Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Another big giveaway...

...no, not from me, but over at Tales of a Tabletop Skirmisher.

ToaTS is giving a bumper series of superhero-themed prizes to celebrate 100,000 hits. Congrats on that Hendybadger!

If you like superheroes, gaming with superheroes and winning stuff, then I suggest you head on over and enter.

I realise I've not blogged much of interest recently, apologies for that. I've a busy week, so don't expect any meaningful painting progress until after the weekend. But, I do have gaming activities scheduled on Wednesay and Thursday, pretty uncommon for me.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Living History and a few finds

I was in Peterborough this weekend, when they just happened to be a heritage festival in the cathedral grounds. It was pretty vast and completely free. Plenty of groups had pitched up camp, including good contingents of Romans, Vikings/Saxons, ECW and WWII reenactors. Poorest turnout was the Napoleonics - a pitiful two redcoats, compared to the 30 or so from the Sealed Knot doing ECW, including this gaggle demonstrating their musketry.

While wandering about town I found these in The Works (a UK discount store): two die cast vehicles from the recent Tron movie. I figured a quick repaint and they would make good non-military hover vehicles for 15mm SciFi.

They also had the board game 'Ponte del Diavolo' for £8, which I snapped up. There were a handful of Rio Grande board games and this seemed to be the best of the bunch. It filled a niche in the collection, a two-player area control game with a Venetian theme. We played a few games last night and it seems like a good filler game with quality wooden pieces, at a price you cant argue with, really.

Got some more playtests of Aegeus in the evening too, I'll post my snaps later, looking better already with my Minoans painted up.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

I like surprises...[updated]

It was my birthday this week and true to form my brother grabbed me some hobby stuff. I'd pointed him towards the Critical Mass Games buildings, which I thought would make a good start to an industrial outpost for SciFi games. On first look they're really cleanly cast and well detailed, including interiors.

What I wasn't expecting was these two - scratch built (and painted!) SciFi wind turbines. I don't have a mini for scale to hand, but they're about 6 inches tall.

Apparently they're made from bits of Platformer kits. Pretty cool eh?

EDIT: these were a bit unstable as they're so tall. The addition of 50mm square bases improved the stability no end.

Unexpected presents are great!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

15mm SciFi Command

Well, it was going to be one or two things this week, and the quicker job won out in the end. Nothing to do with the steady flow of packages that have been arriving with fresh goodies to prep!

Here we have my Command stand. Part of the pack from Khurasan's Nova Respublic range. I couldn't resist a commander in a massive hat and shiny medals - I used to play 40K Mordian Iron Guard! The blue uniforms came out quite nicely to match the much more armoured GZG troops which are the bulk of my infantry. I might go back and add some piping to detail the tunics more - or would this be fiddly overkill?

This pic was taken without flash - I find it can make the blue look far too electric.

I thought they made a nice diorama - the Commander reviewing a holo-map with his ADC to attention, while his platoon leader radios out commands. I borrowed the idea for the round base from some Napoleonic forces I've seen on Blogger - I think that it sets them apart nicely.

This time with flash, including the Platoon Medic (the same Khurasan pack) and a squad I finished at the same time (GZG). The two mix well and the lovely Khurasan ranges give me plenty of options for future expansion.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Or should that be 'Mooooo!'

As trailed recently, I've been finishing off my Minoan Minotaur for Aegeus this week. A lovely miniature from Otherworld miniatures, he stands at an impressive 45mm tall, I liked how he was tall but more like a gangly human, rather than GW-style muscled beast. I did slightly convert him have a cloth tunic rather than chain mail, with Mythological Greece not being well known for their chain mail.

He looks upset. Thorn in his toe perhaps?

Priced at £9 he wasn't cheap, but not too expensive either for such a fine miniature. With two new projects I seem to be in a buying phase at the moment: a small Otherworld order arrived today, two harpies and two giant snakes, more mythological assistance for my Minoan raiders. Each pack being the same price as the Minotaur they seemed a bit more of a luxury purchase, but the miniatures are very fine.

