Friday, 27 March 2015

The Lords of Strathclyde

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I showed Coroticus, the warlord for my in-progress SAGA Strathclyde force.  I bought this starter army at Claymore, in August last year, so it's about time that I made some progress on it.  Today it's the turn of the warlord's inner circle/hearthguard, the "Teulu".

The Teulu

I have 8 models here, so that accounts for 2 points of value from the 4 point SAGA starter army.  If you leave the warlord out then these guys are half the cost of the warband all on their own!

All of the Teulu are riding ponies and carrying short spears, swords or both.  7 of the 8 men are clad in mail, though interestingly the one in the pale cloak and blue/white tunic (at the back left) has a leather cuirass instead.  I've just realised that this detail isn't really visible in any of the pictures, though the last image shows a little bit.

The figures are from Gripping Beast, whilst the shield and banner transfers are from Little Big Men.

One of the Teulu carries a horn and I've converted one of the others to carry a banner.  Both of these figures cannot really carry shields in their left hands.  I did want these upper class warriors to have all the best equipment though, so I attached the shields to their backs instead.

The standard bearer already had a leather strap across his shoulder (for his scabbard, really), so I didn't feel the need to add any extra support for the shield.  However the horn blower looked odd with nothing to hold the shield on his back.  I gave him a strap of green stuff across his chest and shoulder; at least it looks plausible to me as a support.

Most of these men have either patterned tunics (using my "not tartan" style) or they have decorative borders on their cloaks, or both.  Their clothing and shields are also somewhat brighter and more colourful than the average Dark Age citizen.  These, along with the armour and relatively abundant equipment, mark them out as richer and generally higher status individuals.

As with all my SAGA forces, the bases carry useful information.  In this case, the grey border marks them out as belonging to the Strathclyde faction (it's very useful to be be able to tell the factions apart during a game!).  In addition, they all have suitable names, just to give the force a bit more character.  Of course, being Welsh (and ancient Welsh, at that), I cannot pronounce some of them...

Conclusion

I've still got 2 points of warriors to paint, so that's another 16 ponies.  I'm beginning to hate preparation work for these animals, as they all have quite a bit of flash and damage that needs to be cut off.  I think that some of Gripping Beast's horse moulds have been very heavily used!  Still, the basic warriors are fine figures; they should be much plainer than the Teulu and therefore simpler to paint.

It'll be interesting to try an all-mounted force in SAGA, especially one that has the option of part of the force arriving during the game - from any table edge!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

I've hinted before that I'm playing a Dreadball league with one of my sons.  Since we're not quite half-way through, I thought that I'd record some of the results so far:

League Standings:

Spring Season
Team Played Landslide Won Lost Buried Points
Pink Ladies 4 1 2 1 0 8
Mean Green Machine 2 0 2 0 0 4
Sky City Slammers 3 0 1 2 0 4
Gutter Gashers 4 0 1 2 1 4
Golden Swarm 3 1 0 1 1 4

Individual Games

Home Away Result (to home team) Notes
Pink Ladies Mean Green Machine
Pink Ladies Sky City Slammers
Pink Ladies (H) Gutter Gashers (A) +1 Ref. blind, several unspotted stomp/sneak fouls, lots of rat fumbles & missed throws
Pink Ladies Golden Swarm
Mean Green Machine (A) Pink Ladies (H) 0 Sudden death, Greens won by knockout (all Pink strikers and jacks disabled)
Mean Green Machine Sky City Slammers
Mean Green Machine Gutter Gashers
Mean Green Machine Golden Swarm
Sky City Slammers (A) Pink Ladies (H) -1 Winning score on last play of the match
Sky City Slammers (H) Mean Green Machine (A) -4 Only 7 players left on pitch at the end
Sky City Slammers (H) Gutter Gashers (A) +1 Slammers: 1 dead, 1 hospitalised in 1st rush
Sky City Slammers Golden Swarm
Gutter Gashers Pink Ladies
Gutter Gashers Mean Green Machine
Gutter Gashers Sky City Slammers
Gutter Gashers (H) Golden Swarm (A) +1 Gashers win after "pinball" pass in last rush - ball fumbled but scattered into the arms of another striker - twice!
Golden Swarm (A) Pink Ladies (H) -7 Landslide in 7th rush
Golden Swarm Mean Green Machine
Golden Swarm Sky City Slammers
Golden Swarm (A) Gutter Gashers (H) +7 One rat killed early on

Conclusion

My son [marked (A) in the matches we've played] has developed a very aggressive style that involves slamming as many of the opposing players as possible, preferably from behind.  Whilst this can give good results and cripple the opposing team, it's difficult to catch [for example] a Veer-myn striker - they're just too good at dodging!  Mind you, I'm really starting to hate the big bug in the Golden Swarm team; I've never managed to either avoid it or strike back effectively at it, despite surrounding it on occasion!

