The 3 S’s: Stargrave, Space: 1999 and Serenity

Andy tells a story of repurposing an Eagle…

With the announcement of the release of Stargrave last year one of our members suggested that as a lockdown project those interested might like to kitbash or scratchbuild a shuttle or spaceship and paint up a 15mm crew for the game, with a target date of early 2021 when we hoped we might be able to resume meetings. The due date was of course extended.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Actually, no, it was in the 1970’s in Rochester, I bought and made up an Airfix Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Said model has followed me around various student lodgings, digs, flats and finally my current home.

So, I had a search in the loft and found the Eagle. It’s not had very much use, but at one point I completely repainted it into a non-cannon scheme.

Eagle as found

I noticed that the thruster units were missing, I have a vague recollection that I removed them for the last repaint, and put them in a ziplock bag somewhere. Exactly where I don’t recall, hopefully they will turn up at some point.

Having found the model I decided I didn’t want to do a full strip and repaint, but I wasn’t that keen on the colour scheme I had used for the doors on the cargo pod or cockpit.

I decided to just touch up the grey and repaint the cargo pod and cockpit panels. I started off by giving the doors and the cockpit panels a couple of coats of Foundation White. Once dry I then repainted the doors and panels with Fluorescent Orange, with some black lining. The instrument panels at the top of the doors were painted Gunmetal Grey.

I also decided that the main engine nozzles need a touch-up, matt black inside and Gunmetal Grey outside. I also repainted the black panels on the cockpit section. I suspect my decision to use a grey and orange scheme may have been influenced by old Royal Navy SAR helicopters.

I had a rummage through my spare transfer box and found quite a few sheets from some Hasegawa 1:72nd scalexe UH-1D Helicopters I’d built for Vietnam games. This gave me a load of duplicate registration numbers, plus some Japanese Kanji characters. I gloss varnished the areas I to which I was going to place the transfers, added some 5-digit numbers to the front and sides, and larger two-digit numbers to the sides and top surfaces. I also added a Kanji block to the sides of the cargo pod, these actually read Rikujōjieitai or “Japan Ground Self Defence Force”. The reasons for adding some Kanji characters will become clearer later.

Eagle repainted

While I was working on the Eagle and posting WIP pictures on the MWS groups.io discussion page a debate arose about whether I should give the Eagle some weapons. There were arguments in favour and against, some of which were quite passionate.

I decided to try and have the best of both worlds, and make the guns detachable. Looking at the Eagle the spinal lattice work had gaps of approximately one inch. I thought I could make some inserts to fit this lattice to hold the guns.

I started by cutting some 25mm square sections of 5mm foamboard, then trimming about 2 mm off each edge of one of the cardboard faces and the underlying foam. This needs to be done carefully so as not to cut through the second face. This results in a roughly 21mm square “plug” with a 25mm square upper face. I made two of these.

Left to right: 25mm square foamboard, markings for the edge cuts, the roughly 21mm square plug with 25mm upper face.

I obtained a selection of spare guns from Brigade’s 15mm Accessories range, and made two gun packs, one fixed gun firing forward using a Triple Powergun and one with four Remote Weapons Mounts, think of some small Vulcan Phalanx systems.

I painted the guns Gunmetal grey and the body of the pack as close a match to the Eagle’s grey as I could mix. I then gave the guns a liberal coat of Army Painter Dark Tone wash.

Eagle Guns (L to R) Chin gun from a Kirin walker, Triple Powergun, Remote Weapon Mount

These gun packs just push fit into the spinal lattice, the foam is flexible enough to deform as they fit into place and expand again to hold them solid. The separate twin turret just fits into a recess in the cockpit section.

Eagle guns mounted

Now onto the crew.

A while ago I was tempted by a couple of GZG figure packs that bore an uncanny resemblance to the cast of a certain 2000’s Sci Fi TV show and film. Shiny. So, these would become the crew of the Eagle.

I mounted these on some 16mm diameter washers, built up the bases with Polyfilla and undercoated them with grey primer.

I found a few pictures of the cast on the web and used those as inspiration for the colour scheme, or as close as I could get with the mostly Valljeo paints I had available. The bases were then finished off with basetex and the figures varnished.

Three of the cast had duplicate figures, either different clothing and / or weapons, so I painted the second version in slightly different colours so that they could be used as different characters if required.

Left to right: two versions each of the Captain, Enforcer and First Mate.

