31 March 2011

Dark Ages month - Lessons Learnt

As the March comes to a close, so too does my first wargaming 'focus month' during which I endeavoured to concentrate on one (and only one) gaming genre.   That means its time to review what I got done, and what lessons I've learned for next time. In no particular order:

* Firstly, I really enjoyed the focus but it was hard! 

* My focus also spilled over into my internet trawling, reading, and movies.  The Lad was similarly infatuated.  Random Viking "High-5s" around the house are cool (the girls will never understand)

* Having buddies to play our big Age of Blood games was pivotal as it gave a specific gaming outcome during the month rather than just modelling.  

* In doing research into a new genre, I came across the net lots of great new blogs, rules and manufacturers.  I really enjoyed that aspect of the month.

* I achieved lots of terrain modelling - all of it from scratch - but not much in the way of figures.  In retrospect I guess it was really a Dark Ages terrain focused month.  That said, I built my A-Frame house, two hovels, finished off the Great Hall, painted and based the menhirs, painted up the well, spit roast and the wood pile.  At the end of the month I then had some trees and figures delivered.  So overall I'm happy with the what I got done.

*Actually, now it comes to the end of the month, I'm on a roll and don't want to move on at all...so I won't!


- Have all the materials ready for the start of the focus month, particularly as shipping from UK/US to Oz takes 2-3 weeks in general.  That means its really a two month process - one for online shopping & shipping, one for doing.  That will help extend the newly implemented (by SWMBO) gaming budget which was rather taxed this month!

- Try and do something every night, even if its just a wash, a drybrush or a bit of gluing.  Avoiding the siren's call of the www to do this can be a challenge, especially after a gruelling day at work.  To do this I need a better setup in the house which minimises mess and storage, but is easy to get to and pack away quickly.

- Having a gaming on-topic gaming event adds great focus and, a deadline to work to, and the satisfaction of putting the fruits one's labour directly onto the table.

Just a few thoughts form the Man Cave, whats your take on 'focus months': fantastic or fad?

28 March 2011

Dark Age Hovels

Fleshing out the Dark Age village further, I've knocked up a couple of hovel style dwellings.

I used the tops of some deodorant cans (Norsca of course!) and glued the teddy bear fur around them after hacking out a rough doorway.  (Hint:  spray the inside of the lids black BEFORE you start work.  It would have been so much easier at the end... ) Actually, gluing the fur onto a 3D shape was a pain and I had to go over them a few times to get it right.  In the end all was well, and like the A-Frame house I applied some watered down PVA glue to get the right effect.  I deliberately did this quite roughly and tried to get a better layering effect than on the better constructed A-frame roof.  Unlike the other buildings though, I didn't make a base for them so they are a bit more versatile and can be placed on top of hills or in swamps where you expect such abodes.

Overall they came out well though I might need to hack the door outs a bit more.  I deliberately left them very small but may have overdone it.  Then again, big strapping vikings in their armour aren't the usual inhabitants either.  Also, the flatter hut I don't think has the right shape.  It will do and I want to have some variety but , well,  it just not how I imagined I suppose. Maybe I'll add a smoke hole in the roof.

So a bit of effort, but not as much as the other buildings, and they look the part for a Dark Age village.
Lets burn them down!

27 March 2011

Six Stages of Drinking as told by Vikings

I loved this so much I just had to get the figs (by Wargames Foundry). Not sure what  I'll do with them gaming wise mind you...
Having a beer and a snack
Having a Beer and a snack
Stage 1. After a long day, Björn has his dinner. And what goes better with a turkey leg than beer?

Telling a tall tale
Telling a tall tale

Stage 2. Magnhild has had her dinner. And a few beers. Now Magnhild is telling that famous story of the time she defeated seven enemies in combat. Of course it is a long tale, so she needs more beer.

Seeking a partner
Stage 3. Halvor and Ingriðr have had dinner and a few beers. They've told a few stories and had a few more beers. Now they seek each other's comfort and a hug and a kiss. Beer: helping people get lucky since 876.

Chugging too many
Chugging too many
 Stage 4. Ketilriðr has had dinner and a few beers. He told a few stories had a few beers, and some admirers have given him some hugs and kisses. Ketilriðr doesn't really need any more beer, but he is convinced this is the best thing to do, so he chugs off a bucket to slake his thirst.

Passing out
Passing out

 Stage 5. Roald has had dinner and a few beers. He told a few stories, had some hugs and kisses, and chugged off a bucket to slake his thirst. Now Roald has passed out and is visiting the land of Nod.

