Wednesday, 27 December 2006

NOT the Last Post

Well, given that I finally moved into the new place nearly two weeks ago you would no doubt be expecting a post from me by now. No, alas, thanks to my wonderful service provider NTL, who let me know the last day before the Xmas weekened that they don't operate in my new postcode area. Well thanks boys. Great customer service. Regular posting will resume the minute BT Home Hub is installed. In the meantime, here's a breif rundown of what you can expect to hear about when I finally have regular internet access again:

Two battle reports involving the Normans.
Miniature Painting and Purchasing Updates.
Eberron Update (or should that be "Proper Introduction"
and some other random gaming thoughts.

Anyway, lunchbreaks nearly over and I need to get back to work.

Speak to you then.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Moor's the Pity

Well, I've gone and done it. I've managed to arrange my second game with the Norman's for next week. I challenged Julian's Celts to a game just as Sam was about to invite me to his Iron Kingdoms one off game next week. Having heard what he had planned makes me want to split myself in two to play both, but I really need a second outing with my army and I couldn't possibly break off one engagement to accept another - despite Julian's generous offer to allow me to do so. Cheers Julian, but an agreement is an agreement. I've been meaning to get in a game with you for weeks and I`m looking forward to our game every bit as much as I`m looking forward to hearing the screams of dismay coming from the players around Sam's table. Bwahahahahahahahah!

I actually challanged Julian to a game against his massive array of British Celts (over 7000 points worth!!) but happily Julian has a more appropriate army sitting in his shelf and as yet unused: Moors!!!! Hurray! Another historically appropriate enemy I didn't know a thing about. Thing is now, when he says Moors what does he mean? There were so many Arab and Muslim armies that the west labelled "Moorish" (much in the same way that to a Arab or Turk of the time, Europeans were all "Franks") that the army could be based around any one of half-a-dozen lists that I can think of. Is the army chosen from the list in Armies of Antiquity, or one of the lists in El Cid? Who can tell?

Not me anyway. So thats why I'll have to ask Julian. Or maybe the all-seeing all knowing Spence. More pics of my painted milites coming up shortly by the way, honest. Just as soon as I can manage a decent lighting rig for a change.

P.S Still no sign of a blog entry r/e our Battlelines game appearing on Johns Blog. Ah well. I suppose he'll get around to publically admitting his humiliating, I mean, honourable overall draw, one day :D

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Army General (Plus Free Bonus Rant you should certainly feel free to ignore)

Well, between baby-sitting and getting semi-ready for tomorrows move Ive have done exactly nothing. Again. Except work... and even then I didnt do much as I managed to skive off to pick up some Xmas decorations for the office and then spent the next three hours decorating the damn place. It did mean I had to stay back for an extra hour though, as I couldn't just leave the job half-finished. My, isn't celotaping tinsel to the ceiling a great way to make a living?

Yeah, more sarcasm. Still, beats having people moan at you all day about how inefficient the government is. Believe me, I already know. We tell our senior management how utterly useless they all are often enough that they no longer even bother consulting us before introducing the latest inefficiency anymore.
Gah! I miss the army. Sure, the MOD was every bit as blithely incompetant as the Department of Work and Pensions but at least we could ignore their stupid directives until they took the hint and tried something else. They once asked us to count every individual 5.56mm rifle round held by the entire regiment (as opposed to counting and weighing the twenty round boxes in open ammo crates and examining the seals on the unopened one's). Yeah, seriously, only about half-a-million rounds or so! Needless to say they were told in no uncertain terms where they could shove their ammunition audit.
But now I`m just a lowly civil servant who cares more about getting vulnerable people they're money that he does about the governments bloody unemployment figures. I cant really get away with that sort of thing anymore. Honestly, I`m not sure how much more rule bending they'll let me get away with. But frankly, I dont see why a customer should have to wait five days to be paid just because their GP can't fill out a medical certificate properly. Especially not when we can use Internet Banking to pay the customer on the same day the doctor re-issues the cert! Sure it takes a half-an-hour each time. But it's not the customers fault the government sacked nearly a third of our processing staff is it? Or that the "time saving measures" brought in the goverment actually increased the time it takes to issued emergency payments. Yeah, we told them that would happen, but now that they've spent 13 million on a payment system that forces us to start from scratch if we make a spelling mistake (or, heaven forbid, try to go back ato the previous screen!) they're determined to make us use it rather than admit to the mistake.
Frankly, if the senior bods were really even remotely adequate for the job, they wouldn't be civil servants. They'd have been head-hunted long ago and off to the happy, delerium -inducingly high-wages of private bussiness. Instead, they're still here. Basically because no other bugger would be stupid enough to employ them.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few senior bods whom I truly believe have stayed on in the civil service because they are genuinely trying to make things work. Alas, they're just banging their heads against brick walls every bit as much as we are. At the end of the day, it's the civil service culture that's at fault for allowing second-rate individuals to rise to the top of the chain. But how do you change a culture thats become ingrained after several hundred years of development?
Truly, I just dont think you can. And that, to me, is a real shame. When civil servants (we're SERVANTS remember?) care more about their statistics and the next performance review than they do about the people they are supposed to helping you can't help but be inundated at our level with a thousand little tradgedies a day. Like a primary school teacher who has worked for thirty years being told that although she has developed bowel cancers and now has toilet issues, the fact that she has survived breast cancer for six years now makes her fit for work! Now it will take an Appeal and as long as six months to get her Incapacity Benefit claim up and running again. And all because the certificate informing us that the cancer had spread was lost in the interal civil-service mail. What kind of social "security" system is that? It disgusts me!
It also makes me very sad.

Right, enough. This is supposed to be a wargaming blog after all. So, included for your delectation (I love that word) are some pics of my recently touched up Army General. Again, apologies for the picture quality. I have had some great advice from some good people, but these pics were taken off the cuff about fifteen minutes ago and it's far too late to be messing around with lighting and such. Anyway, I've off to bed now. G'night.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Horsing Around the Battlelines

Well, I was going to post up pictures of my mounted milites tonight, but on relfection Ive decided not to. As they were a little rushed I didnt put as much detailing on them as I would have liked, so the shields are off and a little updating is in progress. I know, I know, I`ve broken the cardinal rule of army painting: never go back till the whole army's done. But in this case I felt it was justified. Ive gone back and added a few more blazes, highlighted a few manes and tails I didnt have time to finish, and now I need to mount the shields again (heh, heh, I said "mount", get it? a double entandre and a pun all in one word. Damn I'm plleased with myself).


In the meantime Ive being playing a few games of Battlelines with John. See his blog, here: Got game! for more details. Our game isnt up yet but I`m sure it will be eventually. That was sarcasm by the way. John has yet to write up a single game in which I've beaten him, though he's quite happily to admit to a few loses from badger? I wonder why?

Nah, I`m just ribbing you! Actually John and I rarely play boardgames, mostly because Im not a big fan and they quickly bore me. I've only played boardgames with him on three occasions: one in which I was soudnly beaten (Settlers), one on which I was victorious during my first ever game of Up Front (Well, I have commanded real infantry platoons a time or two, even if I was a tankie!) and on this last occasion an overall draw. He trounced me in the first game and I won the second, far closer game, after getting a grip on the game mechanics.

All in all, it's an enjoyable little game, but I cant bring myself to think of it as a wargame or a simulation, only as a very pretty dice game. A peasant with a shortsword and a bow is just as likely to kill a fully armoured mounted knight in close combat as he is to kill a fellow peasant ( a one in six chance either way). And if you ask me, that just isn't right. Plus the support rule encourages generals to form their units into "wedge" formation. The successful player is the one who exploits the rules mechanics to his best advantage rather than the one with the best tactical knowledge. In fact, someone with a decent understanding of historical combat is likely to be at a severe disadvantage in their first game (like I was). Just because a unit of knights would be near invulnerable to a peasant with a sword sword in open field doesnt mean they are are going to ride over them in this system. Admitedly,I did charge my knights unsupported across the field (well, I WAS playing the French at Agincourt :D) but even so it should not be possible for four stands of peasants with shortswords to withstand a charge by three stands of heavy cavalry and then wipe them out a turn later!

