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Mid-Life Crisis or another diversion? – Mutant 1984 with Ospreys Scrappers – Part 1

Mutant – a nostalgic flashback

When I was 12 my cousin came by for a visit and he told me about this new thing, at least as far as I was concerned, called role-playing and a game called Mutant – one of the few Swedish roleplaying games on the market at that time.  By the end of the day he had convinced me to buy a set and the following day we played the introductionary scenario “Uppdrag i Mos Mosel” (Mission Mos Mosel).

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The session blew my feeble mind away and very soon some friends and I played RPGs on a regular basis up to our very late teens and had a great time. We quickly moved onto other games like MERP (those covers were fantastic and so many supplements released), Call of Cthulhu (explains a lot you may think), Chill (A more structured approach to fighting horror), Star Wars (roleplaying in medias res), Champions (with a very good and balanced points system and a lot of freedom required to design superheroes and not just mortal men), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (The amazing Enemy Within Campaign) Gurps. AD&D 2nd Edition (I never really liked the system but the GM was so brilliant in creating a story that held together, with a number of subplots, over a long period of time that I do think this was the best campaign I ever played). Some great adventures were had and some of the characters played I still remember fondly – like the Tyr Cleric Lour Hawklin who adventured the Forgotten Realms with the Eavesdrop adventuring Group or Armorman the Super Hero, that was a shameless copy of Iron Man,  to name two of these legends.  I digress badly on this. However, I always retained this nostalgic and very fond attachment to that very first role-playing game that we played during the early years.

The background blur of the game makes me reflect on these wonderful words by H.P. Lovecraft, “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity and it was not meant that we should voyage very far”.  Basically following a deadly and incurable epidemic caused by samples from a mission to Mars the human civilization collapses.  The survivors build enclaves and start experimentation on humans and animals, in effect creating mutants, to see how they will survive outside the enclaves.  However conflicts arises between the enclaves and it leads to a nuclear war sealing the fate of the world.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the from the ashes new civilizations start to emerge with mutated humans and animals, some “pure” humans and even some mutants with mental powers. There are remnants of the old worlds scattered all around, and some androids/robots from the old days are still around. In addition there are certain areas where the effect of radiation has left some strange effects on the flora and fauna and these areas are called “Forbidden Zones”.

The game is set in Scandinavia, but not as we know it today, and the general level of new technology is equivalent to that of the 19th Century, give or take.  There are steam engines, muskets and some emerging rifle like weapons, heliogram for communication, etc.  Some of the old technology has survived but is rare.

The game evolved and underwent a lot of development (see here) and today there is a very interesting new version called År Noll (Year Zero) that is set in an earlier (and wilder) period.  I may pick this up when the nostalgia gets the better of me (there is an English version produced by Modiphius, you can read about it here).

An idea

So why have I been rumbling about this?

I got this urge to do a little miniatures project as a homage to the 1984 rules and perhaps my lost youth – call it a miniature wargamers mid-life crisis.  I thought I would make some small warbands of say 10 to 15 miniatures for each little gang/unit/fellowship.

Gangs and Miniatures

Pyri Soldiers  – a unit of soldiers and their officer and say two NCOs,  mainly equipped with musket and bayonets/swords but with a few carrying some old technology weapons like a sniper rifle and some automatic shotguns to add some flair. In addition some mutated animals and humans being part of the group.  Uniform to be based on the 95th rifles from the Napoleonic days (think the Sharp Movies) but painted in a blue Colour with some buff detailing.  Pyrisamfundet (The Pyri Commonwealth) is what today is central and southern Sweden and this was the centre of the adventures produced for the game. Some conversion of miniatures therefore required. I got a pack of Warlords Miniatures Chosen Men (link here) and also two female 95th rifles from ebay (Seller plantanmachineryguy).

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This is the unit almost completed, I have some tidy up to do for the hats and hairs before I seal them.

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The Crocodile and Dog heads are from the Killers set produced by Crooked Dice (I have another use for their bodies of which more in a later blog entry) as part of the Grandville range (see link to them here).  The Sniper Rifle and the Automatic shotguns/grenade launchers are from Anvil Industries (link here).  Overall it works for me, sufficient input of some high tech and some mutants to make it look surreal enough in combination with the old fashioned Napoleonic uniforms.  These guys may have been sent to the Forbidden Zone on a rescue mission, to look for a criminal or to retrieve some old high tech.

