Sunday 28 February 2016

Dux Britanniarum Campaign - August 565 AD

The Scots of Loarn move to intercept their raiding cousin's

This month, August 565 AD, while the Scots of Cenel Loarn were preparing to raid their Pictish neighbours to the east, their cousins from Cenel n'Gabrain launched a raid into the lands of Loarn attacking a village and attempted to loot and pillage all they could find.

We had plumped to play a chosen scenario as both Ian and myself had so far only played a couple of scenario's in the campaign as the random roll's for the both of us meant that we had repeatedly played the same couple of scenario's so far in the campaign. We chose to play the village raid as neither of us had played this scenario yet. The only winning conditions were that the raiders had to find and leave the table with two successful loot rolls to win. Anything else meant the defending Lornian Scots were the winner's.

With all the random throws done the starting positions were that the raiding Gabrain Scots were already in the village and beginning to search for loot with the Skirmishers and Missile troops doing the searching and the Gabrain Lord and his Raider Cavalry and all his Warriors lined up to meet the Loarn Scots as they entered the table at the far corner. The Loarn Scots started with only the Lord Fearadach and his Warband on the table, with the rest of the troops to follow the following turn as they activated.

With the initial set up and things already looking a bit nasty from the outset, both Ian and myself thought things looked a bit like a foregone conclusion withthe raiders looking to get a quick and easy victory once the looting had been successful.

While the raiders searched for loot, Fearadach with nothing to lose, launched himself and his warriors straight at the invaders but came up short from contact.

The Invaders response was predictably a charge one and the Gabrain Scots Warriors charged to meet the oncoming Loarn Warriors and though backed up with a Ferocious charge and a double round of combat failed to break the Loarn Warriors but both ranks had a significant amount of shock inflicted. Then the Gabrain Cavalry and Lorn charged in the flank and again two rounds of combat were fought and due to the horrendous amount of shock inflicted the Loarn Warriors were forced back but managed to drive back the attacking cavalry but the combo of warriors and cavalry proving too much.

By this time however, the rest of the Scots began to make an appearance and began to filter onto the field in support. The Skirmish infantry and cavalry moving round the right flank and began to shoot and inflict shock on the recovering and re-ordering Gabrain Warriors. along with the Bowmen who also added their muscle to the fray and also began to shower the milling warriors.

The Loarn Noble Cavalry came round the narrow left flank and rode to rescue their fellow warriors and rode into their Gabrain counterparts and utterly destroyed them.

This success however was to be short lived as the Gabrain Lord brought back his remaining bounced cavalry and in a couple of rounds of combat destroyed the Loarn Nobles in return. 

The respite that the cavalry duel on the left flank however had given enough time to get the Loran warriors back into the fight and enough shock had been removed to get them to charge again which they did before the Gabrain Warriors could reform due the constant fire from the skirmishers and Bowmen.

This clash was briefer than the first and with only two thirds of the Loarn Warriors entering the fray, they trounced the Gabrain Warriors who with significant shock already ended up with double shock and the warriors broke en masse.

The Gabrain Lord in revenge, charged into the unit of Loarn Warriors who had had no noble attached and so had not recovered any shock and with lots of dice against two, the third group of Lornian Warriors were broken and being next to the table edge from the start ran off the table.

Next the Gabrain Lord charged into the victorious Loarn Warriors who wer moving to pursue the fleeing Gabrain rabble, and with were nasty dice rolls from Ian, and some spectacular dice from me destroyed his charging cavalry and wounded the Lord who broke and fled.

The victorious Loarn Warriors now pursued the fleeing Lord and overwhelmed him and captured the knave for ransome. 

All the while, while the battle was raging to the south of the village, the Gabrain Skirmishers and Bowmen had been ransacking the village to no avail, much to Ian's chagrin. In fact it was almost the last turn of the game before he managed to throw a 6 and sneak off with one paltry loot.

With time running out and all the fighters of Gabrain killed, captured or fleeing the game was declared an overwhelming victory to Cenel Loarn and a much surprising outcome after the initial set up. Just goes to show, in the words of the prophet..."Never give up! Never Surrender!"

Saturday 27 February 2016

Future Wars Update 007 - Watchtowers

Another couple of additions to the slowly expanding terrain collection for the Future Wars project just recently finished are these Watchtowers.

Made by Micro Art Studio from Poland, they form part of the Barracks set, two sets of which were purchased by a friend of mine and who didn't need the towers. So these were handed down to me as I had just the need of such pieces.

As far as I know, the towers are not available separately, which is a pity.

Made from the now pretty ubiquitous MDF, they went together easily with only a couple of mild filing areas to make sure they weren't too tight a fit and glued together. Though easily free standing and probably stable enough, I plumped to add a couple of bases suitably textured and flocked and they are now rock solid and perhaps a bit more eye catching.

