The Painting Of Doctor Moreau

Stephen gives us step by step guide to painting a Sci Fi villain.

For an upcoming game of Stargrave I wanted a baddie. The Big Boss. I looked at the models I had and none of them were really suitable.

So I decided I would buy something. I knew how I wanted the model to be armed, and knew my chances of finding something exactly like that was virtually zero, so it had to be something that could be modified.

Since I intended to order some bits from Ral Partha I thought I’d have a look there.

And lo and behold, I found just the thing – a Neo Soviet Handler from their Vor range (specifically, code 40-412):

The original figure

I trimmed off the knuckle-duster thing in his left hand and in its place went a blaster pistol from the spares bag. His main armament was going to be a void blade. And when I saw this model, and what he had in his right hand, I couldn’t believe my luck. This would make the perfect handle for a lightsaber (sorry, void blade). I trimmed it down a bit, but I liked the flared ending so kept that. A hole was drilled and a piece of 1.5mm styrene rod was glued in. The model was then stuck to a 25mm plastic base and the base built up with filler. And then it was given a brown undercoat:

Modified and undercoated figure

Now, in this write-up I am just going to give generic colours rather than specific names and codes for a brand. I use from more than one range of paints and I am sure everyone else does as well.

I decided his robes, gloves, and gimp mask were going to be black. So I slapped it on, letting it get into any awkward gaps in case I couldn’t get a brush in there later so it would act as a deep shade.

Basic black basecoat

Right, this is just my own personal philosophy on black. But I never highlight black with just grey. No. Black is seldom that helpful. Look at any black clothes you may have. I bet they’re all slightly different shades – it depends on age, what the material is, what dye was used. Lots of variables. So try to keep that in mind when highlighting your blacks. The black for the robes had a bit of blue added, then white added to that for successive highlights. The gloves and mask had a blob of red added, then white added to that for successive highlights. You can see the slight difference in ‘black’ here:

Shades of black highlights

Next up, I decided to do the bits that would get a dark brown (OK, OK, GW’s Agrax Earthshade) wash – the boots, pouches, bracers, and metallic bits. These received the same base brown colour. The metals had a steel base colour. Once dried, on goes the wash.

Brown and steel parts base coated and washed.

And when that’s dried the pieces are painted up. Like black (and most colours, to be honest) it helps if you vary what you use to highlight your base colours. It’s tempting to add white to lighten it. But maybe yellow might give a different shade to the base colour, or a pale grey. This is a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you have two uses of the same colour next to each other. That said, I did use white to highlight the brown. The metal bits were touched up with the base steel colour, and then highlighted with silver. I ummed and ahhed about what colour to do the lenses on the eyepieces. Blue or green were the first choices that came to mind. But then I thought, orange. So orange it was, highlighted with a dot of yellow.

More highlights and those glowing orange lenses

Next up I decided to do his weapons. There’s a good reason for this – I just couldn’t make up my mind what colour to do his armour. Normally I would have left the weapons to last because they stick out and there’s every chance they could get knocked or rubbed as I did other bits. But I just couldn’t make up my mind. I had thought about green, but I had also decided that his blade was going to be green, and if there was too much green then I may have to re-paint the armour. With that, I decided to do the weapons first, and once that was done maybe the armour colour would be obvious. The handgun had a base colour that was a mix of steel and black to make a gun metal colour, then highlighted with the steel. A red laser sight was also dotted in. I knew from the outset I was going to do a green blade. I have a nice rich green colour, so I went with that. It’s hard to paint a 3D object like it is lit from inside, so I chose to just highlight the base and tip of the blade. I used white to highlight this time.

Pistol and lightsabre, sorry void blade, painted and highlighted

I looked at it. You know what, I thought, I reckon green would look OK. So I went with green for the armour, but a different shade of green. I gave all the armour panels a thin coating (not really a wash, but not really thick paint either) of the base green mixed with a blob of dark brown (again, you don’t have to darken colours with just black). Once dry I then painted in the panels with the base colour, which was highlighted by adding yellow to the green to create a more vibrant green, but also so it didn’t have the same tonal value as the green on the blade. The edges of the armour were based in dark yellow, and then picked out with a flat yellow.

Armour panels painted green and yellow.

And that’s the end of the painting for Doctor Moreau. Once finished, I thought the 25mm base looked a little small on what was a chunky model. So I pried the model off the base (and, inevitably, had to touch up a few knocks and chips) and glued him to a 30mm wooden base. Flocking was my standard recipe – a mix of railway ballasts first, and then some spots of static grass:

The rebased and finished figure

And that’s Doctor Moreau done, ready to be pestered and set upon by a group of ne’er do wells and freeloaders.

Club meeting 11th September

A brief picture album of the third meeting back, still operating under members only rules.

Four games in play today, in chronological order:

First up a FOG Ancients game by Colin & Paul, we only have one picture of this unfortunately.

FOG Ancients game in progress

Moving on to the 17th Century we had a FOG Renaissance game with Brett, Pete, John and Mark, the Scots involvement in the English Civil War.

FOG Renaissance Scottish (mostly) await the attack.
FOG Renaissance Cavalry on the move
FOG Renaissance ECW Scottish in action

Moving on a couple of Centuries we move to Mexico in the 1860’s, with the French Intervention played by Alan and Mike using Zouave II rules.

Republican Mexican defences
French and Imperial Mexicans advance

Finally we have a couple of games of Stargrave.

The first game was run by Stephen, with Eric, Marcus, Jeremey and Andy sending their crews to investigate Dr Moreau’s House of Pain.

First Stargrave game, run by Stephen
Dr Moreau’s bunker from Andy’s point of view
Andy’s crew fight off Audrey II
Marcus’ alien crew
Eric’s and Marcus’ crews approach each other
Marcus’ and Eric’s crews engage
Dr Moreau’s creatures take the high ground as Jeremey’s crew approach the compound
Andy’s crew try hacking the force field

We had to cut the first game short as Stephen had to leave, so we then played a second game which Jeremey had devised. As Andy’s crew had to disband after his Captain was killed in the first game he ran the second game enabling Jeremey to play.

A ship had crashed, leaving a trail of cargo and potential loot in its wake. Jeremey, Eric and Marcus’s crews came looking for loot, with indigenous interference run by Andy.

Eric’s crew, lead by Captain Greyfax
The crashed freighter, with cargo strewn in its trail. Jeremey’s crew approaching from the top of the picture, Eric’s from the bottom.
Eric’s crew approach the wreck
Eric and Jeremey’s crews fight over the loot (the corrugated fence representing a Holographic Wall)
The indigenes

Second meeting back

Last Saturday was the second meeting post lockdown. We are still operating with members only. Fewer games and members this time, perhaps because of the Bank Holiday weekend?

