Sunday, February 10, 2019

LoTR- Gondor

I've had some Crusader Miniature Normans lying around for a few years now. Originally they were purchased for my Crusader armies but didn't fit sizewise with the Perry's I used for the rest of the force so have been ignored for some time and been languishing in my miniatures drawers. However, I've decided that they'd be perfect as the basis for a Gondor force for Middle Earth Rampant and so have been rebasing them and tidying them up. I have added some Gripping Beast rimless Norman shields and also Fireforge plastic spears- which look more like tree trunks in the photos but aren't too bad in the flesh.

I think I've mentioned before how I really dislike Peter Jackson's interpretation of Gondor. Plate armour just seems wrong to me and so I can't bring myself to using the GW Gondor range of figures. I think Normans fit the bill and are probably more in keeping with the Anglo-Saxon feel of the setting as imagined by Tolkien so will be using Normans as my Gondor troops.

So far the force consists of:

  • 1x elite foot commander
  • 2x heavy foot
  • 2x heavy missiles (crossbows)

I've two more units of heavy foot to do and I need to get a couple  of units of cavalry. I am in two minds over the cavalry and tossing up between Footsore Normans, Goth or Ramono-British ranges but am leaning towards the Footsore  Noble Goths with the Gripping Beast Norman shields to tie to force together.

The good think about the Rampant series of rules is you don't need too many figures for a force- as they are these guys are 22 pts. Once I've finished the other two units of infantry and add a couple of units of allied Rohan cavalry till I get some Gondor knights the force can easily push 36-40 points which is about size of standard game will will be playing.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Dragon Rampant- Isengard vs Carthage?

It is Waitangi day today and this evening Kent and I finally managed, after several failed attempts, to get a wargame in. He's never played Dragon Rampant so thought I'd teach him the rules but alas I'd forgotten most of them. However, we managed to muddle our way through a game, the rules becoming clearer as the game went on. 

Apparently the Urak Hai invasion of Carthage happened sometime in the 3rd Age but as no hobbits were present at the battle  to report on it, it has since been lost to the annuals of (Middle Earth) history.

Kent used his Carthaginians and I my newly rebased Urak Hai. I built us a couple of 40 point armies with the troops we had available.

Kent's Carthaginians
1x General (elite infantry)
2x Carthaginian veterans (Heavy foot)
2x Spanish scutarii (light foot= short range missiles)
2x Italian hill tribes (Warband)
1x EWlephant (Greater warbeasts)
1x Carthaginian cavalry (Heavy riders)

Craig's Uraki hai
1x leader (Elite inf)
2x Uraki hai (Heavy foot-offensive)
1x Lesser Urak hai (warband)
1x Urak hai crossbows ((Heavy missiles)
1x Warg Riders (light riders)
1x wargs (lesser beasts)
1x Troll (Greater warbeast)

The battle was a bit of a free for all, just trying to relearn the rules. First person to destroy more than half the opposing force won.
The Urak Hai deploy

And from the Carthaginians line

the Urak hai general and the troll prepare for battle

 Advance! The troll and elephant surge forward, each aiming to prove that he is the king of the battlefield.
 Come on then, bring it on! The troll bounced off the elephant and retreated (the combat was a draw).

The Carthaginians continue to advance

 Elephant vs troll take 2. I'll rip yo tusks off and shove them down ya gob!

 Alas, by now we'd remembered about command rolls after casualties. The troll failed his roll and left the battle in a bit of a huff. The crossbows got their revenge though and turned the elephant into a very large pin cushion on the next turn. 

The Wargs (lesser beasts) charge a unit of Italian hill tribesemen

 The Carthaginian veterans continue to plod their way forward.

 Getting closer...

 Crossbow-orcs and Urak hai clash with the Carthaginians and there are several inconclusive engagements between the heavy infantry units.
The Italian hill tribesemen sense an easy victory vs the crossbows but the orcs retreat in good order- well as good an order as they can being orcs.

 The dice indicates three wounds suffered (a mere scratch) and the glass bead that the orcs are disordered so good for sweet F.A.

 The Urak hai general charges the Hill tribesemen- 'cos he can.