They were simply painted, as you can see with a two colour paint scheme with some high lights added but I had forgotten just how long these types of terrain piece can take to do just because of the sheer acreage of surface to paint. 

Quite enjoyable to do and the watchtowers are an easy way to add a bit of height to a layout, and they are fitting to the theme of the first battle to come.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Scottish Battlefields Trust Wargames Show

 Yesterday, was the first (hopefully annual) Scottish Battlefield Trust Wargames Show. The event held in Prestonpans on the east coast of Scotland, a stones throw away from Edinburgh on an unfortunately unwelcoming, wet and windy day.

A fairly small affair, being the first, but certainly an enjoyable trip out in a interesting and unusual venue. Held in the Prestongrange Gothenburg 'The Goth' which is a listed building, pub/microbrewery/restaurant and venue which certainly gave the event a sense of atmosphere with a number of paintings on the wall several depicting events around the time of the battle of Prestonpans. There was also a presence from the Allan Breck Re-enactment society who also had a small game on show, dressed as a Jacobite and a Redcoat both of whom gave a sense of period to the proceedings.

Several local traders had a presence at the event including Templar Wargames and Claymore Castings and a few others, and Warwick Louth (the organiser of the event) also sold a selection of period historical books at the desk.

A selection of games were on show from Falkirk Wargames Club's 'Border Reiver' game where you could lift some cattle, League of Augsburg's interesting Battle of Killiecrankie, and a rather spiffing ECW game among others.

I had my better half with me 'on tour' as we were headed home, passing Ikea on the way so a 'two dead bird's' event seemed in order and I picked up a few storage bits and Jaqui managed to drool over some soft furnishing, so every body happy there.

After touring the delight's of the show, we went for a pretty good lunch downstair's before heading home and though I could not partake of the micro-brewery's output at the time, I did manage to take a small libation back home for later sampling.

Interesting logo.
Might 'lift' this for a banner.
Painted Ceiling

A great first event, which went well and promises good things for the future in a very interesting venue and well done to all taking part and organising the event. I look forward to next year's show with interest.

The Goth

Friday 19 February 2016

More Terrain Board Trials

I've recently been working on an idea for some more terrain boards, this time with a more specific use. That is to say with the likes of Frostgrave in mind.

The idea was sparked by seeing Heroic Maps; Frost Ruins on Drivethrurpg which is an inexpensive pdf download which looked to be a fairly nice looking ground base for games based in the Frostgrave milieu. This download produces, when linked together a 50" x 50" playing surface.

My initial though was to produce a set of terrain tiles that would link together and be easily storable. The future addition of some 'blocks' of terrain covered in the terrain sheets would allow some elevated areas and interesting matching changes in height, is also on the cards. (Pun unintended) So armed with file downloaded and printed out on 130g card stock and a few sheets of black foam core board I proceeded to produce a first batch of 6 10" x 10" tiles.

The print outs from the file are pretty nice and interestingly 'textured' though each sheet printed out includes a fairly hefty overlap with it's neighbours (which isn't always consistently sized) so required each sheet to be cut and trimmed to suit to match its surround tiles. So a fair bit of time is spent cutting all to size and to suit the tile sizes.

Once cut, the tiles were glued to the foam core using PVA and left to dry, suitably weighed down to keep flat over night. Once dry the glued tiles were trimmed from the foam core sheet using a very sharp knife, with the cut very slightly beveled so each tile would sit evenly against its neighbour. Cut and trimmed to length cocktail sticks were then inserted into each tile (alternating) to 'fix' each tile together and stop any moving about when used.

Job done.

Not so unfortunately, as I discovered next day that the six tiles constructed had developed a significant bow upwards. As with a lot of these types of assembly the top and bottom react differently so to allow for this I cut and glued blank card, again with PVA,  to the underside to attempt to straighten things out. Again suitably, and perhaps excessively, weighted down while drying and made sure the temperature was consistent and not too hot.

Again this appeared to do the job but again shortly after the assembly and while laying out and connecting up the pieces, they developed a slight bend, this time in the opposite direction. Regardless of anything done, this contoured effect stubbornly remains.

Now while this partial undulation is nothing excessive, and indeed with proposed terrain and miniatures these gradual bumps may disappear, but it just destroys my karma really as the sight of the occasional shadow line in the terrain will annoy me.

I suspect that the use of PVA is probably the route cause of the bowing of the tiles So I think a lesson learnt as they say.

