Dearly Beloved

For our sins, Stephen builds a chapel.

At MHWC’s Broadside show in June I was glad (and surprised!) to see that Scotia/Grendel would be there.

What I bought off them was a resin ruined chapel, which would make a great piece of terrain for medieval games.

I cleaned up the pieces, cut some ply for the base, and glued the pieces together on the day after buying it. It then sat on the shelf for a few weeks. But last Sunday I finally got around to slapping some paint on it.

Before painting I thought I’d make a bit more of it. The first thing to do was create a tiled floor. I made the tiles out of thick plasticard. I chamfered the edges roughly and then scratched and gouged the surface to make them look worn and damaged. I then needed some more rubble. I made this from a mixture of sand and dried plaster broken up into bits. Though you can buy some rubble scatter mixes.

Once this was all dry I gave it a spray of dark khaki. This was then washed with my favourite all-purpose brown wash: GW’s Agrax Earhshade. I decided I wanted it to look like it was made from sandstone, so it was drybrushed with a khaki-heavy mix of khaki and grey.

An important thing to realise about medieval churches is that they were very colourful places. It was only with the advent of the Reformation and Protestantism that church wall paintings were considered idolatrous and were chiseled off or painted over. So I scoured the internet for pictures of surviving painted medieval church walls and then printed them off.

These were then glued to the walls. To make them look like they belong there and look a bit damaged and eroded by time and weather I splotched (that’s the best way I can describe it) the edges of the pictures to make it look like they belong on the walls and blend in.

Some staining and damp was added with a very dry brush using dark green and brown.

The model was then based with some mixed ballast and static grass.

The result is a ruined chapel worth fighting over!

Open Day 2019: The Tower Of Ballicroney

More Open Day updates from Stephen as he wows us with the size of his tower

I’ve been lucky for this year’s Open Day – I more or less had everything I needed for the game.

There’s been just a few jobs that needed doing – some Norse Gael axemen and an Irish round tower.

The game will be set in the early 12th century with the Normans raiding an Irish religious community. A key feature of early Irish monastic sites were the needle like round towers. These were built as safe places during earlier centuries when Viking raiders made their way around the Irish Sea. A few were also built in Scotland, mainly by the Irish settlers.

Entrance to the tower was on the second floor via a ladder. The ground floor was often solid stone to resist being battered down.

I made a few concessions with my model. It is to scale height and the ground diameter is also to scale. The actual towers converge which mine doesn’t. This is because of what I used to make the tower – three empty (Christmas) tubs of cheeselets. So it had to have parallel sides.

I also decided to use more elaborate windows. During the period when the towers were constructed the windows were just plain openings. I went with a Gothic window frame, which is out of period. I did this to make it more interesting to look at, so it can be used for other periods, and maybe fantasy games as well. I also went with a tiled roof rather than a stone roof. This was done to create a different surface texture and colour again, to keep the model interesting.

The windows were spare castings I had from a previous project.

The tubs were glued together using internal tabs. I then chose to hide the external joint using pieces of card to look like bricks – it makes it look like a decorative feature.

Individual bricks were made using heavy duty water-colour paper. This is ideal because it has a textured surface. These were stuck in groups and clumps all over the outside.

The tiles on the roof were made using the same card.

The ladder is made from styrene sprue.

The entire model was given a spray with a dark khaki colour. This was then washed using GW’s Agrax Earthshade. It was then dry-brushed using a mix of khaki and light grey, with a bit of white added for subsequent highlights. To create damp patches and mould I used both a brown and a dark green, paying attention to windows and doors (where people are likely to throw things out of) or around the base, where the damp could be.

All that was left to do was decorate the base with odds and ends.

This Means War

Stephen answers the challenge of Andy and Jeremey … the one could run and run!

The war banners are flying and the trumpets call a clarion to arms!

Owain of Bangor, famed warrior of the Welsh hills, declares war on the English.

Friends and allies are requested to take the fight to Andraes Willhelmson and Erik Uhtredson.

These knaves are nothing but thieves and robbers and deserve the fury of the Lord.

All those who would oppose such skullduggery should make themselves known at the cathedral of Bangor.

Duces Bellorum

Andy weaves a lengthy tale of two recent Dark Ages games involving himself, Jeremey and Stephen. Clearly there are axes to grind here…

At a recent meeting Jeremey and I took on Stephen in a couple of games of Dux Bellorum.

