Saturday, 28 September 2019

Big is beautiful, but so is small

As the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society we've been taking Phil's 28mm Edgcote model round the shows this year, and we've had a load of good feed back about it. It is the third Northamptonshire battle model Phil has built, after Naseby & Northampton, both of which were done in 15mm.

We don't take all three of the models to shows with us. We could probably manage the two 15mm models, but the 28mm model is a car load on its own, without necessarily putting in the rest of the Society stand. What we tend to do, in fact, is take one model and then my 1460 game board as well, so we cover two battles.

I therefore had a think and concluded that what we needed were two other small models/game boards, one for Edgcote and one for Naseby. We could then major at shows with one of the bigger models, but cover the other two battles with smaller displays.

My first attempt was therefore to put together an Edgcote model using 6mm figures that fits on a board the size of my 1460 game, or about half of a pasting table.

I thought that I would base it off OS maps to get the contours and lay of the land right. I did this for 1460 and built it using layers of mdf. Consequently it is a bit heavy. For this one I used sheets of modelling foam. Luckily for me Hobbycraft had a sale on, and I got a big stack for next to nothing.

I scanned in an OS map, and then got to work with Serif DrawPlus. I put in a layer for each contour line, and traced it with a pen mouse. I was then able to superimpose the grid that I needed for my board, so that I could scale up the various contour layers.

Here's the work in progress. That's a base layer, with half of the first contour layer on it. Each layer was securely PVA'd in place.

Several layers in and I'm able to carve out the track of the "riviere" that the armies fought across.

The contours mount up. You can see that I put a frame round the outside to protect the board and neaten it off.

Nearly there now.

That's all the layers done. The final piece of edging frame is also gluing, being held in place by a hammer as I don't have a big enough clamp.

Next I mixed up a bucket of filler from a packet of powder, rather than use ready mix. That enabled me to smooth the contours into one another by varying the consistency of the filler. NB The vertical scale isn't correct to the ground scale, as that would have increased the depth by about twice, and I thought that would be too much. I'd have had to interpolate the line of the contours to avoid any cliff edges too, and I wasn't comfortable with that as an idea. Once it was covered I made a wide spaced tooth cardboard comb and ran it across the filler to approximate ridge and furrow field systems. Could still see the felt tip pen grid through it, however. Ooo-err.

Once that dried (and it took DAYS!!!) I painted the surface with textured paint to seal it all in and protect it, as well as give it a consistent surface. And painted the endzone and frame with gloss white paint

This took forever to dry too, but it covered up the blue grid lines.

In the meantime I did some labelling for the endzone, so that when it all dried I could get right to finishing it off. Textured paint is great, as it takes emulsion paint really well. Which is good, as that's what I use to paint all my bases and boards. The place names and the arrows are aids to explaining what happened, although they might be part of a 1460 type game eventually.

It all looked a bit green at this point.

We have a good idea of where the field systems ran in medieval times, due to an archaeological atlas produced by Glenn Foard and colleagues. I was able to overlay this onto my OS grid. I was then able to put in hedges using pipe cleaners. You can get them in black, and I dry brushed with my base green. They were buggers to glue down, however, hence the masking tape. I replicated the strip fields with different crops by buying a variety of matchpots from a DIY superstore, and painting alternating strips of colour.

Those hedges still wouldn't glue down. The most recalcitrant were weighted down with paint pots until they jolly well stuck.

I'd acquired a couple of packs of trees from Leven Buildings (which, incidentally, I can't find listed on his website) and set to work with my trust pin drill.

The trees mostly go on field junctions and on hedgerows, although there's a small plantation part way up one side. The trees are removable for ease of storage.

The figures are still being painted, but I've finished the main armies. They're Baccus 6mm, and very nice they are too. This is Redesdale's army

On the opposite hill stand Pembroke's forces. The banners are partly scanned from the Freeezywater books, but where they didn't have drawings I cheated and put the blazon description into this website rather than paint them by hand. It did most of what I wanted, but it didn't do quartering well (or I couldn't work it out), so for complicated banners I generated each quarter separately and then stuck them together in DrawPlus.

Here's Pembroke and his brother charging the rebels on the line of the stream. Each base has a label with the relevant name and heraldry. I may dispense with these, as they get in the way a bit, and they interfere with the magnetic adhesion in the storage box.

I have a bit still to do. I've painted Devon's forces, but I haven't done Redesdale's skirmishers who start off the battle. Part of Warwick's men are done (from an earlier project where they were never used), but I have to finish them, as well as Clapham's reinforcements and Gates & Parr. I've also got a bag of figures for Edward's army, complete with some little guns. Oh, and a load of tents for Pembroke's camp on the hill top.

However, I've made good progress, and I'm pleased with the look of it. It has met the design criteria, - it is fairly lightweight, easily portable, and can be set up in minutes. With some luck I'll be able to take it to a speaking engagement I have at Banbury Museum in October, or if not then at the Moulton Literary Festival in November.

