Ayton 2017

Well, that was another brilliant weekend with the LAW guys up near Scarborough. Lots of beer, banter, hobby chat and gaming – the best type of weekend 🙂

Some Game 1 pics:

 

We had 2 days of multi-player Lion Rampant games, all excellently planned and umpired by Gary who had done a lot of prep to ensure everything went smoothly. Big thanks to him for that.

 

There were over a dozen factions, with players bringing everything from Normans to Mongols, Arabs and Burgundians. Under a straight-forward and fun system like Lion Rampant things like this work, so you can just concentrate on enjoying yourself. There were 3 rounds of games, building in size from 3-4 player on Saturday morning to a big all-player bash on Sunday, with a castle thrown in as a centre piece.

 

Gary had designed a clever background whereby an island near the Holy Land was targeted by invaders and raiders of all descriptions, each with their own agenda for mayhem. Allies and enemies shifted a bit here and there and overall there was an on-going Glory Points tally to track everyone’s campaign success – or failure.

Some Game 2 pics:

 

 

 

I did pretty poorly in the points scoring, but was a few places off the bottom I think. Anyway, Andy managed minus 4 points after 2 games, and no-one could compete with that level of incompetence. I tried though – managing to get my General killed in a duel I instigated, which wasn’t an ideal result to say the least! Still, even without his presence the Medetians and their Saracen allies were the first to assault the castle walls on Sunday. Naturally, despite beating the defenders from the parapets, they also failed their courage test and were dumped back to the bottom again..twice 🙁

Some Game 3 pics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

My fatal duel:

 

 

 

With large numbers of players and some slightly oversized retinues, we decided to ease the unit activation failure pain a bit on day 2 by allowing all players a single re-roll for their first failed activation if their General was within 12″. As this is an existing rule (it’s one of the commander traits) it didn’t introduce anything new or unbalance the game, it just made things flow a bit more evenly and allowed the attackers to move across the table with some consistency to ensure people made it into action.

We also fudged the rule for keeping 3″ gaps between friendly units, just to make things a little easier for a big game with lots of troops.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we also had the visual delight of another of Tim and Tim’s 54mm extravaganzas – a fictitious modern game set in Africa with lots of excellent scenery and stunning paint jobs on the figures:

 

 

As always, big thanks to Mark for organising the venue and supplies, and making dinner arrangements. Looking forward to 2018’s event already – a return to the 18th century with Henry’s campaign taking us to the sub-continent!

 

Lion Rampant Retinue Ready for Ayton

All finished in good time for once. The last figures were painted on Monday and based on Wednesday, which is 2 days earlier than normal!

Here they are then, the retinue of Count Tankard of Medetia, a Norman adventurer and the founder of my imagi-nation.

Knights:

Mounted Serjeants:

Foot Serjeants:

Fierce Foot (or Yeomen, depending):

Archers:

Bidowers:

They’re ready for action and, let’s face it, they’re probably all going to fail, flee or fall. But it’ll be fun!!

Saracens Done

The gaming and drinking extravaganza that is Ayton 2017 is fast approaching, and I’m actually on track to have everything finished in time without a last minute panic. There’s a first for everything it seems!

My Lion Rampant retinue represents an Italo-Norman and Saracen alliance, for a bit of variety.

The Saracens make up the the bulk of my force, in terms of quantity if not quality. I’ve used a box of Gripping Beast Arab infantry to produce 3 units; 12 spearmen (to be yeomen or fierce foot), 12 archers, and 6 bidowers. To help speed things up I’ve kept the pallet very small, with black robes all-round and no fancy shield designs. I think this looks OK and it’s simple enough to not put me off adding more in the future.

I am most of the way through the Normans, which should be finished off this weekend.

I’ll be digging out a few buildings and bits of scenery to contribute to the collective efforts of the group, and am really looking forward to catching up with the guys and rolling a few dice in just over a week’s time.

Bit of a Catch Up

Although there’s been no blog activity for a while, there have at least been some hobby goings on.
Not much was actually getting finished so I wasn’t taking many pics, but there has been some gaming, and progress on a number of projects

The best of the gaming was a weekend in Newcastle with Andy hosting an excellent ACW game using his newly re-based collection and Fire & Fury rules. He’d devised a scenario and set up the terrain too. The game took place in meeting room upstairs at a commercial stables, which added to ambience!

It was an encounter battle which 5 of us played to an entertaining draw. Plenty of flank attacks, charges and counter-charges as the advantage swung back and forth. Plenty of beer was had on the 2 evenings as well, which with the excellent company made it a very good time all-round.