We're both becoming more used to the rules, I think.  There has even been some cunning positional play, such as placing a striker ready to catch the relaunched ball after a strike attempt.  I even scored in my opponent's turn once with this ploy.  Although it levelled the score at the time, I lost the match in the long run.  Oh, well.

Back to pictures of miniatures next time, I think...

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Raising the Flag

Introduction

A little while ago, I showed how I had painted the Amera F214 Castle Keep.  At the time, I observed that the model would be improved by the addition of a flag.  Even though this was really a throwaway observation, I thought that I detected a subtle note of disappointment from my loyal followers that I hadn't attempted such an enhancement already.

Well, I haven't been able to come up with any compelling reason why I couldn't add a banner to the model, so I sat down this morning and got on with it.  Total time spent was perhaps 30 minutes on the build and rather more on the computer (designing the flag), so this wasn't a difficult project!

Materials

 The flag itself is made from paper.  I drew a suitable shape on the computer and filled it with an appropriate design (the golden, double-headed eagle on a black background matches the heraldry used by some of the Sheriff of Nottingham's men-at-arms in my Robin Hood collection).  This paper flag was then fixed to a simple flagstaff made from 2 pieces of bamboo skewer, notched slightly and glued perpendicular to each other.

Since I wanted the flag to be removable (partly for ease of storage and partly so that I could use different banners in the future), I made the pole much longer than you might have thought necessary.  The socket itself was created by cutting down the casing of a cheap pen that had just stopped working, very conveniently for me!

To brace the socket and prevent it from tearing off the model, I cut out 4 right-angled triangles from thick plasticard (though I imagine that any stiff material - scraps of cardboard, MDF or plastic - would do).  Originally I had made these triangular, with shorter sides of about 2.5" (8cm).  However when I tested them, I realised that they were too deep and so I cut the tips off them.  These parts are structural rather than aesthetic and therefore my original mistake won't matter in the finished model, but it does show once again the importance of dry-fitting everything before applying any glue!

Assembly

Working from the underside of the model, I drilled a hole in the middle of the keep.  This was just large enough for the flagpole to fit loosely.

 I cut down the pen casing to the right length and glued it over the hole, taking care to ensure that it was perpendicular to the surface.  Note: check the length before gluing!  You really don't want the pen to stick out below the base of the model!

The last part of the construction was to glue the 4 supports around the pen casing, thus giving the socket a considerable amount of support.

Finally, turn the model over and drop the flagstaff into the hole.  Simple!

Conclusions

  • The flag and staff were made very quickly and without much attention to detail, but there's no reason why one couldn't spend a lot more effort on such a piece.
  • I did consider placing the socket in one of the corners of the keep, instead of in the centre.  However it would have been greatly more difficult to work with the sloped plastic that is found there, so in the end I went with the much simpler option: the middle of the courtyard.
  • When the flag is removed, the hole in the courtyard is barely visible (and would be even less so if I dabbed a little black paint over the edges of the drilled plastic).  I can still use the keep without a banner, if I desire.



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Coroticus, King of Strathclyde

Introduction

Once again, I'm finding it difficult to find the time and the enthusiasm for a decent post.  This was supposed to have been written on Sunday, but it's now 2 days late.  Still, that's enough whining, so on with the show!

We've now played 4 games in our Dreadball league with my 5 teams (men, women, orx, rats and bugs).  All the games (apart from 1 landslide) have gone down to the wire, with the winning score typically being made in the last rush of the match - and most of them hinged on a single dice throw at the end.  Standings are as follows:

TeamPlayedLandslideWonLostBuriedPoints
Pink Ladies
2
1
1
0
0
5
Sky City Slammers
2
0
1
1
0
3
Gutter Gashers
2
0
1
1
0
3
Golden Swarm
2
0
0
1
1
1
Mean Green Machine
0
0
0
0
0
0

Coroticus

 I've just recently completed "Coroticus", the warlord for my SAGA Strathclyde Welsh warband (henceforth just Strathclyde).  These are very much the local boys for where I live and that itself is something of a departure for me since I've never really collected armies from my own country before.

