Thursday, 8 December 2016

Robin Hood and the Forest Road, part 2

<==  Part 1 is this way


In the first installment of this tale, we left the Sheriff of Nottingham about to knife a pinioned outlaw, whilst Robin Hood was beset by the Black Knight and distracted by Yorick the Jester.  What happens next?  Read on...

Ups and Downs

As the Sheriff stepped forwards, the desperate outlaw struggled violently with his captors.  His sudden energy took the soldiers by surprise and the forester broke free [Well, I didn't expect that!  As the Sheriff, I was fairly confident of winning this fight.  Nottingham had a combat score of 3, versus the archer's C2 - reduced to 0 by the presence of 2 extra enemies.  With a d6+3, all I had to do was score double the outlaw's d6+0 for him to be killed.  But it wasn't to be...].

Annoyed, the Sheriff lunged at the archer again.  This time, he didn't have his 2 crossbowmen to aid him, but even so the odds were still in his favour.  We threw the dice; the outlaw rolled a '6' (C2+6 = 8) and the Sheriff got a '1' (C3+1 = 4).  The Sheriff's combat score was doubled and so he fell down, dead.

There was a moment of stunned silence, followed by the (muted) singing by the outlaw players of a well-known Bob Marley song: "I shot the Sheriff!  But I didn't shoot no deputy..." .

As the Sheriff was a Leader, his force then had to take a morale test.  This scattered them even further than they were already; one or two ran away for good.  And it was all going so well for the authorities before that!

To cap this, the Sheriff's band was reduced to half strength very soon afterwards (next turn?), resulting in another morale check and a thinning of the ranks of those left.  At least Yorick and the Black Knight didn't run away!

At the edge of the river, Robin Hood broke off his combat with the Black Knight and ran towards the fight between Little John and Guy of Gisborne.  Little John had run straight into the centre of a group of enemy soldiers and even though he had felled a couple of them, the big outlaw was now surrounded, injured and fighting for his life.

This left Yorick and the Black Knight free to finish off the nearby outlaws, though they made heavy going of it even then.

The Sheriff's men-at-arms had been slowly shepherding a number of civilians towards the edge of the table.  When the double morale-check disaster struck, some of these civilians were very nearly off to safety (and thus would have scored 3 victory points each for the authorities).  Instead, they were now lost and abandoned in the forest as their guides fled!

Despite everything, Robin was too late to help his friend.  Little John fell to the ground, got up again and fought on briefly before Guy of Gisborne delivered a fatal blow that stretched the massive outlaw flat on the grass.

This loss took Little John's band below half strength; the resulting morale check caused most of his remaining outlaws to scatter or flee.

In a moment of hesitation, Robin ran for the forest [his warband had just been reduced to half strength when another outlaw was killed].  When he recovered his wits, he was perfectly placed to shoot at the Sheriff's men who were pursuing him.  Despite his acrobatic dodging, Yorick took one of Robin's arrows in the chest and died immediately.  Warned by this, the Black Knight ducked, the second arrow missed and he survived with nothing but his pride injured.

There were small skirmishes all over the table as the remnants of the 4 warbands hunted each other down.  Surprisingly, the losses from these little battles tended to be very even, thus reducing the forces even more - but no-one was prepared to concede; everyone still felt they had a chance to win the game.

Guy's squad was still above strength (barely!).  Some of his men started to usher the civilians away from the gory scene of Little John's fall when one of them spied movement in the nearby trees.  "It's the outlaw chief himself!" the man cried as he took off in pursuit.  The nearby knights were either more cautious or slower-witted; they weren't quite so quick off the mark.

The Fight

This was the prelude to what was probably the most prolonged and dramatic piece of derring do that I have ever seen in a wargame; easily worthy of an Errol Flynn movie!  Although there were a handful of other models still on the table, they all fought each other to extinction or joined in this last, great combat.  What you're about to see ended up involving the few remaining figures from all 4 warbands.

Here goes:

Robin is heavily outnumbered by Guy and his men

...but he doesn't give up easily!

One man-at-arms falls to Robin's sword

Robin is forced back, Guy pursues

The White Knight rejoins the melee

Robin is forced back again 
...and again

He shoots a quick arrow at Guy, but the knight's armour saves him from death

The White Knight steps up to protect his boss

Guy attacks again, but once more is driven to the ground

They're getting close to the river now.

