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!

 

 

Conqueror Model Dwarves

Stephen gives us the lowdown on his latest painting project…

When Lockdown Part 1 kicked off I decided that I would not be buying loads of new miniatures since there was no knowing when we would be meeting again.

I bought some odds and sods to fill gaps in collections but wouldn’t be starting any new projects. And I’ve kept to that.

However.

Just before Christmas I saw Conqueror Models’ range of 28mm dwarves. These were of the same style as the original Vendel Miniatures dwarves. There’s a good reason for that – same sculptor (Colin Patten). Years ago I bought a few of the Vendel dwarves and always intended on buying some more. Before I could do that Vendel stopped selling them and they just disappeared.

I was absolutely gutted.

I’ve always liked the idea of a dwarven army but hadn’t really liked the style of dwarves that have been available up until now – I’m really not a fan of that GW cartoon style where it’s all belly and no legs.

So seeing the Conqueror Models range I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s what I want!’

Having been stung by the Vendel range disappearing I decided that I wasn’t going to let this lot pass me by. And so, since Christmas was on the horizon and because I realised that, on balance, this year I had been a good boy, I decided that I would treat myself and buy myself lots of dwarves – enough for a whole army, just in case the same happened to these.

Since they were of the same style as the Vendel ones, and since I had some Vendel dwarves, I mixed them in with the units I bought.

I decided to build these in Dragon Rampant sized units. Although, given their ‘historical’ style in arms and armour, I think I will be tempted to use them with the Anglo Dane battleboard in Saga as well (yeah, I know there’s Saga Myth & Magic, but from what I’ve heard that falls in to the same trap as nearly all fantasy rules – lots of ‘special’ rules that are exceptions to the main rules and just tie it in knots).

Anyway.

Conqueror actually do unarmoured dwarven fyrd as well, but I didn’t get any of them. To my mind I wanted my dwarves to comprise predominantly heavy infantry in mail. I bought a few packs of the spearmen which, when mixed in with the Vendel models with hand weapons,, would give a good mix to the unit. I also chose to buy the thrusting spear poses (you can get them upright) because they make the unit look more dynamic. I did two units of 12 each having the same shield design and a war-banner.

Warriors 1
Warriors 2

Conqueror do armoured and unarmoured archers (we’ll come to them in a minute), but I went with crossbows to make two units of heavy missiles.

Crossbows 1
Crossbows 2

Then came the axemen. I swapped the axes that came with the models (because the axe head looked a little large) and used some spare Gripping Beast dane-axes I had. These axemen can be used in one of two ways – either two units of elite infantry or as a single unit of heavy infantry (with the Offensive Weapons upgrade).

Daneaxes

And so on to the archers. I bought a pack of the unarmoured archers to use as dwarven scouts/rangers. And because of that I painted them in suitably earthy/green tones.

Scouts

Leading this bunch are the heroes and commander. I did a couple of weapon swaps here. One of them came with a daneaxe but I decided that I would put in a spare two-handed sword for variety. Other spare Gripping Beast hand weapons were used on some of the others.

Commander and Heroes

To round things out are a couple of beast units. First up is a pack of wolves (lesser warbeasts) and to scare the enemy is a Reaper Bones warbear (greater warbeasts).

Wolves and Warbear

That’s my dwarven army done. I can muster about 50 odd points (in Dragon Rampant terms) which means I can have a dwarven civil war or put together a single large dwarven host for a big smack up.

I love these Conqueror dwarves. Stylistically it’s just what I was looking for. They’ve been a real pleasure to paint as well – not too many fussy extra bits, nice areas to add a few designs to, and good poses. Definitely painter’s models. I’ve finally got the dwarf collection I’ve always wanted. It’s my army d’jour.

Nature vs the Resurrected

Andy reports on a game of Dragon Rampant organised by Jeremey to follow our AGM, played in an MS Teams meeting. With observations and comments from Stephen and Jeremey.

Jeremey organised the forces and set the terrain, and arranged 3 different cameras to show the battlefield. Having to provide both armies allowed him to use his Celtos undead army and his completely scratch built Rock and Wood army.

One of the camera views captured by Andy

The combatants were Stephen, with Mother Nature’s Finest lead by a Rock Lord; and Andy, with the Army of Darkness commanded by a Necromancer. Both sides totalled 35 points.

