Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Last Cohort

I had a good run at the troops yesterday, I finished the remaining cohort for the Twelfth and managed with a bit of juggling to fit them all on the 20x20mm bases, it was a struggle though due to the pose I had chosen for them, but they look good. Also the shields look better than the battle damaged ones I had originally went for, that was a mistake as they would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

I had a lot of time on my hands so I also rebased the Roman civilians to use as Strategy Intervention Points for the army. I will be glad to get the last unit done and move on to some 'fun' painting, the artillery, SIP's and such will not be time consuming and I expect the decks to be clear by the end of January. I may hit a snag about that time as the new kitchen and some decorating work is pencilled in for around that time, so my usual painting station of the dining room table may be out of bounds.

I have finished the 'Noise of Battle' maps from a book dealing with the attack on Winnedonk in January 1945 and only await amendments, I am also nearing the end of a series depicting the movements of individual British tanks on the Somme. In the wings I have two more projects, WWI naval maps and an interesting one looking at the effect of terrain in the Western Desert during WWII.

View From The Window

These weeks don't half go fast, that's another consigned to history. It is wild this morning, high winds are playing havoc with the neighbours garden across the road in Eyebrow Cottage, so called because it does seem to have eyebrows, the gate at Washington House has been slammed open, which otherwise it would move and bang all night and the view is murky. It is raining again and it is cold, I know this as I have already been out this morning, priming soldiers and checking the path and car for a pearl which dropped off my wife's earring as we trotted off for a meal out last night.

It was a French restaurant in Lancaster, well the maƮtre d' at least was French, a small woman who lavished her attention and smiles on me when explaining that 'chicken leaver' was a special, I thought that gets the missus back for that greasy Italian waiter who ignored me in Preston. That's how I saw it at least. The food was very nice and my wife looked beautiful, she also very kindly booked a table for my birthday in a few weeks.

Yes, the oysters were delicious.
'Rinsing,' did you think that was when you put clothes in non soapy water and give them a shake, well there is a new meaning to the word, if you are a pretty girl you pop a shovelful of make up on, squeeze yourself into a tight, preferably low cut dress, take a picture, pop it on Facebook with details and online links to stuff you want and hope that some nut decides to buy you one or more of those expensive items and sends it to you. The Brooks sisters seemingly are the numero uno proponents of rinsing and have to date garnered some £75,000 worth of stuff from people with no lives, and believe me they are no great lookers.

Three little fishes?
Spare a thought for poor ex-SNP MP Natalie McGarry, it would seem that the police have decided right out of the blue to pick on her for 'discrepancies' in donations to 'Women for Independence', £30,000 of discrepancy to be precise. Isn't it about time the police stopped spending all that money and time on investigations into MP's who are clearly innocent of any wrongdoing and are simply being picked on. Natalie has assured us all she is innocent and is stepping down, temporarily(?), from her SNP position for the good of the party and, yes you guessed it, her constituents, bravo. She is of course remaining as an MP, not the kind her constituents elected but an Independent, no point in losing the pension is there.

Yes, I did it!
 Christmas is nearly upon us and over the last couple of days I have had the beginning of the rush, someone comes in clutching twenty or so cards "this one is for Australia, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Australia .............." I ask them to put the Airmail stickers on to save time and I get a look that says 'why am I doing his job?' Post Office Limited have also introduced a system whereby I have to punch in postcodes for everything now, just at the busiest time of the year, planning I think its called. I have had a few this week, in comes Mrs X carrying what she wants to post, have you a bag for this, or a box, maybe just a big envelope, what do you think? I think if you hurry the PO in the next town is open. After stuffing and destroying several padded envelopes she finds one that works, have you got a pen, no better make it a marker? Do you think it will get there for tomorrow second class, NO! I'm a vegetarian, it still won't get there tomorrow second class. Then there is the bright spark who, when asked where the parcel is going answered "I don't know" and when I couldn't help myself from blurting out "You don't know!" looked at me as if he wanted to kill me. How was he expected to know, his girlfriend had given him it, silly me. Or what about it doesn't weigh anything, yes it does you have not entered a vacuum, or, it is only 10 grams over that doesn't matter does it, yes it does that's why the limit is 10 grams under what you have.

