Friday, 23 July 2021

Is This the Real Life?

 Nope. This is just fantasy (or my attempt to write a set of fantasy rules).

I've been looking for a set of big battle fantasy rules for a long time. Many year ago I  made several huge Warhammer Fantasy armies but I never played a game because it didn't appeal to me. So I sold the armies. Last year I played Dragon Rampant and then I got into playing Rangers of Shadowdeep. I enjoyed both games and they really got me interested in fantasy wargaming again. I was a long time D&D player from 1980 to the mid 90's.

During our long 2020 lockdowns I bought and painted masses of orcs and elves and all sorts of beasties and creatures. I played solo SAGA Age of Magic and I really enjoyed it. But look as I might I couldn't find a big battle Fantasy game that I liked. So, after a brief exchange with a friend, I've decided to make my own. 
I've spent the past few days trying to put together a set of rules that works. I've managed to achieve that much but they still have a ways to go yet. Most of the basic ideas are nothing new and I've taken what I like from various sources and tried to meld them together. They work and that's a start but now I need to twist things, hammer them, spin them around to develop a more original and streamlined system. I'd like to avoid mathematics as much as possible but I fear I some number crunching will be inevitable.
One of the things I like about Dragon Rampant and Saga AOM, is the ability to put your own stamp on your army. Both systems have their own methods of taking a basic template and creating fantasy creatures to your own vision. I like the idea of integrating monsters/creatures with regiments. I tried it in this game and it seemed to work. 
I'm also keen on using different unit formations. I've been working on rules for shieldwall, bow and spear (bill and bow), warbands, phalanx and other types. I want each type of formation to work differently and to require a different style of play. They worked out okay in the game.
One of my favorites is the mix of bow and spears. They have a pretty good offensive shooting capability and reasonable defence. They can interchange ranks which worked well.
The blue unit below was a phalanx and was pretty tough in a frontal fight. They didn't get hit in the flank but what I've written for the formation should make them pretty vulnerable if it does happen.
Orcish boar riders (from Mantic). The cavalry rules I wrote were way over powered. And I tried a few different things mid-game. I do want a this to be a bucket o' dice game but when I pitted the cavalry against each other I was in the realm of 20+ dice each and that was too much. First contact and they wiped each other out. So I moved them apart and started again with a couple of changes.
Light cavalry (spiders) vs chariot skirmishers. They didn't really do much and I'm not too sure about the chariot rules yet and i didn't get to fully test them.
The armies got into action pretty quickly. Archers and skirmishers were getting off shots by turn two. The formed archers can be powerful but not overly so. They managed to inflict steady casualties for the most part over couple of rounds and only one round of shooting was truly destructive due to very good dice.
These regiments below shot their first volley of arrows and after shooting in the next turn (turn3) they switched ranks to await a coming charge. The idea with these is they can shoot and switch or vice versa. They can also switch ranks when charged if they haven't yet activated in a turn but they have to pass a moral test to see if they become disordered. Best to switch ranks early. 
The first charge and melee of the game came when a wolf pack lead by a werewolf charged the elf king's phalanx. Needless to say, they came off second best.
I gave the troll a Special Ability "Ambush" whereby it can remain in reserve (of board) and deploy in any area of rough ground. It popped up behind the elf line in the woods on their right flank.
The elves had a jabberwock. It's a big crazy creature. It's special ability is to "Bound" into it enemies flank or rear. But here it got charged by an orc warband.
Unexpectedly, the jabberwock won the melee thanks to some dreadful dice rolling by the orcs. Also, the orc warband has poorer armour protection whereas the jabberwock has a pretty tough hide.
Below is a pic of a combined shieldwall and two handed axe regiment. Like the bow and spear they can swap ranks. Initially they advanced with the shieldwall to the front for the better armour protection.
Then they swapped ranks to put the axemen in the front rank in anticipation of charging in the next turn.
The pics below show a spear and bow unit getting charged. In the first pic the archers are to the front. In the second pic they managed to swap ranks because they had not yet activated and recieved the charge with the spearmen to to the front.
Regarding Activation: I decided on a card activation. Draw a card and activate a commander (ala; Too Fat Lardies). The commander then activates the units under their command. Some units that don't really require commanders will activate on other cards (ie: Fantastic Beasts card for the wolf pack and jabbewock).
There was a big cavalry battle on the elf left. I tried several things and I'm still not happy with the rules. The orc general lead his riders which gave them good hitting power which was good but there was something missing. 
Integrating monsters into the regiments worked okay. The orcs had a couple of ogres in the mix and they added a bit more striking power without being over powering. The warband is pretty tough on the charge but in the pic below they were disordered and the elf king's phalanx was too tough for them. The warband routed but the elf king was wounded in the fight.
Elf light infantry in the woods managed to hold up the troll in a small battle that went nowhere. Neither the elf swords nor the troll could get any decent hits in on each other.
The orc general eventually routed the elvish horse but I'm not sure how it happened. I really have to re-work the cavalry.
The northern axemen hit one of the elf spear and bow units. The elf unit held at first and the first combat was a draw with both regiments dealing out damage. But the next combat saw the axes drive the elves back and a bad Valour test saw the spear and bow break, leaving the flank open.