Before we get to the day’s games, we need to set the scene. Last year Stephen ran a SAGA: Age of the Wolf campaign, in which we all participated. Jeremey and I both chose Anglo Danish factions, so naturally we were quite often allied. On one campaign turn we decided to focus our efforts on Stephen and his Welsh army, and both of us attacked him that turn. Sad to say Stephen beat both of us, and he was not reticent about broadcasting that fact to the world. He also built a little diorama to celebrate the victory, a large banner placed over the bodies of two white wolves. You can read Stephen’s diatribe, and see the banner, here.

Truly the man can prattle on.

So, back to the Dux Bellorum game. We had agreed 50 points a side, with Jeremey and I sharing command of one side. I chose a Late Saxon army, comprising

  • 1 Shieldwall Companions
  • 1 Noble Shieldwall (Veteran)
  • 2 Noble Shieldwall
  • 6 Ordinary Shieldwall
  • 2 Foot Skirmishers (Javelin)

I also gave all the Shieldwall units Hurled Weapons, giving them an advantage in combat if they were charged from the front, and I bought an extra leadership point to complete the 50 point spend. In Dux Bellorum leadership points can be used to modify Bravery rolls (to move units), increase the number of dice rolled in melee, interrupt the opponent’s movement or to cancel hits suffered.
Stephen chose a late Welsh force, comprising

  • 1 Warrior Companions
  • 2 Noble Warriors
  • 6 Ordinary Warrior
  • 3 Ordinary Riders
  • 1 Monks

The Monks gave Stephen two additional leadership points, and he also chose to give all his units javelins, giving them a short-range missile option. One characteristic of Warriors is that if they get within 3 base widths and line of sight of the enemy, they have to test for an uncontrolled advance; if they fail, they don’t move at all.

Stephen’s Monks

We rolled the dice to determine the Aggressor and Repeller, the Saxons had a slight advantage in Aggressor rating, and won the die roll.

As Repeller Stephen chose the terrain, all placed near the centreline of the field of battle, a wood and hill close together to our left, and a marsh to our right. And on the top of the hill he placed the banner trophy from the SAGA campaign!

Jeremey and I split the Saxons into two roughly equal commands, I had the Companions and Jeremey had the Veteran Shieldwall. Jeremey took the left, behind the woods and the hill, and I took the right facing the marsh.

Stephen deployed his Riders, Companions and Noble Warriors facing me, and his Ordinary Warriors, supported by the Monks, facing Jeremey, separated by the woods and the hill.

Stephen’s Riders, Companions and Noble Warriors

Stephen’s Riders advanced, I sent my Skirmishers forward, which was a classic mistake as they were soon ridden down and routed from the table; one leadership point lost, but they don’t count towards the army morale tests, well, they aren’t trained warriors now are they?

Stephen continued to harass my Shieldwall with volleys of javelins from his riders, as his companions and noble warriors expressed a distinct lack of enthusiasm and declined to advance. For several turns.

Eventually some of Stephen’s noble foot got their act together and advanced on my line, when they eventually got close enough Stephen let their uncontrolled advance rule take over and sent them in.

The leadership contest, Stephen and Andy’s Companions. The brown disc is a leadership point.

Stephen got tired of lobbing javelins, and sent his Riders in against my Shieldwall.

Stephen’s Riders charge my Shieldwall, Nobles to the left, Ordinary to the right. The small yellow die on the Riders indicates a hit suffered.

After a couple of rounds of combat, I beat them off.

Welsh repelled!

On the other flank, Stephen’s ordinary warriors advanced towards the woods and hills, and Jeremey’s forces waiting beyond. For some reason the Monks didn’t seem that keen to approach the Saxons, and stayed where they deployed. As the leadership points they bestowed could only be given to units within 5 base widths (about 24”), the number of potential recipients gradually reduced.

Stephen’s Monks and Warriors, before the advance.

The warriors on this flank now suffered the problem of the uncontrolled advance; the units on the ends of his line could see Jeremey’s units, while those in the middle could not. As a result, the end units charged in on their own while the central units plodded through the woods. And the units that did charge in, lost.

Stephen’s disrupted line of Warriors, no Monks in sight.

