Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mighty Armies Campaign Game 5

My two nephews, Orc and Goblin, came over today to continue our irregular series of campaign games for Mighty Armies. We're slowly putting together a nice set of simple campaign rules, and have now introduced favoured units, random events and attrition.

The attrition rules are simple. Each leader can raise as many armies as he likes. Each turn that an army fights it has to be paid for in Gold equal to it's AP cost (usually 44). This represents wages, tribute, the cost of ingredients to keep undead troops animate or dead rats and shiny things for the Lizardmen (who love their bling). After each battle replacements for the the lost troops then also have to be paid for in the same way, or the AP cost of the destroyed units are deducted from the available pool in the next battle as reserves are drawn in to fill the ranks. After each battle the winning side also gains plunder and loot equal to 1d6 x 10 Gold. The losing side gets nothing. In addition to the two villages that generate 20 and 10 gold each, each lair now also generates 20 Gold per turn.

I've drawn up a simple random event table, and once each turn the players roll on it to see what happens:


Omen from the Gods: Your priests receive a fortuitous omen from the gods. You get three re-rolls to use in any of your battles this turn, and instead of automatically routing you get to choose if your army breaks when it reaches 50% strength.
Mercenaries: Two stands of Dwarven mercenaries (standard troop types only, no special abilities) offer to join your side for a share of the spoils. You can recruit them for double their AP cost to fight in any one battle.
Scouts: Your advanced scouts have found important information about your next battlefield, giving you a tactical advantage. After army setup you may move one of your units by 3 inches in any direction.
Healer: A healer offers to join your army for one of your battles. Once, when a unit is destroyed, roll a die. On a 4-6 that unit is instead moved back to your base-line. May not be used on flying units.
Struck Gold. One of your mines discovered a rich vein of ore this turn. Gain 10 Gold.
No event
Famine! One of your villages is stricken by plague and produces 10 Gold less than normal. If you have no villages left, you lose 2 AP from the next battle.
Plague! For the first battle this turn your troops fight at an additional -1 in for the first three turns
Bad Information! On your first turn of the first battle you get 2 MP less than the rolled number. If you roll a 1, you also lose 1MP from your roll on turn 2.
Deserters! Some of your units have fled. You have 2 AP less for your first battle this turn.
Raiders! You must fight off an additional attack from raiders this turn. They will have a 40p army with no flying units or spell casters and will attack the closest un-invaded territory to your HQ. Any unengaged army can be used to fight them off. If you are beaten, that territory produces nothing this turn.

I've also created a turn tracker with different seasons on it, so we can start to do some interesting things with weather if battles take place in the winter, for instance, or with gold for harvest time and planting in autumn and spring.

We rolled events for this turn and Orc, running the Barbarian Hordes, got a Famine. Goblin, running the undead army got Plague, and queried how undead troops could catch the plague. I suggested it could be an infestation of rats or bloodworms or a magical malaise that had come over the controlling necromancer. I got Bad Information - so not a great turn all round.

There are four battles this turn, as the campaign map below shows.

We fought Orc's Barbarians attacking the town (Alchemist), defended by Goblins Undead.

Both sides created their armies using 44 points and including flying units. This battle saw the d├ębut of some new units for both sides. The Barbarians had some Berserkers (Heavy Infantry, Horde, Fearless) and the Undead had a bone Chariot (chariot) and some Spectres (Heavy Infantry, Flying, Horde).

The battle lines were drawn up:

We ruled that the walled compound to the south could be entered and units placed inside, but the walls blocked line of sight and halted movement (as you had to climb over them. The round tower and the watchtower were impassible to all but flying units and the other building delineated an area of the town that blocked line of sight and was difficult going, so we'd just move them around as needed to accommodate units moving in and out of the town.

I've had a few people comment that the previous reports "helicopter view" wasn't the best, so I've tried to get a few more action shots this time. I won't do a full blow by blow account, but try and let the pictures show the sequence of events:

Skeleton scouts in the village.

The Spectres take flight and advance on the left flank, but the Barbarian Shaman binds one of them in place.

The bone beast moves up in the centre, as the Wolfpack advances on the Undead right flank.

The Spectres elect to leave the bound unit behind and continue their advance.

