Saturday, April 25, 2015

Helicopter Resurrection

I decided to invest in a test purchase of some Hurlbat etched rotor discs to help resurrect some tatty old helicopter models.

I ordered two of the rotors designed for the Westland Lynx and two for the Mil Hind or Hip.  I also ordered a single AH-64 Apache rotor.  Sadly I completed the order without remembering to add on some tail rotor discs.

The discs come with one side covered by a blue coating that you need to peel off.  This can be a little tricky.  I get the impression that heat used to cut out the disc may slightly weld the plastic coating to the disc.  Here are a couple of four-blade Lynx rotors, one with the coating removed.

I tried a Mi-8 Hip first as it had a nice, clean surface into which I could drill a hole for the length of pin I intended to use to mount the rotor.

I snipped about 5mm off the head end of the pin to act as the rotor head gear.  I carefully superglued the pin to the disc (which comes pre-drilled) and then superglued the pin into the drilled hole.  The result was OK I think.

Note, that's the original tail rotor disc that came with the model.  It's noticeably yellowed compared to the Hurlbat disc.

Among the helicopters I need to upgrade are a couple of Pumas.  Hurlbat don't make a Puma disc (it wants to be four bladed and 52mm in diameter but I thought I'd have a go trying out the smaller Apache disc.

Below you can see a Puma with an Apache disc next to one with the original, cast, white metal rotors.

I think that looks OK.  I shall invest in a couple more as well as the large number of Chinook discs I need for my seven Boeing Sea Knights!

More photos to come when I get the rest of the current batch of helos upgraded.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Further forestry

I picked up some more hot glue gun sticks and some different colours of clump foliage today.  The result is seen here on my To the Strongest! board.

That's about a square foot of forest made in about three, maybe three-and-a-half, hours at a total cost of maybe six quid.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Experimental Forestry

I need to build a lot of Scandinavian forest for the Bjerkvik game we're presenting at Joy of Six in July.

The original plan was to create more of the squirrel-chewed pine-cone trees I did for the original run-through of the game and put them on pieces of felt that would define the edges of the wooded areas.  Looking like this:

This is OK but I felt the bases needed work so I started looking at pictures of real Scandinavian forest so I could decide how to colour the bases.

The problem is, you don't see the forest floor from outside a conifer forest.  You can't see the floor for the trees.  The other problem is that a 6'x12' table is going to need a hell of a lot of trees.  The squirrels of Oughtibridge Park just ain't that productive.

So I thought I'd have a go at an alternative approach using Woodland Scenics clump foliage and some ripped up prices of 18mm thick packaging foam.

18mm foam torn to a rough shape.
I then started attaching the clump foliage using a hot glue gun.

The classic thing to do would be to create a base with tree trunks made from glued-down nails but I wanted to give the impression of a conifer forest which has vegetation right down to ground level around the edges.

The result is this:

Or from above, this:

I think that works OK.  One wood completed in about an hour.

I may declare these sections of woods as impassible within the context of the game.  This would have a realistic effect in channelling forces and would also avoid the question of whether to put forces on top or underneath.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gloranthan TtS! Thoughts part one

My Mum's in hospital at the moment and I'm spending several hours each weekend travelling over to Liverpool to see her.  The good news is that she seems to be on the mend.  Meanwhile, the travelling gives me time to consider new developments in the Land of Counterpane.

At present I'm in a period of painting whatever bits of unpainted lead or plastic drift through my transom (one bonus kudos cookie for whoever gets the reference) but from a rules point of view I'm fairly steadily focussed on Simon Miller's To the Strongest! ancient rules.  

Yesterday's trip was spent considering the Gloranthan Hordes of the Things elements I have and how they might make the transition to TtS! I approximate chronological order of my recruiting the armies, here are the conclusions I've reached so far.

My Troll HOTT army is based on the Darkdemon clan of Pavis.  From the Pavis and Big Rubble book we know that they are followers of Zorak Zoran and use zombies and skeletons to reinforce their Dark Troll troops.  They also have a relationship with Cragclimber, a giant they keep on side with bribes of beer.

In HOTT terms I have six skeleton/zombie Hordes, two Dark Troll Warband, two Trollkin Shooters, a Homboboboom shaman Magician, a Dark Troll Hero, and Cragclimber who serves as a Behemoth in HOTT terms.

In TtS! I'm tempted to deploy all six elements of Zombies as a single, extra-deep element of Fanatic Warriors.  As Fanatics they'll carry on hitting at 6+ regardless of disorder.  As an extra-deep unit they'll take three hits before breaking.  Both of these seem to me pretty good ways of modelling an almost inexhaustible supply of undead.  The only problem is that with them being on 6cm square bases they won't fit into a single square.

The Dark Trolls and Trolkin I'm tempted to combine into a single unit.  I might rate them as Billmen.

The Hero will probably serve as an unattached, heroic general.

