Sunday, 26 May 2013

Tree Bases Step-by-Step

I think battlefields always look better with plenty of trees - assuming we are talking about temperate zones, otherwise please insert your preferred local flora. So I recently ordered some more K&M trees. I chose these as the Woodland Scenics "realistic" trees I have are rather too fragile, although they do look superb.

For ease of play I prefer to have trees either individually based, or perhaps in small groups, rather than a whole forest. At some of the recent shows people have been kind enough to comment that they liked the way I based my trees and asked how I did them. So, this post is a short step-by-step on how I base my trees.

Since the trees are K&M I also use the appropriate plastic tree bases - make sure you get the right size for the trees!. These are glued on to small, irregularly shaped pieces of 3mm MDF. Take care to chamfer the edges. To these I add a few rocks, some coarse grit and a layer of sand, all held on with PVA glue. This is the result.

Next I apply a generous coat of a dark brown, usually Vallejo Leather Brown or similar. Thin the paint slightly to make it go further and also easier to apply without obscuring the sand texture.

After that, highlight the dark brown with lighter browns and creams. I've used Vallejo Flat Earth, GW Vomit Brown and Vallejo Dark Sand. Then I base coat the rocks and larger pieces of grit with black. You can also do this to areas of the sand if you prefer. Paint a small amount of the sand around the rock in black too as this will help to delineate the rocks on the finished base.

The rocks are then highlighted with a range of greys in this example, GW Codex then Fortress (Foundry Slate Shade/Mid/Light is also good), with a final highlight of pure white.

Now for the static grasses. First is the slightly darker grass.

Then the lighter variety. Don't overdo the areas covered in grass. You can always add more, but it's jolly awkward to remove if you glue on too much.

The final step is the addition of some clump foliage and/or grass tufts and flowers.

Here are Sven, and his son Sven Svensson, hunting in a Northern forest! Looking at the photo I think I agree with my wife's comment that the trunks need painting dark brown and then a quick highlight to make them blend in better.

Hope you found that useful.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Viking Raiders

Here's some more figures from the GB casualties & killers range. These are technically Early Saxon vignettes, but they could just as easily be Viking Raiders.

I may add some discarded weapons to this base.

Another particularly gruesome set of figures!

Again, a broken spear or dropped shield would be a good addition.

These sort of figures are great for adding an extra bit of drama or atmosphere to the table, or they can be used as markers for things such as Fatigue (SAGA) or Push & Shove (War & Conquest), etc.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Saxon Womenfolk

Every Saxon village needs ... some villagers! So here's a group of Saxon women and children. That old biddy in the centre looks to be a fearsome old battleaxe!

The figures are a mix of GB villagers and Perry pilgrims.

Whilst they do not actively take part in the game, so to speak, I do like to have civilians and casualty vignettes to add some extra detail to the table.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Three Kingdoms - The Fury of the Northmen

The tale of how the fearsome Danish Warlord, Snorri Ragnarsson, arrives with several ships full of hairy Danes...

Leofric of Glastonbury, The Book of Days, Spring 1068

"Deliver us, O Lord, from the fury of the Northmen!" wrote the blessed monks of Holy Lindisfarne, and yet more than two centuries later they still plague our shores!

Only a few days ago did several of their longships draw up on the coast of northern Somerset to spill forth the pagans. The first of our villages to feel their wrath was Swyneford; the only survivors were those carried back to ships. Every other man, woman and beast were butchered and their corpses defiled. Other villages suffered a similar fate, but forewarned by the columns of smoke from burning thatch, many of our people were able to flee to safety - thank the Lord!

Be it known that those who carry good Saxon spears and swords were not slow to come to the defence of our borders. The faithful Ealdorman, Aethelwold of Byrnsege, battle brother to Eorl Hrothgar Godwinson, gathered his housecarls and raised the fyrd. Barely had he gathered his strength than the northmen fell upon the village of Byrnsege. Perhaps in their lust for gold and slaves they did not expect to be met with stout spears and even stouter hearts!

But the tale of that day is full of woe! Aethelwold ordered many of the villagers to flee in to the woods, taking with them the relics of St Agnes the Wise, fully three feathers from the Dove that brought the olive branch to Noah. Yet they are as white as any new-plucked feather! Truly they are a wonder to behold!

Then those who could bear arms, from the most fearsome Housecarl to the most humble shepherd boy carrying nought but a sling and handful of stones, were arrayed to defend Byrnsege. At first the fighting, though fierce and terrible, went in favour of the brave Aethelwold. Even the Danish leader, Snorri Ragnarsson felt the edge of Aethelwold's blade, though he did not perish. But as the fight ground on the ferocity of the Danes proved the greater. Farmers and simple village folk are no match for bloodthirsty pagan beserkers. Aethelwold fell to the enemy blades alongside many of his most trusted warriors. The few surviving villagers fled leaving the village to the Danes. Yet the invader had paid a terrible price in blood and slaughter to capture their prize.

Even now messengers are crossing the country, at the behest of Eorl Hrothgar, summoning warriors and the fyrd, so as to drive the pagans back in to the sea. Aethelwold's brave sacrifice, may he rest with the angels, has given the Eorl enough time to muster a most formidable army. Praise the Lord for the victory to come!

Yes, the Northmen have arrived (again) and I can assure you dear reader, they are absolutely furious!

Continuing with the Three Kingdoms campaign, my wife decided to dust off the her longboats and head across the North Sea and round to the Severn estuary for a spot of pillaging. After all, with the population in revolt against their Norman oppressor, is was an opportunity that no self respecting Dane could miss out on!

