief since many of the details will have been forgotten!

The first of those games, in May 2016, was based on the capture and abduction of Merry and Pippin by Saruman’s Uruk Hai. In our game the Orcs are fleeing across the Open plains with their captives but are being tracked simultaneously by the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) and a group of mounted Rohirrim.

Details are sketchy three years on, but from what I remember the three heroes made short work of a number of the Uruk Hai but the Rohirrim were held up by Orcs and the two Hobbits were spirited away by Warg riders, giving victory to the evil minions of Saruman. The photos of this game aren’t great, they were taken on an older phone – hopefully things will improve as the games go along…

The Road to Hel

Stephen slips toward the Underworld, accompanied by the strains of Chris Rea…

I’ve had Osprey’s Of Gods And Mortals for a long time now but it’s taken me an age to get together a warband for it.

Well, I did have one. I thought I’d go with the Norse because I have loads of dark ages stuff, so coming up with one warband was easy.

I just had to put together another.

To keep with the Norse theme I thought I’d go with Hel and her undead minions.

At last week’s SELWG there was a trader who had a stand with some of the Reaper Bones figures. I looked through them and found one called Svetlana The Ice Giant (or something like that) and I thought that would do.

This was my first Reaper Bones figure. I casually noticed it said ‘do not undercoat’ on the back. Wondering why that would be I did a quick Google and it seems that if you use solvent based materials on them they go all sticky.

They certainly are made of an odd material. It’s not the usual ‘hard’ plastic. Nor is it resin. Nor is it vinyl. Not sure what it is (they say it’s made from recycled material).

I gave it a good clean up first and then, wary of the stickiness issue, I used normal brush-on Humbrol acrylic to undercoat it.

Some of the spiky bits are a bit soft and flexible. And the detail is not the sharpest.

If I was to buy another Reaper Bones figure (and I’m sure I will) then I wouldn’t buy a normal ‘human-sized’ figure. I think for the larger pieces it’s OK, but for the smaller stuff I think it’s just a bit too rubbery.

Anyway, so Hel.

I decided she needed a sombre paint job, as befits the Goddess of the Underworld. I didn’t want to go with all over black because that would be too much. And she had to have glowing blue eyes, obviously.

For Hel’s brother, Fenrir, I used a GW wolf. Being GW it is a suitably big wolf figure as you would expect for Fenrir.

The zombies, skeletons, and undead berserkers are from Brigade’s Celtos range.

I used round shields to make them look like they’ve got Norse origins. I also did weapon swaps on the flesheaters/berserkers; again, to make them look more Norse. I have more of these figures to bulk out my Hel warband.

The only other thing I’d like to add is Hel’s other brother – the serpent Jormungandr.

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 3

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

The results for our third session are in.  This was to be a session dominated by Wild Boar attack over the city of Berlin,as fighters sought to attack bomber caught in the glare of the clouds illuminated by the searchlights below.  One of the JG commanders was absent due to sickness and another had temporarily lost use of his headquarters (aka house) so we were down to three players on the day .  Two players babysat for the missing players JagdGeschwader for their map moves.  Absent players do not affect the tactical combat results, as each player simply flies one plane.

The day began with the Me110s of NJG engaging the bomber stream over Berlin.  This unit was depleted, so the number of tactics was reduced.  3.NJG5 was also handicapped by having some relatively slow Me110F-4s among its Me110G-4s; these struggled to match the speed of the Lancaster at high altitude.  The action was something of a damp squib with no Lancasters engaged and the Me110F of Chris damaged by fire from the defending Berlin flak batteries.

After another map turn the bomber steam continued to move through the city and the German players now had a final chance for their units to engage the tail end of the bomber stream over the city searchlights.

First in were the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision 1.  Things looked up for Chris as he was first off the scoreboard the day, downing C for Charlie.  However, he did a bit too good a job as his fire detonated the bomb bay and his own fighter was consumed in the explosion!  Things took an even worse turn for the Germans as Tony’s 109 was shot down by an alert gunner on E for Easy.

Next up was Tony’s 3.NJG5 coming round for another go. Michael got involved in a running fight with, funnily enough M for Mike.  His first pass winged the Lancaster, but the defending gunners in turn damaged the attacking Me110.  However, Mike hung on and made another pass, sending the Lancaster down.  Tony now got into his stride with his pilot bagging first N for Nab, then K for King.

As the last of the bomber stream came in over the searchlights the Me110G-4s  of 1.NJG5 also belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision1 arrived over the city.  Tony continued on his combat roll by adding J2 for Jig squared to his total for the day.

The ever persistent 3.NJG5 now succeeded in infiltrating itself into the bomber stream as it left the city, becoming the first night fighter unit to do so.

With time up for the day and four tactical combats played out, the resolution of the Tame Boar attack was left for the next session.