I haven't yet given much thought to how magic might work in TtS! but if I was trying the Trolls now, I'd treat the shaman as Artillery (cannon).  They're immobile, which fits with their circle-dancing Trollkin and stationery drummers, and can "shoot" at a distance.

In HOTT terms I have ten Warbands, one base of slingers hiding in bushes (Lurkers) and a couple of sylph Flyers.  There are also some Duck allies; an element of Humakti warriors who I rate as Blades, a unit of Shooters, and a couple of young Ducks with slings.

The Warbands, double ranked, will form two units of TtS! javelinmen with two elements left over to create a Light Infantry (javelin) unit.  One of the Warband elements has a clan chieftain and his Duck sidekick so I think probably an attached, heroic general.

The single element of Humakti Ducks I think will probably form a small unit of veteran Legionaries in  TtS! terms.  I'll also declare them to be "swimmers" despite their armour.

The Shooters can have their base extended and become a TtS! Light Infantry (bows) unit.  Again "swimmers".

The same could apply to the single element of slingers.

Finally we have a pair of Sylphs which, in the absence of TtS! rules for aerial troop types could be treated as heroes.

Next to be completed were my Mostali. Three Blades, four Shooters (a mixture of crossbow- and gun-armed types) and a Hero make up the main battle line.  The Blades could each form a small Legionary unit in TtS! terms.  The Shooters would give me two units of Light Infantry (one bows and one handguns), while the Hero could be an unattached general.

The Cannon Cult are obviously artillery (cannon).  And finally we have my Nilmerg, who's about to explode a load of barrels of black powder.  Hmm, this one clearly needs further thought.

I'm being chased away from the Mac by my daughter now so the rest of the armies will have to follow later.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

To the Strongest! for Glorantha?

It was pretty much inevitable that as soon as I played To the Strongest! I'd start thinking about how it could be made to work for my favourite fantasy world.  All the more so because author Simon Miller is a fellow Glory Geek and doubtless had similar thoughts whilst developing the rules.

So first up is to look at what I have and to work out how I'd structure Gloranthan units from my collection.

If I plan to base a standard unit on a 12cm wide Impetus unit then my Sun Dome Templars will make two deep Pikemen units plus support.

These are 12cm wide units deployed in 15cm squares.  The unit on the right consists of two HOTT Spear units (60x30mm bases) backed by two HOTT Hordes (60x40mm bases).

On the left is a Light Infantry (bow) unit made from a single HOTT Shooter element with a couple of my patented base-exteender pieces.  Behind it is another Pikemen unit made up of a 30mm deep Spear General backed up by a 40mm deep Horde alongside a 40mm deep Paladin backed up by a 30mm deep Spear unit.  Both Pikemen units end up being 12cm x 7cm.

Finally I've used some singly based Sun Dome Militia figures to represent Heroes.

The final question concerns Solanthos Ironpike.  Clearly he's an attached foot general in TtS! terms, but is he also Heroic!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Charity Shop Find

One of the charity shops in town had a sudden influx of Osprey books.  I picked up these for 99p each!

There were more, and if they haven't already gone I have instructions to get some of them for Jamie.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Duke of Exeter

Back to 28mm and the Wars of the Roses now.  My latest completed element is this unit for Impetus (or possibly To the Strongest!) representing the Duke of Exeter and some of his liveried retainers.

Exeter fits in with my current plan to do the households I need for the Barnet and Tewkesbury campaigns.  Exeter commanded the Lancastrian left at Barnet.  I shall probably give him some liveried bowmen next.

The figures are all by Perry Miniatures and all are plastics except for Exeter (front rank, pointing) and the other plate-armoured man-at-arms (waving) who are from a set of metal commanders I picked up at Orc's Nest in London.

The rather nice banner is by Freezywater Publications.  It would be better if they would print their banners with the two sides separated slightly a strip of plain paper - as it is part of the banner design is wrapped around the flagpole.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ancient Battlefield

Having tried out To the Strongest! on an improvised battlefield made from an old bed-sheet and found it good, I decided I'd better have a go at producing something a little more permanent.  A trip to Antics Models in Sheffield provided me with a couple of rolls of textured paper made by a company called Javis.

I had a sheet of MDF in mind (it's the back side of the grey, textured sheet I use for Pulp Alley games) about 31" x 36" and I knew two rolls would cover it but only if I cut them very precisely.  I would also end up with several prominent joins running across the board.  I therefore decided to go with a crazy paving approach, making a virtue of the fact that I had two different shades of green.  In the end I had three colours as I inserted some bits of old static-grass-coated sheet that I had from years ago.  The small gaps were filled with flock and/or painted and dry-brushed sand.

Finally, I marked out a 3" square grid marking the intersections first with a pencil and then with a red CD marker.

