Writing this about 2 months into the lock-down, it is surprising how long the days feel when you sit at a screen most of the day in a little room trying to keep things moving. As a consequence I have not really been tempted to sit down and do much blog updates but here is a go (I have a few more drafts I may be able to get out here and there). We have been lucky and all of us are well, but we have friends and family who has been affected badly by this Virus both directly and indirectly. The implication of this, I fear, will be more far reaching than we can yet imagine.
Anyway, I suppose that some kind of COVID-19 reflection is not what made you come and have a look. I have tried to reduce the lead mountain during this lock-down but inevitably I have done a few impulse purchases. One of these were the splendid sets of Fantasy ice hockey players produce by Brigade Games (link here).
They were a joy to paint and are really fine models, the only shame is that there are only 3 teams currently available. But I guess if you like these order some. Demand very often provokes supply.
There are some amazing detail in these models and I am not sure which one I like the most.
The next step was to decide what rules to use. I found two main contenders on the net:
Trick shot – the ice hockey board game (you can download it here – link worked 20/05/20). The PDF is sufficient to play the base game. It was a kickstarter and I do not think the game is officially out, the advanced game contains some additional cards that makes the game more varied. The game is a basic ice hockey game.
Dread Puck – a variant of the Fantasy Dreadball game (you can download it here – link worked 20/05/20. You would also need the Dreadball game to play.)
Having looked a both of these option I wanted to try out the trick shot rules and needed a board to play on – an ice hockey rink.
The game board for the game looks as follows.
I took a piece of blue foam I had in the garage and got to work.
Once it all had dried we made some special dice for the game (as you can find in the rule book), they are just blank dice that I painted the symbols on. I guess you could use small round labels and print on as well and then stick them on the dice. I also made some would markers made from acrylic 1mm bases – I just mixed some black and red ink (idea stolen fromhere). They have no actual use in the game – yet!
Anyway, we have had a few games now I we really enjoy it. It is a nice little diversion and relative quick to make. Have ordered a human team from Impact Miniatures. I will get back to you with a part 2 later and perhaps talk a little bit more about the rules. Anyway what follows is a fair few pictures from some of games we have played and some Fantasy Hockey League Promo shots.
/ I hope this was of some interest, stay safe and take care of each other.
You may recall this picture from some of the previous blog postings,
It shows some Birch trees I bought from NOCH and comes in a box of 7 for about £20 (if you shop around). The are ok, but I wanted to make another 30 of them, this would cost me another £80 and frankly I did not really thing it was worth it and thought that maybe I could do some cheaper. In a online interchange with Adam Bengtsson (@paganfury on twitter) he suggested using some poly fibre to make trees – I bought some and made a few trial trees, here is what I did.
I had a bundle of these tree armatures I had bought for another project some time ago.
I pruned them a little bit and painted them black, with a cheap acrylic paint.
Let dry and then a coat of white, do not paint the branches white.
Then some decorating with grey and black and some more white here an there, trying to make the illusion that it is a birch tree, there is no right or wrong here as the look varies. Leave the crown black as shown.
When the tree is dry take some green poly fibre (I got mine from Woodland Scenics) and carefully cover the tree with it, do not use too much (I probably will reduce the amount I use for my next batch).
Time to go outside and use some spray mount/adhesive – I did about 6-8 quick sprays (press and release, hold the trunk and avoid spraying on the trunk mainly hit the fibres) on each tree and after this covered them with some Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf (Light Green). I suggest you spray one tree then add the turf immediately. Do it with the bowl or a box under so you can re-use anything that does not stick to the tree.
I think they look great! (Currently based on some Washers but will think about what I do moving forward).
Ok there are a few issues to consider, so at least I can say I told you so.
Birch trees tend to have an overall thinner appearance than this method gives (the Noch Trees gives this illusion form a distance) – but for me these work.
They are a little bit fragile so I intend to buy some cheap hair spray and spray them a few times to seal them, this should make them more durable.
Anyway let me know what you think, nothing new really but this will allow a quick production of a lot of trees for, Say at a cost of less than £1 per tree compared to the £3 from the ones from Noch. I think they look better too.
Writing this after another day working from home during the Corona lock-down in Greater London – I am happy to report that my immediate and extended family are all ok. It all feels very surreal, and I hope as always that this blog will give you a few moments of being away from it all in a safe place.
More pictures from the Dalarna 1943 Project and being contacted by Swedish Radio
A note on my appearance on the Grognard Files
I was contacted by the Swedish Radio last week, their regional Dalarna branch, about this project and recorded a short thing for their morning show today. It made me happy, I hope I did not come across as too much of an idiot whenever it is being aired.
Here is a sound file containing the segment (in Swedish, aired 03 Apr 2020)
A lot of recent progress on this project as I have finished the third batch of Prints from Sabotag3d (link here). I am really happy to see that Paul has been shipping some round pole fences (gärdsgård) over to Sweden and consequently me not being the only one fascinated by this type of Fence. So if this appeals to someone get in contact with Paul and see what he can do for you, he makes these fences in 1/100 scale (15mm size miniatures) as well as for 28mm miniatures. But I suppose you can get them in any scale you like – it really takes us straight into the Dalarna landscape of old (and new) without to much leap of faith. We should also add that Paul also did a few damaged sections for me, to be used to illustrate the impact of an explosion or that a tank has driven through them.
Last time around we had done the basic village tiles and the round pole fences and it allowed to create something like this (there is a link here to an earlier blog that covers this is some detail and talks about the Falu Red colour used for the houses, etc).
For further detailing I wanted to have some mail boxes, typical of the Swedish country side. So I sent Paul the idea and as always he returned a fantastic little print (truth is that the state post box may not have had the colour scheme and the symbol at that time, but I felt it just needed to look that way).