Some people like to collect American forces if they come from the USA, British armies if they live in the UK or Slovenian troops if they live in Slovenia.  However I've never felt a strong desire to do this and in truth, the distance in history between me and the Strathclyde makes them as remote as if they had lived on the other side of Europe.

On the other hand, I can look around the local landscape and try to imagine it without all the modern houses and roads, as it might have looked in 800 AD.  Whilst there's nothing left of the structures that the Dark Age inhabitants might have lived in, there are some artifacts.  For example, there's a "hog back" Viking gravestone in Luss churchyard, on the banks of Loch Lomond (though this is probably from the 1263 campaign and therefore somewhat later in history).  Other similar gravestones have, I believe, been found at Govan on the river Clyde.  And there's always Dumbarton Castle, the ancient capital of Strathclyde, which is only 10 miles or so from my house.

So, Coroticus is a Gripping Beast model.  He's the same sculpt that they offer for their Welsh warband of the same period, which is quite reasonable as the Welsh (in Wales) and the Strathclyde Welsh were closely related.

I've hinted at an association with the Scots (the tribes further to the east and north) by giving Coroticus a tartan tunic.  Actually, it's not a "real" tartan in any modern sense of the word, but one of my simplified tartans.  If this needs to be rationalised then I would claim that they probably had less complex patterns of cloth 1200 years ago.  Also, I have trouble painting fine lines...

The casualty on the base is a Viking, so definitely an enemy!  How do I know that he's a Viking?  They wore trousers, whilst the Celtic peoples of the time went bare-legged.

Conclusion

Coroticus isn't quite the first model that I've completed for my Strathclyde warband; I've also finished 4 hearthguard.  However the entire force is mounted and this is slowing down my progress considerably.  Horses aren't that difficult to paint (at least, to a reasonable level, if not a superb one), but they are big and I find the sheer expanse of bare metal somewhat offputting!  Still, I'll get there in the end.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dreadball: the Coaches

Introduction

As well as players, games of Dreadball can involve other figures such as coaches, cheerleaders and even over-enthusiastic fans.  I haven't got the models to represent all such ancillaries, but I did recently purchase some coaches from eBay.  They were fun to paint up (and fairly quick too!), so here they are.

As an aside, for those of you who aren't really keen on Dreadball, I've almost run out of DB figures to show.  It'll be something different next time, I promise!

Coach Orky

This model is normally only available with "Mantic Points" (the company's loyalty scheme), so I was very pleased to buy him on the open market along with the other coaches.  Mind you, I imagine that even though he's a "restricted" figure, in practice there are probably quite a lot of him floating around.

He's an ork (obviously!), but rather a thin and weedy one.  Indeed, if it wasn't for the head, his physique would be spot on for a human instead.  Orky clearly doesn't believe in Theodore Roosevelt's  "speak softly, and carry a big stick" policy.  Instead, he wants to shout loudly and carry a big stick!.

Coach Shorty

Next up is my dwarf coach.  I'm not sure if he's shouting something himself or whether he's having difficulty in hearing what the referee just said.  After all, it looks as if Shorty was a player once himself and has the injuries to prove it: he's got a robotic arm and a large plate of metal fitted to his skull (where his ear once was?).

Coach Ratty

Third in line is my veer myn coach.  Unlike the dwarf above, he appears to be intact, although perhaps somewhat elderly and unsteady.  I wonder, do rat men age faster than other humanoids?  Are they particularly short-lived?

Coach Pike

Finally, we come to the human coach.  He also has not aged particularly gracefully; I assume that he was a player in his youth but was injured so badly as to require a support chair for the rest of his life.  Bonus points for anyone who can recognise the symbols on the back and side of his chair!

Conclusion

Like most of Mantic's models, these are made from their particular mix of resin and/or plastic that is sometimes referred to as "restic".  This is not my favourite material to work and it tends to have a lot of flash and to lack detail.  However, I had no problems with these figures beyond needing a little filler on Ratty.

