Sunday 26 April 2020

Rorke's Drift in 6mm

Last week I treated myself to the Rorke's Drift model by Leven Miniatures. This resin set includes all the buildings and mealie bag defences needed to recreate this iconic location on the tabletop in 6mm. Once again I had excellent service from Mike at Leven Miniatures, with the parcel arriving within days of placing the order. As always the resin is excellent with not a single flaw or bubble in any of the pieces. A quick wash and scrub with detergent to clean the surface and it was ready to be primed with minimal effort. 

Getting all the pieces out to check them over. No flaws or faults of any kind. 

Painted and mounted on a temporary base made from craft foam.

Cattle in the cattle pen. 

Closeup of the Redoubt

Zulu's...thousands of em!

"If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short-chambered, Boxer-Henry . 45 calibre miracle."

"At one hundred yards. Volley fire, present. Aim. Fire."

"If 1200 men couldn't hold a defensive position this morning, what chance have we with 100?"

I want to be able to get maximum utility from these terrain items, so I didn't want to stick them to a base but I did want something for the pieces to fit into when in Rorke's Drift 'configuration'. I used a sheet of craft foam and marked out the layout of the buildings and barricades then applied grass and gravel. I think the end result looks pretty good and it means I can still use the buildings in other settings... of course, I need to finish my rules and have some games for that to happen! 

I have also posted a bit of video showing this model in all its glory on my youtube channel here so please pop over and take a look. 

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Shootout at Akarah Oasis - Socially Distanced What a Tanker

Over the weekend I did a YouTube video that mentioned a planned game of What a Tanker to take place over the interweb for members of the Rejects. Well, that game took place yesterday and I have to report it was a huge success. Four members of the group took part and I umpire the game and did all the dice rolling and necessary admin to make the game work even though all the participants were dialling in from various locations. I've just posted a new video that shows a little of what we did, but here are some more pictures of the game and a summary of the rules changes I implemented to make the game work while socially distanced. 

In order to run this game, and make it work, I needed to make a few changes to the rules. The aim was to reduce the amount of dice rolling required...primarily because I would be doing it all, and there was already a lot to do. Most of the changes worked well although having completed the game there are a couple of things that need refinement and I'll discuss these below. First off though here's a picture of the setup in my Operations Room.

The rules changes I made:
  • Fixed Command Dice - Rather than rolling for command dice at the start of each turn I gave each tank a fixed set of command dice. This reduced the amount of dice I needed to roll each turn and sped up play. So each tank had command dice for Drive, Aquire, Aim and Shoot and two wildcard dice*. 
  • Always loaded - Rather than use a command dice for reloading I decided that all tanks would reload automatically. That freed up one dice to be converted to a Wildcard dice. 
  • Always Buttoned - This just simplified the tank Dashboard for remote players. 
  • No Damage - I ignore the damage chart entirely, just taking damage as either Temporary (ie repairable) or Permanent. Again a simplification for remote players and the umpire alike. 
  • *TwoWildcard Dice - These enabled players to boost specific command dice when needed, either for more movement, to acquire targets or improve aim. I also allowed players to opt to use both wildcard dice to reload and fire a second time in a turn. This gave plenty of tactical options for players to think about. 
For the umpire (me in this instance) there were several changes that needed to be incorporated aside from the rules discussed above.
  • The Umpire Rolls - All dice rolling was handled by me. I used a dice tray and rolled the relevant dice in the tray, in view of the camera, so players could see what was happening. 
  • Removing Damage - When a tank took Temporary or Permanent damage I removed the relevant number of command dice, starting with the fixed dice, leaving the wildcards to last (so that temporary damage could be repaired if the player wanted to make that choice). I would roll a d4 dice to decide which command dice was effected. Again all rolls were done in view of the camera so players knew I wasn't cheating! 
  • Initiative rolls were also handled by me to randomise the turn. I think next time I'll try to find a better way to do this, just to speed up this bit of the game. 
  • Movement -  Each player would describe the direction of movement, or desired destination, and I measured and moved the tank for them. 
  • Frikin Lasers! - I used a laser pointer to check lines of sight. This worked well for remote players who couldn't get down to eye level to check for themselves. However...
  • Moveable POV - I placed the video camera (my phone) on a tripod overlooking the table but I regularly took it off to get close up shots of the table or the Tank Dashboards. All players could at any time ask for such a closeup if they needed it and I think this helped a lot with the remote aspect of the game. 

We used Zoom (a web app primarily used to facilitate meetings) to gather together. Meetings are usually limited to 45 minutes (unless you subscribe) but we were able to reenter the meeting multiple times and keep things ticking along for a couple of hours, during which we got two games done.

Participants were able to focus on either a split-screen like this, to see everyone or just a single screen like the tabletop. Feedback from the guys suggested the quality of the video feed was a bit variable but as already indicated I was able to bring the camera in when they needed more clarity or a close-up view of the table. Overall I think Zoom worked well for a small group like this, but I think it would have been more challenging if we had had more players. Having said that, additional participants need not have been playing, they could just join in with the banter and follow the game.

All in all, I think this worked very well and I can see us trying out other games like this in the coming weeks, especially if we find ourselves socially distanced for many months.

Thursday 16 April 2020

More from The Quarantined Wargamer

So a few weeks ago - back when all the brown stuff started hitting the fan here in the UK - I decided to revive my old YouTube Channel and started making some videos under the sobriquet The Quarantined Wargamer. Its been an interesting experience and I have been learning from video to video how to make a better job of my humble output. I'm no internet celebrity, and I'm no wargaming guru (far from it) but I am trying to make something that is interesting to listen to and maybe fun to watch...only time and viewing stats will tell! 