Ulvriket Patrol – more of a high tech unit with some old technology rifles, SMG and LMG. These will be based on some American WW2 infantry in Great Coats and the Uniform painted in a Military Greenish colour with red stripes on the trousers and some red on the collars.  Again some of these would be mutated animals, so some conversions would be required.  Ulvriket is a country in the South (Denmark) who is a little military dictatorship with some unclear ambitions. As a basis I got some of the nice Americans in Great Coats from Artizan Design (here).  I am eagerly waiting for these models.

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Zone Explorers / Adventuring Group – this would be a motley crew of mutated humans and animals who would be roaming around looking for something. Perhaps some psychic characters too. Basically a large RPG group! A mixture of weapons both old and new technology. Lacking in military prowess but with their own surprises up their sleeves.  There are some nice models out there that would fit the bill and this is probably the funniest gang to do. I have ordered a bunch of miniatures from various manufacturers including CP Models, Rapier Miniatures, Crooked Dice, Interloper Miniatures , Moonraker Miniatures and Black Cat Bases. As and when I finish some of these I will give details from where I got them in future posts on this subject, this will be the most interesting unit to build.

My best find, to date,  are probably the models from Interloper Miniatures. Here area a few pictures taken from their webpage (see link above, great stuff). The models really fit what I would like to do.

Security Robots – this would be a force of security robots that were still operational protecting some old installation or having got some malfunction in orders and being more mobile.  I have a number of Terminator robots that are all ready to go for action.  The 1984 angle works brilliantly as this was when the first Terminator movie was set.  All done, the models can be seen in some old blogs (including here ).

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Further I intend to use the Resistance Fighters from the terminator game to use as a unit of humans from the past who have been woken up from hibernation.

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I am also thinking about doing a gang of Cultists (perhaps a bunch of “brown hooded” anti-mutants) as I got a box of Frostgrave Cultists (here) with the Sci-Fi conversion kit (see here).

That is a total of six gangs and I have already ordered all that I need.  The original cover (see above) had these strange looking primitives with bluish tattoos and spears not sure if there is a good range out there – let me know if you have any ideas.

Terrain and Rules

for the terrain I intend to use the terminator stuff I already have for a start.  I also recently got a battle mat from hexy-shop (link here) that I intend to use.

For rules, well this just caught my eyes and they seem to fit too without too much modification.  The rules are called Scrappers  and is a set of Post-Apocalyptic Skirmish Wargame Rules from Osprey, see further link here. It will available by the end of April.

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The blur is almost spot on and I felt obliged to do a pre-order.

“More than 150 years have passed since the apocalypse that nearly destroyed the Earth. Today, the planet is a torn remnant of its former glory, ravaged by nuclear fallout and mutagens. New lifeforms – Mutants and Synthetics – challenge True Humanity for dominance, while warring factions compete for survival and supremacy, and all must carve out their place in this brutal landscape, or else perish as billions before them. Scrappers is skirmish miniatures game set in the wastelands, where players assemble Scrapper Crews and send them out to scavenge scraps of Ancient technology and battle rival factions. Explorers, cultists and raiders clash with mutated creatures, robotic soldiers and embittered True Humans in this wargame of salvage and survival in the ruins of the future.” – From the Osprey Homepage on Scrappers

There is also this review that I found informative.  I probably need to do a few tweaks but I do think this diversion is easier to realize than I initially thought! I hope there are rules for musketry! This is a long term project and I am not sure at what speed it will develop as I really need to focus on the two 6mm events coming up – perhaps the pace will pick up in the autumn. But I am feeling good about it.  The good news is that I will have some miniatures to do a test game fairly soon after the rules arrive.

/ Hope that was of some interest! Next time starting to wrap up the things for the Salute Show.

 

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The Zulus who would be Shakas – our first game of the Men who would be Kings rules

The Little One and I finally managed to do a test game of the Men who would be King rules this weekend. Basically we had a British force with regular infantry, supported by a Lancer Unity, fighting some Zulu Tribal warriors.