The Undead chariot decides to switch flanks, and races across the Undead rear area

Turn 3. The Barbarians have been plagued by low MP rolls, whilst the Undead have had good rolls. The Barbarian Berserkers are trying to engage the Wolfpack on the left, but their slow speed is hampering them, and all they can see is difficult terrain in front of them.

The Lich (general) moves up to support the bone beast and scouts in the village.

The Spectres charge the Barbarian shaman and rout him....

But are counter charged by the Barbarian King and his favoured unit of Bison Cavalry. They have the Shieldbreaker spacial ability, so get to roll two dice in the first round of combat. 

The Spectres lose a unit and are pushed back, just in time for the Shaman to blast them with a fireball.

Meanwhile, the Direwolf is charged by the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack is the Undead favoured unit and have Dragon Forged Lances (or claws, in this instance) giving them a +1 bonus to charges. They beat the Direwolf, forcing it to retreat, but their rampager ability allows them to follow up and move back into contact!

The Direwolf defends himself and routs the Wolfpack, killing one of them. He is then joined by the Barbarian King and Shieldbreaker cavalry to face the Lich. The Barbarian Shaman binds the bone beast and chariot in place, as the Beserkers slowly move into the village to try a rear attack. 

The Barbarians charge the Lich, but are driven back (terrible roll for the Barbarians, great for the Undead), losing a stand of the Shieldbreaker Cavalry. The Bone Chariot picks off the birdman who had been spotting for the Shaman. 

The Barbarians re-organise and prepare to receive charge, The Beserkers just aren't fast enough to get through the town in time to help.

Barbarians Rally, Bone Chariot snipes the Shaman and the Lich Rallies as the Beserkers amble through the village.

Barbarians decide to charge again, and are beaten back, again.  Berserkers emerge from the village, but are still too far away to help. The Barbarians only need to lose one more unit to rout.

The end.... surrounded on all sides and charged from the rear, the Barbarian King is defeated.
A bad day for the Barbarians, who fail to seize the town from the Undead. They also have to fight off an attack from the Lizardmen this turn. The undead gain 50 Gold from the victory, but also have to fight off the Orcs at the Town, and are attacking the Orcs at the Fletchers. Could be a costly round for them...

Monday, 21 October 2013

A-Z Book survey

I saw this on another blog, that saw it on another blog, that got it from a different blog (this is like six degrees of blogging), but agree that it's a good bit of fun. Here is my A-Z book list survey:

Author you've read the most books from

Probably Terry Pratchett. I have most of the Discworld books in hardback, but just sold a couple of the first editions to a friend who collects them. I've read all the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child and embarrassingly, I also have an awful lot of very badly written, very repetitive books from a low budget post-apocalyptic survival adventure series. They are the kind of books that describe one of the characters in four paragraphs, three of which are discussing the guns they are carrying, but the books are my brain candy. I can switch off most higher functions as i read them, and plough through one in a couple of hours. 

Best sequel ever:

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie - it's a sequel to his First Law trilogy and is outstanding. When you realise who one of the characters is, things just click all of a sudden and this sense of sinister threat or looming danger appears in just a few words.

Currently reading:

Atomic - The First War of Physics by Jim Baggot
Homeland by Cory Doctrow
Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Drink of choice whilst reading

Builders tea. Two teabags in a giant mug. Strong, with one sweetener.

E-reader or physical book:

Both. I still buy some books in hardback, although AGG would be happy to have everything in e-book. I still like to have some things in my hand. 

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:

Stephanie Patrick from Mark Burnell's The Rhythm Section. As written she was the same age as me, from the same background and from the same-ish part of the country. Of course, she then goes on to become an international assassin...

Glad you gave this book a chance

Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold - this was recommended to me by three different people and I didn't bother to read it for ages. When I finally started, I couldn't put it down.

Hidden book gem?

All my Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman - it's only 100 or so pages long, but this book made me smile when I first read it. It's a love story about a man who is a normal and whose superhero girlfriend has been hypnotised not to see him by a jealous ex. Brilliant. I bought it for AGG before I knew she was really as geeky as me to try and ease her into my world of geek. Fortunately, she turned out to be just as geeky as I am. 

Important moment in your book life

Reading Plague Ship by Andre Norton. My first proper science fiction book. Started a lifelong love.

