Richie Pays a visit

John reports on A Border Reiver Skirmish using En Garde Rules…

Introduction

I’d always been interested in this period since before I started wargaming. Picking up  George MacDonald Fraser’s book ‘The Steel Bonnets’ fired my enthusiasm , I started with modified Redoubt figures and scratch built some buildings and it became a club game for 2002. I sold off figures and buildings to purchase a collection of Outpost figures which promptly gathered dust. The advent of Osprey En Garde rules and finding I have links to two Border Reiver families sparked the flame again.

The Border Reivers occupy a unique position in British history. Before the Union of England and Scotland, the area between the nations was effectively a buffer state with it’s own set of rules. Over population and depredations from either nation took its toll. Cattle rustling, kidnap and blackmail ( in its original sense a protection racket) became commonplace. Fortified buildings, the simplest being a two storey Bastle house, of which there are more than 900, provided some shelter from Reivers who became very skilled in their craft and earned them the reputation of being the finest light horsemen in Europe.

En Garde is an Osprey blue book set of rules for small scale swashbuckling skirmish games for about 20 figures maximum. Each figure has a stat line which provides its rank which can range from peasant to Headman. The higher the rank, the more capable the figure. Each figure has a combat pool (cp) for hand to hand combat. When this takes place, the figure is allocated a number of chits for either attack or defence, which allow the figure to use ploys such as riposte and feint to give a sword fight feel. The higher the cp value, the more attack or defence options for the figure. Each figure has an initiative value which is a dice roll modifier to determine which gets the first hit in. Fight and Shoot stats give modifiers to the attack and AR is an armour protection value. Finally, higher ranked figures can add attributes for example beguiling means that an opponent is less likely to attack the figure, afraid of the consequences. All these features allow the player to develop the character of a figure. A bit like role playing.

The Game

Set up

This scenario is set in the late 16th century Border between Scotland and England about 8 miles east of Carlisle. Richie Graham of Brackenhill (Brackenhill Tower still stands and is a successful self-catering holiday retreat) runs a successful blackmail business. The Bells of Gilsland have failed to make payment and Richie and the blackmailers decide to teach them a lesson. Richie sits in the top three all-time Border bad guys and he’s accompanied by Thomas ‘The Merchant’ Hetherington (possible distant relative of the author) who collected blackmail payments on his behalf.

Forces

 

Terrain

Bastle house with Barnkin wall containing cattle in the centre of a 3’ square board. One boulder close to the bastle, two patches of Heather in the corners and a Long house with fencing containing sheep.

Time and Weather

Weather – a 6 is rolled which is wind and rain. Line of sight reduced to 24” and all shooting has a -1 modifier

Time of day – a 3 is rolled which is dusk. Line of sight reduced to 18”

Typical conditions for a border raid!

The Bell reivers, Willie Red Cloak’s wife and young son (both classed as peasant) are in the Bastle. Two peasants are in the Long House

Move 1

The Bells win initiative and Jamie fires through the window at the leading Graham. He rolls 4 and 2. +1 for skill, – 1 for weather, – 1 >12” away. Gives a score of 5. He needs more than 6 to cause a wound so it’s a fail. Willie runs to take cover behind the Barnkin wall. There is not enough room for all the gang so Richie does an ordered run into the cover provided by the heather.

Move 2

The Bells win initiative. Jamie concentrates his aim on the Barnkin gate. Bell’s son is sent to light the warning beacon beside the bastle. Richie orders a group move and the Grahams run around the Barnkin wall.

Move 3

The Grahams win the initiative and continue to run around the Barnkin wall. As they pass the gate, Jamie Bell fires at Wat. He rolls a 9 +1 for aimed shot, +1 for skill – 1 for weather -1 for the gate – 2 for distance gives a score of 7 A hit is scored but the armour saves Wat.

Move 4

The son is in serious danger but the Bells win the initiative. The boy gets back inside the Bastle and the drawbar is slammed shut behind the door. The Grahams prepare “Fire to the Door”. They are going to smoke out the Bells, this tactic was known as “scum fishing”.

Move 5

The Bells win initiative and a group move is ordered for the armed Bells to descend the ladder into the Barnkin and take on the Grahams directly. This is overheard by the Grahams and a group move is ordered to the gate with Jock of the Peartree (crack shot) in the lead. He waits by the gate looking for a target. Thomas (The Merchant Hetherington) waits by the ground floor door to make sure the smoke builds up. Screams from inside the Bastle alert the two peasants in the long house who move, just out of view towards Thomas.

Move 6

The Bells win initiative and move towards the Barnkin gate. Its slippery, the cows are in the way so only a short move is possible. Jock of the Peartree fires his latch and rolls a double 1! The latch bolt is stuck and Jock will have to spend a move clearing the latch to fire again. Wat attempts to climb over the wall but fails his dexterity roll and falls, grazing his shins.

