Following on from some discussions I have followed on twitter recently (@Roll_a_One) I wanted to write a short note about two things about wargame shows that triggered a little bit of deeper thought than I normally allow myself. Also helped by the fact that I have spent more time than I ever wanted on delayed trains this week and have had no chance to do anything practical hobby wise, here we go.
1. The Show walkthrough
2. Demo vs. Participation Games
The Show Walkthrough
I had the following amusing situation (well at least in my view) at Salute a few years back (it was when Nick Dorrell and I demonstrated the Fraustadt 1706 game):
“Do you mind if I take a picture of the table?”, a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera asks politely.
“Not at all!, are you familiar with the Battle of Fraustadt or the Great Northern War?”, me leaning in and hoping for some kind of interaction.
“Not at all!”, the man says taking a few shots form above and then moving away from me trying to zoom in on one of the Saxon infantry bases and his camera takes some time to autofocus (the lighting being unforgivable in the Salute hall).
“The models are from Baccus and they are mostly from their Great Northern War range, they are 6mm. Those Saxons are from their War of Spanish Succession range as the Saxons wore similar uniforms to the Western Europeans”, me moving closer and leaning even deeper.
“Couldn’t paint anything so small”, moving onto the Swedish side and taking another quick succession of shots and then a close-up of some of the cavalry bases, with the same issues with the autofocus.
“This is the decisive Battle of the Saxon campaign of the Great Northern War and as a direct consequence Charles XII managed to obtain a peace treaty with Augustus II the Strong of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin was Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. after 6 years of war”, me getting very excited and with sweeping arm movements I am set up to transfer this essential knowledge of history to the man with the camera.
“Sorry not really interested, I am just taking pictures for my blog. Do you mind moving a little bit so I can take a picture showing the name of the Battle”, he interrupted me, I moved surprising swiftly out of his firing arc, he took his snap and then proceeded to the next table repeating the procedure.
I put my waving hands behind my back and carried on! I reflected on the fact that he would never know that the marshland on the Saxon/Russian left flank was moss from my garden baked in the oven then soaked with pva glue, that the hedges around the field were made from green scourers, that the reason the line was not straight were due to a miscalculation on the available space between the two villages by the Saxon Commander, that the Saxons/Russian had been standing in their position for ages and were freezing their balls off, that the reason I painted the Russians in Red Coats was that they had turned their coats inside out to look like Saxons, etc.
I was interrupted in my thoughts as another a middle-aged man with a beard that would be called trendy nowadays with a smart looking camera came towards the table. I got my lean-in position ready.
The incident above made me laugh and I reflected on these unsung heroes rushing around taking pictures of stuff not for themselves but to share with other people who may be interested but not able to attend themselves – it s a great service and sacrifice! So to the Man with the Camera – thanks for doing this and sorry for retelling the story in what may be confused with irony or some kind of bitterness.
I find myself invariably drawn into a wargames table (yes we are drifting back towards that kind of thing again) and I am keen to understand what is going on and very often how things have been done and how it works – I am kind of into this hobby you see. It is not always obvious and I like it when a table either gives a nice history/story lesson and/or gives a great game – I love it when it does both. I also like nice terrain and clever solutions mainly with regards to decluttering the table of makers and instead using inventive markers that blend in with the table – it helps the immersion.
It is a lot of hard work and research behind most of the games that are presented at shows and my best advice when going to a show is to stop and talk to people and learn more. If you are shy just stand next to someone who seems to be part of the group until they are free and I bet someone will start talking to you. Grab a handout and ask, they did not just come to show of their game as a flashy post card in an album of many – let them give you its soul and perhaps you will fall in love with it to. Perhaps you could share this experience to the world with a little write-up and maybe a picture or two trying to convey what you felt about the game as a whole – not just what it looked like. I think we need a few more Walkthrough Reflectionists too – the slow walkthrough. Beauty, it is said, is only a paint layer deep!.
Are Demonstration Games the Opposite to Participation Games?
Some groups putting on games seem to treat shows as an outing and any passers-by as a distraction. They face inwards and normally seem to have entrenched themselves with everything they need for the day within reach – they are there to play their game with themselves. Luckily, I think these ones are in decline.
When Nick (Dorrell) and I do our Great Northern War battle we do them as demonstration games, but you can participate for as long as you like. Perhaps to try out some of the mechanisms of the game, we never expect to play the game to its conclusion – although, as a notable exception, we managed to finish Klissow 1702 a few years back at Joy of Six. The game is there as a discussion point in our case about the Battle itself, the rules we are using, the origins of miniatures and terrain, how we painted it and built it, etc. We have roles – I talk about the terrain and the miniatures (having painted and built it), Nick does the rules questions (having developed the latest set of the Twilight of the Sun King rules), we both talk about the Great Northern War (both being passionate about it). Anyone else helping gets a role depending on what they know, normally they will keep the game going.
Some time ago I heard, or perhaps read, Richard Clarke (one of the Too Fat Lardies) saying that he does not run dumbed down versions of the rules at shows to make it easy – he runs his rules as they come. I think it is important to reflect on this in how you want to present your game. I have had a lot of fun playing some game specific rules in 30 minutes at many shows, but we cannot run the Battle of Fraustadt in 30 minutes with the rules we are using – Sorry! Therefore we need to engage in a different view.
They key with a show game, in my opinion, is that it is should be there to engage with others should they want to. Have handouts to give out or to refer to, bring some books about the period (it always looks impressive) or props. We want people to get a feel for whether this kind of game, period, miniatures used, etc is something for them. Scaring people away will not showcase your particular niche of the hobby and to be honest it is at your own detriment.