The other six members of the crew only had a single casting each:

Left to right: Telepathic teenage ninja girl and her brother the Doctor; Pilot (husband of the First Mate), Engineer, Shepherd (sort of a priest) and Courtesan.

Oh, and the use of the Kanji script on the Eagle? In the TV show the characters speak a mixture of American English and Mandarin (the latter usually mild profanities) and the latter also appears in company names and logos, the Kanji decals were the closest I had to Mandarin.

I originally thought that the Airfix kit was 1:72nd scale, but if so, the crew would have to be contortionists to fit in the cockpit.

Off to Google. There’s quite a few websites dedicated to Space: 1999. I found one website that states that the Eagle is 76 feet (23.16m) long which, given the model length of 300mm nose to engine nozzles, would make the kit  approximately 1:77th scale; another  compares the Airfix kit to the different Eagle models used in the TV series, which were not necessarily consistent with each other.

This suggests that the Airfix model is likely to be closer to 1:96th scale. I could probably start some arguments if I started making pronouncements that 15mm = 1:100 scale (personally I reckon it’s closer to 1:120), but the bottom line is I think that the Eagle looks OK next to 15mm figures, and the crew could get into the cockpit without scraping their heads on the ceiling.

Unarmed Eagle and crew

Wherever you have protagonists you need antagonists. As far as I could see GZG didn’t do any of the TV show’s “baddies”, the Alliance, so I went elsewhere.

Brigade models do some Uniformed Starship Crew and some Tank Crew in helmets. I got a pack of each. Unfortunately, the bases on these were too small to glue directly to the washers, so I had to cut some suitably sized cardboard fillers to bridge the gap. These figures got a generic mid grey uniform with some red and silver highlights here and there. Depending on your viewpoint these are the heroes of justice, or the lackeys of the oppressive state.

Alliance Officers: The Commander (2nd left) and her Lieutenants.
Alliance Grunts

These chaps don’t have a ship of their own, but I do have a vehicle, a Brigade Javelot scout car, for them.

Grunts and car

It might be a bit tight for all 8 of them in there, so I might need to get them more transport!

Stephen’s Stargrave Crew

Stephen enthuses about Stargrave and describes a couple of crews he has put together.

Image backdrops are used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License from Deviant Art user Moodyblue https://www.deviantart.com/moodyblue

I’m really excited about Stargrave.

I can see myself wanting to play it loads (mind you, there’s loads of other games I want to play as well – currently undergoing bad Saga withdrawal symptoms).

Lucky for me, I have enough figures and scenery to get started with Stargrave, no need to paint before play, etc.

So what I have here is an introduction to two crews I have put together.

The first group are a party of scavengers from the Candolorian system. They are led by Elias Dante, captain of The Devastator, and a rogue who has been one side of the galaxy to the other. With Elias is Imjin Tik-tok, a Tuncoul and experienced tekker who looks after Elias’ droids.

Captain Elias and Imjin

The droids themselves are TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD. 1B is an old sentry bot who’s had his software updated. CLN-T is of unknown origin.

TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD

The rest of the crew are made up of Mackenzie Talian, Quill Raiker, and Murch Nagu. Mac and Quill have known each other for years and have worked on many heists and smuggling jobs. Murch is a Thecan and a heavy trooper from the wars.

Mackenzie, Quill, and Murch

Next up is Madam Sholay, a psionicist and owner of The Monsoon – a converted Hauler class light freighter. First mate on The Monsoon is a biomorph called Shoggoth, who never strays far from Sholay’s side.

Madam Sholay and Shoggoth

The crew of The Monsoon is made up of ex-military personnel. There’s Aidan Kenver and Yammet de la Cruz, a pair of advance party pathfinders.

Aidan and Yammet

And rounding off the group are Mallias Bygrove and Zanford Schneider, two snipers who have a long list of kills to their names.

Mallias and Zanford
The crew of the Monsoon

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

What a (Grav)Tanker!

Marcus presents a Sci Fi rules adaption and game report…

Ever since I picked up “What a Tanker” (WAT) from Two Fat Lardies I have been thinking about a sci-fi adaptation. I have always felt something lacking in the various large-scale sci-fi sets I have played. Ground Zero’s Dirtside Two was the first, and is probably still my favourite, but none quite deliver what I want. This may have more to do with my personal tastes than any merit in the various rule sets I have tried.

I have been playing WAT with my children using sci-fi vehicles as my 15mm World War Two western desert tanks have languished un-painted for years. The boys really like this game and we have played it a few times with around three vehicles a side. The time now seemed right to try out my sci-fi ideas.

