Saturday 30 January 2016

Happy Birthday Action Man!

Happy Birthday Action Man....50 years old today no less!

It's got to be the best Xmas present I ever had, way back in 1976.

(although I never did get that Scorpion tank!).

I wonder how many wargamers out there used to have Action Man collections...

...and realistic hair?

Saga West Welsh

Well, it's been a total washout this month as far as wargaming is concerned, so I'm planning something for February to make up for the lack of anything tangible over the last three weeks. I really enjoyed the Saga game at the club this month, so have decided to put together a second Saga army in the shape of a Welsh warband. This was already on my list of things to do in 2016, so it's all going in the right direction.

To make this a bit different, I'm going to design my warband as a Cornish force - the West Welsh - who fought a border war against the West Saxons in the 800's. They allied with the Danes on a number of occasions, so I'm going to make at least one of the units a Viking contingent, using the standard Welsh battle board as it is. The rest of the warband will be mostly lightly armed warriors and levy with pointy sticks but will also have a core of hearthguard to give it some 'oomph'.

I have the Gripping Beast 4 point starter army and have added a second four man unit of teulu plus a second twelve man unit of javelin armed bonnedig, to fit alongside the archers from the starter set . This should round out the warband to six points and makes the most of the skirmishy shooting attributes from the battle board. I've also replaced the foot warlord with the mounted Strathclyde Welsh version, as it's a cracking figure. All I need now are some bases before I can get going.

I'm not going to start on this project for another week or two but will get the units based and undercoated over the half term holidays. We're off to Cornwall for the week so I'll have plenty of time to get the warband ready for painting then. I'll also be doing some fieldwork in the local area to re-visit the battlefield of Hingston Down (838) and King Doniert's Stone, which records the death of Dumgarth the last King of Cornwall (c875), both of which are just a few minutes away from home.

Friday 29 January 2016

Red Star, White Lights

I got a £1.00 discount as a Kickstarter backer of the Armies Army 15mm Cold War project today, for a new pdf  scenario booklet Red Star, White Lights by Ram Company Games. This is a 'what if' Cold War Gone Hot scenario package set in Norway, so spot on for the Royal Marine Commando 10mm project that I added to the lead pile last year. Here's the blurb:

In an alternate 1985, Soviet tanks rolled across the West German border…but that wasn’t the only battleground the Superpowers came to blows. One of these battlegrounds was Scandinavia. This scenario pack is Volume 1 of a new series meant to address the question “What is occurring in these “Other Fires” of the Third World War. Volume 1 contains 12 scenarios covering tank battles, small commando raids meant to shape the fate of nations, and everything inbetween!

My 10mm project uses Pendraken Falklands figures for the British and Modern Soviets from the same place, once they get added to the range at some point in 2016 (I hope...!). It will also now work with the Armies Army 15mm figures, so I have both options to consider when it comes round to actually putting it all together. I'm hoping that this scenario collection will give some good ideas and help me to make up my mind. about which scale to go for?

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Saga Saxon Shields

These look rather nice. I have a leftover handful of the Viking shield decals from Battleflag so thought I'd also get a full sheet of forty four Saxon shield transfers to use on my Gripping Beast Saga war bands when I get the chance to start putting them together. This will hopefully happen in a couple of weeks time when I have a short half term break. With a bit of organising the transfer designs will do for warriors, hearth guard and even levy, so I can decide which specific units to assign them to and still have some leftover.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Battles of the Dark Ages

I thought I'd give this a try on the Kindle as I'm in an early medieval frame of mind at the moment, what with all that Gripping Beast plastic sitting on the shelves above the workbench. It's had iffy reviews on the historical accuracy front but it should be an interesting read nonetheless, especially as it is written with the wargamer in mind. I'll see what it's like before I make any rushed is the so-called 'dark ages' after all...?

Saturday 23 January 2016

Birthday Presents

I've been so busy this week that I haven't had the time to open my birthday presents until today. The work life balance is definitely completely screwed at the moment as you can see. Anyway, the wife and kids asked me what I wanted and, as a result, I now have the basis of a couple of Saga warbands and some extra reinforcements for my Lion Rampant War of the Roses project. I've no idea when I'll get the time to even open the boxes but I'm very happy with my presents!

Wednesday 20 January 2016

En Garde!

I pre-ordered a digital copy of the new swashbuckling skirmish rules from Osprey a while back and they arrived on the Kindle today. A quick skim through and I'm really liking what I see, especially as the system is based on the Ronin rules expanded and developed to cover the swashbuckling genre. The rules are also lavishly illustrated with colour plates by Peter Dennis and photos of some stunning 28mm figures from Redoubt and Foundry amongst others. I expect that there will now be a bit of a rush for these ranges, especially the Redoubt Three Musketeers which are superb (I have some in a dusty box somewhere).

