Monday, November 19, 2018

Blasts from the past

The hunt through my old wargaming and modelling stuff here in England is turning up treasures. I now have my 1885 Sudan collection along with the Early Imperial Roman and Germanic tribal armies, both in 1/300th scale. The resin Roman merchant ships I made may need a little refurbishment, but the liburnian galleys are being elusive. I think I know where they'll be, though. Along with the excellent Chancellor Press books on WW2 aircraft and my home-brewed ancients rules I have a good haul. Now I have to work out how to fit it all in a suitcase and pack it so it won't get smashed to bits by the not-so-tender mercies of airport baggage handlers...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Decision at Deadman's Gulch

Family affairs are taking up a lot of my time here in England, but I also had the chance to catch up with old friends. One of them is Ash Dyer, with whom I've had many a wargame with over the years. We met at The Games Table in Norwich, owned by the affable Keiran Meenaghan, and played out a short game in Ash's Western town of Deadman's Gulch using a set of Western skirmish rules produced by Newbury Rules back in 1980. Table were provided by Keiran, scenery and figures by Ash.

The bullet-riddled sign shows all is not well in town.

A few folks moving on Main Street
Tumbleweed rolls along.
Town undertaker Dedrick Bodey leaves the doctor's consulting room. Below, saloon piano player Charlie Bowles leaves another kind of establishment.

Both head for Main Street. Word is their deadly enemies Frank Garber and Sam 'Snake' Foley are in town somewhere.

And there they are across the street. Up on the hotel balcony Snake Foley saw Charlie coming down the alley and makes ready to give him a warm welcome.

Bodey spots Garber, but Bowles gets first shot off with his rifle - and misses.
Garber doesn't miss Bodey. A pistol shot cracks out and Bowles measures his length on Main Street.
Infuritated by his friend's death Bowles opened up again on Garber and put him down for the count. Cool as a cucumber, Bowles stood and took his shot in spite of the lead from Garber and Foley flying around him. Although Foley laid down on the balcony Bowles' final shot wounded Foley in the left forearm, making him drop his rifle into the street below. Thinking Foley done for, Bowles strolled casually across the street, intending to make an end of his enemy. He didn't reckon on Foley regaining his wits so soon - or for him having a shotgun. The last thing Bowles saw when he glanced up were the huge open barrels of the weapon, followed by a flash of light...

The end of the affair. Just another day in Deadman's Gulch, population 54.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

In England

We arrived in England late last week. Jet lag did its usual number on us, but we were able to attend the Centennial Remembrance Day service at Norwich Cathedral on Sunday. The whole occasion was very moving in a splendid setting.

Flags of the Royal British Legion and St. John Ambulance parade after the service.

The Dean of Norwich greets a WW2 veteran.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Dux game in the making

A wet, windy and thoroughly unpleasant Thursday afternoon saw me at a local office supplies shop where I printed out a nice shiny batch of Dux Britanniarum cards. I spent the rest of the afternoon wielding guillotine and card sleeves to put them all together - only to run out of sleeves. Ho hum. Still, those I can get tomorrow. I like the card decoration by Coral Sealey, and my card shoe really adds a touch of class to proceedings, if you ignore the messy work area behind it.

So, where will I set the campaign? Taking a look at the list of British kingdoms in the rule book I decide the Kingdom of Linnius (modern Lincolnshire and the immediate area) is a good prospect, and the starting year will be 472AD. The Old North has yet to see any significant Saxon raids, although the Kingdom of Northern Britain has recently split into the Kingdoms of Verbeia and Navio following the death of its king. Surrounded by more-or-less stable kingdoms, Linnius has little concern for its flanks and rear. The main danger lies in those sinister dark longboats crossing the German Sea...

Fingers crossed I can set up the first game this weekend. For now, let's revisit the characters I created.

Dux Britanniarum characters.
To lead the Romano-British, we have Gaius Menusius. Age 28, he's the son of an Honestiore, a Roman middle-class family with a good local reputation. A master of arms, he's pretty handy in a fight. His wealth consists of a Tribune's Tribute, so from the start he's well-off for lucre.

The first of his two subordinate Nobles is Barriventus. Age 23, he's a tall, strong young man of noted piety. The son of a warlord, he has a Thief's Horde of wealth.

The second Noble is named Cynbel. A die roll showed he's already earned a sobriquet - the Magnificent. Given his tall, strong physique and noted athletic ability, it seems quite appropriate. I've already nicknamed him Captain Britannica. Another child of an Honestiore family, he's 25 years old and possesses a mere Beggar's Bowl of wealth.
For the Saxon leader, I rolled Ebba. A short and wiry cove of 31, he's out to make a name for himself raiding the lands of those soft, effete Romano-British. An Honorable Wodenborn aristocrat, he's the British-born son of a Foederati, a Saxon mercenary. Ebba possesses a Tribune's Tribute of wealth, which he has used to good effect to attract followers from both the conquered British lands and Northern Germany.