So, on the whole an enjoyable evening, especially when I came back from defeat and (again using the Fench) defeated John in a straight on infantry fight, using my knights as bait for his archers and swarming his men-at-arms (medium infantry) and dismounted knights (heavy infantry)with own medium infantry suported and one unit of medium cavalry. I didnt bother trying to take down his archers: they were faster than my men at arms and would simply flee "in good order" after a round of combat with an equally sized unit of my medium infantry. Also, my unit of medium cavalry was put to better use attacking already weakened infantry units to capture their banners. As the game is won by the player who captures a cerain numbers of banners first (in this case four) this was a far more useful role for them than chasing hordes of archers back and forth. Heck, theirs no guarantee the archers wouldn't have mown them down with their shortswords anyway, not in this game at least.

If it sounds as though I hated this game, please, don't get me wrong. I truly enjoyed it and would gladly play it again a time or two -this time including the "Lore" rules. See Johns blog if you want to know what I mean by that, as I wont explain it here. It's a fantasy game after all, but I would expect a fantasy game that perports to be set in an "alternate medieval europe" to at least reflect the realities of medieval combat a little better.

Two units of knights wiped out by two units of peasants archers with sword swords indeed!!!!

Monday, 4 December 2006

Haven't forgotten

No, I havent forgotten to update and no little green men havent come down from mars to upduct me...

They were blue.

The truth is that a lot has been happening lately, the new house is sorted and the organising of furniture is about to begin. Throughout all this I havent had much (read "any") time for painting, but somehow Ive managed to out the finishing touches on all the mounted milites and the general EXCEPT for the shields. Which should take no time at all. After that, I have to consider whether I`m going to paint the libres next, or the axemen. And also consider what miniatures to buy. Colin's VIkings have a bunch of Foundry, Crusader and Gripping Beast mixed in together and they look fine. Just a normal distribution of build amoungst a standard group of guys. Oh yeah, and I have to figure out my new minaiture buying budget. Darn lucky I dont drink, thats all I'll say.

Pictures of mounted milite unit to follow when all the shields are done.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

First Engagement.

No, I`m not getting married. As promised, here is the Battle Report for my first ever game of WAB, 1300pts of disciplined Norman ranks against 1300 pt of Viking Horde. Vikings played by Colin. Norman's run by me. The result, you'll find, was quite satisfactory for us both. Cos we both had fun.

The Tabletop: The table top was mostly flat level ground. I arrived last so Colin had already set up the board with "symmetrical" terrain to ensure the ground did not provide an advantage to either side. In my left quarter there was a hill, level ground in the centre and woods on my right. In the centre of the table was a field of crops which allowed half movement and did not block line of sight (No, 15 feet of corn will not stop an arrow!). On my left Colin had a wood on his side of the table and a hill on my right.

A Brief Word ABout Photo's:

There are a lot of very bad, poor quality photo's scattered around this battle report. Believe it or not, these are the ones that turned out best. For some reason the flash on my digital camera had packed in and as we've already seen my cameras autofocus isnt exactly top class. So I can only apologise for the very poor quality of these pictures. Colin had a very well painted army, but it doesn't show through well in these pics. Any naked figures you see are my own: I`m ashamed to admit it, as I HATE playing with naked miniatures (I`m a bit of a paint Nazi, it's true).

Oh yeah, about the "naked"balsa wood movement trays. Yes, I know, they are very garish. But I only finished painting and flocking the movement trays last night. As I had to blue tack the figs to the base for transport I fixed them to the underside of the base. I didnt want the flock coming off before I'd had time to give it a PVA wash over the top. The idea was to arrive early and then place the minaitures on the trays the "right" way up. But due to running late at work (fixing other peoples mistakes, as usual) there wasn't time to sort things out before the beginning of play.

The Armies:


I didn't think to ask Colin for a copy of his list, so this is not an exact breakdown. But from my left to his right:

1 unit of 13 skirmishing Hirdmen (Hirdmen) with Double Handed Axes and Throwing Spears (began in the woods on Colin's side of the table.

A fairly large unit of Bondir (Bondir 1) with throwing spears and handweapons. Maybe twenty-four strong.
This unit deployed directly opposite the hill on my left. 4 ranks.

A second, larger unit of Bondir (Bondir 2) with throwing spears and two-handed axes, accompanied by a Godir. Directly opposite the crop field. 4 ranks

A unit of around 24 Hirdmen (Bodyguard) led by the Army General. Double handed axes and throwing spears. Includes 3 Berserkers. Facing crop field. 4 ranks

A unit of about ten skirmishing archers (Archer 1) deployed in front of Bondir 1 and the Hirdsmen, screening them both.

A final unit of ten skirmishing archers (Archer 2)deployed on the hill to my fight.


Again from my left to my right.

21 Dismounted Milites, (Milite Foot) thrusting spears, heavy armour, shield.
Deployed on the rear slope of the hill on my left. 3 ranks.

12 Coloni Skirmishers (Coloni) with bow. Skirmishers. Deployed on the hill crest.

16 Serjents (Serjents) with lightarmour, shield and double handed weapons. Deployed opposite Bondir 2 and facing the crops. Light Infantry. 3 ranks.

21 Liberi (Liberi) with shield and spear. Deployed to the right of the Serjents. Facing Crop Field. 3 ranks.

11 Mounted Milites plus Dux (Knights) deployed slightly behind and between the Serjents and the Liberi. 2 ranks.

The forest on my right remained empty (apart from dice and "dead" miniatures) for the duration of the game.

I set up second and finished first. Colin won the first round (which suited me fine).


Turns 1 and 2:

On turns 1 and 2, the Viking Line advanced along its length, with the Hirdmen on my left moving forward to flank my forces on the hilltop. My Serjents, Liberi and Knights marched to meet the Vikings while the Milite Foot on the hill stood their ground. My shooting was largely ineffective, but it did suffice to reduce the numbers of Bondi unit 1. The Viking shooting was far more formidable. The Liberi were quickly reduced to a single rank and some change by the end of turn 2. However, they were know firmly in place and ready to charge the Viking Archer unit screening his battle line (Archer 1). I knew that once they drove off these pesky skirmishers, the Berserks would unleash their fury against these sacrificial lambs. Whether it was the bravery of their hearts or the thought of being run down by their own Knights should they turn and run, they passed every panic test (one per turn) and advanced steadily into position. The Godir chose this moment to leave Bondir unit 2 and join the Bodyguard in anticipation of a charge by the oncoming cavalry.

By this point, the First unit of Bondir were also at the base of the hill on my left.

Norman Turn 3.

The Viking Bondir at the foot of the hill chanted and jeered as they tried to entice the Milite Foot down from the hill, the crest of which they had advanced to at the beginning of the battle. However, the poor-sighted Bondir leader (no doubt squinting as the sun reflected off the shiny helmets of his foes) was unable to discern that the Milite Foot were in heavy armour, and could not have charged them even had they been foolish enough to give up the hill.

Meanwhile, on the right the Liberi let out a mighty yell and charged the Viking Archer unit screening the Bodyguard. Though a few more of these brave and doughty warrior (with the encouragement of their Duke and their own unit leader) fell as the cowardly Bondir fired and ran, their failed charge did bring them close enough to the Bodyguard that they could see the rolling eyes and frothing mouths of the three berserks struggling to break free from their comrades and wreck bloody havoc upon the field.

Meanwhile, the Knights cheered the brave sacrifice of their peasant levy, advancing behind them in anticipation of the gap they would open in the line. This would be a path leading straight to the Viking General, his bodyguard and a moment of Norman glory.

To the Liberi's left, the Serjents advanced into the cornfield. Their shouted challanges and crude gestures made clear their intentions to engage the second and largest unit of Bondir at the earliest opportunity. This was a clash the fierce vikings seemed to anticipate with relish. Meanwhile, the Coloni screening the Milites atop the hill moved round to screen the left flank of theMilite Foot from the encroaching Hirdmen skirmishers.

Viking Turn 4

The Viking General and his Hirdmen could restrain their frothing maniacs no longer. Two of the three berserkers burst from the unit, storming into the sorrowful remnents of the Liberi and ripping them to pieces, accompanied by gales of laughter from the Bodyguard. A third berserker, seeing an whole regiment of Norman Serjents before him, could not resist the thought of attacking so large a unit single-handedly and was quickly cut down for his trouble, having claimed only a single mercenary to wait upon his table in Valhalla.