Demonstration games should not be the opposite to participation games – you actually have to work as hard, or perhaps harder, interacting with the visitors. What the hell are you demonstrating? It is your flippin’ job on the show mate!, you may not get paid but you are taking up space.
Let me know what you think!
By the way, you have a chance to see whether this engagement talk is just bullshit at Joy of Six next week as Nick and I are putting on a table. You are free to ignore us, come by and take a photo and just go, or to stay around and ask a few questions if there is something of interest, or even stay and roll some dice for a while. We are happy to engage with you at any level you want.
We will be putting on a 9 by 12 table with 250 bases of the finest Russia and Sweden had to offer in 1708! – Horka 1708.
Check it up here. And here some background on the table we are putting on, but there are 22 other games ranging from ancients to sci-fi and pretty much anything in-between.
It has been some busy weeks since the last update on this mat business. Had time to go to a 50th birthday party, visit the Tower with the kids, Father’s day celebration, some relaxation by the river and starting a new Job. However I have done some progress on the 12 by 5 feet battlement, or the hairshirt as I call it, that I will march my soldiers on at the Joy of Six on the 15th July.
I managed to do the dry brushing for most of the mat, I use the normal three colours on top of the chocolate brown I have used for the last 10 years or so. It may not be the best combination but serves to tone down the cholate brown and the final light yellow is very effective. All my stuff, terrain, model bases, etc. fits together, it is done with the same colour and even the static grass (I use the two tones of green that Kalistra sells).
Here is my best advice for doing the dry brushing of the mat, use a small brush (not a paint brush) and take your time, change direction, small brush strokes. Dry brush to scale!
I prefer a little bit of patchy application of the grass areas as I want parts of the base mat to be seen, you may like it differently. This is a messy process as it is difficult to turn around the mat to shake the excess of with this big mat without causing major mayhem – with static fibres flying everywhere. When I did my 2 by 2 boards I used to shake them in a large plastic bag. Now I use a bagless vacuum cleaner (make sure it is empty before you start) but it is not a perfect process. I also detailed up the river and used some high gloss varnish on top. This is how it ended up (note the darker grass areas are to be filled with trees on the day) and I am very happy – apart from the real estate, bridges and trees it is all in the mat.
So apart from making some bridges (5 No.) I think we are ready to go and I can fit the roll in the car….
the trees are ready….
and so are the men…
Joy of Six 2018 we are ready for you, I hope to see you there (link here).
First a big thank you to all of you who either come by here by chance, occasionally, have registered as followers of the blog, likes the Roll a One page on facebook and/or follow the Per at RollaOne account on twitter (@Roll_a_one). Please feel free to get in touch here, on Facebook or Twitter if you have any questions or comments on this or anything else. Just doing this for fun, thanks for making it more so. Now without further ado…
It has become a tradition in doing a battle board for Joy of Six as a start of the Summer in our house. For the last few years I have made 8 by 4 feet tables for my GNW stuff, but this year I came to the conclusion that I needed a 12 by 5 feet beast (more on the battlefield and how it was derived can be found in a previous blog post, click here).
For the first generation of boards (Fraustadt 1706, Klissow 1702, Gadebush1712 and Kalisz 1706) I used 8 No. 2 by 2 feet mdf boards with underfloor heating boards (blue styromfoam) on top that could be shaped to rivers and hills, etc. This created more sturdy individual blocks but it takes a lot of space, especially when you start getting a fair few of them. There is also a question of warping and its impact on the gap between the boards, unless you make very sturdy ones.
In the process of needing to make two smaller tables (4 by 3 feet) for running Saga in 6mm at Joy of Six in 2016 I tried out a method I had seen on the net. This used a canvas sheet covered in a mix of paint, acrylic sealant and sand (see my notes from then here). This worked really well and creates a mat with some nice texture on top that can be dry brushed and decorated very much in the same way as I would do with the boards (and you can also incorporate roads and rivers directly into the mat).
This is the mat I did last year and apart from the houses, trees, bridges, some small elevation markers and miniatures, all the features are in the 8 by 4 mat and it makes set-up very quick (here are some notes on that process here , here, here and here) – no gaps!
I decided to have another go with the mat approach this year and got myself some backed dust sheet from Screwfix here in the UK (I did get some before but it was not backed, so I kept this for some other day). The reason I use the backed version is that the backing (a layer of plastic/poly) stops the paste going through the sheet when it is applied and I also think it strengthens the actual mat, compared to using a non-backed dust sheet.
The “innvoation” for this year was that I had some paper backed grass sheets lying around that I cut out some fields from and glued straight onto the mat (I used gripfill for this purpose, still not sure they will stay on!) – the colours are very sharp so far but I think it may work better once the shit (sorry, I meant chocolate brown) colour is dampened by my normal 3 colour dry brushing and the static grass is being added. Here are a selection of photos from the work so far.
The issues I have found (so far) in making and using this kind of mat are:
It is physically harder work to make one than you think – it gives a good workout! My Doctor told me that I need to gain more height so I think this is a good exercise for that purpose – there is a lot of stretching involved!