Mother Nature’s Finest

      • The Rock Lord: Greater Warbeasts, Cunning, Mystical Armour. (10 pts)
      • Rock Trolls: Lesser Warbeasts.(4 Pts)
      • Mini Ents: Lesser Warbeasts, Cunning. (6 pts)
      • Light Rockmen: Light Foot (3pts)
      • 2 x Heavy Rockmen: Heavy Foot, Offensive. (6 points each)

Army of Darkness

      • The Necromancer: Elite Foot, Spellcaster (10 pts)
      • Skeleton Scythes: Elite Foot, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Zombies: Ravenous Horde, Undead/No Feelings (1 pt)
      • Skeleton Sickles: Light Foot, Offensive, Undead/No Feelings (5 pts)
      • Skeleton Spearmen: Light Foot, Undead/No Feelings (3 pts)
      • Wraiths: Bellicose Foot, Fear, Undead/No Feelings (6 pts)
      • Flesh Eaters: Bellicose Foot. (4 pts)

We decided that Jeremey would roll unit activation and courage tests, but that the generals would roll their attack and defence dice (Jeremey – we also decided that Andy and Steven were not allowed to moan about my dice rolling!). (Andy – Oh no we didn’t!)

Once the Armies were deployed the two Generals rolled for their Traits. Stephen’s 3D6 scored 13, lucky for him, this gave a result of Boneshaker, allowing him to automatically pass one Attack order per turn. Andy (or should I say Jeremey rolling on Andy’s behalf!) only scored 5, making his Necromancer Cowardly, no Attack orders for him. Well, there’s a certain narrative logic there.

After rolling for first turn Andy ordered his unit of Flesh Eaters (on the left flank) to advance to outflank Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen, needing a 5 or more on 2D6. It was not to be, sadly Jeremey rolled low and the Flesh Eater went nowhere. End of Andy’s first turn.

On Stephen’s turn all his movement activation rolls were successful (thanks Jeremey) and he advanced on a broad front.

The Skeleton Sicklemen occupy the hill

On Andy’s next turn he managed to advance a unit of Skeleton Sicklemen on the right flank to occupy a hill in front of Stephen’s Rock Trolls, but then failed the next activation. Back to Stephen.

Bonsai charge into the Zombies

Stephen’s Mini Ents (otherwise known as ‘Bonsais’) were now within movement range of Andy’s Zombies and were required to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed, so steamed in to the Zombies killing (?) 8 of the 12. The Zombies promptly failed their Courage test despite the proximity of the Necromancer, scoring less than 1, so they promptly routed of the board. Ta Jeremey.

The Wraiths counter attack and devestate the Bonsai

On Andy’s next turn the Mini Ents were now within Andy’s Wraiths move distance and following a Wild Charge Test the Wraiths went in, turning two Ents into kindling and causing the Ents to also catastrophically fail their courage test. One unit down on each side.

A wild charge sees the Rock Trolls hoping to take the top of the hill

On Stephen’s next turn his Rock Trolls were now within move distance of Andy’s Skeleton Sicklemen occupying the hill, they were obliged to take a Wild Charge test, which they passed and went in. One casualty on each side, both passed their courage tests and had taken equal losses, so the Rock Trolls bounced back leaving the Sicklemen controlling the hill. This would be replayed a couple of times, with the Rock Trolls throwing themselves at the Sicklemen and bouncing back until eventually they forced the Sicklemen back off the hill. The Rock Trolls followed up and eventually both sides had taken enough casualties for both to fail their courage tests and rout.

Heavy Rockmen infantry charge the Skeleton Spears

On the opposite flank, Stephen had advanced his Rock Lord to within Andy’s Flesh Eater’s move distance so they also had to take a Wild Charge test, which they failed and stayed rooted to the spot. Andy did manage to get his Skeleton Spearmen to form up in Shieldwall, expecting to be charged by the Rock Lord.

One of Stephen’s Heavy Rockmen (AC/DC or Van Halen?) units then charged Andy’s Skeleton Spearmen, who managed to beat them back. Andy then charged his Wraiths into the Heavy Rockmen causing a few casualties on each side, but both passed their courage tests.

The Wraiths and Rockmen exchange blows

Stephen then sent the Heavy Rockmen back into the Wraiths, this time both units failed their courage tests and routed from the table.

