Thursday 30 January 2014

Warhammer Historical - The Age of Arthur

I've been after the following for sometime as a reference book for use with Dux Bellorum. I've heard nothing but glowing reviews about it but had always been unable to find one at a reasonable price (check out current Amazon offerings to see what I mean). By chance yesterday evening I did some internet surfing and came across a second hand one on ebay and was lucky this evening to win the bid, for a very reasonable £25.50 inc P&P.

So what does the book contain? Well the following blurb gives you a very good idea:

"The Age of Arthur – Warfare in the British Dark Ages 400 AD – 800 AD is a source book for Warhammer Ancient Battles.
This exciting period of British history saw the foundations of England, Scotland and Wales laid down by the warring Saxons, Romano-Britons, Welsh, Irish and Picts. Arthur himself may have led British resistance against the Saxons, but this supplement also focuses on the other great warlords of the age – including Cadwallon of Gwynedd, Vortigern of the Britons, and Ecgfrith of Northumbria – and their warbands.
This source book contains a suggested historical overview and chronology of the period, as well as 19 detailed army lists featuring:
The Romano-British Civitates – including the armies of Vortigern, Ambrosius and the Bretons. 
The British and Welsh Kingdoms – including the kingdoms of Gododdin, Gwynedd, Strathclyde and Dumnonia. 
The Saxons – including Saxon raiders as well as the kingdoms of the Heptarchy. 
The Franks – the armies of the early Merovingians. 
The Picts – including the Northern and Southern Picts, and the enigmatic Attecotti. 
The Scots-Irish – including Irish raiders and the kingdoms of Dalriada and Ireland. 
There is also a section on wargaming Arthur in history for those who wish to use the great hero in their armies! Accompanying each of the army lists are suggestions for collecting, painting and wargaming with the various armies that fought in Dark Age Briton.
Other resources include a full colour section portraying the armies of the time and a wealth of illustrations and maps.
This book contains 15 exciting scenarios and two full campaigns – Mount Badon and the Raiding Season – to help you recreate the atmosphere of early medieval warfare – The Age of Arthur."

So as you can see there is plenty of info contained therein and to be honest I can't wait to get my hands on the book!

Saturday 18 January 2014

Operation Epsom - the (bloodless) prequel

Prior to Xmas Craig and I decided to start a themed campaign in the New Year, based around Operation Epsom. We would be using Chain of Command for small scale engagements at the Platoon level, with Blitzkreig Commander II for larger scale ones at Company level and up. We both had plenty of reference material and after a flurry of e-mails we decided to kick things off with a game based upon a small British attack in the area around Fontenay-le-Pesnel.

For the Chain of Command games, we would be using Craig's FoW Brits and Germans as my 10mm forces are still in their respective jiffy bags. He also has a lovely range of scenery (pics to follow when he posts them on his Blog) as well as a host of 4Ground painted mdf buildings that are perfect for skirmish games such as CoC. As a result of this, Craig set about coming up with the scenario and forces involved, so all I had to do was turn up on the day.

For the first game he chose Scenario 2: The Probe (no jokes please, we're British) as this seemed perfect to represent a British platoon probing forward looking for weak points or gaps in the German defences. Or so we thought...

Let me set the scene for you:
  • The game is to be played on a 6'x4' table (we used a 5'x3' but adjusted things to suit).
  • The Germans (defenders) set up 4 markers in a line in their deployment zone, up to 12" in, with each marker to be no more than 12" from another. 
  • This means that the German markers cover an area 3' long. 
  • The table is 6' long.
  • With an 'area of control' of 12" around each marker that causes enemy markers (and their own) to become 'locked down' when entering this zone, they have an effective area of control of 5'. 
  • The table is 6' long.
  • The more astute of you will have already spotted that this leaves an uncontrolled area of 12".
  • The British (attackers) deploy their 4 control markers at any one point along their table line. They then dice off to see how many free moves, between 2 and 4, they get before the Germans can activate their own.
  • Due to all markers having to remain within a contiguous line of each, even when locked down, it is glaringly obvious that the attacker deploys on one flank as this will give him a massive advantage in the game (see below).
So how did it play out I hear you ask? Well it went as follows:
  • As the attacker I rolled a 6 and got 4 free moves. 
  • I was able to move 3 of my 4 markers onto the table and lock one of the German markers down on the left flank before the Germans could react. This meant that there was a large gap on my right flank that I could exploit without any realistic chance of the Germans stopping me.
  • Remember the bit about the contiguous line above? Well the first German move had to be from their right flank (my left) which had no effect upon my 'movement'. The same was true of their second move.
  • By the time the Germans had moved into the centre of the table to 'threaten' my left flank, I had already moved a marker pretty much to the German table edge on my right flank. 
  • By the time the last marker was locked down I was gauranteed a jump off point from where I could get a Team off the table just by deploying them!!!
Well, this was the quickest and most bloodless victory (if you can call it that) in my entire wargaming 'career'. Both Craig and I looked at each other, somewhat dumbfounded by the way things had panned out. "Had we missed something?" we asked each other. Afterall we are both pretty experienced wargamers and are old enough and ugly enough to know that mistakes happen. So we checked and checked again and as far as we could see we had made no mistakes. We worked out various possibilities if the attacker has 2 or 3 'free moves' rather than the 4 I had rolled; what if the defender deployed more to one flank than another; what if the defender got to be the active player in the first phase etc?

