Monday, 24 October 2016

Saturday of Saga and Tanks

There was only a light gathering at the Hamilton Road Games Group this past Saturday. I arrived a little later than usual with a box of books to give away. A friend of mine was cleaning out his library and gave me a few books to share with the gang at the Group.

When I arrived, Andy and Ralph were already playing Saga. Andy's Vikings were facing Ralph's Skraelings. The Skraelings are a late addition to the Saga list of armies and they are quite unique. Based on the First Nations bands the Vikings encountered upon their arrival on the coast of Labrador, the Skraeling army list and battle board are only available on-line and are not included in the commercially marketed supplements to the original game. They have no "elite" level troops and can only realistically have one "peasant" class unit, who are armed with bows. The rest of the warband are "warriors" armed with javelins and very little armour. Both they and the warlord are armoured at a -1 level compared to other factions. From what I've discovered, "Skraeling" was the Norse word for the local natives encountered in Labrador and it means something akin to "screachers." (Photos were taken by the author and by Martin.)

Skraeling bow-armed "scouts" advance across the table.
The Vikings appear to be surrounded.
One of the Skraelings abilities - if the Saga dice cooperate - is the ability to bring reinforcements in made up of figures
who have been killed in the game. The dead still count as dead for points and they aren't zombies; they're simply reinforcements.
Ralph uses a measuring stick to move his warriors forward.
In the previous photo, the multicoloured stick is Andy's measuring stick, converted from a knitting needle.
Ralph tells me his Skraelings are Gripping Beast figures that are no longer available.
Andy contemplates the Skraeling advance. The Vikings were whittled down all through the game.
Sad to say, I can't remember who won.
Meanwhile across the room, Bear and Martin, later joined by Derek, were playing a game simply called "Tanks." Apparently, this game is a 'thing' right now. It appears to be a packaged and laid-out table top game for a very few tanks. I saw that Bear had only one Panther, while Martin had two Shermans. I've not played the game myself, so I can't say much about it.

The M-4 and the Mk. V square off in what seems to be a North African village setting.
Bear moves aggressively.  It appears that even the measuring devices are part of the package.
First blood! Andy asked why you'd put a tank so close to the side of a building anyway.
Ronson... lights first time, every time.
A "ghost tank"? I don't know if the tanks were Martin's although the terrain was.
Two down!
Another view of the carnage.
The Panther seeks other prey... another day.
Ralph and I got to play Saga after we ate lunch. He took my Irish and I got to try out the Skraelings. It made for an interesting game. One thing I forgot to tell you about the Skraelings is this: they get to use their opponent's battle board. They can block certain abilities on the board and can mimic others. This makes them tough to play, but quite effective.

The Irish hearthguard and warriors advance.
To their right, kern and more hearthguard.
I deliberately made my units smaller than normal to cover more distance.
Beyond the trees, the Irish hound warrior band can be seen. They charged and fell back. They're tough to play at times.
I use them to "jackel" enemy bands since they can move like mounted troops and ignore most terrain.
We advanced toward each other, although I kept my scouts in the woods to fire their bows from cover.
That's my measuring stick. Very conventional/
Irish warriors advance on my Skraeling warriors.

We're up close and about to come to blows. The Danish axe is a nasty weapon, doing extra damage, but reducing the user's armour by 1.
The Irish warlord and his Fianna (hearthguard) face the Skraeling warchief.
The little shield indicates a "fatigue" on the unit. Fatigues show how fresh or motivated your unit is.
I like this figure of Ralph's so much, I took a portrait of it.
Since neither warlord was killed (the victory condition required in the scenario called "Kill the Warlord"), Ralph and I totaled up points to determine the winner. I won by one point!

And here is Martin's YouTube video of the unusual occasion!

Some "work in progress"

For some unknown reason, I've been getting a good bit of time to paint lately. I wish I knew how this is, because then I could do it again!

I've been doing some "contract" work for Bear and I've been enjoying it. (photos by my phone-camera at my painting table. Not the best studio, but it'll do.)