Doing it again the next night
Doing it again the next night

Stage 6. Here we are the next night, starting it all over again. 

from:  http://www.io.com/~beckerdo/games/articles/VikingDrinkers/index.html

26 March 2011

Heroes of the Dark Age

I found this small UK based figure manufacturer about two weeks ago via Tidder's blog: The Nothelm Chronicle. As you might expect from the name, they specialise in Dark Ages range figures in 28mm including Vikings, Saxons, Normans and Heroes but also with some fantasy and ancient Greeks thrown in too.
DA1 Wulfhere - a great fig I just had to have! (from the Heroes website)

Wanting to get a few specific character figures for our Age of Blood Campaign, I made a small order of a dozen or so figs.  It arrived here in Oz today which is very prompt customer service.  The figures are crisply cast with no flash, and the padded bag protected tham pretty well in their global voyage.  Overall, I'm very happy with these and look forward to getting some paint on them - hopefully this weekend.
DA 23 Hrothgar - another chap I just had to invite over for an ale (from the Heroes website)


25 March 2011

Warband Update

As a result of our recent raid on the Saxon hamlet, the Viking warbands of Rollo the Frenzied and Gizar the Ironic have seen some development, and some setbacks:

Rollo the Frenzied
* 2 wounded Vikings in the last battle: Thrand is expected to recover but will miss the next expedition.
Fafnir died with his sword in his hand and has gone to Valhalla.

*As a result of dispatching a few of the enemy, including a noble warrior, Rollo has been elevated to a Level 2 Hero and his renown has increased to 6.  His additional new trait is ambidextrous, so now he can wield both sword and axe simultaneously- handy!  Svend the champion need 5 more experience points to get to level 2.

* Went to Norway to sell the English plunder, which all fetched a reasonable price and a total sum of 171 silver was raised.  Rollo and Gizar split it fairly, with Rollo gaining 86 Silver

* Rollo paid his men their full upkeep of 32 silver, leaving him with 54.  Wanting to take advantage of being in Norway, and aware that he will be two men down for the next battle, Rollo sought out a Norwegian Shield Maiden and convinced Valeria to join his band for 32 silver.

Gizar the Ironic
* Vikur the Viking made a full recovery and is itching to be in the next battle - stout lad!

* Some experience gained by the heroes but no levelling up.  Hagbard the Hairy only needs 1 more experience to reach level 2.

* With his 85 silver, Gizar paid his men their full upkeep and obtained the services of a eccentric and curious chap who it is claimed performs Sorcery.  There are some who call him....Tim!

22 March 2011

Scratchbuilt A-Frame house

Having started my Dark Ages village with a thatched hall (http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2011/03/dark-ages-thatched-hall.html) I needed more to go with it.    I decided to try a different construction style this time.

This A-frame style house was deliberately a lot smaller and again had plastic card as the basis for the walls.  This time I tried something new: cut up ice cream sticks for wood paneling.  Again, I based the building on an mdf coaster for added stability.  The inside firepit was constructed from matchsticks ( I was thrilled with how well the fire itself came out actually), the log piles are sticks from my garden and I used my usual basing technique with static grass and silfor tufts.

For painting the wood, I was after a weathered effect, so I base coated it all codex grey and then did a sepia wash.  That wasn't quite what I was after so I did some burnt umber parts too and ended up with this nice mottled effect to make it look like its stood a few seasons.  For the insides I simply painted on the woodgrain onto the plastic card, which works.

Like the hatched hall, the roof is made from cardboard with teddy bear fur glued on.  Ive gone the extra step now and plastered it with watered down PVA glue, combed into shape and left fr the 3 days it needed to fully dry.  I am really pleased with the how it came out and glad I went the extra step.

The next Dark Age buildings I am planning are some small hovels.

