Sunday, 21 February 2010

A quick respray and you'll never notice

Today I managed to complete my repaint of my Rogue Trader renegades (see here) (for now at least, I may do more later). Overall I'm pretty pleased with the results, given that I was aiming for as quick a paintjob as I could, maximising the use of washes for shading and simple base colours.

Dimitri and the lads

I know the two on urban bases look a bit out of place, but I fancied trying the GW resin basing kit and these two just looked right on them. I've christened the guy with the chainsaw as 'Dimitri "The General"' and his right hand henchman (with the heavy stubber) 'Yuri'. Don't know why, they just looked like them.

Along with also completing the basing on my long awaited Empire General (the rider is nearly 20 years old), and spraying the boxcars for my Old Crow Providers, I've pretty much cleared the decks for my next project, what shall it be?

only 19 years to get him sorted...

Friday, 19 February 2010

A sky full of Starlings

In a bit of a departure I'm not posting about gaming this time, but one of my other hobbies, birdwatching. The reason is simply that earlier this week I was lucky enough to witness one of the most incredible natural history spectacles to be seen in the UK.

My wife, Melissa, and I had decided to take short break in Cumrbia/Lancashire, so that we could visit the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss. We'd heard that they sometimes get large numbers of starlings roosting in the evening so decided to stay around for a bit to see if they would come in. Now, the starling is a bird most of us are probably familiar with as a somewhat noisy, and sometimes argumentative garden visitor, but they have another side.

As dusk set in, starlings started to gather from all directions, first a few hundred, then more. Flock after flock came in until there were, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of starlings swirling about in a stunning display of synchronised arobatics, right over our heads. It wasn't just us who had turned up to witness the spectacle either, as peregrines and sparrowhawks also dived in to the writhing mass in hope of a meal. Each time a predator flew in the starlings would change formation to confuse it, at one point even drawing in, and then closing up around the poor, confused bird!

The first starlings turn up,
That's a sparrowhawk circling just beneath them
A tiny portion of the final flock, this just doesn't do it justice!

This all carried on for about ten, maybe fifteen minutes, with more and more flocks merging until, at some unheard signal, the entire flock descended into the reedbeds, as if they were being poured down a funnel.

So, next the next time you see some bedraggled, squawky bird squabbling for space on the bird table, look again, and maybe, if you get the chance, go and see what he can do when accompanied by a few thousand friends...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Come back or I'll bite your kneecaps!

Well I think it's about time for a post about Warhammer Fantasy Battle. This was the game that originally got me into wargaming all those years ago (when it was in it's second edition would you believe it?). On Saturday my friend Matt and I had one of our irregular visits to Warhammer World in Nottingham and this time decided to go back to our roots and play WFB, so it was time to dust off the good old men of the Empire!

Matt (The Mott Blog), has written a short set of campaign rules for Warhammer (based on gaining territories and earning revenue from them), that we thought we'd try. First job was to sort out the map, a random affair that led to us both starting out in control of Marshes!

The campaign started in Spring, with us rolling up a pitched battle as the first game, and so it was that 2000pts of the Empire's finest lined up against Matt's infantry heavy High Elf army (the early stages have restrictions on the availability of heroes and special and rare choices).

Lined up and ready for action

Well, what can I say? I had one of those games... Knights with paper armour and rubber lances (who couldn't pass leadership tests on a Ld9 either), and Matt's always strike first elves mowing down troops before they could hit back meant I conceded early, giving the first game convincingly to Matt. In particular, he's developed a clever and very tricksy tactic involving small groups of 5 or six swordmasters roaming the battlefield, like mobile landmines! With WS6, 2A and S5, they buzz-sawed through units like they weren't there.

My knights yell their battle cry, "Run away, run away!"

Matt took control of an extra territory, a plain, increasing his earnings considerably as he could now harvest crops.

Summer saw us roll up a flank attack. Struggling out of their marsh, my Empire army found themselves outflanked by the swifter elves. As defender, and not knowing where a flank attack might come from, I deployed tightly in the centre of my table edge, my flagellants and volleygun protecting the left flank, my knights the right, with my infantry (spearmen and greatswords, each with a detachment of swordsmen and handgunners) in the centre. Matt decided to put his two units of Seaguard into the flanking force, with his archers holding his right flank and his spearmen, swordmasters and bolt-thrower the left.