And lastly of course why on earth did the Turks shoot down a Russian jet? A jet that wandered over a sticky out part of their godforsaken land for seventeen seconds, I don't want to glow in the dark because the Turks are trigger happy and stupid. Couldn't they just have sent Putin a stern email?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Tying up loose ends

I am trying to plan ahead and get the decks clear for when I eventually decide what the new army is going to be for 2016. I have mentioned the upsizing of the Romano-British and Saxon units to better survive in the dangerous world of the War & Conquest tournaments, this will now include the cavalry going from 10 to 12. I also need to provide these two armies with some accessories, the British are going to get a set of monks for Strategy Intervention Points and their Roman civilians are going to join the Twelfth in the searing heat of Mesopotamia. The Saxons have some lovely Irish wolfhounds for SIP's but they need a rally point, I have found a set of Dark Age binge drinkers which I think will do just fine. I also have some chickens on my 'to do' list, neat little models from Warbases to beef up my Dark Age scenery.

Binge drinking vignette coming up.

Romano-British SIP's
I got my Roman artillery from Warlord, I went for the large impressive ballista rather than the Scorpions, yes maybe that size was held in reserve for sieges but boy do they look mean, I can have up to four artillery pieces, one per unit of legionary's. That means if I could find crew members I could re-use the two Scorpions my Romano-British are now not allowed, but I can't, so what I am going to do is get some Roman manuballista's from Aventine and mount them on two artillery bases. What I would like to do is use these guys as crossbow armed skirmishers, but that is patently ridiculous albeit a fun idea, you see these men carried a hand ballista which looks almost identical to the big ones but is man portable, one was dug up near Carlisle if my memory serves me rightly. The overall cost of the Romans must now be approaching around £650.

Not mine but something to aim for, geddit?

Rob Broom and Dave Toone the keepers of the army lists for W&C have given due thought to my plea to introduce Contarii to the Roman Army of 150-200 AD, for want of a better name Trajanic/Aurelianic or simply Aurelian and I am now allowed up to one unit. I researched the troop type as far as I could and we know for a fact ala I Ulpia contariorum milliaria was garrisoning a fort on the Danube in the early 2nd century AD, other new cavalry units were in Pannonia at the same time. I suspect these are being raised as a counter to the Sarmatians with many of them heading east in due course for the wars against the Parthians and Sassanids. I have an idea that the contarii would eventually simply become true cataphracts/clibanarii and were perhaps a stop gap unit, mind you they seem to have been around for at least 50 years or more.

So where does all that put me, well the last cohort will be finished by the weekend, the contarii will be primed and on the tray at the same time, once these are done it's the artillery, then it is the field of glory for the Twelfth if I can get my son to fight them.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Another miserable wet night, we have had some terrible weather recently albeit seasonal I suppose, my journey to the club was not improved by meeting a couple of less than decent drivers on the way, something which is all too prevalent in these here parts.

As I said last week this week it was a try at Deadzone, Mantic Games popular sci-fi skirmish. Whole planets have been sealed off as they slip into decline, however there are factions who still wish to make money from their resources and so these factions slip past the quarantine and make planet fall and of course end up fighting each other, I think that is the gist of the storyline.

I chose the 'Enforcers' which, if you read the blurb are the cutting edge of the military of the time and then some, I found out that they were more like our Community Support Officers for most of the game and they certainly shot like CSO's. The others were Mutants, Rebels and Orc's, they do get around don't they.