 What happens when you get hit in the flank using the optional unit facing rules? Well apparently your armour value s reduced by one so the warband Urak hai go from Armour 2 to Armour 1c(meaning every successful die equals one wound as opposed to the usual 2:1 vs bellicose foot). Luckily Kent only rolled 3 hits (out of 12 dice needing 4+ per die)

 The battle is close, next destroyed unit on either side wins.

And wouldn't you know it. Kent's Spanish light infantry charge a unit of Urak hai heavy foot, cause 2 wounds to one and rout them off the table on a failed courage test.

A good close game and a chance to get to grips with the rules. It plays fast and furious, even with two 40 point armies on the table.

Cheers Kent, I look forward to getting a lot more gaming in this year!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Urak haI Rebased

My rebasing project continues. I have completed rebasing my Urak hai and Rohan forces using my new basing system. I'll try to get some photos of the Rohan tomorrow.

Most units now comprises of two bases- each 6cm wide.

  • Cavalry: two 6x 8cm bases (each with 3 figures so 6 figures per unit)
  • Light Cavalry/lesser beasts: 2x 6cm round bases with 2 figures
  • Large monsters and leaders: 1x 6cm round base with either one large monsters of 3x command figures for infantry
  • Smaller monsters: 2x 5cm bases per unit
  • Infantry: two bases each 6cmx6cm (4-5 figs per base). Originally I was going to vary the base depth as in Impetus and some other systems to reflect heavier/ more driilled infantry from warband but have decided that the extra cm of depth protects some more fragile figures (eg spearmen) from taking knocks on the tabletop so have decided to standardise to one base depth.
  • Missile troops: 2 bases each 6x 5cm deep, each with 3 figures. 
  • Skirmishers: 2x 5cm round bases each with two figures on them.

 By having two bases equalling a unit (in most cases) in Dragon Rampant when a unit is reduced to half strength I simply remove a base to reflect the losses.

In Dragon Rampant terms the Urak hai will be the core of a 40+ point warband:

  • 1x leader (elite foot)
  • 4x Urak hai infantry (either heavy foot offensive or Bellicose foot)
  • 2x crossbows (heavy missiles)
  • 1x warg riders (light riders)
  • 1x wargs (lesser beasts)
  • 2x Urak hai scouts (Scouts)


Thursday, January 24, 2019

More rebasing completed

I've been away a few days but finished off the rebasing of my light cavalry which will be used are Easterlings in my Middle Eaarth themed games I've also finished a medium cavalry unit which will be Black Numenorean knights for Dragon Rampant. These are simply the Rohan figures with different shields but they will do the job. The Easterlings are Gripping Beast's Huns.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Back to gaming...nearly

Well I'm back home and after a few weeks or getting things sorted which included moving house, I'm finally starting to get myself organised and ready to get back to some gaming.

I was up in Christchurch for a concert a couple of weeks back and caught up with my friend Ian who has just finished some  Nazgul on Fell Beasts for his Dragon Rampant/ Lord of the Rings forces. My phone camera doesn't do the subtlety of the paint job justice.

As for me, I'm looking at adding to my Black Numenorean force.

I'm also looking at modifying my basing system slightly, using 2x 6cm wide bases per unit, an idea I've stolen from Ian. My first decision? 3 Cav per base or two. I was messing around trying to sort this out and took a couple of photos.

First up three figs.

Or two?
I've decided I prefer three, looks more dynamic and so future units will have 2x3 figure bases per unit.

I painted these Rohan as Numenoreans a few years back, the only change was to replace the Rohan shields with some Black Shields from one of the historics ranges- I can't remember which manufacturer- and paint the figure some suitably dark colours.

I also have a small force of Gripping Beast huns which are being repurposed as Easterling allies (I'll have 4 units worth for bigger games). I've decide to use two x 6cm round bases with 2 figures per base for light cav/skirmishers as the bases look more...skirmishy. I really like the look that these give.

I also picked up a Nargul on a fellbeast last year and he will be added to the force too- but needs to be repainted.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Back into gaming... nearly

Well my year, 11 months actually, in Kiribati has come to an end. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and this really has been one of the highlights of my life so far despite the many challenges the year has held. I’ve been looking forward to getting home but now it is almost time to leave I have mixed feelings about heading home but am looking forward to getting back into my hobbies, including gaming when I do.