First up, a couple of games of Fields of Glory, Dominate Roman vs Selucid, report from Chairman John.

Mark’s Romans took to the battlefield against a very mixed force of Paul’s Seleucids.  The Romans deployed their many legions in the centre to face off the Seleucid cataphracts, pikes and elephants.

With the full deployment revealed the Romans moved aggressively to take advantage with their skirmishes on the left flank.  This resulted in successfully routing the enemy light foot off the table and capturing the enemy camp.  However the Seleucids fought back attacking the rear of the Roman horse who were still sacking the camp.  In the meantime on the other flank the Seleucid light foot seemed to be in excellent shooting form scoring hits in multiple rounds and routing the Hun cavalry.

The deciding battle should have been in the middle with the Seleucid caraphracts taking on the legions, but despite vicious fighting no overall victor emerged.  At this point the Seleucids were declared the marginal victors due to their success on the flanks.

The second game was a repeat meeting, this time the Romans sat back and let the Seleucids come to them intending to not be aggressive on the flanks and risk losing their again.  However the Hun cavalry again proved to be very vulnerable to shooting, with the cavalry and light horse on the other flank also suffering at the hands of some good dice rolling by the Seleucids.  In the centre the cataphracts managed to manoeuvre to hit the Romans at their weakest point, eventually routing several battle groups, the Roman army withdraw just before it would break, a successful day of battle for the Seleucids.

The next table saw some Border Reiver action. Report by a different John.

I brought along Osprey’s En Garde!  Ruleset, my collection of Outpost Reivers I’d purchased and painted many years ago and scratchbuilt terrain for Eric and Tony to try out the rules. We played on a 3 foot square mat. Whilst rule memory was hazy at times, we did manage to play two scenarios.

Scenario 1 – During a previous raid some of the stolen booty had to be hidden in a derelict Shepherd’s hut in Bewcastle Waste. Both gangs were desperate to recover the heavy chest containing cutlery and a wooden dinner service (yes, they would have been that desperate). We used the capture scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook. It was dark and raining, typical Reiver weather.

Both forces approached the hut with some figures dismounting so that they could enter the hut and grab the chest. Eric’s gang managed to score some hits using a Latch – a short range rapid fire crossbow as the skirmish developed around the hut.

The skirmish around the hut.

With men down, Tony attempted a ride by lance charge on Eric’s Headman but unluckily failed and with that, Tony’s chances in the game faded.

Scenario 2 – Eric’s gang have kidnapped the lady love of Tony’s Headman’s son and locked her up in their fortified farmhouse.  The scratchbuilt Bastle House is an accurate model of Gatehouse (North) Bastle in Tynedale. We used the Defence Scenario from the En Garde! Rulebook.

Bastle House modelled on Gatehouse (North) Bastle in Tynedale

For this scenario, Tony had got some hired help as He would have to break into the Bastle. He decided to use the time honoured tactic of ‘Scumfishing’ applying fire to the door in order to smoke out the occupants.

Trying to fire the door to the Bastel House

Meanwhile if Eric’s Headman’s son could rush out and light the straw pile, this would alert the Land Sergeant and the Militia who would be duty bound to come to their aid (unless handsomely paid off by Tony). The son was ruthlessly put to the sword by one of Tony’s henchmen. Tony was unable to start a fire at the door and with time running out, brute force was brought into play. A fierce melee took place in the basement with Tony’s men just avoiding a bucket of night soil thrown down the chute above the door. The Headman’s son was able to rescue his sweetheart (the only girl in the village with her own teeth) in the nick of time or by the skin of his teeth.

So honours were even over the day. We had a couple of queries on the rules and will probably bring in house rules next time where our protagonists will encounter ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ a merciless band of cutthroat mercenaries and I’ll start looking at the possibility of a campaign.

Last, but by no means least, Tony and Andy tried out Dragon Rampant. Report by Andy

Tony wanted to try out Dragon Rampant using his Lord of the Rings Rohirrim troops, so we agreed on a 24 point game.

For our first Game Tony’s army was made up of :

      • 1 x Elite Riders (Theoden and guard)
      • 1 x Elite Foot (Royal Guard)
      • 1 x Light Riders (Eomer and escorts)
      • 1 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
      • 1 x Light Foot.

I fielded a Goblin force with the following:

      • 1 x Offensive Light Foot (Durburz and guards)
      • 1 x Light Foot Wizardling (Shamen and Drummers)
      • 2 x Light Foot with Mixed Weapons
      • 2 x Scouts
Armies deployed for the first game (one unit of Goblin Scouts out of picture on the left flank)

Tony threw forward his cavalry, with the foot catching up as best they could.

Theoden leads his guard forward.

Having the leader as a unit of Elite Riders had the drawback of the unit having the wild charge rule, so once within move distance of my forces he had to test to charge.

Goblin Light Foot prepare to receive a charge
Rohan infantry enter the village

After a game of attrition, with both sides losing their leaders, the last unit of Rohan foot await the end.

The last unit of Rohan foot await the end.

For the second game we both expanded our armies, Tony added a unit of Bellicose Foot, using his Army of the Dead models, and another unit of Light Riders, lead by Eowyn. I added a couple of units of Light Riders (Orcs on Wargs). This took both armies to 32 points.

In this game my Wargs were often successful in evading Tony’s Light Rider charges, until they ran out of space.

Another game of attrition, at the end all that was left of Tony’s Rohirrim was Gamling, leader of the Royal Guard

Gamling’s last stand

For our third game we expanded the armies yet again. I added a unit of Venomous Giant Spiders (Lesser Warbeasts) at 7 points. Tony gave his Elite Riders the Level Headed upgrade, which removed the wild charge and made it easier to move. He also converted his Light Riders to Heavy Riders and added a third unit. For the last point he added a War Banner to the Elite Riders.

The expanded armies deployed
Theoden charging the Warg riders

Theoden still getting ahead of the rest of the units.

Eowyn leads the charge

Eowyn lead her unit to charge the Goblin Shamen, who surprisingly held them off.

Clash of leaders

Theoden about to fall to the Goblin King.

In all we easily got three games in at the meeting, and plan to try doing the Battle of the Pelennor Fields at a future meeting. Tony now has to work out how to portray the Mûmakil in Dragon Rampant.

Driftin’ Along

Tony F builds a shuttle craft…

Inspired by the imminent arrival of Osprey’s new Stargrave rulebook, Marcus suggested that we have a shuttle scratchbuilding contest (this was several months ago, the book is of course out now). Although the rules are aimed at 28mm figures, this very loose ‘contest’ was for 15mm models.

