Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Overcoming Perry Paralysis 2

Inertia set in after I finished painting 11 of the unarmoured/partially armoured Perry WOTR figures, and I decided to change the scenery a bit by working on the fully armoured knights/men-at-arms instead. Two of the figures are plastic from the box set, and of the remaining eight metal figures, six are from the Perry pack, and two (the guy with the plume and the standard bearer without a standard) are old Citadel figures I got on a trade with Dan. Their proportions are a bit different, but they may well have been Perry sculpts.

The new Perry figures are very nice sculpts, but terrible castings - they came with so much flash that on one of the figures I decided to cut the whole sword off and glue a plastic one from the box set instead.

If I ever get into Warhammer, these will form the Greatsword unit for my Empire army - they have two-handed weapons and are fully armoured, just like the GW ones. I also learnt that the colours of my chosen livery is the same as that of the Nordland troops in GW fluff, which dovetails in nicely with my next project, which I will reveal in time...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saxon Tents

I tried to post this on Dan's blog but some glitch prevented me from doing so, so I decided to just post the info here since Dan reads my blog too.

I was searching for "Saxon tents" and managed to find a couple of sites with templates for making them, and I thought with a little work they can be used for make paper or cardboard tents in wargaming scales too:

(from Ydalir Viking)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Strandhogg - A Review

I realise I haven't actually reviewed these rules, so here goes...

What you get

I can't remember where I bought the rules from, but they came in a ziploc bag containing the rule booklet, a Quick-Reference Card, 3 warband record sheets (one each for Saxon, Viking, and Norman), 2 missile templates, and 7 sheets of "The Bones" (fate cards), each of which has 4 cards.

The format is about A5 size.

The booklet itself has a card cover with a coloured line drawing of a Viking warrior in front of a beached longship, and the back cover shows a scene of a Viking raid on a monastery, which set the tone of the rules. There are also many "black-and-white" line drawings on the inside.

The missile templates are the unique feature of these rules. These are small transparency sheets which are used to resolve missile combat.

The rules

The booklet is 64 pages (counting the front and back cover), and comes with a contents page but no index.

The author explains his design philosophy, and then it's to the main body of the rules.

The figure scale here is given as 28mm, with a ground scale of 1" = 7' and 1 turn/activation = approximately 5 minutes.

Round bases are recommended but it is also possible to play with figures on square bases.

The rules use a d10 exclusively - it's best that each player has at least one. You will also need tape measures, a deck of cards, and some markers to play.

Troops are organised in warbands, each of which has 6 to 13 figures, one of whom is the leader. 

Within each warband you may have troops armed with different weapons, and some warriors may be Veteran. If more than one warband is fielded, they are under the overall command of a Noble, who is an unattached leader figure.

By the rules, this gives a maximum "army" size of 40 figures (one box of Perry WOTR plastics!), but so far we have played up to 5 warbands per side with no problem.

A points system is given, but as we play a fantasy version of the rules I do not use them.

There are no standard lists for warbands, so players can use whatever mix of troops they have on hand. Once you have decided how your warbands are formed, you need to have a means of marking the Noble, Leaders, Veteran Warriors and Warriors, as they all have different game stats and functions. You will also need to determine the Leadership values of the leaders and calculate the command radii of each warband. In practice I have standardised all this based on the mix of figures I have, so I can just throw pre-generated warbands in and have a game.

The game then proceeds with card activation, with each warband being represented by one card and with each going through the same phases as their cards are drawn and they are activated.

The first phase is the morale phase, where you check morale for the warband if it had taken casualties from the previous turn. With each failed morale check, one figure from the warband flees the table. As the warband's size decreases, its morale falls and the chance of another figure fleeing the battle increases. In addition, once the warband falls to 50% or below strength the command radius of the warband is also decreased, so you get the effect of increasingly edgy individuals clustering closer to each other as the battle goes on.

The morale phase is followed by the missile phase, when figures with missile weapons (slings, javelins, bows and arrows are catered for) are allowed to shoot at enemies within range and in line-of-sight.

This is when you take out one of the two neat transparency template (depending on whether it's close range or effective range) and centre the circle on the template over the target figure. A d10 is then rolled. On a 1 to 4 or 5 (depending on range) the target is hit and must roll to save. The other numbers (5 to 10 or 6 to 10) are represented on the template as 'flight paths', indicating where the projectile has landed instead of the intended site, and a figure under that flight path must make a save instead!
There are of course modifiers for cover and such, and on a roll of 10 a figure is out of ammo and must roll on his next activation to see if he can get a resupply. This helps prevent missile weapons from ruling the field. In addition, figures armed with missiles must drop their weapon and switch to a melee weapon when there are enemies within charge range, further limiting the power of missile weapons.