I recently completed two more batches of 64 Zulu miniatures based as the first one (for some further stuff on this project click here and here). I did each batch in a different shield design and I think they look ok from the distance they will be seen from.

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Three columns of Zulus, 192 of them in total plus two leaders. 2 packs of Baccus finest!.

This is twice the amounts of Zulus needed for the basic 24 point Zulu army in the rulebook.

Opposing Forces

We used the Zulu name generator (found here) to get some names for the Zulu leaders we would use in our test battle. We are not that familiar with Zulu naming convention, but we randomized a list of ten twice and got the following names.

Fuzo (Heredity, resemblance)
Bongani (Be thankful, Grateful )
Fokazi (Stranger)
Hlatshwayo (Stabbed one)
Igama (Name)
Kwanele (It is enough)
Mthokozisi (The one who gives joy)
Zwelikude (Far away)
Chitauli (Dictator, One who tells the Law)
Lwazi (Knowledge)

Bhekizizwe (Look after the Nations)
Azisa (Honour, Esteem, Pride)
Ayanda (Augment the family )
Iqhunde (Rooster)
Khayalethu (Our home)
Gabangaye (Putting one’s trust on other; Faces in the sun)
Engameli (President)
Kgabu (Richly decorate )
Minenhle (Having a good or lovely day)
Ndonsa (Bright morning star)

We then did combination of these names for the leaders as shown below.  Here is the force the Zulu player would field on the day.

Zulu Force (24 points, 6 units, 96 models) – the Hero, the pleasant and the Ugly!

  • Fierce Tribal Infantry Unit 1 (unmarried warriors) @ 4 points, led by Kwanele Azisa with a leadership value of 7+ (not very good) and with the leader trait of “Jolly Sporty” which means he has an additional 2″ (2cm at our scale) move when doing an at the double action.
  • Fierce Tribal Infantry Unit 2 (unmarried warriors) @ 4 points, led by Kgabu Minenhle, leadership value of 7+ (another crap roll), with the trait of “Up and at them” which means he must always opt for the attack.
  • Fierce Tribal Infantry Unit 3 (unmarried warriors) @ 4 points, led by Fuzo Bongani, leadership value of 5+ (that is more like it), with the trait of “Favourite of the Chief” which means that he could chose another upgrade for free and the Little One took Elite (which gives +2 to discipline).
  • Veteran Tribal Infantry Unit 1 (Married warriors) @ 4 points, led by Lwazi Ndonsa, leadership value of 5+ (another good roll), with the trait of “Ugly” that has no effect on gameplay (loving it!, the Little One is still laughing).
  • Veteran Tribal Infantry Unit 2 (Married warriors) @ 4 points, led by Iqhunde Chitauli, leadership value of 7+ (another crap roll), with the trait of “Pleasant Manner” that has no effect on gameplay.
  • Veteran Tribal Infantry Unit 3 (Married warriors) @ 4 points, led by “Bhekizizwe Azisa”, leadership value of 5+ (good roll), with the trait of Hero of the Zulu Empire which gives him a Leadership value of 4+.

A nice little mixture of some very good leadership values (the lower the better!) and some not so good!.

For the British we used a few names inspired by some of the fantastic stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

British Force (24 points, 4 units, 44 models)

  • Regular Infantry Unit @ 6 points, led by Colour Sergeant Nahum Gardner, leadership value at 5+ (good roll), with a trait of being the “Favourite of the Major-General” giving him a free trait, we went for Sharpshooters that bring firing to 4+ (a very good value).
  • Unenthusiastic Infantry Unit @ 5 points, led by Corporal Wilbur Whateley, leadership value at 7+ (another 1 rolled) and with the trait of “Coward” meaning he must always attempt to move to stay beyond enemy movement distances (brilliant against Zulus who very likely will be charging!)
  • Unenthusiastic Infantry Unit @ 5 points, led by Corporal William Dyer, leadership value at 5+ (good) and with the trait of “Hero of the Empire” giving him a leadership at 4+.
  • Regular Lancer Cavalry Unit @ 8 points, led by Sergeant Thomas Olney, leadership value of 6+ (average for the unit type) and with the trait of brutal – meaning that he is a sadistic pig that his men hate and this affects the units discipline with -2.