21 March 2011

Another Bright Day in the Dark Ages

The fellahs came over for some Dark Ages carnage today, and it delivered everything it promised - loot, plunder, bloodlust and fun!  The Lad and I ran our small Viking warbands (Gizar the Ironic and Rollo the Frenzied respectively) , Ken and Steve attended to the Saxons, and Pete was the generic GM.  (click pics for bigger versions)
The Lad gets into character as Gizar the Ironic - ready for battle!
It was an otherwise ordinary morning in a non-descript hamlet in northern England. The locals were doing their thing, hanging out, getting water from the well, paying homage to their gods etc.  Then two warbands of Vikings set upon them from the East, intent on looting and destruction (you know, the usual fun).  Before the Saxons knew it, the raiders were upon them (they failed an opposed dice roll and failed to detect the Vikings approaching) intent on killing and scattering the defenders so they could loot, pillage and burn the hamlet with impunity.
...meanwhile the Saxon hamlet lies sleepily unaware of the approaching danger...
Initially, the Saxon plan (as it turns out) was to withdraw behind the river and form a defensive line using the treeline as cover, but the rapid Viking advance precluded this.  The rearmost Saxons were caught near the village well by Rollo's charging men and hacked to pieces, but this bought time for the others to withdraw.  The initial clash saw Viking challenges for duels go unanswered, one Saxon ran away from the terror of a charging Berserker, and the Saxon Hero was set upon by three Northmen, one of whom was hacked down from behind.  Ultimately, the entire Saxon rearguard was lost.
Rollo's boys arrive, tearing into the village without warning
The Saxon plan was deviously simple - Run Away!
...but it turns out Vikings can run pretty fast

Gizar the Ironic's lads arrive on the scene, out for fun!

but it was Rollo's boys who got first blood, hacking from behind without mercy
Chop, hack, slice...see you in Valhalla!
Where did everybody go? Suddenly, the Vikings are without opponents
There was no mercy even for Wally, once he was found!
The second Viking warband (belonging to the Lad) now came past, forded the river, were joined by Rollo's men and saw more Saxon reinforcements arrive from the next village.  The combined Saxon host then formed a large shieldwall at the foot of a large hill, supported by some archers atop it.  The Viking warbands similarly formed a shieldwall, anchored their right flank on the river bank, and began to advance.

Stop whinging Hlod - its not that cold...

The Viking Shieldwall assembles: 'No Svend I don't care if Vikur smells like old haddock - just bloody well stand next to him!'
The shieldwalls get closer...
Somewhat intimidating: The Viking shieldwall from the Saxons' perspective

Once in range, The Vikings had a critical decision to make - a slow, steady advance in a shieldwall with greater protection, or a wild, impetuous charge with more power.  They went with the later (they ARE Vikings after all) and battle was joined.  We found that the Vikings typically won most of the combats, but could not inflict wounds because of the extra protection the interlocking shields provided.  However, the force of the Viking charge and these single combat victories pushed back the Saxon shieldwall which became ragged and broke.

The shieldwalls crash together
The sound of battle rings out across the fields

Disrupted by the Vikings' charge, the Saxon shieldwall looses formation and disperses

Giving thanks to Odin for their Victory, the northmen collected their spoils:  20 food, 3 slaves, 6 misc loot and 1 valuable item. 3 Vikings were wounded and we have yet to see how/if they recover.  Ultimately though the Warbands of Gizar the Ironic and Rollo the Frenzied were victorious this day and have gained enough silver to fund their next expeditions.

Terrain Notes
I really enjoyed the setup of this game, especially as I have been working recently on the various bits.  A few more things are needed to finish off the village, including another building, and I'll start work on them now.  The Nordic alpine trees were Pete's and really fit the scene.  The river was an old one I made about 13 years ago as a trial and have never gotten around to replacing so it was quite a nostalgic addition to the battlefield.

We tried out a new rules set- Age of Blood (2nd Edition) which worked really well, and was why we had a GM for everyone's first time out (we wont use a GM again in the future).  The warbands need some time to setup properly, but the mechanics flowed more smoothly and I really the opposed die roll mechanic to keep everyone involved.  So I really recommend the rules and the price was really good (ie free - you can get the rules here: http://www.rebelpublishing.net/resources/Age_of_Blood_2nd_Edition.pdf).
 A few observations:

- A lot can hang on winning the initiative so next game we intend to trial simultaneous movement based on the order chits.

- The Saxon players, knowing that the Viking heroes would get extra experience from winning duels, refused to engage in any single combat - their ancestors obviously died of old age, not a hero's death with sword in hand!

- Playing Saxons wasn't nearly as much fun as playing rampaging Vikings (apparently) so we are going to utilise the reaction charts from "Pony Wars" to automatically run the Saxons, so we can play raiding parties.  We need to tweak those rules a little though to make it work.