It is very difficult to manage a 12 by 5 sheet when you make it. I do not have a big enough space to put the whole sheet down on a flat surface. So I tend to work on it in sections and then roll it up again, meaning that you have to wait for it to dry which means that works have to be done in short burst and then wait for 12 to 24 hours. If you have a flat surface for the full size of the mat then this is not a problem at all (however if the surface is not totally flat this can effect the shape of the acrylic you apply and also the effect of the dry brushing as any edges will show through very well by the technique – something you may not want. I did mine in the lounge but this is honestly not the ideal place if you are not on your own. It is not just the space you occupy but other impacts to consider. I try to use low odour stuff but this does not mean no odour so ensure you have your windows open and create a draught. Health and safety for you and yours are more important than a bloody wargames mat – just be sensible. Luckily, I have a more than understanding family when it comes to these kind of things. They are more than happy to spend the weekend with breathing apparatus in their own rooms (that was a joke, sorry!).
The sheets seem to be 4 feet standard width. The 12 by 12 sheet I bought from Screwfix was made of 3 no. 12 by 4 feet sheets, it means that there is a border to be dealt with for any greater widths than 4 feet. I covered it with some gripfill before I got the mix on top. This mediocre mitigation is more than likely going to fail in the future but I am ignoring it for now. In general it does crack in places but normally looks decent when it lies flat – be prepared to do some repairs the first few times you roll it out.
Although I did iron the sheet before I applied the paste (properly I thought, but being mindful not to melt the backing), very often some of the folds seem to reappear and this is less than ideal. I will try to hide this as part of the drybrushing stage by avoiding to make the fold stand out to much by being careful with the brush – you do not want to highlight the fold, it does not look very natural.
It does not allow you the same artistic freedom compared to a fixed board. Hedges are more difficult to incorporate into the design and rivers obviously can not be filled with resin (but if you apply some varnish it at least gives some reflection to the surface that fools the eye, at least from a distance.
It goes without saying that the mat is not very versatile with the features built-in (rivers, roads, etc.). This is not an issue for me, and it was the same when I did the boards, but worth considering with regards to how much specific stuff like roads and rivers you incorporate into the mat, especially as it is an investment in money and time to make one.
Looking back some of the features of those boards some are very difficult to beat using the mat. Maybe some boards next year!?
Obviously none of the points above were showstoppers for me this time, but I hope this discourages you unless you are prepared to get into to something heads on and improvise along the journey. The rest of the family laugh at my swearing and screaming when I mess things up, so if nothing else it is some cheap entertainment – maybe that is why they tolerate me doing this in the first place?
[To be continued when appropriate level of progress achieved]
/ Hope that was of some interest, keep toy soldiering on!
In other news I had the opportunity to see the fabulous Tiger Lillies (the forefathers of Brechtian Punk Cabaret!) last week and it was absolutely brilliant! More on them here. I stumbled upon them a few years ago as they had done an album called Mountains of Madness as a homage to H.P. Lovecraft.
In the last blogpost the Swedes inspected their forces in preparation of the Horka battle at Joy of Six this year (more here). The Russian spies were in attendance and following their report a few brushstrokes had to be done, but now I dare to say they seem to be ready for inspection and eventually to welcome the attacking Swedes.
There is a total of 91 cavalry 60 by 30mm bases of 9 No. riders (apart from the irregular elements on 60 by 60mm bases of 8 riiders) and 64 infantry 60 by 30mm bases of 24 No. infantry in this army as well as Command bases and artillery bases. Tsar Peter himself has inspected the various infantry detachments – General Golitsyn flying column with the elite regiments who may be ordered to March behind the cavalry and attack the Swedish left flank on they day!. The three other Generals Sheremetev, Hallart and Repnin are ready as are their men. A few rounds were fired by the artillery to mark the occasion. I have included a few of the sketches that the scouts manage to deliver to the Swedish King.
In other news I progressed my Bag the Finn project (more in the last blog post, link here) adding two more aircraft types:
The Fokker D.XXI that was the Finnish primary fighter aircraft during the Winter War (I painted it in the simple paint scheme used during the winter war – the more elaborate camouflage pattern used last time was used during the continuation war).
The Polikarpov I-16 that was one of the three fighter planes used by the Russians in the Winer war (ther others were I-15bis and I-153). The I-16 was the most common type and about half of Fighters were of this type at the start of the Winter War.
Below are two relevant titles from Osprey and contain a lot of useful information on the fighting during the Winter War era. I really enjoy doing these 1/600 scale planes from Tumbling Dice.
A short one this time but I think there are one or two important points hidden in it all, I let you find them.
Bag the Finn
I am currently working on some Tumbling dice 1/600 aircraft models with the intention of doing some games involving the The Lentolaivue 24 or LLv.24 (24 Fighter Squadron) fighting throughout Finland’s three wars during WW2. I intend to use the Bag the Hun rules by the Too Fat Lardies (link here) and the campaign system Squadron forward. I got the aircraft a long time ago but it has taken some time to get this started. However Mike Hobbs Malta project inspired me to get this going – thanks Mike.
Postscript: There is a useful article in the Lardies Summer Special 2009 called Blue Swastika with background and scenarios for the Finnish Winter War for Bag the Hun. This article can also be found in the Scramble supplement (Thanks Jim for reminding me).
I have been buying a fair few books about Finnish and Soviet Airforce of the Period. But my starting point is the suitably titled Lentolaivue 24 from Osprey (link here). As with any book there are several places where you may get the book cheaper and sometimes the second hand market can be very favourable.
As I have mentioned before the family on my mother’s side are Finnish and this is why I have an interest in this particular theatre of the Second World War.
I have heard many stories from the Finnish war period – some heroic but most of them being about the sad realities of war and the people that had to endure them directly and indirectly. For example one of my relatives, a pioneering educationalist working in the Finnish border areas, had to take home his two sons in coffins during the war – both of them were volunteers and the youngest was 17. With a Finnish sense of dark humour the story was retold with the afterthought that the only good thing was that he only had to do one trip as they fell at the same time.