A while ago I saw a 15mm scale spaceship made from a Nerf rifle on Facebook – it was probably the size of a corvette or small frigate. While I had no desire to make anything that big, the idea still seemed sound for a much smaller vessel made from a pistol or similar. So I picked up an X-Shot branded gun from a supermarket for a fiver … which then sat untouched in its box for over a year. The shuttle building competition seemed like the ideal time to dig it out and make something of it.

I started by dismantling it (it was held together by screws) and removing the trigger, grip and the spring mechanism that propelled the rubber projectiles. This left me with just three pieces – the triple barrel and the two body halves, which I superglued back together. The screw holes were filled with green stuff which I tried to hide as best I could by sculpting in detail to match the surrounding area. The plan was to turn the pistol round so that the gun barrels became the engines and the cockpit would somehow be grafted onto the trigger end. This was all a very vague concept, since I had no idea of the details and what I was going to use to make it all (this make-it-up-as-I-went-along theme ran through the whole build…).

I had to tidy up a couple of bits – I took a razor saw to what would be the nose and removed a protruding bit of plastic, which I covered with a hatch from a Games Workshop vehicle. The hole where the grip came out was boxed in with plasticard with a view to becoming a well for the nose landing gear.

After hunting through my spares box for a suitable aircraft cockpit I came up blank, so in the end I built a simple frame around a curved protrusion which should look like a cockpit when painted up.

Engines were my next issue. Try as I might, in my extensive pile of half-built kits I could not find three identical engines to cover the three muzzles of the original gun. I did find two Mirage-III engines which I used for the lower two. For the upper, central engine I found a rather odd finned one which came from a Japanese spaceship kit. I rationalised the different designs by designating the lower two as the sublight drives, while the upper one is the ship’s FTL or Jump drive.

The final major subassembly that I had to work out was the landing gear – it would have to be robust enough to hold the weight of the ship and stand up to the rigours of gameplay. I’d originally planned to scratchbuild something with skids or feet along the lines of the Millennium Falcon, but during my various delves through my kit pile I came across the landing gear of a 1/48th Rafale which looked like it would work. Having wheels rather than skids also made sense as it would make the shuttle easier to manoeuvre in the tight confines of a carrier bay or hangar. The nose wheel fitted perfectly into the well I’d made earlier – I just superglued it solidly to the back of the well. I drilled holes in the fuselage sides to secure the two larger rear wheel struts and added some extra supports to make them even more secure.

The forward hull had a circular recess on each side – on the left I put the main hatch, originally from a GW Rhino. I gave it some hinges and a grab rail from various kits, and an entry keypad which is the only 3D printed piece on the ship. On the right is the ship’s main armament – when the shuttle was originally built this would have been a second hatch, but now it’s in private service the captain has added a twin heavy cannon mounting, which came from a GW dreadnought. I’ve never played Warhammer 40k, but once upon a time I worked on a video game project for Games Workshop and ended up with number of WH40K sprues in my bits box, which have finally proved to be very handy.

Then I was into full-scale greeblie mode, covering much of the surface of the vessel with all manner of bits and pieces – there are aircraft weapon pylons, bits of superstructure from 1/1200th battleships, a metal radome, some windows and shutters from model railway buildings, helicopter rocket pods and many other unidentifiable bits. There’s also a small defensive gun turret under the main hatch. The engine body got lots of pipes and valves made from plastic rod and strip, and a couple of lengths of old bass guitar strings.

Eventually I called a halt and declared the build finished, and moved onto painting. The overall colour scheme reversed the original colours of the plastic gun, with the main body in white and the nose in orange, and the engines bare metal. I sprayed it overall with Halfords’ white car primer and then washed it with light grey acrylic paint thinned with Johnson’s floor polish (I had planned to use Citadel Apothecary White contrast paint but I’d run out and had to improvise…). This was then heavily drybrushed with pure white with some edge highlights thrown in. The nose was painted with Gryph Hound Orange (another contrast paint) and drybrushed up, and then the engines painted with Citadel Leadbelcher before washing black and drybrushing silver. Contrast paints can be a bit patchy on large flat areas, which just what I was after – this is meant to be an well used, battered vessel that has seen plenty of use.

I painted the gun housing in dark blue-grey, along with the numbers etched into the sides of the fuselage, the cockpit glass in a variety of blues to give a graduated shade and the undercarriage in silver. I then picked out lots of details in different spot colours – a red and white striped probe, yellow emergency gas tanks, grey sensors, a green radome and orange and blue dorsal fins. I even had a go at a rainbow-like heat distortion effect on the engine using washes.

Finally I raided my collection of decals to finish things off – a mixed selection of aircraft markings and GW Tau symbols.

So that’s it – the Empyrean Drifter takes to the spacelanes. Of course it needs a crew, which I’m currently pulling together from various sources. And I’ve now started to think that they need a base to operate the Drifter from, which is a whole new rabbit hole…

Spear of Destiny

Club member Jeremey takes us through construction of his new measure for the game Saga.

I’ve been playing Saga for a number of years now. My original cardboard measuring rulers are long since gone being old and tatty; so needed to either buy new ones or make my own. I had some 5mm thick foam card that seemed ideal for the job.

I created a simple set of measuring sticks in a similar way to the official ones. A 12″ ruler with Long and Medium distances and a second showing Short and Very Short measurements, these served me well for quite a while; but during a moment of boredom I felt I could come up with something more visually pleasing.

The new Spear blank next to my early measuring stick attempts

I still had some of the 5mm foam card so dug out a piece and cut it to the standard 12″ length. I had already decided to create a spear as a measuring stick and cut a piece wide enough for the spear blade.

The basic spear shape

I then cut out the spear shape after measuring the foam so that the blade was the same length as the normal ‘Short’ measure. I didn’t try doing any fancy curved lines for the blade spear, I kept it simple.

Thin EVA foam wrapped round the shaft

Next to provide a way of measuring the ‘Very Short’ length I decided to use a thin EVA foam sheet cut into strips. I superglued the end to the spear piece and stretched the foam round the shaft.

The strapping in place

I now had a way of measuring all of the distances required. The strapping for ‘Very Short’, the blade for ‘Short’, the remaining shaft for ‘Medium’ and the entire spear length for ‘Long’.

Painting of the blade

Next up I turned to painting the spear, the blade was painted with a standard Silver colour with a splash of black ink to give some contrast to the flat silver blade.
For the shaft I painted it dark brown and then with increasing lighter brown shades drew lines down it like wood grain. Finally I decided to paint the strapping as well, I used the darker brown paint watered down to add some shade.

The finished Spear

Here we have the finished spear next to the old rulers. As this would be handled during games I also covered the whole spear with a brush on Matt Varnish.

The Spear in action

With luck the spear went into action sooner than I expected with the re-opening of the club. It also worked as a good omen with me winning both games of Saga played on the day.

Dreadball Extreme – What do you get?

