Friday, 30 March 2012

New Empire Sneak Peak

New Empire AB Cover
The usual sneak peeks are out and about on the Interweb and being a fan of the Empire since 'it was good' I of course dived in, (though you've got to wonder how much this is all planned in someone's demented marketing mind) being a sucker for the punch.

The cover promises some new artwork which should be nice.

What I've seen of the leaked WD magazine photo's looked to be a mixed bag from my point of view.

The new griffon with a mixture of possible riders fits in with the current big/huge/nasty thing that all the armies are getting which is not really my bag. Suitably impressive I suppose but won't be rushing out to buy one just yet though the riders might worth a closer look so I won't write it off totally.

Demi-Gryff Knights
Looking much more of interest for the modelling front and general appeal are as suspected when the last army book came out and mentions them, the Demi-Gryff knights.

These look to be more in the mold (if you pardon the pun) of the Empire feel and look to have a lot of modelling/conversion possibilities.

Volkmar on War Alter
The next up is the War Alter/laser lens thing/ossary model which again as suspected a multi-use kit to create a seriously top heavy magical vehicle. Again my sense of fantasy likes to have a grounding in the laws of reality and something that looks like it would fall over doesn't get my vote. That said, all the bits have great possibilities for making other models so I probably will pick this one up too in the fullness of time though not for it's intended use.

Apart from these, there is a mix of character figures which the 'leaked' photo's don't really show very well but a couple look to be not too bad, and a two of these would appear to be multi-part kits - the captain of the Empire and the Engineer. Again these should be useful for more parts though judging by the piccy, big looks to be beautiful again, big plumes and so on. A closer (better) look being required for these before judgement can be passed.

Doesn't look like as I'd hoped that the knights set was going to get a re-vamp.

The WD is apparently out tomorrow with the releases out soon after so only a short time will tell if the new figs are up to scratch with some of the pasts very useful and tasty models.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Empire vs Orcs - 'Less is More'

This week my club game was a lay-down game of WHFB with Ian, who rather than using his more usual army of Ogre Kingdoms, decided to field his Orcs and Goblins army, pitted against my trusty Empire stalwarts.
Early stages on the left and centre.
The Empire attacks
An interesting and one of which was unusual to say the least, unusual apart from my usual deplorable dice throwing for the first three quarters of the game.

The first unusual part being that the Empire went on the offensive and launched themselves at the Orc horde who were playing it very cagey.

The second unusual part was that the usually effective hordes, shiny machines, nasty trolls and so on didn't really do very well for either side, it was the insignificant skirmish types and lowly goblins and militia that did the damage to each of the armies.
Solitary squig-hopper chases a horde of halberdiers
from the fray
My right flank disintegrated pretty early on (round 2 really) facing some skirmish type squig-hoppers (though they did return in part later in the game) and such and my steam tank was brought to a juddering halt by a couple of well placed bolt shots and being run over by some purple chained flailing monstrosity whose name escapes me. The steam tank then proceded to fail to do anything bar damage itself trying to build up steam, and turned into a traffic obstruction in the middle of the table.

Only the militia on the left flank and the flaggellants recovered any honour for the Empire towards the end of the game where the dice rolling improved and a couple of enemy units were pulverised.
Steam tank becomes a non-mobile, non-firing
gun platform
A fun game and lots of laughs and full of the usual Warhammer silly events which really make the game worth playing like the almost entire unit of halberdiers with mage in tow being chased across the field by a solitary squig-hopper, the lone flaggellant battling a horde of black orcs, the twenty six wounds inflicted on a couple of wolf riders by the militia or (my favourite) the mortar crew locked in combat with a whol;e unit of wolf riders and winning!

At the end of the game, when time beat us we tallied up the points and going by what I had on the field; a warrior priest, my general, two knights, a couple of pistoliers, a steam tank with three wounds left and half a unit of halberdiers with the mage, I had the total of 1275pts (mainly characters) on the field, if the unit isn't destroyed they still count. Ian having 1400 or so points, even though his force still numbered in the multitudes, so victory to him and well deserved. My point here is the 8th ed victory points rules just don't reflect the actual state of affairs, I was beaten with only a token force left on the field where-as Ian still had a viable, though depleted army, but only managed a narrow victory. A decided case of 'should have left things as they were' if ever there was one. Still it is a game I know, and I do tend to look at these things from a 'historical gamer' point of view (or so I'm told, but I do like these things to feel right. Maybe next time we'll just use the old system, just to keep me happy.