Move 7

The Grahams win initiative. Archie fires at Davy. He rolls 6 and 6  = 12 – 1 for weather = 11 – 6 = 5 a hit has been scored. Davy’s armour is 1 plus 1 for the shield = 2. Final wound score = 3. A light wound. Willie Bell opens the gate and moves into combat with Wat.  Willie’s combat pool is DDDA (where D is defence, A is attack) in Case Richie attacks. He rolls 8 + 4 for his fight ability = 12. Wat defends his combat pool is DD. He rolls 6 + 2 for his fight ability. A wound is caused to Wat but his armour saves 2 and it’s a light wound. Richie attacks Willie with a combat pool of ADDD He rolls 10 + 4 fight ability gives a total score of 14. Willie rolls a 5 from 2 dice attempting a parry and using one of his remaining defence chits,  +4 for fight ability = 9. A difference of 5. Willie has an armour of 3 giving a wound score of 2 a light wound. There are no more attack chits available so combat ends for the turn.

Move 8

The Grahams win initiative. Jock fires at Davy. He rolls 11 + 2 for sharpshooter -1 for weather -6 = 6. A wound has been caused. Davy has an armour of 2 which gives a final score of 4 a Grievous wound. When this is combined with the light wound he is killed. Because Willie has a light wound, Richie has the initiative and launches an attack and goes for the subdue option. If he can kidnap Willie Bell, He could get a ransom and the outstanding blackmail payments. Willie uses his Weapon Master attribute to attempt a riposte.

On two dice Richie rolls 7, not great. Willie only rolls 1, a difference of 6. Willie already has a light wound so his combat factor is reduced to 3 a difference of 7. A subdue attack is a -1 modifier and Willies armour is 3. A final score of 3 another light wound. Two light wounds become one grievous wound and Willie is subdued.

It looks grim for the Bells now. Ritchie has his dagger at Willie’s throat and a retreat would be covered by the two latchmen. Meanwhile at the Bastle door, Thomas the Merchant is fighting off the two farm hands. His combat pool is ADD He attacks one of the farm hands whose combat pool is D. He rolls 8 with two dice plus a combat factor of 3 = 11. The Farmhand rolls 10 with two dice but with no armour, a hit is scored. The farmhand is stunned. The second farmhand attacks He rolls 5 from two dice but Thomas only manages 2 from two dice. His fight skill of 3 saves the day and as there are no attack chits left combat ends for the turn.

The Bells now need to take a morale test they need to roll under 7 on a modified roll of two dice. They roll 3 and pass.

Move 9

The initiative roll is tied but the Grahams have a higher initiative leader now so win the initiative. Thomas goes on the offensive with AAA in his combat pool against the farmhands. He attacks the unwounded farmhand and rolls 11 The Farmhand Combat pool D rolls 4 from two dice and dies. Thomas then attacks the remaining farmhand who is already wounded. Thomas rolls 5 + 3 for fight = 8. The farmhand rolls 6 – 1 fight value for already wounded. It’s a second light wound and this now becomes grievous.

It’s all over and the Grahams win the day. It’s going to be a long hard winter for the Bells!

We’ve played a few games at the club and it’s a game I’m keen to bring back once we are allowed to meet again. I’m keen to run a mini campaign involving two feuding families a group of outlaws known as ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ and the Hebburn garrison (complete with sleuth hounds).

The Bear

Stephen gives us the breakdown (and pictures) of a flexible medieval force he’s been working on.

I’ve used lockdown to finish off and round out my armies rather than start new ones.

One of those is a collection that performs two functions – it can be an early Hundred Years War force or it can be a fantasy human army.

I thought I’d present it here in its fantasy form because over lockdown it’s the fantasy elements that I have finished off.

It’s in Dragon Rampant sized units and I’ve included details from those rules.

Sir Artos FitzUrsus

Sir Artos is the leader and a unit in his own right. There’s a foot and mounted version (with his mastiffs – Brutus, Cassius, and Victor). On foot I have him as an Elite Foot unit. Mounted he’s Elite Rider with the Level Headed upgrade.

Sir Artos

Knightly Retainers

Surrounding Sir Artos are his loyal knights. Some are household knights, some are lords of local manors, but all are loyal to their lord. I have two units of these – both foot and mounted versions. The mounted knights are Elite Riders and the foot knights are Elite Foot.

Knights 1
Knights 2

Hobilars and Currours

These are full time sergeants riding mounts given to them by their lords. In normal duties they patrol the borders and marches and are amongst the best horsemen around. They carry a mix of weapons – spears, swords, and crossbows. There’s two units of them and they are Heavy Riders with the mounted missiles upgrade.

