Sunday, 28 February 2016

Miniature Spotlight: White Knight's/The Assault Groups Dwarf Knights

I have always loved dwarves. I can't quite put my finger on why, maybe it is because they are the most characterful of armies. Or at least they should be.
 
They weren't my first fantasy army (that honour goes to Brettonians) but early on they captivated me. What is not to love about a race of diminutive Brian Blesseds? I came to Warhammer Fantasy in the heady days of 5th Edition, but I think we were on 6th by the time I switched to the short chaps. I was frustrated, however, by the lack of variety with in the Army Book. You had dwarfs. Dwarfs with Heavy Weapons. Dwarfs with Heavy Armour. Dwarfs with Cannons. And Dwarfs with Mohicans. That was about it. They were a slow plodding army, essentially you formed a block and held it.
 
Never mind I thought, when they get a new Army Book they'll get some new troops, something with some character. 7th edition came and went, but no new book. And then eventually 8th. I was beginning to tire of Warhammer Fantasy by this point. Units of less than 20 were pointless, bigger was better, but that was an awful lot of characterless plastic to buy. My dwarf army was still largely unpainted, and I had little enthusiasm to change this.
 
And then came the 8th ed. Dwarf book. It was big and glossy and pretty. For the first time in some while I went into an actual bricks-and-morter Games Workshop. What new units had they come up with? How had they injected some character back into the army? In short: they hadn't. It was the same army as before. With pretty much the same units. Just now it was twice the price. I put the book back on the shelf and left the shop.
 
New games took my fancy (and a couple of old ones). Mostly skirmish level, with few enough miniatures that painting is a joy not a chore. Frostgrave, Bloodbowl, Necromunda, Song of Blades and Heroes, along with pencil and paper RPGs.
 
But there is definitely an appeal to seeing a big fantasy army on the table top: pennants fluttering, uniformed troops, war-machines and monsters...
 
All this, rather long, preamble is a way of saying that this week I shall be looking at the Dwarf Knights initially sold by White Knight through his blog, and now via The Assault Group. I came across the original blog a while ago and ordered these knights. Then I backed a Kickstarter run by The Assault Group aiming at bringing the miniatures to a larger audience. I haven't received my miniatures from them, but looking at the updates expect to do so in the next couple of weeks.
 
And so with out further ado, lets look at the miniatures:  




As you can see they are beautiful, characterful sculpts, by John Pickford. They are at the more cartoony end of the spectrum that appeals to me, but this is more evident close up. At table-top level they look more...well a Dwarf Knight is never going to be realistic, but you know what I mean.
 
The armour is High Medieval with feathers and pomp aplenty, so they are not going to fit a more grim or dour aesthetic. I believe the original idea was to produce dwarfs that fit with the old Marauder range, and these certainly do that. In terms of GW's Old World, these Dwarfs would live on the edge of, or even in, The Empire.
 
There is a good level of detail on the sculpts, by which I mean it falls somewhere in the middle of the range, enough to look interesting with out feeling the need to fill every flat surface with trinkets and skulls and flagons and skulls and chains and skulls.
 
They are multi-part kits, which to me is something of a con. Yes, it allows for more variety, mixing up heads, torso and horses (ponies), and also the front rank can have lances lowered, with back ranks raised. But I have a pathological hatred of gluing stuff together. I only notice after the glue has dried that I have gaping holes, and various body parts back to front. I will happily spend an our or two painting a miniature, but five minutes gluing it seems like a waste of time.


Above are dwarfs from (left to right) Wargames Foundry, White Knight/TAG, unknown & Citadel. I had thought the unknown Dwarf was Marauder, but looking at The Stuff of Legends it seems not, old Citadel? Anyway, they scale well in terms of height. I do not own any other mounted Dwarfs and so can not say whether the ponies come in too large or small, but they look right to me. As I said before the features are slightly bolder - bigger noses, probably slightly larger face overall, but this is not enough to cause too many problems.

These Dwarfs are going to form the core of a new army: a grand alliance of Dwarfs and Halflings. The latter will be supplied by Westfalia, via their Kickstarter and no doubt will find their way onto this blog when they arrive (March was the schedule, we'll see).

I'm going to start small, with an Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes band, then develop this into a Dragon Rampant force. From there..? I don't know yet. I have yet to find a flexible, mass battle system that can replace Warhammer Fantasy. But there's no hurry, I have a hundred or so stunties to paint first.

COMING NEXT WEEK:
Terrain Making: Static Grass Clumps

Monday, 22 February 2016

Scenario: A Tale of Two Hobbits


 
'A Tale of Two Hobbits' is a scenario for Advanced Songs of Blades and Heroes, though it could quite easily be converted to set of different skirmish rules. A Downloadable pdf version can be found here. It is designed for two players. One takes the part of GM and should read all of the following rules. The GM controls of the NPCs, takes control of the scenario and gives out information to the Player as it is needed.