The skin didn't quite come out right here, the shade is a tad too grey - I wanted him to look quite human but with a very pallid flesh tone. As am afterthought I carefully lined the ubiquitous devlan mud over the grey, which improved matters somewhat. I am a lot happier with his face and snout, transitioning from black to pink flesh.

With a kneeling Redoubt miniature for scale.

I did get distracted by the Trooping of the Colour on TV yesterday, which inspired (well, distracted) me to finally fix up the rest of the Colours I picked up at Salute. It took a while longer than expected as I'm repainting the finials to suit my style. Here is a work in progress, I've still some touching-up to do from my cack-handed removal of the previous poles. The Guerilla standard bearer came out nicely, a custom design from Flag Dude

Image of the Virgin Mary on one side. The other reads 'Dios, Patria, Rey'.

After the Trooping of the Colour there was a flypast for the Queen's birthday, I managed to snap this view of the Red Arrows.

Not sure what'll have finished next, either my Minoan raider infantry or a small batch of Khurasan Command infantry for 15mm SciFi.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Found it!; Minor update

I posted the other week about needing a few things for the Aegeus 28mm Greek Mythology project. Well, after much hunting, I've found one of them - a just about suitable double-headed axe, and in plastic too.

Here it is, bottom-left on this sprue of orcs from Wargame Factory. Problem is, I need literally three of them and I've almost no use for anything else in the box (though I have a possible use for the smaller axe and curved daggers) so would prefer not to fork out 20 quid for a whole box. I can't seem to find any single sprues on eBay either.

I know it is a really long shot, but I don't suppose any of my readers have bought a box of these for any reason and might have some spares bits left over? I'd be endlessly appreciative. (I imagine not, with you mostly being historical gamers...). I'll put a plea on the WF forums too, when they deem me worthy of an account.

In other hobby activity, I've nearly finished my Minotaur, I just need a trip out to my LGS for some new bronze metallics. He does look pretty awesome if I do say so myself, looking forward to posting some pics of him. But an LGS visit will inevitably wait for this darned weather to clear up.
I've also been fiddling around re-doing some of the basing on my 15mm SciFi, after getting some 12mm washers to standardise the basing. An annoying task to spend hobby time on, but hope it will be worth it.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Book review: Hell Riders

I'm not usually one to post book reviews, but as it is historical so relevant to the hobby and I got this one from DaveD at One Man and his Brushes I thought it polite to blog something (and not just to prove I read it!).

Terry Brighton's 'Hell Riders: the Truth about the Charge of the Light Brigade' is an account of the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade and seeks to give the riders' account of of the charge itself as well as provide a new analysis of the blame for it. Now, I've not quite finished the book, though I rattled through the majority in two days and only have the analysis to finish. I also only have a passing knowledge of the Crimean war and the Charge itself, as my wider reading is non-existent.

I found the book excellent, as suggested by the speed at which I rattled through it. Brighton starts by putting both the war and the charge into context and sets the scene quickly and effectively. He covers the career paths of key characters in some detail, which at fist seemed like a distraction before he got onto the facts of the day, but it is clearly part of the setup for Brighton's analysis which follows in the final third. Then Brighton details the events of the day at length and it here that he uses the words of the participants most frequently. These break up his narrative, but are an interesting insight which is often overlooked in military history books. Their inclusion is Brighton's unique feature here, rather than basing his analysis purely on the strategic viewpoint of the observers, such as a journalist and Lord Raglan who commanded on the day. The tale itself is thrilling and is well-told here, in what seems to be a balanced way. There is also some effort to include the Russian viewpoint of the charge, though it is hard to ascertain how expert and balanced these snippets are. For example Brighton only briefly touched on what the Russians were trying to achieve on the day, how or why their command sought to achieve it. It seemed more a nod to the modern historical method than essential to the thrust of Brighton's argument.

The book then turns to the aftermath, summarising both the lives of the survivors as well as those observers and commentators whose fortunes the charge affected - Tennyson's patriotic poem of the charge and its affect on the public mood featuring heavily here. The book then moves on to analysis - who was to blame, whose was the blunder? Which is where I've got to, so no risk of spoilers here!