Hobilars 1
Hobilars 2

The Cult of Flagellants

This band of religious fanatics are led by Brother Crowley. They are easily whipped into a frenzy, convert the unbelievers with their blades, and fight to the death. Always. They are a Bellicose Foot unit. Very bellicose.

Cult of Flagellants

The Yeomanry of the Shires

Independent landowners and wealthy farmers who are proud of their status and independence but also loyal to Sir Artos as tenant-in-chief. They carry longbows and all have some form of armour, whether a leather jack, a quilt gambeson or an old chain shirt. They are rated as Heavy Missiles.

Yeomanry

The Company of St Mercure

These are actually mercenaries from the continent. They are professionals and all equipped with crossbows. As professional mercenaries they are well equipped and have a good level of armour protection as well. Such is their experience at scouting that they can be used as an advance party to check on enemy positions. They are classified as Heavy Missile troops but can be split up to form Scouts.

Company of St Mercure

Retainers

The back bone of the army! These troops form the main portion of the infantry and are always first in the fight or found holding the bridgehead against the savage hordes. The captains are the younger sons of noble families, and the rank and file are fit and strong men from the countryside willing to fight for their lord. They are Heavy Foot with the Offensive upgrade.

Retainers 1
Retainers 2

The Guild of Mages

Within Sir Artos’ lands is a prefectory of the Guild of Mages. The building is in free-hold but the surrounding lands and farms that support the prefectory are rented from Sir Artos. The order is run by Maxwell Crochety who goes everywhere mounted on a beaten old nag.

They are a unit of Light Foot with the Short Range Missile upgrade (to represent firebolt type spells) and also the full Spellcaster upgrade (it is a guild of mages after all!).

Guild of Mages

So that’s Sir Artos FitzUrsus and his troops. There’s quite a lot. I can either pick and choose specific units for a small battle or they can all come out for a bigger rumble.

Declare Sir Artos your liege lord and you shall live!

 

 

3D Printed Coastal Fort

Colin gives us an update on his 3D Printing efforts.

I decided needed a coastal fort to accompany the Lepanto 3D printed galleys. Inspiration was this Turkish fort in Paphos, Cyprus which we visited a few years back.

Paphos Castle in Cyprus

So I put a design together in Tinkercad. This took about half an hour.

3D rendition of the castle

Here’s the painted first model I produced.

First version of the fort

I then updated the design with the extension of a rooftop building and added inserts for doorways and windows which will make the painting easier.

Updated design for the fort

Took just over 4 hours to print and used 30g of PLA which means it costs about 60p to produce.

I plan to make it my first upload to thingiverse.com and see if it attracts any interest.

 

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – 3rd Feb 1461

Stephen has fought another battle in the War of the Roses campaign…

So this is the next one in my Wars of the Roses battles.

Like all the others, the intent is that anyone should be able to game it. This was played on a 3’x2’ table using Basic Impetus.

This battle was the famous one where the atmospheric phenomenon known as a parhelion was witnessed and was interpreted by Edward of York as the Holy Trinity and was, therefore, an omen for victory. In recognition of this he took the Sun In Splendour as his personal emblem.

But a victory for who?

Order of Battle

From a gaming point of view there is one important thing to take into account – the Yorkists deployed some of their archers and cavalry hidden in the woods on the Lancastrian left. I decided that the Lancastrians could not move against these hidden troops unless they either moved or shot their arrows to revel their presence.

The battlefield itself is a rather simple affair. The river Lugg on the east border, and a ridge and woodland on the west. Other than that, it’s all open – these two terrain features dictated the deployment of troops.

Deployment

How did it go then?

Historically, the Yorkist ambush opened the battle. This had the desired effect on the Lancastrian line. Although the Lancastrians had a slight numerical superiority the Yorkist ambush did the trick and Edward of York sealed the victory.

This is how my re-fight went.

The key was obviously going to be when to spring the ambush. Since both sides were up for a fight there was no postponement of initiative rolls like in previous games – initiative was rolled for from the start. This can frequently mean that one side gets a double go – last to move in one turn and then first to move in the next turn. Would this affect the ambush?

Yes, it would.

Edward leads his knights

The Yorkist plan was to let the Lancastrian knights advance past the hidden cavalry and then be peppered by the archers and Edward of York leading his knights in a charge on the weakened cavalry. Meanwhile, the hidden cavalry would rush out and slam into the Lancastrian infantry line. At least, that was the plan.

The ambush is finally sprung

Sure enough, forward went the Lancastrian knights. This put them in range of a bow attack from the archers and a follow up charge by the cavalry. This was tempting and would probably rout them. But if things went the Yorkist way (i.e. they won initiative next turn) they could then have their cake and eat it and their plan would go the way they wanted. Had Edward of York’s omen of the parhelion been true – was it a blessing from the Holy Trinity?