Just finished:
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch. The PC Grant series is modern, urban fantasy with a nice, gritty edge. Urban fantasy always sounds a bit wank to me, and has shades of Twilight and bit-lit, but these are very grounded and sensible and Mr. Aaronovitch steers clear of the cheesy archetypes and instead goes for a modern take on things like how the River Police deal with the spirit of Old Father Thames.

Kind of book you won't read

Self Help books. I don't mind instructional books, I have a few Dummies Guide To..., but I really cannot be doing with a book that tells me the bleeding obvious over 400 pages, or, even worse, tells me why I'm crap and should do better over 400 pages.

Longest book you've read

I had some monster text books at Uni, and excluding collected works, like the complete Lord Of the Rings, it's probably something like an Iain Banks or Alastair Reynolds sci-fi epic.

Major book hangover because of

Disappointing endings. Recently read Redemption Arc by Alaistair Reynolds and felt it just fizzled out. Put me in a funk for days.

Number of bookcases you own:
7, but the one in the kitchen just fell down through accumulated weight of Jamie Oliver, Mary Berry, Hugh F-W et al.

One book you've read multiple times:

Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams or Mort by Terry Pratchett

Preferred place to read:

Long train journey. I can read on a train or bus, but not when I'm a passenger in a car. I think that there is a feeling of almost being cut off when travelling on a train that really means you can set everything else aside to really get into a book.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read

"Tough, and competent" from Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz. Kranz was the mission controller for Apollo 13, but had a long and prestigious career with NASA before and after. One of his jobs was to look at how the mission controllers worked, and his maxim "Tough, and competent" meant that he expected the guys he worked with to be the best they could be - to understand the systems and processes that used, but also to expect that from the people they worked with. He said that you can be tough with others when you know that you are competent at what you are doing.

Reading regret

So many classics I haven't read.

Series you started and need to finish

Bleh. Lots. I'm a bit of a magpie. I've been about halfway through the Ancient Blades trilogy for ages. 

Three of your all-time favourite books:

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks and Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan.

Unapologetic fanboy for:

Charlie Stross, Cory Doctrow, Richard Morgan, Ben Aaronovitch, William Gibson, Iain Banks 

Very excited for this release:

The Rhesus Factor - the next Laundryverse book from Charlie Stross.

Worst bookish habit:

Buying books on a whim and then forgetting about them. I have many, many unread books because of that.

X marks the spot - Start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:

Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K Gann.

Your latest book purchase:

Atomic - The First War of Physics by Jim Baggot

Zzz snatcher book (the last book that kept you up waay too late)

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch - also a "nearly missed my stop" book too.

Friday, 4 October 2013

15mm WW2 US Rifle Platoon - fast and dirty paint up.

I've had a Peter Pig WW2 US rifle platoon sat in bare lead for over three years now. Originally bought for Flames of War, my local gaming buddies decided we were done with this set of rules, for reasons I won't go into here, and switched to micro scales for Blitzkrieg Commander and either Bolt Action or Chain Of Command for skirmish. As a result I was left with a lot of unpainted, and now mostly un-needed lead.

I decided to paint them up to sell on. I'd recently picked up a set of Cote D'arms WW2 US paints for my NVL 15mm Scifi troops. These are the same formulation as the original Citadel paints, which was what I cut my painting teeth on, so I was keen to try them out.

I worked out basic equivalences between the colours and my usual GW paints (this was before I switched to Vallejo - I'm such a paint floozy) based on a colour chart in the old FOW US handbook.

The figures were all glued to strips of corrugated cardboard and undecorated GW Chaos Black. The aim was to get an entire company, 3 platoons of 9 stands of 4 men with command, HQ and bazooka stands too. Just under 130 figures in all. By far the most figures I'd painted in one go. With this in mind I decided that the painting standard would be gaming quality - base colours and a wash. I'd never used the "dip" method before, although I do have a tin of unopened Army Painter Strong Tone, but I had heard good results could be achieved with brown ink. I picked up a bottle of Windsor and Newton Peat Brown for this project.

Each figure was block painted with the base colours on a production line, so all the jackets were done first, then the trousers and so on. I grouped the poses together, facing the same way, and worked out a way to paint the figure efficiently with the first in a group, and just repeated the process as I went along. I painted the large areas first, so that I didn't have to be super-precise, as everything else would be painting on each successive colour would be covering up any mistakes I had already done.

