Monday, 15 May 2017

Carronade 2017: Mixed Feelings

Introduction

As is my habit in recent years, my son (A.) and I went to Carronade yesterday.  This is one of the biggest wargames events in Scotland, possibly even the largest.  It's held in Falkirk every year, sometime near the middle of May.

So, Saturday 13th May, 2017: the day was overcast and showery (quite a relief after 3 solid weeks of warm sunshine!) and therefore seemed like a perfect day to be indoors at a show.  A. and I travelled by car (the journey from Helensburgh takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes) and arrived some 15 or 20 minutes ahead of the official opening time.  Not to worry, though - the doors were open and we walked straight in.

As in the previous year (see here), the entrance "tickets" were small MDF plaques; these should find a useful second life as bases.  Of course, I haven't used the 2016 ones yet, so I now have 4 of these MDF tokens...

Games

We wandered the halls for a while, intending to find a game to play.  Straightaway we felt that the atmosphere of the show was subtly different from before, though.  It seemed that on the one hand it was much more crowded and on the other hand none of the participation games were well manned (and often we felt blanked by the hosts; they weren't exactly encouraging us to join their games).  Was this all my imagination?  It's possible: I was tired and maybe a bit cranky, so I might have seen issues where there really weren't any.  In any case, I should stress that this didn't apply to all the games uniformly; just some.

Game 1: Dragon Rampant


The first game we played was "Conan and the Princess", put on by Glasgow and District Wargames Society.  The game was played using the Dragon Rampant fantasy rules and the scenario was something like this: an evil priest (he had a name, but I forgot it) has captured a princess (she had a name too...).  Conan the barbarian and Hadratus the wizard have been tasked with rescuing her; the king has even provided some troops to assist.

So, we'd simply stroll up to the castle walls, look fierce and receive our rewards, right?  It didn't quite work that way.  My horse archers (I was playing Hadratus) and Conan's bowmen were very reluctant to move over the river.  Consequently, my spearmen were a bit isolated when they were ambushed by a pack of giant hyenas.  Although they gave as good as they got, the spearmen panicked and fled (snake eyes!).  The remnants of the hyenas were atomised by Hadratus, who turned out to be a dab hand at zapping spells.



Conan and his boys were pestered by a giant snake which slithered in and out of cover.  The men hurt the monster considerably, but repeatedly it ate the odd footman before being driven off, only to return a few moments later.



Further up the road, demons leaped out and slaughtered my horsemen, before following up into Conan's archers (off-picture to the right) and slaughtering them too.



The remnant's of Conan's group (after the snake had finally vanished) were zapped by the evil priest.  This was too much for the big man and he ran away.  Thus the assault party was reduced to just Hadratus, who was running up the road, pursued by the pack of assorted demons.  At least he then made it up on to the ramparts to confront the evil overlord, where he was thoroughly outclassed and minced.

So, we didn't rescue the princess after all.  Oh, well - at least Conan survived...


Game 2: Devil's Run: Route 666


Our second event was a short demonstration of this post-apocalyptic car racing/fighting game.  The game was hampered considerably by the fact that it was on a small, end table in a main thoroughfare; it was busy!  In addition to being cramped, the (single) demonstrator kept having to stop to answer questions from passers by; this disrupted the flow of play considerably.



We each took a car and did a 1-lap race around a short circuit.  There was relatively little mayhem, mainly because A. had chosen the fastest (but lightest) car; he raced ahead early and it proved all but impossible to catch up in order to ram him or otherwise interfere.

The models for this game look very nice indeed.  However, what we saw of the rules seemed uninspired and flat.  Of course, caution should always be used in such situations: a convention game may well have been dumbed down or used an "introductory" variant of the rules.  Or indeed, in our very short acquaintance with the game we may have misunderstood or missed some subtleties.  But I won't be racing out to buy this one...


Intermission

We had to go outside for lunch; there was absolutely no seating space available indoors and there were queues waiting for the few chairs and tables.  This was quite welcome anyway; it was becoming quite hot and stuffy inside the premises and even though it was spotting with rain outdoors, we ate our packed lunch in relative comfort.

Once back inside, I picked up a pre-order from Colonel Bill's stand (definitely an easy way to shop and with a 10% discount for show collection as well!).