The other thing about En Garde! is that I actually already have some figures painted and ready to play! I have a decent selection of 28mm pirates that I originally painted up for Legends of the High Seas and which have seen quite a lot of action, even hunting dinosaurs in Saurian Safari on a few occasions. The figures might need a bit of a touch up where they've been bashed about a bit but they're ready to be organised into a warband, so a Treasure Island style scenario would be easy to set up and run. I'll have to sort them out and do some number crunching using the lists in the rulebook to see how far they can be stretched. It might even be worth painting a handful more to swell the ranks?

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Armies Army Cold War Kickstarter

I've always wanted to skirmish game a Cold War Gone Hot Norway scenario, with Royal Marines and Norwegian troops up against their Soviet paratrooper opposition. I even used to have a selection of the old Platoon 20 figures for this many, many years ago, although where they are now is anyone's guess? So, I was really enthused by the Armies Army Cold War Kickstarter which promises to deliver exactly what I'm after, complete with British troops in winter kit and Soviet VDV paratroops.

I've backed the basic starter set and will be adding a few extras like support weapons and a handful of vehicles once the Kickstarter is complete in February. In the meantime, I'm also thinking of digging out my 10mm Pendraken Royal Marines as a quick project to round off what has otherwise been a very unproductive month. I can't find them despite several attempts to excavate through the piles of stuff on the garage shelves but, when I do locate them, I'll see what I can come up with.

The rules will be Five Core Company Command which I think will be perfect for the level of game I'm looking for, with each stand representing a squad or fire team and each vehicle being one for one. The idea will be to use my tundra terrain cloth folded in half to 4' x 3' plus whatever terrain I can plonk on top to represent Norway in the winter time. The initial focus is on solo-play but I'm also keen to try out the rules at the club first, using my AK47 figures and terrain to see how they work.

Monday 18 January 2016

Can I retire yet?

Happy Birthday to me (again).

Sunday 17 January 2016


I really enjoyed the Saga game last week and so have decided to hold onto my Normans rather than selling them on. I have a couple of units that I have based up and undercoated to expand the four point warband to a full six points, although when I get round to that is yet to be decided. I also think I'll get some crossbows to make the most of the Aimed Volley and Storm of Arrows attributes, which would have been really handy the other night!

I'm also seriously thinking of a second or even third warband for SAGA now, moving the focus back to the ninth century with an Anglo-Saxon theme as the first option. I've always wanted to wargame this period, specifically the south westward expansion of Wessex under King Ecgbert in the 820's and 830's, with the focus on battles against the West Welsh and their Danish allies. It's a very interesting period and a bit off the beaten track, although I did manage to scrape 25000 words out of it for my under graduate dissertation many, many years ago!

Saturday 16 January 2016

Dragon Rampant Ice Elves...meltdown!

I sat down this afternoon to paint the Mantic elves for Dragon Rampant. It was all going well until I started on the fiddly bits at which point I completely lost the plot. I don't know why but I am finding it very difficult to paint well these days and get increasingly frustrated with my clumsy brushwork. As a result, I decided to bin the lot and start again, which is a bit radical but made me feel a lot better!

I'm now going to re-think the project and use the GW Lord of the Rings plastic goblins and trolls that I have in a cardboard box somewhere instead. At least they can be painted up in a rough and ready fashion rather than having to pick out lots of detail, which is more and more of a problem due to my eyesight these days. In the meantime, I'll find something else to practice on so that I can kick my rusty painting habits.

Friday 15 January 2016

The Boer War

It's been a bit quiet here for the last couple of weeks, as the return to work sinks in and then piles up, so it was great to take a trip into town this afternoon with the boys for a bit of retail therapy in the second hand charity book shop. I always pop in on Friday after work as we have half an hour to kill before judo and swimming at the local pool. There's also the added incentive that the odd fiver here of there all goes to Oxfam, which can't be a bad thing.

There's usually something worth acquiring for the bookshelf and today it was a copy of this hardback Osprey Military title on the Boer War, including loads of contemporary photographs, maps and colour plates, together with pictures of the various battlefields today. It's not a conflict that I know much about, even though my parent's house was designed by an architect who was killed at Colenso. The house was actually called Colenso for many years as a result.

I've always thought it would be perfect for 10mm using the extensive Pendraken Boer War range, but that is something that I won't be adding to the backlog of projects at the moment. If the Too Fat Lardies ever get round to publishing their rules for South Africa, then I might have to change my mind? Instead, I'm hoping to make some progress with my Dragon Rampant elves this weekend, although it's flipping freezing in the garage and the workbench is sub-zero as a result!

