Sunday, 6 February 2022

Trying Out Five Parsecs

Had a day to meet up with the nephews and play some games between Christmas and New Year. So I thought I'd try out Five Parsecs from Home as a nice simple set of rules to introduce them to SF wargames. Although these are intended to be used for solo games, they seem to me to be a useful tool box for setting up small scenarios. In this case I was going to be acting as a GM and controlling the "bad guys" using the mechanics from the rules for how they should act. The Nephews (and Julie) would share the crew of the good ship Windy Miller between them.


I used the rules to randomly roll up a starting crew and equip them with gear and a smattering of background detail. I used versions of the nephews' names for two of the characters and put their photos on the crew sheet to assist with the immersion in the story element of the game. They're teenagers so they weren't impressed!


A mixture of scratch-built buildings, pre-printed card containers and odds and ends from the random scenery box made up the abandoned base.

I designed a simple scenario suitable that I hoped would combine a bit of a challenge with something more than just a stand up firefight. The idea was that the crew had been hired to go to an abandoned military base to retreive useful software from the surviving computers, that could be valuable on the black market. The spanner in the works for this plan would be the unanticipated arrival of a terifying raid by a Converted Acquisition squad!

These cyborg, hive-minded drones remind me of the Borg from Star Trek or Cybermen from Dr Who. So a pretty scary prospect! Neither of these references registered with the nephews (Epic fail by their parents - I'll be having a word!) So the terror factor was somewhat reduced... 


Converted cyborgs advance menacingly through the base...

 The players took a bit of time to get their heads round the 2 phase movement system (but for some of them this was their first ever SF wargame.) Only two of the crew had increased Reactions score that allowed them more chances to move in the fast phase. They did get the idea that they could be a bit more daring with Max and Mr X but the other crewmembers needed to be keeping to cover. Particularly once the Converted arrived and started shooting. 


Skulking behind cover is a good tactic when the enemy are all  armed with military rifles and take no penalty for firing on the move...
The Converted put up quite a fight; two of the crew would have been casualties if it weren't for a lucky find of a Stim-pack that allowed Megacity Dave to carry on and the crew's only point of luck being burned to stop Dr Jez being gunned down early.  However their AI type did mean that the Converted were continually pressing towards the crew so were caught in the open all too easily.
As a starting crew however the Windy Millers had a bit of a mixture of weaponry and early in the game one of the two machine guns jammed due to a random event. It took some heroics by Joe Strummer with his paltry handgun to make up for the loos of a useful weapon. The other random event was a reinforcement for the Converted. I decided he would be a Boss type with a laser rifle and better armour than the drones that had preceded him.

The crew lay down cover as they move between buildings.
Max the captain of the crew had a cunning plan and scuttled up to the roof of a building with a large military ant-aircraft gun. I only gave a vanishingly small chance of the non-technical Max getting the gun working but he did present an excellent target for the Converted Boss. While it was distracted with trying to blast Max off the rooftop, the rest of the crew managed to catch it in a crossfire and dispose of the last bad-guy.

The enemy are beaten and the crew can make off with their looted treasures.
Five Parsecs worked well as both a toolkit to flesh out the details of a scenario and as a beginners' set of rules for a SF game. I did get a bit lost in the book looking for some details of the equipment items and how long a sunned resxult should last but mor e familiarity of the rules and a home made quick reference sheet should deal with that. I am sure there will be further adventures for the crew of the good ship Windy Miller.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

The Temptation of Nick

I am slowly sorting through the unfinished projects left behind by my friend Nick and I found some half painted plastic Vikings. I realised these were the figures that were being referred to in a forum post that he posted many years ago and I thought I'd share...

Posted by Nick on April 15, 2014 at 11:50 AM     

Nick went to Salute. There he met the Devil. The Devil said to Nick " buy these little Gripping Beast Vikings, they will be quick & easy to build." Nick had been tempted by the devil before - he had bought plastic figures before & always they had been found wanting. "But perhaps the Devil was right", one of Satan's minions whispered in his ear. " Desist, be not tempted", whispered his Guardian angel in his deaf ear. Too late! The money was already in his hand (briefly) before the evil trader eased it from his grasp, Nick had the figures! All the way home he was so excited, imagining how beautiful these figures would be. When he opened the box Nick found millions of tiny, ill fitting bits to cut out & stick to his fingers. He persevered, travelling on the Path of Righteousness & was rewarded by a collection of misshaped contortionist dwarves that reflected the Satanic image of their evil master.

Buying plastics is a triumph of Hope over Experience.

LOL  Well if anyone wants the 20 resultant "misshaped contortionist dwarves" they're yours for £10 + postage. I'll throw in the 19 Wargame factory Vikings that were in the same box.


Sunday, 31 October 2021

Core of the Army

 The other elite cavalry regiment who bookend the army of Phyrrhus, are the Agema. These are the Royal Squadron of the Epirot cavalry, the closest companions to the King.


I made the classic mistake of painting these first out of all the cavalry, which shows up in a couple of ways. The first six figuresa I painted in enamel paints, including the horses. By the time I was painting the next six, I had moved to using oil paints for the horses (the splodge on / wipe off method.) The other "mistake" was my reading of Companion style cavalry as having white armour (some type of leather corselet?) I decided to paint the obvious muscle cuirass these figures are wearing as some sort of white painted finish, instead of the more likely bronze or silvered finish.


This unit has seen long and heavy service and at some point one base went missing. The command base is thus a replacement, conscripting in an Essex Miniatures officer figure to make up the three.

 The first unit of pikement that I completed were also in the cross over between enamel and acrylic paint use. I got the first Citadel boxed set of the water based paints for Christmas and they were a revelation! You can see the difference in the red of the uniforms between the rank and file and the officer and musician. The red of the foot is much duller, which sort of works, so I have never gone back to redo it.