Once it's done I can set about thinking about Naseby, which looks like it will present a slightly different range of problems.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

End of summer Sumerians

The first game of September went back to some older rules. Partly this was down to chronic lack of planning again, and partly because I promised the West Country Richard that I'd run a session at the SOA Conference, and this is the best set of ancient rules I've done. So time for a refresh.

Of course, having not thought things through properly I set up a game with too much terrain, too many toys and too many units in the wrong place (like all of Dave's archers opposite a wood he couldn't shoot over or through).

Steve and Richard were to the left, Dave, soon to be joined by Phil, were to the right. Only Phil had really played these rules before, and he wasn't entirely sure how they worked. Neither was I.

We commenced with some cart on cart action as neither side was prepared to back down.

Steve and Richard are looking pretty confident. This was well merited as Steve turned out to be on a demon dice rolling run.

Dave & Phil might well look concerned. Phil's carts, near the camera, are already the worse for wear, and Dave is being shot up by Richard's skirmishers.

The battle carts near the camera line up again for some more action.

Steve has been able to bring forwards some heavier foot to support his carts, driving back Phil's skirmishers.

Phil's carts have lost a base and are being driven backwards.

Another hard fighting round leaves Steve with a melee win, but his troops are a little disconcerted by their inability to see their opponents off completely.

Richard leans over and offers advice. Phil points out Steve is doing quite well enough on his own, thank you, especially as his random number cubes are dancing to his tune.

Phil has outfoxed Steve, however, and a flank attack by his skirmishers inflict hits and knock the carts off the road.

Phil is then able to charge in again, and inflict enough hits to cause a base loss. This melee then bogs down for a long, long, time.

What's going on elsewhere? Well Dave is pressing forwards, but he can't get at the troops in the woods.

Plus Richard has occupied the town, and brought up his carts in support. Steve's skirmishers have also inflicted damage on Dave's carts.

Steve is now pressing hard on his flank, but can't break Phil's carts.

There's then a big collision in the centre, as the carts, led by their respective generals can't hold back any longer.

Dave takes more hits, but imposes his authority on his opponents who are intimidated by his aggressive style.

Richard's chariots are driven back hard, tumbling towards his base line.

Back near the camera the heavy infantry are facing off. The opposing battle carts commanders discuss the relative advantages of their equids.

Richard's carts lose again, and are chased to the edge of the board. Miraculously his "Lugal" (Big Man or General) survives.

Phil's foot take a hammering. In the background Dave attacks the village.

Dave's assault is thrown back.

Steve finally prevails over Phil's last cart. It has been a long slog.

Dave is being pushed back as well.

Steve is starting to close down this flank. In his confusion, however, he orders a charge on the rear of one of his own units before Phil points out the error of his ways. Ah, we have missed this sort of thing since Ian left us.

Not concluded by any means, but Dave & Phil are out of options. Dave's victorious carts are isolated, having over reached themselves and outrunning their support. Elsewhere, it is hard to see where they might make a breakthrough.

A lot of things wrong with this game, most of which I gave above. The mechanisms have some holes, - there was obviously a thing or two that were so obvious I never wrote them down. And I've never had such a prolonged drawn melee. And we had a whole run of 1:6 dice rolls on Fear Tests, which gave some curious outcomes.

Still, it was good to be back in Mesopotamia. I love those carts.

(I wrote this two weeks ago, and forgot to post it as I was off on holiday)

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Hooray for Hereward!

Time again for our local show, Hereward at The Cresset in Peterborough. It's a really good middle sized show, with an excellent atmosphere, a friendly set of organisers and a good mix of traders and participation games.

We were there with Edgcote 28mm, having succeeded in getting both the show stand and three people plus the Edgcote game into my car. A notable feat.

We were able to do this partly by leaving Northampton 1460 behind, but that's had a good run over the last few years, so time for it to be given a rest.

After rushing around and picking up some more bargains (mdf buildings from the bring & buy/table top sale area), I had a quick look at the games on offer. I really like this 6mm Culloden, which I'd have loved to have had a go at.

This mosquito attack game up a fiord was imaginative.

Next to us were the Great Yarmouth boys, with a Wacky Races game.

In the other room there was some type of sci-fi competition going on, I think.

This was some dystopian future shoot out in the Underground.

These two guys were developing a generic medieval skirmish game, but were using a Game of Thrones scenario as a hook to get the punters in. One of them was a bit of an obsessive. Don't get involved in the Lannister chat if you aren't interested.

Next to them was a Cavalier highway robbery game.

See, it looks like a proper show, not some soulless event in an aircraft hanger.

Nice looking Gangs of Rome game. But that's the point with these 28mm skirmish games. If they don't look nice, why bother?

We were never overwhelmed but always had some one to talk to, so quality over quantity.

Here's my Banbury barmaid vignette. It probably needs the basing re-doing to match the other figures.

We played the game through once, and got a Redesdale win.

And people said nice things about the set up, and a few people bought my book. So, not bad for a Sunday, all things considered.