Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Terrain Tuesday #16

I mentioned yesterday that we'd been without Internet access for most of the Bank Holiday Weekend.  I didn't mean to suggest that this was a bad thing!  Although it was very frustrating, it meant that I sat down and did some hobby stuff.


Last week I decided that my Chiefs and Heroes needed 35mm bases to make them stand out.  Now, One Does Not Simply Go to the Warbases website and buy a pack of bases.  

No WIP pictures of these as they go together so simply.

I added planks to the wall and a flannel thatch.  I'm not sure about the former (see later).  For the photo I hung a shield above the door to make it all a little less Brown.  But again I'm not sure.  I may paint the door or walls or both a different colour.

The next item is a combination of the Celtic cross and a casualty marker to make a turn counter.*  I did toy with the idea of giving it the full Dark Age colour scheme, but decided that leaving it grey was much less work meant that I could use it in different settings.

 *"These go to twelve"

Warbases seem to add new lines every five minutes.  I am very interested with the news that came out yesterday that they'll be adding a range of  ruins suitable for Frostgrave, I'll be getting some of them, I think.

I got the Grub Hut to see how easy Warbases' buildings were to put together.  The answer is that they are a doddle.  I'd certainly buy more of them, but probably dispense with adding unnecessary planking.

Another reason for buying them was to compare them with what I could do myself...

Scratch Building

I recently bought a batch of business cards and post cards for Diplomatist Books.  Like most people, when I get something through the post, my immediate thought is that the packaging looks really nifty.

A lad who's going places...
A look on the web provided some inspirational pictures.

The addition of some bamboo skewers and sandy paste was a lot easier than planks and resulted in a tidier look.

No, it's not finished.
Not sure of the pitch of the roof - but nevertheless a useful building (perhaps as a cricket pavillion!).

Adventures in Dry-Brushing

While dry-brushing the Celtic cross, I took a couple of other items from the terrain queue.

Remember this?
Getting there...

Then there is one of the runestones I got from Fenris at Dicini 2014.   Again, I should have gone with the original paint scheme, but I bottled it.

For a modern carver of rune- and image-stones (in glorious colour!) see here.

Random blocks

Monday, 30 May 2016

Vikings Join the Painting Queue

[I wrote most of this on Friday - but spent most of the weekend without Internet access...  As you can see I'm so worn out that I have haven't even bothered to take the required photos.]

I've been rather taken up with health issues this week, so I didn't get the chance to report the arrivals of new goodies on Wednesday.

A little while ago Annie at Bad Squiddo Games made the inspired suggestion that if I ever wanted any of her fine stock we might do some swapsies with the fine stock I carry over at Diplomatist Books.  Well, some of will remember that my plans for Tribal include a box of Hirdmen...  Accordingly, (a mere 15 e-mails later) Annie has now a shelf's worth of books on  women in history and I have the following splendours:

So I thought I'd share my impressions on these.  Don't worry!  I'm not going to do one of those rambling opening-the-box reviews in which some YouTuber spends twenty minutes on why he thinks figures are best done in brown plastic rather than grey, neither am I going to get my gauge out and state that 23mm to-the-eye is preferable to 22.5mm.   But, yes, I am going to ramble.*

* I can't remember who said that the main selling point of my blog was the stream-of-consciousness randomness of it all - but, you're welcome!

Neither am I going to go on about historic verisimilitude.  First, because I'm not qualified to, but mainly because I don't care about it.  There are many fine people out there who do care that their figures and games are 'right' - I don't mean to belittle them in any way*.  But these toys (and this blog) are for my own use - I'm not going to put on any great showpiece displays - and I'm not an historical player.  Frankly, my hirdmen are more likely to encounter Doug McClure, dinosaurs or Cybermen than they are to meet Rus or Skraelings.  If on their encounters with 23rd Century time-travelers they have picked up a taste for Plus Twos and Argyle socks**, who am I to deny them?

* There are also some pretentious wankers - they I do intend to belittle.
**As we all know, a 23rd Century time-traveler wouldn't be seen dead in Plus Fours!

But, to recap, my needs for Tribal are some Chiefs, Heroes and units of  five Warriors each.  All to be armed with either 'short' or 'long' weapons.

