Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Regiment - Terrain day

Sunday saw Pelarel, Scotty, Tank Engine, Lintman, McBeth and two junior McBeths gather at Pelarel's abode for a day of terrain making. The idea was that we would be designing the table for our big 2016 American War of Independence game.

We got stuck in pretty much straight away. Pelarel cut up about 15 feet of 3mm MDF that was one inch wide while the rest got together a metric crapload of matchsticks. The fences, as seen in the pics below, are intended to represent the split rail snake fencing common in American during the 18th and 19th centuries. The junior McBeths were tasked with making some terrain for our new magpieism, Frostgrave. After a trip to Spotlight, they set to work on their plans.
Blurry Scotty and Tank Engine prepping the work area

Junior McBeth no.2 working on his Frostgrave mausoleum
Chris and Tom drew us up a scale map of the Brandywine battlefield so we at least knew what we were trying to achieve. Its a colourful map and very handy. We now realise that we still have a heap of roads and fences to make!


Many, many fences


Brandywine. So says the Regiment.
 We got quite a bit done. Junior McBeth no.1 managed to paint up some walls Tom had found in his bits box that will be great for scatter terrain on a Frostgrave table. Junior no.2 also worked on this brilliant statute for our Frostgrave table:

Talk to it. Yes, the hand.

This stands about 12 inches high

More of a wave than a well known Germanic salute.

Along with the fences, we made some scatter terrain for the woods, some roads (but need another 20 feet or so!) and started on some nice 4Ground MDF buildings.

Fences in progress. Photo by Junior McBeth no.1 who has obviously inherited his father's magnificent photo taking skills. 

McBeth, Scotty and Lintman still making fences.

Trees! Baby Jesus!

Repurposed roads from Pelarels' collection. We will need several feet more of these to get the map looking right.

Junior McBeth no.1's walls.
And finally some 28mm AWI British Grenadiers!

Go and listen the music piece "The British Grenadier". I've had that stuck in my head for the past six months.
When it happens to you, I can only say "you're welcome".

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

ValleyCon 2016

Hello all!

Just a quick post today about ValleyCon 2016. This is the club's main event in the calendar and is coming up again in January.

The club's website link

This year, after winning the Flames competition last year, I'll be running the Flames of War competition. Details can be found on the Hutt Club site above or along with all the normal chatter over at the Flames of War website here.

Maybe some Vietnam demo/participation games....

Friday, 14 August 2015

Frostgrave - some thoughts, some piccies and a review of sorts

We played our first games of Frostgrave, the new skirmish game from Osprey, last weekend and if I were to sum up the collective view, I suspect it would be something like "all the lolz!"

All the Regimental Magpies (except for Prinny, who is refusing to give in to his magpieness) are using models out of our existing collections - I'm sure you'll see many photos of their respective warbands over the next little while. I've built my first one out of an old Mordheim warband I picked up some years ago - Savage Orcs and Forest Goblins:
It's a wizard 'Arry! My Savage Orc Shaman
Savage Orc Big Bosses - a Treasure Hunter, a Knight and a Barbarian. 
Some Savage Orc Men-at-Arms
Forest Goblin Archers 
Savage Orc Archers - these are my Rangers
Forest Goblins - two Thugs, a Man-at-Arms and a Tracker
Spiders of Unusual Size
I'm also working on a couple of other projects - a Forest Goblin drummer is being turned into an Apothecary and a Savage Orc Boar Boy who'll be going into the warband. The one thing I'm missing is a Forest Goblin shaman to be the apprentice in this warband. Of course finding one from this generation of GW miniatures might be quite challenging but I'll keep my eyes open.

My second warband (yep, have played 2 games. Already working on a second one.) is made up of some old GW High Elves. This warband is also missing a second wizard for an apprentice but as the GW High Elf range hasn't changed stylistically so much over time I should have more luck. I've also got an old Marienburger warband that has been thrown in the paint stripper on the off chance I can pick up a couple of Empire wizards on the quiet somewhere. Just in case, right?

So what do I think of the game? Well, like I said, I'm already working on a second warband (with a third to follow) so I must like it. :) It's certainly a lot of fun. The rules are simple and easy to understand and allow for lots of variations on gameplay. The combats are decisive and as the scenarios revolve around obtaining treasure as much as they do about fighting your opponents warband means that there's always the tactical decision making about which is more important to you as the player. The magic system is fun and having to select a spell list from across the schools of magic means there are literally hundreds of combinations of spells with goodness-knows which interactions might be in the offing.  The game scales really well for multiplayer as well which I have really enjoyed.