Our conclusion was that the scenario was a very hard one for the defender to win given all of the above. To be sure we re-played the scenario (well we hadn't really played it first time round) and I chose to deploy more centrally this time, but again it proved to be quite an easy victory for the attacker, even with us deciding to limit the attacker to only two free moves at the start.

So a frankly bizarre start to our campaign, but none-the-less another enjoyable game of CoC with Craig, even when taking into account the vagaries of the scenario as outlined above. In terms of the campaign, we decided that the British had found a weak point in the German defences and were to do a 'reconnaissance in force' through the gap, with a scenario from BKCII (yet to be decided) as the basis for the next game.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Mordheim Witch Hunters cum IHMN Knights Templar

Further to my previous post  with regards my Mordheim Witch Hunter warband, I thought I'd post some pics of them for you all to see. 

I used a simple palette of blue, red and beige to tie the warband together visually. This mix of rich colours combined with a natural linen colour hopefully conveyed an ecclesiastical feel to the warband. Details such as the red books, maces and braziers further underlined the visual unity of the warband.

So without further ado:

Witch Hunter Captain 
He will become my Grand master for IHMN.
Witch Hunters
The over large maces were hand sculpted. For IHMN I am tempted to come up with a special weapon for the Knights Templar to reflect these and their power against the forces of Darkness (as they see it).
These will become my Knights for IHMN.
Warrior Priest or Witch Hunter
These can either be a Witch Hunter or Warrior priest.

For IHMN the figure on the left will be a Chaplain, on the right a Master.

The two outer figures are Flagellants, with the one in the centre a Zealot.

The figure in the centre will be an IHMN Sergeant.

Some of my favourite conversions. Useless on the battlefield but great fun to play with!

I plan to create a role for these within IHMN as Acolytes, Servants etc.

The 'old warhorse' of a dog always proved popular in games and was another favourite conversion. He could become a clock work dog for IHMN if required.
IHMN Carpathian or Siberian Wolves as required, but in Mordheim just standard warhounds.
Demonic warhounds affected by exposure to Wyrdstone in Mordheim, or creatures of Chaos used by the Witch Hunters against their original masters. Again in terms of the game just standard warhounds.

So hopefully the above quick snaps have given you an idea of my favourite Mordheim warband and some of the plans I have for them for IHMN. Time to go and put pen to paer for some further thoughts on my Knights Templars.

Saturday 11 January 2014

IHMN Knights Templar Company

I first got back into wargaming after a break of around 15 years with Games Worskhop's superb Mordheim skirmish game. The rules were first published in White Dwarf (when it was still an excellent magazine) and then not long after released as a boxed set which included the rulebook, scenery and models.

Many happy years were spent playing this and attending the annual fun get together at GW HQ in Nottingham, where it was more important to have fun than win the tourney (sadly not true of their core games it would seem).

Out of all the warbands, the Witch Hunters were the ones that really caught my eye. One day a spot of retail therapy saw me purchase a mix of figures from their 40K range to convert into Witch Hunters. The figures were superbly sculpted and full of character, exactly what I wanted for my warband. Many hours later the figures were finally finished after much conversion, some more so than others.

In those halcyon days I spent many, many hours painting each figure, with an hour or two each night for many weeks, even months. This effort was rewarded with my warband winning the painting competition at the aforementioned tournament. More importantly I had great fun playing with them and enjoyed the many compliments I received from fellow friends and gamers.

However things moved on and my regular gaming friends moved away and Mordheim slipped quietly away as a game, sadly never to see the light of day again. I sold off many of my warbands but could not bring myself to part with the Witch Hunters, having spent so much time and effort on them.

