Raid over the River

Just catching up on a game played back in May, the day before the Partizan show. Count Belisarius stayed over and fancied a game of 17th century swashbuckling so I put together a table and a simple scenario (a dawn attack by Fleurians on a Medetian outpost).

Rules were the usual Lord of the Rings/Legends of the High Seas mashup, which tend to give a relatively quick and fun game.

Here’s the table set up, with a manor farmhouse, outbuildings and mill, plus a handy stone bridge for the attackers to try to cross. The stream was shallow and could be waded across if the Fleurians decided to attack from more than one point. Andy opted to play the Medetian defenders and deployed some sentries, with the rest of his men indoors and dependent on a roll to join the fighting once the alarm sounded.

Dashing out of the early morning gloom, the Fleurian main body stormed the bridge, catching the sentries by surprise.

A second group splashed across on the right, at the mill, holding their matches high to keep them dry!

On the left, Fleurian musketmen crossed to the rocky ground, ordered to pin down Medetian reinforcements coming from the outbuildings where they were assumed to be sleeping.

The charging Fleurians shot a sentry and dashed across the bridge, straight into some withering fire from a quickly reinforced defensive line. A couple of men fell but their momentum forced the Medetians to retreat towards the manor house.

As more defenders emerged and started blazing away, the Fleurians dived for cover and returned fire. Casualties were starting to mount among the attackers, making a full-on charge extremely risky.

On the right the Fleurians were making better progress, and they were working their way around the flank for a better attacking position.

On the left the Fleurians waded the river and opened up, but their shooting was woeful. Perhaps their powder had gotten a bit wet… The Medetians on the other hand, nice and dry behind cover, were proving to be deadly marksmen. Shot after shot hit home and the attackers here were all but wiped out by the end of the fight.

Finally spurred back into action by the steady attrition they were suffering from the superior Medetian musketry, the Fleurians decided to charge in from all sides. Pistols were fired point-blank and swords clashed all around the farm buildings.

The Fleurian lieutenant went among the enemy like a whirlwind, cutting down Medetian swordsmen as he went – even managing to kill two in a single round. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Medetian officers were just as expert, and they were backed up by more men (thanks to the ineffective Fleurian shooting earlier). The melee ebbed and flowed, but Fleurian losses continued to mount and the end came when their captain was cut down in a vicious 3-to-1 fight (on the right in the picture below).

Seeing this the surviving attackers decided they’d done enough, and ran. The victorious Medetians let them go, and probably settled down to a pleasant breakfast while their defeated enemies made their weary way back to their own lines.

This was a very enjoyable game, even for me in the face of Andy’s awesome shooting! I probably left my big charge a bit late, but we both fancied some hand-to-hand and it did at least give me a chance to hit back at the enemy.

My thanks to Andy for being such a pleasant opponent, hopefully we’ll do this again sometime.

Five Parsecs – More Scratchbuilding

Probably the last of this series, at least for a bit, but here’s some more stuff I made a little while ago.

A bit of height is always good to add to the table, especially for 1:1 skirmish games. These are a couple of random industrial units I put together from some metal offcuts, mesh sheet, bottle caps, card and cork.

A new mobile phone is always something to be happy about – mostly because the boxes are very sturdy and great to create scratchbuilt buildings from…

Brigade Games resin Sci-fi doors provided a useful upgrade to the card I was otherwise relying on.

On the table:

Brigade Models’ Research Base buildings, like the 2 on the left, are nice pieces, and I decided to add a couple of scratchbuilt sort-of-copies using cork sanding blocks, more door bits, and strips of thin card to match the style.

Five Parsecs – Scratchbuilding

I do enjoy a bit of scratchbuilding so long as it’s not too challenging, and getting into Five Parsecs was a good opportunity to make a few bits and pieces. I tend to use simple materials like cork (tiles and those liberated from wine bottles), card and mdf and I don’t really do much careful planning or designing – I generally just start with an idea and get cutting and gluing.

Some work in progress. These are generic fuel/energy tanks or towers, made from wine corks, pre-cut MDF bases and ladders, and bits of card. I wanted them to basically look like big industrial batteries.

Small Shuttles – useful for all sorts of scenarios, or just as clutter/cover. These are made from thin card and are loosely based on an old resin model my mate has.

Cargo Haulers – More general scenery, good for spaceports, etc. These started from a thin piece of styrofoam, the rest is thin card as per the shuttles.

Raised Platform – varying heights work well and look good for skirmish games. This is simply a block of polystyrene clad in styrofoam that’s been rolled with an ‘industrial’ texture roller from Green Stuff World, with a cork top. This re-uses materials and textures (floor tiles and walls) from my existing Bug Hunt game.

Home-made decals. These are just knocked out in MS Excel using clipart and text boxes, and printed on normal paper. I use them for vehicles, buildings and plant/equipment. I find that using some repeat liveries can help game settings look a bit more consistent and realistic.

