Saturday, October 27, 2012

Some More Romano-Brits

This week I just finished off a few more Roman Brits that were in the painting queue - a couple of warriors, a couple of standard bearers, a priest and the limited edition 'Arthur' figure that came with the pre-order of Dux Britanniarum. The other figures are Gripping Beast, with the exception of the bannerman with the smaller flag, who is from Westwind. The banners are from Little Big Men, the bigger one causing me some problems as for some reason it wouldn't stick to the paper backing properly. I ended up having to glue it down with diluted PVA, which made the whole thing a bit stiff and hard to get folds into.
So what's on the painting tray now...I try to discipline myself to never exceed what can fit on this board when deciding what's in the painting queue. You'll see there are a few random Romano-Brits, some later Saxons from Miniature Design Studios, and 21 early Saxons from Westwind. And a whole lot of empty space...mwahhahhah!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bloggers Meet for High-Level Talks

It's only taken us about 8 months, but last night I was finally able to meet up with Paul of the Man Cave. Our diaries finally meshed, and Paul was able to drag himself away from his heavily-armed floating man cave for a few hours. Had a brilliant night - he is a great bloke, as anyone who follows his blog or read his article in Wargames Illustrated would know, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening drinking beer, chatting about gaming, planning the games we'll play and talking about Fran the Lurker. I'm going to teach him SAGA, and I'm hoping for a lesson on Incursion in return.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Hard Men of Post-Roman Britain

I've finished my Nobles for Dux Britanniarum, which means I've completed the basic starter army for a campaign. Here is the army of Cynwidion in all its glory.

One of the things I like about Dux Britanniarum is the emphasis on giving your leading characters some characteristics and back story that might not always influence the game (although it certainly does sometimes!), but helps you care more than usual about your little chaps on the table. The rulebook contains a number of tables to use while creating your characters, and there is a name generator on the Too Fat Lardies site, so I'm going to roll dice as I write this post and find out who I have painted. I promise not to cheat if I roll a negative result.

Here we go.

First up we have the Lord, Decurion Conomor ap Bledric of Cynwidion. He is 23 years old, of average build, and is known as 'The Quiet'. He has an Iron Liver (yes!) allowing him to ignore the negative effects of overuse of mead prior to battle. Less happily, he is an Exile, his father having been a noble in a kingdom that no longer exists. As a result he will suffer a -2 modifier when I roll for his wealth. Disastrously, I rolled a 2 for his wealth, so Conomor begins the campaign with only a Beggar's Bowl in wealth.

Conomor's Champion is Gwerthefyr. He is 24 years old, of average build and enjoys trips to the cinema (OK, I made that up). He is Lustful (coveting the women of others), so will suffer -1 on any loyalty roll (although I'm not sure if that has any effect on a Champion).

Two Nobles attend Conomor. The first is named Gwallawc ap Brydw. He is 33 years old, Tall and Strong, and is known as 'The Devil' (which can't be good). He also is Lustful, and is the Son of a Warlord previously allied to Rome.

By a strange coincidence, I rolled the same patronymic for the second Noble, so his name is Gwalchafed ap Brydw, and therefore I surmise that he and Gwallawc are brothers. He is 28 years old, of Average Build, and is clearly a pious man, already having earned the soubriquet 'The Confessor'. Fittingly, he is Honourable, incapable of commiting regicide and gaining +2 on any loyalty roll. As for his background I rolled that he was the son of a Decurion, but since it makes no difference to the game I will treat him as also the son of a Warlord, like his brother Gwallawc.

These are the men who hold the fate of Cynwidion in their hands. From their un-Romanised names I think they have come to Cynwidion from further North, and the king of Cynwidion (who is 64 years old, past his prime) has entrusted them with his kngdom's defence thanks to their reputation as great war leaders. They find themselves The King of Cynwidion is 64 years old. Along with Conomor's elite Blackshield hearthguard they command a disparate army of still largely Romanised troops from the militia of Verulamium and some surviving units who maintain the traditions of the Roman Comitatenses. The three nobles form a surprising alliance - Conomor prone to brood over the ruin of his family's position and Gwalchafed the opposite in temperament to his older, handsome but wicked brother.

Can these men hold the Saxon darkness at bay? Can they preserve the light of true religion and civilisation against the pagan hordes? Come, Sea Wolves, and feel the strength of British steel!

Reasons to be Cheerful

The Duchess took the kids over to my mum's today to try to make sure that we all get a bit of rest and hopefully get over this foul virus, so I've largely been sleeping with a few bursts of hobby mooching throughout the day.

During the day I was taking stock of some of the great developments going on in the parts of the hobby I'm most interested in. As is often remarked, we are truly living through a Golden Age, and before going to bed I thought I might list some of the things I'm looking forward to, along with a couple of predictions.