[...and here I petered out. ]

The quick-and-dirty version of the un-boxing review is:-

  •  "Gosh, isn't there a lot in a Gripping Beast box!"  
  • <insert rant about buying boxes that mainly contain empty space>
  • Duplication in the GB frames and the fact that the eight frames are identical (plus two identical 'Command' frames) and almost symmetrical along their long axis.
  • <insert comments on the flexibility of the having bodies in two parts, a la Frostgrave soldiers>
  • But conclusion that, you've still got a lot of plastic for your money and that worries about variety will probably be dispelled once I start taking them off the sprue.
Despite the half-arsed nature of this review, I'm am pleased with my 'purchase' and looking forward to getting to grips with them (it's just that I feel I need several nights' good sleep first...),

Sunday, 29 May 2016

This Week's Obits of Interest

Jean Fawcett (d. 21 May 2016)
Bletchley Park decoder, singer and campaigner
Daily Telegraph obit, 25 May 2016

Burt Kwouk (d. 24 May 2016)

The collected obits of interest can be found here.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

This Week's Obits of Interest

Norman Gaches (d. 7 May 2016)

Michael MccGwire (d. 3 Mar 2016)
Naval Officer and Soviet Watcher

The collected Obits of Interest can be seen here.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Kickstarter Watch: Boxer Rebellion

An interesting Kickstarter has just begun.

German marines

EMP Games* is aiming to have a range of figures for the Boxer Rebellion.  The Rebellion itself is very interesting of course, but the appeal to me of this Kickstarter would be to have a variety of figures from half a dozen belligerents in the useful Late Victorian period.

* The production arm of  The Wargames Emporium of Sheffield.

This is EMP Games' first Kickstarter, but they appear to have most of the figures - the real point of the Kickstarter seems to be to get the master moulds and last of the figures done.  Accordingly, the initial goal is a very reachable £400, with extra packs being added every £400 they get over £800.  And unlike many other Kickstarters, you won't have to break the bank in order to back it!

I'll certainly be watching this one and may very well weaken and go for some of the more interesting nations.


I've just realised I hadn't put a link in!  It's https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1543779115/boxer-rebellion-28mm-miniatures

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Tribal Plan - Update

Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post.

My cunning plan has worked.  After a flurry of e-mails this afternoon a proposed 'arrangement' has become concrete, and I should soon be the owner of a box of Gripping Beast Viking Hirdmen.  As an extra (a wholly welcome) bonus, there'll also be some Bad Squiddo Shieldmaiden Berserkers.

You've got to love an 'arrangement'  ;)

Monday, 16 May 2016

Tribal Plans...

OK, now I've bought into Tribal, what shall I do with it?

I've been considering what figures to use.
  • Maoris - too expensive to source.
  • Aztecs - too fiddly to paint
  • Inca - Foundry's Inca are nice and aren't too complex in dress
  • Native Americans - some nice ones about, but most include firearms
  • HYW troops.  A real possibility.
  • Cavemen - I do need to get me some cavemen!

But we have a winner.  Vikings!  Why?  Well, for several reasons...
  1. Well durr!  Vikings!!!
  2. Easy to source - my Friendly Local Hobby Store stocks Gripping Beast
  3. Cheap to source (ie, there are plastics)
  4. The Wife and I are both interested in the period
  5. They will cross-over into other games (in particular Frostgrave, for which I am still building up a pool of fighters).
  6. Ernest Borgnine!

Now for various reasons I can't just nip out to the shops and buy said Vikings.  So what do I do while I'm saving up?  Well, a rummage in the Shed of Delights has resulted in the discover that I have almost three quarters of a box of Perry's Ansars still on their sprues and that I haven't even touched my box of  Frostgrave Cultists!  I'm sure I can bash some warbands out of those...

Anyone got any other suggestions of cheapish pre-gunpowder troops?  I'd need about forty or so, including chiefs and heroes armed with a mix of short- and long-arms.  Potential cross-over into Frostgrave would be a big plus.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Tribal - First Thoughts

Some of you might remember me mentioning that I was toying with the idea of trying out Tribal and posting the little demo video the developers had shared.

Well, on Wednesday I took the plunge and coughed up my £6.90 ($10.00 US) over at the Wargame Vault.  Here are my first thoughts.


Tribal is a skirmish combat game set in a pre-gunpowder tribal/clan setting. The rules include info on (and are illustrated for with miniatures of) Maori, Vikings, Aztecs and Gladiators; there are extra rules for Stone-Age, Heian Japanese and Iroquois.  We're told that there are plans for future supplements that may cover Stone-Age cave wars, Modern-Day rioting/Gang warfare, and Polynesian Islanders.  I'm surprised there's not mention of other aspects of the medieval period or fantasy.

The driving force of the game is Honour.
Honour could determine why one would go to war, how battle was conducted, what sorts of tactics (honourable and dishonourable) were used and finally who was the victor at the end.
Players are rewarded in honour for the things that they do in the battle. Honour determines who wins Tribal rather than the normal determinants of wargames (killing enemy/taking ground). In turn, honour is a dynamic part of the game - it can be won and lost during combat, the deeds of combatants can win or lose honour, players can spend honour to do 'dirty tricks' to win combats etc.
Live or die, win or lose the battle, Honour always determines the true victor! 

