Tuesday, 6 March 2018

New Project - English Civil War

With my Shadow War campaign is under way and most of the models for it painted, I have had time to try painting something else. Shadow War could keep me busy gaming for some months, which means I have plenty of time to focus on a project that's likely to require a lot of painting before I can do anything useful with it.

A few years ago I picked up one of Warlord Games English Civil War starter battalion boxes. I've added a few extra bits and bobs to it since, but never got round to assembling or painting any of it. Part of the problem was that most English Civil War rules seem to require an awful lot of models to play, at least as many as one of my Warhammer armies, and I would need two to do anything with them. The other problem, was not being able to decide on a theme, or even a colour scheme for my army.

The first problem was solved when Osprey Publishing conveniently released "the Pikeman's Lament" a set of rules by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck, developed from Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant and designed to represent skirmishes between small companies of men. Having gotten hold of the rules, I realised pretty quickly that I could easily put together two companies of 24 points with the models I already owned.

The second problem resolved itself when I took a trip to Basing House at the end of September last year. Basing House would be one of the most impressive Tudor Houses in Britain if it wasn't completely in ruins. Once that Home of the Marquis of Winchester, it withstood a long siege during the Civil War before finally being stormed by the New Model Army under the command of Oliver Cromwell. The house wasn't actually destroyed by Cromwell, but it was left abandoned and much of it was scavenged to provide building material for the local village of Old Basing. The sight is worth a visit, featuring a small Museum and a visitor centre and there's an audio tour you can download from their website. The place is in walking distance of Basingstoke Railway Station, though you will have to trample through some muddy fields to get there.

Basing House has seen better days
Though the gardens still look nice

The sight also hosts an annual Civil War re-enactment day. Last September, historical re-enactors from the The Marquess of Winchester's regiment set up a living history camp, carried out some Pike and Musket drill and enacted a small skirmish between infantry and artillery. It was all pretty good fun and I got plenty of pictures.

 The Regiment on display

It occurred to me at the time, that I had more than enough models to recreate all the people involved in the event and more. Also, a large house under siege could be a pretty interesting backdrop for more than a few skirmish games. I finally had my theme.

Pike drill

My first Pikeman's Lament unit is this group of shot, all armed with standard Flintloque muskets and wearing the regiment's red coats. Although I kept the red as a linking colour, I tried to vary the look of them as much as possible. This was before the era of true mass production or industrial dyes.

I've seen units that mix together all of Warlord's plastic shot models, but that didn't look right to me as this group are clearly marching, while the others are firing. Instead, I decided to keep all the marching models together and relied on different hats, swords, weapon poses and painting to differentiate them. The models were painted as a block, so I kept things simple with only base colours, one wash and one layer of highlights, with an additional highlight on the faces.

My second unit are Pikeman. Despite having plenty of plastic pike, most of these are actually from a box of Warlord metal armoured Pikeman. The reason for this is that the re-enactors mostly wore armour and Warlord's plastics mostly don't. The Winchesters justify their look on the basis that the Marquess was a rich man who could afford to equip his men well, but I suspect most of them just like being well kitted out. I decided to follow the re-enactors, though the command group are plastics from Warlord. The Batallion box even came with an appropriate flag that matched the regimental colours.

Two units down. With the Pikeman upgraded to Veteran, to represent their armour, that's 10 points so far. I still have another unit of Shot, a unit of Commanded Shot (skirmishers) and a Cannon to complete.

Incidentally, if you're interested in the Marquess of Winchester Regiment, they have a website at www.marquisofwinchesters.co.uk with plenty of good pictures and also feature fairly prominently in the first episode of the series Weekend Warriors, which was screened on the Yesterday Channel in the UK. The episode is available on demand here though you may have to register to watch it.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Shadow War Campaign - The Blue and the Grey

It's been a long time since my last update, though I've actually been painting and gaming quite a bit. It's just the blogging I've let slide. Hopefully I'll be able to rectify it with a few updates in quick succession, starting with my onging Shadow War campaign.

With the first game of round two out of the way, and reinforcements freshly painted up, it was time for the Tau to take on the Chaos Space Marines. I randomly generated the "Kill Team Fight" scenario: the most basic scenario but, oddly, not one I'd played before.

The Tau ending up choosing a side and deploying first, taking up firing positions and going on overwatch.

Meanwhile, the Chaos Space Marines deployed out of the Tau's firing lines and made the best possible use of cover that they could.