I note from the interweb that GW are finally releasing the next incarnation of the Empire Army book along with a few new toys to go with it at the beginning of next month. I'll reserve judgement until I see what's on offer but you never know, the demi-gryff knights may be nice plus the war alter thingy I'm sure will have all sorts of conversion possibilities.

I'll certainly pick up the army book which will be the forth, if not the fifth version of this I'll have. Does make you think doesn't it, money spinning scheme any one? I hope it's got some nice piccies.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Garde Ecossaise Update

Garde Ecossaise Archer
Montlhery 1465
I have been doing a fair bit of reading up on the Garde Ecossaise while pondering on the colour scheme to paint up my unit of Garde on foot and out of general interest.

Being always with the person of the king, they were party to all the events of French royal history for the best part of three hundred years. They are described thus; 'The Garde Ecossaise enjoys, preferable to all those that ever did service in France, place and precedence. For example, the captain of the Scots Guards is, by way of excellency, designed first captain of his Majesty's guards. He begins to attend on the first day of the year, and serves the first quarter.....When the king is crowned or anointed the captain of the Scots Guards stands by him, and when the ceremony is performed takes the royal robe as his due. When the keys of a town or fortress are delivered up to the king he returns them that minute to the captain of the Scots Guards. Twenty Five of his guard (Garde de la Manche) wear always, in testimony of their unspotted fidelity, white coats overlaid with silver lace; and six of these, in turns, stand next the kings person at all times and seasons in the palace, the church, in parliament, the courts of justice, and the reception of foreign ambassadors. It is the right of these gentlemen to carry the corpse of the deceased king to the royal sepulchre at St Denis.'

The foregoing does present a few interesting ideas for diorama's or vignette's, but they will be for another day.

I've managed to track down a rare copy of Forbes-Leiths 'The Scots Men-at-arms, and Life Guards in France V2, but I'm still on the scrounge for volume 1, but so far a copy is eluding me, mainly due to cost of the ones I've tracked down so far.

I did track down a copy of 'La Garde Ecossaise Du Roi' by Nick Saunders, which though briefer than the Forbes-Leith work, is very useful though more directly aimed at the Garde of Charles VII.

Both works are a wealth of useful information and to the end that I have pretty much decided on the colour scheme for the Garde for Charles VIII of 1495 under the captaincy of Sir Bernard Stewart and Patrick MacLean hommes d'armes. with beneath them, 25 Archiers du Corps and 78 Archiers de la Garde.

Charles VII
Grande Garde du Roi
I did manage to confirm that from the Gardes inception they consisted of archers and crannequiniers. It would appear that the term archer does not necessarily mean someone armed with a bow though often assumed, but more towards the later use of a cavalryman lighter armed than a gendarme (the term archer often being used at the time for anyone being a member of a man-at-arms retinue or a person of notes guard), though again there is some evidence for the unit being armed with longbows (along with other garde units) at certain events. It may be that they were armed with either depending on the choice of their captain (or king) at the time.or possibly the bow was used on ceremonial occasions. According to the muster roles, the term crannequiniers disappears and appears repeatedly but after circa 1464 it disappears altogether, though it is confirmed that Garde units were armed with crossbow at Fornovo in 1495. The Garde consisted of generally around a hundred who were men of rank and substance and then the 'rank and file' made up the rest of the company as a lance being made up of a MaA plus a squire, archer, valet, and a crannequinier. Like the Cent Suisse numbered more than a hundred, it is likely that the total muster for each of the Garde du Roi on campaign would be four or more their apparent number.

It is these others, that may have been armed with crossbow or bow by this time and the Garde proper would have been armed as other gendarme and archers of the French army while on campaign. In brief, pretty much anything goes that suits your chosen look as nothing can be definitely proven or not as arms used.

Francis I
Garde Ecossaise and Francais
Firstly, the Captain would wear red, so that's pretty simple, and with Messire Stewart away on kings business a lot of the time that will be Messire MacLean.

Although not certain, the standard bearer will be wearing a white surcoat with the badge of St Michael, Charles VIII being the only French Monarch of the time not having an identified 'badge' I figured the artistic licence being acceptable and used on his reformed ordonnance standards including the Garde, I figured that it would suffice. The standard bearer is currently shaping up as we speak being the test piece for the unit.

Now according to the only sources I can find stating anything about the Garde livery under Charles VIII, which is mainly Ian Heath, they also wore the green, white and red of their predessors, so I'm going to go with that scheme rather than the white I'd planned on before, being confirmed for Francis I reign. At least this is going to make the unit a bit more recognisable as being what they are.