SECTION I

The other player controls a small band of characters and is only fed information about the scenario by the GM. The Player (capital 'P',as in not the GM) may read the first section of this scenario if he wishes, but should read no more.

The GM should read the whole scenario first, it is his job to know what is going on, and too assemble all the required miniatures and scenery.

The text on a pink background should be read aloud to the Player:

'Twere all excitement and rejoicing in Brebitton. The two great dynasties of the town were to be united in marriage in the morning, and there was much laughter and ale.
The bride: Gloria Whinnock, considered by most to be the best looking Halfling of her generation. Her soon to be husband Griskin Hasp was nervously pacing his room, convinced he would forget what to say and make a fool of himself in front of every Hobbit of import this side of the Shady Mountains.
Griskin jumped near out of his skin as the bedroom door clattered open. A rattled-looking Squire Whinnock hurried into the room.
'She's gone, Griskin! She's gone!'
'What do you mean, she's gone?' Surely Gloria wouldn't have done a runner, they had been sweethearts since childhood.
'Swiped, Griskin! Stolen! Hobbit-napped! That's what I mean!'
Squire Whinnock sank into a chair, felt for his pipe then immediately stood again.
'It's those no-good Hobbits from Four-Crosses, Awd Dimmery saw them!'
'Who!' Who did he see?' Griskin was taking his sword from its place in his luggage.
'The drunk fool couldn't say. But he saw them take her, down the main street and over the bridge into Haggitwood.'
The Four-Crossers would do almost anything to get one over on Brebitton, but kidnap? They'd gone to far this time.
'Quick, we need to raise a party.'
'There are still plenty abroad at the Golden Apple, drinking your health. Let's see who we can muster…'
 
And so a small band is assembled featuring those Hobbits and big folk who are currently frequenting the common room of the Golden Apple, not necessarily the abode of heroes, but needs must.

The Player's force consists of the following characters:

Griskin Hasp: Betrothed to the missing Gloria. Griskin is armed with a short sword and a sling. He is particularly motivated at the thought of loosing his bride-to-be and has with him an early wedding present; some Lombuss Bread from his good friend Lasoleg the elf. He has the following stats: Q: 3+, C:3, Hero, Lucky, Fearless, Good Shot, Sling (w) Lombuss Bread (Potion of Healing).

Squire Whinnock: Like Griskin, Whinnock has more to loose than most and this is refelcted in his stats. He is armed with xxx and as the following stats: Q: 3+, C:2, Hero, Fearless, Good Shot, Sling (w).

Trapper Timble: A woods-hobbit who Griskin and Whinnock found slumped in the corner of the Apple, while not the best warrior, he is expert at tracking. Q:4+, C:1, Traps, Tracker*. Tracker is a scenario special skill how it is used is detailed later.

Billwood Barnicle: A young hobbbit eager at the chance of adventure. Q:4+, C:2, Good Shot, Sling (w).

Jonbert Flummock: Another young hobbbit eager at the chance of adventure. Q:4+, C:2, Good Shot, Sling (w).

Blodwynn: A human woman, who is passing through town. Q: 4+, C:3, Crossbow (W) Good Shot.

Barry IthiraĆ®: The first of a pair of dwarven brothers, happy to help out the hobbits. Barry is armed with a two handed sword and is in armour. Q: 3+, C:4, Heavy Weapon, Heavy Armour, Short Move

Paul IthiraĆ®: The second of a pair of dwarven brothers, happy to help out the hobbits. Paul is armed with a cross bow. Q: 3+, C:3, Crossbow (w), Short Move.

If you are the player then stop reading now!

SECTION II

OK, so if your reading this then you are the GM. And seeing as you are the GM I'll let you into a little secret: it wasn't hobbitses what did it. Unbeknown to the good folk of Brebitton Stenstorp the Troll has moved into Haggitwood. He has decided to take Gloria as his troll-bride and sent his goblin henchmen to kidnap her (hence the small shadows, see, I've thought this through). The player will find this out in good time, for now, keep him in the dark.

What You Will Need

Scenery: A table about 3'x3', maybe a little bigger. Lots of trees (to form Haggitwood) and a good deal of path. You will also need Stenstorp's hideout, a ruined building or similar where Gloria can be placed.

Miniatures: The good guys are detailed in Section I, if you can't find miniatures that exactly correspond then change the stats so they do. If you are going to buy some miniatures especially then lots of people do good halfings, but I can recommend any that have been sculpted by Mark Copplestone.

For the baddies you are going to need the following:

Stenstorp the two headed troll sculpted by Drew Williams and sold by Ryan McKnight is excellent.

Baldrick the Goblin jester. The Oldhammer Weekend Goblin is perfect for this.

