Saturday, April 25, 2020

Anzac Day 2020

Today, for the first time since WWI Dawn Services to mark Anzac Day have not been held in New Zealand. Instead at 6am this morning people who wanted to remember and pay their respects to forebears were asked to stand at their gates for a moments silence. Usually large groups gather at cenotaphs up an down the country for Dawn Services and I usually attend the Timaru one as a mark of respect to my two grandfathers who both served in WWI.

Last year I bought a new home opposite the public gardens in Timaru our cenotaph is at the end of Memorial Avenue beside the hospital on the other side of the gardens from where I am living so I walked across the gardens to pay my respects at the cenotaph just after 6am, the time the usual ceremony is held. The was only one other person there this year. Usually the street in front of the cenotaph is blocked off for the few hundred people, and ever dwindling numbers of veterans, that gather.

'Tis indeed strange times but hopefully here in NZ the light is at the end of the tunnel as our Covid- cases have reduced to about 5 per day over the last week and we will be easing up our lock down requirements on Tuesday (Anzac Day ha been Mondayised as a public holiday) and maybe life can return to a new sort of normal in the weeks ahead.

The Timaru cenotaph just after 6am this morning.

Memorial Ave is usually blocked off and a few hundred people gathered for the Dawn Service, not this year.

The other thing I found online last week was the service record of my Grandfather, Robert Joseph (Joe) Murray who served in the infantry in the 32nd Specialised Company on the Western Front in 1918. Joe was from Gore in Southland and was a green grocer before the war (and post war too), born in December 1899 he would have been 17 when joined up and barely 18 when he arrived in France, the same age my son is now.  By the looks of it he he was posted to the reserve battalion for the Wellington regiment (I would have expected him to have been posted to the Otago regiment but there you go) when he arrived in France and would have served at the front later in the year.

Joe survived the war and was called up and served in the homeguard in Invercargill in WWII. He had 6 children with his wife Elsie, the youngest of whom was my mother born on May 11th 1941, at which time NZ troops were fighting the Fallschrimjaeger on Crete. Two of his children, my aunts and uncles are in their mid to late 80s and are still alive.

Like many his generation Joe never spoke of his war time experiences to his family, he just returned to civilian life and got on with things. My mother only ever recalled him speaking of the war once and that was to me and her when I was about 12 and he was staying with as an 80-something year old. Joe passed away in about 1984 and I recall the last post being played by one of his former comrades at his funeral. 

Lest we forget the sacrifices of everyday men and women  like Joe who did their duty when it was required. 


Monday, April 20, 2020

World War Two- the series

Does anyone remember this series by Orbis?

I first saw them advertised on TV in the late 70s and as a 10-11 year old got about 20 copies, some swapped with mates at school. Then about 11 or 12 years ago found the entire series (120 issues) in a bookshop (Smith's or Pacific books) on Manchester street in Christchurch a year or so before it, like almost all of the CBD, was destroyed in the earthquakes.

 Anyway, I've the entire series so decided yesterday it was time to go back and read them all from start to finish.

The interesting thing is that issues I originally got (and have owned since the late 70s or about 1980) are numerically different to the complete series I bought. As the photo below shows, the issue numbers and covers are in a different order. I haven't checked closely to see if the details are different though.

Issue 4 came with this  poster which was used widely in the Far East apparently which says in Chinese- The British army, navy and airforce unite with China to fight the common enemy

The highlight as a kid of the series were the detailed drawings and information about various tanks, ships and aircraft.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Game 1, Dwarves vs Ogres

A slight change of plan. I decided to try this game rather than as a solo game but via skype with my friend Ian taking control of one of the armies. We'd not tried to video-game before so were a little unsure if it would work but it was, as they say, worth a crack.

1x General (elite foot)
1x Housecarls (elite foot)
2x axe-thanes (heavy foot offensive)
2x crossbows (heavy missiles)
1x warmachine

1x general- elite foot (+fear)
3x bellicose foot (shiny armour + fear)
1x wargs (lesser warbeasts)

 A cunning plan.

We rolled to see who got whicha rmy and Ian got the Dwarves and we were good to go.

We started with a hidden deployment. I deployed the ogres and had the camera facing so Ian couldn't see my deployment- not exactly subtle being only 5 units anyway) then Ian deployed the dwarves and we rolled to begin. The dwarves winning the first turn.

 As you can see the camera was set up to give a good view of the table and we chatting via a skype video link, easy-peasy.