The small unit of Bondir on the Norman left maintained their position beneath the hill, waiting for their Hirdmen skirmishers to move into position and steeling themselves for a bloody slaughter. The Hirdmen themselves moved to engage the Coloni at a run but could not reach them this turn, eager to avenge the single shield-brother who had so far fallen to Norman archery.

Above: " I taunt you a second time!".

Meanwhile, the Viking Bodyguard inched backwards in horror of the coming charge, but despite their best efforts at "finding surer ground" they knew they could not hope to put sufficient distance between themselves and the Norman horseflesh bearing down upon them

The viking archers upon the hill and those who had fled from the Liberi assault now turned their bows upon the now screenless Norman Knights. Three knights and their mounts died screaming under Viking Arrows, and the brave knights gritted their teeth and the loss of so much noble blood in so unseemly a fashion. Yet their Dux's strong will and calls for order kept the maddened knights from wasting their charge upon such unmanly foes. The knights, couching their lances, grinned evilly as they summoned up thoughts of revenge, anticipating the slaughter their powerful lances would wreck amongst the Viking Hirdmen of the Bodyguard.

Norman Turn 4.

The proud company of Norman knights let fly their brave battle-cry and charged across the hoof churned, blood-soaked earth. They barely paused to swat the now exhausted and near dead bersekers out of their path. With a great and mighty crash, the Norman Knights wreaked a mighty havoc in the Viking ranks, three hirdmen of the Bodyguard fell beneath the lances of Milites and Dux and another two fell beneath the mighty blows of iron-shod hooves. Yet the Danish axes, swung with all the desperate might of hardened men, took blood of their own, the Viking General himself claiming three more brave knights. For a moment it seemed the Viking line would break, but then, just as the Norman musicians throat was dried from fear and dust, the Viking hornblower let air a mighty note. With fresh vigour, the Danish forces pushed into the Shieldwall. Hacking left and right, Dux Baldwin looked first to the screaming horses and dying men around him, then to the Vikings with their deadly axes before him, and he knew their line would not break. Deciding that to stay and fight against such numbers with the momentum of the charge all but lost was far less attractive than the thought of Viking arrows he led his brave retinue out of the fight in good order. There, sufficiently distant that no Viking charge could reach them, he set about re-organising his much reduced line and made ready for another charge.
Above: The surviving knights as they begin to fall back in good order.

The brave and doughty Serjents, seeing that their general was leading the flower of their army away from the melee, recognised that their intent was to reform and charge again. They did not panic, but steeled themselves for the coming onslaught. A few moments later they had advanced to the edge of the wheatfield.

Viking Turn 5/Norman turn 5

All across the battlefield the two armies jockeyed for position. On the left, the Hirdsmen finally manouvred themselves into a favourable position where they could charge next turn. The Bondir at the foot of the hill finally seemed to notice how heavily armoured the Milite Foot were when the Normans began to advance down the forward slopes. They continued taunting the Vikings trying to entice a reckless charge. Thus allowing the Norman Coloni better shots at the Hirdmen. Even so, the feudal serfs were so terrified by the sights and sounds around them that they only felled a single Hirdmen between them.

On the Norman centre: disaster. The retreat of the Knights became a rout. Though the Dux struggled mightily to reassemble his line in some sort of order, the hail of viking arrows and the death of two more knights started a panic he was powerless to prevent. Cursing his men for women and worse, he was left to ride after them waving his sword in the air, shouting "Rally, Rally!" to no avail.

Viking Turn 6

All across the battlefield, the Viking horde gave voice to a mighty cheer. The Hirdsmen on the Norman left charged the Coloni, who paused to fire a single arrow each before fleeing. However, so shaken were they by Viking might that not a single arrow struck home with sufficient force to piece mail. The brave Hirdsmen, thwarted by this cowardly retreat, instead charged home into the flanks of the Milite Foot on the hill ( I forgot about the redirecting charges rule). Seeing this, the more timid Bondir at the foot of the hill also finally charged forward to join the fight. Two brave Norman spearmen were quickly cut down from behind and a third from the fore, but the doughty spearmen, knowing that though their flanks were threatened, the high ground was theirs, stubbornly refused to flee. They fought on, slaying two of the Hirdsmen and two Bondir. Even without their rank bonus, this made the combat a draw. Though once again Viking Horns sounded louder than Norman trumpets, the Dismounted milites stood firm and unshaken. They fought on.

Meanwhile, across the cornfield the situation seemed just as bleak. The charge of the second Bondir unit was preceded by a veritable shower of throwing spears. Yet the doughty Serjents, seasoned by generations of similar campaigns, simply cowered behind their great kite shields and took the weapons of their enemies upon them without complaint or the loss of a single man. Only when the vikings closed with axes did the first Serjent fall. But then, the Normans struck back with powerful Danish axes of their own, and while only a single Bondir fell, the brave song of the Norman trumpet and the sheer nonchalance with which the Serjents accepted the Viking charge took the fight out of their enemy. Suddenly remembering urgent business elsewhere, the largest Viking unit on the field took to their heels and fled. However, not one would live to attend to that business. As they fled, the Norman mercenaries pursued pitilessly, so that in a few sheer, brutal moments, theViking line was penetrated. Their largest "warband" had been massacred in flight. The Viking line was split and the Norman axemen were behind their Lines.
Above: The crucial moment before...... and (below) after the Viking Line Breaks. The batle on the hill (the miniatures have been moved slightly forward off the hill to stop them falling over) can be seen in the background. Well, sort of "seen" anyway. The unit in the foreground below is the Viking Bodyguard.

Where once, just a moment ago, it had seemed that all was lost for the brave defenders of Caen, now victory seemed once again within their grasp.

Norman Turn 6:

Above: The Battle on the Hill Top.

"Look you fools. Stop! They flee! They flee!"The Norman Dux was finally able to raise the spirits of his few surviving knights and squires. They once again turned their faces towards the battle. Seeing that their dismounted brothers and kin were near-surrounded atop the hill, the Knights spurred their horses to their relief them. But night was falling and the Dux already knew the battle would be over before he could reach his men. He cursed the wasted opportunity to acheive victory. With just another hour of daylight he could crush the Viking Bodyguard between proud horseflesh and Norman Serjents. Instead all he could do was spur his horse towards his embattled spearmen. Preying without much hope that the sight of his rapidly approaching horsemen would steal their hearts and convince them to fight on until full dark enveloped the battlefield, he urged his horse ever onward with lash and spur.

Atop the hill two more brave milites fell to Viking axes, by now the Norman line was breaking as men and burly Hirdsmen pushed their way into the gaps. For a long, dreadful moment the standard wavered, it feel to the ground from the hands of the brave Milite who carried it only to be taken up in the hands of another. As the line began to break, this brave young squire, Baldwin II, nephew od the Dux, peered to the left over the heads of his defeated countrymen and cried out:

"The Dux, the DUX! The DUX has come!"

With that, the brave warriors put their backs into the fray, not wanting to be shamed before their lord. On till darkness they fought, and when the surviving warriors of both sides left the field, none could say for sooth whether their battle had been one or lost. It seemed then, that the only reward for their valour would be another battle on the morrow....


This was a very tight, close game, which could have gone either way. At one point, when 600pts worth of my army were riding away into the sunset, Colin suggested that now would be a good time to concede. But like a true tenacious Scot, I said "nah!" and fought on. And just as well. For in the very next turn, when all seemed lost and Colin was rolling a terrifingly large number of dice, his Bondi broke and ran. After taking just one casualty and then failing the roll off (Although my banks ranks were still in difficult ground, their light infantry status meant that I kept the +2 rank bonus)! Just like that, Colin had lost his largest unit and a strong infantry unit was behind his lines with only skirmishing archers and a much reduced Bodyguard to face them. It wasn't until after the game that Colin realised he should have moved his Godi back into the Bondi unit after my knights were chased off.

As it was, I hadn't even realised that he'd moved the Godi into the Bodyguard in the first place If I had, I wouldn't have been so eager to charge them with my knights. Not without inflicting a few missile casualties first! Ferocious charge would have done nothing to break them and with no rank bonus left and only str3 vs toughness 5 after the first round of combat, there was no way they would win a protracted fight. But such is life. Its a shame though, when those dice came up six and five for the break test, even the presence of the general nearby couldn't stop those Bondi fleeing. And THEN the Serjents pursued 11" into Colins side of the board to contest an otherwise secure table quarter. Its funny how one roll of the dice can change everything.
Speaking of which (and jumping around a bit here) I would say it's probably best not to go charging formed units of troops, even with my powerful cavalry, without softening them up first or going for the flanks. But Colin just had far too may skirmishers for me to be able to do that. At least not without clearing them out first.