Ancient Kelly Gang? Saxon improvised head protection

20 March 2011

The Warband of Rollo the Frenzied

This is my Viking Warband for the weekend's raid using the "Age of Blood" rules (starting with Renown 5 and 500 silver pieces like the Lad.)  I went for a small but tough and well-equipped crew:

1. Warband Leader: Rollo the Frenzied.  Level 1 Hero. Traits: Frenzy, Fast Draw, Chainmail, Shield, Helmet, Sword, Axe (Birthright: Talented) Renown: 5
2. Svend, Champion, Level 1 Hero. Trait: Resilient . Chainmail, Shield, Helmet, Sword.
3. Olaf the Crazed, Berserker. Shield, Sword, Axe
4. Askold, Huscarl. Leather Armour, Shield, Broad Axe, Axe
5. Thrand, Huscarl. Leather Armour, Shield, Axe
6. Osten, Huscarl. Leather Armour, Shield, Axe
7. Fafnir, Huscarl. Leather Armour, Shield, Axe
8. Hlod, Huscarl. Leather Armour, Shield, Axe, Bow

Historical footnote: Rollo the Frenzied is named after his renowned great-grandson, Rollo of Normandy:

19 March 2011

Viking Code of Conduct

I found this trolling around the web and found it quite interesting as a general outlook on these bawdy fellows.

This code is basically defined by four main virtues: honesty, hospitality, courage and loyalty. Besides those, Vikings also admire cunning and luck. Although cunning is more of a vice than a virtue, the way it’s used or the results obtained from it wind up bringing reputation to the man who uses it. The true Viking hero has all these characteristics in abundance, besides being a deadly warrior, a sly poet, an enthusiast of partying and drinking.


16 March 2011

Review: Well Set

I recently purchased an Architects of War Well S (G-02) from Elite Miniatures Australia.  This is what I thought of it after making it over the weekend.

What you get
The base with the well is all one piece resin with very nice detailing.  The other components are in white metal - the uprights and cross piece are all one, the two buckets, the pulley and the ladle are all separate.  A bit of string is included to make the bucket rope (a nice touch).  The components were crisply cast with excellent detail, no flash, minimal molding lines and no discernible bubbles in the resin base.  The packaging was excellent and ensured no damage to the components.

The front of the well - just realised I hadnt put on the second bucket and rope at this point.

Construction & Painting
The components slotted together very crisply into pre-drilled holes and minimal preparation was required.  I fitted the pulley, but painted everything else separately prior to assembly.

For the base, I undercoated in grey primer, then gave a base coast of codex grey and a deep grey wash.  A drybrush with Codex Grey and then Elf grey finished off the stonework.  For the other components, woodwork I undercoated in black, base coasted in dark brown, washed with Badab Black and then drybrushed with Scortched Brown.  After painting, assembly was quick and simple.  I then added some flock and silfour tufts and it was done, ready to go.  Overall I really enjoyed painting this.

I think this is a great piece of terrain, applicable to many time periods from ancients to moderns. Its bigger than I thought it would be, but that makes it a useful piece of terrain rather than just fluff on the table.  I'm glad I got it and highly recommend it

15 March 2011

Viking Menhirs

I saw these awhile ago (http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2010/10/runestones-and-menhirs.html) and liked them so much I bought one large one for myself, plus two smaller ones.  These lovely menhirs are produced by Fenris Games and add a lot of theme to Dark Age battles without taking up great deal of table space.

They come cast in grey resin with great detail and no flash whatsoever - in fact I used them as delivered for their first game.  However, the wonderful detailing deserved better treatment.  I gave them a wash with some watered down GW Badab Black and a light grey drybrush.  I also based them to help stability: the smaller ones were OK on flat ground but the larger one was very unstable.  A bit of GW flock (to match my GW gaming mat) and some silfour tufts completed them.

That green wash in the crevasses is me trying for a mossy/wet kind of look without using flock, which would look a bit over the top I think.

Interestingly, the larger one is based on the Stora Hammers I stone in Sweden:

Depicted on the Stora Hammars I stone are six panels with mythological, religious and martial background, including panels depicting a woman between two men, a sacrifice scene with a Valknut over the altar, a woman standing between a longship manned with armed warriors and another group of armed men, and a battle scene. Because of the position of the woman in two of the panels, it has been interpreted as illustrating the legend of Hildr. The stone includes an image of a warrior about to be hung from a tree with a Valknut nearby, considered to be Odin's cult symbol, giving validity to reports regarding human sacrifice in Norse paganism. Near the alter is a shaped stone, which one scholar has been suggested may be a cult stone similar to the Elgesem runestone.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stora_Hammar_stone