This has obviously been a fantastic year for wargaming the 'dark ages'. There have been great figures around for a while, but usually early medieval games are not that exciting, and for many great rule sets (eg Impetus) what we might call the 'shieldwall period' is a bit peripheral to the core mechanics of what makes those games good. All this has changed though with SAGA, Dux Britanniarum and Dux Bellorum, three terrific games that tackle the core issues of warfare in the early medieval period in different ways, and do it really well. Within a couple of weeks the second SAGA expansion ('The Raven's Shadow') will be upon us, and I'm particularly looking forward to checking out the new Strathclyde Welsh faction on their shaggy little ponies. Here's the image of th new starter army from the Gripping Beast site.

And if that doesn't get you excited about the Strathclyde Welsh, try this:

Along with the Raven's Shadow there is also the new Byzantine faction coming out for SAGA in Wargames Illustrated 301, and then two new expansions next year. So here's my prediciton, and let's see how right I am next year. This prediction is based on listening to Alex Buchel on the Historical Wargames Podcast, where he said that the next expansion will contain 6 new factions and be about 64-68 pages long. I predict it will be devoted to the Crusades (including Northern) and will include rules for big battle SAGA. Then I reckon they will shift back to the 'Arthurian' period for the second release of the year.

Meanwhile, the Lardies will be coming out with an expansion for Dux Britanniarum, bringing in the Picts and Irish. Nice.

Next month we can also expect Deus Vult!, the new medieval rules from Fireforge Games to support their beautiful range of 13th century knights and sergeants. Bolt Action is out and gaining rapid popularity, and Plastic Soldier Company has just released their Battlegroup Kursk rules. PSC have done an amazing job of muscling into the space occupied by Flames of War, and judging by the quality of plastic figures in the latest FOW box set are causing them to lift their game. If the PSC rules offer something more inspiring than FOW they might just tempt me to get my 20mm WWII out of the cupboard. The demise of Warhammer Historical has created fertile ground for all sorts of games dealing with the big battles (Hail Caesar, War and Conquest, Clash of Empires etc). I haven't played any of them yet, but only for lack of opportunity.

Another great development is the sudden surge in 'games in a box'. This was a discussion had by Neil Shuck, Richard Clarke and Henry Hyde on the 'View from the Verandah' podcast a couple of months back, where they were discussing the importance of newbies being able to access the hobby easily (ie by picking up a starter box set). Since then, we have a box set for Pike and Shotte out from Warlord Games, a Bolt Action starter box and the new Flames of War box (and probably others I've missed). This is a good thing. It has struck me (and surprised me somewhat) how much more comfortable new players in the school club have been to buy the official SAGA starter sets, for example, rather than sourcing their own (often cheaper) figures. I think at times I underestimate the learning curve of getting into historical gaming, so starter sets that hopefully find their way into more mainstream toy shops can only be a good thing.

Thinking about how new technology is altering the hobby is also interesting. We have seen in the past 12 months the rise of the 'kickstarter' concept of funding new games from their potential fan base, with Dreadball and Kings of War being two that spring to mind. The plastic revolution of course continues apace, as does the impact of computer aided design in miniatures. This is perhaps not a completely unmixed blessing. Vehicles look fine, but the CAD figures produced by Wargames Factory leave me a bit cold.

Which brings me to my second prediction. What do you think the impact of 3D Printing will be on our hobby? Part of me fears that as 3D printers become increasingly affordable there will be a whole lot of pirating of figures going on. However, for companies who get on the cutting edge of the technology and adjust their business models, I forsee great opportunities. I would not be surprised if within ten years I might be able to check out a range of figures online, download their specs as a file and print them out at home on my 3D Printer. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Probably lot more I could ramble about, but feeling tired and crappy. Goodnight.

Friday, October 19, 2012

150,000 Page Views!

Today my humble blog has hit a significant milestone, with 150,000 page views! The image above is of a bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1928. If every time somebody visited this blog they put $1 in a communal fund, we would now be able to mark this moment by buying a bottle. Yep, $150,000, which is just plain silly and not a little morally questionable.

Thank you! To everyone who visits my blog and especially those of you who take the time to comment, I really appreciate your interest. It is a great privilege to be able to share my hobby with people from all over the world. I will be marking this milestone shortly with a competition, so watch this space.

British Heavy Metal

It has been a grim week in the Duchy. Not only was I attacked by zombies earlier in the week, but nearly the whole family has had a vile gastro virus thingy. The only person immune has been the boy twin (Assault) who has spent the last couple of days jumping on and trying to rumble a group of largely comatose suffering lumps. Thank god for TV. I even watched Mary Poppins for the first time and quite enjoyed it. Who knew that chimney sweeps had such a great time of it? And what the hell accent was Dick van Dyke attempting?

In moments of lucidity I have been able to chip away at a few painting projects, and managed to finish my Bolt Action Churchill. I quite like it, but then I love Churchill tanks. It is supposed to be a tank from C Squadron of the Coldstream Guards, all of which were named after famous ships in the Royal Navy.

As I said in an earlier post, I like the model, but was a bit annoyed to find the towing cable on the left side partly miscast, and the towing hook at the front missing.
Here it is with some support from the Durham Light Infantry...