I haven’t been able to do much in the way of gaming from out here. However, I was round at the deputy High Comms place a while back and noticed a large collection of Osprey’s and assorted military books. You wouldn’t be a wargamer would you? Yep. Alas we didn’t manage to get any gaming in but was nice to chat about rules etc now and then.

One thing that has kept me sane out here is my weekly Dungeons and Dragons session with my gaming group back home via messenger. We’ve been gaming pretty much weekly since 2001 so wasn’t going to let a small matter of pretty average internet access and being in the middle of the Pacific hold me back, and indeed it has been a real sanity check being able to have that weekly contact with the guys and the silliness that is our Tuesday night gaming sessions.

As I said I’m looking forward to getting home and getting back into a few projects. First off the block will probably be continuing my Lord of the Rings project using Dragon Rampant rules. I have been tempted to get a few more of those lovely Conqueror Models dwarves for my collection… we will see. However, being out here and seeing how little people have has made me reevaluate my own priorities regarding my discretionary spending so think I’ll be a tad more careful with gaming purchases in future- that’s the plan anyway.

I’ve only the tomorrow left and I’m off home, arriving mid-afternoon on Christmas day after an overnight stopover in Fiji. So expect a more regular updates in 2019.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month the countries of with world decreed that enough was enough and so formally stopped slaughtering each other. On a more personal level would have been my parents 58th wedding anniversary. They made it to 57 with my mother passing away earlier this year.   

My own interest in the World Wars goes back to my childhood. The wars have always fascinated me, they have shocked me, and they have enlightened me as to the propensity of mankind to unleash unimaginable savagery upon itself.When growing up I would usually spend my school holidays at my grandmother’s home in Timaru and on each stay would pop down to the local model shop and purchase Airfix 1:72 scale WWII figures and model kits. My grandmother was horrified by my hobby. She had lived though two world wars and to her war was not a game! It was real as were its consequences. 

Nana was the youngest of six children. She was sixteen or seventeen when the war broke out and in her early twenties when it ended. Two of her brothers were gassed on the Western front in World War One. She didn’t really much talk about them, though she used to tell me stories of all other aspects of her life growing up in the early twentieth century. Both, her brothers, like so many men who came back from the War to End all Wars, died young, no doubt partly due to the wounds they’d received.  Her future husband, my grandfather, had serviced on a minesweeper in the English Channel and North Sea and fought at the Battle of Jutland where some of his crewmates were killed. I can’t begin to imagine how bloody cold and dangerous it would have been patrolling those waters for submarines in the depths of winter. Bugger that for a joke!

My other grandfather died at the age of 86 in 1982 or 83. As a young man he served in the trenches on the western front and only ever, to my mother’s knowledge, spoke of his experiences . That was one rainy summers day while he sat at the dinner table watching me perched on a stool at our kitchen island trying to put together an Airfix JU88 model. He was in his eighties and for the only time in his life he spoke to his family about his experiences and especially his friends long gone- trying to let my generation know of the futility of war. I really wish I had taped that conversation.

For those that had experienced, who had lived through the wars their perceptions were very different to ours today.  Often when thinking of World War One we focus on the battles which, to us in New Zealand, were fought at the other end of the world. However, it was also war that fought at home by every family in the country. I can’t begin to imagine how hard life must have been for people at home, the uncertainty of seeing loved ones ever again. Of lives put on hold till the war, for good or ill, ended. People must have dreaded the arrival of the postie. Was it good news? Was it bad?
Today, we know the outcome of the war and it seems a foregone conclusion but for those experiencing it day by day either in the various theatres of combat or at home the war and its outcome was very, very uncertain. For those experiencing those days, and some were terribly dark, life must have been bloody hard. People lived one day at a time, lives were put on hold and many many lives were cruelly cut short; families and communities were torn apart.  

Some great innovations came from the war and afterwards. People such as Tolkien were shaped by their experiences in the trenches in World War One yet went on to great achievements that have enriched all of humanity. I cannot help but wonder what great innovations in the arts, in literature, in science, in medicine and technology were delayed or never made because some of our brightest minds did not survive the war to make them.  We will never know of the changes that could have been made yet never were because a life was cut short in its prime. It truly was a lost generation.

