Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas

With a little bit of the festive season, and more importantly some holiday, still left I decided it was a good opportunity for a small solo game - so yesterday out came the winter terrain boards and fir trees. Although there's been no white Christmas here what better to fight than a battle in the northern snows of Warhammer's Old World? Now, I don't play Warhammer, or fantasy in 28mm at all for that matter, but I do like the GW background, setting and armies and have applied it to my 15mm collection, fighting under home-grown rules written by my friend Jase. By following this path I have, like a typical wargamer, made things difficult for myself, with lots of hunting for appopriate figures, converting and compromising, but it's been fun along the way!

I'll post more about these armies before long but for now, it's off to a remote, frozen location in the border wilderness of Kislev where the forces of chaos have once again come south for blood and destruction...

The Scene
Barked orders echo among the trees as the panting, heavily encumbered men hurry through the snow. Their exertions produce plumes of steaming air, all thoughts of the day’s freezing cold forgotten while the soldiers’ urgent march continues. Then, with little warning, the dimness of the forest gloom is lifted as the trees thin and the blue coated columns stumble into the relative light of the iron grey sky, now open above them.

Ahead is a pale expanse, dotted with tall copses, stretching off towards the dark forest wall to the north. With no time to take their breath the men are led on, over white, rough stubbled, fields towards the woodsmoke and church dome ahead, beyond which they are ordered into position and hustled back into formation. Now their training takes over; packs are loosened, heavy handguns gratefully grounded and oilskin covers removed from long axe blades. The men, seasoned in war, know without looking that the rumble they feel through their boots is caused by their light horse auxiliaries sweeping past into position on their flanks, just as they know now to turn their attention to the far tree line as the air, and the birds, become still. Eyes narrow and blood quickens, but there is no shiver of fear through the ranks. Their calm and strength return as the familiar words are spoken by officers and priests, the chanted cadence pervades all and the men reply with their hard-edged roar as they renew their bonds of duty and honour. They expect no one to come to their aid but have followed their warrior Queen here and now stand as comrades, shoulder to shoulder, defending sacred ground.
The silence ends when the horns begin to bray and flickers of movement creep amongst the dark trees, but the men, blowing on their matches and saluting their brothers in arms with flasks of hard spirit, stand ready.

The Game
An army of Beastmen has stuck from deep within the forests to the north, overrunning the lightly-manned watch posts, though not before a lone messenger escaped to bring news of the threat. The hastily-assembled local militia were no match for the horde of ferocious creatures that swept bloodily through the first villages and within two days the chaos horde was closing in on its true prey – the inhabitants of the village of Noëlev and their priestly guardians in the church of St Nikolas. However, as the cold, grim day moves past noon the tramp of marching feet announces the arrival of units of the field army under the command of the Ice Queen herself. Unfortunately for the Kislevites, their winged hussars were elsewhere when the urgent news came, so the army comprises Kossar infantry and Ungol light horsemen only. Before marching, the Queen despatched a request for aid to a nearby contingent of Empire troops that had been assisting Kislev in its winter patrols. It is hoped that the courier found these comrades in arms, but even if he did there is no certainty that they would arrive in time..

The Table
Played on a 4’ x 3’ table. The village of Noëlev and its holy church of St Nikolas are in the middle of the Kislev deployment area, 3 squares in from the southern base edge. Additionally, 1dAv of further ‘bad going’ 4” squares are placed randomly on the table, containing forest. Remaining trees to be placed aling the northern board edge as background scenery.

Noëlev & St Nikolas

The Beastmen must capture the church to destroy the holy order that resides there and bring their darkness to this remote part of Kislev. The defenders must prevent this from happening.

The Armies
100 points per side

The Beastmen army is a standard army which can deploy up to game 2 squares onto the table from their base edge. The defenders are split into 2 parts; 2 ‘forces’ worth from Kislev, which begin deployed on the table up to their deployment line, 3 squares in. The 3rd force consists of Empire troops hurrying to support them. They will arrive in the turn that the Kislev player scores a total of 6 when adding the score on a d6 to the turn number. This roll is made at the same time as his CP rolls. The Empire units all come on either to the east or west of Noëlev, as the defending player chooses.