Ruined cityscape, this was quite impressive.
 Each faction has certain abilities, you then randomly choose a mission card and 20 other cards to play as the game progresses, once the hand of 20 is gone the game ends. I had to gain my victory points by killing off specialists or leaders and hold victory point Z and the squares around it, the problem was there were three zones and you had to get there to find out which one was which. Also placed at random in the playing area were little crates which would contain goodies for the troops e.g. extra ammo, grenades, chocolate etc. OK there was no chocolate.
The Enforcer squad with their stat cards.
My specialists, sniper and rocket launcher.
 Near my entry point was a goodie crate and just across the road a zone marker, perhaps I was right next to my objective, we would see. I set off and holed up with an all round defence, I put my rocket launcher on overwatch and aimed it at a tall building a way off with a goodie crate on the second floor, I wanted to catch any Orc who made his way up to grab the goods, with the Mutants coming in on my right I set up a defence with my Sergeant and Sniper while two grunts went for the crate.

Rorke's Drift Deadzone style.
I loosed off several shots at the mutants and only managed to wound one, there is a nice mechanism where you can simply blaze away just like in the movies and lacerate an area with bullets, this did me no good whatsoever but in my head I could imagine the chaos as the mutants scrabbled for cover, I really felt like doing sound effects but remembered where I was.

One brave trooper made it to the box and found extra ammo, he had to use it however as he blazed away at a mutant dog which attacked him, yes you guessed it, he missed. The Orcs meanwhile played a card which took my overwatch off, so the rocket launcher was now useless for a turn or so, but I had a cunning plan. The mutants closed in on me for some hand to hand at which they were supposed to be good and my men bad, but I killed the two of them. Over on the other side as the clock ticked down to the end of the game the Orcs raced their devil dog into a group of Rebels where it promptly blew itself up and merely showered the Rebs with it's own entrails, the Orc leader was unhappy. He decided as my rocket couldn't hit him to take his sniper to the top of the building with the crate, open it and take up a position. I played a booby trap card, the crate exploded and the sniper was thrown into the air and fell to his death, result!

The game ended with the Orcs as winners, their objective was to keep 50% of their force alive, an unusual card for Orcs but easily sustained, the Mutants got nothing and I am not sure how the Rebels fared, but I had killed two mutants and an Orc sniper without losing a man, so I did not win but I was chuffed.

Deadzone, another skirmish game which you can play with a minimum of figures, which looks cool has a great background story and has some interesting features. We played on a large table for a skirmish game and it is meant for a much smaller set up so we took some time to get into action, but once we got closer there was a lot more going on, I quite liked the larger table as it meant that I had to think about my moves vis a vis the objectives but it did take time to progress with four players. I enjoyed the game and look forward to playing again.

It looks like skirmish games are the norm these days and I don't see that changing as we greybeards with our big armies get older, they are clever, their production values are high and they present a false sense of wargaming on the cheap, but of course they are not as you always need or want the next expansion, new mats, buildings or new figures. I can happily play both but prefer big battles. Next week we are continuing with sci-fi as one of the club members has asked for an X-Wing game so Simon is busily preparing a scenario.

I see my membership has risen to the heights of 32, after a time I am convinced that widget counter is not working and stuck at a certain number, but no, so welcome Legion Games.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

View From The WIndow

Back in the saddle, the weather has settled down it is a lovely crisp autumn morning out there, cold, sharp and dry and looks like staying that way, but what do I or the weather forecasters know about that. A 'watery' sun outlines the far ridges so I cannot see much detail and not a soul stirs.

We had a horrendous week last week with almost monsoon like rain in amongst the normal rain, compounded by high winds, I had roofers fixing leaks during the odd gap, the front of the shop leaked, the back of the shop leaked and the living room was sweating water due to the plastering. I also just managed to prevent the living room leaking as I found a drain blocked and water lapping at the door. I stood in the dark getting soaked with my arm plunged into said drain scooping like mad. I continued with this as the water began to drain away until I spied something moving in the murk, it was a frog in the drain, the job now called for a long stick and not my arm, it looked like one of those man-eating, poisonous, vampire frogs, it was huge. Anyway I survived, the living room was saved and Dracufrog hopped away to find another victim.