My inspirations for this version stem from two sources. Firstly, Jon Tuffley’s “Full Thrust” source book “More Thrust” which contains the first rules for the Sa’vasku aliens. From the first time I read them I was intrigued by these. They feature a simple system of power allocation based on a number of dice rolled for the size/power plant of these “living bio-ships”. Perhaps because my first exposure to Sci-Fi was “Star Trek”, the idea of switching power between the three core systems; attack, defence and movement resonates strongly with me.

Secondly, “Silent Death” a system for space fighter combat by Iron Crown Enterprises utilizes a system in which the same dice are read in different ways to determine hits and resolve damage.

I set up a very rough proof of concept game based on these “back of a postcard” ideas. One minor difference was to change the roles allocated to the dice in the WAT “hand”. I didn’t want 6 to be wild; rolls of multiple sixes would be increasingly powerful. I opted for the following:

        1. Wild
        2. Acquire target
        3. Aim
        4. Shoot
        5. Reload
        6. Move

For Sci-Fi games, I am not sure reload is the right option, but for the moment I left it in.

Vehicle stats:

For my previous games, I just chose the stats from particular WW2 and assigned them to Sci-Fi models. This time each vehicle would have a max level of power that could be used by each system with a +/- “free” bonus. The concept was that the bonus applied as soon as any power is allocated to that system. In fact, I somehow ended up playing it that the bonus applied only when the maximum allocation was applied. Special characteristics can also be added, but in this game, I only assigned one.

British:

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
“Callisto” Gunboat 6 15 (+5 bonus) 8 6
Chieftain 5 13 (+2 bonus) 7 11
Ferret* 4 8 5 (-1) 15 (+3)

*Manoeuvrable. Doesn’t pay for turns

New Aryan Union (Sci-Fi Nazi’s):

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
Pz. 37 “Wespe” 6 15 (+2 bonus) 10 (+2) 10

The British started with 3 Chieftains, 2 Ferrets and the Callisto.

The British forces, the Chieftains follow up Callisto flanked by the Ferrets.

The NAU with 2 sections of three Wespen.

The NAU Pz 37 Wespen

The notional objective for the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge. The NAU needed to prevent this.

To decide activation order I used a set of dice, one for each vehicle on each side. All vehicles were marked with a coloured sticker which corresponded to a dice. Each side rolled its individually coloured dice to determine precedence. In the spirit of reading the same die in two different ways. I added up each sides dice. This determined initiative. In the case of any draw (e.g., vehicles on both sides rolling 6’s) the side with the initiative would move first (or defer, although I didn’t choose to use this option in the game)

As I was using a simplified system, the defence dice were considered energy shield which had the same effectiveness from any angle. I would probably develop this along the lines of Full Thrust and say that due to drive mechanics, the rear cannot be as effectively shielded, but not this time.

Vehicles were considered to be able to take up to half their core dice value in critical hits (6’s), although I didn’t give critical hits specific locations/effects this time in aid of simplicity. More than half the core value in critical hits destroys the vehicle. A hit of 5 would just reduce the current core dice level. 5’s could be repaired but not 6’s. In addition, any 6 rolled could “explode”. Each was re-rolled to see if a further 6 resulted. If so, a further roll would be required, and so on.

Firing within 6 hexes resulted in a close-range bonus of +1 to each die rolled.

The mat I used for this game was a present bought for me a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t previously used it as my table isn’t big enough. Today it was pressed (apologies that it wasn’t pressed beforehand, and you can see the fold lines. It was an impromptu game!) into service on my eldest son’s bedroom floor while he was at school. It is from Tiny Wargames. I hoped it would be a useful generic mat for air games either around the Pacific or Far East. I also had half an eye on games like this where I could use my gunboats.

A note on the models. They are a bit vintage. The Callisto is from GZG (slightly modified with a turret from Ral Partha which has again been converted from a single to dual cannon). The other vehicles are all from grav versions of miniatures from Scotia Micro Models sci-fi range. The Chieftains are Abrams 4000 (SF0022); Ferrets are Merkava 4000s (SF0031) with Bradley 4000 turrets (SF0049). The Wespen are Challenger 4000s (SF0028). The stands were home made many years ago. I usually use clear Lego or clear acrylic bases now.

A drone shot over the delta at the start of the game.

A drone shot over the delta at the start of the game. British forces on the left, NAU on the right.

And from the British perspective.