Special Rules
The Guardians of St Mikail
The church of St Mikail is home to an order of warrior priests who will stand with their Kislev and Empire comrades in defence of their holy shrine. A warrior priest will automatically join any defending unit occupying the church and fight with them using the normal rules, with the exception that they have a free power point per turn which can only be used to boost the morale of the unit within the church’s 2 squares, although it can still be used offensively against a Beastmen unit in an adjacent square. The warrior priest cannot leave the church squares, and if killed is automatically replaced the following turn by another member of his order. Should the Beastmen capture the church and win the battle (see below) it is assumed that all of the priests have been killed.

Game Length
The game continues until one side or the other is victorious, see below.

Victory Conditions
The Beastmen win if they capture both the squares containing the church (ie. there is no defending unit contesting it). They will be considered to have achieved this is they defeat the defenders according to the standard rules for victory, as the defeated army would retreat. However, to reflect the religious and patriotic nature of the defence of the church, the defenders’ Army Morale breakpoint is 16 points rather than the standard 14. If the Beastmen fail to win (ie. are defeated through reaching their own Army Morale breakpoint), the defenders are victorious.

The stoic defenders await the chaos onslaught

The beastmen emerge from the dark forest

The armies drawn up, but will the Empire allies arrive in time to help?

The Ice Queen herself, ready to lead her men in the defence of this holy place

Next time, the action!

Friday, 27 December 2013

A good haul

As well as my self-indulgent Minden order, I was also very fortunate in having a generous and thoughtful family which furnished me with some great hobby-related presents. First up, new and old books from my wife and mother in law respectively. The new ones add to my collections of the Wargaming in History and Wargamers' Annual series respectively and both look like excellent editions. The Great Regiments book seems to have been printed the year I was born (so it's a vintage publication obviously!) and contains an interesting mix of armies, units, battle histories and uniform information. Together these will keep me going for a while!

Then there is my academic artist sister who has come to my rescue as I could never find any Gesso when I've visited art supply shops. Now I can finally get to try it as an undercoating medium. Thanks sis!

Finally, there is my sister's clearly bonkers partner, who decided he'd found the perfect present for someone into toy soldiers.

This door stop, clearly Airfix-inspired(!), weighs a ton, stands a foot high and comes from a company called Suck UK Ltd. Magic. Well we all like gag gifts from time to time don't we?! :)

Now, I know someone into 54mm WW2 and that's pretty big stuff, but I'm thinking I'd quite like to see a game using a bunch of these!

A pre-Christmas present

Well, a present to myself anyway!

I was very pleased to get a knock on the door on Christmas Eve, and open it to find the postman with a substantial parcel from the States. This was my Minden Miniatures order that Jim Purky kindly despatched very quickly, and which was very well packed, so that everything arrived in perfect order and sooner than I had expected. Jim's generous offer to provide worldwide shipping for only $10 in the post-Minden takeover period was even more appreciated when I saw what the postage actually cost him. Thanks Jim!

Now I'm back from a very pleasant few days with family I have been able to look over the figures properly and, as with everything else I've had from this range, they are all superb. The high command packs are particularly good, although it's the additional gunners for my artillery and battalion guns that I'll be getting on with first.

The General Knyphasuen figure from Jim's Fife & Drum range (see earlier post) is also a delight, and I was pleased to see a handwritten note on the pack telling me that the only other person in the UK to have this figure so far is the great Charles Grant himself, so I'm in exalted company for a change ;)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cuirassiers join the army

Finished at last! I painted a sample figure for this unit in September 2012 and have finally gotten round to completing them as my first heavy cavalry regiment (Montanelli's Cuirassiers) for the Medetians of the 18th century. These are Minden Miniatures and they were a pleasure to paint. They're actually British Heavy Cavalry figures which I admit I chose due to their lighter equipment load (ie. easier painting) compared to the ones from Prussia, Austria and France.

The flag has a clipart griffon and was printed out from MS Excel and highlighted with paint. The uniform is basically buff coats with Medetian pale blue trimmings, which work well together I think.

