Ayton Event 2019 – A VBCW Naval Force

As in previous years, the LAW forum get-together in Ayton took place over the May bank holiday weekend.

There were several games on the 2 days, with the biggest one being a Very British Civil War game on a grand scale. I’ll post about the games separately, but thought I’d put a picture up to show the force I took along.

This was a naval contingent from HMS Scarborough, just back from the Indian station and aiming to help restore a bit of order in this part of Yorkshire.

Half the figures are actually colonial sailors (including Gatling gun) I already had. Although a bit anachronistic this gave me a decent starting point as, despite being really up for the games/setting, I didn’t really want a major VBCW painting project. So, I picked up a box of Warlord Games naval party and a few packs from Empress Miniatures and added these into my force. They were nice to paint and helped bridge the gap to the pre-war period.

To motorise some of the units I added a couple of Warbases MDF vehicles, which were a bit fiddly to assemble but ended up looking OK. Goat Major also kindly donated a couple of diecast lorries which got an armour plating and paint make-over. In honour of 2 of the navy’s most powerful battleships of the time, they were duly named Nelson and Rodney.

This made up a relatively standard platoon-sized force for the VBCW rules we used: ‘Went the Day Well?’ It comprised an HQ section including standard bearer, 3 sections of infantry (sailors), an HMG support weapon and a special section of Royal Marines (in helmets).

Finally, I contributed a whole 1 civilian to the table, Miss Marple herself.

Pics of the games and terrain to follow. Naturally it was an excellent weekend all-round!

Current Projects

Although I haven’t taken any pics yet (bases still to finish…), there has been a fair bit of hobby progress in a scatter-gun sort of way.

I have recently been working on;

  • 28mm VBCW sailors to round out my Royal Navy force, for this year’s big game at the Ayton weekend with the LAW forum guys.
  • Diecast and mdf vehicles to go with the above
  • 28mm 17th century figures for general swashbuckling, and possibly Pikeman’s Lament games in the future
  • 28mm Woodland scenics tree sprues. They’ve got endless sharp points and are nasty buggers to work with. After moderate damage to my hands I have 12 more ready to base to add to my snowy winter setup
  • 15mm Dark Ages figures, which is an on-going tidying up exercise that is getting there slowly
  • 10mm Napoleonic Bavarians for 1809, these are my first ever attempts to paint 10mm and I did find them a bit tricky. I wasn’t sure whether to try to think of them as big 6mm or small 15mm. Still, in the end I think they look OK based for DBN. I need to try some Austrians next
  • 6mm Austrian SYW – 2 more battalions, with scaled down Warflag standards, which are working really well
  • General hobby room stuff to get things ship-shape (storage arrangements, getting the electrics and lighting sorted, etc). Still the final table to decide on, but in the meantime I’ve got a decent playing area
  • Starting to plan a couple of 4 player games that I’ll be hosting in July

Once I get something actually finished, bases and all, I’ll post pics!

On Display

The new games room offered me the chance to have something I’ve not had before – a display cabinet for figures.

It arrived yesterday, about a week earlier than I was quoted. When a priority bit of DIY like this needs to be done, it goes straight to the top of the list. As a result it’s now on the wall and full of figures!

It’s about 150 x 60cm, product name Alsino V16, from a big range of similar cabinets. Many come with pre-cut grooves for model trains, which naturally I avoided. I thought I’d fit more figures in but at least it’s made a significant dent in the pile of boxes. Very pleased!

Finally Some Gaming

A recent house move has disrupted projects, painting and gaming plans, but it’s all been worth it. The new games room is mostly sorted, and last weekend Jase and I managed to fit in a couple of co-op games of Rangers of Shadow Deep and a game of Sci-Fi Rampant. Everything was in 15mm.

Rangers scenario 1 – we did pretty well with our shiny new Rangers and their companions, bar the odd guardsman being taken out by a rabid rat.

Sci-Fi Rampant (which is Dragon Rampant played straight from the book, but with a lot of thought going into the representation of the troop types we want to use) was great fun as always. It presents a very different tactical challenge when both sides have a lot of shooty units. It was a close game but on this occasion the force with armour upgrades won the day.

Now I need to get some painting done, as there hasn’t been any since January and there are deadlines looming!

 

 

Rumble in the Jungle – Sci-Fi Rampant

Ever since I finished my jungle bases for the big colonial game in September, they’ve been languishing in the box. So I decided that the last games of the year would involve getting them back on the table, along with my  as-yet unused cloth from Big Red Bat. With some 15mm sci-fi currently on the painting board, I thought a couple of games with the existing forces, using the Dragon Rampant rules as usual, would provide some extra motivation.