My hobby is very much related to war – in doing miniatures, models and gaming various conflicts sometimes in a seemingly light hearted way. However I think it is important to remember that in reality it is far from a game. This awareness does not take out the fun of it but adds respect to how I deal with it.
One of the things are symbols used by the various belligerents during the War and as you can see on the picture above the Finnish Aircraft carries a Swastika symbol. The Swastika had been used on Finnish Aircraft since the early days of the Finnish Air force in 1918, following independence from Russia and therefore its use is different to that used by the Nazi regime. Finland were allied with Germany but through a common enemy in the fight against the Soviet Union – it did not share the overall objectives and world view of the Nazi regime.
I will paint and decorate these aircraft as close as possible to the way in which they looked at the time, not out of disrespect for anyone but out of respect to the historical records of the period.
This is a slow burning project and I will write a short note on each aircraft type, what paints I used and some pictures as I complete them. Starting with the Finnish ones and the, to me, most Iconic of them all the Brewster Buffalo. It is a little bit fiddly, but if you can paint a detailed 28mm miniatures then this should not be a problem.
The Flying Beer Bottle (Lentävä kaljapullo)
The Finns bought the Brewster Buffalos (B-239E) from the United States in 1939 and they were first flight tested by the Finnish Air force in early 1940. A few were combat ready before the end of the Winter War in 1940 but none of them were used in combat.
However during the Continuation War the Brewster became one of the most successful aircraft of the Finnish Air force. The Lentolaivue 24 got them at the end of the Winter War in April 1940 replacing the Fokker D.XXI they used successfully during the Winter War. During the 14 months before the start of the Continuation War the pilot trained hard with their new machines and during the Continuation war they successfully destroyed 459 No. Soviet warplanes by these at a loss of 15 Buffalos (a 26:1 victory ratio) until they were replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109G (in May 1944).
I used the ISA240 F2a Brewster Buffalo x6 from the Tumbling Dice shop, it can be found in the 1/600 range, link here. I do not know what the best way is to paint these are and you may want to do some further research, this is how I did mine.
Clean it, magnetise it,
Make sure you clean it up with a scalpel (be careful) or a small file as there is some flash but not excessive. I then glue a 0.5mm * 2mm magnet under the aircraft. This is a little bit fiddly and you may have to redo a few but that is all part of the fun! In addition make sure you align the polarities – i.e. glue them in the same direction. I will take some photos of how I manage this when I do the next set of aircraft. This allow you to mount them on flight stands that you can magnetise too. You may end up with a collection of hundreds or aircraft but you may rarely use more than a dozen on each side in a game – therefore you can have a set of flight stands you use for all your aerial dog fights. It also means that you could have different set of stands, perhaps if you have different rules ets, and so on. But more on this later.
As I wrote last week I got myself a few pots of the paints from the Finnish Aircraft colour paint set. In retrospect I probably had all the colours I needed already as part of my base set up, however I put the ones I got to use in this project.
Priming – I used a Vallejo White Polyurethane Primer (mainly because I normally use grey or black for my miniatures, and had it lying around). It has a nice thin consistency that works deceivingly well. I thought white would work best as I was not going to use the primer as part of the shading.
Let it dry (a few hours should be fine)
Paint undercarriage light grey – I used the Lifecolor Light Grey UA 541.
Paint top green (do not paint the front bit that will be yellow and avoid the yellow part behind the cockpit, not critical but makes it easier to achieve a good yellow later on) – I used the Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540.
Let it dry (if you are doing a large batch like I did there is no reason to wait, just do step 6 for the next).
Paint top with Black camouflage patterns (avoid the parts that will be yellow) and do the front propeller part. I used Vallejo Model Color Black 950.
Let it dry (see note above on large batch)
Paint the propeller hub/top with a flat brown/light rust colour (I have seen some different colour for this, most of the time it is black but I wanted some contrast so mine have this colour).
Paint the Yellow parts, also under the top of the wings – I used the Lifecolor UA 544.
Let is dry (see note above on large batch)
Paint 80% of the Black camouflage parts in Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey 870. I kind of left a black outline of the pattern.
Paint 80% of the Green with a 50/50 mix of Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540/Vallejo Model Color Yellow Green 78.
Let it dry properly (a few hours should do fine)
Use Windor & Newton Nutbrown ink, be generous and process to 12 immediately before doing the next plane. This is an old 6mm painter trick Dr. Mike taught me many years ago. You may want to use some other wash/ink type of thing or skip this step if you want a neater look. I think it adds depth to the colour and make it look better painted than it is.
Dab a piece of toilet paper carefully on the model to take away excess ink, do not rub – this was sourced from Modelling Supreme Industries and is sold by the sheet (Sorry, but at least humour me with a smile!).
Let it dry
Give the yellow parts a little bit of more paint on the top sides (using the same colour as above, looking at the colourized picture above and some others they tended to be relatively dirty quickly so leave some of that ink stain. It does not make the model look prettier but more real).
Paint the glass part of the canopy in blue carefully, let the non-glass part shine through – I used Vallejo sky blue or something similar.
I suppose you could highlight them further and perhaps put a dot of white on each window – however I just did the 18 steps above.