Specific things I like:

  • The ability to build a wizard and customise your spell list almost any way you please. It gives you the option to theme your wizard around just about anything you can think of. My Orc shaman is an Elementalist who goes for nuke spells and debuffs, exactly as it should be. My Elven wizard is going to be something quite different. Probably a Sigilist or a Chronomancer with buff spells and things that affect the game board. 
  • The generic soldier list allows the player to use whatever miniatures they have in almost any configuration they want. Brilliant. 
  • The scenarios are great - each has different features with different game effects. Some add an extra goal to the scenario and others add more hazards to the game board. I think having NPCs in a game with some simple rules to guide their behaviour is hilarious. I rather enjoy the idea that both players can cop it from mysteriously appearing wandering monsters.
  • The campaign system - it was what I loved about Mordheim and Necromunda. I like the simplicity of the campaign system too - the upgrades go to the wizard, who in turn upgrades his apprentice. The soldiers don't get better themselves but you can buy better ones over time and get them nice, shiny magical goodness. 
  • The author! I've started frequenting the Frostgrave forum on and he's been hugely available to the community since the release of the game issuing clarifications on some of the rules almost as quickly as people ask them! I understand there's a bit of an errata in the works which is excellent. I appreciate an author who's prepared to support their game rules like that. 
Is there anything I don't like? Not really! There are a couple of things that I'm not sure about if anything:
  • Some of the spells feel a bit out of whack but a part of me thinks that we haven't quite figured all the interactions out yet. Telekinesis and Leap seemed to be the big bug-bears from our first couple of games. 
  • I worry about the possibilities of warbands getting seriously out of control in the campaign - I earned enough gold in my first game to add an apprentice and still had enough gold left over to upgrade all my cheap soldiers to some seriously high end troops. By the end of my second game I was able to buy myself magic items.
I think both of these are resolvable easily enough. The first will come with time and more gameplay and I suspect the second is probably me making more of an issue out of it that it actually is. 

Anyway, if you've not tried it, I can heartily recommend giving it a go. Our last gaming day was the most laughs we've had in ages and I think we're all looking forward to more!


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Waiter, there's a little Zed in my soup....

This weekend at Gencon our good friends Colin and Chris are releasing their new game Skirmish Outbreak - Skirmish Wargaming Rules For The Zombie Apocolypse. This is a game that a couple of the Regiment have been involved in helping out at various stages, and I was lucky enough to play a game with Chris just before he left for the States. I suppose it was a dry run demo for him. I have long enjoyed many aspects of the gameplay of the Skirmish family of games (Skirmish Sangin) but there have always been a couple of aspects that seem to screw a gamer (read in that me) over. While I enjoy the concepts and company of the gamers, I have not wanted to pick up the game regularly.

This has now all changed. The game involves a player taking the role of the Survivors and a player taking the role of the Zeds (Zombies). The Zeds have some restrictions on the choices they have with their activations, allowing the Survivor player to attempt to manipulate the Zeds on the table. Fortunately for the Zeds player - and unfortunately for the Survivor the attempt to manipulate the Zeds on the board tends to attract more Zeds - which can appear just around the corner, or from the buildings, or out of the trash pile that the Survivor is standing next to. The game has a nice feel of tactics and desperation, forcing the player to make tough choices and hard decisions.
You can construct your Survivors with a simple points system - there are a variety of options of experienced Survivors all the way to youths desperately trying to get on in the post apocalyptic world. The Survivors can also have a variety of weapons from guns to frying pans. Zeds on the other hand are just Zeds, well that is until they finally bite and change a Survivor into a Rager. Ragers are fast and deadly, and they push the game from a tactical, sneaky "try to get the objectives" game into a desperate race for survival, you may have to sacrifice a youth or two for the greater good (if you are lucky).
Skirmish Outbreak has a D20, target number based mechanic to resolve combat. It is clean and quick to resolve and most importantly it is decisive. But that's not the beauty of the gameplay. The lovely mechanic that I believe makes it work nicely is the activations mechanic. The Survivors roll a D6 per Survivors on the table, then halve that result to get how many action points they have in that turn. The Zeds roll a flat 3D6. The Survivors can activate models and take up to 3 actions per activated model. This way you can conserve your action points or burn them to get stuff done. The payoff is that for every activation the Survivor takes (no matter how many action points they use) the Zeds get to activate 3 Zeds. They still have the restriction of the number of action points they rolled up and Zeds can only use 2 action points per Zed. You may re-activate a model but only after all other models on your side have activated at least once. The cool thing that keeps the game moving is that if the Zeds run out of action points - for every activation the Survivors take the Zeds get to activate every Zed on the table with 1 action point, even those that have already activated in that turn.
This activation mechanic creates some real tension in the game. Turns go quickly and this gives the player the feeling of being in the game of the movie.....
The game has a campaign aspect to it - with some intriguing looking twists and turns for multiple survivor crews to get involved in. The missions are objective based for the Survivor player and the missions appear to have a good mix of challenge and speed. The constant threat of Zeds appearing from anywhere on the board is enough to keep the Zed player interested and with nice little touches like a "Loud" mechanic for Survivors making obvious noise - as a player you need to make careful choices about how you conduct your business. Overall I am ready to take on more Zeds - soon.
On a side note. I have been running Zeds games (loosely based on the Skirmish Outbreak mechanic) at school with groups of kids. Each kid takes a Survivor each and I play the Zeds. The proof of the pudding is this - I have 20 (mostly) boys aged 8-11 engaged and involved for an hour and a half at a time with no problems at all. As in all good games Skirmish Outbreak seems to be "Easy to Learn and Difficult to Master." Find out more about Skirmish Outbreak here, here and here.