One of the many things I did learn from this inconclusive battle (the points total to each side was damn near even, with one quarter and one banner each and nearly the same points value removed from the table) is that skirmishers really ARE far more useful in WAB than in WFB. I already knew this from conversations with other players (as well as games of Rome: Total War) but seeing is believing. I knew I was going into this battle short of skirmishers and it hurt me when I couldn't counter Colins very good quality skirmish line with my own( I was outnumbered 3 to one in skirmishers). In fact, those skirmishing archers of his very nearly cost me the game. First by taking away the knights Charge Bonus (they would have won the first round of combat otherwise) and then routing them a turn later.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have chased them off with my cavalry. However, using the knights in this way would have taken my generals high leadership away from the main battle line for at least a turn. All for the sake of a few hundred points of archers. If I'd done that they might never have gotten into the main battle at all, and that would be a considerable waste of nearly half my armies total points value.

I also learned a big Viking weakness: throwing spears are great in that first round of combat, (witness the effect on my Knights) but in a long drawn out fight, the guy with the thrusting spears will proabably win. Especially when you factor in that most Norsemen fight as Light Infantry. If it hadn't been for the Hirdsmen charging their flank and some bad dice rolling on my part, the Foot Milites would have wiped the floor with those Bondir in turn 6 and possibly even in turn 5.

Colin was also kind enough to break his usual habit and take some berserkers to show me how they work. He was right of course, they were too easy to counteract by sacrificing a few, cheap troops, even with Colins clear superiority in skirmishers. That's another one of my bugbears laid to rest.

Colin was a great sportsman throughout and really let down by his dice. He completely outmanouvred me, despite having an entirely infantry based forced. Turn 5 should really have been the nail in the coffin for me. It was Colins bad luck that kept me in the game, although I call it revenge for the poor marksmanship of my Coloni, who killed just three miniatures in six turns of shooting!!!. I also had my own share of bad luck, especially with saving throws. And in rolling a ten for my generals break test. Luckily though, the Knights were by this point too far away to risk breaking my Serjents as well.

He was very patient with my mistakes and even let me move my Serjents back a few inches when he explained that the distance a berserker charges is not affected by terrain penalties as I had assumed. Most significantly though, he pointed out the presence of my general within 12" of the Milites and happily admitted that I had passed my break test as a result. Thus, in speaking up he ensured he had held me to an honorable draw at the price of a less honorable victory. In the end, another turn would probably have won the Colin the battle. My Serjents were not in a position to charge the bodyguard, the Knights would have needed to spend a turn manouveing before they could charge into the fray and the stand on the hill could have collapsed at any moment. Colin might not agree, but if we played another turn he'd have won.

Thanks Colin, for a great game, full of excitement till the end. I hope to play you again soon: but this time you'll be facing his holiness Baldwin II, (the Dux's nephew) and the holy armies of the diocese of Caen!

Above: Colin ponders his next move as the Liberi move into charge range.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

First Knight Photos.

No, it's not a re-run of Richard Gere's worst movie (thats not saying much, really), it's the first batch of mounted milites.

Today was vaguely productive, even with the return of the old dears from their hols` (naturally, they wanted to tell me about it and naturally I was interested enough to listen). I managed to complete my first set of four mounted milites. Special thanks to the folks over on the Warhammer Ancient Battles List for pointing me in the right direction (i.e towards a web-article on painting horses).

It's hard to believe, but in fifteen years of painting (well, 19, but the first four years don't count because I thought undercoats were an item of clothing until I was about 12) these four beasts constitute my sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth horses! Yes, fifteen years and I've only ever painted NINE horses! I know, I know. I`m not the only gamer with a near-phobia of painting the damn things, but how I manged to go so long avoiding the job I'll never know.

Well, yeah, I do kinda. It comes from all those science-fiction and late medieval-style armies I've collected and 9rarely) painted. Barely a horse in sight in those and the ones you do see are covered head-to-foot in War of the Roses style barding anyway.

I've very fond of these four. My efforts may not have produced spectacular miniatures but I am painting for gaming purposes here and not for display. The really surprising thing I that I quite enjoyed painting them! I dont know why this was ever such a bugbear for me!

Well, no doubt you guy's will let me know what you think. I have five more on the table at the moment and when I finish those (hopefully early tomorrow) that will leave me all afternoon to sort out the command group, arrange an army list for Tuesday and prep the Libre spearmen for basing and painting.

It'll also give me time to do a little repair work on two spearmen I accidently spray painted rather than varnishing. Yup, I managed to have a good stab at re-undercoating two of the newly shielded spearmen you saw earlier instead of varnishing them. It'll take all of five minutes to cover up the minimal damage ( I realisedsomething was up right after the first sqoosh) but the worst thing is, they weren`t even in the FIRST batch of spearmen to be varnished. Oh no, they were the very LAST TWO!!!!.

Note to Self: Never Spray Varnish after midnight. Especially when your Spray Varnish and your Spray Undercoat have the same colour of lid. Bad, bad idea. Even for me.
Thought for the Week: "Your only goal in playing a wargame should be to make sure your opponent has a good time." - Jervis Johnson, quote courtesay of the WAB list.
Damn straight!

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Shields Done: Spearmen pics

Well, Thursday and Friday were mostly write-offs as far as painting was concerned, but I had expected that anyway. Between house hunting and the Opera Thursday saw painting squeezed right out of the schedule, with more house hunting and visiting on Friday. I did at least manage to take advantage of the transfers which arrived on Friday to finish the shields on my armoured milites. Pictures have been included.

I have to say I`m very happy with the result, although a few of the shields need a little touch up here and there before I'd be willing to allow people the option of close-scrutiny. I`ll do that later today in between painting horses and knights. So the new, wildly optimistic targets are to finish the knights over today and tomorrow (complete with shields) and at least prep and base the libre spearmen. That will give me a good (mostly painted) 1000 point force for Tuesday night. A little weaker in terms of missile troops and skirmishers than I would have liked, but thats life with little lead men.

Now I just have to work out how to get the bl;oody things to G3 without trashing them. Especially since they'll be sitting under my desk at work for most of the day. Really should have thought of that before painting. Or arranging a game. But I`ll just leave some of my other miniatures sitting on the table at home and borrow the packaging.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Eberron: Report One

As well as wargaming, I'm also a roleplayer and very fortunate to be involved in two very excellent RPG campaigns drawn from the same pool of DM's and players. The Wedensday night game is run by Bill and sent in the D&D world of Eberron. Bill uses the "True 20" system for combat and spellcasting and D7D3.5 for everything else. I`m too tired to go in to a full summary of events in this recently-started campaign tonight and I dont see any point starting our story in the middle. So for now, I`ll just introduce the characters and their players. These blurbs tend to focus on the characters relationship with my own PC, Cole. Mostly because we've only been playing for a few weeks and are still learning about each others characters.

Cole Tristinian: Human male 31 year old Ranger2/Rogue2 (played by yours truly).

A former scout and tracker in the armies of Breiland. Even during the worst years of the "Last War" he rarely spoke about what awaited him at wars end. He clearly came from a privileged home and was eager to take over the family bussiness. Now, four years after the war has ended, Cole is a broken man, a drunkard and a physical wreck. Cole has yet to discuss why the years of peace have been so poor to him, but he has taken to the mercenary life like a drowning man to flotslam. While he remains largely bitter and despondant whenever craving his next drink (which is often) his generous nature occasionally reveals itself through brave or honourable action.

K'Dun. Warforged "male"- personality imprint Fighter 4 (played by John)

A creature born (or rather built) for war, it is perhaps not surprising that in the peace following the Last War, the wood-and-adamantium construct named K'Dun (presumably for the noise enemy weapons make when they bounce of his armour) would turn to the mercenary life. Although unable to convey emotion through facial expression, K'Dun takes great pleasure in crunching the occasional bone between his metal jaws as a celebration of victory and is found of expressing humour by pulling open his lower jaw. At times a seemingly invulnerable warrior, K'Dun has shown touching loyalty to his former comrades, especially Cole, with whom he has been recently re-united.