Game 3: Turf War Z


Another zombie game?  There are so many sets of such rules available already - and I think a newcomer would have to be very special to displace All things Zombie and Zombicide.  Well, this one advertises itself as a game about gang warfare in a post-apocalyptic city - with zombies.



A. took a Latino gang (near side) against some other guy's policemen (far side).  The rules for this game seemed very old-fashioned (compare attacker and defender's skill to get a "to hit" number, then roll "to wound" for each hit).  This didn't feel a million miles away from old skirmish games such as Combat Zone or even Warhammer 40K.  We also felt that the zombies didn't really add anything much to the scenario.

I did like the buildings on the table, though...


Game 4: Relic Knights


For our final game of the afternoon, we took on a demonstrator at Relic Knights.  As soon as A. saw this anime-styled table, his eyes lit up and we couldn't just pass by.  The rules and figures are by Soda Pop Miniatures (probably better known for Super Dungeon Explore) and are obviously very heavily based on popular Japanese comic styles.

A. (with me advising) took the Cerci Speed Circuit faction; these are a bunch of adventurers/adrenaline junkies/racers, as far as I can tell.  We were up against a group that claimed to be some kind of space knights or paladins, but they had dull red armour rather than bright shiny stuff.  I reckon they weren't quite the good guys they claimed!



The game is heavily based around a small number of heroes; squads of minions support them but don't achieve anything much in their own rights.  Game play is via a deck of cards; each character has a number of special abilities which need cards of the right colour in order to activate.  From that point of view, it reminded me very slightly of Malifaux, though it seemed much easier to understand.  There was definitely a sense of the main characters pausing every so often in order to build up to some stupendous move, attack or psychic power!



Although the main plot for this scenario was about espionage, we only made a single attempt on an enemy secret (they made none on ours).  Instead, we finally won quite convincingly when the hostile leader was held up by our pit crew squad and then counterattacked and beaten by our sword-wielding, showboating second-in-command (with the white hair and cloak).

[Once we were home, A. has been looking up Relic Knights on the Internet.  This is the first time I'm aware of him taking such an interest in something we saw at a show].


Homeward Bound

The journey home was something of a trial.  Firstly, the rain was torrential; this reduced visibility and the surface water made driving stressful.  On top of that, the police had closed the road through Gartocharn; I'm guessing that there had been an accident, but don't know for sure.  This meant that we had to take a 40 minute detour around the Kilpatrick hills.

Finally, as we were crossing the last hill on our return to Helensburgh, we encountered a bad accident, with at least 2 smashed cars, 3 or 4 police vehicles and a couple of ambulances.  Fortunately for us, the traffic in our direction kept moving, albeit slowly, and we weren't held up for long.  We didn't see any obvious casualties, but it was clearly not a very good day for someone...

All in all, I was somewhat tired by the end of the day.


Loot


Not a lot of loot, really:
  • Some varnish (always need that; it beats paying courier fees to have it delivered to home since Royal Mail/Parcel Force stopped carrying aerosols).
  • A pre-order of some more Darkest Africa figures (Livingstone and Stanley, a lady in tropical garb and her maid).  Also, a 17th century ducking stool which will be useful in Witch Hunter scenarios, I think.
  • Some 50mm "pill" bases.
  • Another set of "Nightfolk", mainly for fun.  I might end up using these as a whimsical warband for Frostgrave.
  • Finally, the MDF show tokens, which will be used as bases for something, eventually...

Conclusion

Both A. and I felt that Carronade hadn't been as good for us this year as it had in previous years.  The high school in which it is held seemed very hot and very crowded.  A friend that I spoke to suggested that this might be because the Triples show isn't being held this year and therefore at least some folks from the north of England might have decided to visit Carronade instead and swell the usual numbers.  I don't know the rights and wrongs of this, but it sounds plausible.

In addition to physical discomfort, we felt that too many of the participation games just weren't very inviting.  Maybe my memory and mood are playing tricks on me, but it seems that in the past all we had to do was look vaguely in the direction of a table and we'd be invited to sit down and take part.  There were several games this Saturday that we would have liked to try, but we just couldn't get the hosts' attention or otherwise gain access.  Not all the games were like this, of course.  In particular, the Fury game was so popular that we couldn't even see it past the ring of spectators at the end of the afternoon!