Well, if it was, it wasn’t just yet. The Lancastrians took the initiative which meant the Lancastrian knights not only galloped past the archers but they also managed to take the charge into the Yorkist knights (who were being led by Edward).

The knights clash

Meanwhile the rest of the Lancastrian line trudged forward. The Yorkists, kicking their heels at missing out, nevertheless managed to spring part of their ambush and the cavalry charged into the Lancastrian billmen.

Over on the Lancastrian right flank, where they had their currours and hobilars, they decided to spur their cavalry and take the charge to the Yorkist longbows. Otherwise they’d just find themselves turning into pin cushions.

The currours advance

Although the Lancastrian knights had cleared the ambush they were still far from safe. Their charge had taken them past the York battle line, and into the Yorkist knights. They needed to pull this off or they would be in a dire situation. And pull it off they did – they pushed Edward and his knights back and followed up with a pursuit.

The two infantry lines had started sending arrows over at each other, but these long shots had little effect. However, as they closed, casualties started mounting, particularly amongst the Lancastrians. Despite the less than auspicious ambush, it could be the day would still go the Yorkist way.

The centre battleline

The Lancastrian levies took firm hold of their spears and went for the Yorkist archers who had despatched the currours. They dropped their bows and took up hatchets and swords and, supported by billmen, gave melee. The result was indecisive – all units suffered hits and stayed locked in combat.

Over in the ambush area things were starting to get dirty. The Lancastrian billmen had stood firm against the cavalry and routed them! But that wasn’t all. The struggle between the Yorkist and Lancastrian knights also came to a conclusion – the Lancastrian knights had won the fight and not only routed the Yorkist knights but had also killed Edward as well!

So much for the Holy Trinity!

Edward is gone

This still wasn’t the end for York, far from it. On the eastern flank, by the banks of the Lugg, the Yorkist infantry had routed the Lancastrian levies. In the middle it was still a mix – the two lines had yet to come to blows, preferring to exchange bowfire. This had affected both sides with no absolute winner.

In go the levies

In the west, by the woods, the ambush had come to nothing. The cavalry had been beaten, the Lancastrian knights had slipped through and killed Edward of York, and it just left the archers, feeling all alone and surrounded.

It wouldn’t go on for much longer. The Yorkist archers inevitably fell. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough was enough, and the army of York had reached its break point. Victory would go to Lancaster!

Not looking good for the archers

It had been a slight victory. Had the Lancastrians lost one more unit it would have been a York victory.

The undoing had been the poorly executed ambush. It had been a gamble on whether to wait for ideal conditions, and a gamble that didn’t pay off. It didn’t help that dice rolls had been poor all game, poor for both sides, meaning that fights drew on. Any winners in combat had generally taken such a pummelling that though they may have won they had also been left spent.

Next up is a return to St Albans…

Having a Blast!

Jeremey takes us through some home made blast markers.

Having recently started repainting my old 6mm Sci-Fi forces my thoughts turned to the different types of blast markers used in various wargames, you know the ones, they are often made of hard translucent plastic in the shape of a flame. Wargamers use them for marking the spot they are calling artillery down on or even to show destroyed and burnt out vehicles.

The first thing I thought of was could I make my own? Having made many things out of EVA foam for my gaming I turned to that first as a very simple material to work with. I knew you could get the foam in thin sheets and in bright colours. As luck would have it I popped into a local Poundland store to pick up some things for a bit of DIY I had to do, and discovered in the crafts section a packet of foam rocket shapes.

The packet had 5 foam rockets shapes for each colour

So I bought a packet at the predictable price, thinking I could make blast markers out of the red and yellow rockets.

Blast marker templates cut from a piece of cardboard

I made myself two flame shaped templates out of cardboard. One smaller than the other and made sure the smaller one fitted inside the silhouette of the larger one.
It was then just a matter of drawing round the templates, trying to fit in as many of the markers as I could. To make 3 blaster markers I would need 3 of the bigger flames in red and 6 of the smaller yellow flames to go on either side.

The first cut out flames, bit short on the yellow bits though

of course at first I completely forgot I’d need twice as many of the smaller yellow flames as the red, which is why there are only 3 of each in the picture!

A smaller blast created during assembly

Rather than waste the foam I experimented with a smaller blast marker cutting out from the red foam using the smaller of the two templates I’d made. I used standard PVA glue to stick the yellow smaller flame to the red foam and then repeated the process for the other side of the marker.

Incoming!

The final (sort of) stage involved me supergluing the marker to a thin wooden base that I had, which I then just painted to blend in a bit better. There we have it, very cheap, simple and quick blast markers for games.