During a recent discussion over Stagrave and making scenery Marcus mentioned a cheap set of terrain available from Mantic Games for the game Dreadball. Further browsing of the Mantic Games site showed a box set called Dreadball Xtreme for £9.99.

Club member Jeremey took the plunge and bought a set for evaluation:

This all started when I saw the Dreadball set of Free Agents that I thought would be good for converting into a Stargrave crew. The Free Agents set was £9.99 but I discovered the Dreadball Xtreme set for £9.99 included the Free Agents set, it also contained some terrain in the form of crates, perfect terrain for any Sci-fi games; so I thought I might as well pick up a set.

I had to pay postage so the whole thing cost me £16.99, and this is what I got.

Contents of the complete set

I will say straight away this is not a review of the actual game. I had no interest in playing it. I bought the set for use in other games.

This is what you get in the set. First up were the 9 Free Agent miniatures that first led me to the set. The miniatures in the game are all hard plastic. The quality varied, some had sharp details others were very soft. Also the painted miniature pictures on the Mantic Games site gave me the impression that some of the miniatures were larger. For example the Treeman looked tall but is the same height as the other humanoid miniatures. Mould lines were quite pronounced on some of the miniatures, those needed to be cut off, filing on this type of plastic just roughs up the surface of the miniature.

The Free Agents

Next came the female team for the game. The miniatures are quite slight and of all the miniatures these were the softest and worst mould lines.

First team in the set, Female players

This was a shame because I wanted a number of female characters in my Stargrave crew. You get two copies of five different miniatures in this set, although two are wounded. But these could be good for rescue scenarios in games.

Here is a close up showing the size of the mould lines on the female miniatures.

Some figures are very slight compared to other sci-fi miniatures

The second team are convicts and these had better castings. You get more variety with this team (they are convicts apparently), they are nice post apocalyptic looking. there are three miniatures where you get two copies. One pose being wounded as with the  female team. There are two other miniatures and then the larger ogre/thug miniatures that come with different arms and heads so they don’t have to look the same.

Second team from the set

The Dreadball Xtreme set comes with two figures to represent team sponsors. The suited miniature would be good as a boss to be protected or assassinated in games, with the other one potentially being a gang leader.

The team Sponsors

Now we come to the terrain which is one of the reasons I wanted to get the set. These are quite good with four power unit pieces, six square crates, four lighting units and 16 hexagonal crates. These were all nice clean castings with few mould lines.

The terrain set

I should also mention the other bits from the box that I might find a use for. The rules, counters and cards for the game don’t hold much use for me. But the game mat from the set is about 24″ x 24″ and a hefty piece of rubber (mousemat?) style fabric. You could probably use it as a door mat it feels so tough. But I’m probably going to cut it up as the design will work for landing pads, storage areas or to represent the interior of a starship. There were also 24 plastic hex bases in two colours. These could be good for various terrain projects of bases for other miniatures.

So was it all worth it? I must say I was hoping for more from this set, the casting is a bit poor on some of the miniatures and the detail very soft. I will have to see how these look once I apply the spray undercoat. That often highlights the detail a bit better. But for my £16.99 I got enough miniatures to create a fairly good crew of 8 or so miniatures, some creatures and characters for scenarios, 30 terrain objects and a mat that will make several pieces for games/terrain, all that considered it was probably worth it. But I do wonder why the Dreadball Xtreme set is £9.99 when the contents if bought separately on the Mantic Games site would be over £60 just for the miniatures. Are the individual team sets at £25 each better cast? Who knows the reason behind it. But I’m happy enough with the amount of material I got from this set.

Close up of the softer details and mould lines

Back to normality (sort of)

After a gap of exactly 17 months the Society resumed meetings last weekend. For the time being meetings will be members-only, no visitors or prospective new members are allowed. That is being kept under review.

For the first meeting we had five games in progress; Ancients (6mm, Fields of Glory), Dark Ages (28mm, SAGA), WW2 (3mm, Rommel), Modern / Post Apocalypse (28mm, Zona Alfa) and Fantasy (28mm, Lord of the Rings).

Fields of Glory, by Mark.

This was the first outing for the Pontic army, who took on a late Republican Roman army, basically pike and cavalry vs well trained legionaries.
Game 1. Republican Roman vs Pontics
The first battle was a close run thing, the Pontic cavalry chased the Roman cavalry around the left flank before taking out two units, alas this was too little too late as the Romans swept around the right flank destroying all in their path, a close battle but the Romans won the day.
The second battle saw the Pontic forces consolidate their pike into one large block (24 bases) with two generals attached and rear support in the shape of offensive spearman. The intent was to take out two elite legions, however the Romans had other ideas and deftly avoided a full on battle taking out the supporting spearmen and eventually surrounding the pike block which spelt the end of things for the Pontic army.
Game 2. The end of the massive Pontic pike block?
A heavy defeat for the Pontics this time as the Romans showed that well drilled troops and some great tactics can win the day. Great to be back at the club, as for the Pontic army, there’s always next time!
 

SAGA, by Andy & Jeremey

We staged two games, both with 6 point armies. In the first game Jeremey had a Viking warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts) and three units of 8 Warriors (3pts). Against that Andy fielded an Anglo-Danish warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts), two units of 8 Warriors (2pts) and a unit of bow armed levy (1 pt).

Both sides deployed across a diagonal centreline, with each sides right flank extending past the opponents left flank.

As the warbands advanced Andy brought the units of Warriors and Hearthguard on his right flank round to try and out flank Jeremey’s left, and also pushed his levy forward taking a second activation (and a fatigue marker) in order to loose arrows at some Viking Warriors, to little effect. Jeremey responded by using the Viking Battle board ability Odin to exhaust the Levy, and promptly charged the Warriors in decimating the Archers.

Jeremey’s warriors crash into Andy’s exhausted Levy archers. Spare shields used as Fatigue markers.

That set the tone for the first game, with Andy dishing out Fatigue when he could, and Jeremey removing it and several of Andy’s warband in response. The battle culminated in Andy’s Warlord with a couple of Hearthguard taking a stand against the last of Jeremey’s Hearthguard, only to fall in ignominy.

Andy’s Warlord surveys the remnants of his Warband and braces himself for the onslaught.

In the second game both players changed their warbands.

Jeremey changed his army completely, going for a Anglo Saxon warband with three units of 16 Warriors* (2 pts each) in addition to his Warlord.

* (Ed: We got that wrong, maximum unit size is 12 figures, so it should have been 4 units of 12 Warriors).

The Anglo-Saxon battle board is markedly different from most to others, with abilities dependent more on the number of figures in a unit rather than their quality.

Jeremey’s Anglo Saxons (and his Spear of Destiny measuring stick).

Andy retired his Levy archers and took an additional point of Warriors, splitting them between the two units to make 2 units of 12.