Another characterful little band of brothers.

The Scenario / Situation

We chose the “A Sigh of Relief” Scenario (Scenario G), this has the defender with a small detachment in the middle of the table and the attacker coming from one side and some reinforcements for the defender from the other.

I opted for the two unenthusiastic units being the ones in the middle, speculating that there were unenthusiastic and low on morale due to their exposed position. I hoped that the Lancers would be quick to reinforce the units and then the superior shooting from the Colour Sergeant’s  drilled men would save the day.

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The Little One set up his six tribal units at the other end of the table and told me it would be a piece of cake to rout the “Corporal Coward” and “Corporal Hero of What Empire?”. The position looked exposed indeed.

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The Battle

First round and the attack was on – the Little One’s tactic was to push his units forward with “On the Double” giving them additional speed but at the cost of needing to test for activation.  The first round only three units pushed forward.

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I managed to move the two reinforcements forward and Colonel Whateley fired a salvo at one of the Zulu units that resulted in reducing the unit with 4 models – but it did not result in it being pinned.  Colonel Dyer formed his men into Close Order to allow a more potent salvo in the next run.

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The Little One managed to activate all but one unit for the next round and the Zulus started to come a little bit too close for my liking.

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Next round Cpl. Dyer successfully did a Volley Fire that hit the Zulu unit (Bhekicizme Azisa) that was fired upon earlier – now down to 5 units and a pinned marker, enough to stop it from moving next round. The Lancers also managed to get closer into the action. Whateley, in line with his trait, decided to move (successfully) away from the oncoming Zulus (there are too many of them!).

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The oncoming force of the Elite unit of Fuzo Bungani, in combination with an attack by the Ugly Lwazi Ndonsa’s unit, had a hard impact on Cpl Dyer’s seemingly thin line and forced him to withdraw but he successfully managed to resist being pinned.  The Little one still suffered some in getting momentum on his right flank as he had problems rolling successfully in the double activations (maybe the Roll a One trait is hereditary?).

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A little close look at the proceedings on the British right and…

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on the left.

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Next round I charged the Lancers straight into the Pleasant Mannered Ighunde’s unit and the combined with a successful volley by the Coward Whateley – lead to them being double pinned (but they tool it in a good and polite way).  The Colour Sergeant were pushing closer and I felt that this was going the right way when Cpl Dyer manage to pin another Zulu unit with some fine shooting.

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The following round the Little One tried to push in with the Elite unit and needed three or more on 2 dice to activate, but instead rolled to 1s. The unit did not attack. Game Over I thought, but I was wrong.

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In a series of attacks in the next round the Zulus managed to decimate the Lancers (who did not give up without a fair fight, but they were outnumbered. Timing of cavalry attacks is not yet second nature to me!) who had to push back.

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Following this things got too interesting and we forgot to take photos, but basically the Little one realized that the caution (cowardice) of Cpl Whateley meant that he just needed to push against him and he would retreat, he then pressed forward with his remaining forces and managed to get his units organized by combining “going to ground” and “skirmish movement” followed by all out melee attacks to bring all my units out of action.

Piece of cake!

Reflections

  • I really like the rules, they are not complicated but with some of the special abilities/actions of the units, e.g. “Going to Ground”, “Close order and Volley Fire”, gives a nice and for me convincing flair of the period – at least from my perhaps over romantic perspective.
  • The character traits for the Officers, the good and the bad, added to the overall experience.
  • It is nice and plays fast and reasonably well. We will certainly play this again!
  • We played on playing area of 50 by 72 cm and had a great time – skirmish in 6mm works very well indeed.
  • The Little One liked it and gave it thumbs up!

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/ Take care

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Kalisz 1706 at Salute 2017 – Dusting off the Miniatures Part 1 – Hussars and other Exotic Cavalry

I spent some time assembling the forces needed for the Kalisz Battle over the weekend and think I found most of them but there are still a few of them missing in previous action – but I will/have to find them sooner or later as the Show is in 6 weeks.  A few of the spears (looking at the pictures) need to be bent back, but apart from that there are no major issues that need to be resolved.