I won't be investing huge sums of money in the production of these little videos, but I have bought a few items which, combined with technology I already own, are slowly improving the quality of the rubbish I'm producing! A new collar microphone arrived today and that will hopefully solve the sound quality issues I have had. I've also invested in a really simple video editor so I can trim and insert multiple videos into a single edit. Not rocket science, and not (yet) top-quality production, but this is a learning curve and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. 

I hope you found that interesting, or at least amusing to watch. The very concept of this old geezer trying to get to grips with YouTube has proved endlessly funny to my daughter. What she doesn't realise is that I abandoned any pretence of normality or decorum years ago and I have no plans to change my ways any time soon! 

Needless to say, if you feel the urge to Subscribe to my channel that would be greatly appreciated (thanks to those that already have) and if you have any comments or suggestions please let me know either here or via the comments on youtube itself. 

Until next time, stay safe folks. 

Tuesday 14 April 2020

More Thugs and a re-based Knight

The Lockdown continues and the Easter weekend has been a rather strange affair for many of us. My family and I would normally be out and about - indeed we were supposed to be on holiday right now - but instead, we have been indoors, relaxing like never before! Both my wife and I have thrown ourselves into our hobbies to keep occupied and this enforced relaxation has been a strangely satisfying experience. 

Focusing on hobbies has helped divert our attention from the news (which frankly has been horrifying) and has turned something that ought to be a terrible negative into a slightly more positive experience for us. Don't get me wrong, we are not burying our heads in the sand, and we are keeping abreast of events, but it would be easy to end up watching the news all day long and to sink into a deep depression. We are incredibly worried about our daughter and my brother-in-law, (both nurses) and of course the wider family as well. But we have no control over that and it would be self-indulgent to allow depression to overwhelm us when we have so much to be thankful for at the moment. 

So instead of getting out and about I have been painting, writing and making videos all weekend. Some of this will be published later in the week, but for now, here are some more Frostgrave figures that I have just finished. 

The two models on the flanks are more 'thugs' from Northstar's Barbarians pack. Simple paint jobs but more than suitable for a game. The figure in the centre is a really old model from at least a decade ago that was originally painted for DnD. I decided I wanted to rebase it so it would match up with the other stuff I'm working on.

Next on the painting table sees a return to my 6mm Zulu War project. I'll be putting out a YouTube video about this (hopefully later today) and I'll post some pictures of what I have been working on in a couple of days. In the meantime, stay safe everyone. 

Thursday 9 April 2020

A couple of Frostgrave Thugs

Normally when the Analogue Painting Challenge comes to an end in late March, I'm all painted out for several months. I tend to focus on getting some games done, replenishing stocks of painting materials and topping up the Lead Mountain. Then the Coronavirus came and suddenly we were all looking at cancelled shows and closed down clubs. I've still managed to get a lot of gaming done at home but I have now started on some painting, mainly thanks to Curts new initiative; The Quarantine Challenge. It's taken me a while to get paint on models (mostly because I have been very busy with work) but at last, I have something to show.

I've just painted this pair of figures for use with Frostgrave. These can represent a couple of Thugs, which are the cheapest type of hirelings that a Wizard can purchase for his Warband. 

Hope you like them. I'll be doing more frostgrave figure next and then I may have a go at some of my more traditional 6mm. 

Stay safe everyone! 

Saturday 4 April 2020

The Panther Hunt

A few days ago I put away all the Frostgrave Terrain and started to put together a Normandy table for a game of What a Tanker. The Rejects and I ran a demo of this a few weeks ago at Skirmish (probably our last show for a long time!) and I decided to use a cut down version for a game at home on my small table. Once again I used the Panzerfaust Rules that I write for use in this game. 

The Setup and Order of Battle
So the layout is just a variation of the one we used at Skirmish. Lots of Bocage, small fields, a farm and a couple of downed gliders and a few dead cows to set the scene. The Allied player (the Padawan) started the game with two tanks, A Firefly and an M4 Sherman. Facing them I had a Panther and control of the Panzerfaust teams. The Table is small, just 4ft by 2ft 6", but with all the terrain we'll need to get fairly close to acquire our targets. 

The Action
The Setup...lots of Bocage and small fields.  

There isn't a lot of room in my room so we used some of my storage boxes for the tank Dashboards, dice etc. 

The Padawan looks so thrilled to be playing something historical....

The Firefly gets a turn of speed on and whips around a road, keeping as much cover as possible between it and my panther. In the process, one of my Panzerfaust tokens comes within 6". It is spotted and destroyed...but it was only a cow! 

Meanwhile, the M4 rather boldly sticks its nose out into the road and acquires the Panther. With a perfect set of dice, it gets two shots off against the frontal armour of the Panther, inflicting some temporary damage. 

My Panther crew easily repair the damage and try to acquire the more dangerous opponent, the Firefly. However, the Padawan has positioned her tank well and I can't get line-of-sight. 

The Firefly moves behind the farm building, only exposing itself when there is minimal cover between it and the Panther. 

Meanwhile, the M4 continues to get multiple shots on the Panther, again inflicting temporary damage. 

The Firefly now has the panther in its sights....

BOOM! Two well-aimed shots rip through the frontal armour of the Panther sending its turret spinning skyward.  Huge plumes of acrid black smoke belch from the hull, and it's game over. 

Well, that was disappointing for the Germans!!

Playing my daughter at home is starting to feel like punishment duty! Three games on the trot. In her own words, she had her arm twisted to play, come in, blew my shit up and left! Game over in under 30 minutes. 

I really need another hobby...