Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Sisters of Battle - Penitent Engine

A random piece just completed. I was trying to get my painting mojo up and running again and decided to make a fresh start and looked for a piece that was different from where I got mired in the 'Slough of Despondency' last year with what was on my painting table.

I plumped for a Penitent Engine from my Sisters of Battle mini mountain as totally different from previous painting forays and I'm pleased to say I got quite into painting up the piece.

I was going to get into more detail, for instance adding scribbles to the seals, but decided against it just now and move onto something fresh again so the Engine is finished 'for now'.

Pleased with the result overall and I'm now looking to tackle some more of the Sisters of Battle bits and bobs I've got on the side lines ready to paint.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Battle Companies Campaign - Looking for the Needle

This week we kicked off the club Battle Companies campaign.

With ten players involved and a reasonable spread of different Battle Companies the campaign promises to be eventful and lots of fun.

The Players;
         Dave K            Rivendell
         Andy W            Mordor Orcs
         Ian                   Gondor
         Kevin               Warg Riders
         Andy K             Easterlings
         Alan                 Gondor
         Scott                Gondor
         Rory                 Arnor
         Kenny              Earterlings
         Leigh               (Still to declare)

The narrative campaign is set roughly around 1408 TA at the beginning of the Second Northern War and the Companies are battling around the border of Arthedain, Angmar and Rhudaur with the Companies looking to gain advantage for their side in the coming conflict and furthering their own agenda's and gaining glory and prestige in the process.

The Campaign itinerary looks like this;

          2 Games (any Scenario)
          Campaign Scenario I - Crossing Emyn Sul
          2-4 Games (any Scenario)
          Campaign Scenario II - Catching the Thread
          2-4 Games (any Scenario)
          Campaign Scenario III - Bridge over the Mitheithel
          2-4 Games (any Scenario)
          Campaign Scenario IV - The Eye of the Needle
          2 Games (any Scenario)
          Campaign Scenario V - The Defence of Amon Sul

With the Campaign kicking off this week, we managed to gather 8 of the intrepid bands who let slip the dogs of War and had battle and managing to get the first two introductory games in and the first Campaign Scenario 'Crossing Emyn Sul' too (apart from Alan and Kenny who didn't manage the campaign scenario.

The games are pretty quick to play through due to the small starting number in each company initially but as the campaign progresses look to take a bit longer each time. With all the players gamed up together we swapped round the tables as each game unfolded and everybody had a different opponent for each of their games making things much more interesting.

My first game was a Hold the Ground Scenario against Andy K's Easterlings and my Arnor band had a pretty easy show of it largely due to my better shooting abilities and Andy's rubbish dice and gained a Hobbit Archer as reinforcement.

My next up was my Arnor forces against a slightly depleted Warg Riders Company of Kev in a 'Chance Encounter' Scenario and again my growing shooting abilities proving a match for the Warg Rider fast movement though I did lose one of my Warriors of Arnor in this match but gained another Hobbit Archer.

Third game up and this being the first Campaign Scenario and I was up against Dave K's Rivendell Elves who are proving to be the early Company to watch.

The Scenario is basically a Seize Ground Scenario where each of the Companies try to control the greater number of objective (a watch tower and four surrounding ruins) while having the added complication of Haunted Ground and a Barrow Wight somewhere unknown to contend with.

Initially my luck was in and I took out the only Elven Archer with my first shot but Dave kept his troops in cover while slowly closing ground on the Arnor Troops with the odd lucky potshot being stopped by the Elvish Armour. On closing on the second objective the Arnor troops disturbed the Barrow Wight but managed to rid the world of this evil spirit with ease much to my pleasant surprise, though this did split up my advance.

Quickly Dave closed the gap and made his move and easily weathered the one round of shooting in the open (five ones to hit was just rubbish but the luck was obviously siding with the Elves on the night) and jumped into melee.

After that everyone including the Hobbits piled in as there was no shooting into melee and numbers tell.