So, final conclusion: tiring and slightly disappointing.  I hope for better next year.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Pulp? Trucks...

Introduction

Yes, I know that I promised to write a battle report for a (not so recent) game of All Things Zombie.  However, it's too hot, I'm too tired and just not in the mood (especially after having spent time this evening arguing with a junk telephone caller.  I was escalated to a supervisor, which scores bonus points, I think...)

Opel Blitz

For quite a while, I've been thinking about ground transport for my pulp leagues.  Some of them could certainly use some wheels and it would change the dynamics of a game somewhat - or vehicles could be used as objectives or just add to the scenery.

Here are a couple of trucks for a league's mooks and whatever top secret cargo they need to transport:



These are, of course, Opel Blitzes (Blitzen?), a German truck that was very common during WWII.  As such, they are exactly right for my Nazi league, even though I tend to think of my Pulp games as being set in the late 1930s rather than during the war itself.  There's no reason why my Safari or the Cult leagues couldn't use them either, though I'm not so sure about Tarzan and his followers (have you ever seen a gorilla driving a 3-ton truck?)

Anyscale Models

Right, some details:


These models come from Anyscale Models.  I had never heard of this company before, but I hunted the Internet high and low for 28mm-compatible German truck models and these were considerably cheaper than any of the others.  Delivery time was excellent as well.

Each truck comes in 3 main parts: the cab, the body and the chassis/rear wheels.  In addition to these bits, there are 4 metal hoops supplied for the rear, plus an optional resin cloth/tarpaulin to represent a folded canopy.


Obviously, these straightforward, cheap kits are intended for wargamers - and that's just what I wanted!  The 3 parts went together very quickly, though some slight shaving was needed on one truck to fit the front and rear sections together.

Casting quality is good, with only a few tiny bubbles that I didn't bother to fill.

Slightly more worrying than the minute bubbles were a few larger blemishes or intrusions, typically in the mudguards or around the wheel hubs.  These could be from deteriorating moulds or from poor master models - I don't know.  For what it's worth, I didn't put any effort into correcting these (by cutting or filing them away), so if you haven't noticed any imperfections in the pictures so far then the imperfections are less significant than I thought.  See if you can spot any, now that you know they are present!



I decided to build the 2 trucks differently; one with a full canopy and the other with an open back.  The canopy was made very simply, by gluing some real cloth over the provided metal hoops.

Conclusion



I have very deliberately not added any identifying marks to these vehicles.  Equally, they're painted in some fairly drab colours, so that they can be used in a wide variety of settings.

Now all I need is a staff car or something similar for the boss.  Plus an important cargo and a hero pursuing the convoy across the desert on horseback...



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A May Mixture...

Introduction

I'm supposed to be writing an All Things Zombie battle report, but I'm procrastinating.  Battle reports are a lot of effort!  Instead, here's a bunch of oddments that I'm working on or have just finished...

Frostgrave


The Golem


This guy is a Reaper Bones golem; I intend to use him as a large construct for Frostgrave.  He is certainly large: that's a 40mm base on which he is standing!

This was a very easy model to paint.  I used a pale grey base coat with gold bands and fittings, all covered with a black wash.  Once that was dry, I added some colour to make the eyes glow and that was it!  A cheap, simple model, but I think he's quite effective.

More Ruins


I recently ordered a fair quantity of MDF ruins from Blotz.  The package arrived promptly and I spent part of a couple of evenings gluing it all together.  Now comes the tricky part, though!  I intend to mount these permanently on building-sized bases; the picture above shows one possible configuration that would give 3 separate ruined houses of roughly equal size.  But obviously there are other ways in which this could be done.

Once glued together, I plan to add more detail to the bases so as to make these a bit more "lived in" (although that's not really the best turn of phrase for abandoned structures, is it?).  But that's where I'm having difficulties: how to turn these base pieces into plausible, but still playable, ruined buildings.  Hmm...

Super Dungeon Explore

Not so long ago, I discovered that buysend.com has a fair number of Super Dungeon Explore sets available at a very reasonable price.  I've now bought more of these than I should and I still have the best part of 2 complete warbands to paint up.  Here are some heroes and villains that I've finished recently:

Dragon Blade


This hero comes from the Kobold warband set "The Claws of the Wyrm".  It's not clear from the short description on the packaging whether he's an elven hero with a magic sword or a kobold hero with a magic elven sword.  Either way, he's growing on me...