So that was my first test battle. It ended when dinner was on the table.

What about Magic Spells I hear you ask?
There was a spell casting element in play but I couldn't really photograph it. I've come up with a system that I thought looked good on paper. In play it was really good and I'm very happy with how it worked. It revolves around Battle Mage companies instead of individual spell casters. They have a Magic Dice Pool and can throw spells and counter spells when their card is drawn. One orc warband got held in place for a turn and the evil guys managed to get off a magic missile. Other times the counter spells worked and stopped spells getting through. Strong counter spells can also cause damage on the spell caster. The magic rules work just as I hoped.

Units: I'm not sure yet. Should I have single rank Companies or double rank Regiments or both? I've opted for both to start with but I think it might be confusing having both. I'll have to work more on this aspect. Single ranked companies work better on paper but larger double ranked bases looks better. I'm more inclined to the latter because, for me, "spectacle" makes up about 80% of the reason for wargaming.

Card System: It's not original but I like it. For me playing solo, it adds an element of uncertainty. I'll have to test it in a two player game at a later date. I can't see why it shouldn't work.

More to come after some more writing and testing.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

One Battalion at a Time

And so another new French Napoleonic battalion is finished. It's been a long while since I last painted French ligne and they are still a challenge. I have quite a few of these Perry plastics and I don't like them very much. I'm not a great fan of the shabby campaign look. Sure they may have looked untidy on the march but they still presented in their best attire on the battlefield. In my opinion, nothing done by the Perry's represents the French army on the day of battle.
A new thing that I've done with this battalion is to include the Chef de Battalion mounted. I've never done this before because I've always mounted the figures on 20mm deep bases. The move to 40mm deep double ranks now allows me to include the horse. I'm inclined to do this from now on to all my battalions. This means I'll have to retro-rebase my recently rebased battalions.
Now, even if I'm not overly keen on the figures, they are what they are and I'm happy with how they tuned out. I'm also not a fan of the 1813-15 uniform and would prefer more plumes and colour but I painted these to go with my Prussians so I'm kind of stuck with them. I've painted too many Napoleonic armies and sold them on and now I have very few troops for myself. Oh well, I'll probably never learn.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

New Recruits and Other Goodies

I'm back to painting Napoleonic's at the moment. I had a look at what I had on hand and realised that I don't have very many French. I have a good force of Prussians but not nearly enough French. So, last week I painted up a new regiment of legere and this week I did a horse battery. I also just started the first battalion of a new ligne regiment. 
These figures are from the Perry's and I've had them for quite some time. Each gun had 4 figures but I only used three which worked out fine because I could make each of the crews look little different. Nice figures and easy to paint although I'm never a fan of painting guns (or horses!)

And what are these other goodies that I'm referring to in the title of this post?

Well I bought a battle mat.
I got this from Warzone Studio which is a Russian company. I will admit that I was a bit apprehensive about the origins of this mat and wondering if I would just be throwing away my money but I was wrong. The mat is really well made in a thick material that feels synthetic. The print looks really nice with clear detail. They constantly kept me informed about shipping and just what leg of it's journey the mat was on. Also, the price was very good compared with other double sided mats I looked at. I'm really happy with it.
I didn't know what to get on the underside but I chose a desert type. It's more of a cracked/parched earth image which would work great for sci-fi, fantasy or similar scenario.
And to top the whole thing off... It came in this handsome, rigid felt case. It even has fake retro leather elbow patches on it for the discerning gentleman wargamer of bygone era. All it needs now is a beard and a pipe.
But there is one thing I'll say: As far as a desert mat goes I think I prefer my el Cheapo desert that was made with cheap white cotton, dyed with Tynee Tips Tea, and stained with International Roast Coffee.
It don't come much cheaper than that!