But back to the drawing board and a new plan emerges. Rather than individual tiles, I'll just make two 4' x 2' terrain boards using MDF of a suitable (and un-warpable) thickness and glue the printed card stock to these.I'm unlikely to use less than the full 4' x 4' area at any time and the tiles would be particularly interchangeable any way, so a couple of standard terrain boards will do just fine. The elevated covered blocks will be made from expanded foam and will be pretty stable anyway.

I'll post the results of the reply of these trials once completed.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

PC Games coming in 2016

A big part of my gaming life has always been computer gaming, usually with a healthy dollop of warfare and combat flavour. Occasionally online (with the likes of the Battlefield series, a particular favourite was Battlefield 2142) but more often strategy based games with lots of resource management and armies trudging about, and of course the first person shoot and hack ups that everyone knows. All a big reason as to why I don't get as much painting done as I would like.

Always popular in the Warblog HQ have been the Total War series and the many mods available have kept me busy for many wee small hours. It is with interest that I have noted the forth coming Warhammer Total War. I'm not sure which company has bought into whose franchise here but which ever it is, I'm quite happy about the prospect.

Total War; Warhammer
You would be hard pressed to not have seen some of the hype around this game since there's been a fair amount of it out there. Interesting to note that it's very much Old World based and still very firmly entrenched in the previous Warhammer milieu, obviously GW are keeping there options open here with the licencing but I suppose AoS setting doesn't lend itself to the Total War concept.

Looking at the write-ups for this, it looks suitably resource rich and has a reasonable amount of factions to play with the Empire coming out quite well and the Dwarfs, Vampire Counts, Dwarves and Chaos in there too. It will be interesting to see how much of the TW ethos is retained and how much lost due to the programming contraints and the amount handed over to the fantasy mechanics, I hope not too much. The usual fluff and fuss can be found on the Total War web site with release around April time.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
M&B 2 is a action/RPG mix and this one of the stables is a prequel to the previous ones set 200 years in the past so you can expect circa 1000AD tech and aesthetics and the usual mix of European and Near East types in conflict with each other and much running around meeting people getting them to do what you want them to do or killing them and taking their castles.

The pre-release screen shots etc look quite pretty for in game and the though the map still looks quite simplistic as previous versions have been. Still mod-ifyable from design concept the base game does look to be improved but much playability will likely come from the mods that will be sure to appear. Check it out at Taleworlds for info but with no release date yet they still obviously have some work to do on this one.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The Deus Ex franchise is one of my favourite one's mainly because of the design aesthetic that permeates the 'Blade Runner' type setting, with the investigative theme and high tech smooth upper class wealthy corporate 'upper' world and the grimy and hard-life lower common 'lower' world on the streets. Hacking and gun play with a big helping of stealth and diplomacy makes the game play very interesting, along with lots of futuristic hardware is hard to beat combination.

In the continuing story Jensen has to defeat another world wide conspiracy in a background of hate against his kind (augmented humans). Details can be checked out on the Deus Ex Universe site. Not out until August, it should be worth waiting for.

I think this one will need no introduction to anyone out there and is the next incarnation of the pre-emptive first person shoot-em up that set the genre base plate. This, it's fourth incarnation I think, will be a re-invention of the original descent into hell and shoot lots of really creepy and gribbly things before they eat you kind of thing. Switch your brain off and look out your BFG.

From the Bethesda shop and following on from the likes of Fallout 4, Skyrim, Dishonoured and Rage, the mechanics of the game should be fine and you can expect lots of gore and very disgusting opponents. Due for release in the Spring and can be checked out on the Bethesda site.

X Com 2
The latest of the X Com stable is another which has been vastly improved, looks-wise from it's original and is an enjoyable tactical challenge in a not too hard on the brain kind of way. Lot's of tech, research and gribblies again, but I think the overall scope of the latest incarnation lacks a bit of the long reaching depth the older versions had. You know, just over a bit too quickly, certainly the last one (X-Com; Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within) was by defeating the 'mother-ship' it all was over too easily. However, in this one apparently it wasn't easy after all and the aliens have taken over and the 'good guys' have to fight the good fight to get it all back.

X Com 2 is out in February with new treats and can be checked out on the X Com 2 site.

Of course there are many other title's forth coming in the year including Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, Hitman, Mass Effect Andromeda, Homeworld: Deserts of Karak and Dishonored 2 to name but a few, but these few are one's I'm looking forward to. On a slightly different note, there are a big number of action films due for release this year too, not least a large number of Marvel Universe flicks, and these may spawn their own Computer Games.

One thing I have noted on the the titles that are coming up over the next few months and indeed generally, including my top picks, is that the vast majority of the titles are additions to ongoing franchises. Makes you wonder if there aren't any new idea's out there, or is it that the games developers et al, are not willing to take any risks on promoting new idea's.
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