Candy and Cola


Candy is something of a mascot for Soda Pop Miniatures.  In this incarnation, she has (some) armour and a large sword.  She's always accompanied by her pet, a 3-tailed squirrel-thing called Cola.

Nyan Nyan


Nyan Nyan is another hero, though in this case she looks as if she'd be more at home at a pyjama party.  She's dressed up in a tiger costume and wears a pair of oversized gauntlets equipped with large talons.  Very odd...

Captain R


Finally, here's an evil mini-boss: Captain R.  He's an undead pirate captain - I really don't know where they get these ideas!  Most of the front of him is beard and face, whilst most of the back is coat.  He's carrying quite an array of weaponry, as might be expected.


Conclusion

I'm a bit surprised to see that all these models are for either Frostgrave or Super Dungeon Explore, as it doesn't feel to me that I've been concentrating solely on these two games recently.  Indeed, my painting table is full of stuff for Pulp Alley, Saga and Congo right now.  Perhaps I'll show some of them soon - right after I write up the ATZ game I should have produced last weekend!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Congo: The Mossouko Ritual

Introduction

Yesterday, my friend Steve visited and we played several games.  In the afternoon, my sons joined in for a long-overdue game of All Things Zombie; more on that another time.  However, before the zombie game, Steve and I went through our 3rd game of Congo and it was just as exciting and engaging as the previous two!

The Moussouko Ritual


From the Congo rulebook, we chose to play scenario #7: The Moussouko Ritual.

A tribe that lives in the village of Moussouko is intimidating its neighbours with its extreme practices of black magic.  Eventually it all becomes too much for the other villages and a punitive expedition is organised to root out this nest of devil worshippers by destroying their sacred places & fetishes.  Without these, Oagasou, the evil witch doctor, would lose his power and his supporters would drift away.

I've got a Forest Tribes force, including a witch doctor, so there's no problem in supplying the defenders.  As the scenario is written, the attackers come from the African Kingdoms list, but I don't have such a force.  Instead, we'll use my fledgling Zanzibari Slavers column.  I see no reason why the Zanzibaris shouldn't be just as incensed by extreme paganism as any other group.  Anyway, having such a defiant village around is probably bad for business...

Note that the fetish numbers (in orange) were hidden until after deployment choices had been made.  My Zanzibaris had decided to enter on the left hand side before knowing which fetish was which.

This scenario is quite a complicated one, but here's a summary:
  • There are 6 fetishes scattered around the table,  Each has a randomly-assigned number (from 1-6) and the fetish can only be destroyed on that specific turn.  If it is destroyed then it scores the attackers that many points.  For example, fetish number 5 can only be destroyed on turn 5; this would score 5 points for the Zanzibaris.  Obviously, the higher numbers are worth more, but both sides have more turns to prepare forces to attack or defend them.
  • The fetishists score points by panicking and/or defeating the attacker's units.
  • There's a lot of superstition and uncertainty in the air: every turn has at least one special rule which can make it subtly different from any other.  Examples are Confusion, Paralysis, Consternation, Madness...  As you will see, these can have dramatic and unforeseen results!

The Plan

Zanzibaris waiting to enter the table on turn 1 at the blue arrow.

This is, of course, told from my point of view!  My Slaver column consisted of:
  • 5 Zanzibari musket men, plus an Emir.
  • 2 x 5 Ruga Ruga (mercenaries.  Tough, but superstitious)
  • 5 Baluchis (Indian/Arabian mercenaries with shields and swords), plus a Brute.
I didn't think it realistic to attempt every fetish, so I decided early on to enter on one side and ignore the furthest two targets.  Bearing this in mind and looking at the now-revealed numbers, this is how I planned the game:
  • Fetish #1 will be quite a stretch as it is barely in reach even if some of my units move at full speed for all three phases of turn one.  I'll make an attempt on it, but fully expect that Steve's warriors & witch doctor will block me from reaching this fetish in time.
  • Fetish #4 should be reasonably easy to achieve; my entry point is close enough to cover the area with my people.
  • The interesting ones will be the central fetishes (#3 and #6).  Obviously these will be contested; I'll aim for both but I'll be happy if I can claim either one of them.  There should be enough time to make this possible.
  • Fetishes #2 and #5 are just too far away to be worth bothering about; I'll ignore them completely.