Milk of course was collected differently in those days and milk churns would be standing on tables alongside the road, ready for collection on the morning.
The centre of the village is the Lanthandel that would sell you the supplies you needed.
And finally a little petrol station, probably not that operational due to rationing, but again a not to uncommon feature in the Sweden of 1943.
On top of this I have spent some time doing further features to add to the landscape and increase the immersion factor on the table.
We laid out another table and had a game with the Little One last weekend (using the Chain of Command rules by Too Fat Lardies, link here) and then we did a lot of shots of vehicles because we could.
A Little Game
Some random shots of Swedish WW2 Vehicles
The Grognard Files – First, Last and Everything
For you not familiar with the Grognard files here is Dirk’s own summary what it is all about (stolen from his webpage).
I’m Dirk the Dice and this is the GROGNARD files podcast, talking bobbins about table-top RPGs from back in the day and today. The Armchair Adventurers are small FRPG group that meet monthly in Bolton. We first got together thanks to a ‘small ad’ in WHITE DWARF in 1983. We got back together in 2010 to play Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep monthly for 3 years. Playing again reignited our passion for RPGs, so we returned to some more classic campaigns from our teenage years: RuneQuest BORDERLANDS, Traveller ADVENTURE, RuneQuest GRIFFIN MOUNTAIN and Call of Cthulhu FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH. Our interest began to shift towards what had happened to RPGs during our period away from the hobby.
I have been, in a friendly way, been pestering Dirk to do a podcast about the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game for a long time (check out #grogmerp on twitter if you do not believe me). Last month he released part 1 of the MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying) show and he asked me to do a “First, Last and Everything” segment for Part 2 – that is a presentation of my first, last and overall favourite RPG games. I went for (because it is true) the first being the old Swedish RPG game Mutant (from 1984) that I have written about here on a few occasions (link some of it here, here, here and here), MERP as it is the last one I played and you can find out more about it in the two Episodes below, my everything is the classic Call of Cthulhu Rpg.
Here are the links to the two parts of Episode 36 – Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP) with Liz Danforth:
I did write a script for my part and it is appended below would you be interested, it may be cool to listen to it first though.
/ As always I do hope that this was of some interest, stay safe during these and any other times
First, Last and Everything
Hi, My name is Per and I am delighted to deliver my first, last and everything. You can find me on Twitter as Per at RollaOne or on my blog rollaone.com.
It was 1984 and I was 12 and my slightly older cousin Mika was visiting us in our little provincial town in the heartlands of Sweden, Dalarna, where if you take the wrong fork you may come upon a lonely and curious country, in areas that remind you of some Lovecraftian environment – desolate, quiet and with the occasional character sneaking around, or looking through the windows with empty stares and some doors hanging on rusty and consequently noisy hinges blowing in the wind. These are places where they say shoot-dig-keep quiet – that kind of thing. I mean all that Nordic Noir crime stuff must have come from somewhere? But most of it are quaint red houses with white trimmings, surrounded by, wait for it, round pole fences.
He, my cousin, cajoled me into buying this new game that he had played called Mutant, a game set after the catastrophe in a future Scandinavia. You could play as mutated humans & animals or be a robot from the old time (but with a messed up memory bank, with a tendency to obey orders from pure humans or those who had not too obvious mutations – later I learned they were programmed to follow Asimov’s 3 robotic Laws). You could also be a PSI-mutant with mental powers, shunned by most people with or without fur. They were like magic users but very often with defects like madness or confusion triggered by failing to use a mental ability – making it very frustrating at times, or pure (non-mutated) humans considerable sturdier and more clever than we are today and with a patronising at best to a disrespectful view on mutants. The society that had risen was roughly at the technology level of the early 19th century – you could arm yourself with a musket if you had the cash but equally common were a baseball bat and an old bin lid, or traffic sign with a moose, as a shield. It was a more organised society than in movies like Mad Max – things had calmed down. There were forbidden zones to adventure in and the dungeon equivalent were old research labs or other underground facilities with the chance of finding old tech, crazy cyber computers, frozen people from the old times or mutated beasts – sometimes all at once. The dragon equivalent were giant beetles and land sharks that swam through the earth It was my fist role-playing game and we had never heard about anything like it and it also came with some funny looking dice, but no gaming board. Just a little cardboard sheet that was used to resolve whether the character understood what the old tech item he has just found was. My cousin had never GM:ed before and actually as it turned out he had never played the game – however he spent a day reading it and the following evening a few friends and I made some characters – mine a mutated moose, a hunter, with a big club and a musket – then he very ably played us through the introductionary scenario “Mission in Mos Mosel” until the small hours ….it was love at first play….
This game has evolved to what today is known as Mutant Year 0, and a number of the modern products has given more than a nod to the old modules and adventures.
However we quickly advanced to non-Swedish rpgs – it was not as cool to play the Swedish games – at least not in those days.
We went on a School trip to London in Year 9, this was 1987, and the trip was funded to not a small part of us selling loaves of home baked breads outside a local shopping centre and we also set up a school show and invited all the parents and students – I and yet another cousin and fellow gamer Sebastian played two drunk characters and we made some crap jokes pretending to be pissed and we had a grand finale with the song “Shut uppa you face”, by Joe Dolce. In London we, equipped with a Summer of earnings from working for the local council’s real estate department cutting lawns, bushes and collecting rubbish, delivering leaflets at weekends or selling the Sunday issues of a broadsheet newspaper, bought a lot of RPG games and modules from Orcs Nest (still on Earlham Street today), Games Workshop and The Virgin shop on Oxford Street. We got Judge Dredd, MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying Game), Call of Cthulhu, and “who ya gonna call” Ghostbusters, Top Secret, Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying and god only knows what else, I remember the only non-rpg stuff I bought was the God Save the Queen single by Sex Pistols and Bob Marley’s Exodus (movement of Jah people).