The White Knight continues to force Robin backwards

Guy continues to add pressure 
A forester comes puffing up to distract Guy.

Another forester tries to join in 
...just as the first one is cut down

The White Knight is floored by Robin, but Guy steps up to engage Robin instead.

The last remaining outlaw runs in and stabs the fallen White Knight

Now it's Guy who is outnumbered.  Robin knocks him to the ground, but his armour holds (again) 
Guy gets back up, but he's surrounded and outnumbered.

He forces one of the foresters to step back a few paces

...and uses this slight respite to kill the other archer.

...before turning round and sweeping Robin's legs from under him

Before Robin can recover, Guy's sword is at his throat.  Robin yields and the last archer runs away.


That was, without a doubt, the most tense and exciting finish to any game that we have played for a long time!  Both sides were completely involved and felt that they had a very good chance of winning, right until the very last throw of the dice.  In the end, none of the civilians were taken off the board, but both sides scored very high for eliminating enemy models.  It has to be a marginal win to the authorities, though: they had 1 man left whereas the outlaws had none!

Man of the Match: Sir Guy of Gisborne, by my reckoning.  He defeated both Little John and Robin Hood.  His heavy armour saved him on numerous occasions as well; it's as if he had a charmed life.

Most Useless: This has to be Friar Tuck.  His brief appearance was anything but heroic!  Although the Sheriff of Nottingham came to an unlikely end and could therefore be considered for this award, , he had been quite an effective leader up to that point and therefore doesn't qualify.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Batrep: Robin Hood and the Forest Road


The Sheriff's men, plus assorted rich merchants, churchmen and ladies

England, 1193.  The King, Richard I, has vanished overseas whilst returning from his crusade and his brother, Prince John, has seized power.  Normans lord it over Saxons, peasants are opposed to the nobility, taxes, corruption and general dishonesty run rife and the land is in turmoil.  In these dangerous times, merchants and clergy have begged for protection from the authorities whilst travelling through the more dangerous parts of the land.

Deep in Sherwood forest, the Sheriff of Nottingham and his ally Guy of Gisborne are escorting such a caravan along an overgrown track.  As they reach a small bridge over a stream, the knight at the rear of the party notices that there isn't a sound coming from the trees - even the birds have stopped singing.  His wariness almost pays off; he shouts "AMBUSH!" just as green-clad figures swarm from the undergrowth on both sides.

The Scenario

I've adapted a scenario from the Song of Arthur and Merlin rulebook (part of the Song of Blades and Heroes series, though both are separate, standalone games).  This started off as a cattle raid, but I've substituted rich civilians for the cattle and changed the mechanics of how they move somewhat.  See what you think:

The Outlaws

The outlaws are split into 2 groups of about 300 points value each:
  • Robin Hood and 7 (?) archers are in the trees to the north.
  • Little John, Friar Tuck and 7 (?) archers are south of the track.

The Normans

The authorities are also split into 2 commands of 300 points.  Note that we removed the Rabble trait from the Sheriff's men-at-arms.  In previous games this attribute made them exceptionally brittle; they died or ran away very quickly.  They're still not great fighters, but not quite so easy to kill:
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham, Yorik the jester, 1 minor knight (dressed in black), 4 crossbows/archers and 4 men-at-arms are at the front of the caravan.
  • Sir Guy of Gisborne, 3 minor knights and 9 (?) men-at-arms are at the rear of the party.

Special Rules

  • Neither side wishes to injure the civilians (they are too valuable!), so these models may not be targeted or injured in any way.  Equally, the civilians are frozen with fear; they will not undertake any movement or other action of their own volition.
  • A combatant from either force can move a civilian: if the combatant is in base contact with a civilian and the civilian is not in contact with an enemy combatant then both models may be moved together.  Whilst doing this the combatant's move is reduced by 1 step to represent the extra effort of dragging the civilian, pleading with them or whatever else it takes to motivate them!  So, if a model normally moves 'M' then he/she/it will move 'S' whilst accompanying a civilian.


  • The authorities and 10 civilians are deployed in the centre of the table.
  • The outlaws enter from 2 opposing sides of the table.