Octavius: Human male Cleric of the Sovreign Host lvl 4. (played by Big Tony).

A priest of the Sovreign Host, Octavius seems to have spent much of the war in a supporting role, healing wounded troops and providing them with blessing's and prayers to enhance their abilities in combat. This is a role Octavius continues within the group, trying to avoid combat where ever possible. Not out of cowardice, but from the genuine knowledge that he is the groups only healer and therefore too valuable to risk in melee. Indeed while warriors like K`Dun and (when he's sober) Cole are available to fight in the line, there is no need. Instead, he stands ready to assist the other party members with a well timed healing spell or his ability to destroy the unded with a word. Only adding his mace to the fight when the situation demands it. Like K'Dun, Octavius has made an effort to connect with Cole but is hampered by the former scouts present disregard for "Godslaves".

Karolev: Human male Wizard lvl4 (played by Andy P)

To say that Karlev, called "The Weighty" (and not just for his heavy pondering) otherwise known as "He who must be helped out of bed by a featherfall spell," was merely corpulant would be generous to say the least. This rather small, rotund little spellcaster was little more than an apprentice and a warforged repair-man during the war. Now that peace has come he is quickly growing into his power. Still young, Karlev has a not time for fools and displays a generally brusque manner. However, he seems to reserve his acid tongue for Cole's, a man whom Karleve genuinely seems to despise. It remains to be seen if this attitude is genuine, or merely an attempt to jolt the once capable Cole out of his present lethargy.

Reading this someone might wonder why a reasonably capable bunch such as the other three characters would keep Cole around. The reason is simple: loyalty. Plus he's not such a bad sort when you can keep him sober (and he never gets drunk before a fight). That, and the fact no one else in the party can sneak around an enemy camp, speak so many languages or negotiate the perils of high-society (when he wants too) as well as Cole can.

Got Nothing Done

Got absolutely no painting done today. Nill, Nada, Zip, Zero. It took forever to base and assemble those 12 Norman milites. And as my shield and banner transfers still havent arrived I couldn't even spend the three hours while the white metal was drying working on the nearly forty shields I need to have finished by Tuesday. Grrr. More time lost. I say lost, not wasted, because at least it gave me time to read through the rulebook again - something I evidently need to do since I failed to pick up on the fact that routing skirmishers do not trigger panics tests. Makes sense after all. Running away is kind of what they're paid for.

Anyway, no further news on the Norman front tonight. And still no pics of the "completed" spearmen since their shields havent been done.

One other bit of mixed news though. John's WFRP game is of on Sunday, as he and several of the other players are off to Dice Con. Andy P and I will head of to see Casino Royale while the others are board-gaming and then its back to the sweat shop for me. So at least I might be able to catch up on my painting as a result.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Archers Done. 1st Game Arranged.

What a busy day it's been.

Today started with a little (very, very minor) disappointment. My Gripping Beast banners and LBM shield transfers still haven't arrived. But given that it's (, well, was) only Tuesday I can hardly grumble. Maybe they'll arrive tomorrow (later today that is, since its well past 1am). The day improved considerably though. I now have seven flats to view over Thursday and Friday (yah!). On the other hand, considering I have Bill's Ebberron game tomorrow night, Pirates of Penzance at the Theatre Royal Glasgow on Thursday night and my Uncle to visit on Friday, I`m not going to have much time for painting.

Together with having popped along to G3 tonight for an hour or so to arrange a game against Colins vikings next tuesday ( a double landmark: my first game of WAB AND my first game with my new army), this means I've had to rethink my painting schedule. Especially since I absolutely hate playing with unpainted miniatures. Doesnt matter if the other guys figs are all shiny lead, just as long as mine arn't. If I fall back into the habit of playing with "naked" miniatures I`ll never get anything painted.

So, now that the Archers are finished (as of about ten minutes ago: I`m still waiting for the paint on the bases to dry so that I can add the cork. Once thats done I`ll edit this post and put up the photo's) I`m going to start work on the mounted milites, rather than the liberi spearmen. Purely because I`m going to need them as a core unit and can muddle by without the Liberi if I can't finish them all in time. I reckon that if I can do four complete cavalry models (rider and horse) each day for the next three days I`ll still have time to paint the spearmen. It will be tight, and it would probably be quicker to paint the 12 axemen I have from Perry plus their command group, but I dont think 15 Serjents with handweapons are going to cut it against Colins Vikes. I`ll have to think on what to do next, after the horsemen.

Anyway, I'm glad I had the chance to challenge Colin. For one thing he has a good reputation at the club for being patient with beginners and, despite having some pretty impressive facial hair, for not being as "beardy" as far as rules are considered. He should be a good teacher - but I`m still expecting to be soudnly thrashed. His glee when he discovered I had no armoured crossbowmen painted (or even unpainted - they'll be on order at the end of the month, as soon as I get paid) was altogether unholy. Note to self: buy more crossbowman than originally planned. Tweak army list accordingly.

One extra consideration that was brought to light by my quick visit came about from a chance conversation with Spence. Spence, the guru of "keeperdom" (on the grounds that he needs a second house just to keep his lead in - this guy has no danger of dying from painting his last miniature any time soon) reacted with some degree of surprise when I mentioned "diluting" my Perry force with Crusader figs. Spence seems to reckon that while Perry figs do indeed go well with the occasional Gripping Beast or Foundry fig, Crusader figs are far to "chunky" by comparrison to look right in the same army, let alone having the two product lines in the same unit. Colin on the other hand, (whose question's about my new Army more or less initiated this particular conversation) feels that why they're not suitable for fielding in the same unit, they look fine as seperate units.

I truly hope so, because I think the Crusdaer figures are more than merely "very nice" and I especially want some of their archers, axemen and spearmen for my collection. I was even thinking of using Crusader or GB to supply my light cavalry unit as well, but the Perry Twins will probably edge in to another fine victory over my pocket book once again.

Anyway, back to the basing and the photo's. In case your wondering, all the figures shown were painted using Vellajo Model paints, with a few colours (the dark browns and the blue-grey) from the MP "Miniatures Paints" range. Actually, I was surprised by how quickly these were to paint ( exactly three hours for each batch of six - same as the armoured spearmen) especially since there was nothing to drybrush. In fact, I seem to spend more time waiting for the "White Stone" textured paint to dry out than I do actually painting. Just so you know, I use the white stone to blend the minaitures molded-on stands into the plastic GW bases that I`m using, so that there isnt an odd bump. Ive found that if I build up two or three layers before gluing smaller "true 25mm" figs to the base, the extra 3mm or so of height can create the illusion of scale and make the different figure lines more compatible. Provided I only sprinkle two or three throughout the unit, that is.

I would try this with the Crusader miniatures as well, but Spence tells me the issue is one of breadth rather than height. Apprantly, they are just proportionally broader than the other miniature lines Ive been using. Ah well. I`ll order a pack or two (probably one of archers and one of those quilt-wearing spearmen Ive mentioned a few times) just to try them out together. Even if they dont go well together in a unit, I still hope that (for once) Spence is wrong and I can at least use them in seperate formation. If anyone out there has any experience of combining Crusader and Perry figs, I`d love to hear from you.

Pics will be up shortly (not that anyone out there is crazy enough to be reading this right now). G'night.

Edit: Pics didnt come out right due to poor lighting. Will take the pics later this monring when the sun (and I) have both risen. Ill put up another progress report tonight (most likekly in the early hours) and report on the Ebberron game.

Monday, 20 November 2006

Spearmen and Letting Agents.

Well, I did manage to acheive my painting target for yesterday, but alas, I've failed to do any painting so fat today, let alone prepping or basing.

The reason for this, you see, is that I've spent most of the morning talking with estate agents who have so far not bothered their rear ends to return any of emails. Hopefully now Ive spoke to them over the phone they'll start putting things in motion as it were. After all, I`m on holiday all this week and my future flatmate Andy (not the cheeky one who leaves comments but the other cheeky one who doesn't) has taken two days off thursday and friday so we can go to some viewings.

And how many viewings do we have arranged yet? Precisely zero. Hence my rather sore jaw and clenched teeth. (Now now Brian, musn't yell at the poor inconvienanced civilians. (They may be in a uniform, but it's not DPM! Your not in the Army now, laddie!).

