Sunday, 15 October 2017

Zomtober 2017, Week 3

<== Week 2 is here


Right, I've just returned from a week's holiday in Kintyre (it was muddy!) to find that I owe another Zomtober post.  Is there no respite?

At least this time I had prepared a couple of figures in advance to present as this Sunday's zombie vs survivor duel, so that's not a problem.  Of course, there are 2 more weekends yet to come in October this year; I still have to paint up some models for them...

The Duel

This week's confrontation is between an unarmed survivor named "Lee" and "Orange Boilersuit Zombie" (OBZ).

Lee is a short, thickset man, dressed in denim dungarees and a white tee shirt with strong, thick-soled work boots.  He could be from almost any manual trade.

Judging from his actions, Lee knows a bit of Kung Fu - or at least he thinks he does.  Perhaps he is indeed an expert, but I suspect from his slightly ungainly posture that he's more of a Jackie Chan fan than the real deal.

OBZ is a straightforward zombie in a brown boilersuit; he might have been an electrician, mechanic, plumber or similar artisan when still alive.  But why is he handcuffed - and what happened to the rest of the person to whom he was thus shackled?  Also, all the skin has been torn from his face, leaving just a grinning skull.  How did that happen?

The zombie model comes from Warlord Games' male zombies frame; he's mounted on an Escenorama resin base.

Lee is from the slightly weird Golgo Island range, specifically from Character Pack 5.  These are available from East Riding Miniatures, at least in the UK.  He's on a simple, home-made base.


So, what happens next?  If Lee is smart enough or lucky enough then he'll use his steel-capped boots to crush OBZ's kneecaps.  He can then run away (or walk, indeed) without being pursued.  However, if Lee has delusions of grandeur and believes that he can emulate Chuck Norris then I fear the worst for him.  If the zombie catches him then I think it'll end badly for the man.

Of course, if Lee really is a kung fu maestro then he'll kick the cr*p out of the zombie!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Zomtober 2017, Week 2

<== Week 1 is this way


I've had to plan ahead for this article, since it's school holiday time here and some of the family (including myself) are away from home.  So if this post appears on the second Sunday of October, 2017 then I'll have set up the schedule properly for my Zomtober entry.  Otherwise you won't see it until much later and I'll be annoyed with the technology...

Ice & Snow

This zombie/survivor duel is a bit of a departure for me.  Always in the past, I've presented modern, Western figures for my Zomtober articles.  However, just this once, I have a medieval setting instead.

The story goes something like this: a lost traveller is battling his way through a snowstorm in an attempt to find shelter.  It's growing dark and the wind is howling; flurries of snow are swirling all around.  The man sees movement in his peripheral vision; is it just the wind howling or is it something more sinister?  He draws his sword hurriedly and calls out "Who goes there?"

Both of these models are official figures for Frostgrave, in case you hadn't already guessed.  The swordsman is a plastic henchman; he's the first miniature that I have completed for my "red" warband.  The "blue" warband was finished quite some time ago and can be seen here: Blue Warband.

The zombie is one of the special objectives from the Ulterior Motives expansion.  All the other objective pieces are static terrain; I described them here: Ulterior Motives.

Personally, I like the swordsman a lot.  The Frostgrave plastic kits are very adaptable and can be built into some excellent models.
I'm less certain about the zombie; the figure isn't particularly well sculpted or cast.  It's acceptable, just not a really good model.

So, who will win this fight?  On the face of it, the swordsman should be able to chop the zombie into little chunks quite easily.  But what if he's cold and tired?  His sword might slip in his chilled fingers, or his boot fail to grip on a patch of ice.

Even if he wins this encounter, he might lose all sense of direction during the melee and end up wandering until he drops from exhaustion.  And what if the zombie isn't alone; there might be further horrors lurking in the snowstorm...

This way for week 3 ==>

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Battle Report: Hail Caesar Baggage Raid


So, our second game of Hail Caesar was played last weekend.  After last time (here), we decided to avoid built-up areas for now, but we didn't want to line up equal forces for a straightforward "encounter" battle either.
I searched the Internet for suggestions and one of the first sites I found was this: .  The very first scenario in this article was titled "Crusaders raiding an Ayyubid caravan"; that sounded interesting.  It was easy enough to transpose it to 700BC to suit my 15mm armies, so we now have my Assyrians attacking a Hebrew supply train.  Since these supplies are being transported as payment for the Hebrew's Midianite allies, the Midianites have a joint interest in defeating the raiders.