The British Ferrets leading the Chieftains and Callisto

Turn 1:

The NAU took the initiative and on their third activation “red” Wespe opened fire on the British orange Ferret achieving a 665, however, these were all blocked by defensive die rolls. Subsequently the “Callisto” opened fire on the white Pz37. A 66665 from 20 destroyed the target. However, the NAU hit back with the green Pz37 destroying the British blue Ferret.

Blue Ferret destroyed

NAU orange gets a 6555 on British red Chieftain, of which two are blocked leaving 2 hits. The NAU blue Wespe gets a very big roll of 30 (665544), but with no acquisition or aim dice it is not worth much except to power a solid defence. By contrast, British yellow Cheiftain rolls a 66111. With 3 wild dice, and a total of just 15 energy points, the Brit can post Att: 9 Def: 4 Move: 2. Those 9 dice yielded a 66665. Despite a defensive roll of what would normally be a respectable 6555, NAU blue loses 3 core dice.

At the end of turn one it’s about even. Only the Brits have lost a vehicle but also have one damaged, while NAU have two damaged.

Situation at the end of turn 1

Turn 2:

Early on neither NAU orange Wespe nor the “Callisto” make significant actions despite big rolls. British green Cheiftain then gets four hits on the red Pz37 with a 6655, but these are all blocked. This then launches a fierce attack on the British red Chieftain with a 6665. The Chieftain can’t block any and explodes into an incandescent ball of gas. Neither NAU green nor yellow can engage a target, but the little orange Ferret moves within 6 hexes of a target to get a bonus of +1 per dice and 6655 for 4 hits, but these are all blocked! The yellow Chieftain inflicts 2 hits on the yellow Pz37 to wrap up the turn, although NAU blue Wespe manages to repair a core die at the end.

The turn ends with another loss for the Brits; now down to a Ferret and 2 Chieftains plus the “Callisto”. The NAU have taken damage though, but it isn’t enough when some of that is being repaired. It’s not over yet though.

Situation at the end of turn 2

Turn 3:

The green Wespe is blocked from targeting the British yellow Chieftain and turns on the orange Ferret: A roll of 555211 gives two wilds allowing an acquisition, aim and shot. With an attack of 17 (max dice of 15 plus 2) the NAU gunner gets a statistic busting 66666555. The target can only block a 6/5. BOOM! Another Brit gone. NAU Wespe blue now acquires and aims at the “Callisto”, but can’t open fire. It is a similar story for The British green Cheiftain. NAU red inflicts a 66555 on the British yellow Chieftain. It blocks 2 hits but leaves the 2 crits and another hit!

British Yellow Chieftain takes damage

“Callisto” now gets to respond with a 665421. The wild is used as a 3 to aim with a shot of a maximum 20 dice (15 max allocation +5 bonus; it’s a twin turret!)  But the 666555 are all blocked by the maximum 12 defensive dice.

As the turn ends there is finally something to cheer for the Brits. Yellow Cheiftain, already having an acquisition and aim on his NAU opposite, adds an additional aim for a bonus. A 15 dice attack results in an astonishing 666666 5555. 6 defensive dice just aren’t going to be enough…BOOM!

NAU Yellow Wespe brews up

Turn 4:

Despite the earth-shaking destruction of NAU yellow Wespe, things are slowly deteriorating for the Brits.  As turn four begins NAU orange, having previously acquired the Brit yellow Chieftain rolled a hand of 533311. Using both wild dice as 4’s allowed a shoot, reload, shoot action. Amazingly, of the 20 dice rolled resulting in 6666 5555, only one 5 wasn’t blocked for one damage on the Brit. And now Callisto responded in kind. Having previously acquired the orange aggressor a 655443 allowed another double shot, but this time at 20 each. Of the 66 5555555 resulting hits, only two were blocked for another titanic explosion!

For a moment it seemed like the Brits could claw their way back into the fight as NAU greens attack on the Callisto is blocked and red can’t get a shot. However, NAU blue rolls up a 543221. This means that blue can acquire, aim, shoot, reload and shoot again with the wild die as an additional 4. Two crashing volleys later, although the Callisto blocked 7 hits, 2 criticals and another hit landed.

Turn 5:

With the Callisto damaged and the initiative never having left the NAU, the red Wespe weighed in with a 655443, and having already acquired and aimed last turn the inevitable double shot resounded across the turgid green waters. Callisto was able to block the only two hits from the first volley and generate a repair, but hope turned to despair for the Brits when the second round of fire resulted in 666 5555. Could Callisto’s 8 defence dice hold up? BOOM! That would be a no.