The question of the badge however does pose questions as above and I have decided on the St Michael motif for the unit as a whole. This was popular with several of the medieval French kings, was on the livery of the Garde under the reign of Louis XI, the order of St Michael being founded by Charles VIII and several of the Garde were members of that order.

The unit paint scheme is now sorted and under way and I will post the progress as I go with the standard bearer likely to be the first with any progress.

Charles VIII
Companie d'Ordonnance
More on the Garde Ecossaise soon.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Perry Mounted Men at Arms coming soon.

Perry 3up's of MAA
Good news that the Perry's Mounted Men at Arms is finally going to released (for Salute in April).

The uses these will be able to be put to are multitudinous in the extreme. Will be picking some of these up in April definitely even though Salute is unlikely in the extreme. They are going to be very useful for 1490's gendarme and my plans for Garde du Roi, but I can think of a fair few uses these could be put too.
Perry Charles the Bold

The freebie of Charles the Bold which will be available with purchases of the MAAat salute looks like a very nice figure. Ijust hope that it will be generally available in the fullness of time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

2nd Battle of the Isen Fords - LotR Skirmish

For our club game this week I had been thinking previously about some LotR action and when Kev last week asked if I fancied a game I enthusiastically agreed, choosing to play the Second Battle of the Isen Fords scenario, a scenario I had played before and enjoyed muchly.

To see life on the bright side I chose to play the Rohan forces, as I had played on the Isengard side previously. Kev, providing all the nicely painted troops for both sides (as he has a impressive LotR collection) took the role of umpire with Pete stepping in on the night as the Forces of Darkness.

The scenario involves Rohan defending the crossing for 10 turns and in that time Isengard try to reduce the the Rohan numbers to 12 or below to win. From round 3, Rohan dice to see if their re-enforements come in the form of a passle of cavalry, and from round 4 Isengard dice to see if they get some Warg Rider re-enforcements.
Rohan (foolishly perhaps) take the offensive
Deciding to try and beat the odds I decided to go on the offensive and try and beat the c#@p out of the enemy when the wise thing to do would have been to withdraw and make the enemy come to me. With the Rohan Warriors on the west bank moving towards the gathered Uruk-hai and Dunlendings and accompanying Troll, Erkenbrand and the Royal Guard advanced across the ford with the archers supporting from the east bank.

Much to everyones surprise, not least my own, the dice gods were kind and the mighty Rohan warriors cut a notable swathe through the Isengard horde., giving generally better than they got, much to Pete's chagrin.
Re-enforcements arrive for both sides
Round three and four saw the speedy arrival of both sets of re-enforcements appearing and they added their joint weights to the now spreading melee for the ford.

Straight into the melee on the west bank
The Trolls might proved to much for Rohan on the southern side of the melee with the troops there getting pretty short shrift but on the north end with the cavalry arriving adding to the push, Isengard was cleared from that side pretty effectively. So the battle pivoted north south with the warg riders having a poor time of it on the east bank the fight there turned the same way.

End game with Rohan fighting to the bitter end - heroically
Come the end of turn 7 however a count of the particularly brutal round of fighting where Isengard caught up on the mayhem a bit both side had lost more than 50% casualties which meant courage tests for everybody.

Of course the odds were fairly poor to keep enough alive and fighting for another two or three turns and this proved to be the case with 9 bodies deciding that they would rather be somewhere exceedingly importantly elsewhere leaving 15 still fighting for Rohan. Even though they had been doing exceedlingly well, the Troll still kicking would a least kill a couple and even though they may have cleared the table of the enemy, 12 or less Rohan meant an Isengard win.

So the barny ended there with a loss for Rohan even though they had beaten the odds and gone on the offensive and nearly triumphed. C'est la guerre!

Great game, much fun and banter as the forces clashed and Pete was slagged for his rubbish dice throwing. Cheers to Kev for providing the figures and fun.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Future Wars Update 001

Fire Team One Bravo
This week I've finished off the first Fire Team for my Future Wars Project. This team was the guinea pig to see if my colour scheme was going to work and to try out the urban camo which I had never tried painting before.
The colour scheme certainly seems to work pretty much as I had intended so happy with that though I wasn't sure whether I should try to highlight the black body armour or not. I think I'll leave it with out the highlights to be honest.

Not a hundred percent happy with the bases though. I felt since the figures were generally quite dark that the bases needed to be reasonably light though I didn't want to have just sand colour so I've tried a textured base painted in mid earth tones and then flocked. I guess it's the flock that seems to spoil the finish a bit. Maybe static grass would have been better to go with the tufts and so on.