I set up a small battlefield of about 3′ x 3′, with plenty of trees and some buildings to block line of sight, and a landing pad in the middle.

 

I borrowed the Prisoner Rescue scenario from Pikeman’s Lament, placing a captured Alliance officer on the landing pad (perhaps awaiting collection by air?) and 12 points of Mercenaries to guard him. The other 12 points worth would be able to come to their mates’ assistance from turn 2 onwards, subject to a successful movement activation.

 

Although I’m using 15mm figures, all movement and shooting measurements are as per the standard (28mm) game, to enhance the sense of speed/action and to provide respectable ranged fire. I have ditched the original game’s activation rule whereby the first unit to fail ends a side’s turn, and gone with the current Mersey thinking (especially for periods involving professional troops) where each unit gets a chance to activate each turn regardless of other units failing. Much better, and still provides plenty of tension and unpredictable events.

The game was fast moving, and demonstrated how you need a decent scenario and objective to ensure an interesting game. Otherwise, with a lot of units on the table having a shooting capability, it’s easy for everyone to just hunker down and use their activation to take a pot shot at the nearest enemy (which is about as much fun as watching paint dry).

After lots of dashing about, and a few close assaults that very nearly saw the prisoner rescued, the defenders just about held on and caused the required 50% (points worth of) losses on the Alliance attackers.  Very entertaining all-round.

The second game used a similar set-up, but this time the sides were reversed and increased to 36 points each. With all the available upgrades it’s easy to get to this points total within about 6 units, so doesn’t make for a particularly large game. The objective was for the attacking Mercenaries to destroy the generator in the middle of the table, which required a unit to set a demolition charge (by making a successful 7+ activation when adjacent to it) that would explode after the unit’s following activation. Easier said than done in the face of a tooled-up defender!

Defenders in position:

 

The attackers start to move forward:

 

Scouts sneak around on the flank:

 

Mechs block the way, and get into position for some heavy-on-heavy action:

 

A smokescreen obscures the defender’s fire as the attackers close in:

 

Losses begin to build up:

 

The action in full-flow:

 

Heavy weapons squad moves into firing position:

 

The Mercenaries’ fast scoutbike unit made a late dash to the generator, was sent packing by heavy fire, but returned to try again. Successfully managing to set the explosive charge, but now down to its last figure, it was able to hightail it out and score a close-fought victory for the Mercenaries.

 

Thoroughly enjoyable gaming, and a nice way to end the hobby year.

I just need to get my next force painted now, but have done a few vehicles and a test figure:

Happy New Year to all! I’ll be aiming to post more often in 2019.

 

Rangers of Shadow Deep – First Go

I’ve had some fun today with Joe McCullough’s new game. It uses the Frostgrave mechanisms so it’s been pretty easy picking them up (despite the lack of a QRS or playsheet…!)

I’ve got a lot of 15mm fantasy stuff – scenery and figures, but it’s still been a challenge putting the scenario settings together. Actually it’s a nice departure from the norm, and the scenarios themselves are very varied and challenging.

I created my Ranger, Vantaniri, and recruited a few companions (one each of Rogue, Tracker, Archer, Guardsman, plus Fido the Warhound). The first mission saw the Warhound slaughtered by a giant rat, while the rest of the team kicked evil ass pretty well.

Nasty giant spiders got Fido II in the 2nd scenario, while Vantaniri and the boys torched the spider nests, etc.  Everything was going swimmingly, although the good die rolls couldn’t last forever.

Here he comes, bounding and panting with doggy enthusiasm. Oh dear.

The next mission, which I’ve not yet finished, is proving very tough. Getting past some Gnoll bridge guards involved a combination of sneaking, swimming and getting chopped up pretty badly. Luckily everyone made it through, thanks to the recovery rolls, but we were carrying some residual injuries going into the tower that’s the main mission objective.

There’s time pressure once in the tower, with a turn limit for crossing each of the initial (very large) rooms. Leaving a man down in each of the first 2 rooms, it’s a slightly beat-up team trying to make it through to the end game. Will it be enough?

I’ll be finding out post-turkey 🙂

More Alien Hunting

Over the last couple of weeks, including a pretty intense gaming weekend, our S.A.N.C.H.E.Z Alien game has seen a lot of action. A couple of new squads have set out on their (if they survive) 10-mission tours of duty, drawing tough assignments, kicking Alien ass, and receiving some much-needed enhancements.

There have been plenty of near-death experiences and nervy moments, and the games have provided a lot of fun. Some rules clarifications and simplifications have been applied and we’re pretty much there now with a finished game. The last addition was to include elevators, presenting a rather daunting challenge when you have to divide your squad to change floors in 2 groups!

All the playing bits and pieces are done too, although I do fancy painting up a couple more squads with different types of figures.