At the end of session 3 the points scored were as follows:

Tony (1JD)                        +5             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +3 for Wild Boar attacks, +1 for Tame Boar infiltration, -2 for fighter shot down

Michael (2JD)                   0            +1 for Lancaster shot down, -1 for fighter damaged

Chris (7JD)                        -2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, -2 for fighter downed, -1 for fighter damaged by flak

Marcus (3JD)                     –             On leave

Bob (4JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 1JD going into the team lead with 11 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                      +5         1 session played

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

Worth saying that you score as follows:
Map points:
1 point for each successful interception on the map by a unit, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
1 point for identifying a main force raid or mosquito raid before air picture is clarified, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
Air to air combat points:
1 point for shooting down a four engined bomber
2 points for shooting down a Mosquito2 points lost if own nightfighter shot down
Damaged aircraft score half points, for and against.  Ties decided by number of bomber shot down.

Wandiwash India 1760

Seán takes us back to the 18th Century with some colonial action

We had a good day in India in 1760, Pete, Alan O, Tony G, Eric and myself so I wanted to say thank you for the game, though I was umpiring rather than playing. I think it worked well and we got speedy involvement from everyone because I had reworked the Principles of War rules to make them simultaneous.. It meant that with a big battle and about 100 units on the table one side wasn’t standing around for half an hour while the other made their move.

The Battle
It was a rare outing for my glamorous Moghul hordes and the rival East India companies of Britain and France.

Wandiwash was a relief battle. The town was invested by the French and their Indian allies and the British under Eyre Coote came to lift the siege. The French, under the Comte de Lally left 300 men to maintain the siege and came out to meet their rivals for power in India.

In the game I suggested that if the British, with their Indian allies, were to get three units to leave the table by the only road on the left flank of the French/Indian enemy and on their own right, it would be a good indication that they had won the battle. Unfortunately for them the British right flank, entirely consisting of unenthusiastic native forces with no disciplined East India Company sepoys or Brit regulars, melted as snow on a spring day before the wily tactics of the wicked Suraj ud Daulauh (of Black Hole of Calcutta fame). Meanwhile a sturdy advance on the left and centre led by those British company forces looked encouraging. There was only one fly in the ointment which was the growing risk of being outflanked by French company forces released from the left centre by the collapse of the British right – or rather the army of their untrustworthy ally Mir Jafar.

The Winners
There was no disastrous defeat but the near certainty that a message would arrive from Wandiwash saying the garrison had had to surrender was expected at any moment as the relief force faltered and failed to break through. So a win on points for the Comte – which went against the verdict of history.

The rules stood up well and simultaneous movement (which is how it used to be when I started wargaming in the 10th Century) sped up a big game very well. Some necessary amendments arose which I’ll incorporate. There was a request for a colonial battle with the same rules (adjusted for period) so I said I would bring another Moslem army into the field with a return of the 10mm Mahdists of the Sudan for another go at the Anglo-Egyptian imperialists in 1898. Who would like to be a desert sheikh or the model of a modern major general of models for that battle?

The Ruins Of Saint Solange

Stephen previews his game for the next meeting

The year is 1355 and you are invited join The Black Prince on his grand chevauchee throughout France.
At the next meeting we’ll be having a game of Lion Rampant set during the Hundreds Year War.

Whether you see yourself as the flower of French chivalry astride your mighty warhorse, or an English yeoman armed with longbow and a quiver of arrows, you’re welcome to join our game.

Laissez aller!

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 2

We played out our second session of the campaign in April 2019 and as we have our third session at Next Saturday’s meeting it was high time to write it up!

The British were approaching their target and had been benefited by fog that had hampered the take-off of nightfighters from 1.Jagddivision, but the British umpire now played a weather change card as the main raid neared its target, which luckily cleared the ground in just the right area and replaced it with heavy cloud cover for the attacking bombers!

Me 110G-4s scramble – planes used in the campaign are all 1/600 Tumbling Dice with Dom’s Decals, from the Umpire’s collection

The first action resulted from a straggler interception of the main raid by the commander of 2.Jagddivision, Steve, which allowed him to vector in the Me110G-4s of III.NJG3 as the raid passed Rostock in a ‘Tame Boar’ attack.  In this type of attack each nightfighter followed the bomber stream using on-board radar to detect and close on targets.  The targets proved hard to find, but Dave detected and successfully shot down 1 straggling Lancaster, K for King.

Another night-fighter unit from 1.Jagddivision, commanded by Dave, now made the first successful infiltration of the main bomber stream.  The attacking unit was 2.NJG5, also equipped with Me110-G-4s, but it’s impact was reduced by having been scattered on take-off in foggy weather.  Not only did it fail to inflict any damage but one of the attacking fighters piloted by Andy was shot down by defensive fire when if homed in on it’s target, B for Baker.