The initial set up

In a brave, but possibly ill-advised early move, Matt moved his eagle up to attack my volleygun. 22 shots later, and after the singed feathers had stopped falling, I counted that flank as temporarily secure...

Unfortunately for Matt, his reserves didn't turn up until the last minute, too late to influence the result of the game. However this also meant that he had two completely unharmed units left on the table, and when combined with one of my units of knights having their usual paper armour problem, I was only able to pull out a draw.

The seaguard turn up too late, and these guys have navigated across the oceans?

Highlight of the game for me though, was the knights who had flames of the Phoenix cast on them, then had my general bravely leave them on their own, with orders to go attack a bolt-thrower head on! A task they achieved without losing a single model from either S5 magic attacks or 6S4 bolts! I could just imagine their reaction to the orders "you want us to go where?!"

For our final game before winter shut down all campaigning, we rolled up 'last stand', with the Empire as the attacker. With Matt starting with only 1000 pts to my 2000 it should be easy, but of course he only needed 501 victory points to force a draw, which would still leave me a territory down overall. Better keep my knights away from him then...

In the end I did manage to pull it off, thanks largely to my volleygun, which beat the odds to cause lots of damage with only one misfire (resulting in a temporary jam). I even managed to keep both units of knights intact. It was far from a walkover though, the loss of even one high value unit, with characters and banners, could have been disastrous for me, and Matt could afford to throw away units without concern. The result was a very tactical game, with me trying to keep a running list in my head of how many VPs I'd given away and calculating each move and attack very carefully.

The win gave me a new territory, a plain. As winter set in we were neck and neck on territory, with a plain and marsh each, and both of use with one win, loss and draw under our belts. However Matt's early win had given his treasury an extra boost, putting him closer to being able to buy upgrades.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What a difference a day (or 8,000 or so) makes

I’ve been indulging in a bit of nostalgia recently. I wanted some models to make up a colonial/militia force to use in Fast and Dirty and, alongside some Copplestone Partisans, decided to unearth some of my original Warhammer 40,000 models to do the job. Their original paintjob was a bit, um, basic (they were done over 20 years ago when I was only 13) so needed a repaint. Their original, somewhat garish colours are going to get replaced with more sensible greens and camo fatigues.

a couple of before and after photos

But, however poor the paintjob, working on them reminded me of those days. 40K, in its Rogue Trader incarnation was my first ‘SF’ wargame (I originally got into wargaming via Warhammer). Back in those days there were no army books, or set vehicles, so you pretty much made up your own forces. In fact my first army was of space pirates. Yes, you heard me right, ‘Space Pirates’! No army books back then, remember! These guys were mostly made up of models from the old mercenaries and pirates ranges, backed up by some heavy weapon equipped squats, and regularly took on Orks and marines. They were usually backed up by their grav tank, ‘The Pig’ a somewhat shoddy scratchbuild based on an old deodorant bottle. Sadly this has long gone (although I might have a piccie somewhere).

Anyway, I fell out of gaming 40K before the second edition came out and have never really got back into it, the ‘modern’ lists and style of army just don’t have the right ‘feel’ for me. If I want lots of tanks on the table I’ll play Epic, and don’t get me started on using swords as anti-tank weapons… But in a fit of nostalgia I have picked up a second hand copy of the Rogue Trader rules, and started picking up some extras from ebay for my other old army, Imperial Guard. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some games in using those Tau I’ve painted, carrying on the tale of the beleaguered planet Curwen, that Matt and I recently fought over using the Aeronautica Imperialis rules.

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Fistful of Tau

Just for a bit of variety, I recently picked up and painted a handful of secondhand Tau. I don't play 40K any more these days, but I have a liking for the look of the Tau. It was a pretty quick and dirty paintjob, I wanted to practice getting a unit painted and game ready in minimum time. Still, I think they've turned out pretty well.

I also have a few drones and a handful of pathfinders that I might paint up. I may even then dig out some of my old Imperial Guard models and have a few games set on Curwen, using either the old Rogue Trader rules (I've recently picked up a second hand copy) or Necromunda (say what you like about GW, making the specialist games free was a GOOD thing).