But also a shout out to the Amazing swedish shop Hobby Huset in Uppsala – they had an amazing selection of RPGs in their catalogue and excellent shipping service. We sometimes even took the 1.5 hour train trip and visited the cellar it was located in and got some strange stuff from the bargain bucket. It was this shop that really opened up the hobby for us country boys.
We played so much RPG games in our youth, in people’s houses but eventually in a shed with a heater that made it bearable. We hated splitting up the group as we had to stand outside in the bloody cold freezing our Dirks off (remember this was Sweden when we had proper seasons). Later we asked our school if we could use one of the class rooms in the evening and weekends and the head teacher gave us a key and we had a hell of a good time. We had a good group with a few changes along the way, but then playing in death metal bands, national service, university education, and moving abroad split the old gang. We had our ups and downs but now 30 years or so later I can only recall the positive aspects, so to my old Grogsquad Jonas, Petri, Sebastian, Tommy, Thomas, Magnus, Micke, Reidar, Erik, Petter, Christer, Anton, Fredrik and the guy who only came once and played Pendragon with us and anyone else I forgot, but also to my new Grogsquad the Adventurers Club led by Dirk, Blythy, Ed, and the Daily Dwarf, I raise my glass of vodka to you all!
Although there was a lot of fear mongering around the Rpg hobby in the mainstream media at the time, thinking we would become too introvert, turn into extremists or jump from buildings imagining we could fly, I think our parents were grateful for the fact that instead of being out drinking moonshine vodka, a speciality of the region, and making the town unsafe, we instead sat in the shed telling each other stories and rolling dice. I think we all turned out ok in the end.
In the day we shared the burden of Game Mastering in our Little but Merry band, but the longer campaigns were usually game mastered by myself or Jonas and one of the first games he ran was MERP – Middle Earth Roleplaying. Jonas was amazing with regards to preparing for campaigns and game sessions and his knowledge of Middle Earth was very deep – he had even read the Silmarillion and the Lost Tales! Later Jonas were to run a very long AD&D campaign (2nd Edition) and although I never really liked the system, his overall campaign with a mixture of shorter episodes, long running plots and reappearing protagonists was probably the best one I ever played. However back to MERP. The rules today feels old-fashioned, being a Lite version of the bigger Rolemaster System but at the time offered us some kind of balance between the always fragile characters in the basic Roleplaying system kind of game and rise of your AD&D characters toward immortality – with MERPs open-ended rolls there was always a chance that an opponent could score critical hits and do some substantial damage whatever the differences in character levels, armour class etc. You had to be careful and not every encounter would be a question of drawing a sword. And the magic system was definitely not Tolkienesque but then Jonas did not allow us to be wizards. But what was more on top of this and perhaps the real legacy of MERP was the many fantastic modules and not the rules. The modules had some fantastic drawings and amazing covers that shaped our vision of this amazing world. There were many talented artists contributing to these modules but for me there are two I would like to mention especially – first the legend Angus McBride who did some exceptional cover art for many of the MERP modules. The second artist is of course Liz Danforth who created an outstanding visual presentation of the various characters, races and creatures of this wonderful world, and by the way a big thanks to you Liz for your support to the #grogmerp campaign on Twitter. But there was more, the modules contained information about the people and lands and it felt like it stayed true to the lore but expanded where there were white spots. Herbs, requires a special mention, and were like modern mobile phone apps – there was an app, sorry I meant a herb for that. It is actually my last RPG, I played and a big part of my recent interest in the hobby.
However, there was only one game that I really really immersed myself into in the day and it was the Call of Cthulhu rpg – I guess it does not need any deeper introduction. The first time I played it was at the RPG club in my hometown that some of us used to go to and play as well as playing with the core group, the club was founded by Magnus Seter and Dan Algstrand who today are well known characters in the RPG Industry. It was an excellent way in getting to know likeminded and try out a wider array of games. The club even run a few conventions and I wrote the Call of Cthulhu Scenario for the first two – with the imaginary titles of – the Shadow in Darkness and the Dweller in the Shadow (You can actually find these on the net, but mind you they are written in Swedish). Our little band played some of the epic campaigns like the Fungi form Yuggoth (later more adequately renamed the Day of the Beast), the Spawn of Azathoth and even the Horror on the Orient Express – although our campaign derailed after a few stops. But for me it was the Arkham county series of books that really made the game come alive – we played scenarios in the Miskatonic Valley – in places straight from the Lovecraft stories like Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. The players included Professors working at the Miskatonic University, a PE teacher who could throw a javelin like no other, a retired Major from the British Army (yes he was a hell of a Marksman with his Webley Revolver), Private Investigators, a daredevil pilot and a Medical Doctor at the Arkham Asylym. The scenarios both readymade and homebrewed focused on local events – it made it more scary and intense when reoccurring NPCs asked for help, suddenly disappeared, ended up at the Asylum, or were found dead. When you could weave in characters family trees into the scenarios with the realisation that great grandfather Elijah Waitrose was a Cthulhu cultist or that Great Aunt Tess Collie was an adventurer lost in Dreamlands. As For anyone who may not be familiar with the literature I really recommend that you read the wonderful but not for the faint hearted stories like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “Escape from Innsmouth”, “The Whisperer in Darkness” and “The Colour out of Space” to name some of my favourites. Yes, having moved on more than 30 years from that initial fascination, I know that H.P. Lovecraft probably was a man I would end up arguing with in the pub – he was a racist, homophobe etc, revealed by studying his letter and analysing some of the stories – I get it! But I was never in it for that, I was in it for the chill, sense of hopelessness in a world full of unknown things that humanity at best had a very limited understanding of, the desperate fight against overwhelming odds of getting either permanently insane or ending up dead. The sheer joy of game mastering a group of seasoned investigators in gathering clues from libraries, local newspapers, speakeasies, weird locals, etc. They, the characters, were never flashing heroes with shiny armour and glimmering swords or caped crusaders flying the flag , they were mostly normal people who endlessly fought on. Call of Cthulhu is my everything!