However as you can see from the picture I took it a stage further. I added or rather smudged on some black miniature paint in that way explosions are often depicted. Nice simple effect that stops the blast marker looking too cartoonish. I also turned to the blue foam from the packet and wondered if I could make a splash marker. I don’t often play naval wargames but fellow club members do. I cut out a more splash like shape and as with the black on the blast marker I dabbed white paint on the edges of both the main shape and the smaller splash shapes, and of course I painted the base blue.

Now all I need to do is think up a way of using the green foam from the packet. Hmmm alien weapon blast effect …

Carters and Herders

Andy reports on the next instalment of the Dark Ages figures recently completed…

First up (above) is a 4Ground Oxcart, with Oxen and the carter’s family from Colonel Bill’s Depot Battalion.

The figures were cleaned of any mould lines and washed in soapy water to remove any residual mould release agent and dried. The oxen, cart driver and boy were fixed to temporary bases for painting, the others were fixed to 2p pieces and the bases built up with 4Ground base render. All were then primed with grey car primer.

The oxen were given a couple of coats of Vallejo Pale Sand, then the upper parts of the body were painted Dark Sand and heavily washed with Army Painter Light Tone Wash. Eyes were painted German Camouflage Black Brown, and the horns Deck Tan.

The figures skin was painted with a base coat of Vallejo Brown Sand and then Medium Flesh with a selection of browns, greys and beiges for the clothes, one of the women has a Golden Yellow dress, the other English Uniform Brown. Both have Silver and/or Bronze necklaces. Finally the figure’s bases were given a coat of green Basetex.

Once assembled the cart was painted Green Brown and washed with AP Dark Tone.

The cart, oxen and the boy were fixed to a 60mm wide by 120mm deep carboard base and the area around the oxen’s bases built up with 4Ground base render followed by a coat of green Basetex over the entire base. I then used some brown cotton to add harness ropes to the cart.

The second part of this instalment is a pack of 4 Gripping Beast Shepherds & Stockmen painted in the same way as the cart crew.

Down to the Wire – Zona Alpha Battle Report

John presents us with another Zona Alpha battle report.

A Zona Alfa Solo play battle report, a continuation from The Hostage in bunker c7.
It had all been too good to be true. With half a kilometre travelled the BPM 97 coughed and spluttered it’s last and came to a grinding halt.
‘Where are we?’ Kovacs asked. ‘Strelets’ replied Leila, ‘The fence is just beyond the village’. He picked up a cluster of hotspots in the village and with the zombies in pursuit He needed to think fast.
‘Ice Queen, booby trap the doors, they’ll smell our sweat first’. Cover us whilst we check out the village.’ ‘Leila, grab the wire cutters and stock up on grenades everyone’.
Kovacs headed out first followed by Leila. They’d reached the outskirts of the village as the zombies arrived. Sure enough they triggered the Booby trap and the doors were well and truly blown off.

Four of the zombies are caught in the blast zone. With an ‘armour’ of 6 minus 2 for the grenade blast, they need 4 or less to survive. Two down!

Ice Queen takes aim at the zombies.

Ice Queen aims 3 shots at the zombies but only hits one (needing 7 or less).The Zombie is downed. She has no further actions fortunately, the zombies have activated twice this turn.

Whilst she could, Ice Queen ran around the building to Kovacs and Leila. ‘This will slow us down’ muttered Kovacs as Leila attempted to take out the zombies unsuccessfully. Kovacs lobbed a well aimed grenade in their direction and all three fell dead.

All three zombies are caught in the blast zone and all fail their armour save rolls, needing 4 or less

Picking their way through the village, it was clear that other hotspots would be triggered. ‘Better choose ourselves’ said Kovacs as he tossed a bolt at the building in front triggering the hot spot
‘Holy Cow! Four mechs’ groaned Kovacs.

Between Kovacs and Ice Queen, two mechs are destroyed.

‘Drat!’ shouted Kovacs as one of the mechs aimed at him. Luckily it missed, the second mech fired and wounded Ice Queen before it too was downed.
Having disposed of the Mechs and administering a med pack to Ice Queen, Kovacs weaved between the village buildings and clambered onto some farm machinery to get a clear throw for a bolt toss to trigger the hot spot near the fence. It was then that Kovacs noticed the sensors.

A good throw triggered the hot spot, revealing a huge Man eating plant

‘What the …’ ‘Ice Queen, here now!’ shouted Kovacs.

A skilful shot from the sniper rifle takes out the mutant who rolled a 10 needing a 3 or less to survive

‘Leila, run to the fence and cut a hole in the wire – don’t worry about the alarm’ ordered Kovacs. Without a fumble, the bolt cutters easily made a hole in the fence as the alarm started, waking up some Ghouls – tortured irradiated souls who had escaped from the Sanatorium.

Kovacs opens up first and between him and Ice Queen, the ghouls are eliminated

As Kovacs makes a run for the fence, the mayhem roused a group of zombies near the bath house.

