Friday, 28 June 2013

Roman Outpost Fort - Part 4

But first ... The Wargames Table has just passed 100,000 visits! Many thanks to all of you who visit and post comments! I really do appreciate you reading my blog.

Last year (crumbs was it really that long ago?) I started building a modest fort for my Romans to shelter in after a hard day of showing barbarians the potential benefits of joining the Empire.

Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Part 3 -

However, as with a lot of projects I ran out of steam. Now, after a long time enjoying Dark Ages gaming, I'm getting back in to my Romans! You may have already noticed the change of blog banner. Anyway, back to the fort. Whilst there are plenty of figures waiting to be painted I couldn't resist expanding my fort in to something more substantial. So here it is.

The extra sections (shown still in white polystyrene) allow me to use just two of the existing corners to make a fort to place on the table edge. It's about 15 inches by 4 feet. I plan to make some towers to go either in the gateway or along the walls.

Here's a close up of the new gateway, with standard issue bored sentries!

Bolt throwers are always jolly useful for putting off unwelcome visitors!

I thought it would be fun to make a collapsed wall section too. Perhaps the earth bank has collapsed following all the rain we get here in Britannia? I'll probably make some barricade bases to represent hasty repairs by the Roman garrison.

Here's the expanded fort.

The bare bases either side of the gate are where I'll be building my towers. These will be at least a full model height taller than the wall. They will be a mix of timber and rendered wattle.

Another boost for the project is that my lovely wife has kindly offered to paint it for me. I may also add a few barrack style buildings and possibly the watch tower from Grand Manner. I'm aware that the Celts weren't exactly renowned for their siege warfare capabilities but I rather liked the idea of some warbands attacking an under strength garrison whilst they hold out for reinforcements. I'm sure there will be plenty of other uses too.

Now perhaps I really ought to paint a few more Legionaries before the War & Conquest event at the Devizes & District Wargames Group Attack! 2013 show.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

More Trees

Following the recent success with fir and deciduous trees, I decided to branch out (groan!) and make some Palm Trees.

The green foliage in the following picture seems to have gone a bit "luminous" in the photos, but it was actually a mid-shade of green!?

They were made from some bits and bobs I found in the garage and study, so they were something of an experiment. They are actually for my eldest to use in her homework project on desert environments.

Here's an old White Dwarf article explaining how they're made.

I wrapped the trunks of my trees using masking tape (the paper tape used to protect edges when painting), the sprayed them brown and washed on some ink. A darker green for the leaves and some more detail on the bases would help, but for a 'first go' I think they're fine.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Shieldwall Counters

Have you ever played a game where you had to improvise a counter or token to denote a unit's status? Perhaps a D6 is placed next to the unit to indicate that it is disordered or shaken. Then have you ever, in the cut-and-thrust of battle, grabbed a handful of dice only to later realise that you've also picked up the marker dice? I certainly have! :o)

This is particularly true for units in Shieldwall given the amount of Dark Ages games I've played in the last few months. Therefore I've spent an evening using up some spare shields and transfers to make these counters.

These are the Saxon counters

And these are the Viking counters

They're just 25mm round MDF bases (from Warbases) to which I've glued some rocks and grit/sand. The rocks are there to provide something to prop the shields against and make the bases a little more three dimensional. They're painted black, then highlighted with the Foundry Slate Grey palette followed by a final highlight of white. The shields are given LBMS transfers and the bases flocked to match the rest of the figures. Looking at them again I see that I could easily add some discarded weapons, armour, etc, but I suppose that I really ought to get back to painting more figures!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Tokens for War & Conquest

As those of you who have played War & Conquest will know, it's important to keep track of which player has Strategic Advantage and, given the potential for I-go-you-go sequence to 'swap', what is the current player turn.

This usually isn't a problem, but recently I've have a number of games that have been quite interrupted, particularly when demonstrating the game at shows. Although I do enjoy telling people all about the games, the rules, figures, scenery, etc. :o)

Therefore, I've made some counters or tokens to help keep track of these things. Chits of paper or odd dice work perfectly but can seem, well, a little "utilitarian" for my liking. So here's my solution.

These are simply two larger Warbases MDF round bases; one has two 20x20mm squares attached to act as "dice plinths", whilst the other has a 25x50mm cavalry base on to which I've glued a nicely printed Strategic Advantage sign. They've been modelled, flocked, etc, to match the bases of most of my armies. In particular, this helps to prevent the turn marker dice from being picked up and rolled in the heat of battle.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Three Kingdoms - A Bigger Battle

Eorl Hrothgar Godwinson had pushed his men hard throughout the day. The columns of smoke rising  from burning thatch clearly showed the raiders path across the countryside. Sometimes it was the hated Normans exacting revenge for an ambush or perhaps showing what happens to those who will not swear fealty to William. But this time he knew it was the Danes of Snorri Ragnarsson.

Fleeing villagers had brought tales of how three longboats packed with Vikings had pulled up on the coast to the south and begun raiding far and wide. At Swyneford none were left alive save those taken as slaves. At Byrnsege, Ealdorman Aethelwold and his men had bravely fought off the attackers. Aethelwold had perished but Snorri’s Danes were dealt a severe blow with many of his men now wounded. But more ships had arrived, the rest of Snorri’s army in fact, and the Danes continued to ravage the countryside. They came for gold, silver and slaves. Hrothgar’s plan was to reach the Danish ships and burn them before the raiders returned. At least the warm spring sunshine had meant that the roads and paths offered good going.