After missile, we come to movement. Movement here is quite easy: you simply check which figures are within the command radius of the warband leader, then move the warband leader to the limit of his movement allowance, then position these figures within his command span. Those figures not within his command span (whether cut off by enemies or driving animals off to the longship) move separately, either using their own movement allowance or the animal's.

Speaking of animals, the rules for driving animals and carrying loot on carts and wagons are also presented in this section.

Two formations are also catered for, being the Shieldwall and the Attack Wedge, each of which confer the warband defensive and offensive bonus respectively.

The rules then go on to charging or engaging enemy figures in melee. To successfully engage an enemy in melee, a figure needs to roll below his Courage rating. A failed charge leaves a figure 1" from his intended target. I like this part of the rule as it adds uncertainty to the game and you can model cowardly goblins who don't always do what you want them to, and courageous dwarves who charge into combat even if they know they are outmatched.

Combat is quite simple: you roll a d10, add the figure's Melee rating and modifiers, and the figure with the higher total wins. If the score is higher by 4 or more, then a wound is scored. Leaders and Nobles have 3 Wounds - Veteran Warriors and Warriors have only 1 and so are killed. If the difference is 1 to 3, then the loser is pushed back by an inch and the winner has the option to follow-up.

Weapons are supposed to give different modifiers to the roll, but here I think the author has made an error in the maths of the game, which I have written on earlier here.

Mounted figures are treated slightly differently. If a mounted figure takes a wound from missile or melee, a roll is made to see if it is the rider or the mount that is hit. An unhorsed rider may be trapped under his mount or jump free, and can continue to fight on foot.

Those are the basic rules.

The basic stats do not distinguish between the figure type between the three races - i.e. a Saxon Noble has the same stats as a Viking Noble, and a Viking Warrior has the same stats as a Norman Warrior. The supplemental rules add variety to the troop types with rules for Berserkers, Viking Cavalry, Norman Cavalry, Special Weapons and Traits, as well as the Special Event or Bones cards.

Overall Assessment

Apart from the melee rules I enjoy the fast-play and narrative nature of the rules. It also lends itself well to conversion to fantasy races or other periods.

You've got the rules for capturing slaves, driving off animals, as well as terrain rules that affect missile, movement and melee - all essential elements of a Viking Age skirmish game.

For beginners, I recommend making the warbands identical in terms of composition so you have fewer variables to worry about, and keeping the number of special weapons and missile weapons low.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Revolt of the Gladiators

I got 4 sprues of these guys from a Castle Craft box which I bought. They are nominally 28mm, which in this case means the figures measure 28mm from their soles to the top of their heads. They are definitely too small to go with other "normal" 25 or 28mm gladiator figures, but if you are building an arena, it occured to me that they might do very well as statues (perhaps of famous gladiatorial stars?).

Let me know if you want a sprue, and we'll see if we can work out a trade.

Random Sunday Shot: Old School Goodness

A few Old School wargaming books that I have acquired over the years. They are probably obsolete in this day and age, but they did provide me with new ideas and inspiration when I read them for the first time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I created and named this blog a few years back when I was planning to wargame the Indian Mutiny. I bought a whole lot of figures, had them painted, played one or two test games, and then stopped. A recent discussion on TMP about a new set of rules for massed combat for the Mutiny prompted me take my figures out of storage and do a photo-inventory.
Here they are:

They are mainly Dixon 15mm, painted by DJD Minis, with some Essex Mughal figures and a few Musuem Miniatures elephants. The Highlanders are 18mm Eureka Miniatures Crimean War figures, as are a few of the oversized command figures. The bulk of the badmash were bought on ebay - I knew they had poor detail but they were cheap...

I am particularly proud of my adobe town, which I have collected over many months. The larger mosque and the fort are I believe JR, and not yet painted.

The matchlockmen form a line behind their pavises. They are Essex miniatures as are most of the elephants. The two with raised trunks are from Museum. The mutiner horse in front of them are Dixon.

The artillery corps with Mughal era iron and brass guns, along with the bullock required to haul these heavy pieces. The older guns and the camel rockets are Essex, while the 'modern' piece is Dixon.

The cheap and poorly-sculpted and painted badmash hide in the safety of the town. A few colurfully dressed men leave the market building with bales of fabric... Looters?

