Tuesday 31 March 2020

The Skirmish of Ostrad Street

The Padawan and I got another game of Frostgrave done over the weekend. We split it into two sessions as we were both busy on other projects and we were having trouble bringing the fight to a conclusion. In the end, we opted for a drastic temporary rule change to 'speed things up' but this proved disastrous for one of us (guess who?)

The Setup
Once again we set up a simple tester game with a table full of terrain and two evenly matched warbands starting on either side of the table. The objective was just to get the rules settled in our heads and have some fun. I think we achieved both, but it was a tough slog! 

Order of Battle
Dark Elf Warband
  Wizard - 1st level Necomancer
  4 Infantrymen
  2 crossbowmen

Adventurer Warband
  Wizard - 1st level Soothsayer
  4 Infantrymen
  2 Archers

The Action
The Layout was simple but afforded a lot of cover and positions to attack from. 

My Wizard and four of his crew used a house as a strong point. My archers for a good firing position on the walls and then didn't hit a thing (with their arrows) during the whole game! The enemy Wizard used Teleport in a daring rush on our positions...

...and started firing spells through the window. Cheeky!

Meanwhile, some of the Drow Infantry advanced rapidly down Ostrad Street. 

To keep the Wizard busy, I decided to attack with one of my infantrymen. I was hoping to strike a knockout blow and win the game quickly...but it wasn't to be. 

More infantry pile into the fight and my Wizard tries to get into a position to support his men. 

More Drow infantry moves up

Our remaining infantry and the Apprentices have gathered on the other side of the street and are fighting it out there.  

Despite ganging up on the Drow I just can't seem to land a blow that deals significant damage. 

The fight with our Wizards and their soldiers is turning into a bit of a stalemate. 

My Apprentice casts Forget Spell on the Drow Apprentice, stopping her from casting her favourite spell, Strike Dead

My Archer has a great position but can't hit a thing! Mind you, being behind cover also makes him a hard target and the Drow Crossbowmen are getting nowhere. 

The Padawan sends in one of her infantrymen to deal with my archers, but he has to climb the ladder first!  

The Drow climbs the ladder but is quickly knocked off and ends up prone on the ground. 

My Wizard and then the archers decide to attack the guy on the ground hoping for a quick kill and a tactical advantage...but it wasn't to be. 

My Wizard foregoes a spell to kick the Drow in the head!

The other side of Ostrad street and my Apprentice uses Invisibility to get behind a drow infantryman. All my men have had their fight stat and armour increased by spells and with the Apprentice also joining the fray I hope to get enough of an advantage to finish this infantryman before his mate joins the fight. 

Inside the house, my Wizard and the two arches have ended up being locked in melee against the Drow. This isn't going the way I thought it would and the game has descended into turn after turn of inconclusive melee. In the end, we agree that for one turn only we won't count armour when calculating damage. Its a gamble, but we need to draw this game to a close...

It was a gamble I should never have made!!! My Apprentice is killed along with one of his men. 

And on the other side of the street, I lose two more infantry... I can't win now and I concede defeat. 

We must have been doing something wrong with the rules because we had about 8 turns of melee where basically nothing happened. In the end, our desperate decision to force a conclusion backfired on me and I lost conclusively. The Padawan played well and kept me on my toes. More importantly this is her second win with the game genre she chose to play, so hopefully she's feeling inspired!

I'm already working on our next game, but it's my turn now and I need something a little historical!

Sunday 29 March 2020

The Quarantined Wargamer

Let me start this short update by saying that I hope all my readers are healthy and following the guidance of their respective governments - this readership has always been international in nature - and for many of us that means quarantine, curfew or lockdown. So I decided that I would try something different in the coming weeks and alongside the normal articles I post here, I have revived my old YouTube channel to post short videos about wargaming during the quarantine. 

My videos will be intentionally short, 10 to 15 minutes maximum, and will cover the usual eclectic range of subjects that normally feature here on my blog. So I'll talk about projects I have undertaken; offer advice when I feel I have something to offer; show games I'm working on, and maybe even some book reviews. This is a very ad-hoc affair so I'm using very basic equipment and much of what I'll be doing will be with unscripted dialogue...so don't expect a top professional package! 