Next it is time for some decals and this is requires some patience to get right. I got the decals from Dom’s Decals some time ago, link here. He has a warning of a current backlog on his webpage (April 2018) so I suggest you send him and e-mail and ask him about the current status. Some of the best of the wargames industry are the small players (mostly one person bands) and I have found most of them more than happy to engage in some conversation upfront as to what the expectations are with regards to getting your orders sent to you. Dom does a fantastic service to the hobby with his decals – give him and others like him a fair chance to continue doing so.
You need the set 1/600 Finnish Hakaristi Markings (1918-44).
Basically I cut out every decal neatly and then stick a few of them in a small bowl of water for a while lift them out and wiggle the off on a plastic (sometimes they fall of in the bowl) I use a scalpel (gently) for this . I used 4 transfers for each plane (I did not do the underwing ones), two on the wings (second smallest ones) and two on the sides (the smallest one). This is my high-end set-up.
This is the result, I really like they way they turned out and from a distance they look decent enough for my gaming table.
When I have finished (no pun intended) all the aircraft for this project I will do some custom transfers (I bought a sheet for this purpose) to allow some further markings to be done like tail markings etc. This is probably overkill and I do not know if I will be able to do these yet so it is currently just a plan – but if it is possible I will do them like this. After this I will seal them with a matte varnish.
Swedish Army for Horka 1708
The Swedish King and his Generals mustered the forces for the Horka Battle to be fought 15th July in Sheffield at the Joy of Six show (more here).
The King was seen smiling and the mood amongst the ranks was very good. They Russian position was strong but so was the Swedish morale. Here are some colorized sketches from the event. There are a total of 72 cavalry bases and 28 infantry bases as well as a few leader bases and artillery bases. Here we go….
“…but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.”
From about a week ago!
We have been busy with the Little Ones year end Rugby Tournament the last week so I have not been doing that much hobby wise lately. We went to Isle of Wight and had a blast – it is a wonderful part of the world.
I realise that it is now about 10 days ago since Salute 2018, so I think there are plenty of better places for an overview of Salute – I suggest you try Big Lee’s most excellent blog here. Alternatively, or as well, you could go to youtube and watch the terrain tutors very nice video of the show (press play below) – if you have not checked out his other stuff do that as well.
What follows are just a few snippets of things from my personal experience.
Twisting the Dragon’s Tail
On St George’s Day! 100 years ago the Royal Navy attempted to block the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The idea was to block the canal entrance by sinking obsolete ships – this to stop U-boats and light shipping from leaving port.
The game presented by the Maidstone Wargames society showed the actions of the HMS Vindictive that carried a troop or royal marines that were to take out some German Gun positions. It was a beautifully presented game and the ship was a thing of beauty and scratch built (using a lot of tomato pure tubes as sheeting material – that is hard core in my books – “What a we having for Dinner today?”, “It is another round of Pasta with Tomato Sauce!”).
Mission Command: Normandy
Mission Command is a new set of WW2 rules that promises to capture the essence of tactical and operational combat for company level to division level. It captures the way in which different armies (nationalities) operated in practice in terms of tactical and operational command, control and communication. It was a pleasure to have a chat with the guys. I found it intriguing – more information here. It is currently at the final stages of playtesting and a relatively inexpensive beta ruleset can be obtain through the link above. The game is Umpired and orders are given at the beginning of them game but can be modified. However the changes to the orders have to be achieved within command structures where the fog of war, imperfect information and confusion can cause unintended outcomes.
The Battle of Foy
Most of us remember this from the phenomenal Band of Brothers book and TV-series. This table was a joy to watch and the group presenting it was passionate about sharing their enthusiasm. I have a special place somewhere for snow terrain and this one was inspiring. The miniatures used were 20mm and it was played using the Bolt Action rules. The tall pine trees are made with the same technique as I used from my trees earlier in the year (more about how to make them here).
Tumbling Dice and another Diversion – Bag the Finn!
Paul at Tumbling Dice (link here) have a nice range of 1/600 aircraft and I bought myself a bundle of his nice aircraft that I want to use for some aerial dogfights between Finland and Soviet. They are very nice and they are relatively easy to paint them and it will not cost you a fortune to get started. I have some already that I used for Battle of Britain 1940.
I also got myself a selection of books from Amazon recently about the Finnish and Sovietic air force of the period – mostly second hand from Amazon at a not too heavy cost.
I will be using the Too Fat Lardies rules Bag the Hun for these (link here). The Scramble supplement have a little piece of using the Rules for the Finnish Winter War to get me started, but I think I will focus on the Continuation War period – those Brewster Buffalos looks far too cool!.
I was not going to but I got some of Lifecolors nice paints for this project (I got all the colours individually, from their paint set pictures below a part from the black as I thought I could get away with it!). This is a perfect on the move project as it does not take a lot of space – a handful of paints and a handful of planes and you can take off anywhere!
The only question is what playing surface to use. It would be really good have a aerial picture with good resolution of a winter land scape from above. Have not seen anyone doing one and I do not know where to get a good resolution picture from – any ideas gladly taken?
With some help from the Welsh Wizard, Mike Hobbs, we manage to order for a sufficient amount to get a healthy discount from Eureka (more here) – who did their annual trip from down under to Salute. They have a good selection of stuff and I got myself a lot of 15mm (some WW2 Australians with Great Coat and Russian Partisans) and some 28mm stuff (for my Mutant 1984).
I will show these in a later post as I have no intention of doing anything with them at the moment. Big shout out to Nic and crew – see you next year!
What a Tanker!
Too Fat Lardies were demonstrating their What a Tanker game and it looked great. Go and do yourself a favour and buy the book from here. If you need a little more convincing check out the stuff below. Had a good chat with Rich, Nick and Sidney – thanks for your time!