This was the result:

And with some terrain added:

Seen at normal gaming distance, the spots are visible but I think not too intrusive:

My Late Roman Army is beginning to look reasonably effective when deployed en masse.  Mr Berry will be getting yet more of my money soon though.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ancient Ancients

The concentrated rush of figure painting that's grabbed me now that Crisis Point is out of the way continues to bear fruit.  I've now finished a group of figures, most of which I first bought in about 1979!

These Lamming cataphracts (with one later interloper) came from Games of Liverpool about 35 years ago and have been at least partially painted several times but never finished to my satisfaction.

The interloper is the figure second from the right in the picture above.  He came from one of the boxes of random unwanted figures I got from Tim Gow.

They could be used for anyone from Parthians to Sassanids by way of Armenians and for either Impetus or To the Strongest! rules.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Heroes and Generals

One area where my existing Basic Impetus forces don't meet the requirements of To the Strongest is that the latter requires a few separately based figures to use as "detached" Generals and as Heroes.  The former allow units a second attempt at activating, and the latter give a second attempt at hitting in close combat (albeit at the cost of their lives).

My friendly local game shop (Wargames Emporium in Sheffield) has a few Baccus figures on sale but nothing specifically tailored to my Late Romans.  I did, however, pick up a pack of Viking personalities figuring that I could adapt a few of them to fit.  I'm quite pleased with the results.

From left to right: generic German type, Roman legionarius, Auxilia
Palatina, and mounted Roman general.
The first is a bare-chested warrior who would sit comfortably with any German, Dacian or Celtic army, I reckon.  He's a simple paint job on an unmodified berserker from the Viking pack.

Next up is my Auxilia Palatina hero.  This is created from the same figure by applying the skirt of a tunic from Green Stuff.  The rest of the tunic is simply painted on.

Then we have a hero for one of my Legio units. Again just a paint conversion of the Baccus figure (I elected not to bother trimming down his baggy trousers).

And then we have a Roman general base.  In this case I modified the standard bearer.  The original figure comes with a flag; a very Viking-looking flag.  I cut off the flag itself with a pair of nail clippers taking care the leave the flagpole intact.  I then attend a crossbar from stretched sprue and a new banner from paper.

And finally, a reminder that these guys are damned small.  Here's the legio hero in front of his unit seen at something more like common viewing distance.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

To The Strongest!

We went over to Merseyside to visit my Mum in hospital over the start of the long Easter weekend.  I took along a box of 6mm ancients so that Jamie and I could try out the To The Strongest! while we were there.

TTS is a set of fast-playing ancient wargaming rules designed and published by my old mate Simon Miller (a skilled painter and a fellow Glory Geek).  The rules are played with neither tape measures nor dice, using a square grid to regulate movement and playing cards or counters to handle command control and combat resolution.

I took along an old, green-eyed bed-sheet to form the battlefield, to which I applied CD-marker spots to define the grid system.

The dark spots mark corners on the 75mm grid I used with
6mm figures on 60mm-wide element bases.
My favourite bit of the ancients period is the end of the Roman Empire and the start of the Dark Ages.  For this first battle I used a force of Late Romans (all Baccus miniatures) and Jamie had a sort-of-generic-Goth-based force with javelin armed cavalry and some (perhaps Frankish) allies on foot.

The two armies met on a completely featureless battlefield.  Jamie deployed in a symmetrical formation with a central large unit of warriors flanked on both sides by javelin-armed cavalry.  A couple of light infantry bowmen units were in among the cavalry.  

The Goth-Frank alliance arrayed for battle.
I had a strong centre of four legionarii cohorts and a unit of Auxilia Palatina, but relatively weak flanks; one unit of javelin-armed cavalry on the left and two of light cavalry on the right.

As we were trying the rules for the first time, we kept things pretty simple with one command each.  Jamie has an attached general (who stays with a particular unit throughout the game) whilst my General was detached and free to move about.  That's him on the larger round base above, and again below:

The smaller round base shows the presence of a Hero.  We each had one of these.  They can be sacrificed by the owning player to gain a second attempt at a failed close combat "to hit" check.   All of the detached figures in this game came from Baccus's Viking Personalities set.

If victory is to the strongest then Jamie was definitely the strongest on the day.  He took advantage of his superiority in cavalry to drive off my Roman horse.

Irregular Miniatures cavalry, originally painted as Rohirrim
by Alan Slater.  The smaller counters are missile ammunition, whilst
the stack of two larger counters show that this unit has already
activated twice.  

Gothic horse threaten disordered Auxilia Palatina.

Having driven off my right flank light cavalry, Jamie's big Frankish warband was able to hit my legionary line in the flank with predictably fatal results.

Although my left flank cavalry held their own...

... the result wasn't in doubt and the Franks rolled up the Romans' main line to gain a clear victory.

I really like these rules.  We were both very impressed by how quickly they played.  I can see myself very quickly creating a proper gridded battlefield for the game and I suspect future purchases from Mr Berry at Baccus will be called for.

At £9.99 for the full colour PDF To The Strongest! is a set of rules that's well worth purchasing.  Check out Simon's webstore.