The Anglo Saxons (far side) and Anglo Danes (near side) in their starting positions

The armies advanced, clashing in a range of hills. Jeremey made good use of the abilities that reduce the number of attack dice available to their opponents. (Ed: Which would have been less effective with units of 12 rather than 16).

The battle lines draw near. Jeremey’s Left flank unit has been slowed down through the use of fatigue.

The battle raged back and forth with the Saxons keeping the upper hand while their unit sizes remained large. But similar to the first game the battle was hard fought, coming down to a fight with the Warlord. Although in the second battle Andy sent his Warlord to his doom against the last of Jeremey’s Saxon Fyrd, cutting down several before being overcome.

Andy’s Warlord bites the dust as Jeremey’s victorious warriors march past.

Rommel

Counterattack at Deir el Tarfa, by Alan

The battlefield. Each square of the grid is 1 km

In the summer of 1942, following its victory at Gazala, Panzerarmee Afrika pursued the British 8th army into Egypt. Rommel’s first attempt to break 8th Army’s lines failed in July, but by the end of August he was prepared to mount one last major offensive. German and Italian armor turned the Allied left flank almost 90 degrees and drove deep into Allied positions. On the evening of 31 August the 15th Panzer division began an assault on Alam-el-Halfa Ridge while the 21st Panzer division protected its exposed left flank.

Italian and German forces

The latter, however, suddenly found itself under counterattack by the British 22nd and 23rd armoured brigades. Eighth Army’s new commander, Bernard Montgomery, had held these units in reserve for precisely this contingency.

Elements of the 22nd Armoured Brigade

Our game focussed on the fight between the two British armoured brigades and 21st Panzer which was supported by elements of the Italian Littorio Division.

An initial advance by the British held most of 21st Panzer between the Deir el Tarfa and Deir el Agram ridges and an intense tank battle ensued.  But the Italians swept around the British right flank and managed to seize one of the objectives. With the tank battle see-sawing between the British and German forces the Italian held objective became the key to the engagement.  Despite several British counterattacks on the position the Italians held on.

Clash of Armour

The last British infantry assault almost succeeded but couldn’t quite take the position. So as night fell the engagement went to the Axis but with supplies running low they were forced to pull out overnight.

The game was played using the Rommel rule set by Sam Mustafa and using 3mm models from Oddzial Osmy.

PzIIIs of the 21 Panzer Division

Zona Alfa, by John and Tony

I decided to run a 4 mission mini campaign to introduce a new player (Tony) to the rules. Tony would have to recover salvage to generate funds to enable retirement from the zone whilst achieving the objectives from the mission. This is done by searching Hotspots of which there are five and the objective. A triggered Hotspot is guarded by Zone Hostiles, these can be of 6 types, the type and distance from the Hotspot being determine by Dice. Those Zone Hostiles with Melee capability head for the nearest member of the crew, those with ranged combat capability will head for cover then shoot at the nearest member of the crew. The missions were linked so that achieving an objective allows the player to proceed with the following mission.

Tony’s first job was to pick a 4 person Veteran crew from my collection and kit them out ready for action.

Mission 1. Disaster at Kovgorod.

The village of Kovgorod

A patrol has been lost in the Exclusion Zone. The last signal has been tracked from their APC to Kovgorod so that’s where the crew are headed. As they approach the village, they spot the disabled APC but a pack of Zombies has beaten them to it attracted by the smell of Blood.

Tony did well in this game and was well on his way to the retirement fund target after just one game. What could possibly go wrong?

Mission 2. The Prisoner at Bunker C13

Leader and scrounger gang up to take out a mutant

After completing the mission, the crew recover a map with a bunker highlighted. There were four dead bodies in the APC, the map revealed the location of the fifth member of the patrol. Here Tony got into trouble with Bandits. One party of Bandits had been triggered before the start of the mission and a second entered on table as Tony triggered a hotspot. Caught in a crossfire his Leader was killed early on the mission and when deciding to head for the objective, he found that these were also guarded by Bandits. Using smoke to blindside this group of Bandits, the crew were able to move out of Line of Sight, rescue the prisoner and make it out. The objective had been achieved but at a high price.

Mission 3. Road Block at Strabants Crossing

The Prisoner from the bunker had recovered and told the crew about a Laboratory hidden deep in the forest so after reequipping that’s where they were headed until they found the track blocked with a party of bandits lying in wait. This time they were dealt with clinically, as were a swarm of zombies headed for them.

Support trooper is taken out by some zombies

A satchel charge was laid and the roadblock cleared at the second attempt. Another hotspot was triggered and a gaggle of ghouls were stopped in the nick of time. Things were heating up as another hotspot was triggered and a pack of wild mutant dogs clambered over the APC to attack one of the crew members stationed on its roof.

A pack of mad mutant dogs attack

A desperate fight saw all dogs killed and as the PC was refuelled from the diesel tank, the crew were able to make good their escape.

Mission 4. The Hidden laboratory.

With no time to replenish the supplies, Tony’s crew appeared in good shape. The retirement fund had almost been achieved and now all that was needed was a top up and recovery of the drugs caches hidden in the lab – piece of cake, except at the start of each turn a D10 was rolled. If this result added to the turn number was more than 10 a zone event would occur the following move. The crew moved quickly to the lab and whilst the first zone event, a swarm of irradiated insects was easily avoided, the second – a zone security patrol was a different proposition and two of the crew were wounded in a protracted fire fight whilst the lab was being searched. With the security patrol eliminated and the drugs collected, it was time to head back to the APC, just as a terrifying Alpha Mutant entered the arena.

Enter the Alpha Mutant – time to run

Unable to take on this monster one crew member bravely fought it as the rest of the crew fled. Finally succumbing to the vicious attacks of the Mutant, she had bought vital time for the rest of the crew as they just made it back to the APC before another Zone Patrol entered the area.

It had been a rollercoaster Zone Run with plenty of tactical decisions to make, with some jeopardy and the result hanging in the balance until the final stages of the final mission.

Lord of the Rings

Tony and Phil staged this game, they each sent reports, Tony’s first:

We played two Lord of the Rings games, both involving Mumaks. The first involved a group of Knights of Dol Amroth supported by some Gondorian archers attempting to take down a single beast. This all went horribly wrong for the good guys early on when Phil started shooting my knights from their saddles with archers from the howdah, much against the odds – he is not renowned for rolling sixes when it matters !

The knights of Dol Amroth charge one of the Mumaks
Gondorian Archer’s view of the Mumak

Prince Imrahil did his best to tackle the beast single-handedly but in the end was only ever one failed priority roll from being trampled, as he duly was…

Close up of the Mumak at the start of the second game.

