Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 in review

It's been... a year. Perhaps wisely, I didn't plan anything for 2016, so this is all bonus :D That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

On the good side, we ran the second Hereward Wargames Show, which seems to have improved on the last with more games. more traders, more floor space and more people through the door, so hopefully we can continue apace. We seem to have also found a formula for the Meeples and Miniatures podcast that works, which people seem to like, including some excellent guests (I'm particularly delighted to have found both Kirsty Rogers (sadly, no longer working for the Royal Armouries in Leeds, but her new job at the National Trust might yet have potential for more wargames tie-ins) and Harry Sidebottom (wargaming historian and author) as guests, as a change from people with rules/Kickstarters to promote!

On top of that, I bought a 3D printer, which, as well as provoking a lot of discussion on the podcast, has been a real eyeopener in terms of getting stuff made for various games.

Gaming-wise? A lot of IABSM, as well as various other Lardy rule sets, some Kings of War and a few interesting one offs including Full Thrust, Altar of Freedom and Halo Fleet Battles.

Various things got painted - mostly 3D printed vehicles - and I did finally start in on the 4Ground French 15mm stash. A bit.

Secret projects have come and gone:

  • Sekret Projekt W has been pre-empted (very well) by someone else, so is probably shelved;
  • Sekret Projekt D (the Dux Britanniarum Compendium) is on the go - as I've said a couple of times, playtesting is important for the scenarios, so it's going to take a while yet;
  • Sekret Projekt A is still being thought about, though I have identified several potential customers;
  • Sekret Projekt L, the Lardy Lists site, is on hold pending me finding a week with nothing else to do to get it caught up with all you prolific people;
  • Sekret Projekt P is rolling along nicely, thank you;
  • Sekret Projekt C is next in the writing queue after D.
On the not-so-good side, my eye is still playing up. And we lost Nick Hawkins.

Watch this space for New Year Resolutions tomorrow.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Secret Santa

Many thanks to my wargames Secret Santa for reminding me how nice the Napoleon At War 18mm sculpts are. I really MUST work on getting the stash painted this next year!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Merry Christmas to all my readers

Written in advance, since I fully expect to be on the list of creatures not stirring by midnight, or in church for Midnight Mass, depending on how the mood takes us. The former being slightly more likely as I'm in church again at 9:15 to play bass in the Christmas morning service :D [Amused note for the musically-minded - the hymn list includes 'While Shepherds...' to the tune 'Cranbrook'.]

Here we are again then. Hoping Santa and his helpers bring you lots of cool gaming stuff for Christmas: as usual, Anne and I exchanging small token presents and leaving each other to buy what we want, so I'm expecting a pair of socks :D On the 'things I've bought' list, I have Battlefront's rather nice Italian Monastery (it's only spoilt by the fact that the paving stones are a flat, unrealistic grey, despite everything else being nicely textured and shaded). Also two boxes of their vineyards, a German pioneer platoon, some 4Ground 15mm chain link fencing, three reels of 3D printer filament, and whatever the wargaming Secret Santa is bringing me (I have a guess, given who it was bought from, mind).

In addition, I received a very nice gift a little earlier in the month from podcast listener Jonathan Yuengling, namely three rather nice resin 15mm WW2 support vehicles (a Dingo and a couple of trucks) from Gaming Models in the US - once I get round to them in the to-paint list, I promise some photos and a review. Thanks, Jon!

Yesterday's other nice surprise was the Too Fat Lardies Christmas Special - kudos to Nick and Rich for getting it out in time despite the ravages of 2016, and I'm in it! If you've been following the club's recent IABSM adventures, this is the Out Of The Frying Pan scenario for IASBM. Enjoy!

And that's that. Best wishes for a peaceful, stress-free and drama-free Christmas. See you on the flip side!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Battle Report - 19 Dec 2016 - IABSM "The Road To San Marco"

Another IABSM2 conversion, this from Rich Clarke's "Cymru Am Byth" scenario book which tracks the Welsh Guards throughout WW2.

Nice simple set up - the Germans are defending the town of San Marco as the Welsh Guards drive north from Perugia. This was a long-promised teaching game for the club, so we had old hands (if a little rusty) AndyM and MarkJ (long time no see!) commanding the Germans' scattered couple of platoons, a StuG, a PAK 38 and some off table mountain guns, and Carl took charge of the British company and two troops of Sherman IIIs, assisted by Colin, Ash, Pippa and Tom.