What you get for your money

A 32-page watermarked pdf.

It's in full colour and nicely illustrated with line drawings and photographs mostly of Eureka Miniatures Maoris, but also their Aztecs and Wargames Foundry's Gladiators and Vikings.

Overall, the 'look of the thing' is good.  It's in a two-column layout, the background isn't too intrusive and the balance of text-to-illustration is a good one.  A particularly nice touch is that the back cover consists of the reference tables.

The contents are:-
Introduction and Requirements for Playing ..........................page 3
Building a Warband................................................................page 4
The Cards ...............................................................................page 5
Set Up – Turn Order – Activation .........................................page 6
Movement – Distances – Terrain............................................page 7
Combat ...................................................................................page 8
The Suits in Combat................................................................page 9
A Combat Example.................................................................page 10
Skills ......................................................................................page 11 Scenarios.................................................................................page 12
Optional Rules .......................................................................page 16
Historical Settings – Maori.....................................................page 18 Aztecs......................................................................................page 20 Vikings....................................................................................page 22 Gladiators........................................................... ....................page 24
Other periods – Iroquois – Heian Japan – Cave Wars ...........page 26
Reference Tables ....................................................................rear cover 

From this you'll see that about half of the book consists of rules and about a third historical background.

Some people might find this space devoted to Maori, Aztec or Viking culture superfluous, and many may just skip it, but that is being churlish.  Apart from the Viking or Gladiators perhaps, these backgrounds are likely to be new(ish) to the reader.  In addition, the emphasis in the game on Honour lends a narrative element to it, which is only deepened by (what is after all only a little!) knowledge of the period.  As the rules say
These backgrounds are, of course, entirely optional. The emphasis is to bring fun and flavour to the game by incorporating elements of real world Tribal culture and warfare from different historical eras.
Each of the historical section gives a very short context to the culture, some suggestions for further reading, details of where one might find miniatures and special rules.  Even if one isn't playing a particular culture, it's worth reading about if only for the special rules - the example given is that the rule for use of a Maori Haka could be transformed into a Viking Warcry.

The optional rules include missile fire, dirty tricks and honour pools.  Use of these would add to the complexity of the game and suit those who like more of a challenge!

There are four scenarios you can play in a variety of tribal settings.


It's important to note that these comments are from a quick read-through only.  I've yet to play the rules.

The game mechanisms seem simple enough and quick to learn - a big selling point for me.  The rules are clearly written and well explained.  A sample turn is gone through point-by-point just to make things even clearer.

The requirements for play are:-
  • A 3ft by 3ft playing area (with plenty of scenery)
  • Two standard decks of playing cards
  • A turn counter
  • Counters for recording honour points awarded
  • A Chief
  • 2-3 individual Heroes
  • 3-4 units of 5 Warriors each

Each Warband includes a Chief and then normally one Hero for each unit of five Warriors.  Chiefs and Heroes move and act individually, Warriors as a unit.  The scenarios give details of how these Warbands can are set up (purchased using a set number of Honour points).

Chiefs can take six wounds before being removed, Heroes five, and Warriors one each.  From this it can be seen that it is quite feasible (even encouraged from the Honour point of view!) for a Chief or Hero to take on a unit of five warriors.

Various skills (up to two for Chiefs, one for Heroes and one per group of five Warriors) can be purchased using Honour points - these skills vary from Tactician (one can re-position an enemy unit), to Throwing Weapons (an attack during a charge) to others which mitigate against the effects of cards played during combat.

Playing cards are used for everything from initiative, distance measurement, unit coherency, and resolving combat.  The use of the cards in combat is demonstrated in the video.

The straightforward play of cards can be varied by a number of skills that can be purchased by expending Honour points.


Again I have to stress that I haven't actually played the game yet.  This is based on spending an hour or so looking through the pdf.  

Having said that, I'm impressed.  Tribal looks as if it could be a simple-to-learn fun skirmish game.   It would also appeal to those who have a horror of bending over a table with a tape measure and rolling dice!  

The only quibble that occurs to me is that I would have liked to see a section on Solo Play - I'm going to have to play a few times to see how well a dummy hand works in the combat section.

Seven quid well spent I think!  Now to find some suitable figures...

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Terrain Tuesday #15

It was very pleasant weather here over the weekend, so on Sunday afternoon after doing some 1:1 Scale painting, I was able to settle into the Shed of Delights to pick up on some long-postponed terrain projects.

Remember this one?
I'm sure that I'm not the only one cluttering up my shed with terrain building material.  As well as having a draw full of bits'n'bobs, I've a pile of polystyrene and kiddies' building blocks (I need more of the latter!).