Both my grandfathers belonged to this, a now long silent generation. They like most young men of their generation answered the call up, enlisted and went to war. They left the shores of a small, new country to travel across the world to fight on behalf of an old one. For whatever reason that drove them to that decision they stepped up to do what they feel needed to be done. They put aside their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their families and loved ones, donned a uniform and left New Zealand’s shores for Europe. Many of their friends that left with them did not return.

Those that did survive the war were not the same when they returned. They had changed, the world had changed, their home towns and families had changed. The men and women that returned were often barely recognisable and many struggled to assimilate to life in peacetime. Some bore the scars of war outwardly, for others the scars were on the inside, hidden and often not understood. Shell shock they called it, we now call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Men and women mentally damaged, haunted by their experiences in the trenches, in the air, upon the seas. Families across the country, just as were families across the world, were rent and broken. Some of those that served lived to a ripe old age but many died young, their bodies or minds destroyed by their ordeal, their youth stolen from them. Some haunted by their experiences took their own lives. Others took out their anger and frustrations on their families, on their loved ones. Wives and children often had to deal with puzzlement of a father’s anger or distance, with their inability to emotionally connect with them, or coped with with physical or mental abuse that was in part the result of a father or husband’s wartime experiences. The generation that returned from the battlefields bore their burdens silently and with stoicism but many many suffered.

I like to think my grandfathers generation fought to change to world, to make the world a better place for theirs and following generations. They were the Silent Generation who stoically shouldered the burden of their ordeals. Most wouldn’t dwell on those dark days. In fact for many in my grandfathers generation Armistice and ANZAC days were not days to celebrate or to commemorate. Many did not march in the parades, that came later. Instead you’d probably find them in a quiet corner of a local pub or RSA with their mates sharing a quiet beer. They didn’t really talk of their experiences but they would share a beer, renew a bond forged in the hells of war, yet probably not talk about the way it had impacted on them.  

 As a child in the 1970s as the unpopular war in Vietnam raged I recall ANZAC parades being disrupted by those, who are now our babyboomers, antiwar protestors protesting against that war and trying to change then world. There were verbal confrontations between World War One and Two veterans and young men and women protesting against the futility of war. It seemed that our ANZAC day almost became a day of national shame. But in more recent decades there has been a change in attitude. Slowly yet surely as the numbers of veterans declined growing numbers of children, young people and families, now attend the Dawn Parad Services to commemorate, to reflect and to make sure those that went before are not forgotten. That to my mind what Armistice day, and ANZAC day, should truly be about.

The veterans of World War One to my mind weren’t proud of their achievements, they did not glorify the war. They fought in it, they survived it, they sure as hell didn’t want to celebrate it. If anything they wanted to forget to put the horrors behind them, get on with life and raise their families. The jingoism that existed in Europe prior to World War One lead to unimaginable slaughter for four years, the survivors didn’t want a bar of that but hoped to forge a better world, to make sure that the sacrifice of the millions that died were not in vain.

Today, the voices of the Lost Generation have fallen silent, soon too will those of the last survivors of World War Two. Those that come after have a duty, a solemn duty ,to honour their sacrifices, not glorify them, and pass on to future generations the lesson of the Great War- NEVER AGAIN!  A lesson we seemingly have not learned and we seem doomed to forever repeat. So it is with some alarm that I take note of the rise of nationalism and popularism in the world today, are we doomed to repeat the 1930s with a new rise of fascism? Have we learned nothing?  

ANZAC and Armistice Days are not a time for bravado, jingoism or pride, rather they are days for solemn reflection and acknowledgement of the sacrifices of those that served and the millions of casualties , both military and civilian, of those two wars and to try to understand the unimaginable.  

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities. It is a day to reflect on the sacrifices of those men and women of that long silent generation and to make sure that their sacrifices are never forgotten that the lessons of this, the war to end all wars, are remembered and passed on to future generations. The Great War was supposed to be the war to end all wars but we know it was repeated on an even bigger scale barely twenty years later. I sincerely hope we can one day learn the lesson whispered from the graves in cemeteries and from the ghosts on battlefields across the world and heed the voices of those that have gone before us of the futility of war and listen as the wind whispers their final lament… NEVER AGAIN!

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.
-Wilfred Owen- Dulce et Decorum Est