Deployment. The gores depployed as well, ogres. No tactics needed there. The only real thought being which side to deploy the wargs on.

The dwarves from top of the screen were: ballista, crossbows, elite dwarves (with axe-thanes behind), general, second unit of axe- thanes and closest to the camera the second crossbow unit

Turn 1, Ian managed to move the ballista and crossbow-dwarves at the top of the screen forward then failed an order roll- we allow 1 re-roll within 12" of the commander, a fairly standard house rule.

The ogres advance towards crossbows on my left flank.

I see tasty dwarves ahead.

Turn 2, Ian only activated the elite housecarls before he failed an order test.

Getting closer...

The ogres wade into the crossbows, the ogres had taken 3 hits from the ballista and crossbows on their way into combat. First blood to the ogres.

They destroy their target but are badly mauled (5 wounds in total- though I had a brain fade and thought they only had 6 wounds not 12, oops!)

Some subpar rolling from me.

The heroic dwarven general moves in for the kill- and the glory of finishing off the ogres (yep, I played the whole game thinking my ogres only took 6 hits to remove form the game, instead of 12!).

One unit down...

In the centre the ogres and housecarls clash.

Using the tripod to get close us for Ian. Overall repositioning the camera worked and allowed him to keep track of the game fairly well.

6 wounds equals? Another destroyed unit (actually it didn't but I only figured that out AFTER the game!).

The wargs finally get into the action charging the crossbow dwarves but not inflicting enough damage.

The wargs fall back to regroup (and try again)- alas my army is now under half strength.

More woeful dice- a good general never blames their dice, or do they?

The ogres all all but broken, only the general and the wargs remain. What is that I can see in the back row, oh that's right the elite dwarven housecarls, running and hiding.

See if  I can do something about that. The wargs charge the housecarls in the flank but once again fail to finish off the dwarves.

This is definitely not looking good!

In the end the valiant ogres were overwhelmed and totally destroyed. The dwarves managed to lose a unit of crossbows, some axe-thanes, and so it was a crushing dwarven victory. 

A good fun game. Ian rolled his dice at his end of the line and I did all the moving of the troops. The dwarven army was a nicely balanced (combined arms I think we call it) force. The ogres maybe a tad one-dimensional and could probably benefit form a few more wargs or other troops for variety- two units of bellicose orcs maybe at the expense of one of the ogres? At 8 points each they were fairly steep points wise. However, I was running the ogres as if they were only 6 strength point so they probably died a bit too easily (they should have been 12 strength points doh!).

As an experiment into internet based gaming it worked really well and we are keen to have game 2, Gondor vs the bugbears (a similar one dimensional army if ever there was one) one evening next week, so from that point of view it was a definite success.

This size game lends itself to online play really well, I wouldn't want to try it with a more complex game or much bigger forces though- unless we had a few cameras postioned to capture the action. .


Friday, April 10, 2020

Oathmark Goblins

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the first game underway for my Dragon Rampant campaign. Before I got started though I decided I needed a few more orcs (well Oathmark Goblins actually) for the orcs and goblin force so have painted up the first units worth of Oathmark goblins. A simple paint + wash a a quick highlight and they are ready for the table.

And finally, what do you get if you cross a dwarf, a gnoll and and orc?

A Dwnorc?
A Gnorf?
An Orwall?

This actually. I wanted to make a more heavily armoured general model for the orc and goblin forces so combined the torso of an Oathmark dwarf with the arms plus two handed axe of an Oathmark gnoll and head of an Oathmark Goblin.

Job done, well once painted,that is.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dragon Rampant Solo Gaming Campaign

Over the past few years I’ve been slowly chipping away at various armies for my Middle Earth project- which in itself is more of a vague idea of a large scale game using most of the forces I’ve been putting together rather than an actual project, but hey, it’s kept me busy..  

So now I’ve got quite a few “building block” forces, which are something I decided quite a while ago to do. Build smallish armies which can be combined for various larger armies. In historics this can be quite easily achieved, the Carthaginians for example are a good building block army as several different nationalities/armies can be combined into a larger force and morphed into all sorts of interesting directions. 

Part of my thinking has been building 4-6 unit divisions for Hail Caesar, or smaller forces for Dragon Rampant and using these to combine into larger games. For example, putting Gondor + Rohan together to be able to field larger forces or play large games or for scaling up gaming systems from Dragon Rampant to Hail Caesar. I can have at least one division of each nationalty in a larger Hail Caesar style game and usually have enough fores painted up for two, sometimes three divisions from one nationality. A number of my historics forces can also pull double duty for Middle Earth or more regular fantasy style gaming too. 