For some background on the battle you can have a look at an earlier posting here.

This first part will show the more exotic units specific for this theatre, compare to War of the Spanish Succession (WSS) units. Perhaps the Swedes themselves would have fitted into this entry, but I will hold them back for now.

Codes refers to the Baccus catalogue of splendid 6mm stuff for this period (link here).  The combination of the GNW/WSS range (and a few packs from other ranges) offers a total coverage of everything you may need to represent all battles in Eastern Europe of the period (even the Pruth Campaign, with the Ottomans and Proxies). There is even a simple trick in doing some Swedish Karpus cavalry I may reveal in a later posting.

The rules references are to Polemos – Great Northern War (PGNW) and Twilight of the Sun King (TotSK).  I discuss these rules to some extent here and here.

(Winged) Hussars

6 bases Poles/Lithanian supporting the Warsaw Confederation that were against the King of Poland (Augustus II the Strong) and fought with the Swedes. The rest of the bases (4 No.) represent members of the anti-Swedish Sandomierz Confederation.

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These hussars are the heroes from Vienna in 1683 (see link here) where they played a key role in the dramatic climax of the battle as the spearpoint of an eighteen thousand strong cavalry charge (that from the receiving end must have looked absolutely terrifying and been a true spectacle to witness). These units are charging cavalry and have been based in a wedge formation (9 miniatures, 60 by 30mm base) to be easily identified (as if the wings were not enough!).

They hussars forms the elite element of any Polish-Lithuanian army.  Steel and shock is definitely the dish being served by these type of units.  In the rules they are classified as Galloping Horse (GH).  It is not clear whether they still wore their wings in this battle, but for the sake of look I have decided they did.

I have used a mixture of models – look at the GNP01 to GNP05 and pick the ones you like.

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Pancerni

These were the backbone of the Polish-Lithuanian cavalry arm and were medium cavalrymen.  Their name is derived from the Polish name for chainmail – “pancerz”.

In the PGNW/TotSK rules they are classified as Eastern Horse (EH) and to distinguish them on the field of battle I have based them in three lines of three as can be shown in the picture.  This type are not powerful in the charge but are better in continued melee and maneuvering compared to normal Western Horse of the period.

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In the battle there are Pancerni units in both of the armies fielded (GNP06 – Pancerni, was used from the Polish range). There were based on a 60 by 30mm base and arranged in three groups of three. Some of them are classified (3 No.) as Galloping infantry (GNP07 – Petyhorcy) and are organized in a wedge formation like the hussars.

Warsaw Confederation (Pro-Swedish) – 21 bases

Sandomierz Confederation (Anti-Swedish) – 17 bases

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Light Horse Units

There were a few different types of Light cavalry present at the battle – these are open formation skirmish units and tend to avoid close combat if possible. In the two rulesets they are classified as Light Horse (LH). I have based them on 60 by 60mm bases and with 7 miniatures in open order (apart from the 3 Vallacker units that have 8 miniatures, including the Swedish Officers). The types are:

Kalmyks – These are light cavalry units from the Kalmyk Khanate, with Mongolian roots,  and are allies to the Russians. These play no active part in the battle and are guarding the Swedish potential retreat on the other side of the river.   These were made by using various codes from the Baccus Ancient ranges, basically anything on a horse with a Bow (e.g. AHU01 and  AHU02 – Hunnic Horse Archers). Useless for the battle but they do look good en masse. But calm down, these and the Cossacks, will make another guest appearance for the Poltava Battle (but that luckily is some time away).

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Cossacks – these are light irregular cavalry units allied to the Russians. Similar story as for the Kalmyks. The miniatures used are the Cossacks from the Great Northern War range (GNR10 – Cossacks, they are with the Russians).

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Jazda Lekka – these are Polish-Lihtuanian light cavalry (Jazda Lekka, simply means light cavalry in Polish!). These will be part of the main battle but are not showing up in any large numbers. They are fighting as part of both armies (the code used are from the Great Northern War range, GNP08 – Unarmoured Cavalry, they are with the Poles). 7 on the anti-Swedish side and 3 on the Pro-Swedish side (I chose to make these like Vallacker with Swedish Officers).