The second game didn’t show any improvement (Ed.: If you can’t kill one Mumak in the first game then of course you should have two in the second game!)- this time we played a scenario in Ithilien (similar to a scene in the films) with Faramir’s Rangers ambushing an advancing group of Haradrim.

Ithilien Rangers lay their Ambush

My plan was to wound the Mumaks, hope it panicked them (as happened on screen) and defeat them that way – trying to just pick them off with arrows was never going to work.

The ill fated Faramir points the way

I managed to inflict some wounds on Eric’s overgrown pachyderm but it simply shrugged them off, and they simply marched on by, killing Denethor’s second son on the way.

If we hide behind the rocks the Mumak might not see us!

Finally, Phil’s somewhat shorter report:

“Phil in shock double LOTR victories”

It should be noted that Phil deliberately stomped on a couple of his own spearman to get to the Dol Amroth chaps.

Stargrave – Raid on Denides

A few club members managed to get together for our first game of Stargrave. It’s an interesting set of rules (I had played Frostgrave once) but a big advantage of the rules is you can have multiplayer games easily and players can pick up the basic rules fairly quickly.

Read on to find out what happened, including interjections from the players (Andy, Jeremey, Phil and Tony. Stephen was umpire for the game) …

During the wars there were many isolated and secret installations throughout the galaxy.
One of those could be found on Denides, an otherwise unremarkable desert planet in the Tuetera system. It was used as a recycling plant, where everything from military hardware, chemicals, and electronic equipment was sent to be reprocessed.
The plant was semi-automated and controlled by droids. Its secrets couldn’t remain secret for long. There’d been a buzz on the underground info net about Denides for a long time. Then some data jockey hacked into a government mainframe, found out exactly where it was, and all of a sudden there was a bidding war for the coordinates. Pirates, scavengers, and rogues from all across the galaxy knew this was a chance to acquire some sensitive information or useful tech they could sell.
Then one day it happened that several deep space vessels came out of hyperdrive in the Tuetera system, all with sub-light drives powering them to the planet of Denides…

Player Brief:
You have managed to uncover an interesting piece of information. When the wars came to an end many items were still conveyed to a recycling plant on the planet of Denides, many things that probably shouldn’t have been because the plant was decommissioned when the war ended and so they remain there, untouched.
These include useful data and information on activities conducted by governments during the war and could prove a valuable source of income for selling off. It transpires that advanced equipment was also shipped off to be recycled and this could also be lucrative.
Be warned, Denides is isolated and remote – could easily be pirates and smugglers hiding out. There’s also the droids who run the place. And who knows what wild creatures could have since moved in.

Phil’s Hallucinations: Old Ned wasn’t happy. At all. The small, green first mate of the starship Delivon put his feet up and reflected on the events of the previous few hours. “Don’t worry,” said the captain. “Easy pickings,” said the captain. “It’s a deserted facility,” she said.
Well the target of their foraging mission didn’t turn out to be easy pickings. It also wasn’t deserted – as Captain Rita discovered herself when she took a hit from a security droid early on.

Captain Rita And Her Crew

Still after being pinned down by several droids for what seemed like an age they finally managed to locate some abandoned data canisters. All good.

And then one of the hired help fired un-necessarily at a group of scavengers.
The return of fire killed one of the crew and wounded two more (including the captain for the second time). Worst still as far as Ned was concerned the ship’s robot took a bad hit. Robot was Ned’s favourite of all the crew.

Spot The Single Droid Holding Them All Up

With the captain down Ned had assumed command and got everyone back to the ship. Well nearly everyone.

Ned lay back in his bunk. ‘Captain Ned’ – I like the sound of that he thought.

Two Men and A Droid Take On ONE Dog

Tony’s Rantings: Captain Jenin Hosvarn had heard about the decommissioned recycling plant on Denides over a Sabacc game in the Blazing Shuttle cantina, and immediately realised the possibilities that it held. Of course, everyone else in the game heard about it too, so he had to move fast. He made sure that he folded early in the next hand – not too obviously, mind – and, pleading poverty, cashed up his few remaining chips and slipped out the side door into the drizzle.

Returning to docking bay 32, he was greeted enthusiastically by Lucifer, his Toskinian wolf-hound and, rather less effusively, by C6R5 the utility/pilot droid. Kicking Budfodo, the hulking Altavian first mate of the Empyrean Drifter, out of his bunk, he jumped straight on to the comms station. One call later he had secured 36 standard hours of the services of half-a-dozen former Federal troopers-turned-mercenaries for a moderately eye-watering fee, a modest share of any potential loot and a promise to defray the cost of any expended ammo. Hopefully that should be plenty of time for the short return hop to Denides, as the overtime penalties would rapidly wipe out his profits.

As soon as the hired guns were strapped into the Drifter’s jump seats, C6R5 engaged the sublight drives and lifted the shuttle through the clouds. Next stop, Denides…

One Careful Owner and It Comes With An MOT

Before we set up the game and created our crews I had already decided on the basic premise of mine. I wanted a very small core crew, just the captain and his sidekick essentially, who would add a number of hired hands as required. During the set up phase I added the idea of the Captain’s faithful hound and the ship’s utility droid, mainly because I needed a couple of cheap characters to fill out the roster. This left me with room for six Mercs, a mix of troopers and specialists.

If It Ain’t Bolted Down Nick It

Despite some disparaging comments from the rest of the Captains about leading from the rear, I figured that Jenin had paid the mercenaries enough for them to go first. It was all part of the plan! The rest of the plan involved keeping out of trouble (Jenin was paying for the Mercs’ ammo after all), and hopefully getting away with a couple of loot counters.

Mostly things went as intended; I rapidly disposed of two armed sentinel droids, and saw off some annoying wandering creatures – a sandwyrm and some bat-like beasties. I’d hired a gunner with a heavy rapid fire weapon, Budfodo had one too and after a couple of early duff rolls I was generally effective with their shooting.

I Can See You!

I had Jeremey on my right flank – we were separated by two rows of billboards and couldn’t really see each other for most of the game. Phil was on my left flank and he was having a lot more trouble getting past the droids than I did (his party trick for the day involved rolling mostly single figure numbers on his D20), which meant I was pretty much left to my own devices.

Having knocked out the sentinels, Jenin unlocked the first data-loot token and passed it onto C6R5 to take back to the Drifter. Scogill, the Merc hacker, made his way up the gantry to a second token and unlocked that as well. At this point my crew were ready to make a graceful withdrawal, I’d have been quite happy to get away with two loot counters and no casualties.

Scavengers Scavenging

But for some reason, Captain Rita (Phil) decided to take a pot shot at Jenin and caused him 9 points of damage – not enough to wound, but certainly sufficient to irritate. Budfodo and Whibert, the specialist Merc gunner, took exception to this unprovoked assault on their leader and immediately took out Rita in return. The following turn I beat Phil on the initiative roll which meant, since he no longer had his Captain in play, that I was able to activate and fire almost all of my crew using group moves before he could react, leaving two of Rita’s goons and her combat droid lying next to her in the oily sand of the recycling plant.