Although these are now done I admit to thinking about increasing the size of my regular cavalry units, from 12s to 18s - basically to be more in proportion with my infantry battalions (36s). I think 2 squadrons of 6 figures each might look, and be, a little weak compared to their footslogger compatriots so a 3rd squadron may need to be added. Oh well, more painting...!

A Handy Gadget?

Wargamers will make use of almost any household item for modelling or playing, and I think it's fair to say that most of us are sub-consciously on the lookout for possibilities as we go about our daily lives.

Which brings me to a new item, received by my wife as part of a corporate gift set at work (odd I know!): a triple timer for soft, medium and hard boiled eggs.

I have now acquired said egg timer and my initial thought was using it in games for time-restricted moves. How about 3 minutes to carry out your moves and decisions if your on-table general or sub-commander is rated Poor, 5 minutes for Average and 8 minutes for Exceptional? Got to be fun!

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Helping the economy recover - the American one!

As per my last post, I have plunged ahead and placed an order for some more of the excellent Minden Miniatures, now in the care of Jim Purky alongside his Fife and Drum collection in the States. Jim was very helpful in explaining the new pricing model, and generous in providing not only the current offer of $10 worldwide shipping, but also a nice discount in the form of a free Baron von Knyphausen figure (the F&D item I was after amongst the Mindens). See the link below.


On the way then are the mounted Prussian and Austrian command packs, more Prussian artillery crew for battalion guns etc, some standard bearers which I prefer to use in units otherwise made up of RSM figures, and a small unit of Dragoons. With the high proportion of mounted figures the order value made me wince a bit - especially considering Christmas is never a cheap time of year, but I need the figures and getting them in one go made sense.

Using that logic I then ordered a handful of Huzzah! Miniatures from Fighting 15s, who always provide a super-fast service. These will make up the second command/flag base for the 2 battalions of these figures that I've already painted. Finally, I also need just a few from RSM - another company in the US, so I'm having a final ponder about what to get before I commit.

Overall this lot will keep me busy for the lead-up to the big 18th century imagi-nation game at Ayton at the start of May. I just hope I don't leave the last of them until the morning of departure, as I have for the last 2 years!!

Monday, 9 December 2013

A Little Re-organisation

Having just finished my latest 18th century infantry unit I have been pondering a small expansion in battalion size - from 30 to 36 figures. The larger size would offer me a number of advantages. The main one is the ability to add a second command base. This provides a second flag (allowing me to have one state and one regiment flag per unit, which always looks good) and I'd then also have the option of playing games with half-sized units and making two from each battalion - something I've been thinking about doing in the future. Finally, bigger units look more imposing on the table! The downside is more figures to paint to get a unit finished, and I'd have to go back to the three battalions I've done already and add the extra base with its fiddly-to-paint command figures.

The pics below (with a second command base borrowed from the Borganza Regiment) show what I'd be getting if I take this approach. Stick a battalion gun on the end and it's even more impressive. I have to admit I like the look and it's pretty compelling, so... I guess I'll need to get some orders in for some top-up figures from Huzzah, Minden and RSM! What this means for my cavalry unit sizes (12 figures) I don't know yet...

New regiment based and flagged

A Sunday evening painting session finally allowed me to finish the bases and add the standard to the newly raised Vantua Infantry Regiment. I'm very pleased to have made this progress and can now look to finish fairly quickly the other unit I'm working on.

As mentioned last time the bases were first undercoated black with slightly thinned matt ink, then painted with Sandtex Chocolate Brown and dry-brushed with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. The foliage and rocks each had two shades, to match my terrain boards.

The flag was designed in Microsoft Excel, using a clipart eagle in grey/black and adding the letters A (for Duke Amadeus) and M (for Medetia) as text boxes. The flag is yellow to match the regimental facings so I printed it with a yellowy-brown background to highlight up with brighter paint. I've previously done some standards in 15mm using this method and it works pretty well, allowing me to have flags with much better artistry on them than I could ever hope to paint freehand!

Looking ropey part-way through

The finished unit