Step 3 - (photos for steps 1 and 2 were just too dark to see). Field drab jackets, tan earth trousers already painted. Olive Green helmets, grenades and entrenching tool covers.

Pale sand leggings added

Camo Green webbing, knapsack and ammo pouches. The camo green initially looked far too bright, and I considered painting over, but it actually does blend in OK. I caught the back of the chap on the right's helmet and didn't notice until they were all based up and varnished.

Flesh - it's at this point that a figure starts to look like a little person and not a hunk of lead, in my opinion.

Beige Brown added for boots, wooden stocks on weapons, entrenching tool handle, pistol holsters and knife sheath. Metallic gunmetal for the rifle barrel, MG's and SMG's.
The Coat d'arms paints covered well and flowed nicely. The lighter colours required two coats, but that's probably to be expected on a black basecoat. I did discover that in a few places, such as the rifleman kneeling second from the left, I had put far too much glue on the cardboard and it had glooped over the edge of the figures stand.

I used a Humbrol metallic on these figures, as it was quite a nice pewter/gunmetal in the pot - sort of like a GW Leadbelcher before Leadbelcher was available - but discovered that it took AGES to dry. To avoid the ink diluting the metallic and causing my US troops to get a sparkly makeover, I left the figures to dry overnight.

Next day the figures got a generous wash of undiluted peat brown ink. As i discovered, with ink, a little goes a long way. One dip in the pot usually had enough ink to do 8 or 9 figures. I tried not to let it pool anywhere, but seep into the cracks and crevices on the figures.

Lots of little dudes.
The ink leave the figures with a gloss finish, but really makes the details pop, and adds a nice shadow effect. It also toned down the bright camo green and light sand colours and blended them in, so they looked like faded cloth rather than day-glo disco wear.

The figures were then based on standard FoW bases and Windsor and Newton coarse texture medium  was mixed with W&N Burnt Umber. the mix had some fine ground cork added to it and was then plastered onto the bases. Uncovered areas were touched up with W&N burnt umber, which was then lightly dry brushed with GW Bestial Brown and Dheneb Stone. Flock and small sections of static grass clumps were added and the whole thing was given two coats of GW Purity Seal, followed by Testors Dullcoat to take away the shine.

Each of the 3 platoons was differentiated by some detail on the base. One platoon had just flock and clumps, one had a small cork boulder added and one had a piece of clump foliage added. HQ squad got two small boulders.

I'm really pleased with how they came out. For four evenings work I'm very impressed at what I have achieved. It's slightly irritating that I didn't take the time to paint them whilst we were still playing Flames of War, but I'm going to use the same technique on the US airborne platoon I have for Bolt Action/Chain of Command.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Matchbox Armoured Response Vehicle

A while ago I posted some WIP pictures of the Matchbox Armoured Response Vehicle that I was lightly converting for use as a colonial police vehicle. I've recently gotten around to finishing up the paintjob and applying decals to it. In the end I was stumped for suitable Police markings, so instead I used some GZG UNSC ship flags (which appear to be OOP) I had lurking around, and various Fighting Piranha warning signs, numbers and hazard stripes.

The UNSC flags make pretty good police or security crests, and aside from anything that actually says "Police", I think they look pretty good.

I added a spare M2 .50 calibre machine gun to the top from a 15mm  WW2 Command Decision Sherman M4A1, and it's interesting to see this alongside the weapons from other manufacturers. The "Ma Deuce", as the M2 was known by GI's, fires a shell bigger than my finger and is definitely a vehicle or tripod mounted heavy support weapon, but the one shown below is smaller than the assault rifles some of my 15mm figures carry!

I also noticed some white flecks on the windscreen after I varnished it. I think these are actually accumulations of matt varnish on tiny pieces of fluff that got stuck to my satin basecoat. I'm going to remove them and gloss the windows.

here's some pictures with figures for scale.