 

 

 

 

I’ve spent some more time evolving my 15mm fantasy dungeon game, which is pretty much sorted and has seen some solo and 2-player games recently. Now I’m just having fun adding the odd monster, character or dungeon feature, plus some background fluff and additional rules that come to mind.

 

 

This year’s Ayton weekend (coming up very soon) calls for Lion Rampant forces from anywhere between 1100-1500, so I’m taking a very early Medetian force from their Normans-in-Italy era. It will be supplemented by Saracen auxiliaries, together making a standard 24 point retinue.

I’ve painted 6 knights (Conquest plastics) and 30 Gripping Beast Arab foot, leaving 2 units left to finish before the end of the month. I’ll try to get the whole force together for a pic soon.

I’ve tried yet another method for making islands for my scratchbuilt naval games, this time it was 6mm blue foam (painted green and gridded to match the sea boards) on thin card (painted sandy for beaches). With the odd building, tree or airfield they should look OK.

Two prototypes:

Maybe they’ll be the start of an overhaul of my islands in general, or I’ll just add them to the pile!

I just need to get back into the routine of updating the blog now, so more soon hopefully!

Lion Rampant Game Day

Last weekend saw a dozen gamers gather together from far and wide (Scotland to Essex anyway) to celebrate Goat Major reaching extreme old age and to play some games of Lion Rampant.

The venue was Foundry’s premises at East Stoke Hall, and they generously laid on some superb terrain tables for us to use. Even if you don’t collect their figures it’s a great place to visit, as their ranges are extensive and go on for room after room. The recent addition of a huge display cabinet with thousands of beautifully painted figures is a real treat too. I have to admit that their old fantasy ranges got me interested, with a Frostgrave project to get back to sometime..

We had a great day, with 3 x 4 player games in the morning, using scenarios from the rulebook and card-driven random player activations. It worked very well and the guys on my table (Iain, Andy and Dave) had a lot of fun watching Iain hide (but win..) and Dave/Buff get massacred. The boasts element of the game is interesting and adds some characterisation and storyline to the on-table action, beyond just going for the objectives and killing the enemy. Not having painted my own retinue yet, I was very grateful for the loan of a lovely Wars of the Roses force from Gary. It was a small, tough, force of 4 x 6 point units and was interesting to use. That said, even a small force can be difficult to do anything with if you fail your first activation roll..

GM had worked up an interesting back-story and we were all fighting for either the King or the Usurper, as well as for ourselves. Scores were kept (I scored a net zero in the first game once I’d deducted unfulfilled boasts from the tax points I gathered!) and added to a scoreboard where both individual and team progress was recorded.

Some action from the morning game I played in:

 

 

After lunch we put all the tables together and set up for a big 6 v 6 bash, with players’ positions drawn randomly along their faction’s baseline. We had 3 objectives to fight for overall. There must have been over 500 figures in use, so it was a BIG skirmish game, but actually it played very smoothly and I think it demonstrated the flexibility of the rules. We reverted to IGO-UGO, with each side of the table taking its turn before swapping back to the other side.

Inevitably the game provided some excellent moments and a lot of entertainment, and after a couple of hours we had a result (by which time there were far fewer figures on the table). Scores were counted up (I scored about 8 this time, which at least contributed something to the Usurper’s side which I was on) and individual and team winners were declared.

Somehow Iain, who’s courage and parentage have since been extensively (and quite rightly) questioned on the LAW forum, won the Best General award amid great mirth and mockery. All’s fair in war and wargaming though, so well done Iain. The Usurpers won the overall campaign though, so a new and enlightened era was heralded.

 

Then we packed up and went off to warm ourselves up (it had been a cold day!) with a beer and curry night in Newark. All in all an excellent day with a lot of fun, good company and good gaming.

I like the Lion Rampant rules and the games they generate, and it’s very easy to pick up and get stuck in. I have the Normans in Italy retinue planned, and intend to switch my 15mm Dark Ages collection to this as well in the future.

Some Progress on the Normans

I’ve now managed to get 3 plastic Norman knights done, representing truly glacial progress..

They’re quite nice to paint, it’s just the very limited time I’ve had to devote to them. So now I’m halfway through the first unit, and at least the leader is done. I am working on the other 3, which will include a standard bearer and 2 figures with their spears held overarm. Then it’s the foot unit, then the other mounted bunch. There’s about 7 weeks until they’re needed, so you never know, I might get them done!