The Rock Lord charges the Flesh Eaters

The Rock Lord finally charged into the Flesh Eaters, causing enough casualties for them to fail their Courage test and flee the field.

As the battle drew to a conclusion Andy only had his Necromancer on the table, whereas Stephen has both his Rock Lord and Light Rockmen (Heart and Bon Jovi fans).

The Necromancers fate is sealed

Totalling up the losses, and comparing successful Quests, gave a Stephen a total of 10 Glory, and Andy -2 Glory as none of his Quests were achieved. A decisive victory to the forces of Nature.

The Necromancer will skulk back to his lair and set about reanimating another army.

The view from the other side of the hill (or Stephen’s viewpoint):

The final Glory totals don’t reflect how close the game was – for most of the game it looked like Andy the Necromancer would win. I often had to use my units in pairs, sending in one unit to soften the enemy up and then sending in another to finish things off. Both Andy and myself were cursed with Jeremey’s bloody woeful dice rolling for Courage tests (Jeremey – we agreed not to moan about my dice rolling) (Andy – No we didn’t). Andy was also beleaguered with poor Activation rolls at the start, which allowed me to advance on him and put him on the defensive (he seemed to spend most of his time forming Wall of Spears – probably needed to increase the armour of his skeletons).

Playing via Teams worked OK. There’s always going to be compromises – some of them could be seen as fog of war. The fact that Dragon Rampant is a simple game and we all knew the rules helped. Ultimately, it was a good opportunity to play soldiers with friends, no matter what the results were.

Jeremey – for this game I deliberately picked a ruleset we knew, went for a small battlefield and only one unit had any ranged attacks. This was all to allow the game to flow with the players only able to see the battlefield from the camera views.

Encounter at Cwm Gwyn

Stephen reports on a battle twixt Good and Evil in the Welsh Valleys…

On the border of Shropshire and Denbigh there is a lonely valley that is known locally as ‘Cwm Gwyn’ (White Valley). It has long been said that it is a haunted place. At the head of the valley there is a single stone tower – the White Tower.

For services overseas, fighting against the French, King Richard II gave the land to Sir Ursus ‘The Bear’ FitzArkus. All that was left was for this worthy knight to explore his new holdings and find out exactly what lay at the heart of the mystery of Cwm Gwyn.

This was a game of Dragon Rampant. Each side had 24 points.

Sir Ursus had with him two contingents of billmen, a contingent of crossbowmen, and his household knights.

Slowly they made their way down the wooded valley. It was only when they came to a mountain stream, the Afon Ddu, they heard the sound of a warhorn.

It would seem that rumours of a haunting would be more accurate than anyone dared imagine…

Knights advance down the stream
Crossbowmen take aim from the hill
Zombie horde
Zombies and crossbows clash
Billmen check the zombie advance
Skeletons advance
Lord Ursus descends upon the skeletons
Charge!
Things are starting to look dicey
Kluruch holds the field

Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

Andy updates his Dwarf collection.

Over the past few years I’ve picked up quite a few Games Workshop Lord of the Rings Dwarves at bring and buys and from E-bay. These will be opponents for my Moria Goblin collection. I have painted around half of them, time to finish the rest, in instalments.

I use the Goblins and Dwarves with Osprey’s Dragon Rampant more than the Games Workshop rules, so the unit sizes in DR will determine what I paint up.

First contingent comprises five Khazâd Guard, Gimli, and warrior supposedly with a double handed axe. The latter figure however was slightly damaged as the blade had broken off; so, he needed some remedial action. I thought the simplest fix was to cut a short length of matchstick, drill a hole in it to fit the remaining axe shaft and paint it up as a warhammer. As he will be a bit different to the other figures, I’ll make him a Captain to lead one of the units of Khazâd Guard, which in Dragon Rampant I’ll treat as Elite Foot, needing a total of 6 figures per unit.

I used short sections of matchstick to fill in the base slots where necessary, then added some 4Ground base render to level the slots up to base level, the bases were then given a layer of grit and sand mixed with PVA glue and allowed to dry. The figures were then sprayed matt black and the bases painted US Olive Drab and dry-brushed London Grey.