They set up on opposite flanks, planning a two-pronged attack.

Covered by their Recon Drone and Speciliast Gen'Tu's Ion Rifle, two Pathfinders tried to advance into firing range, while still under cover.

Meanwhile, Champion Corpulous and Brothers Scrofula and Legionella advanced into the shade of a Loyalist Space Marine Hero, ironic.

With the Tau now in firing positions, and with the range of their pulse weapons extended by the Pulse Accelerator Drone, an exchange of fire began, but to little effect as the Tau's, previously solid, marksmanship deserted them.

Meanwhile, on their left flank, the Tau drew the first blood of the game. Brother Leprous climbed to the top of the Promethium Tank, only to be gunned down by Specialist Ree'va's Rail Rifle. Brother's Pox and Buboes  stayed at the bottom and kept under cover and hidden.

On the right flank the fire fight continued.

But, despite the heavy use of Marklights by the Tau, neither side seemed to be able to land a hit.

Finally, the new recruit, Cadet Net'ra managed to land a hit, taking down Brother Scrofula.

While much of the action was taking place on the left flank, Brother's Pox and Buboes continued to advance on the right, still under fire, but avoiding any serious hits

Brother Corpulous broke cover to take revenge for Brother Scrofula and shot down Cadet Net'ra.

Only to be gunned down by the Recon Drone.

With the loss of three of their number and effective collapse of the right flank, the Chaos Space Marines bottled out (involuntarily, they failed a bottle check).

This was very much a game that was more fun to play than report, as much of it was a relatively static fire fight, which is tense when your rolling the dice, but not very exciting to describe.

I realised after the event that I made a mistake in setting up the scenery, by putting high, well protected building at the edge of the battle field which the Tau were able to exploit. If a kill-team with a lot of fire power is given a well protected vantage point, they can really take advantage of it. As a result, the Chaos Marines spent much of the game hiding or running from one piece of cover to another.

In future, I think I will roll for scenarios before setting up terrain. Hopefully that will stop one side making too effective use of cover.

In the end, neither side suffered too badly as a result. All the Chaos Marines made a full recovery, except Brother Scrofula who ended up partially deaf, which doesn't effect his combat abilities unless it happens again and he goes completely deaf. The Tau gained two data caches to the Chaos Marine's one. Both sides also recruited a new team member, Cadet Uk'alt and Brother Reapus, taking the Tau to their maximum team size of 10 and the Chaos Marines to Nurgle's sacred number of 7.

I have been fairly busy of late, so, I should have another update on the campaign and other matters shortly, fingers firmly crossed.

Monday, 1 January 2018

The Past and the Future

Another year ended, which is as good a time as any to reflect on what I've been doing for the last 365 days and what I plan to do with the next.

 Everything I painted in 2017

Overall, this year has been pretty much like the last. Steady progress, one project following another. I finished my Beyond the Gates of Antares project back in May and took some time out to build my Dwarf Brewery and try it out in a quick game.

 Brewery Battle

Games Workshop have had a pretty good year, putting out lots of new games, many of which have seen them exploring new territory. The end of their relationship with Fantasy Flight games seems to have done them some good as Shadespire feels like the sort of game that Fantasy Flight would have produced using GW IP. Now Games Workshop are doing it themselves. The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 seems to have gone down well and, while I still have no interest in Age of Sigmar, it seems to have brought a lot of new energy to their Fantasy setting.

For me, the big Games Workshop development was Shadow War: Armageddon, which gave me a great opportunity to dig out and paint some neglected old models. My campaign is now properly underway and should keep me busy for a while. I have a couple of models to add to my existing Kill Teams, but then I plan to start on a new painting project to keep me busy while my gaming focuses on Shadow War.

I haven't bought a lot of new models this year, but have added a few extras to Beyond the Gates of Antares. My last painted models of the year were bought at Warlord Games Open day in October. A Ghar Bombardment Crawler and a Concord Drone Commander. Most of my other recent acquisitions have been for BTGOA. I have been slowly accumulating Boromites, none of which are painted yet and grabbed the Algoryn starter army in the Warlord Christmas sale.

 Concord Drone Commander

Ghar Bombardment Crawler

However, my next project is something entirely different. I don't normally announce projects in advance, but I'm going to this time because I hope it will keep me focused. I've been sitting on a bunch of unassembled English Civil War models for years and, thanks to Osprey's Pikeman's Lament rules, that support medium level skirmish gaming for this period, I'm finally going to get on and paint some.