The book is well served with maps of the Crimea and the battle of Balaklava, as well as photographs and paintings of the area, personalities and dramatic reproductions of the Charge. These add to a well-considered and riveting introduction to a famous military event.

I would recommend the book, but with three comments:
If you have read around the Crimean war, then much of the book will not be new to you, other than the words of the survivors themselves. It is not a book about the Crimean war as a whole, so its coverage of other events is limited.
I can't speak much for the analysis, given my lack of knowledge of the subject I wouldn't know if Brighton's conclusions are with, or contrary to his peers.
Finally, the claim this is the 'truth' is perhaps a little over-egged: a number of key exchanges were not recorded and much of what happened is so wrapped in legend and self-interest the truth must be very elusive. These lost words may be essential to the truth of the day's events, but are out of reach to even the finest historians.

Ah, that's not fair!

So I saw on TMP that Capitan are running another painting competition, check it out. Now Capitan's miniatures look pretty nice but with the Napoleonic project on ice and many still to be painted, I don't think I'll be buying any of their minis soon.

I thought I'd enter their competition anyway, they send you a free model (yay) and I'd be able to see what the minis are like in the flesh. This is what was in the jiffy bag from Spain:

Yes, a standard bearer! That's twice the effort - I've either got to buy or make a Colour for them. And have you seen Spanish Colours?!

Now, which regiment to choose...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

More Minoans; 100 posts

Another hours or so's work, another batch of Minoans finished. I would say I'm on a roll, but they were nearly done a few weeks ago, before the heatwave struck. Six archers, the manufacturer is Redoubt again. I like these sculpts, though they are a little on the small size, the have well-defined bodies in a mix of great poses. My only gripe is the very thin bows which bend easily.

Only man-boobs to be found here.

I picked three main colours for the Minoans, all intended to be colours found on surviving Minoan artefacts and frescoes. Hence the burnt orange (GW Bestial brown highlighted to Macharius orange), royal blue (GW Regal blue to Vallejo Magic blue) and jade (Vallejo Scurvy green, Jade green with GW Bleached bone highlights). I'm not totally satisfied with the latter as I was after more of a teal colour, but it is quite striking so I'm coming to quite like it (perhaps it is realistic and the frescoes faded!) The blue will be saved for elite units.

Next up, a minotaur and six infantry converted from Wargames Factory plastics.

In other news, I also another milestone this week, 100 blog posts. I actually passed 100 posts without noticing, so this is my 101st post. Still, I feel it is worth noting, I reckon that averages at one post every 4 days for over a year, not bad. I'm creeping up to 50 followers too, I seem to recall offering prizes once I made that milestone. I'd better dig out some goodies!

.---- ----- .----

Monday, 4 June 2012

Making amends: Minoan Snake Priestess

So, having played a bunch of games of Aegeus with unpainted figures, which I hate doing, I returned to the painting table as soon as I got home. I managed to finish my Minoan Snake Priestess off, a non-combat hero.

Slightly NSFW (dressed in the 'Minoan style') photo for you. The jade is a bit shiny, but Dullcote should sort that out.

In the alternate world of Aegeus, the Minoans are one of the shadier factions, raiders across the sea who maintain blood sacrifices to appease Poseidon. His power over the seas has staved off the downfall off their civilisation. The Snake Priestesses are the Minoan oracles and witches, whose dark powers include summoning mythological allies.

EDIT: and a credit for the manufacturer - she is in fact Helen of Troy from Redoubt's Trojan wars range. Face that launched a thousand ships, is what they say. Definitely the face.

Also a couple more snaps from out sixth(!)* play test, switching sides with me playing Athenians. Here, an entire Athenian force spectacularly bounces off a lone Minotaur. Blame the dice for that one. After which the centaurs go off in search of easier pickings!

*curiously, I don't remember us managing to six games in one weekend in recent memory. The game time is coming in nicely at 60-90 minutes, albeit with small forces and on small tables.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A slightly different scenario...

This time, using Aegeus for a true skirmish scenario, Theseus and the Minotaur.

