Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bracken Hill ~ post game

Bracken Hill had more than a degree of friction in the game; perhaps a bit too much to be quite enjoyable. Even so, the game added to the campaign narrative.

The fighting bogged down to a slogging match in a confined space as Ebba uncharacteristically forewent maneuvers and tried to bull his way through the Romano-British. The home team proved to be too stubborn for that, however, having had enough of the Saxons' deprivations. Gaius Menusius had also found some tactical nous in the down time since the last raid and deployed his levy to good effect. Result - Ebba withdrew unpursued to lick his wounds, leaving the field to the Romano-British along with a Beggar's Bowl of loot - the first time they've picked up any kind of wealth.

The Romano-British win meant the Saxon siege of Durobrivae was lifted, rendering the province safe at least for the rest of the year 472AD.* Ebba won't be able to contest for the province again since there won't be sufficient time before winter to try again.  

In terms of casualties it was a Pyrrhic victory for the Romano-British. They came off worse by suffering heavy casualties to the Saxons' moderate losses. Ebba can recover sooner than they, and stage another raid come October - the last month in the campaigning season. The Romano-British will still be down a significant number of men. They lack the wealth to raise mercenaries and Gaius Menusius lacks the status to build watchtowers to warn against Saxon incursions.

So, what happens next? Ebba's taken care of the annual tribute he has to pay his king back home, so that's out of the way. He will raid again in October in search of more loot confident the Romano-British lack the strength to put up much of a fight. With more wealth he'll be in a good position to contest for Durobrivae next year, when the new campaigning season opens in March 473AD. On the other side of the hill, the Romano-British can attempt to stop the raid, even at the risk of taking more casualties, because they'll have the winter months to recoup their losses.

A roll of the die turns up Raid Scenario #1 ~ Raid on a Church. Ebba has his eye on a potentially lucrative target. The Romano-British will attempt to stop him cold before he can perpetrate such sacrilege on a holy site.

*According to the Dux Britanniarum rule book the Saxons should attack the province of Caer Lind Colun first, in 472AD. I feel given the extensive waterways that radiated off the Wash at that time, seaborne raiders like the Saxons and later Vikings would've used them to penetrate deep into Durobrivae.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Battle of Bracken Hill ~ Dux Brit game report.

The two armies met close by a hill covered in bracken, a landmark for miles around. Ebba thought he had the whole province sewed up, but Gaius Menusius stole a march on him. As the early morning mists cleared, Ebba saw his opponent was closer than expected.

A cattle pen, a shallow, swampy pond and rocky outcrops restrict the field of battle
Gaius Menusius appealed to God for favour, and his piety had an immediate effect on his men. Determined to oppose these Saxon dogs who’d come to despoil their land, the blessing added stiffness to their backbones. They gripped sword, spear and shield and moved into position directed by their leaders.

Ebba found it difficult to maneuver well in the confined space. Although he had some idea of sending a group of warriors around through the woods to hit his enemy’s right flank, in the event he lost patience and took his hearth guard to the fore. On the Romano-British side, Gaius Menusius anchors his force on the wood and the pond. Levy commander Lord Barriventus has a rush of blood to his head and decides to attempt a fancy outflanking maneuver. Leading his levy into the rocky area he soon finds the going tougher than expected.

Ebba's not unduly concerned with the antics of the levy, but he's uncharacteristically impatient. Forming up his hearth guard he charges straight into the Romano-British warriors.

Faced with difficult terrain on each left flank the Saxons and Romano-British find their plans stymied.
At first the fight went well. Romano-British warriors fell under Ebba's attack, but their accursed shield wall held firm and he was repelled. The movement of the enemy’s levy to his right flank caused him increasing concern since they appeared to be finding a path through the rocks, but he felt one more good push would break the shield wall and render the levy's attempt irrelevant.

As his men charged in for another attempt Ebba recognised a familiar face moving to the front rank of the Romano-British warriors. Cynbel the Magnificent! He’d been a sorry if defiant sight when Ebba had captured and ransomed him two months earlier. Now it seemed he was out for revenge.