The Khazâd Guard and the Captain have a mixture of mail and scale armour. I dry brushed the mail with Silver, and painted the scale and helmets Bronze for the Guard and Gunmetal for the Captain. The armour was washed with AP Dark Tone. Tunics are Red, with AP Red Tone wash, boots and gloves German Camouflage Black Brown and belts Chocolate Brown.
Axe shafts Gunmetal and blades and hammer Silver. Pouches and beards/hair are various shades of brown or black.

As the Captain has a silver hammer, I think he should be called Maxwell.

Gimli was painted in a similar way to the Guard, but he has a Light Brown tunic with detail shaded with AP Red Tone wash with a German Camouflage Black Brown jerkin. Red trousers and Mahogany Brown hair and beard.

Bases were finished off with some static grass, and the figures matt varnished.

Maxwell and the Khazâd Guard

For Dragon Rampant games I wanted a Dwarf Wizard, I found one as part of the Northstar Oathmark range, in a command pack that also contains a King and musician. Once I got these home, I found that they are little larger than the Games Workshop figures. Instead of mounting these on slottabases I use some thinner 25mm diameter washers to ty and disguise the height difference.

These figures were painted in the same style as the Games Workshop figures.

Grendel Stalks the Night

To kick off 2019 at the first meeting in January there will be a game of Dragon Rampant based on the story of Beowulf and Grendel. Stephen sets the scene…

“In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping…”

The game will involve two sides – Grendel and his marsh demon minions against Beowulf and the assorted heroes of Heorot.

All models and materials will be provided. Just bring yourself and a desire to roll dice in good company. There’s no need to know the rules either. Dragon Rampant is an easy game to pick up and, though it’s open to anyone, I’d be particularly keen to have players who’ve never played the ‘Rampant’ family of games before or new players to the club.

So if you fancy a go then join us on the 12th Jan for a bit of mythological dark ages fun.

“For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low, or a sudden fire or a surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellent age.”

Wargames Illustrated Druid

Andy goes all mystical in his second painting report

This figure was free when taking out a WI subscription at shows this year and will likely appear in some Dragon Rampant games.

He’s a little taller than most of my dark Ages figures, but that makes him more imposing!

His overcoat is modelled as if made up of various patches sewn together, so I used Vallejo German Camouflage Dark Brown as the base, with a variety of other browns for the various patches. His under tunic and sleeves were painted a mid-grey and washed with a blue wash.

I used a mix of Medium Flesh Tone and Pale Sand for his skin, as I wanted a pale complexion.

His staff was painted Beige Brown and then washed with Army Painter Dark tone.

Mine all Mine

For some time now I’ve thought that a mining community would make a good place for a medieval skirmish game. Control of resources is a vital part of any warlord’s secure hold and a mine would make a particularly valuable resource.

Carts on tracks going into hillsides is a bit Hollywood. In reality, a lot of early mines (and mines even today) are really about digging holes straight down into the ground and then lowering yourself down them somehow, whether by rope and winch, or electric lifts. It all adds up to the same.

I decided that I’d make several mineheads with different contraptions to lower miners and raise the ore. They are, of course, variations on a theme.

The main winch was made from dowelling.

Thick linen thread was used for the ropes to lash it all together. Brass rod was used to make hooks and metal work (actually, the winch handle was made from a thin nail), and the bucket was a resin item out of the spares box.

I had to make a decision about the basing of the winch. In reality this would be pegged to the ground. But I wanted to give an impression of depth, that the shaft was going somewhere. So I decided to mount them on a raised area that I would then texture. This would give some suggestion of depth and I could argue the mound was a spoil heap. This was made from a half-inch donut of expanded polystyrene.

The winch was then glued on to this and once this had all dried the styrene was then shaped. And when that was done it was all covered with some filler.

I made up a special rubble scatter mix from sand and broken up pieces of dried filler. I then slapped PVA glue generously to the mound and poured the rubble scatter over it, pressing it down firmly before pouring off the excess.

Then on to painting. It was always going to be a drab model – brown on brown. But once painted I thought I’d put a bit of static grass on it, especially around the edges, so that the piece blends in with the table.

And finally something to set the scene.

These mineheads were very simple to make and took surprisingly little time.

This mining colony will make a good, and different, setting for a raid scenario. Although these pieces were made to a medieval style, they are pretty universal well into the early modern period. Only with the industrial revolution did things change. They were actually made for an upcoming game of Dragon Rampant, so if you fancy having a go at some ransacking and looting then come along to the club and have a go.