Surprisingly my troops held the line for three or four round with each side trading blows but failing to land a killing blow and then of course things turned and four of the Arnor troops went down for the loss of only one Elf. Eventually only a lone warrior stood and managed to fend off four Elf warriors for two rounds before going down refusing to flee to the end. Great game hard fought game but the victory going to Dave's Elves.

With eleven games down, the scores on the doors look like this;

          Arnor - 2 Victories, 1 Defeat
          Mordor Orcs - 1 Victory, 1 Draw, 1 Defeat
          Gondor (Ian) - 1 Draw, 2 Losses
          Warg Riders - 1 Victory, 2 Losses
          Easterlings (Kenny) - 1 Victory, 1 Loss
          Gondor (Alan) - 2 Victories
          Easterlings (Andy) - 3 Losses
          Rivendell - 3 Victories 

So Good 6, Evil 4 so far (Total Victories counting towards the grand finale) and just for interest.

A couple of games to be had by the other players and then onto the next phase and another round-robin round of games for the second phase.

Looking forward to it.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Kings of War Trial Game

First game of the year and I've gone for a game I've not really played before, Kings of War. Now in it's 2nd edition and reasonably popular at the club, mainly due to the speed of the quick play style rules and the speed at which things can be set up and put away again making it ideal for a club night rule set.

Not knowing the rules I put together a very list with the generic Kingdoms of Men list which looks to be pretty 'nilla and with no frills easy to pick up the rules with. The list was pretty random along with the same on magic which I should have spent more time on but as just a game to pick up the rules the list seemed reasonable and more importantly 'legal', using the EasyArmy prog to put together the list.

Kev was on hand the his Dark Elves KoW equivalent list army and was slightly worried at the apparent disproportionate size of armies initially but he needn't have worried. Ian was on hand too as a spectator and to add gems of wisdom into the void that was my ignorance of the system.

Round 2
I won't go with a blow by blow account of the action as this was a bit (but not totally) one sided mainly due to the newbie army list and player it has to be said, but also to a self confessed good dice night for the Drow types. Instead I'll put down a few observations on my take on the game and with an admittedly first peek at the rules.

Round 3
As intimated before the Human Kingdom army did not fair well in the battle and generally got gubbed by a mixture of mass shooting and a couple of brutal frontal melees. The Drow only took a couple of notable losses, the first being disposable Harpies which did their job and slowed things down and more telling a unit Witchy Types which went down to a combined arms tactics mid game.

The basic premise I noted firstly is that there are no casualty removals its an all or nothing mechanism where a unit is either OK, very unhappy/gone thing so tending towards an element based game. Not as restrictive as most of that genre are movement/tactics wise but strong move in that direction. As most who know me know, I'm not a fan of element based game systems and basically I almost don't see the need for using figure for that style of game where in becomes like an Avalon Hill board game in feel so your units are just counters anyway.

That said, the rules are not quite there in their feel, mainly rescued by the movement flexibility. The system did feel a bit abrupt in it's results (but hey it's a quick play rule system) unit takes some shooting hits, gone seemed a bit what happened there' when you've got a horde of things who haven't even seem the enemy and they're offsky. That will take a bit of getting used to. The same thing happens in the likes of WHFB, but there you see the attrition as you take off a bunch of figures before you fail your break test, so it just seems like they did something more. I get that.

Doesn't look good for the Humie Pikes
The shooting and melee system is very (read here; entirely) YGIG so you are a bit of a spectator for half the game. There is nothing you do in your opponents turn, they even throw the dice on your unit nerve check to see if your unit breaks after taking shooting casualties or from melee. The upshot of the game is based on a tactical premise where you look at the game a move or so ahead and try and position your units for the charge and aiming to get a greater number of units hitting an enemy unit or lining up for a retaliation strike to set up your enemy for a flank or even rear attack which are stupendously effective. Luck still plays a part as ever for hits and wounds and nerve checks but from what was seen in the game, you can get a good handle on the odds for the likely outcome of any engagement as the spread of stats seem fairly small.