The Game

We decided to use 3 divisions each, randomly selected from the 4 divisions fielded in the previous game.  For the defenders:
  • The infantry from Hezekiah's (Hebrew) Division guarded the mules, bearers and caravans of the supply convoy.  Hezekiah's chariots were off-table to the right.
  • Midianite divisions would enter as reinforcements from the left.
The attacking Assyrians had these:
  • The Nineveh infantry division was on-table from the start.  One unit was hidden down by the river and would spring the ambush; the remainder were further off.
  • The Royal division was split: the cavalry were on-table (to the right); they intended to cut off the Hebrews' path of retreat.  The royal chariots were off-table in reserve.
  • The Ashur infantry division was entirely in reserve.

The ambush was sprung!  Assyrian regulars leaped up from their hiding places amongst the river reeds and peppered the leading Hebrew unit with arrows.  They did a lot of damage, but not enough to make the defenders flee - or even to prevent them from counter-attacking.

Midianite camels were quick to aid their allies, though the rest of their forces were still some way off.  Meanwhile, 2 of the baggage units attempted to skirt around the ambushers' melee, but they were very slow-moving and didn't get far.

The rest of the Nineveh division moved forwards at great speed, no doubt desperate to relieve their compatriots and much encouraged by the prospect of so much loot with so little protection.

None of the Assyrian reserves arrived.

The rearmost baggage and its supporting infantry attempted to double back and escape that way.  Assyrian cavalry advanced rapidly to intercept them, though and it looked as if this part of the caravan might be overwhelmed in short order...

...but swift Hebrew reinforcements caught the Assyrians in the flank.  The horsemen barely had time to turn to face before the Hebrew chariots rumbled into them.  To be honest, I didn't think my cavalry had much of a chance, but amazingly even though they were thrown back in disorder, with heavy casualties, they didn't break for several turns

The second Hebrew chariot unit then attempted to catch the other, now-uncovered Assyrian cavalry in the flank as well.  Once more, the defenders only had time to turn and shoot a few arrows - but this time a lucky near miss caused the chariots to fall back in disorder.  Obviously the leader of this group of Hebrews was a court favourite rather than a warrior: I suspect that some prophet or other would be preaching sermons against decadence and nepotism amongst the nation's elite before the week was out!

Meanwhile, the baggage camels were getting away.

At the head of the convoy, the Nineveh division tore into the caravan guards and started chasing down the baggage, while Hezekiah watched helplessly from his nearby command chariot.

One fly in the ointment was that the leading Midianites were perfectly positioned to charge into the rear of the ambushers.  Astonishingly, the Assyrian regulars held their ground and even inflicted some hurt on their attackers [Maybe this isn't completely surprising, as the Midianite camels are not a particularly strong charging force.  However, they had quite a margin of superiority in this situation and might well have expected to brush the infantry aside].

Assyrian reserves entering the table this turn: none.

Unexpectedly, the camelry was so badly shaken up that they fled soon after when shot up by some Assyrian skirmishers.  However, there were many more Midianites on the horizon - and no sign at all of the Assyrian reserves.

The Nineveh division started to retreat with its captives, when finally the Ashur division arrived from reserve.  They were a long way off, though - could they reach the fight before the Midianites?

On the right-hand flank, the Hebrew chariots were still occupied in chasing down the outclassed Assyrian cavalry; a task made somewhat more urgent by the approach of the Assyrians' own chariot force.

The Hebrews planned to sandwich the last of the Assyrian cavalry between their two chariot units.  This would almost certainly have been enough to wipe them out, but the Hebrew Gibborim infantry decided to join in as well [A blunder was rolled: King Hezekiah was attempting to rally the infantry.  However they were so fired up that they decided to attack, dragging the king into the melee with them!].

Once again, the Assyrian horsemen managed to drive off one chariot unit with accurate archery, before the cavalry disintegrated under a combined rear and flank attack.