From the Bolt Action line from Warlord, late WWII SS troops.
Some are in the tunic, some in the late war field blouse (waist length), while a few are
covered by the Zeltbahn shelter half/poncho. I used the late war SS "spring" camo pattern.
This rifleman is in the camouflaged tunic and helmet cover.
An example of the Zeltbahn. Notice the lack of gaiters and the rolled socks.
That's a nice touch.
Field grey field blouse and Panzerfaust.
Another nice touch are the rolled-up sleeves.
One of my favouites - Zeltbahn and captured PPSh Soviet SMG.
For some reason, Warlord loves the soft officer's cap for their sprues. I'm not a fan, but these aren't my figs!
the ubiquitous and necessary MG-34.
I dipped this fellow in the basing sand a little too early.
Also for Bear, Perry Afrika Korps.
Slightly smaller than the Warlord figs, but they look good.
Helmets, field caps, and both long and short boots are in evidence.
A little closer and in better focus.
I used three or four different light tan colours to get different shades of khaki uniforms
with a brown ink wash to pick out the folds and corners.
I also finished a Sci-fi figure my daughter had begun a long time ago for use in out Traveller games. She could be carrying a large sci-fi gun or a wrench worthy of the Titanic's engine room, so I used both. (Reaper Miniatures)

I like Reaper's figures - well-detailed, lots of whimsy.
Katie did the face and hair.
Also for my daughter, some Reaper "Mouselings." These are anthropomorphic mice in various human costume. I have a "Thanksgiving" set, but this pack was for magic and Japan.

Merlin Mouse? Hairy Potter? 
A Samurai-mouse in his robes. He is carrying two swords... as he should.
I've been slowing assisting my wife in her Welsh army SAGA project. She likes slingers and these fill the bill nicely.

I have to get out all of my "drab" colours for this medieval project. The figs are nicely detailed and fun to paint.
Again I use a brown ink wash to pick out details.
For the family's on-going Steampunk projects, this officer came straight from the Northwest Frontier.
Another study in khaki.
I've done a few other things - for my 15mm Napoleonics and SYW projects, my son's Imagi-nations army, and some clean-up things on the painting table. (I tend to be easily distracted in my painting.) I hope to show some of those off soon.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Returning to my roots and to the blog

I haven't blogged much recently. A number of things got in the way, only some of which were beyond my control. In any event, I'm taking the time to do this again.

Monday is a holiday in Canada -- Thanksgiving. It's earlier than US Thanksgiving and it based more on the time of the harvest rather than a specific historical event (which maybe a bit mythological anyway.) Yesterday, the crowd at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group gave in to my desire to play a game of Napoleonics. (It's my favourite period of wargaming.)  We used Artie Conliffe's Shako rules. Beth and I supplied most of the figures with Martin adding his ever growing number of units to the mix. (He hinted that he had been painting in the car on the way over. I'm glad he wasn't driving.) I set the scenario to be a variation on the 1811 Battle of Albuera in the Penninsular War. Beth, Martin, and Rich commanded the French and Allies while Ralph, Matt (replaced late in the day by Derek) and I ran the British and their allies. Beth as over-all commander and was in charge of a division of the Italian army and a division of combined cavalry. Rich had a division of French and Martin had a division of the French Imperial Guard as well as a division of German Allies, who were a little bit substandard. Matt commanded a division of British and a division of Portuguese troops. Ralph had a division of  British and one of Spaniards. I was over-all commander and commanded the cavalry reserve. Andy watched and did colour commentary and Brian did the same. Derek pinch-hit for Matt when he had to leave. Bear watched when his game broke up and added to the general fun. (Photos courtesy of Rich, Martin, and my own phone/camera.)

Albuera was a disaster for the British, who had a entire brigade ridden down by French/Polish cavalry, although the Spanish infantry showed surprising tenacity. In the end, the French withdrew but the British, Spanish, and Portuguese under Beresford were badly hurt. I based my map and my OBs on that battle.

General starting dispositions for both sides.

The British-Allied view from the ridge toward the town.

The right flank - I added the wooded area on both sides of the field.

Ralph, myself, and Matt look the table over while Andy busies himself with something or other.

Beth and Rich survey the field. Martin's taking the picture.
Shako uses a unique (to me anyway) system of initiative. Each division rolls a d6 and the highest number goes first. It's quite possible that the initiative for movement can flow back and forth from side to side. For instance, my cavalry reserve never rolled higher than a 2. Also all changes of order take effect once the courier figure reaches the division commander and aides de camp/couriers can be killed or delayed. One bit the dust on the French side. However, for the life of me, I cannot remember the sequence of initiative as it appeared on the table. In any event, the Germans held fast, simply moving up to the edge of the woods. Rich's French division was very aggressive, requiring me (as C-in-C) to send a change of orders from "defend" to "attack" to Matt. Ralph's British watched the Germans while his Spanish and Matt's Portuguese held the ridge. (The Portuguese were as good as the British, but the two cavalry regiments there were second-rate. The Spanish were all second-rate.) Beth's Italian infantry advanced over the fordable stream while the cavalry shook itself out for a later advance. Martin's Guard infantry stayed in the town; we learnt later that they were on a timed order, not to move until turn #3.