A bit of atmos:

 

Something nasty always seems to turn up just when you’re trying to activate a Tech point:

 

A smaller, early-tour, game underway:

 

What not to roll when you’re about to be mobbed (oh, and don’t stand in front of the flamethrower guy):

 

What definitely not to roll when you’re the rearguard and have a flamethrower:

 

Newly-added giant space radiators, courtesy of Jase:

 

This project has got me back to my 15mm Sci-fi generally, so I’ve been assembling some GZG vehicles for my next force for Sci-fi Rampant. Hopefully I can get something finished over the next few days/weeks.

 

 

 

Rorke’s Drift Refight

This weekend half a dozen LAW members were royally hosted by Gary in darkest East Anglia, who presented us with a tremendous 28mm Rorke’s Drift game. Aside from some additional Zulus painted up and brought by Jeremy, Gary provided all the figures and terrain, as well as an excellently run scenario using the Black Powder 2 rules. The table was 10 x 6 feet and looked superb.

The starting set-up:

Four of us played the British, and I drew Lt Chard. We looked at the lengthy perimeter and the few redcoats, and weren’t sure we could hold. The scenario had plenty of characterisation and some excellent special rules that were designed to follow some of the key events of the film, rather than just the historical battle itself. This made it a very engaging experience, and excerpts from the movie soundtrack provided some extra atmosphere too. Gary has walked the battlefield, and is very knowledgeable about the Zulu Wars, so there was no shortage of genuine background and information either.

The game seemed well balanced, and although the British certainly had the advantage in shooting and in the first round of melees, the Zulus had the opportunity in the wargame to hit us from several sides at once, which they didn’t really do in the actual battle.

Every newly arriving unit, and every charge, was a tense affair. In the end we just held on, despite losing the same number of men as they actually did on the day (17), with some desperate fighting and lots of heroic defending. We managed to defeat just enough of the Zulu force to send them packing and everyone agreed it was a brilliant day’s gaming. Thanks to Gary for everything, and it was great to see the guys and share a meal and some beers afterwards.

Hopefully the pictures give a decent impression of how intimidating 600+ Zulus look!

Aliens-Style Game – 15mm Sci-fi

A few chats over a few beers with my mate Jase recently led to the idea for a new game. It’s a derivative of our dungeon crawl game, but this time in a near future/sci-fi setting, with Alien-esque baddies creeping up on our gallant little band.

It’s a much simpler game than the fantasy one, with fewer enemies, no complexities like magic, and less character progression. It’s more of a beer & pretzels game, focusing on a special forces squad undertaking perilous missions into overrun facilities. Get in, do some stuff, and get out again while taking as few casualties from the very sneaky, very vicious, aliens as possible. Like Space Hulk, but with smaller, cheaper components.

Naturally, apart from painting a handful of GZG and Pendraken figures, we scratchbuilt everything… Cork tiles, mdf doors and features,  equipment and other tokens, printed squad sheets, mission and layout cards, etc. It took about 4 weeks to get enough done to start playing, with each of us producing a share. Now we’re back-filling the missing bits so we each have a full set of everything.

We recently got together and played 5 games, all tense and challenging, but good fun too. Since then we’ve defined some more mission types and tweaked a couple of things based on what we learned from the initial games.

Like the dungeon game, its a 2.5D game in that it uses figures and some 3D scenic pieces, but there are no walls. The last thing I want from this type of game/project is fiddling around trying to reach and see the figures, let alone make dozens of feet of walls in all shapes and lengths.

Some more pics…

Escorting a xenologist through the complex so he can carry out a crucial bit of DNA collecting:

There are things to see and do…

A whole mission site set out – a fairly long way in, and then back out again.

A squad is made up of ‘characters’ and basic grunts. They get attributes, skills (characters only) and kit. Keeping track of ammo is important too of course.

Never be the rear gunner, even if you’ve got a flamethrower:

Covering all the angles:

A bit more to do to finish off my set, but it’s been a really enjoyable project and the game itself plays how we envisioned it.

 

 

 

Critters

I haven’t managed to paint much recently but have tinkered with a few more 15mm fantasy bits and pieces.

I say ’15mm’, but actually these were mostly either 10mm or 28mm, but that’s the beauty of fantasy! I put in a couple of small orders, to Element Games for some Reaper Bones figures, and to Pendraken for some of their fantasy range.

The Bones figures:

Giant rats done:

I’ve also painted the scorpions, along with 3 from Pendraken, which are a good match size-wise. The bat swarms and 3 of the spiders are also Pendraken, all nice figures, and the bigger spider is actually from a 15mm range (Demonworld):

I still have more to do – you can’t have too many nasties in a dungeon crawl can you?