ME 109G-6s scramble

The raid move on and the target was now revealed as the raid stream turned south and began bombing its target, Berlin.  Dave was able to vector in the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 to attack the the head of the bomber stream as it passed over the target in a ‘Wild Boar’ attack, closely followed by the Me110F-4s and G-4s of 3.NJG5, which were directed in from the radar beacon north-west of Berlin where they had been orbiting.  This type of attack was made by visually intercepting bombers lit up by searchlights.  The cloud cover reduced the searchlight effect, but bombers could still be attacked against the illuminated clouds.  The defending fighters had to take their chances with defending flak fire.

The first attack by the Me-109s resulted in heavy losses for the attackers.  Steve made a spectacular high score, shooting down four attacking Lancasters – G for George, F for Fox, M for Mike and P for Peter.  Dave added to his score with two more bombers, D for Dog and J for Jig.  John L opened his score with E2 for Easy Squared.  Chairman John pursued another bomber, J2 for Jig Squared, but only managed to damage her before she exited the illuminated zone.  The British scored back as Andy homed in on D2 for Dog Squared, damaging the bomber with his first burst, only to be damaged in turn and driven off by defensive fire from the bombers gunners.

The air picture around Berlin at the end of the second session, with the position of the bomber stream in the previous move shown as a tracked target

The resolution of the attack by 3.NJG5 was postponed until the next session, as time was up for the day….

At the end of session 2 the points scored were as follows:

Dave (1JD)                        +6             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack, +2 for Wild Boar attacks

Steve (2JD)                       +5            +4 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack

John L (7JD)                      +1             +1 for Lancaster shot down

Chairman John (3JD)    +0.5       +.5 for Lancaster damaged

Andy (4JD)                         -2.5      +.5 for Lancaster damaged, -2 for Me110 shot down, -1 for Me109 damaged

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 2JD the leading team so far with 8 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                       +5         1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           1 session played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -1.5           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

The Battle Of Antietam

Stephen takes on the Union in this historical refight.

At a recent meeting we had an American Civil War game – the Battle of Antietam!

Being such a large battle, and the bloodiest in American history, we didn’t do the whole battle. Instead we focused on the action at the end of the day – the Union grab for Sharpsburg.

Our game took place after the battle for Burnside bridge. We set up the brigades as they were after the Confederates had been pushed back and Burnside’s corps advanced toward Sharpsburg.

Taking the Union were Jon Roche (Corps command plus Wilcox and Sturgis’ divisions) and Paul French (with Rodman and Scannon’s divisions). In control of the Confederates were Jeremey Claridge (Jones’ division) and Stephen Tucker (Hill’s division). There was no overall Confederate commander, with the two Confederate divisions (which were much larger than the Union divisions) acting independently.

The Union side also had a large artillery park with three batteries which were under Army command, so couldn’t be moved but would shoot at targets that came in range.

The Union objective was to get a brigade in Sharpsburg, the Confederate objective was to stop them!

Initially, Hill’s division was not deployed – his brigades were busily marching up the road from Harper’s Ferry to bolster the Confederate line. So at the outset the Union outnumber the Confederates. As such, the Union made an advance on the Confederate line. Not so on the southern edge – Scannon’s division was a bit tardy in its approach. Meanwhile, John deployed his artillery in a field, near to the Army artillery park, which would provide a powerful incentive for the Confederates not to counter-attack on that side.

Hill’s division came on, but was hampered in its deployment due to cramped conditions – it was proving hard to fit the brigades and artillery where they were needed.

Eventually the two sides came to blows – Jones’ division to the north around Cemetery Hill facing off against Wilcox and Sturgis, and Rodman (waiting Scannon’s arrival) to the south coming over Centre Hill.

The early part of the battle was going slightly in favour of the Confederates. The artillery to the north was making it hard to take the battle to the Union, so Jones’ brigades and artillery dug-in and pushed back the Union attacks.

On Centre Hill, Rodman came over the top, took a round of musketry, and then pulled back! Much to everyone’s amazement (not, least Burnside’s!). Paul did try to explain this (ahem) ‘cautious’ move.

But maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Because emboldened by this withdrawal, Hill advanced his brigades over Centre Hill and took the battle to the Union with a wild rebel yell. And paid the price for charging the guns.

Equally emboldened, Jones advanced Drayton’s brigade against the Union brigades and artillery to the north. After a round of pummelling from Union Corps and Army artillery they soon regretted it and hobbled back all but destroyed.

In the end our game had a very historical outcome – the battle just fizzled out. The Union didn’t have it in them to continue the push to Sharpsburg and the Confederates didn’t have it in them to counter attack. Like the actual battle itself, it was a no-score draw – both sides had taken so many casualties neither could carry the day.

My thanks to Jeremey and Andy for taking some pictures.