The leader’s shield is a pre-cursor to the eventual Medetian pale blue cross, which I thought would be more interesting as a winged beast in this period. At some point someone married someone, and the original red field became quartered red and black, as displayed by my later Medetian forces. Even when it’s fictional, it’s nice for the history to make sense!

 

Bits and Pieces

Not loads, but a few items were progressed this week. I finished some 6mm FPW Bavarians that were mostly done back in August, which means the Bavarian corps is now complete. 🙂

Also, I painted the Fenris Games treasure chests that will one day be used for Frostgrave objectives:

Next, a horse and limber (Front Rank) for my 18th century Fleurian Legion artillery:

I have also painted a battalion gun for a new battalion that I’m basing, and which will be the subject of its own post soon (I hope!)

Finally, I painted a first Conquest Games plastic Norman Knight for my Lion Rampant force. It was a simple paint job and a nice easy figure to paint, which gives me some confidence that I’ll get at least a unit done for the November multi-player game.

 

I’d like to get a game in sometime soon, so will have a think about what I might manage to get set up next weekend.

A belated start to my Lion Rampant force

August kind of got away from me hobby-wise, with a lack of opportunities to get anything done. One thing that was delayed was making a start on my Lion Rampant force, for which I’d bought the first figures but had barely managed to open the box.

I’ve got a multi-player Lion Rampant game weekend in November, in celebration of Goat Major recently joining the ranks of the seriously ancient. I’m looking forward to this event and would feel a bit guilty if I didn’t bring any figures of my own along so, like others, I’ve committed to turn up with whatever I can get done in time. It’s actually serving as a useful preliminary deadline for Ayton 2017 (we like to plan ahead!), which will be LR-focused and should see a very interesting collection of retinues turn up for a weekend mini-campaign.

My force, with pretty much anything from 1000-1500AD to choose from, is going to be based on the Normans in Italy in the late 11th Century. This suits me for a number of reasons;

  • I’ve always liked Normans, and was painting them in 15mm (TTG figures) over 30 years ago
  • I’d rather paint them than anything more ‘High Medieval’ with all the heraldry, etc
  • I can extend things imagi-nation-wise to cover the earliest Medetians, which I see as being Norman adventurers who decided to grab a nice bit of sunny coastline
  • By adding some Saracen allies I can re-use those figures as natives for my colonial Sharp Practice project
  • Nothing much else really appealed as it’s not a period I’ve ever really considered doing at this scale

After a lot of looking around on the web, I settled on the plastic figures from Conquest Games as the core of my force – certainly for the mounted element. There’s plenty of variety in the box, and enough for 15 figures. I need 6 for a unit of ‘mounted men-at-arms’ (Knights to you and me) and 6 more for a unit of mounted serjeants. I’ll divide them on the basis of how much armour they’re wearing and work out some colour schemes for them.

For now, I need to plough through the inevitable grind of preparing and sticking them together. The lances will generally be replaced with brass ones and I’ll add a banner or two.

First go:

 

My leader with some of his bodyguard unit of Knights:

I’ll come up with a name for him and some more background fluff in due course.
9 more to go, but I might get one painted soon just to see how they’ll look.

Lion Rampant – First Game Pics and Thoughts

Lots of fun, but surprisingly challenging too – that’s my verdict on Lion Rampant after a few solo games. The rules mechanisms are simple to learn but offer a lot of subtlety for how you play the game and how you use your units. I have definitely joined the ranks of those who think it’s an excellent set of rules and I’m intending to play more in the future.

So far I’ve played through three games and have a fourth on the go, which I’ll get back to this evening. I’ve used the same forces each time (as per the previous post), but moved the terrain around quite a lot for each game to vary the setting. I’ve just been playing straight forward clashes rather than full scenarios, and ending things when one side loses half or more of its starting points worth of units – which feels about right.

For me, the unit zones of control (where no unit, friend or enemy, can come within a certain distance of another without actually attacking it) are probably the toughest thing to keep remembering and applying, but it does add an interesting dimension requiring planning and the need to be careful with your unit and figure placement.

I’ve tried a bit of everything, using the various units’ special rules and options, such as Evade and Skirmish, and of course Wild Charge which is lots of fun – but of course you tend to lose control of knights (‘mounted men-at-arms’) and fierce foot pretty quickly! The activation rolls make for an excellent solo experience as you never know exactly what will happen, and can just concentrate on trying to make the best decisions for each side when it’s their turn. I’m looking forward to some 2-player games where there should be a good mix of planning and luck dictating who gets to do what.