Ralph's elite Highlanders were holding the edge of the ridge, just to the right of the Spanish.
(The part of the Spanish infantry was played by War of 1812 American regiments in colours other than blue.)

Germans! Bavarians, men from Lippe, Reuss-Waldeck, and other fly-speck duchies of the Rheinbund/Confederation of the Rhine. 

Martin's Guard infantry barrels into the town.
The tree nearest to the camera is an ANCIENT Martian Metals model of an Ent.

The Italian Division taking a lunch break. Panini di pesce di tonno per tutti!

The combined cavalry stretches it's legs - French, Italian, Saxon, and Polish

The Spanish line on the ridge backed by the British cavalry division
- 2 light dragoon regiments and 3 heavy dragoon regiments.
Sorry about the focus problems.

The road to Lisbon via Badajoz is watched by a singular Portuguese battalion.
Matt's British and Rich's French got into hand-to-hand quickly and it was a bloody business. The Portuguese light dragoons (2nd rate remember) charged and lost one regiment, but stopped the progress of that portion of the French advance. Martin's Germans just sat there, doing exactly what they were ordered to do! Ralph's British watched them, while his Spanish sustained casualties from the French cannon and later the Italian infantry. When the cavalry advanced, some of the battalions formed square and suffered for it from cannon fire. The bulk of Beth's cavalry came up the hill and slaughtered a good bit of the Spanish infantry. My cavalry reserve rolled forward and lost a light dragoon regiment. The rest of the division halted the advance of Beth's cavalry, one regiment in line being hit by 2 cuirassier regiments and a lancer regiment, all in column. Amazingly, the British dragoons won, formation and dumb luck being the deciding factors.
Martin's Guard formations rolled out of the town and hit the Portuguese on the road, routing them. With more of Beth's cavalry coming up, it was time to pack it in.

The only "real Spanish" regiment on the table - Regiment Ultonia.

The Rheinbund division advances on it's mission to feint the British.

Rich and Matt mix it up. Both sides hung tough and neither would give up.
The red bingo chips indicate the unit is "staggered", a state that has negative effects on the unit's fighting ability.
White curtain rings indicate a casualty. In Shako, a unit can take as many casualties as it's Morale Rating.
(Guard - 6, elite - 5, regulars - 4, second-rate - 3, unreliable - 2)
Toward the end of the game, the Spanish division failed division morale and all units were reduced in Morale rating by 1,
so they all became "unreliable."

Italian Gendarmes d'elite attack a Spanish regiment.
Italian dragoons and French hussars move up behind.

Saxon cuirassiers take apart a Spanish artillery battery.

Moving so fast they're blurred, the British light dragoons move to block any breakthroughs.
The cavalry division's advance had to slide to the left because of the "rough terrain" in front of them, impassible to cavalry.
Horse batteries are moving through the town.

The British C-in-C with his couriers stand between the Portuguese and Spanish divisions.
That's my wife across the way.

A German view-point of the Bavarians and the Reuss-Waldeck battalion as they trudge through the woods.

A Sky-Cam view of the tussle between Matt's British and Rich's French.

Derek's now in command.
In the end, we decided that the British-Iberian allies lost the game. They could not stop the Imperial French and their partners from breaking through. For my part, it really felt good to play Napoleonics again. I'll have to schedule more games using Shako, but next time, I bring out the Austrians!

Although I wasn't blogging, I wasn't sleeping either. Saw this out of our back door on evening.

An early Reformation Day commemoration held in London, ON. Our bishop was included
and Pastor Mike gave him "rabbit ears."

The British Secret Weapon. Ralph said he's only to be used for 'small arms fire."

The T-Rex must have been orphaned. We found him on the floor of the room we play in.
During the week, it serves as a nursery school.
An Italian medium gun

Beth always includes Dr. Larrey's Ambulance when she takes the field.
In the US Navy, she served in the hospital corps as a medic.