Talking of biting, my grandson was bitten at his nursery and had teeth marks on his arm the kind forensics experts like, the ones where you can almost tell what the biter had for lunch if you look long enough. The same thing happened a few days later, and of course his mother went along to find out what was going on, the modern way is that you are not told who bit your son, the biter is not punished nor are his parents warned that if the biting continues will he be expelled for the safety of the other children. What transpires is that you have to think of taking your son out of the nursery, finding somewhere else, changing your morning routine, possibly your job while the perpetrator gets off scot free to continue biting.

The kid is lucky I don't live closer, to hell with counselling it's a smack on the wrist or backside at that age, a stern warning and problem solved, go in the corner and don't come out until you are quiet. In the distant past I have stood waiting for bullies, I have confronted them on the street, I have threatened extreme violence and I have offered them the first swing so I could legally thump them while using the self defence argument. Can I just offer in my defence if you think I am crazy I have never actually thumped anyone to date and I am obviously a different man these days, my efforts to keep my sons protected sometimes bit me in the backside, but hey I'm a dad.

I did turn once in the navy, a guy who was much stockier than me and a bit of an 'in your face' character took a dislike to me, back then I was almost a size 0, and began to pick on me, this lasted several weeks and in the confines of a messdeck it seemed worse. I was cleaning the mess one morning, mopping the floor as it was my turn, he was sitting in the corner giving me abuse, then for some reason he threw an ashtray my way, I hurled it back, he got up with the obvious intention of rearranging my face. In that instant I thought no, not this time, you're for it matey, I garnered all my seven stone drew back my arm and stepped up to the mark, only to put my foot in the bucket of water! At this point as I stumbled about stuck in the bucket Dave Cooper, a big lad, threw himself across the mess and planked one on my tormentor, he went down. I was never bothered again after that, good old Dave and his sense of justice.

Justice? I don't believe in it, I see some magazine has awarded the transgender reality star Bruce Jenner, now there's a job the world could do without, the title of 'Woman of the Year', the husband of a previous award winner, a policewoman who died in the Twin Towers, sent her award back with a very poignant letter to the magazine. Well done that man.

I have dropped myself in it with my old pub friend and I have offered to go to a football match with him as long as he buys the pie and Bovril at half time, although possibly these days I am off the mark and it might be Venison croutons and Lobster bisque. I have only ever been to one other football match and it was Hibernian vs Hadjek Split and I could not get out of it, in fact I went with the Dave Cooper mentioned above. It was possibly the most boring 90 minutes of my life so far, so this could be my second and last ever football match. "Come on you Shrimps".

That covers almost everything but the horrendous events in Paris, unlike the politicians words fail me.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Going Cold Turkey

I am wandering about the house like a headless chicken, I can't sit down and have a relaxing drink as I have no living room and I also have to drive the missus into Lancaster at 5pm. I do have a movie for later once my duty is done, so back home, dinner, drink, movie as I thankfully do not have to pick her up and bring her back.

Image result for fed up

Since the tournament last weekend I have been busy finishing off the Praetorians, looking at the rules to ensure I know what went on and hoping that it sinks in. Just as I was about to give up on the banalities of Facebook there is now a dedicated page for the game where you are free to discuss all sorts of WAC related stuff, rules, army lists, tactics etc., so that is on hold for a while at least. I have also been researching some Roman stuff to bolster the use of certain units in my army of 150-200AD. There has also been the after experience banter going to and fro on emails and the Scarab forum to contend with.

Also keeping my mind on the game is the fact I have decided I really need to work at using my Romans in February, put a bit more thought into things such as objectives and how I am going to achieve them, I also seriously need to get the hang of skirmishers, these were never a feature of my medieval armies so I am at a disadvantage there. After the experience last weekend my son has decided he wants to build an army, so my advice is being sought on all manner of things from paints to basing, which in turn has also focused my mind on his endeavour vis a vis WAC.