A few pics, mostly from the first game..

In the colourful corner, Sir Malice of the Golden Chalice, defender of the realm:

And in the brown corner, we have Vog, Lord of the Marshes and all-round thug.

The game underway. I like the force to space ratio – it feels like a big skirmish rather than a handful of individuals fighting it out. There’s about enough room for manoeuvre (and hiding where appropriate!) on a board of this size with 15mm figures.

Crossbowmen and Bidowers (as skirmishers are called in LR) set up a ‘Valley of Death’ for the raider’s cavalry to hopefully blunder into:

Knights and Fierce Foot replace tactical finesse with out-and-out aggression.Very enjoyable, unless you’re the one standing still when the enemy charge.

More of the same. I’ve spotted a ZOC error in the bottom left corner 🙁

Run Away! Must have been a savage rabbit somewhere, as the enemy were seen off at the same time.

‘Not me face!’ Although, even outnumbered like this the knight still gets 6 fighting dice so he actually managed to cut down an enemy horseman before going under.

A later game, with the hovels moved to a hill and the game played along the length rather than across the width. This made the space a bit tight, but still generated plenty of interesting action and events.

 

Interestingly, the Feudals have won all three initial games, but I’m not sure how. The knights haven’t generally been all-conquering battle winners, scoring some successes but doing badly on occasion too. The extra numbers of the raiders don’t seem to have had much impact, probably because I’ve not protected the fierce foot enough from missile fire before unleashing them where they can do the most damage. Ah well, learning to do better will be fun!

Lion Rampant – First Game

I’ve only heard good things about these rules from Dan Mersey/Osprey and have decided to have a go with them. I bought them when they came out and was impressed by the clarity of the writing and many of the basic concepts behind the rules.

I didn’t have a clear idea of how/when I would get into gaming with this ruleset but then along came an idea among the LAW forum and Ayton crowd to plan for a multi-player Lion Rampant weekend in 2017, and I started to think about a 28mm force (or 2 opposed retinues, you know how it is..). Now, 2017 is a long way off (the 2016 game being already planned), but as is to be expected with wargamers, excitement has already built up to a point where a late 2015 get-together is being discussed. I’d better get cracking then!

A friend has been working on a 15mm Medieval project and kindly sent me a QRS he’s written, which incorporates some post-publication clarifications, and a unit/troop type roster. With the table still set up from the Sambre game I decided it would be silly not to have a go, so removed a few terrain boards from one edge and swapped out the Roman fort for a couple of thatched cottages and some scattered scenery.

I’d be playing the game in 15mm, with all distances halved. This meant a board of 3 feet by 2-and-a-bit feet would be fine for a game that recommends 6’x4′ for 28mm. For figures I raided some fantasy and Dark Ages forces to gather together a fairly traditional Feudal retinue to fight against a slightly less colourful, and more warband-like mob from the fringes of civilisation.

The rules offer plenty of troop types and, on top of that, a number of equipment and upgrade options to customise things further. A sensible person would tackle a first game with smaller than standard forces and just a few unit types. That’s why I decided to go for full 24 point retinues and loads of variety. Well, I was in no hurry and would work through things over as much time as needed.

The forces are as follows:

Feudals
2 x Knights (Mounted Men-at-Arms @ 6 pts) 12 pts (1 incl. Leader)
1 x Spearmen (Foot Sergeants @ 4 pts)                   4 pts
1 x Crossbowmen (@ 4 pts)                                       4 pts
2 x Woodsmen (Bidowers @ 2 pts)                           4 pts

24 points, 48 figures

Raiders
1 x Heavy Cavalry (Mounted Sergeants @ 4 pts) 4 pts (incl. Leader)
2 x Light Cavalry (Mtd Yeomen w/Javelins @ 3 pts) 6 pts
2 x Warriors (Fierce Foot @ 4 pts)                              8 pts
1 x Archers (@ 4 pts)                                                    4 pts
1 x Skirmishers (Bidowers @ 2 pts)                            2 pts

24 points, 60 figures

Naturally the scenario for this first game was based on the standard encounter clash – called ‘Bloodbath’ in the book. Sounds like it should be about right. The cottages would inevitably offer a focal point to fight over, and the wooded hills would both channel the main forces towards each other, while offering cover and concealment to the rest.

Here’s the table and (hopefully) pretty much everything I’d need to play the game.

Next post: some pics from the game and thoughts on how things went.