I find that Dragon Rampant, using fixed base units, is my go to game size way these days, you can get a fun, engaging game with 6-8 units per side without having to paint up too large a forces. My standard armies for Dragon Rampant games are 36 pts per side but can easily enough field twice that many points per side games if I wanted and one day will do so.

Anyway, as you’ve probably noticed actual games have been few and far between in the past few years but I’m kind of getting the gaming itch again. Having moved houses at the end of last year, downsizing into a smaller home after my wife and I decided to live separately and sort some stuff out, we've currently come to a point we we are comfortable living apart, each with our own space and looks like that's the way things will remain and so I am starting to toy with the idea of getting a few more gaming related paintings etc for the walls and giving the place more of a wargamer/historic geek vibe.  

 Anyway,  my new place has lacked room for my gaming gear so I built a garden shed to house my gaming stuff in and have finally got a gaming space organised. Until recently I’ve been living in the internal garage when not down at the bach while my son and a mate of his had the bedrooms in the unit that we’ve bought. I have been toying with the idea of converting the garage into a proper utility room and have insulated one side of it so far, but still need to strip the gib off the other side, insulate it, put some more power plugs in to complete that particular project but am in no hurry to do so- good things take time apparently.  

Anyway, our boarder went home to the North island just prior to the Covid-19 lockdown so I’ve been able to move back into the house proper and that frees up the garage/utility room for use as a gaming space. Excellent. 

So with that in mind time for a wee bit of solo gaming. I’ve always enjoyed solo gaming. As a teenager I'd often recreate WWII battles on a gaming table in my sleepout, Monte Cassino using a large amount of the shingle of the pathway for rubble of the town of Cassino being one of my favourites and conduct solo games. Often, I’d run little practice scenarios and games and used Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming book for ideas and inspiration.

 Solo gaming does not have quite the same of the satisfaction of outsmarting (okay, rolling better dice than) an actual opponent but can be, and is, a pleasant way to while away a bit of free time. So with that in mind I’ve decided to try and run a bit of a solo knock out style campaign over the next few weeks.

I’ve put together eight different forces and over the next few weeks (assuming I don’t get too busy/side tracked with other projects- or with my studies, I’m doing some uni papers extramurally as well this year, I will endeavour to run a small knock out campaign. And, who knows, at the end of it assuming life has returned to normal may get my mate Ian down for a large scale gaming using all the forces on weekend.

So the Campaign rules, not many actually. 

36 point Dragon Rampant Armies

The winners of each match up go though to the next round So there should be 7 games in all.

 And that’s it really, why complicate things too much I say?

Round One match ups. 
  • Dwarves vs Ogres
  • Gondor vs Bugbears
  • Rohan vs Easterlings
  • Dunlendings vs Orcs and Goblins 

Oathmark Goblins

Team Bugbear

Dunlendings (WiP)

And ready for action




 Riders of Rohan

 Let the madness begin! 


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Orcs and Ogres

I've been working through the lockdown, a mixture of working form home and time in the office, so far its been fairly quiet and hopefully that doesn't change.

Yesterday and this morning I finally found a bit of free time to work on a few minutes. We've taken our weekly Dungeons and dragons game online, just using video chat on messenger and the first session was a lot more successful than I thought it would be and so am hopeful we'll be able to continue for the remainder of the lockdown.

The players are currently investigating a hill giant lair (using and hill giant den from Storm King's thunder) and since there are quit a few giants it inspired me to paint up some of the Reaper Bones ogres  which I got in a kickstrater a few years back. I prefer my giants in D&D to be based more on the 1E version rather than the more powerful (as in more hit dice) versions of 2E, 3E and 5E so the Reaper Bones ogres will suit my purposes nicely to stand in for the giants.

As well as use in our D&D games they'll become part of my Dragon Rampant forces, maybe even an army in their own right.

Working on the base coats.

I've still got to go back and apply highlights on most of them, I simply wanted them ready for this week's video D&D session.

As well as the ogres I painted up 8 Oathmark Goblins which will be used as orcs in my D&D games. Again a simply block paint job + wash to get them on table I intend to paint up a few units worth for Dragon Rampant (which will have 14 orcs per unit- 2 bases of 7). A few of the figures have fairly soft details on their armour but they still paint up all right.