So the plan for next year, more of the same. Stick to one project at a time, balance painting and gaming and don't buy a lot of unnecessary new stuff. I hope what audience I have will stick around to see how I get on. See you in 2018.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Shadow War Campaign - Ambush and Hit & Run

Sorry it has been so long since my last update. I have still been gaming and painting, but with the run up to Christmas, I haven't found much time for updating my blog. 

Having finished my last two Kill-Teams and with a free afternoon I wanted to get in as much gaming as I could. First up was the fight between my newly painted Tau and Ork Kill-Teams. I rolled the ambush scenario with the Tau as the attackers, which suited them pretty well given their superior firepower.

The Tau took up position in hiding. Most of the team deployed on the east side, with Shas'Ui Tas'Vou  and Ree'Va with his Rail Rifle deployed in the South, to try and catch the Orks in a cross fire.

The Orks were mostly forced to deploy in the centre of the field, but Sergeant Bogrot and Razan got lucky and were able to ambush the ambushers, deploying behind a wall just out of sight of Shas'Ui Tas'Vou.

The trap was sprung and the Tau got off to a good start, downing two Ork Yoofs, Mozz and Fuzzle and taking the third Yoof, Trug, out of action. Snagrip returned fire with his big shoota and managed to completely miss everything, only to be shot down for his trouble.

In the South, Razan and Sergeant Bogrot tried to spoil the Tau's fun, with the Sarge throwing a frag stikkbomb, which missed, bounced off a wall and damaged exactly nothing. Shas'Ui Tas'Vou took aim with his pulse pistol, and took the Sarge out of action with one shot. Ouch! Despite the loss of their leader, the Orks refused to bottle.

On the east side, Dagroll had gotten into cover and a futile exchange of fire with Tri'Spa and Ki'Ra

Unphased by Sergeant Bogrot being taken down, Razan charged into combat with Tas'Vou and, in the Ork's first bit of luck of the game, took him down and out. Meanwhile, Korporal Frix, having used the unfortunate Yoofs as a shield, snuck up behind Ree'Va and shot him in the back with his slugga.

In the North East, Fragrap broke cover to use his flamer. Stuck between a Tau and a drone he picked the drone, pinning it but causing no damage. Ki'Ra returned the favour by shooting him and taking him out.

Korporal Frix was quickly shot down by Tri'Spa, but Snagrip was finally able to make use of his big shoot to take out Gen'Tu and his Ion Rifle, while Razan finished off the downed Ree'Va in hand to hand. At this point, with 3 of their number including Shas'Ui Tas'Vou down or out of action, the Tau bottled. Although they were winning in terms of numbers, for the two, three Casualties was clearly too many.

In the end, the fight worked out quite well for both sides. Shas'Ui Tas'Vou and Gen'Tu made a full recovery and while Ree'Va had a miraculous escape. Clearly presumed dead by his colleagues he made his way through hostile territory back to the Tau's home base and gain extra experience for his trouble. The Tau gained 1 data cache and recruited a new pathfinder cadet, Net'Ra.

The Orks got 3 data caches, putting them only 1 behind the Sisters of Battle and Blood Angels. Sergeant Bogrot and Fuzzle both ended up with horrible scars which cause fear, which felt more like a help that a hindrance. I have to admit to being very tempted to try and model the scars on, but I don't really want to chop up my lovely old models. Corporal Frix ended up deaf in one ear, which most lead to him yelling even louder and complaining that the rest of the mob should stop frakking mumbling!

With this game done, every Kill-Team had played one game each, meaning we were at the end of round 1 of the campaign. For the next round I decided to randomise who would fight who, but not to allow any team to fight the same team it had fought in round 1. To do this, I put six different coloured dice in a back, one for each team and drew them out in pairs, returning them to the bag if I got any duplicate line ups.

This left me with the following combinations:
Blood Angels vs Sisters of Battle;
Tau vs Chaos;
Orks vs Dark Eldar.

Both the Tau and Orks had new recruits that needed painting before I could use them again, which left just the Blood Angels vs Sisters of Battle to play. I randomly rolled a scenario and got to pick myself. I went for Hit and Run, just because I hadn't played it yet, before realising just how well it fit the storyline.