The mutineer sepoy units, from Dixon. The badmash are Dixon and Essex.

The British train. The horse and elephant limbers are Dixon, as is the elephant carrying the crew (I just HAD to have that model, even if it had no game value). The baggage elephant is Museum, the pack camels Essex. I can't remember where the bullock is from, but the driver is Essex and the cart scratch-built and the hay is bristles cut from a brush.

The Sikh Horse, lancers, and hussars. It's been so long I can't even remember which units' colours I had them painted in...

The Highlanders, a European unit, and the Gurkhas. The Highlanders are 18mm and tower over their Dixon counterparts, as they should. I love the leader waving a claymore, and the drummer boy.

More European infantry units, plus a Naval infantry and a Sikh unit.

This project is on the bottom of the list now, since we have had a go at the Warring States and Napoleonics yet. Hopefully this blogpost will remind me not to buy any more figures until I've played a campaign with these first...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Strandhogg Rules Modifications 2

I did some more thinking last night and I think I will modify the missile rules too.

Currently, cover gives a modifier to the shooter's roll to hit, which under this system means that instead of the missile hitting the cover covering the target (or the cover saving the target by taking the hit instead), it actually lands somewhere else. This gives the weird situation that cover makes it safer for a figure, but makes it liklier for his neighbours to be hit!

I think I will apply the modifiers for cover to the Defence roll instead. This should reduce the deadliness of missiles in the game.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Strandhogg Rules Modifications

I've been talking a bit about this and I realise I haven't actually put it down in black-and-white all in one location, so here goes...

(Edited 19 Jun 2015)
I find most of the rules easy to use and sensible, but the melee rules are in my opinion flawed.
Specifically, the modifications given by different weapons don't make sense.

Wielding a two-handed axe, for example, gives a figure a +1 vs defensive formation and vs mounted; however, this comes at the expense of not being able to hold a shield, which grants one a +1 in melee in ALL situations! In other words, a one-handed weapon and shield combo is always the best combo under these rules, which of course does not fit with reality - those huscarls must have carried two-handed axes for some real advantage in combat.

I tried to come up with a way to fix this, and yet allow the different weapons to have specific game effects. Being an ex-Warhammer Ancients player, I decided to graft their weapons rules to Strandhogg.

To do this, however, required me to break the melee roll down to two parts, so instead of having one single roll to decide who wins and letting the difference decide the result, I utilise the Defence score used in the resolution of missile combat: you make one roll to see who wins the combat, and one roll to see if the loser is pushed back or wounded/killed.

So I retain the Melee rating by and large, and still resolve melee as 1d10 + Melee score, higher wins, but instead of using the difference to decide whether the loser retreats or takes a wound, I make the loser make a Save by rolling equal to or lower than his Defence score (as per missile combat); if the loser makes the save, he retreats one inch, if not, he takes a wound.

So far so good.

So what are the weapon effects then?

I added the following:

1. Two handed-axe

Gives a -2 Save modifier against opponent in melee. Wielder may carry a shield, but must sling shield when within 6" of enemy figures or when engaged in melee - this allows shields to be used against missiles.

2. Spear

A figure holding a spear may attack as a 'second rank' in melee, gaining a +1 to Melee score as a subsequent attacker, but may not be attacked in return. This allows up to 4 figures to engage a single enemy figure (two in direct contact as allowed by the rules, plus one per figure as 'second rank').

3. Halberd

Gives a +1 to Mounted Wound Location roll, and a -1 Save modifier vs all opponents.
4. Lance

Gives a -1 Save modifier when charging

Now using Strandhogg for fantasy rather than historical games, my players naturally wanted some rules to be modified to fit the 'fluff'. These are the two rules we have added:

Riderless mount (warg)

See "Riderless Mount" rule in Warhammer Fantasy rules.

Thrown rock (troll)

The troll may hurl rocks as a Shooting attack. This has a range of between 6" to 12", and utilises the Close Range Template. All figures under the path of the projectile as indicated on the template must make a Save at -2.

I have also modified the stats of the various races, essentially taking the Warhammer Fantasy stats and converting them to Strandhogg stats as follows:

Agility: Typically Movement x 1.5

Courage: Typically Leadership, but with monsters such as the Troll having a 10 and using the Berserker rule

Melee: Weapon Skill

Shooting: Modifier applies with variance from a ballistic Skill of 3, i.e. if BS 4, -1 to Shooting roll, if BS 2, +1 to shooting roll.