This little side project is as much to keep me occupied as it is to keep you entertained in these days of the enforced lock-in. Regular readers will know that in the 'before times' I was often out and about at the weekend, either visiting museums with my wife or playing games in the shed-o-war with Posties Rejects. That's all come to a rapid shuddering halt and like everyone else in the country, I'm adjusting to the new reality. I'm lucky in some respects because I have always found it easy to keep myself occupied...my hobby slash to-do list has always been longer than the available time to do it in... I short, I was built for self-isolation! 

However, it is also very clear that many people out there, including many friends in the wargaming community, will struggle with isolation over the coming weeks. Club nights have been stopped and wargames show's have been cancelled and it would be very easy for loneliness and depression to overwhelm some of us in the coming weeks. I think that our community, that has long embraced social media, is ideally placed to weather the storm, and my little videos are (I hope) part of that solution. 

Stay well folks. 

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Disaster in Felstad

With the Painting Challenge over its time, I started to play with the stuff I painted, so I challenged the Young Padawan to our first proper game of Frostgrave. This was a bit of a tester game just so we could get to grips with the rules. I put together two Warbands, one of Dark Elves and another of Humans and then let her choose which she wanted. She went Dark Elf of course and then we started. 

The Setup
This is part of the temple quarter of the city, and both warbands are converging on the Hall of Heros and its associated graveyard. There are several buildings but the centre of the table is fairly open. 

The Action
So both warbands start from their respective table edges but each was allowed to split their men between the Wizards and Apprentice as they saw fit. 

My Wizard is accompanied by a Man-at-Arms and an infantryman. 
The Apprentice takes anther infantryman and an archer with him (apologies for the fuzzy picture!)
Meanwhile, the Dark Elves split up. One group under their Necromancer head for the Hall of Heros while the other aim for the open graveyard in the centre. 

My Man-at-Arms gets into a fight and can't break off. The Dark Elves pile in and despite being outnumbered he is holding his own. 

The Necromancer gets a bead on my Archer, inside the Hall with my Wizard. He casts a difficult spell Strike Dead and excellent dice means it does exactly what it said on the card...my Archer is killed. 

My Wizard is inside the Hall but his only martial companion is now dead and the Man-at-arms outside is fighting for his life. 

My other Archer is now killed, again by the Strike Dead spell. I'm beginning to hate that spell. 

My Man-at-arms is now fighting off four Dark elves, and each attack has a cumulative +2 bonus against him. It'll be a miracle if he survives. 

There he goes, battling to the end...

Now my Wizard is trapped inside the Hall and fighting off several Dark Elf infantrymen. 

Meanwhile, my Theif had a valiant go at killing the Dark Elf Apprentice but eventually succumbed himself. 

Now the largely intact Dark Elf Warband piles into the hall to finish off my lone Wizard. Rather than drag out the bloodshed, I threw in the towel. I had been comprehensively beaten! 

Once again my Daughter, the Young Padawan, has shown she's no Padawan any more! 

It was a good game, even if my ego took a thorough battering. We soon got the rules more or less fixed in our heads and play was swift and relatively uncomplicated. I'm already looking forward to another game. Unfortunately so is my teenage Sith Lord in training. Sigh...

Monday 23 March 2020

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge X - Body of Work

The Tenth Painting Challenge is over and I don't know about anyone else but I'm all brushed out for the time being. I need to clean up my Operations Room and find a home for the massive amount of stuff I painted! I've only had this hobby room for a few months and it's already FULL! I'm not complaining though, it has been a fantastic challenge and I've been more productive than at any time before. So time for my 'Body of Work' picture.

So what's in that mess-o-models? Quite a bit for me, I'm used to a smaller collection of work by the end of the Challenge. So here's a brief picture review of everything I managed to get done.

I think it must be obvious from these pictures that my work hasn't been dominated by 6mm this year. I had a quick look at my own personal 'Spreadsheet of doom' (yes I have my own!) and it turns out that 880 points from my 1400 total came from other scales. And worse still (according to RayR) nearly half my points were earned from work on a particular ice-bound Fantasy game. At this rate, I'm likely to have my membership of the Rejects revoked! Certainly, my reputation as 'the 6mm historical guy' is in doubt.

As already mentioned, I always keep a tally of my planned projects during the Challenge, tracking my progress as the week's tick past. I'm rather chuffed to say that I've outperformed myself at every stage of the competition. I've achieved a new 'personal best' and by every measure that I count, this has been my best Challenge ever. 