Petrified by the closeness of the nasty Saxons, the Romano-British archers fail to hit anything.
And Cynbel got it. Fighting hard in the front rank he held back the Saxon hearth guard then repulsed them.

Shock and casualties accumulate, especially on the Romano-British side, but they hold firm-for now.

Again Ebba sent his men into the attack, determined to break them once and for all. More Romano-British warriors fell, but again they held firm. The despised levy charged in on Ebba's flank, and this time Ebba felt the battle beginning to slip away from him. So apparently did Oeric the Insane. Living up to his nickname the young lord frothed at the mouth and hurled himself into the fray. He met Cynbel the Magnificent head-on—and died beneath his sword. Oeglath, Ebba’s Champion stepped into the way of an attacker and he too met his death by a spear thrust under his ribs.The mighty man fell like a stricken oak.

Suddenly Ebba found himself in the front line and fighting for his life. He held off one opponent but the other found a gap in Ebba’s armour and slashed open his forearm. Ebba gritted his teeth and fell back into the safe mass of his hearth guard. Bested by a poxed levy-man, by Thunir! The embarrassment of it.

The stuffing went out of the hearth guard then. With his warriors unable to deploy effectively because of the cramped area, Ebba withdrew from the field. He calculated that his enemy had lost more men, meaning he’d be vulnerable to raiding before Autumn and the close of the campaigning season in October. Saving what men he had left became vital. He’d have time to recoup his losses, probably before his opponent could do so, which made another raid in September a possibility. At least he had a beggar’s bowl worth of loot stashed safe in his hall, so tribute to his King was taken care of. Ebba thought he might even find a lord to replace the late demented Oeric. Ebba saluted his foe then walked away. He’d return when he was good and ready.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lest We Forget

At the going down of the Sun,
And in the Morning,
We Will Remember Them.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

A Game on Sunday?

It's been one of those periods when my time wasn't my own. Late season interior decorating while the weather still held warm enough to vent the house of paint fumes took a lot of time. Putting the garden to bed for the year took up more. I'm still not clear of the weeds yet, but I may have enough time set by to play out the next Dux Britanniarum game tomorrow.

The situation is that after three successful raids Ebba the Saxon feels he's on a roll, and has decided to take the bull by the horns. He will challenge the Romano-British for control of the province of Durobrivae. Gaius Menusius has little choice but to contest Ebba's move.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

More Autumn trees

It looks like the cold germs are having wayyy too much fun rampaging through my system to consider leaving yet, so I'm taking the opportunity to catch up on some light modelling stuff.

My latest batch of Autumn trees need basing, so I made some from corrugated card and cereal box card, sandwiched together. The trees themselves I based on more card then spread spackle around the trunks to stiffen them up. While the spackle was wet I pressed dried tea leaves into it. This has the advantage of coming in the colour of... well, dried leaves, so it doesn't need painting and it looks natural spread under the trees like a leaf fall. I will go over it with a dry brush of yellow and orange to represent a fall of fresh leaves.

Once all's ready I'll glue the tree bases to the large base then fill in the gaps with more spackle and dried leaves, plus a few small stones to represent rocks and boulders.

More to follow.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Perils of Con Crud

I'm still around, but gaming/modelling has taken a back seat for a bit. House painting took priority while the weather stayed nice, then a long road trip to the excellent Archon SF/Fantasy convention took up last weekend. That's where a dose of the annoying Con Crud (a mixture of all the cold viruses brought by con-goers at no expense) comes in. It's turned into a full-blown cold.

I am gearing up for the next Dux B game - which will be late this month at this rate - along with an interesting early 20th century project with the invaluable help of fellow blogger James. More to come as soon as I rig up the belt-fed Kleenex box...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Speed bumps in historical movies.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a wargamer in possession of a good knowledge of history will occasionally view an historical movie and yell "Oh, that's not right..!"