Fast forward to late last year and with the release of 'In Her Majesty's Name', they were brought down out of storage with a view to being given a new lease of life. Then when 'Heroes, Villains and Fiends' was released, I was very happy to see a Templar Company in the book, whose background fitted perfectly for my Witch Hunter figures.

So having a free hour or two this evening, I had a first stab at a Templar Company, which is broadly as follows:

Grand Master with SRC breastplate, sword and hand crossbow.
Master with SRC breastplate, mace and hand crossbow.
2 x Knights with SRC breastplate, mace and crossbow.
Sergeant with Breastplate, mace and blunderbuss/congreve rocket gun.
Chaplain with Chain shit, mace or incense burner, hand crossbow and a Talent.

(NB the stats for the above are the same as in the HV&F book with a few possible tweaks. Details to follow).

Options include:
Fighting dogs
Carpathian wolf
Talents of Weapons etc to be decided upon.

In terms of background, I see these as 'Templars' from the Carpathian mountains or Bohemia, fighting the evil that lurks in the East (and any thing else for that matter!). I've got a few ideas floating around in my head, some based upon the current 'Dracula' tv series on one of the Sky channels, that has given the standard story a nice twist.

So now I have my broad ideas sketched out, it is a matter of filling in the detail and then firming up my starting company of Templars. Alongside this I'm toying with the idea of a narrative campaign based upon MR James' 'The Tractate Middoth' that was dramatised over Christmas, with two Companies trying to track down the book, which may or may not give them advantages if they possess it. Still early days so watch this space...

Thursday 9 January 2014

Kingdom of Heaven

With my Baltic Crusades project being flavour of the month with me at present (typical wargames butterfly that I am) I've been researching this period over the past week or so. Apart from the Osprey books mentioned in my previous post, there is very little out there for the average wargamer in terms of army lists, useful background info etc. This is not to say that the Osprey books are not good, which they are as one would expect.

Fortunately for me Michael (Dalauppror) had mentioned the new 'Clash of Empires' source book , 'Kingdom of Heaven', from Great Escape Games on his  Blog . It also received a good review in the latest 'Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy' magazine, which was a bonus. This looked to be ideal, but I thought I'd have a look around the internet first to see what I could find, before buying the book.

As mentioned above with a dearth of material out there, I went ahead and ordered the book today. At £20 inc p&p, I think this is a bargain for a book this size and with the amount of material contained therein. Apart from being useful for my Baltic Crusades project, it will be a perfect reference book for use with Craig's Star&Garter and The Crescent & The Cross Dux Bellorum variants.

Below are a few pics from the book to give you an idea of what you get for your money:

So I'm now awaiting delivery, hopefully in time for the weekend, so that I can put together an order for some more lead goodies from Pendraken. With luck I will soon start posting some ideas for army lists etc.

Friday 3 January 2014

13th Century Baltic Crusades project

As some of you may know, my regular gaming partner and chum Craig, is putting together a couple of variants of Dux Bellorum for the Medieval period, namely Star&Garter for the Hundred Years War and more recently, The Crescent&The Cross for the First Crusade. The Medieval period has been an area of interest for me as long as I can remember, probably started by a Crusader plastic toy the my Grandmother won at Bingo in the late '60s. So with Craig toiling away at his rules and some Xmas money burning a hole in my pocket, I thought I would re-visit my intention of collecting two Armies for use with Craig's rules.

And then the inevitable happened with an "Ooh shiny lead" moment in the form of Dalauppror's Hail Caeser AAR on the 13thC Baltic Crusades. I knew a little of this period as I used to have an Osprey book on the battle of Lake Peipus, bought purely on the basis of the Angus McBride illustrations, plus my general interest in the aforementioned Medieval period.

Further reading of Michael's Baltic Crusades articles on his Blog convinced me to give this period a go using the Dux Bellorum rules as a starting point. Afterall the period in questions arms and armour and general tactics seemed to fit in nicely with the period covered by Dux Bellorum, but with the odd tweak here and there required.

Now although the Teutonic Orders in the Baltic are generally well known, I wanted to go for Danish and Swedish Crusaders versus the Pagan Baltic tribes and the Russians of Novgorod. Maybe watching 'The Killing', 'Borgen' and 'The Bridge' have had an effect on me without knowing it. Certainly the Swedes and Danes would be much more colourful on the table compared to the monochromatic Teutons. 