Chur Tank

Wargames Factory Plastic AWI British

One of my favourite periods is the American Revolution (or War of Independence – depending on what side of the sea you come from). I really enjoy this period, probably even more so than the Napoleonic wars.

Over the years I’ve looked at doing 28mm battalion scale games but never really started anything serious. I had dabbled in skirmish games for this period namely ‘Smooth and Rifled’ and ‘Muskets and Tomahawks’ so had some of the Perry plastic AWI British. A while back, I saw that Old Glory had started stocking the Wargames Factory plastics for the American Revolution and as we use the club discount deal, I got myself a pack.

Prinny and I have started on a rather large project for this period and so I thought I’d use this box of figures to get one or two battalions for the British. Now that I have assembled and painted some, I thought I’d do a review.

Box art is arty

The box is nice with great box art and adverts for other box sets that WF does. Upon opening the box the first thing that struck me was the apparent range of options that the sprues offered. There were 12 mannequins on the main sprues with four different head/hats plenty of arms and even spare muskets. The Command sprue also had 6 more mannequins plus plenty of arms, hats and extra swords. 30 or so figures for not much $$? Nice.
Main sprue that I've only taken a couple of things off of. you can see the mannequins, heads, spare muskets etc
What's left of the command sprue. Here you can see the bases that come with the box plus left over arms

The mannequins and head/hats themselves are designed with a computer program rather than sculpted. This leads to some very crisp lines and folds and the faces are very expressive. There are lots of very distinct folds in the clothes and little things like the bearskin on the grenadier’s hats, the cockade on the cocked hats and the flintlock mechanism on the muskets are very well defined.

With those good things in mind let’s move on.

As I was assembling them, several things came up, spoiling this boxed set for me.

The figures are tall to the eye. Very tall. They dwarf the Perry sculpts when standing side by side. This is compounded by the fact that the WF figures are not actually attached to a base. The bases are supplied separately and are quite thick (maybe 3mm). This means that when you stick them to a MDF base, like I am for Blackpowder, the feet will disappear into the basing material that I will use. Adding a base to the figure (to also aid with adhering to the MDF bases) will also increase the height if the figure. The height is also exacerbated by the relative thinness of the figures. Entirely in proportion to the height but never the less thinner that the Perry figures.

The nest thing I noticed about the sprues was that the variety that I had initially seen was all an illusion. Upon looking that the assembly guide supplied in the box, each mannequin actually only has one pose! I thought this would be fine in that the one pose, say, firing, was able to be done for both line and light/grenadier poses (or course the light/grenadiers have the winged epaulettes on their shoulders, while the line do not). This is not the case however.

Of the 12 mannequins:

A (x3), B (x2) and D (x2) can be Line
C (x1) can be a Grenadier or Line
E (x1) and F (x1) are Grenadiers
G (x1) and H (x1) are Light

That in itself is not an issue if the mannequins (Letters) could do different poses. But mannequin A, for example is the firing pose. That means you can only have Line infantry firing, not Light or Grenadiers.

Instructions. Many of them.

I thought, “Bugger it, I’ll just make them all Line and damn the uniform changes”. However, there are not enough hats to do all one type! On the main sprue there are 10 cocked hats, 8 grenadier bearskins, 4 half-cocked hats and 4 cut down hats. There are more heads on the command sprue, but they are really for those command figures.

Bugbear alert. During the AWI period the British routinely separated their Light and Grenadier companies from their parent battalions and formed composite separate Light and Grenadier battalions. That means I’d like to be able to form units of either all Line, all Light or all Grenadiers. Is that too much to ask?

Compared to the Perry AWI British boxed set, the variations offered as a selling point for the Wargames Factory set are all fool’s gold. While the Perry set only gives you two poses, it is consistent in its style of uniform and gives the option to equip all the figures with the same type of hat. The Perry set is a bulk box of cheap ‘dudes’ to fill out your metal battalions and it does that very well. The WF set offers variety, but only if you use the figures all as a single unit. Put side-by-side with Perry, Wargames Foundry, Redoubt, Kings Mountain or any of the other AWI manufacturers, these Wargames Factory figures just don't fit in well.

You can see the extra bit of plasticard I used to ensure the figures adhere to the MDF.

Painted up they look ok, but very slim and tall.
These WF miniatures certainly paint up well, the expressions on the faces makes painting them easy. Same with the folds on the trousers and shirts. However, those folds are rather over emphasised and it makes the trousers in particular look like MC Hammer pants or something.
Yellow, like white is an awful colour to paint in miniatures. Why then did I do AWI? (I reckon 75% of the British Battalions in North American at the time had yellow facings!)
The good ones. Perry plastics and Foundry metals. I freakin' love these figures.

All in all, I’ll not buy Wargames Factory AWI figures again (I suspect that their Vikings and thegns are ok). For plastic figs for the AWI period I’ll stay with Perry Miniatures. At least I can get some variation to their mannequins by repurposing the arms from the Napoleonic British set that Perry does.
 And for further painting pictures:

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Infantry Regiment Freiherr von Mariassy de Markus et Bastis-Falva Nr. 37. Slowly getting through these 15mm Napoleonics!