The Game

Did my plan work?  Let's find out...


Despite the Confusion special rule on turn 1, my forces advanced with all speed.  As predicted, Steve's witch doctor & warriors sat on fetish #1 and thus blocked my access to it.  From that position, a nasty combination of sorcery and psychological (terror) attacks left one detachment of Ruga Ruga "a bit wobbly" (or terrified for their lives, if you prefer!).



Turn two saw the witch doctor and his cronies charge at the Zanzibaris.  They were seen off after a volley of musket fire and a brief spell of hand-to-hand fighting.  After this repulse, they slunk back out of range - but they had done their job already: it was already too late for me to destroy fetish #1.

In the middle of the field, the Baluchis advanced rapidly and camped on top of fetish #3.  This put them in the right place, but they'd have to hold the position until the end of turn three before I could destroy the item and claim the points...


Turn 3



It wasn't to be: hordes of enthusiastic young warriors, egged on by their Champion, threw themselves at the Baluchis.  My Brute won his first duel, but fell in the second fight and the Baluchis were driven back off the objective in a rapid series of clashes [incidentally, the tribesmen scored several victory points for these fights].



The final group of young warriors then attacked my central Ruga Ruga.  The latter were sent scurrying backwards, leaving a couple of comrades where they fell.  There was no chance whatsoever of the Slavers reaching fetish #3 now.

To add insult to injury, a fierce gorilla had been awakened by the sounds of fighting.  He peered out of the jungle just behind the remaining Ruga Ruga.



I did get some revenge, at least.  The other Ruga Ruga, freshly rallied, moved round the jungle trees and caught the still-celebrating young warriors in the back with a stupendous volley of musket fire.  No fewer than 5 his were achieved and only 1 save was made; the target group was therefore reduced to a single, shocked warrior.



Finally, the gorilla charged, but this "Kong" was just a wannabe: the damaged Ruga Ruga slaughtered the beast effortlessly and then efficiently stripped the carcass of the valuable bits.


Turn 4


OK, so far I had failed to take fetish #1, hadn't tried for fetish #2 and had been driven away from fetish #3.  It was now turn four and fetish #4 should be easily achievable.  Having seen off the witch doctor, all my Zanzibaris had to do was move a short way and sit on top of the fetish until the end of the turn.  There were no enemies anywhere nearby who could have interfered, or at least not with any realistic chance.  It's in the bag, right?

Here's what happened: the special rule for turn four in this scenario is Consternation and reads as follows: "During the 4th turn, if a Panic Stress token is drawn, the turn ends immediately".  I had read this, but wasn't worried as I should have at least one move before any stress tokens were drawn for fighting, right?



Wrong!  At the start of turn four, we rolled for the effect of Black Magic (this is a very sacred grove, after all).  We rolled a '3'.



One of Steve's groups of young warriors was parked on top of fetish #3 (which I had completely failed to break in turn three).  He therefore drew a stress token for them to show the effects of the black magic - and it was a Panic marker.

It took a few moments for this to sink in: turn four had ended almost immediately after it had begun and before anyone could move, shoot or undertake any other actions!

The wails of the natives on realising that they had trespassed on their witch doctor's sacred fetish so unsettled the Arabs that all they could do was to cower down and hold their hands over their ears.  When the unearthly screaming finally subsided, the Zanzibari emir realised with consternation that the optimum moment to destroy the nearby fetish had passed.  He knew that it was just a skull on a stick, but the superstitious tribesmen would only accept the desecration of their holy items if it was done in a particular sequence...


Turns 5 and 6


Turn five saw me march the intact group of Ruga Ruga on top of fetish #6.  The Zanzibaris followed as best they could, to stave off any attempt by the natives to interfere with this.  So far I had totally failed to break any fetishes at all.  #5 was too far away to be practical, but I was not going to let anyone stop me from breaking #6!



Instead of challenging my fresh troops, Steve's damaged units in the centre concentrated on hunting down the remnants of my Baluchis and first group of Ruga Ruga.  Both of these were ultimately destroyed, earning even more victory points for the tribesmen in the process.  They even stole my looted gorilla parts!


