Friday 29 December 2023

Sunday 16 July 2023

Old Projects - Ticking Over

 One of the pre-Covid projects that I was in the early stages of, was my foray into 3rd Century AD Romans and their enemies. A part of that was a "quick" build Sassanid army using older vintage, 2nd hand figures that were at least part-painted and mostly unloved. Click here

 A great find as a part of this scheme was an Ebay lot with 6 Sassanid elephants (old versions of the Irregualr Miniatures model.) They were not horribly painted, so I reckoned with a small amout of work and rebasing the elephant arm of the army would be ready to rock. My excitement was thoroughly quenched once the parcel arrived. The combination of Royal Mail's tender mercies and inadequate packing had left the models comprehensively destroyed. 😞


 The seller, to his credit, offered a discount with no quibbles but the prospect of a rebuild put these right on the backburner for me. A year later I stumbled upon the box of ellie-bits and started the process of cleaning joints and regluing the models. Luckily I had carefully packed the bits away with all the parts and crew of each beast separately bagged up. I lie. The first puzzle was to collect together the correct  parts for each model before the rebuild. The crews at least had a general colour theme that made identifying each crew less of a headache than it might have been.

A couple of months and many superglued fingers later they are back in one piece  and I have done some upgrades to tart them up a bit.


A bit of brighter colour was added to plumes and decoration on the elephants themselves and missing paint reapplied. The main upgrade (in line with lots of banners being added to the cavalry) was to make the plain cloth (housing? saddle-cloth?) on each model a lot more decorative. This was acheived with some painted on patterns but mainly with decals. The transfers were a combination of LBMS banners chopped up to fit and my own patterns printed out on decal paper.


I am quite pleased with how these turned out. It was a bit of a chamllenge to get the transfers to conform to all the moulded on creases modelled in the cloth but with application of Microsol and the requisite amount of swearing, we got there in the end. The designs on the cloth and all the shields draw the eye and distract from the fact that the 6 models are identical. Which is appropriately for this project very "Old Skool."

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!

 Waterloo  - But Not As we Know It!