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Other Projects

This terminator project is getting a little bit out of hand – but in a nice way! Well it must be since both I and the Little One are having fun. Got some more stuff to work on this week.

  • 2 No. Humvees from Pig-Iron (link here), with additional stuff like the smoke grenade launchers, assault rifles and stowage from a Tamiya model accessory kit. The models are very nice, no clean-up required and you just need to glue on the wheels, and very competitively priced at £9.50 each. The miniature is from the Terminator Set and is about 28mm scale.  Not sure how we will paint these yet, but the Little One is thinking!

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  • Some cars arrived that we ordered from China (“1:50 scale Train Layout cars” should be enough to find them again). These are likely to get smashed up a little and end up like the ones we showed last week (see here). £7 all in from China.

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  • We also found a fork lift that seemed to scale reasonably well. This one will add some character to the overall proceedings.

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  • Finally, we checked out the relatively new Walking Dead miniatures game and they have a Scenery Pack that looked interesting (the picture show half of the contents and these will be great for the expanding rubble and car wrecks) so we got one of those as well.  We got the set from eBay at a very good price.

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/ Next time some more 6mm units for Kalisz and hopefully we have done a game of The Men who would be Kings, take care.

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Zulus and taking the rusty cars for a spin

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I think I promised to show off the Kalisz stuff for Salute this week, but the weekend just disappeared and I have to get on with it next week instead.  However I did finish off some Zulus for my little diversion into doing some Colonial 6mm skirmish (see last blog entry here).  I also ordered some Boers from Baccus (these ones) as I fancied doing a few units of these as well.  I have also rummaged through my old boxes and found some Gatling guns and some other stuff to do when I have time.

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I organized these on bases with different number of figures to simplify the management of moving many figures and still being able to remove casualties. Each unit of tribal infantry is 16 figures strong – so I based them in on bases with 4-4-3-2-2-1 figures.  I intend to make another 8 units to get enough Zulus to get the balance right vs the British.

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Next week I hope to have a go trying out the rules (The Men who Would be Kings) and using these figures – they (the rules) seem pretty straightforward and fun having read them through twice.

I did finish of the car wrecks we prepared last week for the Terminator games we play and gave them a rather tired and rusty look to blend into the ruins we already have.

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The Little One set them up with some of the Terminator miniatures and we felt they passed the test!

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Having taken out the stuff we thought we might as well have a game.  We did not plan the Scenario too much, instead we had a “high level” situation where a platoon sized resistance force (Lt, 2 NCOs, 20 fighters) , supported by a Mortar team and two rocket launched equipped fighters, encountered a unit of 15 Endo Skeletons (1 Lvl 2 leader, 12 Normal ones, 1 with two Plasma Rifle and the star of the evening a skeleton with a flamer). Basically a “Beat the crap out of each other situation”. We used a few of the ruined building we had prepared earlier as well as the car wrecks.

It was a tight game and initially the resistance side managed to take out a fair few of the terminators before they fighting got close and the machines started dominating.  Below are a few of the before and after the flamer attack pictures.

And this was after I (yes I was the resistance and yes I lost yet again!) had almost knocked out the flamer unit with a single shot but did not manage to finish it off.

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Temporary harmless flamer unit but the resistance failed to take full advantage of the situation. Instead it was allowed to continue the carnage until a sticky bomb took it (and the user) down.

 

We both enjoy playing this game, I find it challenging for the resistance to be successful and things can turn nasty very quickly.  I still remember almost shitting myself in the cinema when I watched the beginning of Terminator 2 when the machine crushes the human skull with its feet (see the clip here if you do not remember – 42 seconds in).  As for the rules they really capture the feeling for the setting and work ok as they are.  I may tweak the activation slightly so that it is not certain that all units are activated in turn to add to the level of friction. Currently you activate between 0 to 2 figures (but can be modified with leaders) per pulse (part of a turn) but everyone activates.

Here are a few more pictures, have a good week.