Victory

Zanzibaris

  • At the end of turn six, I destroyed fetish #6 and thus earned the Zanzibaris the heady amount of 6 VP.

Fetishists

  • The forest tribe racked up 2 VP for a panic token that I had drawn early on (it had no lasting effect beyond this and doesn't appear in the narrative above).
  • They also scored 8 VP for combats that they initiated and won.
  • Finally, the young warriors captured 1 VP of looted gorilla bits.
Grand total: 11 VP to the defenders, 6 VP to the attackers.  Therefore it's a very solid win for the fetishists.  Their evil witch doctor will continue to dominate and harass neighbouring tribes and passing caravans for years to come!


Conclusion

In hindsight, I did some things wrong and had some bad luck.  To be fair, Steve did everything he needed to and would certainly have won anyway, even if I had managed to claim 4VP for fetish #4.  His victory might not have been by such a huge margin, though!

What I did wrong:
  • The Emir was all but useless where he was and wasn't worth the cost.  I should have either chosen a different character or placed his unit near the Baluchis so that his morale effect could have been used to assist these morale-sensitive troops.
  • In hindsight, one unit was enough to see off the witch doctor; the second unit on the left flank would have been much better employed in the centre where my 2 groups were horribly outnumbered.  Of course, had the witch doctor's warriors been a bit more effective, they might have beaten a lone Zanzibari unit...
My bad luck:
  • I don't normally rail against fortune on the grounds that (a) it all evens out in the end and (b) it's not good manners.  However, the sequence of events that cancelled turn four just as I was poised to score an easy 4VP really threw a spanner in the works and I knew immediately after this that the game was unwinnable for me.  Still, it was fun and I don't mind losing as long as it's with style!  

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter: Aberdeenshire 2017

Introduction

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front for a couple of weeks.  That's because we were away on holiday for the first week of our children's Easter holiday and then I've been catching up with work &c for the second week.  For what it's worth, we spent our vacation in southern Aberdeenshire.  The weather was glorious: we spent 7 hours or more walking each day, becoming very tired and a bit sunburnt in the process and found over 100 geocaches.  But you probably don't want to hear about that.

I imagine that my audience are primarily wargamers, military modellers and the like.  What can I tell you about our travels that might interest you?  Let's see...

Saint Palladius Church


This architectural marvel was situated just a few minutes away from where we were staying in Glensaugh.  It's near Drumtochty Castle and is a very unusual shape for a Scottish church.  The next time you're tempted to make a model of a rectangular or cruciform church, remember that you can have curves, towers and turrets as well!


Bridge of Dye Pillboxes



In the small hamlet of Bridge of Dye there are 2 pillboxes of World War II vintage, one on either side of the road.  They're ideally placed to guard the nearby bridge, which is one of the few places in the area where the local river might be crossed.  So far, so good - but there are some things which puzzle me here:

  • These pillboxes are made from stone blocks, rather than the more common reinforced concrete.  Would that provide the same level of protection?  I don't know.
  • These defences are very well situated to protect against attacks from the west.  However, given that Bridge of Dye is extremely rural and that there isn't really much to the west except mountains, against whom were they expecting to defend?
I suppose that it's possible the stone blocks would help with camouflage by making the pillboxes appear to be part of a garden wall.  Or maybe concrete was in short supply in wartime and was reserved for more strategically important locations?  Perhaps these were used for training (where the east/west facing and choice of construction material wouldn't matter), rather than being serious preparations against a foreign invasion?  Maybe they were even a misplaced folly built by an over-enthusiastic local commander or landowner?  I just don't know...

Crathes Castle



Some 25 minutes journey to the north of our apartment, near the picturesque town of Banchory, is Crathes Castle.  The core of this is a fairly typical, large 16th century tower house, though much extended at later dates.  It's owned by the National Trust for Scotland and has extensive grounds including a walled garden and lots of woodland.

Dunnottar Castle


On the Aberdeenshire coast, just south of the town of Stonehaven, we visited Dunnottar Castle.  As you can see from my picture, this is now a ruin, but in its day it was a strong fortress in a very imposing location on a near inaccessible promontory.  Probably it's most famous achievement was to protect the Honours of Scotland (crown, sword and sceptre) from Cromwell's army.  The castle only fell after a siege of 7 months, but before then the honours had been smuggled out and were hidden in a nearby kirk (church).