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Saga Skirmish

I enjoyed a very bloody but closely fought game of Saga at the club this evening, which is the first time I've had the chance to really try out the rules, despite having a copy for ages and a 4 point Norman warband to pillage the local Saxon village. The game was an Anglo-Dane versus Norman scenario with both sides attempting to wipe each other out and to eliminate the rival warlord. In the end, it was a narrow Anglo-Danish victory but it was a very close run thing.

I thought the order dice and battle boards worked really well, although I did screw up the dice play to start with and mistook my mounted knights for proper medieval cavalry, rather than just hearth guard on horses. I also neglected to bring any missile troops, which would have given me lots more options (apparently crossbows are the best thing since sliced turnip in the 11th century).  An enjoyable game either way and I certainly picked it up faster than I thought I would.

Anyway, I've decided to sell on the almost completed Normans, which I've never been that pleased with as far as painting is concerned, then use the funds to build a couple of alternative warbands. These will probably be a Viking and an Anglo-Saxon army, although I haven't made up my mind yet and also quite like the idea of some West Welsh. I see that Northstar have the Gripping Beast plastic boxed sets on special offer now as well...very tempting!

Sunday 10 January 2016

Frostgrave Warband

These arrived in the post on Friday, which was really quick, so I grabbed some time today to base them up. There's a shamen (witch) and an apprentice, a mail armoured paladin, a barbarian, a warband leader (knight) and four archers. This adds up to 700 points so I'm obviously not going to use them all together but will be able to try out different combinations of figures. I also have a lack of lower value soldiers, so have ordered some more unarmoured barbarians with single handed weapons to use as expendable low-cost thugs. The nice people at Forlorn Hope gave me 5% off as an introductory offer, so I felt obliged to use it!

Next week at the club...SAGA!

I thought I'd take up an offer of a game at the club next Tuesday, the first of the year, as a break from the tedium of work. We're going to play a 4 point game of Saga, with my Normans against Andy's Anglo Saxons, which is something I've wanted to try out for ages. The last few attempts to actually get a game going have all ended in disaster, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing gets in the way of this belated opportunity to try out the rules. If I enjoy it, I'm thinking of building another warband at some point this year, although it will probably not be the chunky Foundry Vikings that I originally intended. I have some Gripping Beast Anglo Saxons that would make a very nice West Saxon or Mercian comitatus, so I think I'll go down that route instead.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Operation Nordwind

I found this hardback in the second hand bookshop today for two quid. It's an interesting subject which is overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge but is well worth a look as an wargaming alternative. It also give my 28mm Artizan Yanks another excuse to be deployed in winter terrain and to have at least one Corgi Sherman tanks painted up in snow camouflage. I really should get round to finishing off those last few remaining figures to use with  Bolt Action!, Rate of Fire or Iron Cross.

Friday 8 January 2016

Dragon Rampant Ice Elves [4]

I haven't had any time to spend on these this week, even though they only need some basic dry brushing and blocking in done at this stage. To put this right, I'm going to get up early tomorrow, head down the garage and get this sorted, with the overall aim to complete the army by the end of the month. I have also decided to add a second four point unit of twelve spearmen, so have sent off for a box of twenty spear armed figures, from which I may also be able to squeeze something else? These Mantic box sets are good value too, if you shop around, with each figure in this case working out at less than 50p. Not bad!

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Frostgrave Barbarians

It looks like Frostgrave is going to be making an appearance at the club soon, so I thought I'd start on a warband of half a dozen fighters and a magic user of some sort. I'm not overly keen on the plastic figures and so have been looking for some alternatives, if possible by making use of some stuff I already have at hand.

I have, however, decided to splash out on something a bit different, so have sent off for a handful of the old Grenadier barbarians sculpted by Mark Copplestone and now available from Forlorn Hope / EM4. I have a couple of these fantastic figures already but have added some archers, some two-handed weapon figures and a couple of champions.

The barbarians don't really fit with the warband lists in the rules but I can match the figures with their equivalent henchmen without too much trouble. At least one of them can be a 'barbarian' whilst the others can be archers, rangers, men at arms and so on. I'll ignore the lack of leather armour too, as they're tough enough already!