Ice Queen was stranded, deserted by her comrades. With the alarms going, there was only one course of action to survive. Her Sniper rifle weighed too much, she had to ditch it to stand a chance and run for the wire before the zombies got to her. At the wire, Kovacs handed her a bottle of Electric Juice . ‘Here take this’. ‘Now run for that Sewage drain to the left’. They made it into the cold damp darkness of the sewage pipe before the first drone came over. ‘You owe me’ howled Ice Queen.
Some people say you can never get rid of the smell.

 

Frostgrave: Dark Alchemy campaign

Stephen recounts a solo adventure, using some of his recent terrain builds.

I’ve always liked Frostgrave.

It is a very terrain intensive game and, if you go with the game setting, very game-specific terrain at that.

So I decided that I wouldn’t use the Felstad setting, preferring to make use of miniatures and terrain I already have to get some extra mileage out of them.

That means I use models and buildings from my large dark age/early medieval collection. So let’s call it ‘Darkgrave’, shall we?

For lockdown Osprey offered the Dark Alchemy campaign as a free download. (Ed: available as a pdf or e-book for £1.49 from Osprey at date of posting).

So this weekend I finally got around to playing it.

Dark Alchemy is a 3-scenario campaign based around a raid on a large alchemical factory. Or, in my Darkgrave setting, a raid on the ruins of a large alchemical commune.

The burning ruins

My warband is led by a druid (Witch, under Frostgrave options) called Rollo Magwitch and his apprentice, Eadberht Blackthorn.

I played the first two scenarios but forgot to take any pictures. Suffice to say that after a bit of plunder the group had grown familiar with each other, and identify any short comings. They’d made enough to pay the landlord of the Puking Pig Inn for permanent rooms as their home base.

So what follows is a report on the last of the campaign scenarios – The Spreading Flame, where they have to escape the ruins before they go up in flames!

A golden chalice up for grabs

The board was set up with ruins and undergrowth. Then the treasure tokens were placed. Then three fire tokens were placed, and then four fire-flingers – constructs that can move around shooting flames at interlopers. The warband has 10 rounds to collect as much treasure as possible and get off the board. After 10 rounds the place explodes in fire with anyone left onboard having to make a casualty roll.

For this scenario you are only allowed to take four warband members. I chose Rollo Magwitch, who teamed up Wilfred (a fyrd man), and then Edward (a slightly wealthier thane with great axe) teamed with Alfred (an archer) – meaning that each pair had a melee fighter and missile/spell user.

Edward and Alfred skirted around a ruined chapel where ahead they could see the glint of gold. However, they could also see the flickering of flames, so Alfred notched an arrow and let fly into a fire-flinger. Edward chose to duck into the ruins, hoping this would make it difficult for the fire-flinger – two targets instead of one – and maybe a chance to get around the side to either destroy the construct or make a nab for the treasure.

Rollo and Wilfred sneak up

Rollo and Wilfred had made their way around the other side of the same ruined chapel. In front of them were the ruins of a large building, possibly a chapter house or something. Same thing – gold (a chalice) could be seen, but so could a fire-flinger. Trying the same tactics as Alfred and Edward, Rollo decided to see if he could hit the fire-flinger from distance by casting a Bone Dart spell. The spell didn’t go off, so Wilfred stepped forward to block the fire-flinger in case it moved up.

Edward gets ready for a fight

Alfred let off another arrow, scoring a hit, but doing little damage. Edward continued through the building, but had miscalculated how far away he was and found himself struck by a lick of flame from the fire-flinger. If he stayed where he was it would come to no good, so he pulled out his axe and charged into the construct.

The fire-flinger didn’t last long.

Rollo also had another go with his Bone Dart spell. This time he was more successful and a flurry of small shards of bone spewed from his hand and riddled the fire-flinger. A good hit, but not good enough. Wilfred then went forward, hoping that the damaged construct could easily be dispatched. Not so – the fire-flinger gave him a good burning!

Wilfred engages a fire flinger with Rollo giving support

Having destroyed the first fire-flinger, Edward then moved forward to grab the treasure, but lo and behold, another fire-flinger had come up. The blade of his axe had warmed up nicely now, and so emboldened he decided not to wait for Alfred’s bow fire and just waded in. This wouldn’t go so well – it didn’t take long for Edward to fall under the searing lashings of the fire-flinger and burnt and smouldering, down he went.

Down goes Edward

It is hard to say whether Rollo then showed wisdom or, perhaps, opportunism. With Wilfred engaged with the fire-flinger, this left the treasure – a large gold cross – free. Rollo cast his Leap spell, bounded the ruined walls, and grabbed the cross! As Wilfred continued his fight with the fire-flinger (a fight he would go on to win), Rollo (holding the treasure firmly) fled the ruins to safety.