The other day had a game of Chain of Command with a Swedish 1943 platoon fighting a German Infantry Platoon and I realised I had forgotten to do some Jump Off points – they are, as you may know, a key feature of the game.
In reality this could simply be a round marker with a symbol identifying whose marker it is. However, I prefer the opportunity to do something more and instead create a little bit of immersion. For the Winter War set-up we have been using the following markers – I especially like the Finnish ones with the skies – they are just strips of plastic slightly bent – and the poles -some cut pieces of brass rod. The idea was that the Finnish ones symbolised the swift and agile Finnish force, vs the more desperate and hopeless Sovietic one.
I also did some suppression/pin markers using some material from a filter trying to give the effect of flying debris from bullets hitting the terrain.
I think they worked well and you can find the full collection here(link).
Back to 1943… To do the Jump-off points I decided that the Swedish markers would have a bicycle on it – symbolising the good old Swedish Airconditioned Person Carrier (APC). I got the bikes from Peter Pig (link here). Other items came from a pack of German Stowage from Plastic Soldier Company (link here) and some Lorry Loads from QRF (link here). Some items came from the kit box (full of old crap) and I also cut a few helmets from a few spare figure to further Germanise the German jump-off points.
After a little bit of sand, paint, grass and some tufts, the look really well and will blend in on your table.
Using the same approach for the suppression / pinned markers, and using some brown material, dead branches from the garden and stones from the yard, we got the following collection.
Simple and cheap! – and if you do not have Stowage and other small pieces handy (I have bought many of these sets over the years for tank projects) use some green stuff or even a little bit of blue tac (you can add some superglue to protect it, if it is a not to big chunk) to make some rough shapes and then paint, wash and detail – it will look good.
If you have followed this blog you may recall that I have been working on a project relating to a “What-if” German invasion of Sweden in 1943 through the Dalarna County – where I “incidentally” was born and grew up. There is a good summary of where I got to with this project to date in a previous blog post (link here).
Dalarna, Sweden in 1943 does not look like Normandy or the Eastern Front and one of the challenges to create the immersion is to create an overall look that feels right. A lot of the existing wargames buildings and terrain are not suitable for this theatre – the Normandy buildings looks totally out of place whilst the typical eastern European houses, whilst in wood, does not neccesarily have the right look (the common thatched roof on many of these houses are not really suitable). However I have found a few houses, barns etc that will fit.
The house on the left in the picture and the excellent round pole fences are made by Paul Edwards. Paul does some amazing work (Sabotag3d.com) and future blogposts will show more of the stuff he has been doing for me once I have painted them up.
The other houses shown in the pictures above and below are from Timecast (Eastern European 15mm buildings, link here) and Ironclad Miniatures (link here).
I have also, previously, talked about the typical red colour that was predominant, and still is, in the area – The Falu Red Colour (Falu Rödfärg).
Although the paint fell out of favour in the Urban areas during the 18th century the paint still survived and in the countryside, even today, is still the dominant type of colour.
The origins of the pigments used for this paint was a rest product from the process of calcination of copper ore at the Mines in Falun, in the Dalarna county. In the 16th century it was found that these pigments mixed with lineseed oil and rye flour worked as an excellent anti-weathering and preservative when applied to wood.
The Falu mine itself deserves a mention as it operated for 2000 years and at its most productive phase in the 16-17th century it produced more than 60% of the copper in Europe. It even had its own regiment (with some infantry and cavalry units) during the Scanian War and Great Northern War era.
Every School child in the county visits the mine to learn about its glorious past – today it is not longer a working mine but a fantastic museum with a permanent exhibition as well as the opportunity to travel down to the depths of the mine.
Farm tiles and Gas Wood Cars
As easy way to integrate your built up sections is to make tiles for a building or a set of buildings. This allows a more defined look on the table and makes the buildings blend in better in your layout. I made mine from adhesive floor tiles from Poundland (they are made from vinyl) some acrylic paste (caulk) and sand.
Start by marking up where you want your buildings to go. I also consider the size of the fencing around the farm.
Then it is time to start the messy bits, with acrylics, sand and paint.
But what about these strange cars? Well if you study cars during this era, not just in Sweden you will notice the strange burners on other arrangements attached to the cars. These are utilising wood gas to power the vehicle due rationing of fossil fuels. I have rarely seen these on WW2 tables but very often in pictures so I made a few (based on some Kinder Egg vehicles I bought off ebay).
A game of Chain of Command
A few weeks ago the Little One and I had a small CoC (Chain of Command) infantry vs infantry game (with a tank each) mainly to test out the terrain and how it all looked together, we have a blast and we were really happy with the overall look.
I will let the picture talk for themselves.
Whilst I love playing in Normandy or the Eastern Front I have to admit that there is something special for me with this project in terms of passion and immersion. For this table all it really took was a type or Fence and the colour of the houses to transport us straight to Dalarna 1943.
Yes the whole thing is made up but I am trying to make the rest of it justice. As you may have figured out by now immersion is very important for all the projects I do. It takes an extra effort, but an effort I am more than happy to make.