So it was with me last night when my wife and I watched the biopic Hemmingway and Gellhorn. It's a good movie and the two leads look uncannily like their principals. Then came the Spanish Civil War and the first 'speed bump.' Ernest Hemmingway was holding court at an hotel in Republican-held Madrid when Martha Gellhorn arrived outside - aboard a Russian IS 2 tank.

Later, during WW2 and a scene where Hemmingway was prowling the Caribbean Sea aboard his fishing boat, looking for U-boats. He wore a kind of jerkin made from a modern US camouflage pattern.

*Head desk.*

All that aside, it is a good movie and worth watching. Just be prepared for the anachronisms. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

More Autumn trees

Autumn: The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is right. An inordinate amount of my free time has gone towards processing the hundreds of tomatoes our garden produced this year. Home made soup, ketchup, veggie stock - you name it, we're making it. Thankfully we're coming to the end of the harvest. The next phase will be making green tomato chutney from the fruit that won't ripen once the weather turns colder.*


I found a few minutes here and there to expand the number of Autumn trees using the homemade flock. The latest batch is shown below.

The photo's not that great, but it does the job. I'm thinking of making one or two small hills or rocky outcrops with a number of the smaller trees growing on them.

With that done I think I'll take a break from the sands and relentless heat of the Sudan and return to Early Medieval England's green and war-torn land for my Dux Britanniarum campaign.The previous game was played in December, so Saxon Lord Ebba and Romano-British Lord Gaius Uselessness - sorry, Menusius - are due for a revisit.

In campaign terms it's now July 472AD. Ebba has acquired enough loot to attempt the conquest of a province. He's confident after inflicting two serious defeats on his enemy, but for the Romano-British, the third time may be the charm...

* Recipes available upon request!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Autumn trees

My experiment with homemade foam flock worked - after a fashion. I found that with this stuff, a lot goes a little way. The coverage was good, but nowhere near as much as I'd hoped. Still, the result isn't too shabby.

Apart from a few touches of orange and yellow I left the foam in its natural colour. I mounted the trees on one of a batch of old hip-hop CDs I found, using hot glue. The CD I then glued to a slightly larger and irregularly shaped piece of card. A paper-mache mix of spackle/filler, tissue paper and chocolate brown craft paint went on next, spread over and around the tree roots and trunks. Whilst it was still wet I applied a few patches of dried used tea leaves to represent deep drifts of brown leaves. When everything had dried, I painted it a mid green, followed by a lighter green wet-brush then a even lighter yellow dry brush. Since I still have a lot of foam to hand, I'll add a few more to the stock over the next few weeks.

My next project will likely be a circle of standing stones to add a bit of ancient mystery to the Early Medieval English landscape. Another hip hop CD will go towards a better cause...

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Homemade foam flock

In this week's Huh. What Do You Know? It Worked! category, we have homemade foam scenic flock, as prepared in a food blender.

I admit I had doubts when I read about this method of producing cheap and cheerful foam flock. Visions of burned-out blenders danced before my eyes, but since it's my blender, I thought I'd give it a go. We've got wads of foam sheeting left over from our house move, so I took a chunk of that, tore it into pieces about the size of a chestnut, and tossed it into the blender along with a cup full of water. Speeding it up by stages helped. The water carries the foam into the blades, which sliced and diced it into a cornmeal consistency.

Once done I cleaned the blender carefully - I don't want any bits of foam in our food. I'm making 10mm/15mm size trees in Autumn foliage, so I added a few dollops of orange and yellow craft paint to the foam then squeezed it so it absorbed the paint. I could've added the paint at the start, but thought it a step too far where appliances intended for food prep are concerned. Once done, I spread the foam out to dry, which only took three or four hours.

The core of the trees themselves will be teasels. I have a box full of these harvested a couple of years ago. Thistles are considered an invasive species around here, so I'm doing the environment a favour by taking the seed heads out of circulation. I'll use spray adhesive on the teasels, then roll them in the foam. The spikes will hold the foam in place while the glue dries. I'm of two minds whether to paint the trees, or leave them the natural yellow foam colour. I'll post photos of the results, unless they're too unspeakably awful so I'll need to discard the lot and pretend I didn't make them in the first place...


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