“My Lord!” called Aelfric, his most senior Housecarl, pointing northwest, “Beyond that wooded ridge the path winds down to the coast. We should reach the ships within the hour.”

Hrothgar gave orders for a short rest and walked amongst his men, greeting old friends here, making rough jokes with others there. Above all he took care to appear calm and confident. Men produced flasks and skins to take long swigs of ale or mead. Others chewed on pieces of bread or dried meat. Some of the younger men in his force, just boys really, were obviously nervous about the coming fight. To supplement his small number of trained warriors he had called out the local fyrd. Some came well equipped with long spears, large shields and perhaps a helmet. A few even had swords. Yet others had nothing but a sling or a hunting bow. He did not doubt that he would have the advantage of numbers, but Snorri’s men would all be hardened warriors; fierce Hird or capable Bondi, all eager for battle.

If he could reach the ships then he was certain he could overwhelm the small force that would have been left to guard the precious vessels. A long horn blast brought him from his thoughts. Some of the farmer’s lads had arrived on horseback; although they were of no use as fighting cavalry they could cover a wide area far more quickly than men on foot. So Hrothgar had sent them to locate the bands of Danes ravaging the area. Now they were pounding back across the meadows to the West. Emerging from the woodland paths behind the riders Hrothgar saw men; men equipped for battle. The sun glinted off armour and spear points. The Danes had arrived to save their ships!

“Aelfric! The Danes! Form the Shieldwall!” Hrothgar roared.

This is the setting for a medium sized game (approx 1,500pts per side) of War & Conquest that continues the story of the Three Kingdoms campaign. It also demonstrates that W&C is perfectly suited to both large and smaller scale battles. The forces are listed below.

The Danes
Jarl Snorri Ragnarsson
24 Hirdmen/Bondi**
Erik Long-Axe (Hersir)
18 Hirdmen + 1 Beserker
20 Veteran Bondi + 1 Beserker
24 Bondi
12 Bondi Archers

** These were the survivors from the skirmish at Byrnsege, our previous game. We agreed that as the unit would be a mix of Thegns and Bondi, we would consider them as Hird until they reached 50% then they would be Bondi. This would make them initially quite tough, but potentially rather 'brittle' as the battle went on.

The Saxons
Eorl Hrothgar Godwinson
18 Huscarls
Ealdorman Osric of Baðon
24 Thegns
24 Ceorls
24 Ceorls
12 Gebur Archers
14 Gebur Slingers

The victory conditions were simple, slaughter the enemy Warlord!

Now for a few pictures and some notes from the game. By the way - apologies for the poor quality of some of the pictures. My new man cave has some unresolved lighting issues. Plus my camera isn't exactly ideal for these sort of shots (and maybe I'm not a very good photographer! ;o)).

Deployment with the Saxons at the bottom of the pic.

The Saxon plan was to hold up one flank using the Ceorls whilst the hammer blow was delivered by the Huscarls and Thegns on the other flank. Whereas the Danes have formed a solid line in Shieldwall. Hmmm...

A (slightly over-exposed) view along the Danish lines.

Battle is joined. The Thegns, led by Osric of Baðon, plough in to the Jarl Snorri's Hirdmen, whilst Hrothgar leads his household's finest against the veteran Bondi. It was essential that Hrothgar broke the Bondi in one turn otherwise the other unit of Hird would be on his flank tearing the Saxons in to bloody ruin.

Next turn and the results of the combats have been quite dramatic! As planned, Hrothgar's elite warriors have crushed the Bondi, but alas a wounded Osric and a very battered group of Thegns are forced to flee from Snorri's wrath. Those two units of Ceorls are now really going to have to earn their turnip ration if the Danes are to be defeated.

Now, I'm afraid that the rest of the pics were a bit too blurry to be even vaguely blog-worthy. So I'll briefly outline what happened in the following turns... The Hird and Bondi (on the right in the pic above) fell upon the Ceorls in front of them. To their credit the stout shieldwall of the Ceorls proved a tough nut for the Danes to crack, even with the help of a Beserker, but eventually the Danes prevailed. The Thegns never rallied and left the field. The other Ceorls failed to form a shieldwall in time and were hacked to shreds by Snorri's men in one blood-soaked round of combat.

This left Hrothgar and his Huscarls in the centre of the field (having finally dealt with the veteran Bondi who rallied, fought then fled). In a desperate gamble, Hrothgar engaged the smaller unit of Hirdmen in the hope of breaking them and giving his men space to reform before Snorri's Hird charged them in the rear. The combat was hard-fought, with the Huscarls winning, but a good Morale roll for the Hird saw them stand firm. Thus Hrothgar's fate was sealed... Surrounded by ferocious Danes, his Huscarls drew up around their Lord and fought to the last man as night fell across the field.

This was a fantastic game that came down to the last combat of the final turn, and could easily have been a dramatic victory for the Saxons. Whilst the Danes were victorious they took a significant number of casualties; clearly their menace is much reduced for the time-being.