All 4 coaches are somewhat unusual models and have no obvious Dreadball paraphernalia, so they could be transplanted into other SciFi settings very easily, I think.  I've already got some half-baked plans to do just this...

So, what shall I do for my next post?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Dreadball: the Rats!

Introduction

I can't believe that it's Monday already!  I had intended to post something over the weekend, but somehow this has slipped - again.  In truth, it feels that it's getting harder and harder to post anything at all interesting with any regularity.

Anyway, here is my 4th Dreadball team: the veer myn.  Officially these are the models for the Skittersneak Stealers team, but my younger son has decided that my version is to be named the "Gutter Gashers".  OK, it's not the worst suggestion that I've heard so we'll go with it for now...

Strikers

 The veer myn teams rely heavily on a chittering horde of strikers - specialised ball handlers.  They come in 2 postures (more are available in an expansion pack), but there's no difference in the game between the running and the scuttling models.  I've painted these figures with a variety of brown and grey/black furs to make them a little less regular in appearance.

Veer myn strikers are very fast and nimble, but they're not particularly skillful.  This leads to a lot of fumbles and missed throws...

Guards

At the other end of the spectrum, a few of the veer myn are great hulking brutes that play as guards.  They're not as strong as the Orx, but easily match a human and they're quite fast as well.

A standard veer myn team comes with 2 guards, but I have a 3rd model: the MVP known as "Payback".  He really is a brute; big, fast and strong, quite capable of slamming most opposition players to the ground (or worse!)

Recently, my son and I played a game with the Gutter Gashers; he took the rats against my male corporation team (the "Sky City Slammers").  In the first rush of the match, before I was even able to make a move, these guards had put one of my players into intensive care and sent another to the morgue!  The rest of the match was...interesting, though I did end up winning by 1 point.  Mainly because the veer myn spent the rest of the match trying to catch up with and cripple my survivors, whereas I actually went for the ball!

We've started playing a small league, so I may be able to get my own back some time.  Perhaps with the orx and goblins...


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Captain Colquhoun and the Panzerbots

Introduction

I'm still trying to clear my workbench of part-completed models, with a certain amount of success.  There's a long way to go yet, but at least I am now able to put a model down without having to move something else first.  It may not sound like a huge achievement, but it really does feel good!

Here are some more of the oddments that I've managed to complete over the last week or so.  They're all additions to my small collection of pulp figures.

The Aviator

First up is Archie Colquhoun, the pilot.  He's a Biggles lookalike in flying helmet & goggles, khaki uniform, fur-liked overcoat and silk scarf, so he would probably fit in from about 1916 through to 1930 or so.  Possibly a bit later in some remote part of the world that still used open-cockpit aircraft.

 Archie is carrying his trusty service revolver, so I suspect that he's made a forced landing in hostile territory (though whether the threat is from Central Powers forces during World War I, Sky Pirates, Chinese bandits or Afghan tribesmen in the 1920s or something else altogether is anybody's guess)...

I think that this miniature comes from North Star Miniatures, possibly from Artizan's Thrilling Tales range, though I could be wrong.

The Panzerbots

 These 2 models definitely do come from the Thrilling Tales range.  They are "panzerbots" - Nazi robots from some alternate weird science version of World War 2.

 Both of the panzerbots are armed with machine guns, though there's no obvious ammunition feed to these weapons.  I suppose that I could have satisfied my misgivings on this score by adding a belt of bullets or a drum magazine, though this issue has only just occurred to me.

As a computer scientist myself, I can't imagine that 1940's artificial intelligence would have been up to much, even in an alternate history where the robotic servos and other machinery was available.  Consequently, I'm tempted to categorise these as rather stupid machines.  In addition, they're probably quite vulnerable to bullets or other weaponry since kevlar and the like don't yet exist.  Not the all-conquering stompy robots of fiction, though very intimidating to those who haven't encountered them before!

Of course, it's always possible that they are powered by occult forces or by alien technology and are therefore considerably tougher and smarter than I've suggested here...

Conclusion

These models all came from a "Bargain Bag", if I remember correctly, so there's no particular theme to them.  I've painted them up because I like them, not because I had any particular game or scenario in mind.  However, given that I've already got some Egyptologists, mummies, scarabs, snakes, Nazi agents and Arab diggers, I don't think it would be too difficult to come up with some ideas...