The magic is covered by a couple of the shamen figures in the range which are perfect as a witch and apprentice. I've also ordered a couple of mail and plate armoured knights from the same range to use as non-barbarian warband reinforcements. I think this lot will make a very unusual and interesting warband...once I get round to painting them up.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

The Man Who Would Be King

I found this at the weekend in a sale for peanuts and, as I think it's a cracking film, I had no hesitation in grabbing copy. I'm surprised I didn't have it already but, now that I do, I'm going to save it for a late night weekend when I have no school work to do and can put my feet up. I'm deep in a pile of Year 9 exercise books this evening, marking essays on the failure of the Schlieffen Plan, so at least I now have something to look forward to!

Sunday 3 January 2016

Dragon Rampant Ice Elves [3]

Ice Elf guinea pig that would be an interesting unit?

It's back to work tomorrow (bugger!) so today has been spent marking Year 10 exercise books, ready for the start of term. I haven't had time for any painting today apart from a test figure, which has been drybrushed in Foundry Spearpoint and then had the face and hair blocked in with Foundry Arctic Grey Shade. Big result!

These will get over-painted with pale flesh and white respectively, followed by a wash or further highlights. I'm thinking of using a three stage light blue approach on the spears, to create an icy effect, then all that I'll add will be a few details leaving the rest of the figure in shiny metal armour. I'll see what this looks like before I decide if I'm going to do anything more's supposed to be a quick project after all? 

Saturday 2 January 2016

Too Fat Lardies Xmas Special

A bit late but better than never, the TFL Xmas Special is out and has some interesting stuff in it, although less variety than usual with a distinct Chain of Command focus. From my perspective, two articles are of particular interest. The first is a Malaya campaign for Chain of Command including lists for the Japanese and some theatre specific rules, which is directly relevant to what I was doing last year over the Summer, so food for thought and something I hope to return to in the not too distant future.

The second article is about scratch building polar terrain, which is something I've been thinking of doing for many years but never got round to, despite having Copplestone explorers, a sledge, a polar bear, a walrus, some inuit hunters and a seaplane model kit stashed away for just such a thing. I've even got a scary snow monster in the shape of a fantastic snow troll figure. The Xmas Special is only a fiver and has lots more in it than just these articles, so well worth downloading!

Project Plans for 2016

I'm being very cautious with my plans for the coming year, so I'm keeping down to a skirmish level and focussing on small projects that I can complete in the space of weeks rather than months. These will include both Dragon Rampant, which is already underway, and Lion Rampant War of the Roses which I've decided to do in 28mm rather than 15mm, at least at the moment. I'll may also have a crack at Black Ops, Ronin, Frostgrave and En Garde, all of which require a small number of figures and are published by Osprey. The Achtung Commando! project and Saga will be in there somewhere too.

One thing I will use to tie this all together is an ice and snow theme, using my lovely new(ish) tundra gaming cloth from Cigar Box Battlemats. This means that I can maximise the use of the relatively expensive cloth and combine any other terrain that I build or buy to cover several projects. I like the idea of War of the Roses in the snow for a start, all very redolent of Towton, and there are obvious connections with Frostgrave, the Heroes of Telemark and the Ice Elves on the workbench. I may even do something sci-fi or pulp set in the snow, either in 15mm or 28mm, who knows...

...and there will definitely be some more mdf !

Friday 1 January 2016

Dragon Rampant Ice Elves [2]

I finished assembling the ice elf army this afternoon, with the addition of a mage (an old GW Lord of the Rings Saruman figure), a mounted elven hero and a medium sized flying dragon (an old GW model). I also finished the last of the spearmen and scouts, although I'd like to add at least one more unit of infantry in the longer run, if I can find some cheap ones. I was going to add a reduced sized unit of three elite riders but I couldn't be bothered!

This lot will be sprayed with the Humbrol aluminium, then washed in Army Painter Strong Tone and drybrushed with Foundry Spearpoint, ready for the detailing stage. I'm not sure how I'll paint the dragon but it will probably be in some shade of ice blue to match the rest of the army. The breakdown of the ice elf army for Dragon Rampant looks like this:

1 x Heavy Foot with Swords (Offensive) @ 6 points
1 x Heavy Foot with Spears @ 4 points
1 x Scouts @ 2 points
1 x Heavy Foot Hero (reduced size unit) @ 4 points
1 x Small Warbeast (Flyer) @ 6 + Ice attack @ + 2 = 8 points
1 x Elite Rider Hero (reduced size unit) @ 6 + Magic Armour @ + 2 = 8 points
1 x Heavy Foot Wizard (reduced size unit ) @  4 + 4 = 8 points

I haven't worked out all the magical or fantastical additions yet so will have to fiddle around with the points balance before I decide the most interesting composition, so this isn't frozen solid yet (see what I did there!). Anyway, I need to re-read the rules properly, so in the meantime I'll crack on with the painting in the last couple of days of holiday left before the inevitable return to work.


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