Callisto is hit and destroyed.

I think that was a very interesting and quite exciting test of the basic mechanics of this variation on the Lardy rules. There are some things I might like to add; Range attenuation for the powerguns. I was thinking maybe reducing the power by one for each increment of range beyond the power level (i.e., Attack power 17. At 18 range the power would reduce by 1. At 19 by 2.) Also, WAT has some cards which are awarded for on table success. I didn’t use them this time but this feature could be used to add sci-fi flavour. Finally, Full Thrust utilises a capacitor where some power, probably equivalent to core dice level, can be held over to the next turn.

I remain unsure about the reload option, but less so. It worked quite well in the game, and I saw it each attack not as a single shot, but as a volley, which would fit in with automatic reloads. So, the reload is less actually reloading than preparation to fire another fusillade.

The three surviving NAU Pz 37 Wespen

As I failed to clearly define in my own mind whether vehicles could take half their core dice value or need to take more than half, this was an error on my part that impacted on the game. Deciding at the point in turn 1 where the NAU blue took 3 hits that it would survive (that hits should exceed half the core dice level) weighed significantly in the NAU’s favour.

The game came in around the three-hour mark, but then I was having to work it out as I went along and write it up, while moving about on the floor instead of a table. Overall, I was very pleased with how this variation on the rules worked. Maybe another test soon. Hopefully on a table…

Da Vinci Condotta

John looks back at a Dragon Rampant Warband he built for a past club campaign…

Some time ago Stephen hosted a Dragon Rampant Campaign where my Da Vinci Condotta warband was narrowly beaten into second place by Tony Gibb’s army. With some WIP Wednesday painting articles centred on this ruleset, I thought I’d dust off the army and explain how I went about making it.

Prior to the campaign, we’d had a few trial games where my Dark Age force fared badly and I decided I’d have to change if I was going to be competitive. I’d never been a fantasy gamer so had no Orcs, Elves or Dwarves so decided to go with a human based theme at minimum cost.

Research

I came up with the idea of a warband which would include some of Leonardo da Vinci’s war machines with some Italian Renaissance figures. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan sponsored Leonardo who created a number of sketches of war machines and a TV programme entitled ‘Doing Da Vinci’ used these sketches to reproduce the machines. I thought with some plasticard to make the machines and a box of Perry Plastic Late Medieval Mercenaries and a box of Late Medieval Mounted Knights I could make a suitable warband.

Humans

The Leader had to be Ludovico Sforza himself leading a unit of knights.

Elite riders

These would be the shock melee unit, best used against damaged and disrupted units to deliver the ‘Coup de Grace’. I gave them an ability to prevent wild charges, they needed to be in control.

Next up I needed the Bulwark of the Warband and chose to make these Milanese Militia pikemen, which I painted with combinations of white, red and green hose. I needed to add a magic element and picked up a Sorceress at Cavalier. I found that Caterina Sforza (Ed: Ludovico’s illegitimate niece). was a noted Alchemist so she would have the ability to confuse an opponent’s unit, to heal a unit and to provide a long range powerbolt.

Heavy foot with Wizardling

I needed more shooting potential and decided on a unit of scouts. For these I used Handgunners and gave them the invisible ability (due to gunsmoke). This meant they could only be targeted in melee or via magic. If I placed them in difficult ground they would be a handy irritant.

Scouts

On to the machines.

My first build over a weekend was the Armoured Car. I mocked up the conical design using paper templates, then drew them out onto 20 thou Plastikard and scribed on the planking. I painted the planks individually then washed with brown mixed with Flow Enhancer, producing a wood grain effect. The vehicle is fitted with a number of small calibre guns to provide all round fire, for which I used plastic tubing. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’, the vehicle produced from the plans could move but firing all guns simultaneously would result in deafness for the crew. I decided mine would be propelled by captured Turkish Galley slaves. I gave the crew a fearful ability as I reasoned that they would be as afraid as their opponent of this machine. I mounted the model on a landscaped foiled cake base. This would prove to be a good flank guard.

Heavy riders with missiles

The second build was an Airscrew. I wanted this to be like a Helicopter gunship, flying over a terrain item to deliver a lethal volley of crossbow bolts before retreating to safety. This proved to be a more difficult build as I had to get the sail pattern right. I found a ‘how to’ rubber band powered model video and plan on the internet and used this as a basis. The central spindle was plastic tube and the fighting platform was plasticard. The crew were modified Perry plastics. I gave them the fearful ability, who wouldn’t be scared, and added a sharpshooter ability to provide a lethal hit. The Airscrew fits onto a bolt on a cake stand base.