,7pm and nothing done yet. Almost a whole day gone, not that I begrudge the time spent visiting my relatives in the afternoon, as I thoroughly enjoy their company. Even so, must get some more painting done tonight. My target: Prep and base the twelve archers that I bought from Perry Miniatures and paint at least six.

If they were more spearmen I`d simply say no contest, but they're in tunics, not chainmail. So it might be another late night for me tonight. But if I`m going to have all the Perry figs I bought the other week (or at least all the infantry) painted by the time I go back to go work next Monday them I`m sure to see a few more of those.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Screamers and Frothing Beardie Blokes

Well, yesterday was fairly okay painting wise, I managed to complete another half-dozen spearmen, short of painting the shields (for which I`m awaiting another delivery of transfers). I should really have done more given that I had the whole day to paint (up till about 6 in the evening when I met with a bunch of the guys to go out for a meal), but frankly I`m still knackered from this cold. Dont get me wrong, I`m not snorting or sneezing like I used too. Even so six weeks of feeling ill combined with not going to the Gym because I was ill, have left me feeling drained and knackered. All I want to do is sleep. I left early last night because of it, got in about 10:30 and went straight to be. So I slept for about eleven hours, as I've just gotten out of my pit and had my breakfasr. This from a guy who normally hits the sack between 2-3am and gets up for work at 8:30.

Anyway, I'm getting way off-topic here. Today, I aim to complete the last six spearmen that I have sitting in front of me, plus two command sections. 12 figs, shouldnt be hard, especially since I have all day to do it. Now if I could just generally ditch this feeling of lethargy it would be fine. Once I've completed this first batch (actually, Ill have completed enough for a whole unit, but as that unit is going to be broken up and mixed in with the Crusader figs when they arrive I'll try to avoid thinking of them that way) I`ll move on to something with a little less armour. All this drybrushing is great for saving time, but it sure is dull (the painting I mean, not the armour. Even though it is... you know... dull.)
One thing that irks me about yesterdays painting is that these milites are supposed to be fairly rich by period standards. I mean, they have chainmail, swords and helmets for heavens sake. Sure, even if their handed down, they still represent a significant display of wealth. So why the heck did I go and paint most of their tunics in shades of unbleached wool? Gah! By the time I realised what I was doing the only cloth left unpainted was the hose on two of the miniatures. So out came the greens and burgandy to add a splash of wealth and colour, along with some bronze detailing on the helm of one of our richer milites and on the sword of a "poorer" one to make him seem a little wealthier. It's not a huge problem, some of these guys are supposed to be richer than others and several of them are probably no more than heavily armoured serjeants anyway. But even so, I now have a disproportionate number of "poor" milites, especially when the Crusader guys in padded doublets are added in. C'est la vie.

Just means I`ll have to put out a few more shades of red, green and blue on this next bunch.

On a non-painting note, just learned from Andy (the cheeky one who left a comment on my first post rather than the other cheeky Andy who didn't) that not only is it Julian who has the wads and wads of screamers (Celts I mean, not his kids) but Colin has an Army of Shieldwall Vikes! Yay, more opponents. Boo!!! Berserkers. Well Ill not be letting any of those throthing maniacs with their automatic D6 S5 hits anywhere near my oh so expensive milites (foot or mounted). specially since he can have up to three in each unit and they cause an automatic break if they inflict more than 25% casualties on a unit.

I really dont want to think about what they could do to my mounted milites. I mean, sure, they have a 3+ save, but S5 knocks that down by a scary amount and those berserks would only have to kill three knights between them to send the rest running. Yikes! Good bye nearly 25% of my armies total points cost. Not bad for about 60 points worth of naked beardie blokes eh?

Thats a scary thought in itself. One unit of admittedly very hard and very nasty knights and a bishop take up nearly a quarter of my points! Damn, talk about fire magnet. Note to self: read El Cid lists. Find out if any of the various muslim armies get seige engines. If so, collect Welsh, run for the hills and ditch the Normans.

Except for playing games fo retinue, one of which I`m hoping to get organised with Kev for next week or the week after.

Anyway, I`m getting tired again. Going to lie down for a bit and then bounce back into the painting. Will let anyone who actually bothers reading this know how I`m getting on and then take a few pics of the completed "batch" for the blog. Thanks v. much Andy (the same one) for those tips vis a vis taking photographs of miniatures. I`ll give it another go later.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

First Pics

After taking a break from painting I finally got round to sorting out my camera and taking a few pics. As you can see, I`m far from an expert photographer. Out of about 15 photos, these are the only two that came out in focus and clear enough to make out. The first pic is of those two "sample bases" I mentioned in my previous post. The one of the left is the "european" style base and the one on the right is the "hybrid" style base. I know the undergrowth is a bit OTT but like I said I was experimenting.
The photo on the right is on just two of the six Norman Milites on foot that I have fully painted. More pics to follow.
Personally, I thought the George Foreman grill in the background was a very nice touch.

Friday, 17 November 2006


Well, as I spent most of yesterday curled up in bed under a duvet and two woolen blankets wearing two jumpers and a pair of trackie bottoms, I didnt get much in the way of painting done. No, the heating hadn't packed in, the cold Ive been fighting of for the last six weeks came back with a vengeance. Luckily, by late last night my fever had broken.

Unluckily, I'd slept so much during the day I couldn't get back to sleep. Work today was a bit of a choare, but as I had plenti of flexi time left to spend I popped out for a long lunch and popped into Static, my local gaming store. There, I was very pleased to see Spence and even more pleased to here that Spence had decided not to sell his own Perry Normans after all.

Not only did I now have a darkage/early medieval opponent whose army could pass for Shieldwall Western Franks or Crusaders (which they originally supposed to be anyway), but it turns out Julian has a massive Saracen/Moorish force he's been tempted to dig out as well. One of the guys also has an infantry based Berber army with a rock hard reputation as well. And here I was wondering where I was going to find some opponents (beyond Julians 6 or 7 thousand points of Celts (not very authentic) or Andy's 1000pts of Republic Romans (likewise, not very authentic).

All in all this was great news: exept for one thing. Given that the only potential "period" opponents Im now aware of have "eastern" armies I cant very well go giving my Normans European bases can I? Certainly, I can use the same list to represent the "Norman" element of the crusade under Bohemond and Tancred without having to change my army about (much). But as I`m not aware of any other Shieldwall armies (other than Spence) at the Glasgow G3 club I may have to change my basing plans.

Not a huge problem. Basically, I've based all my (very few) painted figs using a light cork material and haven't quite gotten round to "undergrowthing" then up yet. So, for the time being, I`ll leave the sand-highlighted cork as it is. If it turns out that my only regular opponents will all be fielding crusdade style armies I can leave the bases as they are, with maybe a patch of static grass, a boulder and a few discarded turkish shields and weapons here and there. If not, I can give the cork a brown ink wash to make it look like the bark you find underfoot in pine forests and add plenty of lichen and static grass. Voila: fairly convincing temperate european undergrowth.

Sorted. I even ran up a couple of samples on empty bases: one "pure" european with the brown-stained cork and lichen and a "compromise" base of mostly sand coloured cork with some lichen, a few patches of brown dyed cork and a tiny " babies head" patch of static grass, just to see how it would look. The idea being that if a few Shieldwall armies do suddenly crop out of the G3 woodwork I could then use this style of basing to represent poor european soil AND fairly "rich" semi-arid soil. I`ll put pictures of both these bases up for you to have a look at, along with some painted Normans, later (once I can get my digital camera working). Just bear in mind they`re mock-ups with "exagerrated" amounts of undergrowth. I wanted to see what colours of lichen and other decorative bits would look good with each option and being a tight fisted git when it comes to anything not made of lead (or chocolate) I couldnt bring myself to part with more than two bases as samples. (OKay, I admit it. I only had two 20mm bases to spare. Seriously, even Im not THAT bad)

Also, I have an apology to make. Those shield transfers were from LBM (not Gripping Beast). They are only sold through Gripping Beast Miniatures to fit their shield designs. By the way, those transfers look even more stunning when their on the mini. One thing though: now that Ive seen two minis with the same shield design side by side I`m tempted to have each unit use the same shield design for every minaiture. At least for the infantry. I don't want to do things this way, because its not approppriate for the time period and it`ll limit my options as far as fiddling with unit sizes is concerned, but I`m tempted none the less.