Stephen did achieve one unlikely event; during one attack, he rolled six dice for an attack on Jeremey’s untested Veteran Shieldwall unit, and all six came up sixes. That’s a 1 in 46,656 chance! Six hits inflicted wiped the Veterans from the face of the earth. I hope he bought a lottery ticket.

The 1 in 46,656 chance!

Stephen seemed to have the overall advantage, having lost fewer units, but whereas our losses had been concentrated on a few units, destroying them, Stephen’s were spread out across his units. Eventually the losses caught up and Stephen lost several units in the same turn, in fact both sides reached their 50% loss point in the same turn. So, both sides had to take morale tests on all remaining units; the steadfast Saxons stood firm, while the weaselly Welsh failed their tests. With these units routing Stephen’s army reached the 75% of units lost point, ending the first game in a Saxon Victory.

The Saxon Companions and their spoils of victory after the first game.

As we had plenty of time left, we decided on a second game. Both sides decided to tweak their army lists. Stephen was less than impressed with his Monks, so sent them packing back to the monastery. He was a bit cagey on what he would add to his army with the 3 points the monks had cost.

I decided that the 3 points used to upgrade one of the units to Veteran might be better spent on another unit of Ordinary Shieldwall. So we had the Companions, three Noble Shieldwall and seven Ordinary Shieldwall. That meant we would need to lose 6 units before we had to take a morale test, and 9 units before losing the battle (excluding skirmishers of course). Jeremey and I split the forces pretty much as we had before, but I got the additional Ordinary Shieldwall unit.

We rolled the dice and this time the Welsh won and became the aggressors. We deployed the terrain, only 2 pieces for us; we went for a wood on the left and a marsh on the right.

Stephen split his Riders between the two wings, two facing Jeremey and one facing me. He deployed his Companions and Noble warriors on his left, opposite me, and the ordinary warriors opposite Jeremey.

Saxon Companions and Noble Shieldwall await the Welsh onslaught.

Once both sides had deployed Stephen then revealed what he had spent his 3 points on, a Champion’s Challenge! Each side sent forth a champion to fight; the loser’s side would forfeit a leadership point. Had we refused the challenge we would have lost the leadership point through shame. Unfortunately for Stephen he lost the Champion’s Challenge (simple die roll), and so he started the game with 5 leadership points available, the Saxons had 7.

Stephen sent his lone left flank unit of Riders forward, hoping to ride down my Skirmishers, but this time I pulled them back behind my Shieldwall. The riders stood off for a while, but as the Welsh Companions and Noble Warriors were more motivated in this second game, and were quick to advance, Stephen sent them all in against my Shieldwall.

On the opposite flank Jeremey nailed his units to the floor and refused to be goaded into attacking. As with the first game this forced the Welsh to move through the woods in a haphazard manner. After a closer than expected fight between Jeremey’s units and the Welsh riders he was able to concentrate on the emerging Welsh warriors from the wood and deal a decisive blow.

Stephen’s leader and his Companions not setting an example.

This time the battle was not so close, Stephen’s Welsh reached their 50% morale test point which several units failed, ending the game in a Saxon victory; leaving the Wolf tail banner safely in Saxon hands.

Open Day Axemen

Stephen previews his Open Day game.

For this year’s Open Day I will be doing a 28mm Saga game. It is based on the Norman invasion of Ireland.

I have a large collection of dark ages/early medieval stuff. However, I thought the Norse Gaels would better reflect the military style of the later Irish warriors than the actual Irish battleboard in the game. Whilst I had most of the necessary troops what I was lacking were some two-handed axe armed warriors – so that’s what I’ve painted up.

These are all Gripping Beast figures. I am pleased to say they have now blooded their axes! We recently had a game of Saga and I brought the Norse Gaels out to give them a try.
The Open Day game will centre around a Norman raid on an Irish religious community. This means I will have to build a round tower for the game as well.

If you’ve never played Saga before, or if you have but have yet to try Saga 2 (because that’s what we’ll be using) then come along and enjoy a game – whether wildly swinging axes is your style or if you prefer mounting a good cavalry charge.

Ravensclaw

Stephen tells a brief tale of valour and heroism … we think he’s boasting a little bit…

Behold, this is Jarl Uthbrok Thorgimsson, Lord of Ballicroney. On this day he slew both a Viking warlord and an Anglo-Dane warlord, and he did this with his mighty war axe RAVENSCLAW.