 I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. I have two more to do, and the conversions and paintjobs are nice and quick to do, so I should be able to have a nice little fleet of them soon. Along with the two Dodge-Tata Zebu Patrol Cars and the GZG Fan Van I picked up at Salute, I'll have a nice little motor pool for my Colonial Police.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mighty Armies Campaign Game 3 - Orcs Vs. Undead at the Fletcher's Cottage

Our third battle of the Mighty Armies campaign saw Goblin's Undead face off against MBB's Orcs (actually my orcs, but MBB has no 10mm fantasy, so it was that or face off against the 3rd Reich in 6mm). It also saw the return of my patent pending "Shake-a-tron 3000 Blur-o-matic" mobile phone photography technique. Next game I WILL remember the proper camera.

The Orcs and undead legions were facing off for ownership of the Fletcher's Cabin. As a reminder, possession of this upgrades archers by 1 level, so from shooting 1 to shooting 2, shooting 2 to Long Ranged and Long Range to Artillery Range. The Undead started with possession, and also had the explosive ammo for their catapult as a result of holding the town with it's attendant Alchemist from the invading barbarian hordes in game 1

The cabin was placed in the centre and then 5 stands of trees were placed, alternating placement by each side with a random roll giving the Undead first placement. Goblin made a bit of a boo-boo here and placed three of the stands near his baseline. He had quite a shooty army build, with Long Ranged archers and the exploding ammo of his catapult, but he reduced their effectiveness by putting them all behind the LOS blocking trees. The Orcs Flying Beast had Scout, so could setup further forward than the other troops.


Turn 1
Turn 1 started with the undead making an aggressive charge up the centre with their wolf packs, and the bone beast levitating into the air to confront the Orcs flying beast. The Bone Beast and Flying Beast would proceed to dogfight for the next 3 turns, diving away or drawing in combat each turn.

The Orcs responded by advancing across the board, with all units pushing forward.

Turn 1

Turn 2
Limited movement on turn 2. The Undead moved up their heavies, the Vampire and Mummies, on the right and began to move their archers forward, looking to get out of the woods. The Orcs began to consolidate their right flank, advancing the Trolls and the Orc archers.

Turn 2

Turn 3
The limitations of the Shake-a-tron 3000 show up here, as all the other pictures apart from the one below of turns 3 and 4 are useless. On turn 3 the Undead advanced their wolf packs to the right and the Vampire and General straight forward setting up to threaten the flanks of any Orc cavalry charge. Unfortunately they were a bit premature, as the orcs general split off from the cavalry and advanced around the woods to allow the cavalry to use their mobility and charge the wolf packs and destroy them all. The undead archers continued to stroll through the woods as the trolls and Orc Archers moved into a position guarding the Orcs right flank.

Turn 4
On turn 4 the archers reached the edge of the wood and a gentleman's agreement said that the two half-stands that were out of the woods were as good as a single stand, so they had a pot-shot at the trolls. The mouldering bowstrings of the skeleton archers proved effective and one unit of trolls met their end. On the opposite side of the battlefield the Vampire Lord split off from the mummies to meet up with the single stand of undead cavalry and form another attacking force. The mummies advanced through the woods.  The dogfight between the bone beast and flying beast was concluded as the magics animating the bone beast were disrupted by the flying beasts attacks and it fell to the ground in pieces. On the Orcs turn the cavalry trampled over the corpses of the wolf packs to charge the Mummies. The now unoccupied Flying beast dropped down behind the mummies to support the attack. The combat was very close, and a single stand was destroyed. The mummies would have been pushed back, and thus destroyed by their retreat being blocked by the flying beast behind them, but they were fearless, so didn't need to retreat.

Turn 3/4
Turn 5
Turn 5 was over quite quickly. On their right flank the Orc archers fired on the skeleton bowmen emerging from the forest and killed one unit. On their left flank the Orc wolf rider cavalry and bone beast once again attacked the Mummies and destroyed the last stand. With more than 50% of his forces destroyed, the Vampire Lord was forced from the field and the Fletcher was left to the tender mercies of the Orcs.

With the first full campaign turn over the campaign map looks like this:

The Orcs and Lizard-men both own 4 territories and 2 special locations. The Undead have 3 territories and 1 special location and the Barbarians have been pushed back to just 2 locations. Next turn sees the Barbarians attack the Wizards Tower, the Orcs attack the Town, the Undead attack the Mill and the Lizard-men attack the Barbarians +10gp location. Favoured units will start appearing at the end of the next campaign turn too.