Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lion Rampant Day 2 - Wargames Illustrated

It's never advisable to throw yourself into a full day of Wargaming on very little sleep and a night shift looming later that evening. Nevertheless my first experience of the original Lion Rampant Day organised by WI a few months ago was so enjoyable I decided that it was going to be well worth the effort. So myself and Simon (Breen) from the Sons of Simon De Montfort Wargaming Club made our way over to the Wargames Illustrated HQ last Saturday morning for their 'War of the Twelve Bastards'.

The first half hour was spent introducing ourselves to the other eager gamers and downing the much needed and abundant free tea and coffee. I'd noticed in describing the narrative of the game Dan the Editor had used a rather lovely board of the medieval British Isles. This was apparently borrowed from the boardgame 'Britannia' - and served it's alternative purpose quite nicely.

My first reaction after getting my figures arranged and set up for the first encounter, is to usually check out other people's retinues. As regards painting quality it was obvious that there was an incredibly high standard on display. I was also in admiration of some of the conversion jobs. One guy I gamed against had chopped and mixed a Fireforge Foot Sergeant boxed set with a Frostgrave one and come up with some really impressive Lion Rampant 'Fierce Foot' units. Just the right balance of hairy lunatics with big axes and swords that reflects the attributes of such a force.

The game itself was an extension of the original Lion Rampant Day, but this time with the King dead and twelve of his illegitimate offspring scrapping over who should rule. To this end there were a number of Houses representing the different heirs. Dan and Wayne deserve credit for developing not only the intriguing storyline, but also the additional rules such as winning gold coins for achieving certain conditions (like killing an enemy leader, destroying six points worth of enemy units etc etc). These could then be either saved, adding to overall victory points, or spent on added units or skills as the games progressed.

No idea who owns these figures, but the painting is very nice!

The first two battles were simply one on one. With an individual player facing off a single opponent. Scenario one was 'Bloodbath' from the LR Rulebook. The second was 'Kill the Messenger' where an attacker had to escort a messenger figure across one side of the table to the other whilst the defender had to block him. The last one was a large battle of four players going two against two.

Dinner break didn't stop the Wargaming, and whilst we got stuck into the substantial fayre on offer outside we used the now notorious huge pink foam dice to do duels between individual leader figures (one of which was a berzerk looking court jester!!).

I'll not go into huge detail over each of the main games I played, but just to say I lost the first encounter and won the other two. A huge success for one so used to getting thoroughly trounced - and something I put down to my home made lucky Gargoyle battered markers.

In conclusion both myself and Simon came away with hugely positive feelings about the day. Personally I feel that it's a fantastic contribution to Wargaming as a community. It was fun, we met people from all over, chatted about the hobby, admired each others figures and both offered and gained advice on painting, tactics and countless other things. Absolutely brilliant!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My First Gaming Table

When I started wargaming (early GW that is) I was still at school, and whatever space I had was extremely limited. In fairness my parents attempted to accommodate my interest with my dad bringing home a couple of plywood boards from work one day. Unfortunately the only place to put them was across my bed and whenever I leaned on them most of my figures would slide and fall about or be fired off into the air.

This restricted me to using friends' houses, and thankfully one of my mate's had a huge bedroom that we could easily place four 6x4ft boards and literally get out every figure we had in enormous summer long 'Good vs Evil' battles. Despite this it never stopped me wishing for enough room to at least have a decent sized board where I could run through a few games either with a few friends or on my own.

Fast forward approximately thirty years and my ever understanding and considerate partner suggested that I utilize our back room for my painting, and possible gaming endeavours.

So today we finally (literally) dragged, pushed, pulled and heaved a medium size table from the summer house up to its rightful place amongst all my figures and gaming stuff. Although this also involved the frustrating removal of one internal door, the efforts were worthwhile. I then laid two plywood sheets over it and got my Kallistra Hexon terrain out of its box (flocked and scattered and unused until now). Andrea suggested getting some trees and buildings out to "take a photo for my blog". Although I debated her decision to put my WotR archers in trees and on rooftops ("they can shoot better up there") and endured some of her jibes about 'Robin Hood Men in Tights', I think it looks great. I know many of you with gaming rooms that could double as second holiday homes (note: my mate Paul actually turned up at someone's home and knocked on it only to be told that he was calling at the bloke's games room - and he and his family lived in the house next door!!) but I'm actually really happy with it :)

Monday, 14 September 2015

28mm Modern Afghans - Empress Miniatures

This is my first personal foray into moderns and it was influenced by Sebastian Junger's incredible book "War" which details his experiences in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter. It's probably some of the finest war reporting since reading Michael Herr's "Dispatches" back in the 1980's.

For a ruleset I've chosen Skirmish Sangin by Radio Dishdash publishing ( The reason for this is that the conflict lends itself excellently to low level skirmish gaming, with small squads and irregular forces etc. Also I liked the narrative role playing aspect that Skirmish Sangin promotes. At the time I was not aware that Too Fat Lardies were bringing out a modern day expansion rulebook for Chain of Command called  Fighting Season. So I'll be checking that out at some point too.

The Empress Miniatures figures are absolutely lovely. Very well proportioned and excellently sculpted. When it came to a painting scheme I watched a couple of highly informative documentaries on Youtube that followed the Taliban side of the fighting one of which is called "Behind the Taliban Mask - The Other Side of Afghanistan's Front Line". You can find it here:

I was surprised that the so-called Taliban uniform isn't the stereotypical black turbans, black eyeliner etc etc. Instead it was a mixture of many styles and colours which included both civilian wear and military clothing. This is great from a painter's perspective because you can make each figure unique.

I started with a black undercoat and then applied the base coat with a brown inkwash over the top. Once dry I highlighted in the same colours. I'd considered foregoing the inkwash completely and doing layers of highlights, but once I'd tried this on a sample figure I felt it was way too bright and lacked a certain earthy, realistic feel that I wanted from my fighters.

I've currently got a few more packs on order, including some US, British and Australian forces. So watch this space for more updates!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

28mm Chain of Command Normandy Fight

This game was put on at the club a few weeks ago, but I just came across the photos and thought they were worth reproducing here. Apologies for not remembering too much of the details of how it unfolded. What I do recall is how I'd initially pushed my Germans to the edge of the town forming a defensive perimeter against the advancing Brits. There were shell holes providing cover for an MG team on the right, and a small ruined farmhouse on my left. Running between these was a line of barbed wire. I'd also got a sniper covering from the building in the town.

Pretty solid I thought. My plan actually worked for about three turns. I'd covered a gap in the hedge where the Brits were coming through, and they'd lost a full squad in the process. However, as soon as their mortars came into play it was obvious my men could only take it for so long. This gave the British time to recover and move their men forward. The first problems happened around the ruined farmhouse and I had to pull the Germans back into a second defensive position. Despite spirited resistance I had the feeling they weren't going to last, as the mortars began to shake them once more. One lucky event happened when German reinforcements arrived in half tracks and started to bolster those who had by now fallen back into the buildings.

Whilst I had my doubts that even this would save us, I was reassured by news from the other end of the table that Dave's several tanks had successfully defended the Chateau (a major objective) and I glanced over to see plenty of burning Shermans and Dave looking rather pleased with himself!