This brings me to the future and what's next as the Romans near completion, well I need to up my Early Saxons from 24 to 27 or 30 man units, I am not so sure I will have to do this for the Romano-British but I might be forced to it, all the cavalry units definately need to go to 12 from 10. The Sassanids were next up but I am now thinking they might have to wait and I could instead go the route of Macedonians, this army can fight in the Greek and Roman leagues so two birds with one stone. I used to be indecisive but I am not so sure now.

At the end of the day what I really want is a game and that is not going to happen, not for some time although I do hope to get a run out with the Romans before February, I have maps I could be drawing, I have the last cohort primed and ready to go so I could be painting, but none of this is going to scratch that itch, roll on 5.30pm so I can at least drown my sorrows.

Friday, 20 November 2015


Another unit finished as I rush towards completion, the guard stand ready for orders. I went for blue cloaks to fit in with the shield pattern and white for the tunics and crests, although I have weathered the cloaks and shields as per normal I did not to this with the crests. Anytime I have washed white it turns out dirty and I did not want a guard unit having dirty crests so I have left them alone, I suspect this will also help them stand out in the line of battle.

I cleaned up the last infantry cohort last night although I have still to glue arms and shields to the figures, when I say cleaned up it is an odd nick here and there on their bases as the Aventine figures do not have flash. I had bought battle damaged shield patterns for the last cohort (sounds like a movie), but have decided they would stick out from the worn look on the shields of the rest of the army so I got replacements. I am also tempted to do them in plain red as a nod to what we expect Roman soldiers to look like rather than the dark red I have in reserve, if I stick with the latter then the Praetorians will certainly stand out from the line troops.

I have just realised I have done nothing about artillery for this army and as I shall no doubt meet more elephants in this division of the tournaments and also plan some for my Sassanid army then these are a must. I shall therefore have to source some soon.

A lull of a day or two as I finish a map project and prime the last cohort to hopefully start on Sunday, this leaves the above artillery and the Contarii cavalry unit and the army is done although I am thinking of putting another couple of slingers in just in case.

Monday, 16 November 2015

3rd War & Conquest Tournament Part 2

Sunday morning and fortified by a full English I arrived at Foundry for the final days gaming, a big disappointment for us all was the fact that Dave Howes' Sunday best did not fit him this time, but there is always a next time. It was a bit of a red letter day for me for I was up against another Spartan army but this time commanded by the rules author himself, Rob Broom.

Captain Fantastic Dave Howes with his new suit.
Obviously I was a bit anxious at playing Rob as I am by no means an expert at the rules and many of the nuances I was only just learning thanks to these weekends, although I normally forgot them on the way home. Our armies almost mirrored each other but I think I had the edge in heavy armour, I was supposed to knock out Rob’s two most expensive units, it was a long shot as after deployment his really expensive unit was in a nice position on a hill. However I noticed I could possibly damage his left and flank him just as my phalanx hit. I don’t know what objective Rob had but he had two units at the foot of a ridge and two on it and they hardly moved at all as I advanced into what was obviously some kind of cunning plan. I duly managed to make a mess of his left flank protectors despite fighting through a temple complex, however he did have a chance to rally, it was at this moment the Gods looked my way and a Spartan phalanx ran for the rear, that I caught up with it in the next turn and destroyed it put the Spartans on the back foot and brought them off their hill. A turn or so later and it looked like plain sailing, Rob had sorted out my left flank but slingers and cavalry were on the way to protect it no longer being required on the right, I was actually thinking like a general in this game, a tad late but there you go.