For more on the game if you do not want to take my word for it.
A video by the Lardies themselves:
Also check out these links for podcast whilst you paint your tanks:
The Veteran Wargamer (Jay) have gone Tank Mad in a wonderful way – check out his two podcasts for more here and here.
We are hopefully doing a game of What a Tanker this weekend using some 15mm German tanks vs Russian or American tanks – preparations are underway more to come.
However 6mm may be a good option and I spotted Baccus Shermans and Panzer IVs at Salute – they look very nice and the Sherman is due out very soon.
Michael Leck and friends, as have become tradition, presented yet another stunning table with a historical battle with a Swedish denominator – this time depicting the battle of Stäket 1719 (more here). This is a small battle at the end of the Northern War with with the King having been shot in Norway in 1718 and with the Russians and Cossacks terrorising the Swedish east coast with a fleet of Galleys (this was know as the Russian Harryings (Rysshärjningarna). The attack was repulsed but the Russians managed to escape without any damage to their fleet allowing them to continue their harrying the following year.
The galleys and the terrain boards (and a few of the miniatures) were made by Jan (who is another exile Swede living in the UK). The rest of the miniatures were flown in with Michael and chums.
As I have declated before Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago. It is always nice to see him and his latest stuff – he actually brought me two presents, a giant stag beetle and a Swedish king. Many thanks Michael!
How much is your collection worth!
I also had a nice chat and a coffee with good friend Peter Riley who is running the Wargamer Collection Calculator (I have discussed them before on the blog, here) that now features a wargames directory with more than 1,000 traders, clubs and societies – is your club on it? Their base offer is in effect a collection manager where you can log you wargames collection in words and pictures with some high level estimate of its potential worth – perhaps for the purpose of using this as a basis for a separate insurance of your collection. Even if you do not want to insure your collection you could perhaps use it as a collection manager. Registration is free. Check them out here.
…I think that represents a biased but still fair sample of Salute goodies! I forgot the Daleks, here we go.
Horka 1708 update – Swedish Infantry and Artillery thoughts
I have been working away with the Horka project and here is the Swedish Infantry contingent. 28 bases (compared to the 64 Russian ones, presented earlier here).
I am also working on Artillery and have come to some kind of compromise for artillery. The Russian used a lot of smaller artillery pieces – battalion guns. In the accounts of Poltava once of the key elements is the Russian Artillery ripping away the advancing Swedes, changing to shrapnel for the last 200 meters. Placing a few cannons on the sides, as is the typical set-up, where the cannons representing 8 to 16 pieces of something like are shown as two bases on the sides, that does not really convey the story. So I will use thin frontage bases (15mm wide) and put them between the Russian battalions to illustrate these pieces. It may be overkill from a ratio vs model count – but we can deal with this and having a quick glance at the way it looks I do not think there is a way back. More about artillery in a later post. This was just me getting carried away!
I had a very nice day at Salute yesterday, but have decided to reflect on that next week as I think his blog post is long enough – but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.” More next week on this and some further on the progress on the Horka Project.
back to the main theme….
I decided to start this blog on the back of doing a participation game of Saga in 6mm with the gentlemen from the eminent Meeples and Miniatures podcast (link here) for the Joy of Six in 2016. The demo game was Saga in 6mm and I went all out and did starter armies (4pts) for the 12 factions from the three first books for the Age of Viking era (a total of 15 official Age of Vikings factions were produced for the first edition rules, if we exclude semi-official ones like the Skraelings, Revenant and Steppe Tribes).
This is the 100th blog update since the start and I felt it appropriate to do an update on Saga on the back of the Second edition being published earlier this year. It is a long one but I do hope you will find it of some interest.
For this special occasion I asked Neil Shuck for a few words as a kind of preface (thank you Neil).
“When I had a conversation with Dave Luff on the podcast about the possibility of gaming Saga in 6mm, we had no idea of the forces we were about to unleash.
Dave was on one of his ‘it’s only a counter’ monologues, and with the fact that that very nice Mr Berry had just brought out some more of his Dark Age range, we were discussing the idea of being able to play Saga in a smaller scale, and what impact that might have on the game. As with many of our ideas, it never got close to the painting table, so imagine our surprise when Per contacted us to say that he had taken our idea and moved it to the next level.
We may have planted the seed, but Per is a force of nature when an idea takes hold, and the rest is, as they say, history. Per did a fantastic job creating all the forces, plus building the tables, and the games were very well received on the day. More importantly, the game still works – if anything, the grander scale created by the smaller models gives it a more epic feel. Congratulations Per, you have done a fantastic job with this.”
– Neil Shuck, from the Meeples and Miniatures Podcast (link here).
Here is a link to that very first blog post with a postscript that makes a few notes and links to the other relevant posts. Note that the Factions are presented again in the text that follows, I will not repeat the information in the Part 6 to 8 sections about terrain, buildings and painting.
We had a blast on the day of the Joy of Six 2016 Show and Neil wrote about his experience on the Meeples and Miniatures webpage here and my report on the Roll a One blog is here.
It was a nice project to get done and all-in-all I did 2,474 miniatures in a total on 324 bases (25mm square). Each base contained between 3 to 10 miniatures depending on type, but in general:
Mounted – Warlord 5, Hearthguard 4, Warrior 3
Foot – Warlord 10, Hearthguard 9, Warrior 8, Levy 4
After the show the Little One and I played a fair few games of Saga and we really enjoyed it. We then drifted away to other things and the models have been left standing relatively still for a while (apart from a few sessions using the eminent Dux Brit rules from Too Fat Lardies, a test of the Sword and Spear Rules and a few games of Saga here and there). In the beginning of the year (2018) Studio Tomahawk released the updated edition of Saga (I will call is Saga 2) – where there is a core set of rules and then a book for each era (e.g. Viking, Arthurian, Crusade, etc.). I was debating on whether to get the new rules or not as we found the old ones more than satisfactory, but as I stated in an earlier blogpost.