His primary Noble is Oeric. Once again a die roll showed he's already earned a nickname - the Insane. Uh oh... A 28 year old fellow of average build, he's quite an athlete. The son of a peasant, he has but a Beggar's Bowl of wealth, and is out to improve his lot by hitching his career to the ambitious Ebba. It's yet to be seen quite how his insanity will manifest itself...

The second Saxon noble is Wigmund, age 34 and of average build. Like his Lord Ebba, Wigmund's a devout Wodenborn aristocrat, born in Ceint, one of the earliest Saxon-conquered provinces in Britain. Wigmund possesses a Tribune's Tribute of wealth so he's not hurting for cash-but the prospect of making a whole lot more is enticing.

* * * *
Now I roll 1d6 to determine the first scenario, and I get a 6 = Cattle raid. Hmm... Not the easiest of missions right out of the gate. We'll see how events shape up.

Spring 472AD. Ebba and his men recently crossed the German Sea and stole ashore in the Metaris Æstuarium (The Wash) where they established a fortified camp on the coast of Durobrivae province. It places them at the edge of that complex of waterways and failing Roman-built dykes and ditches known as the Fenlands. A band of bold raiders equipped with stout vessels can use those waterways to penetrate deep into the hinterlands and create all kinds of mayhem.

For now the Saxons have need of both food and mobile wealth in the shape of some native cattle. Luckily the fertile land created by the Roman drainage system is good grazing country. Descending upon a Fenland farmstead the Saxons have rounded up a number of beasts and are heading back to their fortified camp. Unfortunately for Ebba, Gaius Menusius has learned of the raid and brought out the posse comitatus. As Ebba's men drive the cattle onwards he senses the Romano-British are on his tail - or could they be ahead of him, waiting to pounce? Either way his introduction to raiding is likely to be fraught with danger...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Fleet's in.

My experiment with silicone mold making didn't turn out too bad in the end. I managed to create a potent Royal Navy force of eight Majestic class battleships, five Apollo class light cruisers and a half dozen destroyers without too much effort or expense. The less said of the attempt to mold a Cressy class armoured cruiser the better, although the resulting hideously deformed first (and only) casting will make a nice battered and sinking wreck... Since I intend to field only four armoured cruisers I think it'll come down to scratch-building them.

I'm not 100% happy with the destroyers, which are fiddly buggers to build in this scale, but they'll serve for now. I might replace them with commercially made models by the by.

I also experimented with making shell splashes, which turned out quite nice I think. It's a simple process. Take a blob of plastic wood, stick it to an offcut of clear plastic packing material, shape the blob into a rough cone then score the sides in uneven vertical grooves. Once the blob is hard cover it and the immediate area of base in hot glue, paint white, give it a wash of light blue-grey, touch up with white highlights then finish with a coat of gloss varnish.
HMS Magnificent avoids a straddle of large calibre shellfire. The crew of the destroyer sailing out of shot can count themselves supremely lucky!
The next step will be to create a German fleet to oppose them. I'll scratch-build the battleships since the German navy tended to build these in classes of four or five. First up will be the Brandenburg class, the Kaiserliche Marine's first ocean going battleships and the first to be equipped with wireless telegraph.
* * * *
I also hope to get the Dux B cards printed up this week sometime and play an actual game in between getting ready to head to England.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tempest at Hazard

© Paul Daly 2018 - used with permission from the artist
For those of you who like Victorian science fiction and Pulp/Spy action gaming, my good friend Paul Daly has released his Hugh Adventure web comics, Tempest at Hazard, and The Terranaughts. I've got several pieces of Paul's work hanging on the walls of my gaming room, including an original of the picture above. Yes, Major Tempest does look somewhat like a certain former Bond actor...

Paul's work has appeared in countless RPG games across the years, and these are a brand new series of webcomics featuring his distinctive style. Head on over and check it out!
* * * *
In other news, I've made the movement bases for Dux Britanniarum's Saxon force. They're been given a base coat of green spray paint, and I'm waiting for the paint to dry before giving them a touch of scenic embellishment. All I have to do now is print off the cards and I'll be ready for a game.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Saxon force & Majestics finished

My wife and I had a great time at Archon this past weekend, although we were both pretty exhausted by doing back-to-back panels and suffered from 'con crud' for the rest of this week. Anyway, I managed to finish the Saxon force for Dux Britanniarum, along with the Majestic class battleships for pre-Dreadnought naval games.

First up, the mighty Saxon horde of raiders, fresh off the boat and looking for spoils. 

I aim to make the movement bases for these over the weekend. Once done I need to get the event cards printed up and hopefully get a game in before I head across the Pond to England.

Next, an octet of Majestic-class battleships.