Victory Conditions

  • 1 victory point is gained for each 50 points of enemy who are killed or flee [note that this is a maximum of 12vp since the combined forces of the enemy amount to 600 points.  To gain the full 12vp, the enemy would have to be completely obliterated, though...]
  • Each civilian is worth 3vp, but only if they can be escorted off the table.  For the authorities, this has to be off either the edge where the path enters the table (i.e. where they have come from) or the opposite edge where the path leaves the table (where they are heading).  The outlaws use the other 2 table edges (where they deployed) instead.  Since there are 10 civilians, this gives a maximum of 30vp, easily outweighing the victory points which might be accrued for slaughter.

The Game

Initially, all sides moved somewhat sluggishly.  Little John and his men advanced cautiously; Guy of Gisborne moved to confront him.  From the other side of the stream, Robin Hood's men were even slower off the mark, though Robin did open the score by shooting down one of the men-at-arms.

The Sheriff directed his crossbowmen to harass the approaching outlaws, whilst he escorted the Bishop of Lichfield to safety.  His leadership skills seemed to be working quite well this game, as the exchange of missiles was probably in the Norman's favour.

Despite the lack of close support from his own men, Guy went steaming straight towards the biggest, meanest-looking outlaw he could see.  Initially, the fighting was inconclusive, though; Little John and the other outlaw forced Guy to step back.

Over the next few turns, the men-at-arms started to shepherd the civilians towards safety, though Guy's and the Sheriff's commands chose to go in different directions!  The Sheriff realised that his soldiers were struggling without his leadership so he abandoned the bishop and returned to give them directions.

His commands were so successful that Robin Hood was first distracted by Yorick (the jester) and then knocked down and assaulted by the black knight and various others of the Sheriff's men.  The nearby outlaws were slow to respond and for a while, Robin seemed to be in real trouble.

At the other end of the table, Friar Tuck finally puffed into sight, only to be confronted immediately by the yellow knight.

With one stroke, the knight beheaded the portly friar [gruesome kill!].  Not many outlaws were nearby, but those that were mostly blanched with fear and stepped back a few yards.  Little John used the distraction to dodge past Sir Guy and head towards the civilians [in other words, he failed 1 die of his 3 dice morale test and therefore ran 1 move away from the grisly sight; Guy didn't manage to stop him with a free strike at the big man's back!]

Little John's initial charge bowled over one of the men-at-arms in the central group - but he was hotly pursued by Sir Guy.  When the knight caught up, it was the outlaw who was outnumbered and knocked to the ground.

Elsewhere, things were going somewhat better for the outlaws.  Robin's men rushed through the trees to his aid and turned the odds against his attackers.

Two of the Sheriff's crossbowmen managed to seize one of the outlaws.  "Hold him tight, lads!" said the Sheriff, as he drew a long dagger from under his robe.  He stepped forwards, wielding the weapon and snarling "This is the price for your banditry, outlaw scum!".

...and that's all I have time for this evening!  Parental duties call and I have to go & fix a kid's computer.  I'll put up Part 2 as soon as I can (it'll probably be a few days, though).  In the meantime:
  • Will the Sheriff kill any of his own men for cowardice (he has done this in every previous game we've played)?
  • How will Robin fare against the dual threat of Yorick the Jester and the Black Knight?
  • What exactly does Sir Guy have against Little John?  He does seem rather fixated on pursuing the big outlaw.
  • Who will "rescue" more of the civilians; the authorities or the outlaws?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

TTCombat: the Construction Office


This has been a fairly busy weekend, with a full day's gaming on Saturday (2 exciting battle reports to come, in due course!) and my daughter's Christmas Dance Show on Sunday afternoon.  Consequently, I've not had much time to put together a blog article for today.  Still, here's a short discussion of a piece of MDF terrain that I was given for my birthday.

The Construction Office

This model is a "Construction Office" from TTCombat.  It looks very much as if it's intended to be the office for a construction site or a builder's yard - some form of Portakabin or other prefabricated building and is described as " use with...28-35mm wargames".  Very useful; I can think of many scenarios involving modern or even sci-fi scenarios where such a hut could be used.

The kit costs a mere £3.95 and (like other TTCombat kits I've built) is extremely easy to assemble into a very sturdy model.  The parts are relatively few in number and fit together very well indeed.  Although there is no interior detail in this hut, the roof can be left unglued to provide access so that you can decorate it yourself, if desired.  Excellent!

So why haven't I painted it yet?