After the first round, the Blood Angels and Sisters had the most data caches and so were closest to uncovering the location of Inquisitor Rudolphus' archive. Brother Sergeant knew his duty was to find the archive first and recover the gene seed of Brother Captain Bartolomeo, a Captain who had succumbed to the red thirst and whose body had been stolen by the Inquisitor for study. But attacking fellow servant sof the Emperor did not sit well with him. He decided to launch a lightning raid on the Sisters base of operation aiming to destroy their data store and get out inflicting minimal casualties. Of course the Sisters would not respond well to such provocation.

The random event rolls went very well for the Blood Angels. Sister Agnes got lost in the sump, leaving the Sisters one member down, while the Blood Angels got friendly territory reducing their chances of being injured. On top of that, the Blood Angels got six team members, meaning they actually outnumbered the sisters at the start of the game.

The Blood Angels deployed in the South and West, keeping under cover. This was actually pretty tricky as the sisters took the high ground and kept the field well surveyed.

Brother Fillipo climbed up the top of the Promethium tower to get a better firing position only to be almost immediately shot down.

On the West side, Novice Marco was also shot by Sister Ursula and pinned.

Just as Brother Sergeant Antonio was about to enter the fray, reinforcements arrived in the form of Sister Joan who let rip with her flamer, pinning him, but not wounding him.

Brother's Raphael and Fillipo and Novice Marco were all shot, leaving the West side clear.

But in the South Brother Michael came to Brother Sergeant Antonio's aid and shot and pinned Sister Joan.

Brother Sergeant Antonio then finished her off in hand to hand. But he had been badly delayed and most of the rest of the Blood Angel's were down or out.

Brother Raphael made a desperate gamble, taking advantage of his hip-shooting skill he broke cover and ran to try and take out the Sister's data cache, but missed.

Sister Superior Winifred then took him out in hand to hand. With all but two of the Blood Angels down or out and with the Sisters bruised but still very much alive, the Blood Angels voluntarily bottled out.

In the end, neither side came out of this battle with much of an advantage. Both gained one data cache, putting them on 5 each and both sides gained a scattering of new skills and profile boosts. The only significant loss was that Brother Michael ended up shell shocked, taking away the bonus initiative he had gained in the previous game, but he gained a point of ballistic skill by way of compensation.

Following the game, the Blood Angels recruited a new member, Novice Niccolo, while the Sisters spent the bonuses on equipping every member of the team with red-dot laser sights and handing out weapon reloads to as many sisters as possible.

This pretty much rounds up my gaming and the campaign for the year. I have a Tau and and Ork to paint, but once that's done, the second round can continue in earnest.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Shadow War Campaign - The Tau and the Orks

What with birthdays and trips to Nottingham it's been a while since I last posted an update on my Shadow War project, sorry about that. But I haven't been idle and have finished my last two Kill-Teams.

The Tau are a bit of a cheat. When I started this project, the plan was not to buy any new models as I had plenty of old ones that deserved painting. I do actually have a Tau Fire Warrior squad but, not knowing much about Tau, I hadn't realised that the Tau in Shadow War are actually Pathfinders not Fire Warriors. I could have used my Fire Warriors to put together a team, as they do have the option for Pulse Carbines which Pathfinders use, but I wouldn't have had any of the right Special Weapons or Drones. Then, at small local Wargames show Valhalla, I stumbled across a box of Pathfinders for only £16 which seemed like a bargain, so I snapped them up.

The Pathfinders feature the full range of shooting options, including an Ion Rifle and a Rail Rifle and are accompanied by both a Recon Drone and a Pulse Accelerator drone. I even made use of my Fire Warrior box by pinching a hand with a pulse pistol for my Shas'ui. I reasoned that being the only member of the squad even approaching competent in close combat, it made sense to give him a bit of an edge and he didn't sacrifice much range to do it.

The Tau were spray undercoated with Army Painter Wolf Grey and highlighted in Vallejo Wolf Grey (clearly they have much lighter coloured wolves in Vallejo's part of the world). The highlights actually came out much stronger than I intended, but I like the effect. I think it gives them a cartoonish feel, which suits their slightly Anime inspired design. The black areas were Vallejo German Grey, highlighted with Dark Grey while the skin of the Shas'ui was Vallejo neutral grey higlighted with light grey. Given they amount of blue I was using I didn't want to give them blue skin and I saw no reason why Tau shouldn't have varied skin colours like humans.