Jenin was most unhappy about the additional expense of the extra ammunition they’d had to use, so he sent in one of the Mercs to grab the loot token that Phil had originally been unlocking. He managed to do this first go, so in the end the Drifter hit orbit with three data-loot tokens aboard rather than two. Which made it a profitable afternoon, that alien plasma pistol could come in handy one day…

Andy’s Ravings: Captain Ash de Vere sat back in the pilot’s seat of his ship, The Troubadour, as it lifted off from the arid planet Denides. “Well”, he thought, “that was one hell of a clusterfuck!”…

A couple of weeks ago he’d heard rumours that there might be some useful tech scattered around an old recycling plant on the planet Denides, and put together a crew to search the site for anything useful. His first mate, Eric Olsen, was sceptical not trusting the source of the rumours, but went along with the plan.

In addition to the 4 regular crew of Charlie Crow (Gunner), Sam Fleet (Pathfinder) and the two Fox sisters, Bren & Jen (Troopers), Ash had recruited two more Troopers, Skel Black and Honu Mihru and a couple of Runners: the cousins Offler and Patina dZuk from the Manticore system, the only non-humans on the crew.

The crew of the Troubadour

Approaching the scrapyard Ash split the crew into three teams. He led the first team comprising Charlie (Rapid Fire MG), Skel (Carbine) and Jen (Shotgun) and took the left flank. Eric (Shotgun) took the right flank with the second team of Bren and Honu (both with Carbines). The final group was led by Sam (Carbine) with Offler and Patina (both armed with pistols).

The Troubadour crew deployed

As the crew advanced Sam’s group heard a steady flapping sound and turned to find a Ryankan approaching from behind. Patina fired at it and missed, but was able to fight it off when it attacked her. As the Ryankan prepared to attack again Bren let rip with her carbine and tore it to shreds.

Offler fights off the Ryakan

Ash’s team headed towards a landing pad with a derelict shuttle, only to encounter a security droid which opened fire on Skel. He and Jen took cover behind some quad bikes and trailers and returned fire.

Skel and Jen take positions to shoot at a droid

Ash and Charlie joined in the firefight, and the droid fell to a burst from Ash’s carbine.

Eric’s group had split up following the encounter with the Ryankan, they made their way towards a data cache while Sam’s team made use of their faster speed and approached some water extraction towers.

Eric flanks Sam, Offler and Patina as they investigate some hardware

Eric called Patina over to help with a data cache; using his deck Eric cracked the lock on the data cache and downloaded the data on to a data chip.

Eric and Patina try to unlock a data cache

As they completed the download, they spotted another crew approaching, with hostile intent. Eric and Patina fell back to some cover; Eric gave Patina the data chip and told her to get back to the Troubadour as fast as she could.

Offler had advanced to some fencing, ahead of her she saw another crew in a firefight with more security droids with more local wildlife, in the form of some Ferrox and more Ryankan attacking this new group. Discretion being the better part of valour, she hunkered down, only to be attacked by Bileworm which surfaced near her. Whether the Bileworm’s toxin is more effective against Manticorean physiology we don’t know, but she soon lost consciousness.

Ash and Jen moved to Offler’s aid, firing on the Bileworm to no effect. The Bileworm however had much better aim and spat its toxin them, injuring both of them.

Meanwhile Eric and Sam had advanced to a physical loot cache, but were unable to unlock it before they were shot down by the first hostile crew. Skel, Honu and Bren exchanged fire with other members of the first hostile crew, taking one of them out of the game at the cost of Bren who was felled by a volley.

With four of the crew down, two more injured and one now heading back to the ship with loot Ash decided to call it a day and told the crew to break off.

Beneath The Landing Pad And Loading Area

Skel and Honu made it out of the scrapyard without any further contact, but Ash and Jen had to get past the Bileworm to make their escape. Luckily for them Charlie kept up suppressive fire on the Bileworm, eventually reducing it to mincemeat.

Once back at the Troubadour Ash took stock of the mission. On the plus side, the crew retrieved a data loot cache, killed three of the local predators and took one member of another crew out of the game. The data loot turned out to be an advanced Shotgun (?) worth 120 credits. The crew gained 105 experience points.

On the debit side, both Eric and Sam succumbed to their wounds and would need to be replaced. Ash and Jen eventually recovered from the Bileworm toxin, but Bren Fox was badly wounded and would either need medical treatment before taking part in another mission of have to fight with reduced health. Offler fully recovered from her injuries, Skel and Honu were bloodied and bruised but sustained no long-term damage. Only Charlie and Patina quit the field unscathed.

God Wills It: A Lion Rampant Battle

Stephen gets a bit nostalgic…

The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.

I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.

Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.

Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…

Forces Deployed

The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.

The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.

I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).

I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.

I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).

The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.

Saracens Advance

The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.

One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.

Getting Ready To Shoot

The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.

Sergeants Charge In

Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.

It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.

Ghazis Rush The Crossbows

Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.

In Go The Cavalry

Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.

Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.

Sergeants Charge The Saracen Leader

The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.

Templars and Ghulams

Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?

Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.

So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!

Templar Leader Takes Control

On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.

Challenge Accepted

No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?

Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.

One Last Charge

Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.

And that was it – a Crusader win.

The Saracens

What A (Grav) Tanker! (Part 2)

Marcus gives us the next instalment of his Sci FI adaption of What a Tanker!

I have continued to develop my WA(G)T ideas since the first outing and this is the third time on the table. Well actually on the floor again, but I did at least get to use the table for game 2.

I have introduced some changes, and there are more ideas to come. Firstly, I went back to the original Lardy allocation for the dice orders. On reflection I didn’t feel much was gained by that change.

Secondly, this time I added in a command group each. I tried this in the first game but adjusted how they worked this time.  For simplicity I gave both command groups four dice. The idea behind these is that they can (apart from making nice objectives for the enemy maybe…) use their dice to cancel enemy orders or supplement their own units die rolls. I played it that the command units needed to roll at least one 6 to use as a comms/data link. At first it was too easy to disrupt enemy shooting by allowing any dice rolled by a command unit to cancel an enemy order dice. This time I went for the following options:

      1. Cancel one enemy move dice or substitute a friendly unit dice
      2. Cancel or add an acquisition dice
      3. Add/Improve aim
      4. Add a shoot dice
      5. Add a defensive dice
      6. Comms/data link

I also added in missiles in both games. However, in the first game they didn’t work satisfactorily. In the second, well, you’ll see.

I added in a wider selection of cards than in the original WAT game, to add some sci-fi flavour. Some were successful, although those relating to missiles need to be revised.