The masses of Midianite infantry advanced very sluggishly - there was even some pushing and shoving [disorder!] as units fought not to be in the lead.  Their camel riders were obviously made of sterner stuff, though: they charged forwards, saw off a unit of Assyrian territorials and claimed one of the baggage units for their own.

Before the Ashur division could wend its way through or around the broken ground to reclaim this lost loot, the Midianite general took personal charge of the baggage.  He issued a "Follow me!" order and led them rapidly off the field, leaving all the other combatants (on both sides) dumbstruck!

After this unexpected, but rather brilliant, manoeuvre it was immediately apparent that the Assyrians couldn't move fast enough to recapture the loot, so I conceded the game.


In case you have lost count, here's how it stood at the end:
  • The Hebrews spirited one baggage unit safely off the right-hand side of the table.  For a brief moment it looked as if the Assyrian cavalry might have a chance of capturing this, but it wasn't to be.  The Assyrian chariots did drive off the Hebrew chariots to avenge their fallen horsemen but this was just revenge; the baggage was long gone by that time.
  • The Nineveh division had captured 2 parts of the caravan with relative ease, but they were unsupported and could only hold on to one.
  • The Midianite commander took the third baggage unit and ran with it.  Realistically, the Ashur division wasn't likely to catch up with him this side of Jericho!
So each of the players ended up with 1/3 of the spoils.  However, since the Hebrews and Midianites were allies their combined forces won the game by 4 points to 2!

Everyone had something to grumble about.  The Assyrian reserves took forever to appear, the Midianite infantry just didn't want to move forwards and the Hebrews were fighting one and a half times their own numbers.  Yet, for all that I felt that it was a good game with a lot of narrative and you know what?  Everyone had something to cheer about too!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Zomtober 2017, Week 1


Would you believe it?  This is the 5th year running that I have participated in Zomtober (see here for rules and a list of participants).  As a quick reminder, here are my previous efforts:
"I'm not scared of you, mister!"
 As ever, my Zomtober presentation is a "duel" between a survivor and a zombie.  In this case, the survivor is a little girl named "Abbie".  I'll call her opponent "Generic Male Zombie" (GMZ for short), because I cannot think of anything particularly unusual to mark him out from the crowd.

GMZ is a plastic model from Studio Miniatures (at least, the body and arms are; I'm not certain that I didn't take the head from somewhere else).  His tee shirt has been decorated with a home made decal.  The figure is mounted on a base from Escenorama.

Abbie is a metal model and I really cannot recall where I obtained this miniature.  She has the look of a figure from Foundry Miniatures, but could just as easily be from somewhere else with a similar sculpting style.
In fact, I wasn't even aware that I had this model until I was looking through a box of part-painted figures a few weeks ago, with a view to finishing off some old projects for Zomtober.  No, I really don't remember her at all...

So, who will win the duel?  Abbie seems confident - defiant, even - but I don't think there is a remote chance that she could win a physical contest with GMZ.

Is she aware of the danger and taunting him?  Perhaps (trying to be charitable here) she is trying to lure the zombie away from another survivor who is in trouble?  Or is she really so sure of herself that she sees no danger here?  Playing "chicken" with the undead doesn't seem very sensible, but not running away if/when he lunges for her would be truly disastrous!

Week 2 is this way ==>

Monday, 25 September 2017

6mm Napoleonics: Bavarians


I'm on something of a 6mm roll at the moment, so it seems fitting to document some of my French allies.  This time it's the turn of the Bavarians.

During the Napoleonic Wars there was no Germany as we know it now.  Instead the land was split up into many different states, some larger and some smaller.  The best-known of these are probably the relatively large kingdoms of Prussia, Saxony, Westphalia and Bavaria.  Prussia was usually an enemy to the French, but many of the other states were organised by Napoleon into a grouping of client states called the Confederation of the Rhine, thus supplying his armies with a good source of fresh manpower  Indeed, I've heard it said of Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia that he planned to fight "to the last drop of German blood"!

The Bavarians

Artillery.  Either 1 large battery or 3 smaller ones...

A small unit of light infantry in line formation, with skirmishers deployed to the front

2 units of line infantry.  Bavarian line infantry are known for their pale blue uniforms and tall helmets.  One of these units has black facings, the other has red facings.