Now, these aren't the greatest scale models in the world, but they look fine from a distance and they'll do fine for my gaming. I mounted them on rectangles of clear plastic taken from pastry packaging (which also gives me a reason to buy pastries...).

First off I scratched the surface of the plastic where the models would go to provide a key for the glue to grip to. I then glued the models using E6000 adhesive, allowing it to set before getting to work with the hot glue gun. I found that pushing the glue ahead of the nozzle along the side of the ships made a nice tight seal and replicated the appearance of water flowing along the side. Smearing the hot glue on the plastic made a decent looking wake. If trying this method be careful not to let the nozzle linger too long on any part of the plastic or it will melt. Once the glue had set I painted the water with white craft paint thickened with PVA, followed in turn by a thin overall wash of light blue-grey which flowed into the dips and hollows to give a nice 3D appearance.

I've yet to work out how to designate the ships for record keeping, but will probably plump for a slip of paper at the rear end of the base, like I've seen other modellers do. 

The Apollo-class cruisers are molded, and will be next on the slipway. I've taken a good hard look at the German battleships of the period and they're a bit more complicated than their Royal Navy counterparts when it comes to condensing detail into a 1/2400 scale model. At the moment I'm unsure whether I want to mold them using silicone or just go the scratchbuilt route with all of them. We'll see.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Archers - and a Pulp kickstarter

Apologies to those British readers who now have that theme tune running through their head. More on the kickstarter later.

Anyway, I've finished the archers for both Romano-British and Saxon forces...

The Romano-British - some of whom look rather nervous.

The Saxons - ready to administer some long-range violence to those effete Roman nonces.
Since light troops are individually based in Dux B rules, I made the archer bases a bit larger than those for the close-order troops so the figures are more stable.

Next up on the painting block is the Saxon leadership contingent. Some interesting poses amongst these. There's the Mighty Man of Yore on the left, a true giant of a bare-chested Saxon champion about to give someone a heck of a belt with his axe. Next to him is the horn blower, a skinny twerp who's possibly related to the Saxon Lord's wife, a youth who has been given the horn blowing duties to keep him out of the battle line where he might get hurt. The Lord himself is next, a bluff chap pointing and shouting orders. Behind him is another champion, a lightly-equipped bloke armed with a quarterstaff. Next to the Lord is another champion of more conventional appearance. The standard bearer is the only two piece figure in the batch. His standard is an animal skull on a pole. Last, and by no means least is the shaman, another skinny and half-naked bloke getting down and funky with a large snake in his attempt to unnerve the enemy.

I had a bit of a think about bases - as you do - and instead of going with the cast bases used for the Romano-British I'll make new ones for the Saxons. I've seen some used that have a staggered arrangement of holes to give the impression of a more fluid, armed mob style of fighting which fits with the Saxon way of war, so I'll try that.

The command figures will possibly be finished before this weekend, when we'll be at Archon 42 mixing with other nerds. Then (whisper it softly) I will be able to get a game of Dux Britanniarum going.
 * * * *
Splintered Light Miniatures have launched their first kickstarter aimed at the Pulp/fantasy market in the shape of a 15mm Egyptian fantasy army - The Scarab-men. The sculpts are pretty good and it's worth a look for those gaming Pulp or Fantasy in that scale.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Gedridht completed

A bit more progress on the Dux B project. The Saxon Gedridth (hearth guard) are finished.

I forgot I needed to attach the shields after doing the basework and not before, which made applying the gunk a bit more fiddly than it had to be, but all's done. I did have a small problem with the shield transfers since they're slightly larger than the shields themselves, requiring a bit of careful trimming around the edges.

The Splintered Light Early Saxon starter army turned out to have more figures than required in the Dux Britanniarum rules, to the tune of six extra gedridht. This isn't a problem, since success in a campaign can be rewarded by the arrival of extra warriors to fight under the Warlord's banner. Although these are nominally for the Saxon force they could conceivably be used as Saxon foederatii loyal to or hired by the Romano-British Lord.

I have the archers on the painting block and undercoated. Once they're done I'll do the warlord and his champions next. I wish I knew where I put that bloody base mold...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Saxon geoguth completed

As the title says, I finished the Saxon geoguth (warriors) yesterday. They're all based up and the shields attached. Once again I used Little Big Men Studios decals for the shield motifs. They save a lot of faffing around painting those tiny designs in this scale.

The geoguth are the run of the mill warriors who form the backbone of the Saxon army. They range from men equipped with nothing more than shield, axe, sword or spear, to men of greater means, perhaps veterans of an earlier raid on Britain, who gained enough loot to afford a helmet and better quality weapons.

I have the Gedridht (hearth guard) on the painting block now. These men are heavily armed and armoured and form the elite troops of the Saxon army. Wonder of wonders, I found my acrylic inks so I can make richer colours for cloaks and tunics and so on. Now I just have to find the silicone mold to make movement bases for the Saxons.


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