Finally, influenced by PSC’s “Red Alert” which I have written about previously, the biggest change in this iteration was the number of vehicles on the table (sorry, floor!) with a shift to multiple element units. Essentially these employed the same stats as used previously with a hit just removing one vehicle.

There were a few new or adjusted vehicles. The “attack boats” were a Callisto class boat, as seen in the previous game, but with a change to a missile launcher in place of the forward twin gun. It is a modular design (the turrets on the models are magnetised). The two smaller boats notionally have vertical launch cells under the bow cover. These still acted like one unit, although in retrospect I think I should have upped the defence value and/or the hits that could be taken, especially on the larger Ganymede.

Additional units:

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
Attack Boats 6 Ganymede 8 missiles; Leda & Ersa 4 each 8 6
Pz 35 “Hornisse” 5 15 9 9
Command Units 4 0 8 7

The British started with 2 groups of 4 Chieftains, one of 4 Ferret’s and the naval group of Ganymede, Leda and Ersa plus the command group, see the header picture.

The NAU had 3 groups of 4 Wespe, 1 group of 4 Hornisse  and the command group.

The Hornisse models are envisaged as earlier models which have not been completely replaced by a later version, but are ideal for service in a riverine/swamp environment (maybe they should be better than grav vehicles over this kind of terrain. I always envisaged grav vehicles having more “mushy” responsiveness over wide stretches of water)

Ersa and Leda are also from GZG. The Hornisse is from the Osario from the Scotia range. As an objective I thought about both making this the command groups or taking the previous route; the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge with the NAU needing to prevent this. In the end I went for just targeting the naval group and playing out a few turns.

Activation worked as previously, but I forgot about the “exploding 6’s” for hits. It seemed likely to be a more destructive game anyway…

Here is an “drone” shot of the initial set up:

With shots from the British perspective:

And the NAU positions:

Turn 1:

The NAU took the initiative moving the green Pz 37 unit up, seen at the bottom of the drone recce photo,  and the corresponding yellow unit to the top. The yellow unit benefited from a stealth card requiring an additional 2 acquisition dice. The British Ferrets activating next were unable to move, but prepped for future activation with the idea that they would designate targets for the missiles on the naval units if possible. The Ganymede group also moved up and were able to acquire and aim at the NAU yellow group having rolled three 6’s.

The cautious positioning continued since the British had no data link and the GBR yellow group were therefore unable to acquire the stealthed NAU yellows. No firing took place this turn.

Turn 2:

The NAU again gained the initiative (on exactly the same number of dice as the GBR), continuing a theme from the last game.

NAU command had rolled two 6 (one of which could be used as data link) and two “shoot” dice last turn. The dice rolled for the last turn continue to be available until a unit activates in the subsequent turn and rolls a new “hand” of dice.

The NAU orange “Hornisse” hover tanks moved forward in the centre, but were unable to find a target in line of sight. However, NAU blue had no such difficulty. Moving to acquire the naval group they launched a 15 dice attack. Despite the GBR side using a card for a D6 firer systems down, resulting in a reduction of only 1 attack dice to 14. A roll of 6655 didn’t seem too threatening, until the 8 defence dice yielded no blocks! A further desperate defensive systems card for the GBR took out one of the critical hits, but under the new rules either critical (6) or a double hit (55) would destroy a target. While the card saved the Ganymede the Ersa and Leda were destroyed.

In response the GBR yellow Chieftain unit moved out of cover and launch a retaliatory attack on the more exposed NAU yellow unit.  With 13 attack dice -1 for range attenuation, the Brits roll 666655. Despite playing an “All power to shields” card, the NAU rolls only a 65 against the incoming fire, seeing three of the four vehicles in the unit destroyed. The remaining vehicle rolled a test and stayed in the fight (D6 higher than the number of vehicles destroyed)

GBR orange Ferrets attack the “Hornisse” unit, having rolled 6543 (using the wild 6 as a 2 to acquire), but hits of 665 were all blocked . The Ganymede went into stealth mode with a card.

Both command units now activated successively and maintained comms/data links.

The turn concluded with a GBR Green Cheiftain attack on the exposed NAU yellow over the river with a 6555 on 13 dice. With only a defence of 4 the unit still blocked with 65 resulting in one tank destroyed.

Turn 3:

This proved to be the final round of a vicious confrontation.

The NAU maintained the initiative and their yellow unit used an extra command unit acquisition dice to make 3 allowing them to target the Ganymede in stealth mode. 15 dice resulted in a 66666. A defensive systems card d4 roll resulted in two of these being cancelled. The Ganymede’s defence dice only took out one of the remaining hits, resulting in a mighty explosion as the last two critical hits crashed home. BOOM!

The NAU red Hornisse unit rolls 65511. However, despite being unable to acquire or aim, using a “snapshot” card, they are able to make a reduced level attack. A ten dice attack results in an unlikely 66655. The green unit with all power switched to attack is unable to stop any of these critical hits, although a damage control card cancels the non-criticals.

NAU command rolls a 5321. Without a data link it cannot use any of these dice to support its units. NAU Green rolls 633322  continuing the paralysis on the NAU left flank as without a shoot order, they cannot get into the fight.

The GBR command group still has data link and the GBR yellow unit uses a command unit 2 to acquire NAU yellow. With a 13566 and the 2, the GBR unit can make two attacks using the wild 66 as 44 shoot orders.  A 66655 followed by 65555 leaves the NAU unit doomed, having only two for defence against each attack.

That effectively ended the action for the round and the game, with both sides more or less suffering equal damage and choosing to retire.

As alluded to earlier, the missile rules didn’t get tested and the cards need further development given the rule changes. Overall though, I like the changes; having the extra vehicles on the board “Red Alert” style and the command unit rules, although these could evolve further.  While the game was excessively destructive I think that was a function of the lack of defensive allocation and a need to restructure the cards  to reflect rule developments. The cards are a key thing to work on going forward.

However, missiles still need work. I am thinking of rolling one dice (probably a D6 but maybe others depending on missile characteristics) per missile and in the spirit of using the same dice in a different way, rolling the defence dice to block the specific number rolled (i.e. a defensive 6 would take out any attacking rolls of 6, a 2 would take out any attack rolls of 2 etc.)

I hope to develop the command group idea and use multiple groups (2/3 perhaps depending on the size of game).

I have an idea that I might do an Antarctic game going forward. I have a suitable shower curtain that I used as a mat for a club show game. However, I have no suitable vehicles or other terrain. In the interim I may break out my island terrain (a couple of pictures of which can be seen here) for the next game and hopefully some future blogs might cover painting vehicles (probably striping and re-painting old vehicles) in snow camo and creating some terrain.

Look out for further developments!