Chevaux Légère: light cavalry.  Note the French name for the troop type, even though these are ethnic Germans.


All the Bavarians.
As with my other 6mm Napoleonics, the figures in this force are entirely Heroics & Ros 6mm models.  I've got enough for a good division under the Black Powder rules, though the mixture of line infantry and cavalry in the same formation would be a little unusual, I think.

The Bavarians (and many other Confederation of the Rhine nationalities) fought with the French against the Austrians at Wagram in 1809.  With them and my French force (here), I can easily field enough for a decent afternoon's game - though I'm maybe a little short of being able to portray the entire battle!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Showcase: 6mm Napoleonic French


Recently, there was someone asking on The Miniatures Page for pictures of painted Heroics & Ros 6mm Napoleonic figures.  There was very little response to the question and it occurred to me that there are indeed very few such images around.  It's a pity, as 6mm models work very well for the type of massed battles which occurred throughout the "Horse and Musket"/"Black Powder" period.

With that in mind, I thought it would be worth while documenting my relatively small 1809-ish French force.  Here goes...

The Infantry

"Vive L'Empereur!"  3 Line regiments, each in attack column formation and with skirmishers deployed forwards
 My forces are based for use with the Black Powder rules.  A standard infantry or cavalry unit has 4 bases; each base has a 40mm frontage, but the depth varies for different troop types.  Infantry depth is 20mm, cavalry is 30mm and artillery is 40mm.

Closeup of a Line regiment
Line infantry have 30 figures per base, in 3 ranks of 10, whereas light infantry (Légère) are in 2 ranks of 10.

The Heroics & Ros packs come with a goodly proportion of command figures.  I'm not particularly expert on the Napoleonic period, so I allow 1 flag per regiment.  However, many of the other, non-flag bases have an extra officer and/or drummer in the front rank.  Some bases have the colonel (on horseback) alongside the standard; to fit the horse I need to remove 1 figure from the 2nd rank.

A Légère unit in line formation, also with a skirmish screen deployed.
 I use extra bases with rounded ends to denote skirmishers, rather than trying to use bases from the main body of the regiment.  These skirmish markers have a small number of figures dispersed over a relatively large area.  Typically the skirmisher models are positioned in pairs rather than being completely random, as I have a vague memory of being told that at least one Napoleonic army's doctrine was for each skirmisher to operate with a buddy so that one man could fire whilst his mate reloaded.

The Cavalry

French Carabiniers: heavy cavalry knee-to-knee in a single line on each base, but with a few officers & standards out front.
Unlike the infantry, my French cavalry is composed of the less common types.  Rather than the ubiquitous Cuirassiers and Chevaux-léger, I have a single regiment each of Carabiniers and Hussars.  Oh, well - it gives me expansion possibilities, doesn't it?

French Hussars: light cavalry in a slightly more dispersed line, but still with officers, buglers and standards in advance.

The Artillery

I mount my guns 2 to a base; this gives plenty of room for the various crew and officers to be positioned.  For Black Powder, we would normally use a single base to represent a battery, though I suppose there is no reason why we couldn't be more generous and use 2 or even 3 bases.


Many games require commanders to be based separately; Black Powder certainly does.  With 6mm there is plenty of room for several figures, even on a 20mm base.  I typically use 2 models for a 20mm diameter brigade command stand and 3 models on a 25mm base for the division commander.

As well as the general himself and any aides, I often include a standard bearer.  This may not be entirely historical, but it serves 2 useful purposes:

  1. It allows the identification of nationality more easily in the heat of battle.  After all, one 6mm guy riding a horse and wearing a bicorne hat looks much the same as another - and I wouldn't wish to confuse my generals with the enemy's, would I?
  2. It makes use of some of the excess standard bearer models from the H&R infantry packs!


I've got a fair number of other bases for my French army, from the days when I had it set up for DBN.  That game used far fewer models than Black Powder and so these miscellaneous bases aren't enough of any one type to form a regiment.  Still, they would provide a useful foundation when expanding this force.  One day, one day...

Lots of 6mm H&R Napoleonic French!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Frostgrave: Ulterior Motives Terrain


It's been a while since I posted anything about Frostgrave.  I haven't abandoned the game; it's just that other things have been higher up the priority list for a while.  However, here's some stuff...