Defence: Unarmoured 3, Light armour 4, Heavy armour 5, Plate armour 6; +1 for shield, +1 for each adjacent shielded figure in a Defensive Formation. This gives figures in shieldwalls real lasting power while not making them killers.
I hope these rule modifications are of interest to you, and look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Strandhogg Fantasy Game 6: Get the King!

With my Amera ruin completed, it was time to use it as the centrepiece of a game.

I designed a scenario based around it: after a disastrous battle, the dwarf king flees the battlefield with his loyal huscarls and head for friendly territory. They take shelter at a ruined fort, but are found by goblin scouts. The goblin king leads an attack from two directions.

Even though I don't use the points system given in the rules, having played a few games I have some idea of how the warbands fare against each other - as it turns out I did quite OK.

I gave the dwarves a unit of huscarl, one of warriors, and two of rangers.

Thomas, who proposed the troll throwing rule, commanded the troll and two warbands, while FG, who proposed the riderless warg rule, took the goblin king, the warg riders, and the remaining warband.

To add a twist to the scenario, while the goblin players are nominally on the same side, only the player who kills the dwarf king will actually be declared the winner.

Besides the Amera ruin I had, FG also brought along a few Fantascene pieces he had. I gave the two goblin players a hill, a woods, and a rock cluster each to place in each other's half of the table.

I begin the game with the king and huscarls in the ruin, the warriors at the entrance, and a band of rangers on each side.

Thomas sends his warbands in from both corners and begin to attack my rangers from both sides.

FG makes a feint with the warg riders, and once I deployed my rangers and warriors to counter his move, sends them round the side of the table.
The rangers fare poorly against two warbands and the troll, who delighted in lobbing rocks at them.

Sensing the moment, I send the king and his huscarls out from the ruins, initally intent on making for Thomas' side of the table.
Unfortunately, FGs' warg riders move swifter than I expected them to... I turn and head for FG's side of the table instead.
Murin's rangers are eliminated, leaving him alone to face the green tide.

The huscarls form a shieldwall as the warg riders and troll bear down on them.

There is much carnage as all the units converge on the king, now only 3 moves from the table's edge. The warg riders have in fact ridden in a full circle around the table! Thomas' troll lobs rocks at the mass of bodies, (accidentally?) taking out one goblin leader.

The dwarves fought hard, and eventually the goblin king himself would be the one to land the killing blow.
The battle took almost three hours, which was not unexpected since we had three players this time and the action took place on a full 6' x 4' table. It helped that both Thomas and FG have each played a game of Strandhogg before. To speed things up I often flipped open an activation card while a player made his move if there wasn't going to be any melee.

Thomas enjoyed the rock-throwing rule for the troll, which allowed the troll to score some kills without being killed in return - this was the only game where the troll survived till the end!

FG made very good use of the warg riders, and it was their high movement rate (coupled with the slower movement rate of the dwarves) that allowed the goblins to cut the dwarf king off.

With me working on the Perry WOTR figures and FG starting on his Skavens, we can perhaps look forward to games with different troop types and special rules before the year is up.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Amera Ruin

It's done.

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be - the material is quite easy to work with.

I trimmed the edge of the piece and applied white glue on the slopes of the hill and in corners and crevices of the ruin, sprinkled some sand and gravel over the piece, then sprayed the whole thing black.

The slopes are then painted in red brown and highlighted in yellow brown.

The ruin itself is painted medium grey and then highlighted with light grey. I then washed the whole thing with Vallejo Smoke. Flock is then applied around the edges, at the interface between stone and earth, as well as on parts of the slope.

My friends and I are planning to use it in a game this weekend.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Pig Pen

Too cheap to buy the excellent Architects of War pig sty kit, I was inspired by Paul of the Man Cave's scratch-built pig pen to attempt one myself.

I started with these plastic wooden fence pieces for railway modeling which I bought a long time ago for an ACW project that never materialised...

I cut four equal lengths, which I then glued together in a square.

For the base I used a piece of mounting board cut in a rough square a bit larger than the fence itself, and then applied white glue over it, taking care to leave a bare oval patch, before covering it with my mix of sand and gravel.

Once everything is dry, I shook off the excess sand and gravel, then glued the fence to the base and spray-primed the whole thing black.

Next, I painted the base red brown and drybrushed with yellow brown, then painted the fence dark brown and then highlighted it with some grey mixed in the brown paint.

The bare patch was painted with dark brown paint, and when that was dry a layer of watered down white glue was applied over it - once dry this gives a water effect.

Finally, I glued some flock to the edges of the base to make it blend onto the tabletop, and I have my very own pig pen!