Finished effect:

There are a couple of bought models in the foreground but the rest is scratchbuilt. The light pylons are wooden string ends from window blinds and the hexagonal pipe/tunnel is the container from a poly dice set. The boards are 1 foot squares of marine ply with ready-mixed plaster spread on with a knife, and painted in grey tones.

I don’t use proper weathering techniques, everything is just drybrushed with a grey or sandy tone. Cork and cheap card have a nice roughness to them which makes this a simple process.

More scratchbuilding in the next post!

Five Parsecs – A Dab of Colour

Following on from all the grey in the last post, the next step was to upgrade the cork tile pieces to provide a bit more visual interest. It occurred to me that I could do something different on the reverse side of each piece and, after discarding various colours and patterns, I decided on a muted pallet and some random blocks and lines (while still maintaining the 1″ grid that helps with alignment and movement, etc). Apparently it’s a sort of unintended Mondrian style knock-off.

The colours are pretty much those used in my terrain boards, so although they don’t bring a lot of extra brightness to the grey, they do tone in well with the majority of my stuff. I just used a fine marker pen and painted some of the sections.

First test pieces:

Some pics below of this scenery being used for a few Five Parsecs campaign battles. Using a mix of both the grey and coloured tile sides offers lots of variety. I don’t pretend that the settings make sense from an urban or industrial perspective, they’re really just 3D obstacle courses to fight over.

More scratchbuilding in the next post.

Five Parsecs – Initial Scenery

The first few games of Five Parsecs were played out across a 2 foot square, using the stuff I already had. Most of this came from my homebrew Space Bug Hunt game, but also a couple of gaming mats, plus some generic vehicles, cargo pieces, trees and rocks, etc.

Here’s my first test assembly, using the walls and floor tiles from the other game:

Lots of building blocks basically. Just don’t knock it all over in the first turn! The flat pieces are made from cork tiles, and the rest is mostly MDF.

Some other early games in progress:

Basically everything was pretty much grey, which is useful for generic military/industrial settings but can get a bit dull.

Next post, I’ll actually add a bit of colour!

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away (roughly Five Parsecs from Home)

This is the first of a series of catch-up posts, talking about a project that started back in lockdown. It led to being able to play a lot of games, and generated a decent level of hobby productivity compared to my usual slack level.

I’ve had a 15mm Sci-fi collection for a lot of years, which was initially used to play games of Laserburn back in the 80s (yes, some of the figures are that old).

Over the years there have been attempts to play some squad and platoon-level skirmishes but finding the right set of rules was always the challenge. Attempts to write my own tended to get close, but somehow not really hit the mark. This didn’t stop me buying figures (and even painting some), although I didn’t really have any scenery other than standard green grass, trees and rocks to fight over.

Fast forwards a few decades and I settled on Dragon Rampant as useable for a fun game, and flexible enough to field pretty much any type of troops, weapons and vehicles. Now of course there’s Xenos Rampant, which look excellent and will probably do the job perfectly going forward.

Before that though, I picked up a copy of Five Parsecs from Home from Nordic Weasel (the 2nd edition), which looked very interesting for playing small RPG-lite games and running a ship’s crew through an evolving campaign. When the 3rd edition came out via Modiphius, I decided to go all-in and actually start playing – but of course I needed some scenery.

There have been some excellent campaign write-ups on the web, with bloggers and tweeters entertaining us with lots of great interwoven narrative and blow-by-blow battle accounts. I’m not going to get into that here, but I’ll summarise by saying I’ve run 2 solo crews through 20+ campaign turns, as well as having a fantastic time in a 2-player collaborative campaign that’s gone on even longer. Frankly, it’s been some of the most enjoyable wargaming I’ve been involved in, always offering up challenges, fun and surprises. They’re a great set of rules (and the supplements add a lot too) and all credit to their author Ivan Sorensen.

Part of the enjoyment, of course, is creating the settings and laying out the battlefields. These can involve any type of terrain, buildings and features – whatever you’ve got basically, so long as you ensure there’s a fair bit of cover. Without that, firefights tend to be pretty quick and bloody, and you’ll be rolling up a new crew every five minutes!

Building upon the limited amount of stuff I already had, I really got into it and over a couple of years put together a variety of stuff that give me a choice a of settings. Most of it is interchangeable and look OK on the table together, but by having some discrete sets of buildings and other features, coupled with my terrain boards and a few mats, I’ve managed to get to the point where I can choose to create a different look when my crew moves to a new planet. Of course it’s not really necessary, but it does add something to the already immersive Five Parsecs experience.

So, in an attempt to get some pics posted and re-invigorate the blog, I’ll follow this post up with a few more showing some of the game settings I’ve used for Five Parsecs, and some of the modelling and painting projects that happened along the way.