A little while ago, the "Ulterior Motives" expansion was released for Frostgrave.  This is a set of cards that list a hidden agenda for a wizard and his entourage; one card is dealt to each player at the start of a game.  Each card is keyed to a location (so, "search the ancient tomb for a relic") and gives bonuses to the wizard who achieves that goal.  To make it harder for opponents to guess the task, the cards also list a further set of locations to be placed as decoys; only the player who holds a card will know which is which.

To mark the release of this expansion, North Star Miniatures produced suitable models for all the Ulterior Motives pieces; these are the items I will describe in the rest of this article.

The Statue

This is a resin model of an old statue.  I've done a very simple paint job on it; just an undercoat and wash on the stonework.  However, the base has been imprinted from the Basius II "Dungeon" pad before the statue was stuck to it; this makes it slightly more interesting.

The Tomb

The sarcophagus is another model of a piece of masonry, cast in resin.  It has a reclining figure carved onto the lid and runes & other decoration around the base.  This time, I built the flagstones on the base from rectangles of thin card.  Since it's (likely to be) indoors, I didn't even use any grass, snow or non-stone colours for details; it's probably one of the quickest models I've ever painted!

The Trapdoor

The trapdoor is quite a small piece, so I've placed it on a larger base.  Once again, the base was pressed from green stuff using a Basius II pad.

When the green stuff had set a bit but was still somewhat malleable, I cut out a square to fit the trapdoor, taking care to preserve some of the chain which was snaking across the floor.  This short length of chain was then draped over the edge of the trapdoor and worked into position; I think it looks fairly seamless!  Though it does beg the question of why a trapdoor needs to be opened with a long length of chain, presumably from quite a long way away?

The Standing Stone

The menhir/standing stone is another simple resin block, though this time with carvings on both sides of it.  As with the previous items, I based it for stability.  The base was then decorated with grit, snow and grass.

The Mystic Circle

This resin piece is a thin circle of flat, carved stones.  I've placed it on a much larger base (from some ruined Games Workshop model that my son acquired from a schoolfriend) and added extra, smaller stone disks to make a path leading to the main item.

I tried to paint each of the segments of the mystic circle as if they were glowing in different colours.  This didn't really work the way I had hoped; the colours are visible but really don't look as if they are magical lights.

The Crater

The Ulterior Motives crater is a simple, small crater - pretty much exactly what you might expect.  I decided that it was a little bit smaller than I wished, so I mounted it on a large disk of MDF.  Filler was then used to blend the resin piece with the base.  Painting was very easy: just earth/dirt colours.  Some snow was added around the edge to help blend in with the gaming table.

The Portal

This strange, free-standing archway took longer to build and paint than any of the other pieces in the collection.  Why?

Well, it took longer to build because the back was just flat resin; I smoothed this off and added extra buttresses and stonework detail (not visible in this picture).

The portal took longer to paint because I decided to try painting the stonework as marble.  I also tried to make the runes above the arch glow in a strange, blue colour.  I'm reasonably happy with the result, though not completely delighted.

I also spent time wondering whether I should try to model some type of shimmering effect in the doorway itself, to hint at the magical nature of the doorway.  Possibly this could be done with translucent plastic painted with a swirling pattern of some colour?  In the end I felt that this would need to be done exceptionally well or else it would just look naff, so I decided not to do it.

All Together

Here are all the Ulterior Motives pieces together.  Note that I've extended/enhanced each of these, so they are all quite a lot bigger than the simple resin parts.

Some of you may know that there are 8 Ulterior Motives items altogether.  I've only shown 7 here, so what's happened to the last one?  Well, the 8th item is a zombie rather than a terrain piece and frankly I don't think it's the best model of a zombie that I've ever seen.  I will paint it up and use it; you'll hear about it in a future post - but not yet (I have a special idea for it).

Finally, you may remember that I had acquired several MDF entry tickets when visiting the Carronade show in 2016 and 2017.  At the time, I remarked that I really ought to use these pieces as bases for something, but couldn't quite work out what.  Well, they were perfect for this job, so 4 of the Ulterior Motives terrain pieces are mounted on "Carronade" bases!