Inverbervie Pillbox


Finally, we found another pillbox.  This time it was located on the coast at Inverbervie, over looking a river mouth and beach.  There are also a number of tank or landing craft traps stretching away from the pillbox and on the other side of the river; these were surprisingly large (maybe 1 metre in each dimension?) and still in very good condition.  Sadly, the pillbox itself had a lot of litter in and near to it: discarded drink cans, broken glass and the like.

Conclusion

If castles are your thing then Aberdeenshire is something of a paradise!  There are many, many such buildings, including medieval ruins, stately homes and everything in between.  If you can get the right weather then I would highly recommend this area for a holiday.  It's also good for walking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits.

For what it's worth, we stopped briefly at Doune Castle (famous for the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, amongst other things) in Stirlingshire on our return journey.  However, we didn't go inside as this was just a quick break to walk the dogs - you'll have to wait for another time to hear about this one!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Showcase: 28mm Barbarian Cavalry

Introduction


I've been working on a Barbarian army for the Hordes of the Things rules for quite some time now.  Here's the timeline so far:
This is all very well, but I had always intended that I would expand the barbarian army to 48AP or 72AP (i.e. 2 or even 3 Hordes of the Things armies) so that they could be used in really big battles.  I will need many more bases, of course - but a larger force gives scope for something beyond the basic heroes/warband/shooters mix that I have right now.  I'll start with some cavalry! 


The Barbarian Cavalry


As mentioned above, I had acquired 10 giant panther riding animals as part of a Mantic "crazy box" some years ago.  These seemed like a reasonable starting point for my cavalry; I could make 5 elements from these if I followed my usual HotT convention of 2 mounts per base.  But I would need to find riders from somewhere...



Eventually, after much dithering, in December 2016 I asked for advice on The Miniatures Page.  There were a number of ideas as to where 28mm barbarian cavalry could be obtained, but the most useful one was a suggestion that Gary Tate of Forlorn Hope Games might be prepared to sell separate riders (i.e. without the horses, which I didn't need and which would add to the cost).



After several exchanges of emails between Gary and myself, I had my 10 figures.  I'm not entirely sure of the provenance of these models, but they have the look of one of the old Grenadier ranges to me.  It doesn't really matter too much anyway; the main point is that these are nicely sculpted, appropriately detailed and well cast figures.

I think there were 7 distinct poses in this set, but I cannot remember for certain.  Many of the figures came in 2 parts with legs and body separate.  This allowed some of the identical casts to be positioned differently, so hopefully the repetition isn't too obvious.



The riders were all I had hoped they might be.  However, the panthers are a little bit of a disappointment, to be honest.  They have only 2 poses, one of which has a much longer body than the other.  In addition, they're cast in Mantic's "restic" material, which may be cheap but is both soft in detail and hard to clean up when the pieces have flash on them.

I did need to carve away some of the mounts' harness to allow the riders to sit on their mounts, but apart from that they seem to fit quite well.  I didn't bother trying to create saddles for them; it would have been a lot of work and would probably only be noticed by the purists.  Anyway, who says that giant pumas need a saddle to be ridden in comfort?  Or maybe the barbarians are so tough and inured to pain that it's not an issue for them...


Conclusion

I haven't quite finished these models. Firstly, they're not sealed yet.  Secondly, those of you with particularly sharp eyes or good memories will have noticed that I like to label my HotT elements so that we can tell at a glance to which army they belong and which type of element they represent.  The former is easy (they're Barbarians), but the latter has me wondering: should they be Riders or Knights?  Here are the rulebook definitions:
  • Knights: "all heavily armoured or magically protected warriors on...riding animals...who charge at first instance without regard for...death"
  • Riders: "...all riders depending on their own weapons mounted on other swift ground creatures..."
[Yes, I know that technically they could also be classed as Beasts, but that doesn't really fit my idea for this army.  For now, I'd prefer to discount that idea.]

My barbarian cavalry don't appear to have the armour that is normal for a knight, though a frenzied, berserk attack with a disregard for injury could possibly be classed as "magical" protection.  On the other hand, assuming that the panthers join in the attack then they don't quite fit the definition of Riders either ("depending on their own weapons").  So, what should it be?  Any opinions?