If you have a what-if idea or a project based on some obscure location spend some time reflecting on how things looked – study photos and find those key elements that immediately gives it away – that is your primary focus for your wargames table. If these items do not exist – consider making them yourself or contact someone like Paul who has the talent to design something in 3d for your, make it printable, print and send it to you! (Sabotag3d.com).
I have had a busy start of 2020 – not the kind of busy I would have wished for but that is how things are sometimes. The lack of blog posts is as a direct consequence to this but I have decided to force myself to pick it up and perhaps publish something every second week as a minimum.
Gosh, the last blogpost was on the 26th December, back in 2019 (If you still remember that year). Although I have been silent here I have actually made some significant progress on the hobby front – so there is a backlog of stuff to write about on the various projects. We will start with the current Big(ish) project – Lund 1676.
Swedish Infantry at Lund 1676
Today we turn back to the Scanian War and the Swedish Infantry that fought at Lund 1676. As for all my Scanian War models I have used the eminent book, Scanian War 1675-1679, Colours and Uniforms, by Lars-Eric Höglund (2002), as my primary source for colours and uniform details – it is not complete but covers most of the detail you may need.
Most of the Uniform detail in the book is straightforward, or in some cases not known, however the entry for the Gestrike-Hälsinge Tremänningar was interesting as it stated “1676: 19 men had yellow coats, 63 green, 50 gray, 53 brown, 38 musk-colored, 15 blue, in addition 2,240 alnar gray pjuk was issues to sew uniforms”. The reason for the different uniform is that this was not a standing regiment and had been raised because Sweden was at war – it is likely that they were issues with spares until they got their uniforms (possibly grey based on the information). So at Lund, late 1676, they may all have been dressed in fresh Uniforms, or maybe there was not time to get that sorted… Well since every other regiment will be in uniform uniforms I thought I go for the latter option. I simply painted the 24 unit base in the same ratio as the different colours above – I think it looks smashing.
We are rushing away… Sorry, the following infantry regiments were present at Lund.
Name of Regiment
Here some pictures of these…
Flagging up your infantry
This is the method I use to attach the flags/standards to the unit.
It has been a little bit of a strange year with a lot of pressures making it difficult to devote as much time as I would like to the hobby – but in retrospect and upon reflection I seem to have been doing a lot more than I thought. I had lots of fun with the hobby and that is what it is there for!
This is a summary blog of the year and contain some additional pictures not covered in any published blogs. I hope you will find this review interesting. I take my hat off for all of you who engage with the blog directly, follow the roll a one page on faceboook (Roll a One, @rollaonepage) or the Per at RollaOne feed on twitter – It really matters to me – so thank you very much. I had as an unwritten rule to do a blog every week, this year I have managed to do 41 blog posts – so I failed the objective but I am happy with that. I could easily have dragged this one out over a few blogs with the extra material but wanted to make a long one of this last one.
The most popular blog post this year was this one detailing how you can enhance your 6mm, or any scale, pictures using your computer screen. Bleeding obvious to me but a lot of people have found it useful!
This blog post has a lot of pictures and links (these are the underlined sections, they lead directly to the blog post I am talking about) and basically covers:
Poltava 1709 and Joy of Six 2019
Battle of Lund 1676 project
Gaming with the Little One and a book from Henry Hyde
WW2 What-if Invasion of Sweden in 1943 and roundpole fences
The Mutant 1984 Project and our Christmas Mutant Dinosaur Hunt
Being on Podcasts and some other stuff
Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six 2019
This was the culmination of a three year project covering the Russian Campaign of the Great Northern War and this year I presented Poltava 1709 at Joy of Six show in Sheffield. This has been a fantastic project and this 16 by 5 feet table actually made me somewhat emotional when I first put it up on the Show (but then each one is pretty special at the time). I did plenty of blog posts about the project this year, you can find them below. We will put up the table again in 2020 at Salute in April. This project was done using 6mm Baccus miniatures.
Here are some of the blog-posts covering this topic ( The last few are the finished article the others about how various elements were done).
Gaming with the Little One and a book from Henry Hyde
I have had immense pleasure in engaging with the Little One yet again this year in painting, playing games and going to a few events together. He even wrote a review of the Airfix Battles Rules and about his day at Salute on the Blog. When I asked him about the highlights this year he told me that it was the book he was sent by Henry Hyde, the day we had playing Mike Whitaker’s Omaha game and doing the Star Wars Legion miniatures (more in the links at the end of this section).
The Little One and I met Henry Hyde at Salute (who of course wrote the Wargames Compendium, was the editor for Miniature Wargames & Battlegames and now runs the Battlegames Patreon Site that I am a supporter of, see link here https://battlegames.co.uk/patreon-supporters/ . Please check it out as there is a lot of good stuff there in terms of podcasts, videos and articles – whether you are a supporter or not).
On the way back Max realised that the Henry we had met was the same guy that had written the Wargames Compendium, a book he really loves, and said that he should have asked for an autograph. I mentioned this to Henry and a few days later, to our great surprise and delight, a parcel arrived with a letter and a book.
It is was an enormously generous gesture and one of those moments I think the Little One will carry with him for his whole life – many thanks Henry! The Little One then read the Featherstone book and wrote a letter he sent to Henry that made me really proud.
Many thanks for sending me the Donald Featherstone book, it was very kind of you and it made me feel very special. I like the words you wrote and I will keep this book forever. It has taken me some time to finish the book as I have had a few other things going on.