Anyway, happy with the paint scheme and I can now get on with painting up the other half of Squad Bravo (about half done already) and the other two squads and command to get the Mechanised Infantry Platoon done. So on course for this project in any event.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

John Carter and the Princess of Mars

I decided to take in the premier of the newly released John Carter last night and I managed to find a cinema showing the 2D version of it and so myself and mate JTM caught the late showing.

A fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books when I was a kid with the Space Opera hero fights lots of bad guys and monsters and saves the princess storylines iot was fantasy/sci-fio which was easy to understand with ray guns and air ships, and scantily clad damsels all that you could want.

When I saw the film was being made I was intrigued, when I found out it was made by Disney I was not impressed. Didn't quite fit. I can say however that I'm glad I went along to see it.
Franzetta image of John Carter
 and Princess 

The idea of a 19th century confederate cavalry officer being accidentily transported to Mars and getting involved in  interplanetary intrigue sounds pretty good, very Victorian Steampunk, I'm up for that.

The idea of lots of fighting, battles, ship boardings (in the sky) last stands, sneaking night attacks, speed pursuits ala Star Wars speeders, and vicious hordes of aliens sounds pretty good.

A pretty attractive, voluptuous princess whose a scientist and hold her own in a sword fight sounds pretty good.

Mysterious bald mystics who serve some greater good scheming in secret with powers none can stand against sounds pretty good.

Sticking pretty rigidly to the story of the first book 'A Princess of Mars' to film translates to book quite nicely into a modern image of the pulp storyline but with only a few typical Disney sentimentality moments creeping in a couple of places but that's to be expected. There are a couple of 'Braveheart moments' which do actually work in the context of the film but might make you giggle, I'll not spoil them for you here in case you go and see the movie but you'll know them when you see them.

The whole effect of the amazing advances in CGI in recent years, a fairly solid but not surprising plot line - (hero finds girl, hero saves girl, hero wins girl, hero loses girl hero gets girl back) sits quite well in the Disney stable and now that I've seen the movie it makes sense. Disney is probably the best conglomerate to make the film.

Great scenics, air ships and the green martian hordes are suitably spectactular as is the scenery in general of an ancient civilisation slowly dying. I was impressed with the rendition of the airships. with the arial battles definitely catching my imagination.

The scenery and ruins in particular are worth looking at and a good source of inspiration for any one looking to build similar for their Sci-Fi games.

All in all a pretty good movie in the 'switch off brain and enjoy' category and enjoy the undeniably stunning visuals. Worth seeing if you've a couple of hours to spare and like the genre, which I do. Definitely go to see it if your at all into Victorian Sci-Fi/Steampunk as I'm sure you'll pick up a few ideas for some sky ships at least. It might be an idea to keep an eye out for what merchandise that might get released, you never know what might be useful?

Till next landings. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Impetus Bash - The Berber WIP take on Crusaders

This weeks game was part of a multi-player Impetus practice event at the club organised by Dax in which eight or so of us had a game of Impetus with most of the participants using armies kindly supplied (almost to order) by Dax himself and he offered sage advice to those of us (ie pretty much all of us) into the niceties of the rules and didn't get a game himself!

I brought along my very much WIP Berber to the fray and was pitted against some very spiffy Crusaders who were under the able command of Chuck.
Med Cavalry get peppered by XBow A
As we were just getting to know the rules better rather any serious 'gaming' the troops were plonked down on the table and they set to.

Chucks dice prooved to be pretty vicious through the early part of the game getting initiative in all but one turn and he did throw a lot of sixes in combat, ouch, though his luck did begin to turn towards the end of the game. He was fairly cautious to begin with with a slow advance with his infantry and only taking on my Light Cavalry and Mercenary Knights on his left keeping back his general and a passle of knights as a reserve. Only on his right did he throw cation to the wind and send a solitary unit of turcomen archers rushing forward to disorganise my medium cavalry (which he did in spades) and when I did get to charge him and destroy him he still managed to disorganise and take three casualties off one unit. Ouch.
Knights about to charge
His Impetuous Knights on his left held in check by being opportunity  were let loose and did manage to take out one of my Light Cavalry but took a little damage in the process. His two other units charging into my Christian Knights were bounced repeatedly and driven back in no uncertain fashion.
The Knights get bounced
We soon realised the the screening skirmishers were unlikely, neigh impossible to actually hurt each other so after the tussle on the flanks between the cavalry and the rest of my medium cavalry getting biffed about by nasty VBU 4 crossbow A, I decided that it was likely that my infantry in these rules were likely to be my best asset the same as all the other rules I've tried, and so it proved to be with my Black Guard and associated others leaping forward and giving his infantry a damn good bloody nose.