But speaking of transfers: gutted! Those Norman "banners" I ordered are actually "lance pennants" (well I had been wondering how they managed to fir twenty-four of the things on one page). Their absolutely gorgeous but as I wont be modelling my mounted Milites with actuals lances (too difficult to store without bending) their kind of pointless. Purely my fault of course. The site does clearly state that they're pennants, but somehow in my cold addled state I read that as "banners" rather than "lance pennants". Twnety-four full size banners for a tenner eh? What was I thinking? That chrtistmas had come early (well, okay, not by much)? Ah well. Maybe Ill find a use for them when it comes to modelling that Norman village I keep salivating about.

So other than a confession, thats that! I got distracted tonight and ended up basing some of those Flames of War Germans I mentioned in that first post rather than working on my Normans. I also got distracted by typing up this post.


Won't happen again, honest (right) but it does mean that while the first 6 Norman Milites on foot are now fully based (on their temporary "arid" bases), shielded and painted, the second batch of six have barely had any work done on them at all.

And that, I think, is an excellent reason to stop nattering right there. So long, folks I have garters to highlight (and tunics, and hose, and spears and shoes and so forth).

Thursday, 16 November 2006

The Bishop of Caen's Feudal Levy

Picking the Army

I`d like to be able to say that this army was carefully chosen after hours of painstaking research and pouring over army lists. Id like to, but my nose would be a foot long and growing by the minute.

I initially purchased a bunch of minatures that would match the "Army" the players would command in that Bloodstones roleplaying campaign for D&D. Basically, the Barony of Bloodstone recruits the characters to stiffen up the aged Barons meagre forces – 240 spearmen, 240 swordsman, 12 archers and about 480 "militia" .

(Aside: What the scenario pack calls miitia anyone else would describe as civilians: women, children and old men. Well, I’d have to buy some mini’s to represent panicking civilians on the battlefield and they could be useful for building fortifications and tending the wounded, but no way in hell was I going to let my players actually make em fight).

Anyway, I was going to use the massed battle rules for 3rd ed D&D published in "Cry Havoc" by Malhavoc Press, which would mean a ratio of 1 fig to ten men. So, I needed 24 lightly armoured spearmen, 24 lightly armoured swordsmen and 12 unarmoured archers. The scenario also allows players the option of recruiting additional allies through diplomacy and mercantilism but as the guys who will be playing are also probably the only ones reading this blog, I wont reveal any spoilers.

Suffice to say, this is not the most balanced force in the world and in the end I didn’t even get around to modelling it accurately. I was having a heck of a time coming up with un-armoured Dark Age’s Frank miniatures with swords and used that as an excuse to let buy some armoured spearmen instead (Dont look for a logical progression there, cos there isn't one). Since the setting in question has been at war for ten years and the Kings Army was wiped out nearby a year before the Bloodstones campaign begins, it didn’t seem too unlikely that the local feudal levy would be better equipped than normal.

As units larger than about 120 men become impossibly difficult to control under the Cry Havoc rules, I decided that the 480 trained defenders would be organised into 4 units of 12 spearmen each ( 2 armoured, 2 not). So my basic order was for 18 armoured spearmen miniatures, 18 unarmoured, 12 unarmoured archers and 4 three man command units for the spearmen, all from Perry Miniatures. Thrown into the mix (basically because I liked the models) were 12 armoured sword/axemen, 12 Crusader Knights and the Mounted Crusader Character pack.

Much to my surprise, all arrived the next day. And in very nice packaging too - reminiscent of the cardboard boxes jewellery is packed in, in fact. Not bad for a company set up as just a "hobby" eh?.

Id also ordered two civilian packs from Foundry and the Norman Character pack with some nicely posed casualties, a decent unit commander and two Normans (one mounted) with wooden clubs. I mean, why clubs? Are they supposed to be churchmen or something?. Ah well, the club boys will make nice parts for my bits box. Dont ask me why I ordered them, I just bought em on impulse along with the civilians. Perry and Gripping Beast do some very nice civilian packs themselves, so I will probably pick up a few of these later for roleplaying purposes and to populate the medieval village (say about a dozen huts, a church and a small fortified manor house) that I intend to build later. Once I have my own house sorted out.

But of course the Wargaming bug bit (otherwise known as Warhammer Ancientitis) and I realised these units would in no way make a playable Army. So, as well as ordering the shields and transfers I mentioned yesterday, I ordered (for no apparent reason) a four man command pack from Gripping Beast (with no musicians, just two commanders and two banner bearers. Strange that).

I also plan on bulking out the existing Perry Miniatures with 3 packs of armoured crossbowmen (a total of 18), and both pilgrim packs (more civilians –especially useful for the raid scenario in Shield Wall as well as my Bloodstone campaign). I plan on using one of the Gripping Beast Commanders and the Foundry Musician to round out this up to the 20 man mark.

Another purchase of 6 mounted Perry Crusaders with spears held over-arm will do me for throwing spear armed Breton Cavalry. I'll use of the Crusader Character miniatures to take this number up to seven. As you'll see below, I wont actually be able to field them in my main army list, but they'll work well in a few varient lists I have in mind.

To bulk out the spear armed units, unarmoured archers and sword/axemen I intend to buy some Norman packs from Crusader Minatures. Though not as nice as the Perry figures they come in packs of eight (very useful) and will increase the variety of poses I can have in each unit. I aim to buy one pack of armoured spearmen, one pack of spearmen in padded doublet and one pack of unarmoured spearmen, all in attacking poses to complement the Perry Minaitures.

These will give me (with Command Groups added) two units of 21 armoured spearmen (with a little help from the bits box and a few old figs I have scattered around) and one unit of 21 unarmoured Spearmen. The doublet armed spearmen give me a few extra options: I can place them all in the "unarmoured" unit to create a "light armour" unit or place them in one of the "armoured" units to reduce them from heavy armour overall to light armour overall. Clever eh?

I`m also going to order a pack of eight axemen from Crusader to bulk up the axe/sword unit. I`ll also use the fourth Perry Command Team here so I`ll have a few spare figs left over for other purposes as well (vignettes etc).

Finally, an eight pack of unarmoured Crusader Miniatures Norman Archers will give me a total of twenty archers which I can split into two groups. However, as you can see from the Army list below I need another two archers to make up the numbers– fortunately one of the figs in the Foundry pack is a wounded archer clutching his side. He’ll do for one figure. The other is a little more problematic but I`ll certainly think of something.

P.S It occurs to me that for the cost of two archers I could give my "light" cavalry a musician and a standard bearer to go with their leader. Hmmm. No contest really, but the idea of a banner and a musician doesn’t quite fit my image of these raiding cavalry.

Have to think about that one.

The 2000pt Army Roster (with plenty of "loose" Miniatures to spare) is as follows:


Warhammer Ancients "SHIELDWALL" Dutchy of Normandy Army.

This Army represents the forces of a single Diocese and as such works on a 1 fig to 1 man scale.


Up to 25 % of the Army's points can be spent on characters.

Bishop Baldwin of Caen
I Bishop: Acting as Army General (Obviously a Milite himself before taking the cloth).
Warhorse, Heavy Armour, Shield, Lance, Throwing Spear, Handweapon. 151 points.

I might regret not taking a "Dux" as Army General Letter and placing a Bishop with his ability to make an entire unit immune to panic in with my elite knights is probably not the best use for him, but this is a case of "theme" and "flavour" prevailing over good tactics.

I`ll also probably lament the lack of any Comte’s to bolster the line (especially where my Leadership 6 Libre Spearmen are concerned) and its not as if a Bishop wouldn’t have reliable senior knights who owe him fealty, but c`est la vie as the Normans would say. Maybe when (if) I expand the army to 3000 pts.

Common Troops:

At least 50% of the army must be Milites and Pueri

11 Norman Mounted Milites (Mounted Knights)
Warhorse, Heavy Armour, Shield, Lance, Handweapon. Includes Standard Bearer and Musician. Normally led by the Bishop himself. 390 pts.
Ferocious Charge, Rank Bonus

These represent the Bishops elite attendants and vassal knights, those he would consider his personal retainers and closest friends. One or two of them may even be churchmen themselves. Being Norman, they are equipped with Lances rather than thrusting spears and their Ferocious Charge ability (automatically breaking any unit they defeat in the first round of combat) makes them formidable foes indeed. Additionally, unlike most cavalry, Norman Milites can benefit from a +1 rank bonus.