Light Riders Flyers

So this was my starter warband and as the campaign progressed I was able to add additional units.

Human Reinforcements

I added a unit of Light infantry in which I mixed javelin armed troops with blade armed ones. I used Gripping Beast Dark age Infantry javelin figures cut off at the wrist and glued onto the arm of the Perry figures. I scratchbuilt the large oval shields from plastic card with a Milanese design and I repeated the white, red and green hose patterns I’d used on the Militia Pike.

Light Foot

Next I needed some Mercenaries. There would also be English Bills and Bows – Dogs of War that had survived the Wars of the Roses.

English Bills
English Bows

Finally, I added a unit of Elite Foot Knights, probably German Mercenaries.

German Knights

More Machines

The next machine I made was a 33 barrelled organ gun. On ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this machine really worked well with an 11 shot salvo firing shot the size of a tennis ball, with devastating effect.

Organ Gun

I made the guns using plastic tubing. The design has a rotating centre section so that after firing, the barrels rotate for the next salvo. This was a complete plasticard scratch build and the crew come from Perry plastics, all mounted on a cd.

Finally, I made a War Chariot. Here, a geared mechanism controls rotating blades like a food processor. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this was another lethal weapon.

Assault Chariot

This was another complete scratchbuild and I decided to paint the horses and horse armour in black again mounted on a cd.

Well that’s it, though I’m still thinking of adding a unit of three Ornithopters as another scout unit.

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!

 

 

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…

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.

An urban battle mat, for less than £10!

Society member John describes how he made a Zona Alfa battle mat. This was written up after the mat had been made, so there aren’t many WIP shots.

I wanted a battle mat for Zona Alfa so decided to make my own following the Sea mat I made for Galleys and Galleons using the same techniques. Here’s what I used:-

As much weed control fabric for as many mats as I’m ever likely to use for £3.99 from Poundstretcher. 4 x decorators caulk from Wickes £4.00. The Wickes caulk appears to be the best. I’ve found lumps of dried caulk within the tube in other brands

Construction

The fabric appears to be polythene with paper fibre bonded to it in a small waffle pattern. If possible I wanted this to show through in on the finished mat so decided to start on the reverse of the mat with a thin layer over all of it, using a caulking gun without nozzle fitted to the caulk tube.

Firstly, I taped the material down to hardboard with masking tape, smoothing out any creases, before applying the first coat. I applied a thin layer of the caulk and smoothed with a trowel. Here I hit upon a snag. Some of the mastic seeped through the fabric and bonded to the hardboard I was using, I ended with a number of tears which were easily patched with packing tape – they would be covered with caulk later. I’ve tried using greaseproof paper under the fabric when applying the first layer and this seems to prevent the problem.

When the first layer was dried, I flipped the mat over and applied a thin coat on the second side. When this had dried, I decided which surface was going to be the playing area and applied a second coat to the reverse side. After this dried, I checked any areas with packing tape patching showing and gave these another coat of mastic, I dabbed the surface with a sponge to provide some texture.

Finishing

When fully dry, I cut the mat to shape (3 foot square) with a Stanley knife and straight edge and painted the playing area with grey match pots, blending the colours in. Now it was time to get creative with washes to get some variation in the colours. I used burnt umber and black acrylic tube paint. I started by applying blobs of paint on the mat and taking a jar of water, diluted the paint outwards. You can see that here.

I always use fairy liquid in the water when using acrylic paints to break surface tension. This created bubbles on the mat. See detail near base of photo.

I then placed cans under the mat to let the washes flow across the mat. You can see this near the top corner of this photo. Accidently, I spilt drips of wash on the mat and decided to leave them, see below.

When the mat was fully dried, I then dry brushed any raised detail with pale grey and then white acrylic, before applying some light green wash to indicate moss or alga growth.

The finished mat ready for use.

Storage and Transport.

For the two mats I’ve made, I store them in the garage on top of other items, I haven’t tried storing them rolled up and I wouldn’t stack mats on top of each other (I had a problem with two pieces of marsh terrain I made which permanently bonded together when stacked). Any creases disappear if the mat is rolled and unrolled. From the above photo you can see it unrolls flat.

Further Ideas

I’m thinking of making some 2 x 2ft mats for Perilous tales – a desert area, a swamp, desolate moorland as the techniques are quite versatile.