Rollo loots the altar cross

Alfred, having seen Edward go down, drew his arrows and proceeded to pepper the second fire-flinger with arrows. When that did for the construct, he ran forward to see what state Edward was in. There was no movement. Time was of the essence. Maybe now Edward’s soul resided with God. The only honour he could was grab the treasure and make off with it, to make Edward’s sacrifice mean something (well, that’s what he would later claim).

Alfred runs to Edward’s rescue

Now it left Wilfred all on his own, with time ticking down. There were no fire-flingers around that he could see, so he was left with a dilemma – leave now and be safe, or go further into the ruins and see what he could find.

Curiosity got the better of him.

Forward he went, where he could see a gold chalice lying in the rubble of the ruins. Unfortunately, this also drew the attention of another fire flinger. If he was quick, though, he should be able to make it to the treasure and be off before the fire-flinger got near him. There would be no room for mistakes though.

And fortunately for Wilfred no mistakes were made. He got the treasure and then sped off after Rollo, with the fire-flinger’s flames shooting out after him.

Wilfred makes off with the chalice pursued by flames

Game over.

Edward would count as still being in the ruins on turn 10, meaning that he would have to make a roll to see what happens – would he be killed or would he survive? I’m pleased to say he lived to tell the tale, but he had been badly wounded by the flames, and would have to miss a game, holed up in bed in the Puking Pig Inn until he had recovered (in game terms – he has to miss a game).

Rollo is now a level 7 witch (that may sound impressive, but levels are easy to gain in Frostgrave and you get small increases with each level. Level 7 is still very low in game terms). With the money he’s made he has managed to recruit a huscarl: Godwin. This should provide some good back bone to the warband.

Fist-Full Of Lead: Galactic Heroes

Marcus takes us through a recent game of Galactic Heroes.

Fist-Full Of Lead: Galactic Heroes
The boys and I have played a few skirmish games of late, and Fist-Full of Lead (FFOL) is a great option for a quick set-up bit of fun. Galactic Heroes is a stand-alone product in the series for space opera style action. It is produced by Wiley Games in the US and available in the UK from Oshiro Models.

A week ago I threw together a scenario which my youngest, Sun Two, and I blundered through (because it wasn’t that well developed, as a spur of the moment thing), but I forgot to take any photos! This week I wrote up a more complete treatment and we decided to give it a go on Saturday.

With some obvious inspiration (hint for those who didn’t grow up with the obligatory Cold War fiction) I pulled out my home made skirmish board with a surface that works for anything from an arid planet to the ocean depths and broke out all the sci-fi scenery (cue aquarium plants and buildings (some home-made from coffee jar tops) and some geodesic shelters from the lovely range by Alternative Armies Ion Age).

FFOL games rely on a deck of playing cards for activation. A player can use their own ordinary deck or use the bespoke ones available. These not only have some appropriate art, but also include on the relevant prompts with benefits that accrue from activating on certain cards. (e.g. +1 to combat (Jacks), heal a wound (Queen of Hearts) or (Sixes) reload). A player is dealt cards for the number of models they control. Then one player calls out the cards in rank order. When that player calls “kings” a player with a king can activate one of their models. If two or more players have kings, activation is completed in suit order. Each activation gives two actions. The models mainly use 1d10 for shooting and close combat, but a wide choice of traits vary the characters. Crews all receive one common “crew” trait (e.g. advanced comms or camo), leaders get three traits plus leadership, a specialist two and a regular one.  The traits provide a lot of character and variation to the crew.

Planetary Research Station Zulu
The war for control of Galactic Space is the coldest war of all. The mighty, technically advanced fleets of both the Rim-Ward Confederation and the Core Union conduct an unceasing ballet of probe and counter probe, patrol and surveillance in the effort to accrue the slightest advantage should the fragile peace fail. Unfortunately, this peace is threatened as a Union stealth probe has crash landed on moon Zulu. Before it crashed it transmitted critical information to a receiver on the planet. But the only occupants of this arid dustbowl are a group of scientists. Communication has been lost and a violent sandstorm rages.

Each side has inserted a team of specialists with instructions to bring back the critical information. Each side needs to contact the remaining civilians and roll successfully to gather information (tokens). After turn five each side has an opportunity once each turn to roll under the number of tokens gathered, which will provide enough evidence to recover the crucial data cache. The side which gets off the board first secures the vital data. However, where there are secrets there are spies! It is unclear how either side came to infiltrate agents into the expedition, but needless to say they did. No-one knows the identity of the spies. When questioning civilians, on a 9+ the subject is a proves to be a spy and attacks the team. The spy is then controlled by the other side, which is dealt an extra card next turn for the additional character. If an opponent’s spy is killed, deduct 2 from their intel total.

There were also some random events in the scenario, including weather changes (the game started with a lull in the storm), buildings blowing up and the dreaded sandsharks…

Finally, I controlled the Core (entering from the left in the layout picture). Sun Two the RimFed.