More soon…

A Return to the Blog – Fleece Mat for 6mm

It’s been a good while. Although my hobby output and gaming has been a bit on the slow side, there has actually been some going on while I’ve neglected this blog.

Hopefully starting to post again will motivate me to push some projects forward, but in the meantime I’ll (re-)start with something I prepared earlier – a first attempt at a homemade fleece mat for 6mm games.

The finished mat, 5’x3′

I wanted something that would work for anything from about the 17th century onwards, as I have 6mm armies for a number of Horse & Musket periods. I also have an old collection of WW2 that I’d like to revamp and use with Blitzkrieg Commander at some point.

I found some fleece material online (Fabric Land’s ‘plain polar fleece’) and chose chocolate brown as a suitable base colour. It’s about £5 for a metre length and comes almost 1.5m wide. I started with a 1m piece for my first attempt and have since ordered a larger piece.

Working out the paint pallet

I just used normal water-based emulsion/acrylic paint. I already had the green which I use for all my terrain and figure bases. The others were various creams (e.g. Vallejo Iraqi Sand) and yellows. If you brush against the slight nap you get a bit more texture, so I did this for the fields. If you brush with the nap you get a smoother texture, so I do this for the roads and most of the grassy areas. I finished up with some dark green to suggest vegetation on the edges of fields and roads, and then applied a light grid with a black marker pen as I use grid-based rules for most of my 6mm gaming.

The fleece is a good all-round material. It doesn’t seem to crease, takes paint nicely, rolls up fine and drapes very well over things for hills.

With some buildings and trees added

Once finished it deserved a quick try out so I deployed 17th century forces and had a bit of a set-to.

The Medetian army pours onto the field to brush aside the Fleurians.

Cavalry clashes!

I’m looking forward to painting the bigger mat, which is about 9’x5′ once I get my hobby space back together after some renovations.

More catch-up posts to follow!

The Rhine War of 1855 – A Big Clash is Coming

With the Austrians becoming the latest member of the German Confederation to be bundled back across the border (the Wurttemberg border, defended by the French), the Confederation found itself frustrated on all fronts. While their troops recovered and took in fresh supplies and recruits, they held a conference on 10th July at Ansbach to agree how to re-invigorate the campaign.

Once the arguments about uncoordinated attacks and accusations of slow mobilisation (everyone looked at the Austrian representatives) had run their course, they got down to business. With the schnapps poured, the generals and their political masters hammered out a plan intended to deal a fatal blow to the the rebel states and their meddling allies.

This time there would be no disjointed attacks by separate forces. Instead there would be a great concentration within eastern Wurttemberg, set to strike towards the heart of the enemy at their capital, Stuttgart.

The great concentration orchestrated by the German Confederation

The Prussian II Korps, recovering from their rough handling at Auenwald by the French, would march south east to Crailsheim. The Bavarians would again cross the border on the road to Schorndorf, while the fresh 2nd Division of the Austrian I Korps would come up from the south, crossing the Danube at Heidenheim. These coordinated movements would begin on 17th July, with assembly at Huttlingen to be completed by the 19th.

Together, they would muster an army of over 60,000 men – surely enough to brush aside the tired French, British and Wurttembergers.

Meanwhile, the allies were confused by reports from the front lines. In the north and south, there were no signs of second thrusts from the Prussians and Austrians respectively. In fact things had gone very quiet, as indeed they had in the east where the Bavarians seemed subdued after their defeat at Schorndorf. Though glad of the time to rest and regroup, they were suspicious that something was brewing. Scouts, agents and diplomats kept every ear and eye open, and finally on 16th Marshal Pelissier of French 1st Corps received intelligence that the Confederation were about to make their move in the east.

With great haste, an urgent defensive plan was hatched. The newly (finally) assembled Imperial Guard would march to Mainz via Mannheim, to relieve Canrobert’s 1st Corps who would hasten east to support Pelissier for a decisive confrontation. As a result of the Confederation’s somewhat ponderous implementation of their plan, the Allies were actually able to begin their response a full 24 hours ahead of them. It would be a race to see who could get into position first for the great clash to follow.

A Few Additions

I am slowly working through the basing of a few batches of figures painted over the winter. I’ll post them as I finish them, here are the first few.

Two crossbow-armed dwarves, classic Citadel figures from the 80s that recently received a re-paint. The guy holding the crossbow up was the original figure for my first ever D&D character, Athor. He’s almost old enough to qualify for a vaccine jab! Painting them as veterans seemed appropriate.

Next, a couple of very large rats from the Reaper Bones range. When used with 15mm figures they’ll be absolute monsters.

Another Reaper Bones figure below, this one is an Undead Dwarf.

Finally, the remaining unit for my previously-posted 15mm Sci-fi Friendlies force (based on the Dorsai novels). These are militia fighters, from CP Models.

More soon…