The Humie fire support look on in disgust
All the above is really fine, I did think that there didn't seem to be any difference in the staying power of say a horde of militia and a horde of Hvy Pike but that is just first impression and may be down to game on the night specifics.

Round 4
Magic seemed to be fairly low key and no a major influence but more an add-on to the flow/result of the game which is fine.

In summary, I did enjoy the game, in a masochistic sort of way, but it was very much a first game and with that in mind I will play again. Thanks to Kev and Ian too for putting up with lots of silly questions. A bit of a study on the lists with a much better insight to capabilities and so on. A view of the other army lists is required to see what sits with my play style and figure availability is very much required and see if this puts a better result on the table for next time.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Battle Companies - Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game

As reported in my last post, I was looking to pick up a copy of one of GWs' latest offerings, namely Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Battle Companies. This I have done and spent a wee bit of time going over the rules contained there in.

The hard bound 80 page book is of GWs usual standard and the layout and graphic content much the same as all their previous LotR Strategy/ The Hobbit Strategy Battle game offerings.

The book contents are in main a revamp of the old rules which were originally published and added to within the pages of White Dwarf with little in the way of changes in the main rule body. What they have done is consolidate the bits and bobs in one tome. What they have added is the scenario list and an idea for a narrative campaign along with ideas for the varied settings scattered around Middle Earth to pit your own scenarios/battles in to give them a bit of originality and flavour.

The book is laid with the first quarter of the book covering the rules pertaining to and specific for Battle Companies, the next quarter or so covers the various good and evil companies that you can play from the get-go. The next thirty or so pages relate to scenarios and campaign settings with the last ten or so pages covering various design team sample battle companies as a bit of the usual end of book eye candy.

The main thing to note is that you can't play Battle Companies without resource to one of the previous versions of LotR Strategy Game or the Hobbit etc etc for reference to the standard rules for movement, combat etc etc plus the actual stats for each troop type/model. I would assume most people picking this up will have access to something which will let you get into this in the first place. I would take from the title of the book that the intention is to bring all things together under the banner of 'Middle Earth Strategy Game' but I believe there is no release date yet.

The list of available Battle Companies is fairly extensive ie 22 list which are all fairly mono-racial which I find a bit tame but as was pointed out to me, this is likely to be because a Company can be made up from a one box purchase to get things going, makes sense. There is a report in the rules that further lists will be published from time to time within White Dwarf. This may be worth a periodic check on the old WD.

I've had a wee play with the rules and all seem fine but as with all rules of this type, an ongoing campaign is where the interest lies.

With that in mind I've had a couple of ideas to run with this, the one which peeks my interest is a 4-6 player campaign set in the Third Age around Arnor (Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur) and the fight with Angmar. Plenty of scope for raids skirmishes and varied terrain. Just might have legs.

Another one for the rules collection but I think this will see some action for a season or two at least.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Planning 2018

Brave Free Men - Jack Vance (Cover Artwork)
Well, I can only say that the last one did not really go to plan. Very little gaming activities through the year, particularly the second half and even less activities in the way of painting and modelling, mainly driven by a great deal of busy-ness work-wise and just wanting to couch when getting home of an evening and where spare time available, domestic duties took priority. We've all been there, I think. A certain amount of a jaded outlook crept in too I suppose.

Very little of the 'New Things' of 2017 made any impression on me, either in terms of new rule sets or figure releases. It seemed the big thing of last year was the release of many cross-over board games, (I did manage to get a couple of games of Shadespire, my only gaming activity in the latter part of the year, and I think I sucked at it too :-) but hey-ho, I did enjoy the gaming experience) and that is not rally my bag.

Looking back over the year, I can honestly say that 2017 was the first year ever (or at least since I exited puberty) that I did not purchase any models. Scary. I did receive as gifts a couple of pieces and got a couple of kickstarter deliveries but these were actually purchased a year or so before.