A good to and fro melee was developing in the centre with the Berber beginning to get the best of it when my Black Guard (with general in tow) who had driven all before them had a minor reverse at the end of a good run of combat, and of course I threw a six (you knew it was coming didn't you). To see his fate I promptly threw double six plus three - instantly killed and army fizzles into nothingness result. So ended the battle in much hilarity and general derision, totally forgetting about the dice of destiny I had put aside for just that event. In truth I think the Crusaders would have triumphed in the end by shear weight on numbers. (Aren't the points system in Impetus odd BTW?) All in all a good fun game with lots learnt.
Only a few actual losses on either side but everybody hurts
The other games went well too with I think (but don't quote me) Palmyran vs Anglo-Dane, Late Roman vs Something all Cavalry and I totally missed what the other game was. There was the other goings on the night as usual but attention was on Impetus on the night.
Impetus games to the fore

Late Romans take on lots of horsey people

Unknown armies clash (but there's elephants!)

AngloDanes vs Palmyran
Good fun on the knight and thanks to Dax for organising the fun. No doubt more Impetus will ensue soon and I'll be getting more progress done on my Berbers.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Claymore Castings Schiltron Figures

Claymore Castings Scots Schiltron x2
Tonight at the weekly club meet, David Imrie kindly dropped round and dropped off my pre-order of a couple of the new Schiltron Units from Claymore Castings, fresh out the injection moulding machine.

First impressions of seeing the figures in the flesh are very good.

The detail of the Paul Hicks sculpts is some of his best work (generally getting better as he gets older...don't we all) and the animation of the figures is first rate.

The figures being from virgin moulds is practically flash free and they require almost no cleaning up. Size wise they are pretty much 28mm toe to eye and are there fore comparable with Gripping Beast or Front Rank sized figures but half a head smaller than say the current Perry mini's though of a similar style.

I'm pleased to get these early and I'm looking forward to get these painted up and looking menacing, though I'm going to be a good boy and not get too distracted by the new shiny and continue with my progress with my Berbers first, to a point anyway.

As far as the use these nice figures will get put too is still not completely formed past a Scots Common type army for Harlaw kind of period or even, though at a bit of a stretch style wise, for the Scots in France at the beginning of the 15th Century. Certainly with a couple of different command groups and standards they could be comfortably be used for Scots at home and abroad over decent 50 year span. Though the figures are designed around Otterburn 1388 and do have a flavour of that period, us canny Scots make-do-and-mend, and make sure we got our money's worth so you can justifiably use these figs into the Agincourt period.

I'm looking forward to see the next releases due from the range in the fullness of time and will be looking to expand this new venture into a whole new project. Hurrah! more lead-fulness.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

February WIP

Since I've been pretty busy over the last month and have managed to get some bit's and pieces done (yes, it's even surprised me!) I have managed to post a couple of completed works and I've nearly completed some other things too (but I'll save them for a future post) I thought I'd share some of the definitely WIP bits that I've got some progress on that will wait until other things have progressed more before getting some more attention.

The first up is the first of my WWI period troops that I've been thinking about for quite a while, these are some Cossack Cavalry for the White Russian themed force that I will put together.
White Russian Cossack Cavalry - WIP
These are Copplestone Back of Beyond range figures and are up to Marks usual high standard, looking forward to getting these painted in the fullness of time, though I haven't decided on the 'type' of Cossack they're going to be...yet.

Next up are some more cavalry, Armigeri (Mercenary German Men at Arms) destined for my Hungarian Black Army project.
Armigeri - Mercenary MAA - WIP
 Now based up and undercoated they will languish in their box until later in the year. These are all old Foundry figures picked for their more gothic look, sallets and armets generally. These should add nicely to the growing number of troops massing up for a paint job in the Hungarian forces.

The last of the trio that I thought I'd post is a bit different.
The Executioner - WIP
This old fella has been a favourite figure of mine for more years than I care to remember. An old Ral Partha figure that I liked as soon as I saw him. An old figure sitting in a box for years since I stopped playing any real RPG's, I dredged him out and have stripped off all the old paint (some of which really didn't want to go) and I've now got him ready for a new lick of paint. He'll no doubt get done over the next few weeks as I do other bits.

More to come next time in the way of completed figures but I'll leave that for then. Till the next time....
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