 The next 32 pikemen were mainly done in acrylics. These were all Corvus Miniatures and pretty much straight out of the WRG Armiesof the Macedonian and Punic Wars. I mixed up the four different styles of equipment to give these units a slightly less uniform look.


The only upgrade to these figures that I have done is to swap the bendy lead pikes for steel pins. This was just to improve the look but also got rid of the debunked idea of the two part pikes with a metal sleeve holding the two parts together. (Anyone with a shred of experience of materials would already  have had grave doubts about the whole idea.)


These figures, now long out of production have formed the core of all my Successor armies. They have since been joined by units of Foundry and other makes but always put in a veteran shift!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Plenty of Cavalry...

I don't really do rebasing; it's enough faff the first time round... These days new sets of rules are less obsessive about the exact frontage of a wargame figure unit or the number of figure per square inch. A rare exception is these Corvus Greek cavalry. I decided to reduce the figures in the Thessalian unit down to a Piquet standard 8 figures (for cavalry.) Part of the decision was that I knew I had spare   figures that would go with the discarded four to make up a whole new unit (and half already painted!)


I had 2 of the Corvus cavalry and 2 Newline figures that fitted in quite nicely on Corvus horses. The Greeks were a bit slower to adopt shields and for the most part preferred throwing javelins from a distance to charging in with lances. They were usually a small minority in a Greek army, so probably a good survival tactic! 

 The General on the fancy base highlights one of the problems that some older figure ranges could suffer from. His horse was one of a number that snapped off at the ankles due to the metal being a bit soft. The tail also became a casualty where there was a slight moulding fault at the narrowest part. I must have been in a frugal phase, as I took the time to pin the horse through a thick resin base I had picked up somewhere. I also rebuilt the horse's tail and the saddlecloth lion's tail using wire and milliput. 


 I was very happy  with the result, at the limits of my modelling ability at the time. He stands out nicely on his raised base too.


 Greek heavy cavlary are quite useful as mercenaries in a Successor army. Maybe only in a second line role but fairly competant and reliable.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Pyrrhic Cavalry

When I was first deciding which Successor army I wanted to field, the army list of choice was the WRG 6th Edition lists. These were the ones with amusing cartoons on the front (Book 1 had a generic barbarian who has bitten off the end of a discombobulated hoplite's spear.)

There were a large number of Macedonian Successor lists to choose from. They all were formed around a core of pikemen plus theurophoroi/peltasts and some cavalry lancers. To these are added a huge variety of more or less exotic units, from various light infantry and barbarian types, to stomping great elephants.

The army of Pyrrhus had a decent quantity of good quality cavalry available. Most of it armoured and best of it fighting in wedge formation with long lances (much like Alexander the Great's Companian Cavalry.) I bought four units of cavalry from , what was then, the new range from Corvus Miniatures. These were nice sculpts and direct representations of the illustrations from Duncan Head's "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars." This tome was pretty much the cutting edge of military history for the period, at this time. I bought 4 or 5 units worth of miniatures which was a sizable chunk of a years hobby budget for a schoolboy.


The Pyrrhic army can upgrade all its cavalry to being shielded (from their contact with Italian Tarentine cavalry.) The Thessalian contingent of cavalry were one of the best in the army so I invested in the upgrade for them.

This unit has been a solid performer over the years roughing up Carthaginians and Romans on multiple occasions. Fighting later cavalry such as Sassanids they have not been so successful, but then there are always pikeblocks to hide behind!

Sunday, 5 September 2021


The second unit on deck is the frequent companion of the Thracians, a unit of Greek peltasts. They tend to carry out a similar function; clearing skirmishers and occupying rough ground as their speciality. If really neccessary getting involved in the main battle line, protecting the flanks of the phalanx for example. It rarely end well!


These are all Hinchliffe figures, probably a bring and buy purchase. They are actually a mixture of peltasts (with the cloaks) and Iphicrateam "hoplites" (with the round shield.) 


 All I did with this unit was tart up the baseswith some additional flock and a few tufts. I decided not to mess around with the paintjob or tackle the worse of the mould lines!

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Roll Call!

This has been a long time coming.  I do have lists (even a spreadsheet!) of my painted ancient figures but bringing out all the units into the light, doing whatever running repairs are required and taking pictures of them all is a task that has been put off for a looong time. Part of the impetus for doing this now is the rather sad acquisition of the figure collection of my friend Les, when he died suddenly earlier this year. As a part of the decision about what to use, what to store and what to get rid of, I really need to get a better grip on what I already have (painted and unpainted...)

Decided to start with the oldest as they probably need most love...


This is my unit of 12 generic tribal hillmen / Thracians. Back in the days of WRG they were Irregualr LMI (oh how we agonised over regular or irregular status!) The miniatures are mainly a mixture of Essex and Corvus Thracians and peltasts. In the mid eighties these were about the best ranges available for Successor armies. The remainder are Hinchliffe and a solitary QT multipart figure. I have no idea what the chap with the red plume is supposed to be. Possibly a Carthaginian? He has generally Hellenistic armour and shield but the helmet looks wrong. Anyway I swapped his sword for a Thracian rhomphaia, to become a well equipped tribal leader. 

This unit didn't need much urgent attention. The paint job (using the first set of Citadel acrylics  - which dates them) is still passable. A few touchups to crests and weapons required. I also repainted the bases as they had lost a lot of flock leaving a fair bit of gloss green showing. 

A useful unit that can be included in a lot of different armies as Thracian or similar poorly equipped mercenaries.

Trying Out Five Parsecs

Had a day to meet up with the nephews and play some games between Christmas and New Year. So I thought I'd try out Five Parsecs from Hom...