Things started badly when I realised I'd forgotten the box with the StuG III in it, but decided I'd brazen it out and let the Germans place a Tiger (with StuG III stats) on the table instead, 'cause after all everything's a Tiger when it starts out :D Carl was most amused. Other than that I made a few tweaks - the British didn't have 2" mortars and PIAT's listed, which seemed odd, so they got them, and the Germans' Kubelwagen got a Panzershrek, just to even things up a bit. (Still not sure what that's intended for - it seems not to be beefy enough to pull a PAK38).

I'll let the pictures tell the story, with a note that this was SO different to a Normandy game - the lack of head-high bocage makes for a whole different approach to the game.

The table. Mats by Deepcut, hills on the left by the Tree
Fellas, remaining hills by Andy Hawes, roads by S&A Scenics...
...factory by Sarissa, railings and  Italian town 3D printed by me.

The fun's already started, as a section of British 3 platoon, sent out in
advance by the CO to see what's afoot,  has dismounted from its trucks,
wandered into the olive grove and just about fallen over two sections of the
German infantry Zug. It was rather rapidly reduced to 0 actions...
Meanwhile, 3 Platoon's mortar is laying smoke...
...while a troop of the 16th/5th Lancers are forcing their way through
the olive grove. The German Zug is rather regretting its decision
to re-enter the trees... 
View from over the olive pressing plant. The other troop of the 16th/5th
has already lost its CO to the Stug - the double 6 to hit (and thus bonus 3
dice) doing most of the damage there. The brewed-up Sherman can be
seen in the distance just to the left of the chimney.

The smoke laying job has been taken over by 1 Platoon up in the cutting on
the hill behind the single house, as 3 Platoon's mortar team just got cut
in half by two MG34s.
The 'Tiger' lurking behind a house. (The roof material is Wills 00 pantile
sheet). Also visible one of the German MG teams and the overall German
CO. (And some Battlefront vineyards, with a heavy ink wash to hide
the hideously bright green!)
Starting to look a little dicey for Jerry now. The infantry Zug in the olive
trees is getting pounded by 1 Platoon and the Shermans, with 2 Platoon
still in its trucks following in the Shermans' wake. Their Panzerfaust has
just missed the lead Sherman centre left. The pall of smoke in the top right
corner reveals where the tanks on the road unleashed on the StuG.
And there we have it. The Germans are pinned and shocked, and about to lose
their bottle. The forces in the village are about to follow their orders, and
having given the British something of a bloody nose, are falling back.
And we finished inside the time available!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Battle Report - 12 Dec 2016 - IABSM "Vacqueville '44"

"Vacqueville '44" is a historical scenario from the 2014 TFL Summer Special, courtesy of the the man himself, Nick Skinner. I suspect it may have been sitting in his files a while, as it's clearly an IABSM 2 scenario, so a bit of tweaking was called for :D

Short summary - the US on their way inland from Omaha Beach have to deal with a German strongpoint in the hamlet of Vacqueville (just south of Vierville-sur-Mer). The summer special has a nice map, but I provided Carl and Tom (the Americans) with a reconnaissance photo from NCAP with some suitable annotations from which to form a plan.

Achtung! Minen! (Minefield from a brilliant idea
courtesy of John Bond.)
AndyB took the Germans, who are very limited in terms of command, and rigged a fairly spirited defence, helped greatly by channeling the Americans around a minefield placed SE of the main farm complex to the SW of the farm track just before it pierces the hedge. He had a tripod MG42 and a PAK 38 firing from the south-westernmost buildings to discourage the Americans from end-around-ing in that direction, which pretty much meant the American attack was through the orchard to the NE of the farm.

One American platoon wound up pinned against the SW/NE hedge, while one came up the bocage-lined road and the other worked its way through the orchard from the SE. Their main problem proved to be a couple of infantry sections, one in the whitewashed house, one against the bocage. While the later was relatively swiftly reduced to zero actions, it did give the approaching platoon something of a bloody nose.
Farm buildings near the camera are 4Ground, the far two
are 3D printed.

By the time that first German section had retreated in disorder, the one in the whitewashed cottage had started to give a very good account of itself, causing most of that approaching American platoon to be very keen to keep its head down.

About then the turn card finally put in its sixth appearance, and the telltale rumble of armour could be heard. Sadly, not German. To add insult to injury, the American FOO finally managed to get some sense out of the battery of 105s on the other end of his radio, and (fortunately fairly inaccurate) shelling began.