I rather like how these have come out and it has me tempted to put together a larger Tau force for Warhammer 40,000. The start collecting box seems like pretty good value.

Anyway, now we turn to almost the principal reason for this project, the Orks.

I have been a 40K Ork collector longer than anything else and what really got me into them were Kev Adams incredibly characterful sculpts from Warhammer 40,000 1st and early 2nd edition. Back then, Ork background was based around the six major Ork clans. Space Marines had their chapters, Eldar their Craftworlds, Imperial Guard their regiments and Orks their clans. Virtually all the models were clan specific and had huge amounts of personality. The Orks were also much lighter in tone than the rest of the 40K Universe, with lots of daft humour that was well captured in the models.

I collected Orks through late 1st and early 2nd edition by which time Kev Adams had left Games Workshop. GW initially got other sculptors, mostly Alan and Michael Perry and Gary Morley, to imitate Kev Adams style, with varying degrees of success, until Brian Nelson came along and pretty much redefined the look of GW Orks, making them bigger, meaner and more bestial. I actually like Brian Nelson's style, but they never had the same level of personality as the Kev Adams sculpts. Plus, in 3rd edition 40K GW all but dropped the clan concept and my interest in Orks waned.

Recently, the clan concept has been sneaking its way back in and found it's way into Shadow War by defining the Skills that Ork Kill-Teams can take, in much the same way as the Space Marine chapters and the Imperial Guard regiments. This seemed like the perfect time to dig out my old models and give them the attention they so richly deserved.

For my clan choice I went with Blood Axes, sneaky gits who copy humans and even wear camouflage (though they don't really know what it's for and like to use bright colours). I picked them mostly because I had some models I wanted to use but their sneaky approach to warfare perfectly suits Shadow War.

These three Youths are a mix of metal and plastic. Back in the early 90s, Games Workshop were really into using seperate plastic arms on their metal models to give you more posing options. The two Orks on the left are of this type, metal models with plastic arms and weapons. The one on the left is an offical Blood Axe Ork boy, while the one in the centre is, technically a mad boy, though I thought his little shorts and tongue hanging out gave him a sort of boyish enthusiasm appropriate for a Yoof. The Ork on the right is entirely plastic, from the Space Orks boxed set, one of several multi-part plastic sets from the early 1990s which, in retrospect, feel somewhat ahead of their time. It was only after I got them altogether that I realised they were wearing matching hats.

For the black areas I stuck with my German Grey/Dark Grey combination. For the Green uniforms I used Vallejo Yellow Olive Highlighted with Russian Uniform WW2. The camouflage areas are old GW bubonic brown with Prussian blue stripes. The Ork skin is Vallejo Goblin Green with a GW Thraka Green wash and highlighted in Vallejo Golden Olive. Initially thought this would be too light, but I actually like how it has come out.

The two Ork boyz are actually Blood Axe Kommandoes and are not Kev Adams sculpts, but are by Alan Perry. I like them anyway and I think they're slightly serious, no funny business, look is quite appropriate for two profeshunals. I used them same colour combinations as for the Yoofs, but with more emphasis on the camouflage patterns, which seemed only appropriate for Kommando fatigues.

The Orks on the left and right are Spanner boyz, specialists with Heavy Weapons. They are both originally Mek Boys, but their techie look seemed appropriate for Spanners. The one on the left has a Big Shooter. The one on the right presented me with a problem. He is clearly carrying a Flamer, but that isn't an option for Orks. I initially thought of counting it as a Rokkit Launcha, but that felt silly and there was no way I was leaving that lovely old model out, so I decided to house rule it and let him have his flamer. I doubt it will unbalance the whole campaign and he probably stole it from an Imperial Guardsman, which is appropriate for the Blood Axes.

The Ork in the middle is technically another Boy, but the model is a Blood Axe Nob, so I decided to make him Sergeant Bogrot's second-in-command and equip him with a bus chopper to show his superior Rank. He is clearly very pleased with himself.

Finally we have Sergeant Bogrot, my favourite Ork in the team and one of my favourite models of all time. Originally and Blood Axe Warboss, he has been slightly demoted for the campaign, but his Big Choppa should stand him in good stead. I felt I had no choice but to paint his big coat in black, but I stuck to the Team colours on his hat and his coat cuffs.

I am really pleased with the painting on both of these squads and, as soon as possible, I will pit them against one another and post the results. Watch this space.