Turn 1
The game started with a brief lull in the storm. Both teams approached the research station from opposite sides, failing to make any contacts during this turn.

Turn 2
The first random event produced…nothing! No-one was wounded, so despite a sandshark roll, none appeared on the board. The Core Sniper having advanced toward a civilian was, ironically, picked off from a hill to the south east by a RimFed sniper. Out of action immediately! Snarot (a snake-parrot hybrid) struck back with a shot similarly wounding RimFeds Catman.

Turn 3
The weather closed back in with visibility cut to 12” and short range up to 6”.   A RimFed trooper interrogated a mechanic (Picture 3), gaining 2 info. with a roll of 7.

The Core leader, Sharon (looks a little bit like an ‘80’s Sharon stone-every collection should have one!), approached a venerable orange robot to interrogate it, but on a roll of 9 it turns out to be a deadly spy, rolling an 8 to wound. Sharon however is “Lucky”, so forces a re-roll…9! Sharon is not so lucky after all and out of action for the game.  Core forces have already lost two figures and have no information. RimFed’s Silva Slither (metallic sheathed worm) encounters another civilian and rolls for information, only to uncover another spy. The spy shoots but misses. By co-incidence both spies roll the trait “sixth sense” from my short “spy” list. They can re-roll one shot each turn (but the Core spy overlooked this at the time)

As the turn closed, Snarot tried to finish off the orange spy with a couple of shots, but missed. The Core’s own red worm (red and silver worms have a deep-seated enmity!), Slippery, again tries to shoot the orange robot, causing severe damage (a wound) and shock. For the Core, Spartan closed with Silva and engaged in close combat alongside the Core spy in support, wounding the metallic nematode.

Turn 4
Surely things would improve now for the Core? The random event indicated two information points in a random building. It turns out they are almost immediately adjacent to RimFed’s Antman. He not only collects these but encountering a civilian in the building, also gets another token from him! Slippery tries to finish off the robot, but fails. The RimFed uses a Queen of Spades to activate the robot, shaking the shock off but failing to return to action from the wound (You can attempt to recover; stand up and function after a wound. However, you need a medic to attempt to heal/get rid of it).  Snarot again fails to finish it off.

Snarot and Slippery finally finish off downed robot

Elsewhere, the Core spy shoots RimFeds Kanga, putting him out of action. RimFeds Hawk tries to get more information out of a yellow robot to no effect. Silva overcomes his wound, and while he remains injured, manages to stand. Antman, sensing the tide of the game is flowing substantially in favour of the RimFed, moves toward their edge of the board.

Turn 5
Visibility clears again. With a staggering 9 intel., the RimFed roll a 6, meaning that they have enough information to recover the secret data package. While slippery finishes off the orange robot spy costing the RimFed two intel., it is too little too late from the Core forces. As the RimFeds forces pull back they callously leave two of their team and their brokenspy behind. Snarot and Spartan try some long range sniping at the retreating forces to no effect. Hawk, Antman and an injured Silva (who makes a sliding equivalent of a limp) make it off the board for a substantial, if brutally efficient win, even while the Core spy puts Catman out of action.

A very bad result for the Core. No intel gathered and their leader out of action. The fact they knocked out the enemy spy and two combatants is cold comfort in this cold war. And no sandsharks. Again. Very disappointing.

RimFed robot spy and Union leads down. Slippery and Snarot survey the scene.

FFOL provides a very quick, interesting, narrative game with very little effort. It took no more than 90 minutes, if that. I am thinking seriously about a future campaign in a post-apocalyptic setting using FFOL – Wasteland Warriors and a road race element. This would allow a series of micro-games in a campaign where a number could be played in a day at the club.

One day…

Oh Brother!*

The short lesson today is read by Andy…

I’ve recently finished a couple of dozen Dark Ages figures. Here’s the first instalment: eight Gripping Beast monks from two packs SSC03 Monks Parading Cross and SSC10 Pious Monks

One of the Dark Ages rulesets I use (Dux Bellorum) allows some armies to have a unit of Monks to provide spiritual support to the rank and file. They may also be used as the less combatant targets of Viking raids under other rules.

All paints are Vallejo unless stated otherwise. The monks’ habits are English Uniform, with an Army Painter Mid Brown Wash. The under tunics (where relevant) are Khaki Grey and the Scapular White. Black and various shades of brown were used for their hair (what’s left of it).

The rope on the cross and monks belts are German Camouflage Beige.

The Abbott gets a nice AP Crystal Blue waistband and has some silver metalwork on his crook (Vikings may like those). The preaching monk’s bible has a Chocolate Brown cover and Pale Sand pages.

Here endeth the lesson.

* Anyone old enough to remember the TV series?