Rob sits on his ridge while I sweep around his left with the good Hill Tribes.
 I needed the initiative to put the finishing touch to my assault, Rob knew it and threw in an extra die, I couldn’t as I had none to use, he threw snake eyes, I whooped with delight and allowed myself a small jig, Rob sat dejected, I nonchalantly tossed my die on to the table, Rob and several onlookers erupted, it was a one! The next three throws were tied and eventually Rob achieved success. It was not enough to entice the Gods back to his side, I got rid of another two phalanxes and his veteran Spartans knew better than their commander and legged it at the very moment he needed them. I hadn’t achieved my objective but neither had Rob, I had however destroyed most of his army and felt I was at last getting the hang of these Greeks albeit a bit late, score this time was 32/17 in my favour.
Dave Toone before falling on his sword as my Romano-British beat him led by son Stewart.
Macedonians vs Spartans
 My last game was against Declan’s Macedonians and I have to admit I thought my hoplite phalanxes stood a good chance against him as his army looked a bit weak with only three phalanxes although they were well supported with some tough light troops and cavalry, but I had a few of my own and felt confident. My objective this time was to knock out 75% of the enemy, I am not keen on the objectives and like only a few of them, Pitched Battle, Hold the Centre or kill the top enemy units, these of course tend to favour the armies I like to handle, the others favour cavalry or light armies who can dodge around and either take your rally point out or retire off the board, I do however play them and if you don’t like the chosen one you can change it, so fair enough, I can live with that.

I had to deploy first and Declan deployed in order to get his objective, I should have twigged but I didn’t, it looked like a good fight for me, but it wasn’t to be a fight. It went pear shaped from the beginning, my dice rolling was brutal, I threw almost continuous one’s for initiative winning it only once, which as it turned out was only one of several disappointments waiting in the wings for me. I had two Hill Tribes units one of which I put on each flank, now one of them fought well and the other didn’t, but I couldn’t make out which was which until the battle started, sure enough the useless one was on my left which I rushed forward and got smacked by a wandering phalanx, they only needed to hold and a heavy armoured hoplite unit would crash into the enemy flank, instead the Tribes ran and so did the hoplites, unbelievable. Meanwhile Declan was keeping his other phalanxes away from mine while his cavalry and light troops destroyed my right, my die rolling in combat was dire, I think even Declan felt sorry for me. Not sorry enough though to stop marching his three units off the table and claiming victory, I had garnered a measly three points for a final score of 39/3. Kudos to Declan, he took advantage of my deployment, played for his objective and taught me a lesson in something like three moves. This happened elsewhere during the two days to other people so you do have to sit up and use the old grey matter.

Declan ready to out general me.
All the games finished fairly early on the Sunday so the prize giving was done around 4.30 pm if I remember, it was still just light, this is a fun part of the weekend as Phil takes a chance to jazz things up with some very individual prizes. First of all though the two main prizes, overall winner and best painted army, Ian Scovell romped through with four wins and a whopping 224 points, Tony Rodwell received most of the votes for his Arab army which was simply stunning.  Jenny got one for putting up with 16 guys over the weekend who simply treated her as one of them, as indeed she was and an excellent wargamer, young Tom Poole (14) got a well deserved prize for also putting up with a bunch of adults and playing some great games. There is a specific prize for the worst act of generalship during the weekend called the Tony Rodwell Prize, as there were no obvious examples this time around I was the recipient of this prize seemingly for dancing jigs and whooping at good dice throws and shaking my head furiously when things went badly, while also plainly enjoying the weekend, I was well chuffed.
Phil's lovely Thracians, just look at the cloaks.

More of Tony's Arabs.

Phil in a pose which is becoming more and more scary.

Dave and Tony slog it out.
Why a sheep for a rally point, because everyone flocks to it, geddit?
So there you have it, another great weekend and four good games despite the losses, I came 12th in the league table but I wouldn’t expect anything else and I don’t turn up to come first, although maybe one day. There is an interim tournament near Swindon in February (Dark Ages and Enemies of Rome) and the 4th National at Foundry at the beginning of May if any of this sparks an interest and you are within shooting distance contact Phil or Dave with these numbers here.