I have all the old Saga books and I am aware this version will probably not blow me away in the same way as the first set, but it is on the basis of that very first set I bought the second edition. Saga is a fantastic game and I, and especially the Little One, want to be part of the ongoing process of making it even better.
I got the basic rule book for £8.50 (this contains the basic rules) and the Age of Vikings (this has the Viking factions and 12 battle boards) supplement for £25.50, which I believe is very competitive, from Dark Sphere (link here) with free postage (as at 14/03/18). That is a total of £34.
The original Saga Rules were typically sold for £25 and gave you 4 battle boards, three additional supplements (actually four if you count the campaign supplement) were produced cover the Viking Age at a typical total cost of say £42. This gives a total comparative cost at £67 vs. £34. So this new packaging is more cost effective, although the start-up cost is higher (£34 vs £25) as you need some battle boards to play the game.
The only thing that slightly irritated me is that there is only one base scenario in the basic rules – Clash of the Warlords, and that there are no specific scenarios in the source books either – instead there will be a specific scenario book. I really hope that this scenario book is something really special as I honestly think that some more scenarios could have been included in the basic rulebook or in the supplement(s) – so the comparison above is not fully a like for like.
On the back of having read the rulebook and the Age of Viking supplement and had a few games, I personally think it was worth the upgrade. I can use all of my existing models to play and the Saga Dice are the same (I have two sets of each type of dice as I used them for demo gaming and that allowed a higher number of combinations to be played over two tables at the same time) with one exception (the Last Romans, see below).
On the other if you have the old rules I am not sure I would be a position to strongly insist you should do or feel the same. It is still Saga after all. However, I do hope that more supplements covering other Ages will be developed and made available on the back of this re-release. The pictures of some Samurai warriors in the rulebook gives an interesting hint.
This blogpost will re-introduce the factions presented in those old blog posts, with what I hope are better pictures. In addition there are some changes to the composition and I have now enough figures to do starting warbands for the 10 of the 12 included in the Age of Vikings supplement. I will further include some notes on changes to the rules (that only makes sense if you know the first edition) and finally show a few pictures of from some of the games we have played over the Easter Period with some friends and family. I hope it is of some interest – it was nice to get them on the table again.
Factions (4 pt Starter Armies)
Anyway let us look at some of the miniatures (again!, note I do not have miniatures for two of the factions but are repeating the advice I gave in Saga in 6mm – Part 12). All models, with the exception of the Irish Dogs, are from Baccus 6mm (link here) and the codes are from their catalogue to indicate what miniatures have been used. The original picture showing the whole 4pt warband have been reused here, but I have also included close ups of each unit. I am in two minds about this as I think 6mm is best shown in mass not as individual close ups (well I let you form your own opinion). When you paint bulk and fast like I do for my projects it does not always look that great in a close up – but then why not. All are on 25mm square bases, you may want to refer to that as an inch at your own peril of being 0.4mm out!
A few changes are noted in the text basically:
Reduction of a Battle Board (-3)
The Welsh and Stratchclyde Welsh now share a Battleboard
The Normans and Bretons now share a Battleboard
Their is no longer a Pagan Prince board, but I assume this one is now assumed included in the Pagan Rus board (as one of their heroic options are a Pagan Prince)
Renaming of Battle Board (+/-0)
The Frankish board is now renamed the Carolignian board
The Byzantine battleboard is now renamed the Last Romans (and actually needs a set of dice I do not have (yet!) – the Roman/Briton dice that were introduced with the Saga Aetius and Arthur rules.
Anyway here are the Warbands:
Irish Starting Warband
Welsh Starting Warbands
I have two Welsh starting warbands as there were two separate boards in the first edition – one for Welsh and one for the Mounted Strathclyde Welsh.
Scots Starting Warband
Viking Starting Warband
Norman / Breton Starting Warband
As for the Welsh this is now one Battleboards for what used to be two – the Normans and the Bretons. The difference is that the mounted Hearthguards have Javelins.
Anglo-Danes Starting Warband
Anglo-Saxon Starting Warband
Carolignians / Franks Starting Warband
Norse-Gael Starting Warband
Jomsvikings Starting Warband
The Last Romans (Byzantines)
Did not make this faction, but here are my ideas (I have the miniatures and just need to get them done).
Starting Army: Mounted Warlord (CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry), Mounted Hearthguard (CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry), Mounted Hearthguard with Bow (ASS02- Armoured Horse Archers), Warriors (EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen), Warriors with Bow (ALR05 – Archer).
Did not make this faction either, but here are my ideas (I have the miniatures and just need to get them done).
Starting army: Warlord (EMV01 -Armoured Spearmen), 2 No. Hearthguard (EMV01 -Armoured Spearmen), Warrior (EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen) and Levy with Javelins (ALR04 – Lanciarii)
Starting Army (Rus Princes based): Mounted Warlord (CFR04 – Turcopoles), 2 No. Mounted Hearthguard (CFR04 – Turcopoles), Warrior (EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen) and Warrior with Bow (ALR05 – Archer).