The Americans have the orchard, but the Germans in the
whitewashed cottage and the carriage barn do have a
pretty good field of fire...
Sadly that's about where we had to leave it - we're definitely getting quicker with IABSM, and the practice definitely improves matters, though I will be switching from the official QRS (which misses a whole load of small special case rules that happen a lot) to the one from the Sgt Perry's Heroes blog.

Not sure who'd have won this - if the Panzershrek team made it to a suitable vantage point in time, I think the Germans might have been in with a shout, if nothing else because there'd have been a blazing Sherman or two blocking the road. Andy B did a great job holding off the Americans as well as he did.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

"To Britain's Shores" - Chapter 16 - The Boar Hunt

"What myth are we chasing this time?" We're jogging through the woods towards the bank of a fairly generous stream. "Some golden horse? Some saint's dried up private parts?"

Aelfric laughs, claps me on the shoulder. "Good honest boar."

I snort. "Not sure there's anything honest about something with tusks and a bad temper."

The Young Wolf chuckles. Evidently he's in a good mood today. "At least you know it's going to be mad at you."

We pause a few hundred paces before the bank, near the edge of the wood, and Aelfric turns to Ecgwine. "Take your men and the archers. See what you can flush out. But stay this side of the water."

Ecgwine brisiles a little at the restriction, but nods. Lavinia and her handful of archers are already roving ahead, moving from bush to bush towards the water's edge. He and his men follow, surprisingly quietly. Aelfric nods approvingly. "You and Theobald did a good job with him, Godric."

"Aye." I catch sight of a head of raven hair before it and its female owner disappear amid the scrub. "Not sure I can take all the credit, mind."

He nods. "Aye. Still a mystery, that one. Beornwulf knows something, but he won't tell..."

"You could make him."

A shake of his head. "It'll out in its own time. Or when it becomes a problem."

"I hope you're..." 

I'm interrupted by a yell from one of Beornwulf's men, ranging ahead and to our left, "The British!"

I sigh, unsheathe my sword. "I knew this was too good to be true."

Damn right it is.

He told them to stay this side of the water. But no. Lavinia and her little band flush the boar, and Ecgwene's men, with much whooping and yelling, chase after it, and, rather than facing up to them it turns and splashes its way across the stream, and the idiots follow it. I don't know if they don't see the British, or figure they will be too late to arrive, but by the time the archers are back this side of the river, Ecgwine has brought down the boar with a spear thrust, and their little man is almost on them with a considerably greater number of their warriors.

Nothing I can do. Aelfric has led us leftwards, skirting another clump of trees, to head off their Praefect and his hearth guard, while Beornwulf follows after Ecgwine with another two bands of our warriors. 

"Odin's balls," Aelfric growls, "Why doesn't he just leave the damn carcass...?"

Ecgwine's band, boar hauled between two of them, struggle across the stream, one or two slipping on wet rocks, with the Britons right behind. For a moment I think they'll made it far enough that the little man won't risk it for fear of Beornwulf's warriors approaching along the near bank, but no: with a great battle cry they ford the stream...

In the grand scheme of things? Not the little man's wisest course. Sure, he and his men rush on Ecgwine's, and I, like Lavinia's group of young bowmen, can only watch as they fall. But Beornwulf waves his great axe above his head, twin to the one his father Wulfhere carries still in Petvaria, and roars aloud like the bear he's named after... "DEATH! Death to the Britons!" They charge into the enemy flank, swords and spears reddening with British blood, and swiftly break them.

But the damage is done.

I watch her, not saying a word, as she kneels by his body, touches a hand to his cheek, then to the great rent in his mail where a spear took him. She wipes a hand across her face in a gesture she thinks I don't see, then, carefully, she unfastens the symbol of the Christ-God that she gave him from round his neck, fastens it with bloodied fingers round her own, and stands.

I open my mouth to say something comforting, but she forestalls it with a look from those dark eyes. His blood on her fingers has left a mark where she rubbed her face, a mark that shows a track of moisture through it. The eyes, though, glitter with something more than tears. For a moment, I think she's going to just go, but then she turns, a swirl of night-dark hair across her shoulders. Her voice is quiet, brittle. "Warriors don't weep." All she says, turning, shoulders set, without another look back, and walking away.

She's not there when we build his pyre. Not there to speak words for the God he at least honoured for her sake. Out of respect to her, and to him, and to the Christ-God, we let one of the locals offer a prayer in Latin, before Beornwulf, Aelfric and I set torches to the stacked wood, and step back.

She's not there when we sit around, late into the night, raising horns and mugs of ale and mead to the stories and memory of a brat-turned-man who would have, one day, made a fine Cyning. And husband. And she's wrong. Warriors do, when we lose one of our own. And that, Ecgwine had become. 