And with some of Tamsin's Finest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Go for a Walk and am Accosted by Zombies

I had a very odd encounter on Tuesday. My mate Antonius and I had a couple of lessons off, so I wandered over to his desk and suggested we go and get his birthday present. He turned a significant age last week and had a big party, but the Duchess and I hadn't quite organised a present in time. However, as he is a big fan of zombies (although too much of a delicate soul to watch The Walking Dead), I had planned to buy him the boardgame Last Night on Earth, which is rated by knowledgeable people like Neil from Meeples and Miniatures as one of the best zombie games out there.

So we wandered across the park to the friendly local boardgame shop, and he at least feigned plausible delight when I got him the game. On our way back we were chatting away when I couldn't help pointing out that there seemed to be some zombies in our path. Actual zombies, with bleeding wounds etc, including a rather attractive female zombie. But perhaps it's wrong to find zombies attractive. It's such a moral maze.

Anyway, it turned out that some pay TV channel was doing a promo for The Walking Dead season 3 (which looks awesome, by the way) by having a pack of zombies wandering around giving out t-shirts. Antonius and I duly posed - he's the one looking more convincingly unsettled in the photo. I look like I'm wondering if it's ok to find the girl zombie attractive.

What are the odds? We buy a zombie game, walk along talking about zombies, and then some show up.

Romano-British Warriors

So close...

After finishing this bunch of warriors, I only have to finish four more figures and my Romano-British army is ready to play Dux Britanniarum. The figures are from Gripping Beast, and look less Romanised than the rest of my force. Some of the poses are a bit static, but I really like the two running figures.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tamsin's Finest - All Based and Ready for Action

I've based the section of British paras that Tamsin painted up for me, and I think you'll agree the result looks great. I love the shading on the packs, and the subtle way she did the camo on the Denison smocks. Brilliant stuff - thanks again Tamsin!
Isn't it amazing the way the internet and particularly the blogosphere has opened up opportunities for us to connect with each other about our hobby? I just love the fact that I have this great little squad in my army that was painted for me by someone I've never met on the other side of the world, just because I won a competition on her blog! It will be my turn to offer something again soon, perhaps when I hit 150,000 page views, or when I finally crack 200 followers. So if you're lurking, you have an incentive to commit...
With this lot added to the infantry I've finished, I will almost have 1000 points for a game of Bolt Action (once I finish my Churchill and a couple of other bits and pieces).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tamsin's Paras Drop In!

I was completely knackered at work today, thanks to the twins and a head cold. Fell asleep on the bus, completely forgot to go to a tutorial lesson, generally feeling sorry for myself.

However...the day brightened up after third period when I check my pigeon hole and found a package from the UK. Inside was the squad of Bolt Action British Paras that Tamsin painted up for me after I was lucky enough to win a competition on her blog.
I particularly love the way she wrapped each of them up. It felt like Christmas. The figures look fantastic - even better 'in the pewter' as they did on her blog. I'll base them up so they fit in with the rest of my army then post pics of the end result.

Thanks Tamsin!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

British Radio Operator for Bolt Action

The good people at War and Peace Games are having a painting competition on their Facebook page at the moment for either a single Space Marine (whatever they are) or single Bolt Action mini. Here's my effort - a Tommy carrying a No. 38 radio.
This is the first figure I've painted in about 15 years where I've focused on a single figure rather than painting a batch for wargaming. The close up reveals a few dodgy bits, but I'm generally reasonably happy with my attempt to add several layers of highlights, rather than just the one I usually use for my 'wargames standard.' I was also pretty happy with how the face and eyes turned out, although you can't see them due to the shadowing of the helmet. Doh!
Right, back to the Romano-British...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Romano-British Skirmishers

I haven't got too much to show for the last week or two, but I did manage to finish four skirmishers for Dux Britanniarum, all that are required for the starter army. The figures are late Romans from Black Tree Design, which I like a lot, the faces being particularly well-defined and full of character.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

This week I have been mostly...! For the last week of the holidays a small group from school headed down to Australia's beautiful Snowy Mountains. I had never been fly fishing before, but was in the presence of some very experienced anglers who did their best to sort me out. Not many trout were caught (3, as opposed to 95 at the same time last year, apparently due to some weather issues), but I was enjoying being in such a fantastic landscape, standing in pristine streams. Sadly we came home yesterday, half way through the trip we had planned. Probably due to some passing jerk tossing a cigarette out of a car window a grass fire ripped through our campsite yesterday when we were off for the morning fishing. We arrived back and leapt into action putting out spot fires, then surveyed the devastation. Four tents (including mine, naturally) were reduced to pools of burnt plastic and metal. I didn't lose too much, mainly some clothes I liked and sleeping bag etc, but one poor bloke lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment. The upside of course was that nobody was hurt, and the boys behaved fantastically well, but it was a long and depressing afternoon clearing up the debris and heading home.

Moral: If you must feckin' smoke, put the feckin' thing out before you feckin' chuck it out a car window.

I did, however, return to good news. Check this out:
Yeeeees! The next SAGA supplement, due out in mid November. Note the Irish Wolfhounds. While we wait, the Gripping Beasts have put out another set of swords for hire - the Gall-Geidhil (Sons of Death), who look very nasty indeed.