6 Goblin Archers available from any number of manufacturers

8 Goblins with Swords ditto

6 Evil Little Blighters Human-headed-daemon-rat-creatures available from Bolt Thrower Miniatures, run by yours truly and available from www.bolt-throwers-miniatures.co.uk.

A Spitebringer A daemon creature also from those fine chaps at Bolt Thrower Miniatures.

Gloria Whinnock will also be needed for Griskin to rescue. Reaper do some gloriously 80s female halflings.

Again all these are all replaceable if you don't have any of the miniatures, just use your imagination.

Read all of Section III before the game.

SECTION III

So to the game! Set up a board, about 3' square, in one corner there should be path which forks in three directions. Haggitwood should be represented on either side of the path.

As the party descends into Haggitwood they remember the tales told to them as children. Bad things lurk in the shadows, just out of sight. Unconsciously they draw in to the centre of the path.
Three ways lead into the darkness ahead, Trapper Timble is pushed forward…
'Come on then Trapper, which way did them blasted Four-Crossers go?' Squire Whinnock demanded…

The Player should deploy their miniatures on the path. Then Trapper Timble makes three Q rolls to try and follow the tracks (this is the Tracker trait) the number of successes he gets determines which box you read out below.

[0 successes]
Tracks are all a bit confused Squire, can't rightly say which way they went.”
While Trapper Timble releaves himself against a tree, the others have a look at the three paths, down the middle one some fresh tracks can be clearly seen.


[1 success]
This way!” Trapper Timble exclaims loudly pointing at the middle path. “Them's hobbit tracks or I'm an orc.”



[2 successes]
Tracks go that way” says Trapper pointing at the middle path. “Clear as day. But also there's some less clear tracks going down the right path.”



[3 successes]
Tracks go that way” says Trapper Timble pointing at the middle path. “Clear as day. But also there's some less clear tracks going down the right path, and what's more these ain't no Hobbit tracks. Don't know what they are, Squire, but they ain't no Hobbitses”

What happens next depends on which path the Player. He may split his party up, which is fine from your point of view but could land him in some trouble. He may also decide to go through the woods rather than down the path. In this case roll a die each turn for each miniature as soon as they have moved off the path:

1-2 Nothing happens.
3-4 They see something unspeakable. Make an immediate moral check. Griskin and Squire Whinnock treat this result as 'Noting happens'
5-6 They are attacked by d3 Evil Little Blighters: Q: 5+, C:3, Gang, Gregarious, Rabble

Otherwise the paths are as follows:
Left Hand Path: To start with there is nothing down this path, then it curves to the right and they are met by a terrifying Spite Bringer: Q:3+, C:4, Big, Combat Master, Poison, Terror. The Spitebringer will attack anyone who comes with in L distance of it, other wise will hold its ground. If the Spitebringer is beaten (and that is a big if) then the path curves again to the right and joins up with the middle path (where they will find the trap, see below).

Middle Path: There are clear tracks down this path. The first character to head down this path sets off the trap. At the end of his first movement onto the path make he makes three Q rolls (note that Trapper Timble gets a +1) and consults the following table for effects(again Timble gets +1):

3 Successes – No effect.
2 Successes – Roll as if for combat vs C:3
1 Success – Roll as if for combat vs C:4
0 Successes – Roll for combat vs C:5

Also any other miniatures with in short distance must also try and avoid the trap, they get +1 to both sets of rolls (+2 for Timble)
Once they are past the trap the path curves round to the left, where they will meet the Spitebringer (see above.)

Right Hand Path: This is the correct way. As soon as the group set off down it they will be shot at by 6 hidden goblins. After the players first complete turn with takes them onto this path. Make Six shooting attacks with the goblins Q: 4+, C:2, Poison, Short Bow. But do not tell the Player where these attacks are coming from. Next turn the player gets a chance to spot the goblins. Before they move each character makes 3x Q rolls:

0 Successes – Tell them nothing.
1 Success – Place a counter or other marker in the woods, and tell them this is a shadowy figure.
2+ Successes – Place a Goblin on the board.

The group can leave the path to fight the goblins with out any ill effects as long as they remain in combat with a goblin, if for any reason they leave the path but do not engage a goblin in combat then roll as normal.
Goblins will fight if in combat, any goblins that have not been engaged (including those not yet spotted, will continue to shoot at any eligible target.

After the goblin archers have been beaten the group will (hopefully) continue along this paths. When they reach the opposite corner to which they started they have found Stenstorp's lair. Place the relevent scenary right in the corner. Gloria is placed in building and is being watched by Baldrick. Stenstorp himself starts somewhere near the building, another 8 goblins (warriors this time) are deployed between him and the group.

She's mine!” growls the troll as the group approach. “I claim the right of Troll-Bride, and which of you dum-dums is going to stop me? Haggitwood has a knew king now, King Stenstorp, and that lovely little morsel will be my queen!”
Cackling manically the goblins approach, Stenstorp lumbers behind. It looks as if you owe the Four-Crossers an apology….