The polystyrene is intended  for larger walls.  It isn't my intention to build a pink castle but I decided to put a little paint in with the diluted white glue so I could make sure of good coverage.  The next time I'll make sure I have some black or grey paint in the shed!

As well as the Pringles Tower I also had a well/pool languishing in a part-completed state.

I had thought that there were WIP photos for this, but I can't find them.  Basically, I took the lid from the Pringles tube and stuck teeny-tiny foam bricks to it.  On Sunday I added some bits from the gash drawer and undercoated it.

And as you see, I also had some fund gluing the kiddies' blocks together (the beasts came from Poundland  - they originally had wings, which have been removed and put on one side for 'something').

So, in summary: nothing finished, but things progressed a little.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Diceni 2016

Despite what I posted yesterday I did manage to pop into Norwich this morning for Diceni.  This event is now in its fourth* year - it seems settled into the first weekend in May.  The only other time I've made it was in 2014,** but if my own experience of the day is anything to go by, attendance seems to be growing.

*Or third?
** Checking my Loot Post I see several items that haven't been painted two years on...

The Venue:  The Forum, Norwich
The Pink Ladies were nothing to do with Diceni - just some loca; colour.
(Robert Audin would have made a wry comment about that I'm sure!)
Note that I don't describe Diceni as a Wargames Show*.  I suspect that the catchment area of people willing to travel to Norwich for a purely wargames show isn't large enough to reach critical mass.  It is dwarfed by even medium-sized Wargames Shows such as Peterborough.  Whether this is a factor or not - I have no knowledge of the origins or organisation of the event - Diceni is a "Tabletop Gaming and Cosplay Show"**.

* Or do I mean a 'Strategy Games" Show?
** Norwich also has a "Gaming Show" in the same venue earlier in the year.  That seems to be devoted to computer games.

LARPers from the Norwich Fools & Heroes
To avoid appearing to be a pervert I didn't take
photos of the children or women cosplayers, but
they were there.

Some readers might not like to hear this, but I think that this combined approach makes for a better atmosphere.  I'm sure there are grumpy old pedants involved in cosplay and boardgames just as in wargaming, but if  so they're not so at the fore!  Today they was a great, friendly and fun with a high proportion of families and passers-by looking around*.   

* The venue being slap-bang in the centre of Norwich and entry being free probably had a lot to do with that.

The stall of our local hobby shop - it's basically a toy shop, but hopefully
events like these help justify their decision to stock tabletop hobby and
LARP materials.  More strength to their elbows!

Oddly enough though I didn't see any mention that yesterday was International Tabletop Day 2016 - was this a missed opportunity to slipstream on their marketing?  However, there was apparently  something called the GreatGeekMeet was happening as well*.  In the past the Norwich Sci-Fi and Star Wars groups have been involved as well.

* Though as you'll see from my photos there weren't any geeks to be seen!

This may or may not have been the GreatGeekMeet

But to the tabletop activities...

Being shy by nature I didn't take many photos or talk to many people, but these might give a taste of what was there.  Those expecting the big tables one sees at wargames shows would have been disappointed - though I'm sure the organisers wouldn't turn one down if someone offered to put a big-table game on!

Warlord demo'ing Bolt Action and Beyond the Gates of Anatres.

The Aftermath Gaming Club playing SAGA
The New Buckenham Club had brought along Wings of War

This interesting-looking game from Fat Chance Games is shortly to
be subject of a KickStarter

And traders?  They included Warlord Games, Cymbeline games,  Langleys (the local toyshop), Counter Attack, MMM Games, Miniature Men, The Assault Group and Utherwald Press.  One trader told me that having a much smaller stall than usual meant gambling a little on what would sell, but he seemed confident enough.  Sadly, Fenris Games although advertised weren't there - possibly because of their temporary closure.  That's a shame, but probably good for my wallet.  Which brings me to...

The Loot

As always, I tried to be modest about the loot,  I resisted the blashisments of MMM's pre-owned figures, but I did bring some things home with me.

First the freebie

As I was looking at the TAG stall the guy told me the price of the six-figure and cavalry blister packs.  "And the individual figures?"  I asked.  It turns out that these were freebies that they'd brought along* in theory to give to people in costume** but had decided to hand out anyway.

*I see from their website that normally you get one of these when you spend £39 mail order.
** I'd come along as a fat, bearded, grumpy middle-aged man.

Giving me a freebie had the desired effect and I later went back and bought a pack of their Goons in President Masks - nicely painted up on their gallery page.

There was no special figure for this year's event, but I bought a d10 to mark the occasion.

And other than that there were just a couple of Bones figures that I thought might come in as Frostgrave spellcasters.

'Bathalian D'khul'

I've not painted Bones before, but the Not-Illithid looks like it'll be fun (he'll also come in for interaction with Pulp cultists).

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