She's not there in the morning. Neither is one of our few horses.

Aelfric's voice at my shoulder, as I'm considering the empty stall, makes me start. "Lavinia's gone?"

I just nod. 


It's an odd question, one that breaks me out of my thoughts. I frown. "Yes. No. I'm not sure."

He nods, shrugs a touch, cloak wrapped around him against the oncoming winter. "Me neither." A pause, then, quietly. "We need to send word to Ecgfrith."

I nod, glumly. "He's not going to take that well." The Cyning's only son is dead. And he'll likely blame us, whom he trusted with the care and training of his son.

Aelfric nods. "No, he's not." He sighs, long and thoughtful. "I could send you."

I knew this was coming. "You need me here. And besides..." There are folks at Ecgfrith's hall across the sea with whom I have... how to say this...? 'history', and Aelfric knows it. But it would give the old King someone to rail at.

To my surprise, he acquiesces. "You're probably right." He exhales, thoughtfully. "I'll send Beornwulf." 

Editor's note: sorry, no photos, although Andy has some. My iPhone was away at the iPhone menders not being mended.

"Saxon Noble One"? Not a good job title in my army. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

"To Britain's Shores" - Chapter 15 - St. Cuthbert's Hol(e)y Relics

"Right. Off your rear ends, the lot of you."

Here we go again. I get to my feet - Odin's beard, but I'm starting to get stiffer as the years go by - and head over to pick up sword, spear and shield from where I've propped them. "What is it this time?"

Aelfric grins, that teeth-bared wolf-smile of his. "The Britons are apparently making ready to receive another of their holy relics. A handful of their unarmed holy men and a dozen men to guard it on the old road."

Ecgwene joins us. "What are we waiting for then?" 

Too keen by half, that lad.

Aelfric's right, anyway. A little knot of men and pack-mules are making a slow and steady pace along the old road, and we find them maybe four hundred paces from safety. He's getting a little keen, though, giving the cluster of Britons led by that Lord we had as a guest - Geraint - the charge. They peel off from the monks to head him off...

Ecgwine heads after the monks, and makes rather quick work of getting the mules off them and heading back away. Lad is definitely guilty of over confidence there, though - he has no respect for that hat short Lord of theirs who comes after him with his men, quite prepared to turn his back as they retreat with the treasure. I learned his name the other week - I think it was Lavinia who found out -  'Maximus Minimus', the Great Little Man. Evidently somebody has a sense of humour, anyway. But, to be fair... he may be short, but he's no coward, and he and his men aren't about to let Ecgwene away without a fight.

Meanwhile, we're facing off against Geraint and that Praefect of theirs and their hearth guard, me and Aelfric side by side as we have been for what seems like years now. It's a back and forth rough-house of a fight, and for all we give a good account of ourselves, in the end they push us back. Out of the corner of my eye I see Ecgwene's men likewise retreating without the monks' goods...

"If," I observe drily to Aelfric, "Your next words are 'that went well' again, I may do something that I regret later."

My reward is a bark of laughter, quickly suppressed,  as the Young Wolf removes his rather rent mail shirt, then eyes it ruefully, "No. Overconfidence is just as bad as being fat and lazy. Ecgwene needs to learn that." Quietly, "Mayhap you should have a word in the ear of that woman of his."

I snort. "I suspect she's telling him that without any need for words from me."

He sighs, lets the mail fall to the floor with a growl of frustration. "Damnation. They are growing more skilled in our ways. These defeats are growing costly." 

Indeed they are: once again the women are moving among our wounded, and once again there are far too damn many of them for my liking. I sigh, look across at him. "What now, then?"

The Young Wolf shrugs. "We heal." A pause, and then a chuckle, an echo of the teenager I first met nearly a decade ago, "Who knows? We take up boar hunting for profit for a while?"

[OK. Now I'm caught up barring Monday's game. Watch this space!]

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dux Britanniarum update

Just wrapped another Compendium playtest with Andy Hawes.

Guess that one works, then! Holy.... deleted.... Batman. I don't think I've ever had one that tense, or that dramatic, especially given that (not counting a unit-vs-critter fight) there were precisely two combats, lasting a total of three rounds between them.

Also? There was Significant Death. Fans of the Linnius Chronicles will want to watch this space. 

However, it has been brought to my attention that I have failed to make an in-character record of the last scenario, the Pilgrimage, so that will have to come first, before Godric and Lavinia tell the tale of the boar hunt.
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