21 Norman Dismounted Milites. (Knights and Retainers)
Heavy Armour, Shield, Thrusting Spear, Handweapon, Includes Standard Bearer, Musician and Leader. 330 points

21 Norman Dismounted Milites (as above) 330 points

These two units give me a solid core of very tough infantry to support the knights, either in the attack or to form a solid base from which the knights can sally in the defence. By grouping together all eight of my doublet-wearing spearmen into one of these units I can rationalise the unit as having "light armour" overall and save some points.

7 Peuri (Light Cavalry - poor milites, poor squires and a maybe a rich freeman or two)
Warhorse, Light Armour, Throwing Spear. Includes leader. 133 points

For an extra "few" points I could have made these Breton Exiles, which would allow them a "shoot and scoot" move after throwing their spears. However, they would then have come out of the Uncommon Points Allocation. If Id done that, some of my mercenary serjeants would have had to become knights due to the maximum point allocation rules. Or else I could remove the Liberi spearman. Either way I just couldn’t include them and and still have everything else I wanted. So bog standard Peuri they are.

Uncommon Troops:

Up to 33% of the armies points value can be Liberi, Coloni, or Dogs of War.

21 Liberi (free peasants).
Thrusting Spear, Shield. Includes Standard Bearer and Musician 131 points
Can be used Light Infantry for free (optional)

These are the unarmoured Spearmen (and you were probably beginning to wonder what had happened to them, eh?). This unit represents the free farmers and tenants of the Bishops land. Being as he is such a rich man and all, I`ve decided that he has gone and equipped these lads at his own expense and that they shall therefore all have the same symbol on their shields (very unusual for the period). Also, by placing all eight of the doublet-wearing spearmen in this one unit, I can "upgrade" them to light armour at a stretch. These are low leadership troops by Norman standards but the Light Infantry ability always comes in handy.

10 Coloni (non-free Peasants)
Bow, Handweapon 50 points

12 Coloni 60 points
Bow, Handweapon

These represent the Bishops serfs. Not being a complete idiot, he wouldn’t want to strip the fields of all his serfs (think of the taxes he’d lose) so I imagine these are the best archers and *ahem* gamekeepers (Honest me lud, this un' deer I ave on me back if dur is graces's supper. S'true it is!) in the Diocese, called up in service of their Lord. They can also Skirmish, very handy as missile support and as sacrificial lambs to draw out those pesky berserkers. Alas, with their depressingly low leadership (I dont even want to think about it!) they wont stick around long afterwords.

21 Mercenary Serjents
Light Armour, Handweapon, Shield, includes leader, standard bearer and musicians 183 points

21 Mercenary Serjents 240 points
Light Armour, Handweapon, Crossbow.

As I said, our young Bishop is very rich and can afford to hire on the odd pack of mercenaries. These are tough troops and steadier than Liberi, as well as better armoured. Alas, their also not the most reliable troops in the world and refuse to do what they're told if I roll a 1 on a D6 when giving the orders.

Total: 1999 points

And there you have it, a fairly large Norman army and quite tough with it. It numbers 126 infantry and 19 Cavalry. It should come as a bit of a surprise to all those Shield Wall players who expect a Norman force to be fairly small and chock full of mounted troops. No doubt I`ll expand it to 3000 points later, with the addition of the Bishop’s Overlord (the Dux), another large unit of Mounted Milites and a Comte or too to stiffen the Armies resolve. Watch this space. But for the moments such thoughts should be left for far into the future. I haven`t even gotton around to finishing the first unit of Milite spearmen yet.

More on that (with pics) anon.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Dangerously Mad

Well, Ive finally bitten the bullet. Three years of nag nag nag from my mates and no-no-no from me and my willpower has given in like arrows through chainmail (well, chainmail IS just a suit of holes linked together, you know). What finally broke the camels back (first post and my mataphors are mixing like a bad cocktail already) you wonder?


Yup, that's right. You heard correctly. Bloody Normans.

You see, it all started about a week ago. I was just minding my own bussiness, browsing through the miniatures page list of manufacturers when I happened to chance upon the listing for Perry Miniatures. Hello, I thought, not the Perry Twins surely? When did they start up their own line? Arn't they still working for Foundry? Aha! No! It transpires that Perry Miniatures is more of a hobby, something they do on the side, according to the Press Release. So I think, why not take a look.

(You can take a look too if you like, the URL is : )

I was blown away by the craftsmanship of the Warring States Samuari, but luckily I have a samurai force for Clan War thats never been used, so I resist temptation and refuse to buy. But then I see the First Crusade Miniatures and Im hooked. Alas, I've just been reading up on the old Bloodstone modules for AD&D and day-dreaming about adapting them to 3.5. The period is late dark ages and it involves the player characters leading armies in the defence of a Barony and then involves them in a war to liberate their entire country! Arrgh. Next thing you know, I've got a £140 put down on mini's I`ll probably never use. Or so I thought.

You see, when they arrived, they were even better in "person" than on the web. I just had to start painting them right away - tough luck my Flames of War Germans, you are gone but not forgotten. So not only have I been madly buying and basing miniatures (on Games Workshop 20mm bases - more expence) but Ive been buying up civilians from Foundry (for the villagers) as well, along with shield transfers and Banners from Gripping Beast.

My one complaint about the Perry Miniatures is to do with the shields - the miniatures are supposed to be Franks, and yes, the boys would naturally pick up turkish shields when their own ones were knackered, but why make half of the shields Tirkish? Especially when the mini's shown are all armed with Norman-style Kite shields. Sheesh!

Well, the one consolation is that if I hadnt been looking for Norman shield packs from another manufacturer, I`d never have come across the Beast's shield transfers and banners. Lovely. Ten quid for a sheet of 24 banners and £2-3 for a sheet of 12 shield transfers. Hmm, not so lovely. More money spent and here I am supposedly saving up for a new house. Still, their worth a look if your interested.

Gripping Beast:

And oh, yeah. I had to buy a new craft knife (the old one broke) and I ran out of black spray paint early on. Why is my bank account being made to suffer so? And why has my blog turned into a forum for moaning on entry one already?

Cos I'm a gamer,I cant help myself thats why (and thats the answer to both questions).

Thank God for the savings account. That hasn't been touched (yet!)

Anyway, somehow, I make the obvious connection that if I`m going to use these minaitures for a roleplaying game, I may as well make use of them for wargaming as well. But the only Warhammer Ancients supplement with a First Crusade army list is out-of-print (Armies of Antiquity). What to do? What to do? Ahah! The old cogs begin to turn (squeekily I might add, cos Im suffering from the cold) . Crusaders are Franks right? Normans are Franks right? Theres a Norman list in the Shieldwall supplement right? Saved!!

Actually it turns out the Norman list covers Western Franks in general, so I could make them Bretons, Flemish or Carovingians if I wanted. Right now Im not sure if I want too or not, as Normans get the amazing ferocious charge ability, which is just brutal. But I may have a think later. At the moment though, the concept is that the Army represents the forces of a wealthy churchman, an abbot or bishop, and that the top man himself will lead them into battle, escorted by his bravest knight's. Conversion opportunties aplenty, methinks.

Later I'll go through my Army list choices and explain why I picked what I did in keeping with the armies theme. I`ll also explain what models I`m using for each unit and why (though it might be better to save that for when I actually stick pics of the completed units up on the blog). I'll even post up battle reports to chronicle the glorious exploits of this and my other (half-finishes) armies in order to humiliate my enemies (and my opponents). Assuming I can keep my interest up long enough to even get a battle, that is.

Bet your just quivering with excitement

I may even be tempted to use this blog for its "natural" purposes and even keep a diary of "real life" online. But personally I`m not sure about that at all. My life's not for the sharing with all and sundy. But we'll see.

Anyway, thats how I went from an army of roleplaying game figs to creating a new wargaming army. But what has that got to do with creating a blog?

Well, somebody suggested that if I keep track of my progress on a blog, even I wont get bored and start on something else ( remember those Germans?). Well, it seems to have worked for Dave Woodward ( ) so hopefully it should work for me too.

Fat chance.