I enjoyed the introduction where he writes about ‘what wargaming is’ and also the overview of the different periods for wargaming – my favourite period is WW2. You have so many different aspects of things going on – on land, in the air, on and under the water and you are not sitting around in a trench for four years as in the Great War. At the very end of the book he writes something I really liked! “General Sherman, of American Civil War fame, is quoted as saying, ‘War is Hell’. So it is, and perhaps the wargamer, seeing just how helpless his little plastic figures are against the dice simulated effects of cannon and muskets, will appreciate more than ever the utter futility of real war.”
I also have a copy of your book, The Wargaming Compendium, and I think it is the best book a wargamer can get as it covers everything you need to know. In particular I like the chapter on understanding sizes, scales and chance. I love the picture on page 17 showing the different scales.
I hear you are writing another one and I hope it is going really well!
I know you like the Horse and Musket period so I thought you might like this Kings Carabineer from the Battle of Blenheim 1704 and a book about the Battle of Poltava.
WW2 What-if Invasion of Sweden in 1943 and roundpole fences
Some further works was done for the 1943 German invasion forces and defending Swedes. Making some transports for the Swedes with some tanks (including conversions) and a large number of German soldiers and vehicles. I also updated the Chain of Command list for the Swedes. More in the blog posts below (that is also including a note on the visit I did to Dulwich playing Chain of Command at the Warlords Lardy Day – thanks Iain!).
One of the best things that happened to this project this year was the roundpole fences developed by Paul Edwards (@Amaz_ed on Twitter if you want to contact him, or let me know and I will pass it on) that will enable me to give that special feel of gaming in Scandinavia/Nordic much in the same way as Snake Rail fencing indicate a wargame in North America.
How is this relevant to you if you do not play anything in Norway, Finland, Sweden or Estonia (where these fences are common) – well according to some theories they were in use during Viking times so if you are doing Dark Age wargaming (or Colonials as we Norse call it). So if you want to create that little Norse settlement in your Saga game or some other game including some Vikings and want to make it feel a little bit special than maybe this beautiful fencing will be an idea.
I asked Paul if he could help me out and quicker than I could say Gärdsgård – the name of the fence in Swedish – I now have 4-5 meters of it and I hope you agree it looks good.
The ones I have has been made for 15mm but Paul can make some in 6mm and 28mm too.
These are the ones I will be using for my Scanian War project.
These are a few in 28mm with some Mutant 1984 characters.
Paul also does some gate options.
I have also found a reasonable Vallejo mix for Falu Rödfärg.
Here are some postings for the Swedish WW2 project (as in all my posts there is plenty of pictures in each of them). The next step is to produce two half-sized campaign for Chain of Command (or any other Platoon based set of rules).
In addition we had a special Xmas game this year based on a vote we did on Twitter where the Mutant 1984 Dinosaur won the Day (beating Winter War, Swedish invasion 1943 and a “proper” GNW battle!). We used a variant of the The Men who Would be King rules (the same as in the Border Skirmish above) and it was a fun game with two factions of soldiers and hunters trying to take out as many Monsters as possible (2 Dinosaurs, a Giant Beetle, a Four armed Gorilla, 2 Swedish Tigers, a Dark Young of Stubb-Nigarakan) whilst fighting each other. I did not do a write-up but instead I have included a bunch of pictures from the game.
The Swedish (Sabre Tooth) Tigers are based on the Swedish Wartime information Poster stating “En Svensk Tiger” that means both “a Swedish Tiger” and “a Swede Shuts-Up”.
Being on Podcasts and some other stuff
Any regular reader of this blog will know that I have a few wargaming podcasts that I like to listen to whilst I paint and model – these are in no particular order the Veteran Wargamer, The Lardy Oddcast, Meeples and Miniatures, Havoc Cast Podcast, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, Wargames Recon, Henry Hyde’s Battlechats and God’s Own Scale Podcast. They are all excellent and whilst I occasionally listen to others, those are my solid ones I will try to listen to every time (I listen to a fair few more non-wargaming stuff like the eminent Grognards RPG Files and We have ways and Audible books).
This year I have been humbled by having been asked to come on three of these shows and talk about stuff mainly relating to the 6mm work I have been doing, but also about wargaming with children and my great passion – the Great Northern War.
A few weeks ago Neil Shuck announced that he will stop the Meeples and Miniatures podcast as he has reflected on the time it takes to do the show and other priorities like gaming with friends etc. Meeples and Miniatures has, in my opinion, become like a wargaming (and Meeples) institution and its legacy is enormous and Neil and the other presenters (Mike, Mike, Dave, Rich and all the guest presenters) should be enormously proud of having created this. I felt so honoured to be asked to attend the show and had a blast – so much that it was enough to fill two episodes (sorry!, but thanks Neil and Mike for having me).
When I listened to Sean Clarke’s episode 0 and he declared that one of his inspirations to starting his blog (focusing on 6mm an history) was the work I have been doing with this blog – it made that and many days last year. I contacted him and asked if I could come and talk to him and we had a great time talking about the 6mm stuff I have been doing but also getting an idea of Sean Clarke’s upcoming WW1 project for Joy of Six in 2020. This is another excellent show and I really like all the episodes to date with many friends from the 6mm trenches. The show with Robert Dunlop (No 3.) is one of the best Podcasts I heard last year. Thanks Sean for my second outing this year – I had an absolute blast.
Henry’s Battlechat has very quickly built up an impressive catalogue of podcasts with a wide range of guests from the industry, rules designers, miniatures producers, artists, book publishers, academics, etc. I have stolen parts of Henry’s intro for this:
“Per is a wonderful ambassador of the hobby, friendly, approachable, intelligent and with a dry sense of humour that you might only notice when you’re halfway out of the door after meeting him! (Watch out for his comment about the Dark Ages being “Scandinavian colonial”!) Here, then, is this Swedish superstar of the hobby in full flow, waxing lyrical about 6mm gaming, the Great Northern War and other Scandinavian conflicts of the 17th and 18th centuries, making snow-covered terrain and the joys of being a wargaming parent.”