Played on a 2' by 2' labyrinth board, the minotaur must kill the Athenian citizens given as offerings and lose Theseus In the twisting maze. Theseus' objective - kill the beast and save his compatriots!

Here, Theseus corners and slays the minotaur, as his honour guard wander lost in the endless labyrinth.

Also, can anyone help me source some fairly specific miniatures? Firstly my Bull Leapers/Taureadors, highly acrobatic Minoan warriors. Think acrobat crossed with a matador. Im after an unarmoured, loincloth only human in a very dynamic pose.

Also, I'm after some double handed axes in this shape for my Royal Guard:

Aegeus - First playtests

Visiting Gharak, our aim this weekend was to get a few playtests of our work in progress ruleset, under the working title 'Aegeus'. As previously mentioned, we're designing a heroic skirmish game in a world heavily inspired by a Greek Mythology. Over the past few months we've bandied quite a few ideas around and felt we'd worked up a viable and fun ruleset.

I won't go into all the detail (that's for Gharak), but the core concepts are:
-Randomly-drawn command tokens to activate units
-Alternating activation of units/heroes
-Special D6 to determine combat hits, followed by a 2D6 vs armour
-Custom-designed heroes
-Scope to handle everything from hoplites and skirmishers to legendary heroes and a menangerie of mythological beasts, with five factions currently drafted.
-Core rules capable of both skirmish clashes between warbands and Heroic scenarios like Theseus and the Minotaur.

I've started with Minoans, but to my shame, I only managed the paint one single batch of archers, and even they aren't quite finished. Gharak had his Athenians all nicely painted, and very spiffing they looked too. Minoans are designed to be lightly armoured, fast and pull lots of tricks, but weaker in combat. Except of course the Minotaur! Athenians are more about discipline, solid combat characteristics and powerful allies like centaurs.

Game 1 - Minoans vs Athenians
The Minotaur threatens some centaurs, while Minoan archers on the left force the Athenian hoplites back.
You can see the custom dice on the table, made from blank dice. The bronze-coloured tokens are the orders assigned to each unit, with options including move, attack, move and attack, rally, defensive stance and so on. Each race will have a slightly different pool of order tokens, with Minoans having more movement options, for example.

Game 1 - Much later
The wounded Minotaur's rampage continues, he sees off the Athenian infantry on the top right. Meanwhile, a Athenian hero threatens my archers.

Game 2 - Final turn
For the second test game, we added a 'heroic challenge' action, where heroes are able to call each other out in single combat. This is the only combat which is resolved by face-to-face rolls, with a gambling element where on side can opt to bow out after the first (to great shame and VP loss) or could maintain the challenge but risk further wounds. Risky, but I found this 'mini-game' added drama to heroic combat which was fitting for the heroic era we're trying to evoke. Here, the Minoan commander takes a hammering and falls...

I'm happy to report that after four games, we feel it works really well, though we're tweaking things as we go. The command system has a nice mix of randomness and tactical depth and the combat system works nicely. Of course, we would say that, given we've designed exactly the game we both want to play. it remains to be seen if anyone else agrees with us!

Next up, more playtesting, including a very different scenario...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Transportation brainwave - but did it work?

Up visiting my brother this weekend, which usually brings with it a gaming case re-jig to get the models we need into one place. This time we've scheduled mythology and a dabble in 15mm Scifi. Being a new scale and project, I haven't sorted storage yet. In a hurry, I de-boxed my 10mm WWII, which are in A5 box files with magnetic strip stuck to the bottom, to stick the metal bases to. But darn it, I also needed a load of 28mms for mythology, which I carry in a well-used Figures in Comfort case.

What's in here...

Two A5 box files seem to fit perfectly instead of 1.5 trays standard trays...

This wasn't how they ended up.

No, despite my posed photo it didn't quite work perfectly, I think the long distance by train meant too much carrying with the case on it's side so some of the bases and individual miniatures had bounced free. Being magnetised probably saved them from bouncing around too much, but I saw a couple of chips.

But, I reckon over a shorter distance, in the car or just carrying the box file upright and they will be fine (being A5, they fit upright in a backpack). A cheap solution, so time to buy some more box files!