Playing the Game
Changes to the 2nd Edition Rules
You may want to skip this sections if you have no interest in what the changes are between the two versions, as this only makes some sense if you are familiar with the rules.
When reading the two rules again side by side (pun not intended) a few changes can be noted between the versions. In addition to what I will cover here the battleboards have changed but I have not yet analysed them and probably will not. I have played most of the old battle boards at least once but would felt it a step too far for the purpose of this. Doing this review/rough notes took me longer than I wanted it to take, I do not pretend I believe it is complete and may have missed or misunderstood something:
The Warlord model (base in our case) can no longer use the side by side ability
Resilience ability now allows 1 fatigue to be taken instead of 1 hit up to its limit (see below – but to lower your suspense it is now 3 fatigue markers for all units).
Only a Hearthguard model/base (within (S)hort distance) can be used to sacrifice/taking damage on behalf of the Warlord.
We obey ability now allows free activation of any action – not just movement.
The Warlord now has 8 attack dice (previous he had 5) and only generate one Saga Dice (previously it generated 2 dice)
Heroic units gets the warlord abilities as well.
Levies now generate Saga Dice if the unit has 6 or more figures – previously they did not generate any at all.
Warriors generate Saga Dice if the unit has 4 or more figures – this avoids the 1 man warrior unit being withdrawn to generate Saga dide.
The Saga Dices left on the battleboard from a previous round does not affect how many you roll in your next turn (unless the total of dice on the board + allowed Saga dice from units is higher than 8. As 8 Saga Dice is still the maximum in play at any given time).
In combat you can use 2 fatigue to cancel an enemy activation
You can spend 1 fatigue to reduce the movement of an unit activating to S(hort)
In shooting you can spend more than 1 fatigue to decrease the defending units armour, and in melee the same and also for increasing the attackers armour.
All units are now exhausted when it has 3 fatigue markers allocated to it (3 is the maximum accumulation allowed), this gives -1 to all attack dice.
All units in a group fight if they are engaged with another unit.
Movement is done in straight line (including charges/attacks)
Models (bases in this case) in a unit to stay within S(hort) from the first unit being moved – this technically means that levies at 12 models cannot create a long line. For our purposes not a big problem, we tend to play the units as 2 deep by 6 frontage (levies), 2 by 4 warriors and 1 by 4 for hearthguards. This to simulate some kind of depth in shield wall concept typical for the “Age”.
Movement is free (cost no Saga dice) if you are at L(ong) range away from any enemy and movement ends up L(ong) range from any enemy.
Shooting – combat pool maximum at Step 1 at 8 dice, final maximum at Step 3 16 dice. There is no limit on the number of defence dice that can be applied (previously twice the number of hit was the maximum).
Meele – a unit can only be engaged with one enemy units. There is no longer a step 0 (the reaction abilities are no longer being used). Maximum combat pool is now 16 at Stage 1 and double at Stage 3. As for missile there is no limit for the number of defence die than can be applied. Defending unit may choose to Close Ranks and gain the effect of solid cover but only gets half of its normal number of attack dice (The old rule of sacrificing attack dice to get defence dice is no longer used). Note this rule is not available to mounted, bow/crossbow armed units and heavy weapons (e.g. dane axes). So perhaps a better name for the ability would be to “Form Shieldwall!”. Defenders in solid cover never withdraw if they outnumber the attacking unit, other units may end up less than VS if there are terrain restrictions.
If all the figures are in cover, the cover counts – if not it does not count.
Dangerous terrain introduced – works like uneven terrain but also causes 1 fatigue to the unit.
Changes to the dimension of the sizes of terrain – I let you go a figure this one, I do not tend to care about these things – sorry!. It is getting late.
Equipment /Weapons – clarification of modifications and restriction, changes to rules for composite bows (free activation and no fatigue), crossbow (+1 to attack instead of -1 to Armour, and can only shot once per turn), javelin (+1 melee attack dice when charging, an example of this is the classic roman infantry attack I suppose), there is a new improvised weapon category.
Playing it over Easter
We decided to play a few games over the Easter Period and we only used starter warbands and I used my 2 by 2 terrain tile (famous from sessions of Pikemans Lament last year) as this one can easily be accommodated in a house full to the brim of family and friends. As we had mixed familiarity of the rules this was sufficient to get a few games played, starting within direct engagement distance.
We play the rules exactly as written, one a base is the same as a base in the 28mm version, no adjustments for ranges of missile weapons or movement.
Here are a few pictures from these games, the games flowed nicely and went really well.
Conclusion: Saga is still fun and works really well in 6mm whether you have the old or the new set of rules. In its base it is a simple I go you go – you roll to hit and then your opponent rolls to save kind of game. But with the addition of being able to use your opponents fatigue to gain benefits and the battle boards it is a unique game and I, and the Little One, really like it.
Note: I have played six games with the new version and lost five.
/ I hope that was of some interest, below two bonus parts one about music and the other some old Saga battle shots!
Bonus 1: Old Battle Shots 6mm in Action
Bonus 2: Music for you musings
In the original postings we included some recommended music whilst painting your warbands – so here are a few oldies and a few new ones
Amon Amarth starting with their Twilight of the Thunder God (that incidentially would be a fantastic title for a set of wargame rules in the Age of Vikings) followed by At Dawn’s First Light and Pursuit of Vikings – it does not get much more Viking melodic death metal than this. This is perhaps not everyone’s cup of, sorry I meant horn of mead!
If that was too heavy for you do not despair there are some equally good options (youtube is full of this kind of things – should get your warbands done in an afternoon or give you plenty of inspiration to crush your opponents on the wargames table).