Finally I would like to say that my favourite wargaming thing this year was the visit I did to Evesham and OML7 (Operation Market Larden No. 7) – Thanks to Ade et al for this. I met so many nice people and had a fantastic time playing some great games.
80 years ago Finland was fighting for its independence against Soviet Union in what has become known as the Winter War. The war has a personal connection to me as the family on my mother’s side is Finnish. We have therefore fought a few battles using the Chain of Command rules to honour and remember the people on both sides who fought and died in this war.
The war started with a Soviet Invasion of Finland without a declaration of war on the 30th November 1939, the war ended 105 days later on 13th March 1940. More than 25,000 Finnish died and many were wounded. At the end of the War Finland was still an independent state but had lost about 10% of its territory and 12% of the population lost their homes and where re-settled. The Soviet Union’s losses were far higher and somewhere in the order of 150,000. The campaign was badly planned and conducted by the Soviets and the Finns fought bravely and with great skill.
Here are few pictures from one of these battles, somewhere along a country road…
Some of you have been here before may know that I have a sweet spot for the Swedish Roleplaying game Mutant from 1984. It was my first encounter with a Roleplaying game and it blew my mind away. We, the Little One and I, have been looking for some rules to use for some miniature gaming in this world and one of the rule sets we have been trying has been the Mutant and Death Ray Guns (MDRD) from Ganesha Games. We really enjoy them and with a few modifications as detailed below we can have a damn good time.
Here is the standard intro I have been using for the Mutant (1984) world:
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.
Notes on our take on the rules
War has been raging on for 200 years and the planet lies devastated after countless weapons of mass destruction has been set free. A new dark age has started.
"After mankind’s self-inflicted downfall, other beings strive for dominance. Humanoid mutants, androids, mutated plants and animals fight each other for resources such as water, weapons, fuel and food. It’s a brutal world that knows no hope or respite. A world with only two kinds of inhabitants: those who perish and those who survive." (from the introduction to the rule book)
The rules are based on the famous Song of Blades and Heroes engine, it plays in about an hour, it is a small skirmish games and normally uses a handful of characters (5) per side. There is a random system of generating characters or a points system can be used – this is especially useful for matching the miniatures you have.
The different character types are: • Pure Humans • Mutants • Mutant Animals • Mutant Plants • Androids • Robots • Wretched (like Zombies)
These match very well to the Mutant 1984 universe and most things are relative easy to build using these rules. Each type has different access to weapons/equipments and traints, etc.
Activation is based on each player choosing to activate a model to do 1 to 3 action, for action a die is rolled and a score is needed to be successful for each die. If two failures are recorded the turn goes over to the opponent. This means that all models can perform at least one action without risk (you only roll one die, if you fail that is only one failure). For two actions there is a risk of two failures and in addition if going for three actions the risk increases of having at least two failure meaning the turn is over for the player. This is a fun part of the system as it forces the player make some choices. Combat is straightforward.
We have been a little more liberal with the points system than suggested in the book in terms of building the characters. We have allowed the mutants a wider choice of skills and equipment to reflect the fact that the world is a little more stable and the mutants/animals are perhaps a little less feral than suggested in the MDRG world setting as written. We had great fun in doing this together, based on some of the many models we have.
In addition we have introduced primitive firearms (single shot rifles, musket, blunderbuss, etc) based more or less on the rules in the Songs of Drums and Tomahawk rules (another great rule set from Ganesha Games).
We have added these to the Ranged Weapons table as follows:
Musket (2H), Range – Long, Combat – Users, Multiple Shots – No (Pts cost 4)
Rifle (2H), Range – Long, Combat – Users+1, Multiple Shots – No (Pts cost 5)
Pistol, Range – Short, Combat – Users, Multiple Shots – No (Points cost 4)
Blunderbuss (2H), Range – Short, Combat – Users+1, Multiple Shots – No (Pts cost 5)
In addition these primitive firearms require two consecutive actions to reloading (in the same turn). In addition the blunderbuss works like a shotgun in the rules (just less efficient and with the loading constraint).
We bought the MDRG rules in PDF format from Ganesha Games homepage, link here, they are $8. Splendid value for money and highly recommended.
Here are some example forces we have used in some of our games.
The Pyri Commonwealth Patrol
This gang is a regulary military patrol of The Pyri Commonwealth’s finest – the Riflemen.
They have been tracking a gang of Cocks that have been pestering the locals using technology from the olden days, killed several and caused property damage. Their objective is to stop the gang and seize their high tech weapons – with unconditional force if so required. The unit is only armed with old style weapons apart from Rifleman Hayya who has an old tech sniper rifle. The unit has to rely on its stealth and shooting accuracy to win over the more heavily armed opposition – but not forgetting about its hidden asset, the slow but deadly Rifleman Lacoste.
On Saturday the Little One and I had a real treat as we were invited to Mike Whittaker’s Mill Studios (@TaTM_blog on twitter) to play the eminent Omaha Beach game that we had missed to play at Salute this year (see link here). The Little One, Andy (who built the terrain but never played the scenario) and I played the American Side, we were being skillfully empired by Mike who also played the Germans. We
The scenario is from the excellent IABSM scenario book called “Where have you been boys” and can be bought from the Too Fat Lardies website here.