 
Baldrick will stay guarding Gloria (unless he fails a moral test) the rest of the group will move forward and engage, the baddies take the first turn after they are deployed.

Stenstorp: Q:4+, C:4, Big, Tough, Terror, Regenerate, Leader
Baldrick: Q:3+, C:3, Block, Difficult Target, Group Fighter.
Goblins: Q:4+, C:3, Difficult Target, Group Fighter
Gloria can be freed (2 tasks) and will then join the group.
Gloria Q4+, C:2.



Coming Next Week:
Miniature Spotlight: White Knight's/The Assault Groups Dwarf Knights

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Miniature Spotlight: Grenadier Future Warriors

Life has got in the way of things a bit this week. The promised Valentines Day Scenario is still in the pipeline and hopefully will be ready by next week, In the meantime here is something I prepared earlier...
 
I've recently joined a Necromunda campaign. My gang, Fat Harry's Wasters, are Ash Waste Nomads. While the original Necromunda miniatures are nice, they don't come too cheap and can take some finding on ebay. As substitutes I got some of the old Greandier sculpts, now sold through both em4 and Mirliton. They are nice old-school sculpts and hold up pretty well in terms of quality.
 




Size=wise they are on the small end of 28mm, but not noticeably, especially when on the table. Below they can be seen with a Foundry Street Violence miniature (left) and a Forgeworld Guardsman (right)

Shortly after we started the campaign Games Workshop announced they were rereleasing Necromunda as part of their specialist games branch. Personally I find this both exciting and worrying. They are also re-releasing Bloodbowl and at a forthcoming Bloodbowl event will be using old rules (actually older than those used by the current BB tournament scene). I expect though this is just a stop gap and when the games are released they will have been rejigged. It is the extent of this rejigging that worries me. Necromunda is full of tables, a feature of many games of that era, and it works well. Half the fun of the game is rolling up events after the battle. If GW slim down the rules too much and go all Age of Sigmar on our arses, then there is a great danger they will take all the charm out of the game and we will end up with a 40k-lite skirmish game.
The miniatures I do not hold out much hope for, I've seen some of the BB ones and they look like they've stepped straight out of the computer game. Apparently some people think this is a good thing, I don't. Oh well, old minis still work with new rules...
 
Coming next week:
 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Terrain Building: Roads

 
Roads must be one of the simpler terrain projects, I'm not quite sure why I haven't made any before. I suppose they are not very exciting, but when mixed in with other scenery they help make sense of a battle field, linking disparate elements.
 
I decided on 2" as suitable width, not so much a main road, but single track path that could be winding through anywhere in Middle-Earth, or the Old World, or indeed 1930's New England (that's another virtue of roads, one of the most versatile items of scenery you will ever build).  


I used mounting card, cheap, easy to cut and surprisingly sturdy. I got a big (A2?) sheet from WHSmiths for a few quid (other brands are available).
 
Straight sections are easy, I pencilled in two lines 2" apart, with some room either side. Then I used pen to mark the end of each road section, 6" apart, as can be seen above.
 
I then used the pen to mark on the long edges, wiggly lines which for reasons best known to myself at the time I didn't photograph.
 



Next up: the bend sections. I drew more pencil lines on the card, this time 1 27/32" apart.



Now the end lines, again in pen. These are drawn at 22.5 degrees and should measure 2" (it's almost as if i planned it...)
 



Then the long edges, again wiggly, this time I did take a photo. The bends are labelled 'B' (the straight sections were 'A')
 
I drew several other different sections, along the same basic lines.
 


'C' is a three way fork, basically a straight section with two spurs coming off.
 
 
'D' has a 22.5 degree end and a 45 degree end.
 


'E' is like 'C' but with only one spur.
 


'F' is the Devil's favourite, a cross roads.
 


'G' is a T-Junction.

 
I appear to have two 'E's, oh well, this one is 45 degrees at each end.


The final board looked a little like this (above). If I was clever I could have put the sections closer together, there is no reason why sections of the same type could not have been touching and thus saved cardboard, but well... I'm obviously not clever.
 
 
After all the sections were cut out I used polyfiller to but texture down either side, to form the road banks.
 


Then I textured the sections with sand, courser on the edges, finer down the middle.
 


They were painted, dark brown for the road, green for the banks.
 


I dry brushed the road section (not the green) with a mixture of brown and yellow paint...
 


...then again with added white.
 


I glued some grass clumps and flowers onto a few of the sections. The clumps were bought, the flowers were stripped off some cherry blossom trees  bought but then turned out to be two small for purpose.
 


Then a good dollop of PVA glue all over the green sections, going over the brown a little, and covered in static grass.
 
 
And that's it, a modular road system.
 
Coming Next Week...