There were a couple of bits that did catch my eye and I'll pick these up if only to fix that hobby/rule itch, the first of these was the LotR Battle Companies rules re-release at the end of the year and only slightly preceded by the re-release of the Necromunda rules both from GW. 

Little else has peaked my interest, with the exception of the 'Open Combat' Rules from Second Thunder which were released in 2016. These I have just purchased, by way of pdf downloads to see how they look. They are an open system for historical and/or fantasy skirmish rules and look to be a cut down rpg style set of rules trying to simulate daring-do and rpg-esque play style on the table-top. I'll see how they stack up and do a review in the fullness of time.

Looking forward to other activities hobby-wise I am really going to repeat my wish-list from 2017. Since the gaming and modelling activities over the last year were sadly minimal and my reasoning for settling on the three activities as far as modelling are concerned still hold true I see no reason to change so working on my Empire Army which I can use for Old- (or more rightly for me 'Middle-) hammer or 9th Age or stand ins for Kings of War et al. My Hungarian Black Army will hopefully see some TLC and of course my Future Wars project, which did see a little bit of attention last year, will see some recruits added to both sides.

Modelling-wise I will likewise continue with my Abbey project, which did see a bit of progress last year, and some pieces for the Future Wars project which needs a fair bit of supporting terrain. I would like to add some post-apocalyptic style pieces to the back catalog too but haven't really explored the options here yet. My wish to look into (and do) more on terrain boards and the modelling interest here is probably to the fore rather than gaming product, but that too obviously, but hope to start on some basic boards to start with and build up to more sculptured pieces later.

Last year also saw a dip (or a complete dearth really) of any game show activities too, with only Carronade attended and that was working on the Painting Competition, so didn't really catch the show in any meaningful way. So I hope to rectify that poor showing as it were and at least attend the old faithfuls I would normally attend.

My solo fantasy campaign has been dragged from the shelves as well and I've up dated the events to get them up to scratch (the only gaming activities I managed to get to over the festive break unfortunately) and will get some table top activities here as the campaign is now getting to an interesting position in events and promises some interesting opportunities for trying out rule sets and such. Any notable events here will be posted up on the Lornian Chronicles blog which also needs a bit of attention as last year saw no posts there at all.

I have been thinking about options for modelling specific figures for my solo campaign quite a lot and with mainly conversions and minor changes/swaps I can do a fair bit here too, so perhaps a bit of interest here might just well be on the cards.

So that's it really as far as the coming years crystal ball activities go so far. I hope I might see some new bits and bobs released which will peak my interest but I'm not aware of any on the horizon but will keep my eyes peeled. Hopefully the year will be kind to me and allow a wee bit of hobby related goodness over the coming months.

I will catch that Roadrunner....

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Whoops that was quick

Phew, where'd the last four months go . Whoosh!

Not much activities here hobby wise thanks to lots and lots of work (which I shouldn't complain about (but we do :-) ).

A couple of things picked at but just a post to say still here, still breathing and still painting (a bit).

Hopefully some more posts over the festives when I've a bit of me time and a couple of catch up posts from stuff that did happen or that I did catch.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Abbey Project Update

Recently put the finishing touches to the latest part of my ongoing Abbey terrain project in the shape of the Gatehouse.

This is the biggest planned part of the project and has been a bit of a slog to get it finished as it had been 'parked' for quite a while, but I took the reins by the teeth and managed to get it finalised.

I found it quite difficult to match the stonework with previous parts as the previous mix of colours provided a much darker looking item than the previous structures, which I put down to the size and shape of the piece rather than the actual colour mix. 

As a result, I have deliberately lifted some highlights on the building to a much brighter colour to help synchronize to the look with the other pieces.

I deliberately kept the overgrowth to a minimum on this piece as I felt that the amount of 'structure' of the model added enough interest to without going overboard with vegetation. 

Also, I intend to make up a couple of filler pieces which can be used as optional additions to make the wall sections more contiguous so added veg would interfere with this development.

The next part of the project planned will be the fairly intact parts of the south range along with a few random rubble piles for scatter use.

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