This is scenario Six and in the book and promises “The game will be nasty, bloody and gritty, it shouldn’t be anything else”. It takes place at the eastern end of Omaha beach (Colleville-Sur-Mer) and involves the US 1st Infantry Division – the Big Red One. This is very much the scenes from Saving Private Ryan stuff. The scenario shows the difficulties on the day and for this kind of operation in general. The Germans have relative little Firepower but are in very good protected position whilst the Americans are mainly in the open up to the shingles of the beach, then protected by the cliffs before having to be in the open again trying to get through the wires and mine fields.
The US forces, just like on the day come in waves, and basically first wave took a lot of damage, so did the second but managed to clear some wires and take out some of the nests form a distance, then the final and third wave started to turn the balance. It was a different wargame in that most of the time, from our American side, was spent hoping that the next barrage of artillery, HE guns, sniper fire and MG would not wipe the whole section out and that some of the men who survive and get to the shingles and momentarily be safe. The two Sherman tanks who had made it to the beach did provide some initial fire power but they were soon taken out. It was very sobering and certainly kept to the promise in the scenario book, as it was indeed “nasty, bloody and gritty” and leaves you with a lot of reflection on the terrors facing the men on that day. We had to leave just as the third wave had arrived, but at this time it looked like the first part of the job was done, at least on the side of the beach I was not responsible for (luckily Andy and the Little One had cleared a lot of wire on their side of the board).
Mike had added a few features like General Norman “Dutch” Cota, coming as part of the second wave, who was useful in rallying and getting some moving on where needed and also Robert Capa who took some iconic photos.
A few other memorable moments was the first shot from the Sherman leading to one of the guns in the bunker getting out of action and the off–table German 88 being taken out by some Royal Navy guns very early. In addition the effect of artillery and the way it works is really effectful and realistic (as is the use of HE weapons) leading to units becoming pinned and stopped in their tracks – not based on casualties in itself – I really like this (keeping your head down). Some of my units arrived without leaders and it was difficult to get these men up to beach to do their job – the unit with the leaders fared better but I was let down by some bad dice rolling (rolling ones, who would have believed that!).
What follows are a lot of pictures from the day. I believe that Mike will be doing a write up of his thoughts from having played the scenario a number of times in the upcoming Lard Magazine that will be out later in the year.
All the miniatures were from Battlefront!, except for a few Peter Pig casualty markers.
As for the Little One and I? I think we both would be tempted to do something similar perhaps in 6mm?, one day!
It was a great day indeed, thanks for having us Mike.
This weekend I and the Little One tried out a version of the Men who would be Kings rules by Dan Mersey, we played the Skirmish version (kind of, we actually played it like we had 12 figures per unit although we only used 6 models, but we needed two figures worth in terms of damage to remove a model) with some borrowed items from the FOCH WW1 rules adaptation that you can download from Wargames Illustrated here (covering Tanks, anti-tank guns and squad LMGs). We call it the Mutants who would be Emperors – as it is set in the weird world that is my take on the Mutant universe as presented in the Swedish Rpg from the 1980s (your Mutant may vary, more here).
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 early 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.
In short anything goes, it is a world that has started to re-build itself with a technology level of about 18th century give and take but there are some old tech weapons floating around – this is represented by the three different level of firearms in the rules (antiquated rifles, rifled muskets, bolt action rifle, basically differing in terms of range. We may review this moving forward and consider some reloading rules), basically giving each model using one of these a 2d6 (as we are using 6 per unit) in terms of rolling for damage. For other weapons (automatic weapons, lasers, etc) we assume them having a damage of 5d6 (each LMG costs 1 point) – this gave some units we used a very high fire power rating – being difficult to take down but not impossible for a unit prepared to charge in and fight hand-to-hand. We also used a tank and anti-tank gun in line with the FUCH rules.
The scenario was a straightforward fight between two border detachments, one from the large Pyri-Commonwealth and the other from the small but proud Jemtland north of the Pyri-Commonwealth, during the short but eventful Yran Hostilities that almost led to an outright war in the year 96 (or 2550 if you still count in AD).
The Pyri-Commonwealth side has stopped to re-supply at a depot that is well stocked with water and other essentials, very close to the entrance to a small forbidden zone in the Hamra region in the northern part of the Pyri-Commonwealth. The depot is run by the Nicholas von Rijn trading company and a good deal has been made, a few drinks have been had and there are rumours that Furir Dozibugger has had a few too many already (Typical for the Pertorian Guard – elite status in what?, drinking and hazard gaming). There has been reports about some mutated monsters in the area – a walking murder tree and a giant beetle – both are very aggressive towards humans and extremely dangerous. There is enough firepower in the detachment to take them down but invariably a few men or women would have to put their lives on the line in case of an encounter – and they do not fight with caution. Suddenly the Rifle units comes back running, they report movements on the other side of the old ruins – “It is those damn Jemts again. Prepare for engagement…. to arms, man the tank and attack!”.
These are the units we used for this battle:
The Pyri Commonwealth Detachment
The Jemtland Detachment
And of course the wandering monsters, they will attack anything moving within 6 inches and anything firing at them with a movement of 6″+1d6, attacks at 4+ and will deliver 12d6 worth of damage as well as taking 12 points of damage (both counting as being in light cover due to protective bark and scale). The murder tree is from Fenris Games (a dark young of Shub-Niggurath – link here) and the Giant Beetle a plastic toy (made in China) that I was gifted by Michael Leck.
What follows in not a AAR but a set of pictures from the fighting, with some comments, as we were mostly using this to try out the rules – we had a blast playing and the craziness of it all really adds to the fun! What made it even better was that the Little One had done most of the planning and I just had to, more or less, sit down and play. We plan to run the game again and perhaps we will do a better narrative of the battle then.