As a starting point, I will be perusing the following Osprey book to get an overview of the conflict:

Other essential reading material includes the following, with the first two being the most relevant:

As per my other Dux Bellorum armies, the figures I use will be from Pendraken, a mix from their Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Norman and Early Medieval ranges. There will be a samttering of others from their late Medieval and possibly forthcoming Mongol ranges. My intention is to still collect two armies for Craig's rules, but my current attention is on sorting out two colourful and interesting armies for this rather neglected period of history. Watch this space for more updates.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Review of 2013

So with Janus looking over my shoulder (or should that be shoulders?), it seems an appropriate time of the New Year to take stock of the old and to look forward to the new. So without further ado:

Games Played
I was pleasantly suprised at how  many games I actually played this year when I went back over my Blog postings. I reckon I played 12 games at home, solo or with friends, 2 at Colours and around another 6 over at friends houses. So broadly speaking just under 2 a month, which I'm more than happy with. 

Wargames Shows
I attended 3 (possibly 4 or 5, but see below) this year, namely:
Colours. As always my favourite wargame show and once again we put on a demo table. A bit quieter than last year but still one that I always look forward to.
Warfare. A big disappointment for me in terms of the demo games, but fortunately being able to walk the show and chat to the traders helped end the day on a positive note. One I will not be attending in the future though.
Reveille II. My local show put on by Lincombe Barn Wargames Society.
Operation Market Larden. I'm not sure if to call this a wargames show, but Wyvern Wargames put on a whole host of 'Too Fat Lardies' demo and participation games. Unsuprisingly the CoC demo game run by Rich was very, very popular, but Craig and I had a great Russo-Japanese War game run by Stu using 'Through the Mud and Blood' rules. At the end Craig and I were lucky to get a game in with Rich (more of which later).
IPMS Bristol Show. For the first time Lincombe Barn Wargames Society were invited to put on some wargames tables. Not bad for a first attempt but great to be able to see loads of wonderful models from the IPMS chaps. Hopefully this show will grow in the future in terms of the wargames side of it.

Wargames Rules Bought
Far more than I first thought!
Dux Bellorum. This has become a firm favourite and comes second only to BKCII in terms of games played this year.
In Her Majestys Name. A bit of a retail therapy purchase to be honest but a great set of rules. Sadly I'm yet to get a game in to give them a proper run out. I also bought 'Heroes, Villains and Fiends', their first supplement. 
Chain of Command. Probably the most talked about release of the year and a great set of rules. I've only been able to have a couple of games of CoC, but have been mightily impressed with them and have enjoyed both games immensely. 
Grand Tactical Rules. A completely on the spur of the moment purchase of these rules (1859 and 1866) at Colours, but they are far, far more than that.
Black Powder. In the end I sold 'Maurice' as I could not play the game solo, and bought BP once again (I sold them a few years ago!). They now tick all the boxes for me and can be played solo, a crucial factor for me.

Figures Bought
In Her Majesty's Name. 2 Companies bought with more planned from existing figures that I've had kicking around for Donkey's Years.
Dux Bellorum. 2 warbands bought and 1 sponsored by Pendraken. 
BKCII. A Russian WWII battlegroup plus a large range of odds'n'sods for the AVBCW and WWII periods. 
Imagi-Nations Gaming. More figures for my pseudo AWI armies.

Figures Painted
BKCII. British Infantry Battalion plus support.
BKCII. Italian 'extras' for use in the AVBCW, SCW and WWII.
BKCII. AVBCW extras.
Dux Bellorum. A Sea Raider and Welsh/Saxon warbands painted for the Colours demo game.
KR16. Junker Freedom Fighters in 6mm. My first foray into 6mm skirmish based figures, but they were fun to paint and suprisingly easy given the level of detail.

Plans for 2014
Dux Bellorum. Continue to paint up existing warbands and flesh them out with a few extra units here and there. Try and develop a mini-campaign.
Cross & Crescent/Star & Garter. Put together at least one army for these rules from Craig using Pendraken's superb Late Medieval range.
Baltic Crusades. Using Dux Bellorum as my base rules, put together two warbands to game this neglected period of history. I was inspired by Dalauppror's excellent articles and AARs on his Blog. Once again it will be Pendraken figures that I will be using.
BKCII. Concentrate of fleshing out my WWII British battlegroup and to paint up a German one. After all these have sat in the attic for around 4 years, so it's high time they saw the light of day.
Chain of Command. Base up two Platoons for this to start being able to play this at home. 10mm once again.
In Her Majesty's Name. Paint up another Company to go head-to-head with my Witch Hunters so that I can get some games in. I also need to work on some background fluff and scenery.
Play More Games. If I can get on average two in a month I will be more than happy. Craig is putting together a campaign based arounf Opration Epsom, so at least things are due to get off to a good start this year.

So there you have it. It will be interesting to look back at this in a years time to see how things progressed. I'm sure they will bear little resemblance to the above!