As a prelude to a larger game of War & Conquest, we played the SAGA scenario "Homeland", where a smaller force of Saxons would defend their village against a marauding horde of hairy Vikings.

I had 5 points as follows
  • Warlord - Aethelwold of Byrnsege
  • 12 Huscarls (Hearthguard, 3 points)
  • 8 Ceorls (Warriors, 1 point)
  • 12 Geburs (Levy, 1 point)
The Ceorls and Geburs (armed with a mix of slings and bows) would represent those villagers who would stay to defend Byrnsege, whilst the Huscarls are Aethelwold's household troops.

The Viking raiders were 6 points
  • Warlord - Snorri Ragnarsson
  • 16 Hirdmen (Hearthguard, 4 points)
  • 16 Bondi (Warriors, 2 points)
Here's the deployment, as per the scenario the village is represented by 3 buildings - we can assume the rest are off table. The warriors are shown 'behind' the central building as they are actually in the building. The same applies to the Huscarls behind the smaller building. To win I had to have at least one defender in one of the buildings at the end of turn 6. Having played this scenario a few times now, that's no easy task!

The brave Saxons of Byrnsege ... Hurrah!

The pesky Danes ... Boo! ;o)

After turn 1. As you can see the Vikings are not wasting any time closing in on the village. Amazingly, my Levy actually managed to kill a Hirdmen. Something they repeated several times during the battle - I knew they'd be useful ... eventually!

A closer pic of the Warlords and their retinues facing off across the village track.

Ouch! The end of turn 3 and there has been plenty of action in the centre of the field. The Viking Hirdmen accompanying Snorri have been slaughtered, though only a few Saxon Huscarls are left. The Bondi have also been rather battered. Both Warlords are fatigued (the wounded markers) after an heroic but inconclusive fight.

In this game we both seemed to make better use of our battle board abilities. Me, to add fatigue to the Vikings, Jenny, to shake off the fatigue and still fight ferociously.

In the pic above you can see that the Hirdmen near the church have been further whittled down by some fairly good shooting from the Saxon levies. Well done lads! Extra turnips all round .. if you survive the battle.

On the right there had been rather less action, with Hird and Bondi readying themselves to take on the Ceorls and Huscarls holding the buildings.

More shooting from the levies reduced the Hirdmen's numbers further still.

The next two turns saw some particularly fierce fighting, and some good use of both our boards/abilities. So much concentration was required that I forgot to take any more more pics until the end of the game! Aethelwold fell to a group of Hirdmen, having first lost his accompanying Huscarls to a frenzy of axe-work from Snorri (in SAGA, if a Warlord is wounded but has Warriors or Hearthguard within 2" then they can 'absorb' the wounds instead. After all no true warrior would see his Lord injured if he could prevent it!).

In the penultimate turn I had only a few Levies and 2 Huscarls left which meant only 2 SAGA dice for me. The resulting roll meant that if I'd have had my wits about me then I could have advanced the few Levy into the Church and stood a good chance of winning the game! But instead I took the fight to the few Vikings left on the table. Doh!?

In the final turn only Snorri remained to chase off the Saxon levy. They tried shooting but inflicted only one wound (in SAGA, a Warlord can only be slain if he suffers two consecutive unsaved wounds). He closed in on them, slaughtering as many as he could reach with his mighty axe.

And with that, the dust settled on what was an absolutely superb game of SAGA. Possibly one of the best ever games. A closely fought contest that could have gone either way, and came down to almost the last dice roll of the game.

Rest assured that Eorl Hrothgar Godwinson will summon his men and defeat the Danes in glorious battle!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Saxon Blacksmith

At Salute 2011, Wayland Games were giving away this figure with each purchase. It's the Weland the Smith figure.

Quite enjoyed painting this, plus it makes a lovely addition to my collection of villager figures.

More soon.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Legionary 2013 - Exeter

For the second year running, we teamed up with Scarab Miniatures to put on a demo game at Exmouth Imperials "Legionary" show. We took basically the same game as we put on at "Crusade" in January, the Battle of Ashingdon 1016 (so apologies if you've seen similar pics from that battle!). I also took some pics of another game that looked very interesting.

Here are King Edmund's Saxons facing off Cnut's Danes.

The Danish lines.

These poor Saxons didn't quite get away from the raiders in time.

The Saxon lines.

Let battle commence!

As before, the Vikings had a slight advantage in terms of troops, but the Saxons had a good defensive position around the hill.

Interestingly it took Rob and I the entire day to play the game (which Rob won rather convincingly!); this was because so many gamers came up to chat with us about War & Conquest, the battle itself, plus a host of other topics. This is what makes these days such fun. So a big 'Thank You' to all of you who took the time to visit our table!

A nearby demo game really caught my attention. Hopefully you can see why.

It was an "alternative history" inter-war game, set the 1930's I think, very much along the lines of "A Very British Civil War".

It was packed with lovely terrain and characterful miniatures.

Plus the guys playing the game were very friendly and clearly keen to talk about their game and hobby.

There were a range of other demo and participation games but I had very little time to spend at them, plus I forgot to take any pics. Doh!? These included a very good looking 15mm Muskets & Tomahawks game. I barely had time to make a quick tour of the trade stands, more this year than last I'm pleased to report.

My friend Steve has a better range of pics on his blog here, or follow the link on the RHS.

All in all, a good show with a friendly atmosphere. In fact the only minus point was the twit with the microphone during the raffle. What is it about some people when they're handed a public address system! ;o)