I'm already looking forward to the next Challenge and have started giving some thought as to what I want to paint. Alexanders army to face off against my Indians is a strong contender, but who knows. I look forward to seeing some of my fellow Challengers in the recently announced Quarantine Challenge and many more in December for Challenge XI.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Frost Witch and Ice Worm at the Snow Lords Peak

The air crackles with magical energy and distant flashes of lightning foreshadow the wrath of an imminent storm as it approaches the Snow Lords Peak. Arcane words can barely be heard above the building winds. The Thunder booms and rumbles across the landscape and for a moment it sounds as if there is an unseen avalanche about to sweep the mountainside. The moment passes and more flashes can be seen, closer now. A figure approaches, skimming above the fresh snow and radiating an ethereal glow. The woman appears to be whispering but her words build and echo across the landscape until they drown out the next rumble of Thunder. Then the earth bursts open sending rocks and snow cascading down the slope. A monstrous Ice Worm rears up from the ground and gives out an ear-shattering shriek. The beast has answered its summons and is ready to serve its bitter mistress.

The Snow Lord issued me a challenge to find and paint a figure that was bigger than my normal fare. I put on my climbing gear and started up the Lead Mountain. By the time I reached the snowline I was worried I wouldn't find anything, having climbed across a scree slope of unpainted 6mm figures on the way up. And then I saw her! I found a figure in my lead mountain that I have absolutely no recognition of buying! It must have been another "ooo-shiney!" moment at some past show but I genuinely don't remember.

The Frost Witch figure is from Crocodile Games and is laughably described as Heroic 28mm which means next to nothing really. The witch is 40mm foot to eye and 44mm overall, without taking into account the cape which brings the height of the whole model to well over 50mm tall. Just for good measure, I mounted it on a 'rock' outcrop that stands a further 50mm tall, so overall this figure is pretty big compared to my normal work. But I had this nagging feeling I could do better... I tightened my crampons and proceeded higher up the Lead Mountain...

Towards the top of the mountain, I found a weird mixture not only of lead but plastic figures from over 30 years of gaming. And then I saw the perfect accompaniment to my witch, a giant Purple Worm. This is an old plastic figure that was originally bought pre-painted but had seen better days. It's an old Wizards of the Coast DnD figure that I used in RPG's probably 10 or fifteen years ago.  It was looking a bit worse for wear having been bashed around in various boxes over the years so I decided it was worth giving it a brand new coat of paint. The Snow Lord wanted bigger than 6mm, well this beastie comes in at a cool 120mm tall. A bit bigger than my normal fare!

To paint this I made a few repairs filled in some mould lines with liquid plastic and then gave the whole thing a thorough new base coat of grey before starting the new paint job. Instead of repainting it as a Purple Worm I have changed the colour scheme so it is now a huge Ice Worm.

Right, points...huh? No clue. The witch is 40mm so I guess 7 points for her but I have no idea what arcane mathemagical calculations need to be made to score the Worm. At 120mm it's not exactly standard-sized! I'll leave that decision in the hands of the Snow Lord. Whatever it is, combined with the usual points for the challenge location, will give my tally one final boost before everything comes to an end. I'm happy with whatever points I get as this has already been my most productive Challenge to date and I'm just happy to have taken part.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Og make FIRE!

A few weeks ago I received a very nice parcel in the post. All parcels are actually nice but this particular one was very nice because I didn't buy it, it was sent to me as a present. Inside were five perfectly cast Neanderthals sent to me by Alex from Russia. He was a member of my Tuesday crew when I was a minion in last years Challenge and I think this was a reward for the odd bonus point I might have put in his direction back then! 😉

These are 28mm, cast in white metal and other than a little bit of filing to be done on the base completely free of any caste lines or flash. The sculpture is fairly basic but actually, they painted up really well. I'm not really sure where I'm going to use them, but I did promise Alex I'd try and get them painted by the end of the Challenge, so here they are.

Actually come to think of it I could probably use these some pulp role-playing games that I have. Have an excellent little RPG we called Hollow Earth Expedition which is a proper 'land of the lost' type setting, and these guys would fit in their perfectly. 

Pointwise these are relatively simple. 5x28mm figures and the fire which I suppose should be a couple of points. If my math is correct these should take me to my target! Wo-hoo! Now I really, really, really need to get on with my Snow Lords Challenge!!!