Friday 26 June 2015

Warhammer Fantasy Battle, 1983 - 2015 RIP

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us."

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Tweaking Lion Rampant Again

Over the weekend I played a little game of Lion Rampant with my son (his Father's Day gift to me, along with a cooked breakfast and an amusing card!). I set up a game in Middle Earth, pitching Rohan against invading orcs. My good forces are not huge, I have just 24 infantry and 8 cavalry available. Lion Rampant units are generally 12 infantry and 6 cavalry, so it could have been a very short game with just 3 units. I suppose I could have played half strength units, but instead I decided to tweak the unit sizes to two thirds. Now I had 2 units of four cavalry and 3 units of eight infantry, perfect for a small battle.

I also tweaked the mechanics a little, reducing the dice rolled from the usual 12 per unit to just 8 per unit (two thirds of course). This would mean less hits per combat, but with smaller units I was hoping it would even out. There were no units with an armour value of 4 so I figured it should all work out.

The game rattled along at a fine pace - the orcs stormed into the village and burnt down two of the three objectives, but then were unable to push back a shiltron defending the final prize. Arrow casualties and cavalry charges whittled away the orc numbers and a final desperate challenge by the Rohirrim saw the orc commander face down in the dirt. I didn't take any photos so a stock art picture will have to suffice.

The tweaks worked a treat. The combats and courage tests seemed to play out as they would in a typical full size game. The game mechanics were picked up quickly and we were able to concentrate on the action, not the rules. We did notice that the profiles in the standard game are possibly not well suited to a fantasy environment. With the exception of fierce foot, infantry are better in defence, which is not really what orcs are about. My son reckoned that it's far more random than other games he has played, which is a fair comment. We also noted the lack of differentiation between the two factions, something that Saga battleboards do better. The abstraction of Lion Rampant, while it certainly makes gameplay very fast and simple, comes with the price of all factions resembling each other. If we were to play again, I would make further tweaks to the profiles, to allow more aggresive infantry for the orcs. A really interesting experiment would be to pitch a modified Lion Rampant against home-brewed Saga battleboards, the battle of the tweaks!

Thursday 18 June 2015

Waterloo Stamps

Today is the 200th anniversary of  the Battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815. I suspect most, if not all, hobbyists will know a good deal about it already. If you are a UK citizen then you may already know that Royal Mail have released two sets of commemorative stamps, which feature some lovely artwork. For the benefit of non-stamp nerds and overseas visitors to the blog, I thought it was worth showing that artwork here. I can understand why so many people fall under the spell of collecting and gaming this era.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Silver Serpent : Rose

The second member of the secretive Silver Serpent organisation steps into the light. This is Rose, armed only with her kimono and, er, metal hands. Like the first member of the clan, this is a Malifaux plastic figure with some miniscule details to test the eyes and patience of any painter. As if that wasn't hard enough, I decided to add a simple flower design to the otherwise very plain gown. It's mostly visible on the rear of the figure.

Progress on the rest of the clan is slow. I have the whole crew assembled and the third member is part painted, as you can see from this sneak peek shot. In gaming terms, these ladies will probably all be defined in the same way, with Jade armed with a weapon (probably a halberd). I think giving them all throwing knives would also be appropriate, secreted away beneath their flowing robes. 

Sunday 7 June 2015

Rohan reinforcements

Eight Rohan infantry added to my small force. That brings them up to 24 infantry (8 with bows) and 8 cavalry, not a huge army by any means, but enough for small skirmish games. I was wondering about playing Lion Rampant, but rather than half strength units as some seem to suggest, go for two-thirds. This would mean units of eight infantry and four cavalry, giving me five units to put on the tabletop, about the average number for a Lion Rampant force. I wonder if anybody has tried it?

Thursday 4 June 2015


Osprey Books are releasing a fantasy book called Orc Warfare. Yes, that Osprey Books, makers of millions of military books! Recently, they have branched out into mythology, steampunk and wargames rules, but this appears to be a new direction. It seems to be a background book on a fantasy race but written in the style of one of their factual military issues. Take a look at the preview.

I am intrigued by this development. One of the big attractions for me to WHFB was the background material - the art in particular, but also the early days of the fluff, though sadly this was often just regurgitated in later material. A completely new and original set of art and scribblings will be well worth a look. It's due for release at the end of the month. On the Osprey blog it also mentions the development of similar style books on Dwarfs and Elves, later in the year. Now it could be a coincidence, but isn't that when Dragon Rampant is released? Interesting times for any fantasy player.

Another upcoming project to watch is Atlantis Miniatures kickstarter. This is a new company based in the UK, with some excellent looking renders on their facebook page. There's always room in my collection for good quality sculpts and these seem to be shaping up very nicely indeed. I am patiently waiting for July 1st, just to see where the bear fits in!

And yet more orcs that have cropped up on my radar are by another new company, MOM miniatures based in Spain. These are actually in production and available in their webstore. There's a growing range of fantasy troops, not just orcs but also dwarfs, elves, humans. I cannot find any detailed reviews around, probably because they are such a new company, but the photos look promising. The prices too are cheap, slightly offset by the postage. Well worth a look at the whole range, I particularly liked their dwarfs too. Here's a small taster image, best to visit the website for a better look. Another set of minis to add to my wishlist!
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