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Get it Orff! ~ Experiment in Stripping

 Greeting folks,

I bought an ultrasonic cleaner from Aldi. It's been sitting around for a while and I decided I needed to see how good it shaped up for stripping figures. I had a bunch of Perry French leger infantry that had been partially painted by a friend in an semi-aborted figure paining deal a few years back. 
So, into the supersonic cleaner they went. I watched a couple of youtube videos about doing this and discovered I needed to add a cleaning solution so I used plain tap water and added some Simply Green.

I needed to run the ultra-super-mega-cleaner three times on 6 minute cycles and gave them a final scrub with a toothbrush. Some of the paint was difficult to get out of deep recesses but that was mainly due to the figures. The paint remaining on the figures after the cleaning came of very easily. Overall they came out pretty clean with minimal scrubbing effort. I'm sure I still need to do a bit more experimentation.
I painted them up and they came out looking nice. It's been a while since I painted Napoleonic troops and it took a little time to get back into the swing of it. The way I paint Napoleonic's means that I need to be pretty precise with the brush. They're not the best brush-work out there but they look pretty nice to me. I like the clean look with bright colours and well defined lines which is how I first learned to paint them back in the late 70's.
Unfortunately I mounted them on the same 50x40mm bases that I've been using for my WW2 troops and they looked really nice. This made me start re-basing a couple more battalions onto these bases. Then it was a few battalions. Then I had to order more bases from Knights of Dice. Now I've done all of my French and I have to start on my Prussians.
Fool that I am.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Making the Wadi Shawaddywaddy

In my last post I mentioned that I was starting to make a wadi for WWII North African Desert games. I posted that to keep myself honest and get the project started and finished in good time without putting it aside for several months. So, I got started and I've 99% finished (I just need to add some desert type tufts but I need to buy some first).

So here it is: the Doo-Wop Shawaddywaddy Wadi:

I started with some pieces of black foamcore. The long pieces are 12" long and all pieces are 3" deep.
I then added some 5mm thick cork that I tore from some cork floor tiles. Each section had one long strip for the first layer and smaller pieces for the top layer. The cork is difficult to tear so I used pliers. I tried to keep the ends of the strips the same width so that they would match up (I was mostly successful). I also chamfered the edges of the foamcore and used making tape to strengthen them.
I got a tub of filler. This was the cheapest one I could find and it worked perfectly. I have a tub of a more expensive filler in my garage but it didn't work because it wouldn't adhere to the pieces.
All the pieces got a thorough coating. I left the edges of the cork intact on the rear edges because it has a nice rocky texture. I didn't worry too much about the front edges because I wanted a sandy effect out front.
The filler took a while to cure because I did this in my garage in the middle of a cold & wet Melbourne winter. When it was cured next came a coat of pva glue and a layer of wood flour to make a sand effect. I used the wood flour because I still have about 18 litres left over from making my own flock a few years back.
It looks like fluffy marshmallow and desiccated coconut.
Next up came the ubiquitous black spray.
Then all the sections got a coating of chocolate brown emulation paint. I check out the paint isle of my local Bunnings (a large Australian hardware franchise that also sells sausages!) which has a trolley full of returned paints. I can usually pick up various sample pots for a dollar.
Then came the first dry-brush coat - a sort of ugly creamy sienna colour. Looks good!
Then a bunch of various sandy/beige sort of colors with a final layer of "mango" yellow for the sandy areas.
An that was it. As mentioned above, I'd like to get some desert type tufts and add them to finish them off. 
And here they are set up. I made enough to span a 5' area with a front and rear or about 10' to make a single facing. It's not perfect and not a flat as I would have preferred but it will work if you just suspend disbelief and say that it doesn't obstruct line of sight. I also have some dusty looking grit and clump foliage that could be sprinkled in the center to create a better river bed effect. Overall I'm pretty happy with the result.
The 8th Army on their starting line, ready to move off and face Rommel's tough desert veterans.