As soon as I had finished gluing the parts of the hut together, I felt that something was wrong.  The building was fine in itself, but it just seems too big!  I placed a fairly average-sized 28mm figure alongside the Construction Office and my suspicions were confirmed.

Captain Haddock cannot see through the door window, even though he's mounted on a base that gives him an extra 4mm or so of height.
 My measurements confirm that the overall height of the hut is 3" (75mm), whilst the door alone is 2" (50mm).  If we assume that a Portakabin door is about 6' 6"" (2m) tall then the model door is at 1:40th scale.  This is almost half as big again as it should be for my 1:56th scale/28mm models.

So, this lovely, cheap model of a prefab building is so far out of the scale of my figures that I won't be able to use it.  It would work well for 42mm figures, though!  Or maybe 35mm models at a pinch, if they had fairly thick bases on the figures and you weren't too fussy.

Here's a last, slightly flippant thought.  I borrowed a Lego minifigure from one of my children for a few minutes, just to take this photo.  The hut is quite a good fit for him...

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Let it Snow...


Earlier this year, I completed some stepped pyramids as scenery for my games.  So far, they've been used exactly once in an arid setting (Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Venus), but hopefully that will change soon.

Even at the time I made them, I intended the pyramids to be used in multiple different types of terrain, such as in frozen wastelands and steaming jungles.  However, the bare masonry wouldn't look quite right anywhere other than a desert, would it?


Fortunately, I still had a large number of offcuts of the blue polystyrene from when the pyramids were built.  Even better, the edges of these scraps were already cut to the same angle as the sloping sides of the models.

It was a simple matter to take my hot wire cutter to the fragments of polystyrene and sculpt them into irregular shapes.  I cut the ends on some of them square so that they could fit against the staircases; the remainder were rounded off all along their lengths.

Once the pieces were cut to size, they were painted white, with a little fine sand added to the paint for texture.  This took rather longer than cutting the pieces out, as I needed several coats of paint and had to wait for each one to dry before applying the next.  Still, it wasn't exactly an onerous task!


Although I haven't used them in a game yet, I think these add-ons should hold in position fairly well.  They are very light, but there's still quite a lot of friction between them and the main building so I don't think they'll be knocked out of position too easily.

The white drifts will allow me to use the pyramids in a snow-and-ice setting.  I'm wondering now if I could do something in this line for jungle?  I could use similar offcuts and paint them brown, then cover them with vegetation.  To look effective, I suspect that such jungle "drifts" would need rather more effort than the piles of snow, but maybe it could work...

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Work-in-progress: the Space Fighter


This starfighter is my son's model, completed as the kit intended but then somewhat broken and missing parts through careless play
Some 6 months ago, I wrote an article about my acquisition of a couple of Revell EasyKit "Jedi Starfighters" that were in perfect scale for 28mm wargaming figures: here. At the time, I couldn't decide how to finish these kits, but that doesn't mean I haven't made any progress since!


I've built one of my own two models so far.  There were some modifications made to suit my needs, as described here:

1. The "R2-D2" droid protruding from the port wing has been removed and the gap filled with green stuff.  This detail was too recognisable as coming from Star Wars...

2. I cut the wingtip panels from their "folded out" positions and glued them back into the recesses in the wings.  This left an abrupt end of detail on the very ends of the wings, so I've added some fluted cylinders instead.  These could be extra fuel tanks, engines or cannons; I really haven't decided and I'm not sure that I care!  As you can see from the picture above, these extra bits have been built from the cap and end of some expired felt tip pens.

3 holes have been drilled to take the support pegs/undercarriage
3. I want my craft to be usable for land-based games, perhaps as decorations at a space port.  For a while, I wondered how I was going to scratch build a suitable undercarriage (probably skis rather than wheels).  Then it hit me: you won't even be able to see under the craft when it's placed on a table.

Instead of anything complex, I intend to use transparent pegs (cut down from spare posts for Games Workshop flying bases) just to lift the model off the dirt.  I can always claim that it's a grav effect of some kind rather than a physical undercarriage!

So far, this first tester model has been undercoated.  I used a white primer rather than my usual grey as I thought at first I might paint it up in Star Trek Federation colours (white with a red trim). Since then, I've changed my mind: I'll probably colour it dark green and use it as a Klingon machine instead.  Or maybe Federation white would be better after all?

Aargh - I just can't make up my mind!